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Vintage California Cuisine: 300 Recipes from the First Cookbooks Published in the Golden State


Seasonal Chef Bookstore's
Culinary History Section

The Lewis & Clark Cookbook: Historic Recipes from the Corps of Discovery and Jefferson's America

By Leslie Mansfield

The Medieval Cookbook

By Maggie Black

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To Keep a Husband, Try Pudding

The first cookbook written in California was the "Peerless Receipt Book," a volume aimed at promoting use of the Peerless brand of baking powder. But historians aren’t certain that it was actually printed in California.

So credit for being the first cookbooks written and published in the state usually goes to three volumes that appeared in 1872, says Dan Strehl, curator of the culinary collection at the Los Angeles Public Library, which has rare copies of all three. 

Each was compiled by a charitable group, two of them in San Francisco, one in Sacramento. The book that was probably first to hit the streets carried the quaint title "How to Keep a Husband or Culinary Tactics."

More than two dozen recipes from How to Keep a Husband are reprinted in Vintage California Cuisine


Dedicated to "the fair ones of the Pacific Coast," it was published by an Anglican church group in San Francisco. It draws more culinary inspiration from England than from California. 

Yet amidst the myriad of recipes for roasted meat and other Old Country favorites sure to keep a husband from straying, such as calf’s head soup and mushroom catsup, are a few recipes that make use of local produce.

There are recipes for pickled plums, pickled grapes and a Spanish flummery (custard) with white wine, for example, as well as recipes for lemon and orange pudding. But these recipes don't appear to acknowledge that citrus fruit is available practically year-round in California. The pudding recipes call for preserves. Here is the recipe for orange pudding.

Boiled Orange Pudding

Pour a pint of milk on a half a pound of bread crumbs. Let it boil up. Stir in two ounces of butter, one of suet, keeping the pan over the fire until all is mixed. Let it stand still till cold then add two eggs, two ounces of sugar, the same of orange marmalade, one spoonful of orange flower water. Choose a basin that will exactly hold it. Tie over a flannel cloth loosely, closely. Boil it one and a quarter hours. Sauce of melted butter, sugar, a little lemon and brandy.

Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef