[New York]: Prior & Bowne, [circa 1845 ff.].
Octavo-sized booklet (15.5 x 10 cm.), [16 pages]. A gathering of recipes in two or more hands (ink with pencil emendations), originating in Duchess County, New York and dating from 1845 or shortly thereafter, in a preprinted notebook originally with twelve leaves (15.5 x 10 cm.), of which the first four have been excised. Initials on the front cover “A.N.P.” likely correspond to a name in fading ink on its verso “Am N. Platt”, later transcribed incorrectly in pencil, in an unknown hand, as Ann N. Platt); a second name in a different hand appears also on the cover, along with a place of origin: “M. G. Johnson Upper Red Hook”. Yet a third name (forename only) appears at the top of the verso: “Amarintha”. A news clipping pasted inside the back cover bears the date November 17th, 1845. Many of the near sixty recipes are brief – that for Black Extra Molasses Cake has scarcely more words than its title – but are often of interest nonetheless. That gum arabic should be required for Frosting suggests something of textures sought before the prevalence of gelatin. On a different scale of reference, the Plain Jelly entry calls for Cooper’s Isinglass, a reminder of the great industrialist and inventor Peter Cooper’s origins in manufacturing, years before his abolitionist work and the establishment of Cooper Union. The pencil annotations (the water should be “scalding hot”) to boiling hops for Yeast betray a learning process on a more personal level. The author’s can be identified with near definitude. Two daughters of Ebenezer and Amarintha Keziah Platt are known to have lived in Upper Red Hook. Mary Gildersleeve Platt Johnson (1824-1854) (that is, M. G. Johnson) is attested there in a family history. Her older sister was Amarintha N(ichols?) Platt Williamson (1823-1852) –that is, Am N. Platt, thus before her marriage – whose death after a steamer explosion on the Hudson River is documented. In a distinct hand, the Amarintha written separately at the top of the inside cover is here held to be a third name, that of the sisters’ mother. Wrappers now split at hinge; text block loose. Text legible and neat; edges lightly soiled. Good only.