The 1927 Butterick Book of Recipes


The boxes are eating me.

Okay, not exactly, but the attack of the boxes continues as I try to, finally, get unpacked around here seven months after moving. What with goats and chickens and giant puppies, spring and summer zipped by without completing the “moving” part of moving into our new farmhouse. A lot of these boxes contain things I haven’t seen in nearly three years. The old farmhouse came furnished, in fact jam-packed, so I only brought necessities with me there, leaving the rest in storage.

It’s entertaining to open boxes that I packed so long ago, I don’t remember what’s in them, and discover things I had forgotten I had.

The cats enjoy the process, too.

Buttercup totally snarled at me when I made him get out of this box, which I hadn’t even finished unpacking before he took up residence.

Meanwhile, Spice nabbed another box.

There was a waiting list to get in there when she was done.

In case you’re new here, I have eight cats. I’m the crazy cat lady. Whew. Glad that’s out in the open.

A lot of the stuff in the boxes is semi-boring. Glasses, odds and ends, a cookie jar, teapots. (I like this cute Beatrix Potter one.)

It was fun to find a few remnants of my kids’ baby dishes and silverware. I can just see them eating their little spoonfuls of oatmeal out of that ABC bowl…..

Then I found some cookbooks I hadn’t seen in a while, and some well-worn recipe cards holding old favorites. Yay!

Then I hit the motherlode. The Butterick Book of Recipes and Household Helps.

It was published in 1927.

Inside, handwritten, is my great-grandmother’s name.

Jessie Woodall was my great-grandmother on my mother’s side, the flatlander side of my family. My father was, after he completed his bombing missions during World War II, stationed in Oklahoma. He made off with my mother and took her away to the holler, just as Jessie’s husband took her away when they married, hauling her off to Oklahoma before it was even a state. (Trivia: Oklahoma didn’t become a state until 1907.) My great-grandfather claimed land in part of the government’s effort to settle the area, making him one of the state’s early pioneers. My great-grandfather had to haul lumber back and forth across the prairie, by lantern-light when necessary, to build them a house.

Jessie was a good cook, by all accounts, and I like having her cookbook. I like to imagine her turning its pages, and I wonder which ones were her favorites. There’s an X by the recipe for Little Chocolate Cakes. I wonder if that means she didn’t like it?

There are plenty of tips included for the domestic goddesses of the time, such as this one for how to make it easier to see things inside your oven while you’re baking–paint the inside of the oven a light color with aluminum paint. Hmmm. I think I’ll stick with that lightbulb thing….

I bet Jessie always had her table set properly.

“The handles of all of the flat silver placed to the right and left of the plate must be in a perfect line with the edge of the table.” Or your table will explode!

I’m not sure about this whole personal hygiene section belonging in a cookbook.

But now that I know how to shampoo correctly, I can be clean as the prairie sky.

I’m excited about trying out the wonderful old-fashioned recipes in this cookbook, and you can bet I’ll be posting some of them soon!

And, I’ve got a lot more boxes to unpack. No telling what else I’ll find, but whatever it is, you can rest assured….

….the cats will be the first to know.


  1. TeresaH says:

    I love old cookbooks! I have a few too from that era and some call for some interesting ingredients.

  2. Heidi says:

    What fun!!! I LOVE old cook books and hope to get my grannys mamma’s one day…. As you said to wonder about what ones she cooked and liked.. :)Great history isnt it?

  3. Wammy says:

    My FIL just blessed me went some old cookbooks and recipe cards. So old they smell of mold. :hungry: Can’t wait to go thru them. I always write notes on all the recipes I use. Hopefully down the road someone will care about all of then.

  4. beth says:

    What is it with cats and boxes? Our largest cat loves to find the smallest boxes or baskets and see if she can fit in them. When she looks at us I’m sure she’s asking “Does this make my butt look big?”

  5. Becky says:

    It’s like an early Christmas for you and the cats!
    I also have some old cookbooks and helpful hint books.

  6. MissyinWV says:

    :purr: Our cat’s love to “investigate” when we bring in new things, if its a box no matter the size it is loved. :purr:

    What a neat way to spend time, shopping for memories! And that cookbook PRICELESS!!

