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5 Free Cooking eBooks From Days Gone By

While virtually every celebrity has their own cooking book or show these days, there are still plenty of recipes from the past to explore. Whether you are interested in trying out popular dishes from different eras or simply want to satisfy your curiosity about the cooking habits of previous generations, you’ll find the answers you seek in cooking books. Although some of the ingredients might not be as readily available anymore and tastes have definitely changed over the years, you never know if you’ll discover some hidden gem that might become a family favorite. So, if you are feeling curious or feel like making a meal like they just don’t do anymore then delve into some of these free cooking eBooks for inspiration.

Cooking and Dining in Imperial Rome

by Apicius

Unless you know where to get exotic ingredients such as flamingo, many of the recipes in this cookbook might be a little challenging to say the least. However, this collection of Roman cookery recipes is fascinating to say the least and is believed to have been compiled as early as the 4th century AD. From vegetables to legumes, poultry, four-legged animals and sea-food, this book offer a great way to learn more about what the wealthy classes of the ancient world used to eat. The original book was obviously in Latin, so this English translation dates back to 1936 and was done by Joseph Dommers Vehling.

The Century Cook Book

by Mary Ronald

Although it was first published in 1895, The Century Cook Book by Mary Ronald still contains plenty of tips and techniques that are applicable today. It also has some great recipes that are easy to follow and which will enable you to cook the kind of dishes your great grandparents probably loved. As an added bonus, you can also entertain guests with some historical details about the dishes you prepare from this book. Unfortunately, if you do plan on following the recipes in this book you’ll have to deal with with not being told the exact oven temperatures to cook at, seeing as stoves of the time did not have this feature.

Choice Cookery

by Catherine Owen

Sauces, soups, various ways of serving oysters, patties, garnishes, iced puddings, and much more can be found in this 1889 cook book by Catherine Owen. The recipes were originally written for readers of Harper’s Bazaar, which meant that they were aimed upper class households with a more lenient food budget. Although the recipes are no longer the “newest and best in modern cookery” there are still some hidden gems to be found and plenty of tasty dishes to experiment with. The author is also quite descriptive with her recipes, so this is not just a book with lists of ingredients and instructions.

On Uncle Sam’s Water Wagon

by Helen Watkeys Moore

Seeing as prohibition in the 1920s made it illegal to make or sell intoxicating liquors in the United States, Helen Watkeys Moore saw it as an opportunity to instruct people on how to make 500 different non-alcoholic alternatives. Described as wholesome drinks that are “free from the alcoholic taint” these recipes are worth reading if only to see the grandiose titles some of them had. The book covers everything from teas and coffees to chocolate, cocoa, fruit punches, syrups, sundaes and much more. Unlike many other old cook books, the recipes found in this one are actually doable, provided you are not averse to sugar.

Things Mother Used To Make

by Lydia Maria Gurney

Things Mother Used To Make was first published in 1913 and are filled with classic recipes that were probably staples in the kitchens of grandmothers. This means you have a large selection of tried and tested dishes that doesn’t require a fortune in ingredients and the writing is also simple enough that you don’t have to be a chef to understand. In addition to the recipes, most of which will invoke a feeling of nostalgia amongst anyone old enough to have tasted the meals as a child, the book also contains some household advice. Some of the advice is still applicable, but many are worth reading just for a chuckle and to see just how ingenious mothers had to be back in simpler times.

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