Mrs. Hale’s Receipts for the Million

I’ve decided to add something to this blog.  Every year for the past thirteen years, I have gone to English Camp on San Juan Island and have demonstrated mid- 19th century folkways.  There’s a lot of butter making and biscuit cutting going on — as well as spinning and candle dipping.

Mrs Hale's receipts cover

Leading my understanding of what a housewife put up with is my great-grandmother’s receipt book, MRS.HALE’s RECEIPT’S FOR THE MILLION.  This delightful book is both charming and informative, filled with 4545 “receipts” that range from cleaning leather and churns, caring for the invalid and making coffee. Published in Philadelphia in 1857, my great grandmother surely found use for it as she made her way from Western Pennsylvania to Kansas to craft a life with her surgeon/lawyer husband.

I think we should all get a daily dose or least every time I post. So here’s what’s in MRS. HALE’s RECEIPTS for today:

COFFEE: The infusion of or decoction of the roasted seeds of the coffee-berry, when not too strong, is a wholesome, exhilarating, and strengthening beverage; and when mixed with a large proportion of milk, is a proper article of diet for literary and sedentary people. It is especially suited to persons advanced in age.

I think I’ll go get some.

History in The Making


jfk-images-3Something happened on the way to writing this blog. I guess it was history with the historic election of Barrack Obama. It was easy to get sidetracked.

As a young person I had seen history unfold with the assassination of John Kennedy. I was in high school near Annapolis, Maryland at the time and went down to the Capitol with several of my friends to catch the caisson coming by. I saw Jackie Kennedy and the children go up the stairs. Heard the heavy beating of the drums. Felt the deep grief with the thousands gathered there, some folks up in the trees. And I heard the shooting of Oswald over the radio as we stood twelve deep along the curb.

“Good riddance,” someone said. The only breaking of silence on that solemn day.

I saw history with the Vietnam Protest March on Washington and later, the Poverty March with mules come all the way from the Deep South. Heard Coretta King speak. A tumultuous time.

Now a new president.

History is that way.

We live it every day.

That’s why I love to research and write about it. I love the history of the Pacific Northwest from 1800 to the 1930s.  The Civil War.  World War II. The Depression.  Things really haven’t changed.  But every once and a while, an ideal comes full circle and a promise is fulfilled.