Aunt Kate’s Book of Receipts

As someone who has dabbled in the art of open hearth cooking and followed 18th century recipes (or receipts as they were called) an item if particular interest to me from the wash tub collection is Aunt Kate’s handwritten Book of Receipts.

Aunt Kate (Catherine) was born to John and Catherine Young in 1868.  From other documents in the collection it appears that she was part owner with my great-grandfather, Charles Young (her brother), of a property referred to as “Willistown Inn” where she lived in what is now Willistown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Kate never married and died in 1932.


Notice the names below the recipes. At the bottom right is a green tomato pickle recipe.

While not all of the recipes are dated, the earliest I have found is dated 1899 and the last date I can find is 1920.   Most recipes have someone’s name after the recipe.  My first inclination was that this was the person from whom she acquired that particular recipe.    And that may, in fact, be true. However, at the end of quite a few recipes (mostly for cakes or cookies) is my grandfather, Earl Young’s name, and sometimes that of his brother Emmett.   I believe I can say with some certainty that my grandfather did not cook!   Cakes and other sweets make up the majority of the recipes, along with some sauces and pickle recipes.  In the back of the book is an index which she began but about half way through the book the recipes are no longer numbered.

In typical fashion for this type of  book it contains not only food recipes but recipes to cure what ails man and beast. To cure scaly legs on chickens mix sulfur, lard, and coal oil adscn0601nd put on their leg. Then there is the liniment recipe who Maggie Smith says “is good for anything – will not blister” : 1 egg beat 15 minutes, 1 cup of turepin [sic] shake 15 minutes in with the egg, 1 cup of vinegar beat all together 15 minutes.   For man there is a “Receipt of Dr. Rowlands for Diarrhea,” “Spice Plaster,”and “Cough Syryup”[sic]. The cough syrup contains horehound tea, rock candy and licorice.

Every time I sit down and turn the pages in this book I come across something new. My sister was recently looking through the book and she may have stumbled upon the elusive Green Tomato Pickle Recipe (see left photo above) we remember our grandmother making.  My father loved this pickle and he would always ask me to make it after his mother no longer could but I could never get her to share the recipe with me.  I think it was something she had made for so long that it was more of an intuitive recipe than a written recipe.