  7. Shari C says:

    What a treasure to have such a wonderful part of your past and it also has recipes…fantastic!

    It is very nice of you to share your boxes with the cats as you unpack all your wonderful finds you had forgotten about. Very cute photos!

  8. jane says:

    What a great find for sure. I love old cookbooks. I have some old canning cook books too. I also have my mothers 1950 cookbook. it is all patched up too. WV – what a reminder that we take so much for granted. I have been stock piling sugar for canning and fudge so my pantry is full – hmmmmm – then I hear your story. during the war was when my mother quit drinking sugar in her tea and she never did again. people from that time really knew about sacrifice too.

    I cant wait for suzanne to have some good recipes for us from the cookbook. A lady at church let me see her Iowa cookbook from the 20s. and get this it was put together by women doctors to raise money for a new hospital. i thought women docotrs in the 20s. they used a president’s wife’s recipe to head each section. it was fascinating. they also had household tips – like Monday is wash day and sunday you dont sweep the porch or hang anything – hmmm no telling what happened to you if you did!!!!

  9. Lucy says:

    Here’s a deal…. I’ll let you keep the Butterick Book of Recipes for that little cat cookiejar in the fifth photo down. That is adorable! 🙂

  10. The Jillybean says:

    What a neat find. I have a several really old cookbooks, I will have to go pull them out and post about them sometime.

  11. Minna says:

    I collect cookbooks, but sadly, I have nothing quite that old.

  12. Gail says:

    I also have a fetish for cookbooks and have some old ones as well. My Mom used her old 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook
    not only for the recipes, but also as a file. She had every
    thing from old letters, receipts and newspaper clippings!
    Cats and boxes go together. I love watching cats playing in a box or curled up sleeping. They sure do like to help unpack!

  13. Carole @ Fowl Visions says:

    I recently just moved also and have been unloading boxes but I have no treasures such as your cookbook. What a joy it must be to read the same recipes your great grandmother read and used.

  14. Jodie says:

    I love old cookbooks! I’ve found some treasures over the years. None from my grandmothers though. I have my mother’s favorite Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Somehow along the way I just started collecting interesting cookbooks just to read them. I don’t cook much, mostly my husband does the cooking. PS. My cat loves boxes too. I thought it was just her, not a species thing. She has one moving box on it’s side in my office as a permanent cat “house” that she takes naps in. I decided not to move it after she adopted it and moved in. 😉 LOL

  15. Kayis says:

    That old cookbook is a treasure! I hope it stays in the family for years to come! I’m interesting in knowing what other jems are hidden away in those boxes!!!

  16. anne says:

    I wonder if a person could find an old copy of Buttericks book of Recipes ? Would any one know how to find one ? Happy reading Suzanne !

  17. catslady says:

    I have a couple old cookbooks and one was my husband’s grandmothers – not as old as yours though and no fun instructions lol.

    As far as crazy cat lady – we have a lot in common lol. I had 7 and now only have 6 but those are just the inside cats. At the moment I have 4 (3 permanent) outside ferals but the males come usually for a year or two and then go on their way. I have a permanent supply of boxes throughout my house lol. :purr:

  18. SusanD says:

    I have the same Beatrix Potter teapot that you have. It’s packed away and seeing yours reminded me that I need to find mine. Your cookbooks are a treasure. Even though I don’t cook a lot I do enjoy reading cookbooks.


  19. Donna says:

    Suzanne, I LOVE that picture of the hills/meadow above.

    The cats are killin me…so funny. Why sure! They want to play too…get in there and investigate. LOL After all, there could be a mouse in there, for them!!! :mrgreen:

    I went through my mother’s recipes and found old things too and it was so exciting – be it a card she wrote to a school for cake decorating, she attended..or a magazine clipping of an old advertisement of a food, or product…she had old cookbooks, but I think my brother got them. I have her old Betty Crocker cookbook and cookie book.

