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Volume XXVIII Cover

Volume XXVIII, The Receipt Book of Baroness Elizabeth Dimsdale (c.1800)

Some time after 1800, when she was in her late sixties or early seventies, Baroness Elizabeth Dimsdale copied just under 700 recipes and more than 80 household hints into a parchment-bound book. At the top of many of these items she indicated their provenance - some had been given by friends and acquaintances in Hertfordshire society, others had been gleaned from published works ranging from medical treatises to scientific journals, others had come from donors who cannot now be identified due to Elizabeth’s tendency to use initials rather than names. Some of the recipes are of foreign origin given by acquaintances of her late husband. Many of the recipes have the same titles as those published in the burgeoning number of printed cookery books in circulation during the later eighteenth century, but the ingredients and methods differ; a handful, however, are recorded verbatim from such sources, indicating that either she, or her acquaintances, were collectors, or at least readers, of such publications.

This edited volume provides a transcript of all of these ‘receipts’ and household hints. There is no apparent logic in the original order of the recipes. It seems likely that Elizabeth had kept them in a number of notebooks and on pieces of paper, and then, late in life, had decided to record them in a more substantial book. Rather than reproduce the recipes in their original sequence, therefore, they have been re-ordered following a scheme similar to that in many of the printed cookery books of the day, thus enabling the reader to appreciate the wide variety of dishes that Elizabeth recorded in each category, such as soups, fish, meat, ‘made’ dishes, puddings, etc. Since many scholars have discussed those printed books, rather than analysing these recipes for their culinary merits and what they indicate regarding the development of cooking and dining in the late eighteenth century, the introduction considers who Elizabeth was and what her book reveals about her life and connections in Hertfordshire.

There is an extensive glossary of ingredients and utensils. The appendices include a list giving the original order of the recipes; mini-biographies of the donors who can be identified; and Elizabeth’s will.

Some of the receipts have only vague quantities or have ingredients now impossible to find, others can be followed fairly easily; however, the Hertfordshire Record Society accepts absolutely no responsibility for the consequences if you choose to try out any of them.

  • Edited and with an Introduction by Heather Falvey
  • xlix + 264 pages, fully indexed
  • 1 illustration, family tree on endpapers plus illustrated jacket
  • ISBN 978-0-9565111-1-9

Non-Members: £22 (+£3.50 P&P) • Members: £17.50

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