By A. P. Hill, Damon Lee Fowler
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Additional info for Mrs. Hill's southern practical cookery and receipt book
Waring (18511947, The Centennial Receipt Book, 1876) was young enough to be her granddaughter. Mrs. Hill's basic career as a housekeeper was ended before the Civil War had even begun, whereas most of the Reconstruction-era writers were only beginning theirs. In other words, far from merely trying to recall glories from bygone days, Mrs. Hill was simply writing from her own experience as a housekeeperspecifically, an antebellum Page xx housekeeper. This could not be said of the Misses Brown or Waring, nor of Mrs.
Tryee (editor of Housekeeping in Old Virginia, 1879), nor of most of the other writers and editors of the flood of Reconstruction-era books that followed. Just as Mary Randolph's The Virginia House-wife is more reflective of cooking practice at the end of the eighteenth century (her heyday as a housewife), so Annabella Hill's book reflects on earlier practicethat is, from the 1830s, '40s and '50s. Her cooking methods, which we will discuss later in more detail, bear this out: they were very old-fashioned by the standards of the 1870s and made few concessions to contemporary practice.
Hill's day, as her recipe for "Imitation Worcester Sauce" (no. 443, p. 203) suggests. The onslaught of bottled saucesand the eventual dominance of sweet tomato catsup over other, more aromatic versions made from mushrooms, green walnuts, and oystersdestroyed much of the subtlety of many dishes and changed the face of American cookery forever. Homemade catsups have lingered into our century in general-purpose cookbooks but are almost invariably treated as anachronisms. Yet of all the changes in method and seasoning, the one which has most affected the texture and flavor of American food has been the use of refined sugar.
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