American Cookery by Amelia Simmons

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Little is known of Amelia Simmons, the author of the first American cookbook, except that she was probably a domestic worker and lacked any formal education. Some assumed that she was a New Englander based on the location of the first editions; however, later editions published around the Hudson River Valley, and the inclusion of several Dutch words in the book, reinforce that Simmons was from the Hudson Valley region. The book first appeared in 1796 to popular reception, as all cookbooks being printed and used in the United States prior to this were British, and it was reprinted and pirated for the next thirty years. Simmons presents the best methods of picking, preparing and cooking a variety of ingredients, and her recipes do not shy away from generous use of herbs and wine. This is the first cookbook known to use pearlash, the precursor to modern baking powder, and it contains the first known printed recipe for turkey with cranberries.

About Amelia Simmons

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There is no formal biography of Amelia Simmons available, except what is listed on the cover of her cookbook: "Amelia Simmons, an American orphan." From the language of the book and its publishing history, culinary historians have deduced that she was most likely a domestic servant without formal education. (She describes enlisting a transcriber to write out the book for her.) Simmons probably came from the Hudson Valley region, and the basic content of the recipes indicates that she was a "good plain cook," to substantiate the theory of her origins.
Published October 22, 2011 by 58 pages
Genres: Cooking, Literature & Fiction, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for American Cookery

Cape Ann Beacon

One little noted literary phenomenon of the last quarter century or so is the number of novels that include recipes — not just references to food and cooking or descriptions of meals, but actual doable recipes.

Feb 08 2007 | Read Full Review of American Cookery

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