Every so often there are cookbooks I find that definitely fit the criteria for novel-like reading. Today's cookbook is one of those.
Available from Internet Archive, The Missouri Cook Book from The Ladies of the Baptist Church Fayette, Missouri (1887) has it all. Recipes for food, for the ill, for housekeeping and more. It begins with a poem that sums up 19th century thought on women's work.
For descend you must to every day life
And enter the ranks of the housekeeper's strife
Wow! The end of that poem has that age old question, which obviously is an age old question, 'O what shall we eat?'
I love this cookbook for many reasons. Women are listed with the names of their husbands, like I would expect for this time period. Then some women are listed as Mrs. Her First Name and Surname, most likely widows; some are Miss So and So and then others are just listed with their names. A few names are even followed by a date. What it's not clear what that date is referring to, perhaps research may reveal a death or just the date for the recipe.
Here's a few recipes for medicinal purposes though I would not recommend you use them.
Love food history and vintage cookbooks? Take some time to read over this one.