Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cookbook

Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cookbook is a treasure that long sat hidden on a bookshelf in my grandmother’s basement. Relegated to its decorative, rather than functional, role, the book idled until I eventually inherited it about 6 years ago. Even then, I chose it mostly for its look. However, as I would discover in the following years, it holds much to be appreciated.

Sarah Tyson, later Rorer, was born in 1849 in Pennsylvania. This is the first of her many cookbooks, which in the introduction she proudly puts it forth as a  much needed culinary contribution from Philadelphia. 

The cookbook itself is at once sparse and surprisingly thorough, delving occasionally into the downright scientific. In the section on soups, for example, she explains how the stewing meat breaks down, dropping terms such as osmazone and nitrogenous. For the very best soup, she recommends soft water and a porcelain or granite(ware) soup kettle. Not exactly standard kitchen fare! 

 There are a smattering of handwritten recipes throughout the book, the most appetizing, perhaps, being the Apple Custard Pie. Nomsch! Somewhat more dubious is the Pistachio Ice Cream, for which the green color is added by way of clover (or lawn grass, should one be without said clover)! You can bet I’ll be making it anyway. 🙂

Check out some of the pictures of the interior, and try some of the fascinating recipes as I add them to the list!


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