Get 100 Free “Classic” E-Cookbooks

By Marilynne Rudick on February 6, 2012

I’m always looking for new recipes, so when I found out about ebook guru Morris Rosenthal’s list of  Free Classic Cookbooks for Kindle I couldn’t resist springing for 99 cents to buy it. It’s an annotated list with links to Amazon where you can download the ebooks. Rosenthal claims that his list includes every free cookbook in the Kindle format.

You don’t need a Kindle to read these recipes. Just install the free Kindle app and download to any device: desktop, laptop, smart phone or iPad.

“Classic,” it turns out, means books that are in the public domain–no longer protected by copyright. Since  copyright can last for 70 years after the author’s death, you won’t find Julia Child’s or Rachael Ray’s recipes on the list.

You will find books from the 19th and early 20th century and before, with a few as old as the 16th Century. Some recipes are true classics that stand the test of time. Cassell’s Vegetarian Cookbook (1875) includes recipes for carrot and lentil soups that seem straight out of today. And the Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes Cookbook (1909) includes Chocolate Glace Cake and Chocolate Souffle that would delight any modern chocoholic.

But the real joy of these cookbooks is the window they open on the evolution of cooking, society, and the role of women. If you love reading cookbooks, you’ll find a treasure trove here. Some excerpts:

The Book of Household Management (1861)

In this famous cookbook, Isabella Beeton offers 900 recipes and dishes out advice on the proper management of the household. “The early rising is one of the most essential qualities which enter into good Household Management, as it is not only the parent of health, but of innumerable other advantages. Indeed, when a mistress is an early riser, it is almost certain that her house will be well managed.”

Twenty-Five Cent Dinners for Families of Six (1879)

This is Juliet Corson’s second cookbook, written to expand her readership. “The wide publicity which the press has given to my offer to show working people how to have a good dinner for fifteen cents has brought me a great many letters from those who earn more and can consequently afford a more extended diet. In response I have written this book. It is designed [for those who] look for more than the absolute necessities of life; it is a practical guide to the economical, healthful and palatable preparation of food, and will serve to show that it is possible to live well upon a very moderate income.”

She offers this advice to nursing mothers. “It is generally believed that women who drink malt liquor are able to nurse children to greater advantage than those who do not use it. The fact is that while the quantity of milk may be increased, its nourishing quality will be impaired…. Do not drink beer for the sake of your child….”

Food Remedies: Facts About Foods and Their Medicinal Uses (1908)

The Grape Cure: “Many people have heard vaguely about the grape cure for diseases arising from over-feeding…. In countries where the grape cure is practiced, the patient starts by taking one pound of grapes each day, which quantity is gradually increased until he can consume six pounds. As the quantity of grapes is increased that of the ordinary food is decreased until at last the patient lives on nothing but grapes.”

The Belgium Cookbook (1915)

On cooking game: “Game is like love, best appreciated when it begins to go.”

On cooking vegetables: “Do not let your vegetable dishes remind your guests of Foissart’s description of Scotchmen’s food, which was ‘rubbed in a little water.’ ”

The Story of Crisco (1921)

“The culinary world is revising its entire cook book on account of the advent of Crisco, a new and altogether different cooking fat…. Many people wonder that any product could gain the favor of cooking experts so quickly…. This was largely because [people] were glad to be shown a product which at once would make for more digestible foods….

Good digestion will mean much to the youngster’s health and character…. [Children] may eat Crisco doughnuts or pies without being chased by nightmares. Sweet dreams follow the Crisco supper.”

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