    I have read some old books with hygiene tips, like how to look glam when “your man” comes him with a drink at the door…that type of stuff and it cracked me up. LOL Old finds are fun. Hey, that reminds me… need to find out WHO got my baby spoon!!! LOL

  20. Terry says:

    I have a McCalls magazine Pocket Cook Book from 1943, and it has all kinds of substitutions for sugar. I wish the front cover had not fallen off tho. But I have it and use the book on occasion. I have several of my grandmother’s hand written recipes, held together with a brass duck head clip that can hang on the wall. My granny on the other hand always said to me “you know I don’t measure anything, just add (whatever)til it looks right. She taught me alot about cooking over the phone. I would call her and she would talk me thru whatever I was trying to cook. My mother recieved a Betty Crocker cook book for a wedding gift (1955), and I wore it out when I was at home, and the cook. I also have my mother in law’s compilation of cook booklets that were put together in a hard back cover as you collected them each month. I can sit and look thru cook books forever, and yes they do “smell”, like home, to me. Enjoyed your pics as usual, and the cats make me wish I had one again, (grandson is allergic).

  21. Susan says:

    It almost sounds like you are celebrating Christmas early!

  22. Tori Lennox says:

    Your old cookbook sounds as fun as my 1959 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette. 🙂

  23. Estella says:

    I have 5 cats and NO box is safe in my house.

  24. Janet says:

    I collect cookbooks. I have so many. I’ve got one called 1001 sandwiches. So I guess it’s not really a cookbook, but a sandwich book, it is dated 1928 & 1936. You wouldn’t believe some of the sandwiches listed, such as the Raw Liver Sandwich. Remove any skin, place in hot water for a few minutes, then chop fine or scrape. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated onion, or horse-radish. Serve between slices of lightly buttered bread. Can you believe it? I bet that ruined everyone’s appetite. Looking forward to your good recipes.

  25. Brenda Kula says:

    Hon, you did hit the Mother Lode! I grew up in Oklahoma. My adult daughters reside around the Tulsa area. I raised them in Norman, Oklahoma. Now I am a Texan! I so enjoy all your entertainment. Yes, there’s nothing a cat likes better than a box. I just posted photos of mine in box-like places last week, I believe.

  26. Patty says:

    Your cats are all so gorgeous! I have 4 and they don’t all get along. I can imagine the fights mine would have over who got the box. My mother collected cook books and was renowned in the county for her cooking. I was honored to learn I got the cookbooks when she passed. Some are really really old, and I love the ones with household and entertaining tips like yours. We’ve come a long way baby! LOL :rockon:

  27. jean says:

    What a great find. Old cookbooks are fantastic and to have one that belonged to family are even better.

    I love the cats. What is it about boxes that they find so interesting?

  28. Julia says:

    It would be wonderful if you could post the “Cheesy Sour Cream Enchilada” recipe. It sounded wonderful. Your website is just delightful. I live in a farmhouse on 5 acres in Alpharetta, Georgia. Thank you for the joy you add to my day! God bless you.

  29. Lisa says:

    You’re going to want me to bite my tongue, but I saw the cat in the box and thought, ‘Oh no! She’s having more kittens!’.

  30. Brandy says:

    You make me wish I had old cookbooks! I inherited my Mother’s when she passed away, including her Joy of Cooking.
    And I have 7 cats and feed several strays in our neighborhood, so you’re not the only crazy cat lady! I want a t-shirt that says “I AM the crazy cat lady”. *G*

  31. Joy says:

    I love your website and pictures of rural W. Virginia. My Great Grandfather was born in Big Lick, Roanoke County, W. Virginia in 1846 so I check out your website to look at those pictures, and the recipes, and your entertaining stories of your family and animals. What a wonderful life you have there!

  32. Kacey says:

    Cats do like getting in the middle of things, don’t they? Wonder what else you’ll find?

  33. Teresa in nc says:

    Some of my favorite recipes come from a cookbook handed down to me. Speaking of recipes, Suzanne, you showed us how to make ricotta cheese. However, I am very curious what you can do with the leftover liquid. I have never made cheese but I want to sometime. :thumbsup:

  34. Martha F. says:

    Nothing say home sweet home like the family heirloom of a passed down cook book and old recipies. There are so many people that would have pitched it in the garbage not realizing their cherished heritage rest on those old stained pages.
    You posess a much older soul than body… as do I.

