Female Recipe Book is a domestic guide for women running a household. It contains instructions for mending and cleaning many household items, such as glass, carpets and blankets. It also explains how to make cosmetics such as lip salve, hair dye and skin treatments, and how to wash, care for and dye clothes. The last two chapters of the book are ‘Domestic Remedies and Medicine’ (cures for illnesses such as headaches, tooth aches, scurvy and dizziness) and ‘Diets for Invalids and Children’.
Why is it called a recipe book?
The word ‘recipe’ originally meant a formula for making up a medical treatment. It then came to mean the components and procedure for making things other than medicine, such as food, ink, or cosmetics. The word ‘receipt’ was used interchangeably with ‘recipe’, as this book demonstrates: it says ‘Female Receipt Book’ on the first title page and ‘Female Recipe Book’ on the second.
‘Diets for Invalids and Children’
This chapter of the Female Recipe Book shows the kinds of foods that were believed to be good for invalids. Most of these are bland and plain, such as rice, mutton or toast; the book advises against spices as not only harmful (‘prejudicial’) to the sick, but bad (‘inimical’) for ‘many constitutions’ (p. 74).
- Article by:
- Kathryn Hughes
- The middle classes
Professor Kathryn Hughes explains how Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management helped middle-class urban women run their households and navigate married life.