Penn Library

HOUSEHOLD WORDS: Women Write from and for the Kitchen

Images from:
Maddison Family Receipt Book
Manuscript cookbook, 1663-1688






This is one of the most interesting of the manuscripts in the Aresty Collection. As is customary, several hands have contributed to the collection which comprises cookery, medicinals, confections, and poetry:

Like Swallowes

Like Swallowes when the summers done
that fly and seeke some warmer sun
then wisely chuse one to your friend
whose love may when your beauties end
Remaine still firme by you

One persona stands out above all the rest--the young woman or child who calls herself "Mary Madcap." The daughter of Christian Maddison, Mary uses the book to practice her letters. Her name appears in several places throughout, including the page which lists the clothes that her father bought her. The recipes--cookery and medicinals--are attributed (we speculate) to a range of friends, kin, and guests. Others are from relatives and physicians. Some are aristocratic:

My Lady Widderington ressett for a Looseness

Take hogs dung newly dunged and boyle it in a pint of milke prity well the Straine and drink it off--to make the hog dung you may turne him round severall times and falloe him till he does it--

Indeed one of the medicinals may, in fact, be a coded message for an abortion decoction:

The Lady Rudston, most Incomparable wound drinck which Cures all manner of fistuals Outward and Inward, Sores, Stancheth Bleding Inwardly, drines out all Splinters of bones: takes awaye all Scabbs, it breaks all impostumes, Pureth brokens veines ore Cancers in the breast, taketh a waye all Scalls from the bones and will even Cause Bullets to fall out of the flesh, but it must not be given to a woemen with Child for it playeth ye part of a midwife

Cultural borrowings or allusions to "foreign" flavors and methods, however they made their way into this book, are visible in recipes such as "To Preserve Green Walnuts As They Are Done in France and Germany.

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