  35. Nancy in Atlanta says:

    Your Butterick book takes me back to junior high Home Ec – about 1957! Oh, boy – we learned about wearing aprons, greeting our “hard-working husbands” with a smile at the end of their day…never mind what a woman’s day was like. It’s priceless!! :catmeow:

  36. Abiga/karen says:

    We have three cats down from four over a year ago. We may end up with some barn cats if we find the mice bothering things out there. They are sometimes friends, sometimes playmates, and sometimes in all out war it seems. I also have some old hand written cookbooks my grandmother wrote out in tablets. They are packed away but I can’t remember if they are at my son’s house or here at my daughter’s as some of my stuff is in both homes after selling my house in Georgia. I think I might check it out today in the basement here. Blessings.

  37. cindy smith says:

    i went to a yard sale and there were a lot of book in this box and as i was looking in it there was a 1888 cookbook that the cover wasn’t in the best of shape so i ask how much was it and the man so you can have it. there is alot in the cookbook but afraid that if i really get into the book it might fall apart the pages seem to be so brittle.
    i have it wrapped on a towel and put away. do you have any ideas how to care for it. i wrote to a book collector but got no answer. thank you

  38. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Cindy, I don’t know. My Butterick book is really old and kinda fragile, too. I’m just going to photocopy it so that every time I use a recipe, I don’t have to use the book because I don’t think it can take a lot of use.

  39. josie9395s says:

    I used my vacuum sealer and sealed up a few of my older books. Since we are n the military and have to move every few years I found that this helped keep them together and away from any moisture that might try to seep in.

  40. Julie Wriston says:

    Oh what a treasure to have that cookbooK! Great post!

  41. Roni Mann says:

    My mom just gave me my grandmother’s Butterick cookbook and the front of it is all worn off. I too found her name written in the front in pencil and then also a X next to her favorite Halibut recipe. I came across this website in trying to find out more information on this cookbook since the cover was so badly worn. It’s great to see how much my grandmother and your great-grandmother seemed to keep their books in common.

    My grandmother passed on almost 9 yrs. ago and I miss her terribly. The one thing I had in common with her was her love of recipes and cooking. I don’t cook much but love to bake and can’t wait to try some of these out. She also left some other recipe cards in the book that look interesting.

  42. mike says:

    I would like to see the ginger bread recipe please.

  43. Peculiar Cat Mama says:

    I’m just now reading this post. I love old cookbooks, too, and have some of my husband’s grandmother’s and great aunt’s from the 1800’s. My favorite are the recipes that call for lard or start with “kill and pluck the chicken”! Many times when I have an idea and search for a recipe, I end up finding what I want in those old ones rather than anything modern or even slightly older. So now I just go to those first.
    Cats and boxes … they also love WalMart sacks, grocery sacks, cracker boxes. I have nearly 30 cats – my BillyCat (orange tabby – personal cat rescued as a tiny kitten when her Mama died), Susannah the cow patty kitty (found her as a kitten covered in dung), a litter of 6 that I saved from a bad mother that have grown up in the house, 4 kittens from one of that litter, 3 kittens and a teenage cat from a beautiful dark tabby that was passing through (that’s 17 inside, except 2 of them have now gone outside). Outside, there’s Gypsy’s line (she was a dark calico – some of her kittens were gray and peach calicos!) – now mixed with Lillith’s line (a gold-eyed black cat I rescued from a shelter with her 7 kittens – she has a gray and white blue-eyed Siamese granddaughter!) – all shapes, sizes, colors, markings – beautiful cats. Outside, counting the new kittens, totals about 16 (I still count Jasper the passing-through beauty in case she ever comes home).
    That’s more information than you cared to know – LOL. Hey! At least I didn’t give you all of their names! ;>) I have a cat genealogy written out, too – talk about Crazy Cat Lady! I’m the Mama cat and they’re my babies. They know this and play along.

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