Welcome to The Virginia House-wife Project! With this site, my goal is to contextualize Mary Randolph’s recipes through historical research and adapt those recipes for modern cooks. I hope you’ll browse, sample, and share your thoughts.
Select a post below to begin exploring the recipes of Mary Randolph, renowned housekeeper and cook, who published her recipes as The Virginia Housewife in 1824. Each recipe is updated for a modern kitchen using standard measures or weights, modern kitchen equipment, and ingredients readily available to the twenty-first century cook. You’ll also find a brief contextualizing anecdote providing background on Randolph, her foodways, and her times.
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Pound cakes were favored not only for their taste and appearance but also for the ease of measuring ingredients since the basic recipe requires a pound each of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar.
Cherries are beginning to appear at the grocery store which means they will soon materialize at farmer’s markets and orchards. There are few things better than a fresh, ripe cherries in summer. Randolph’s instructions reveal the exacting methods and attention to detail required to preserve fruits during her day.
The first recipe in Randolph’s collection is a recipe for Asparagus Soup. This is fitting since asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), a perennial flowering plant, is one of the first spring vegetables. Cultivated since ancient times, asparagus traveled to North America with the earliest colonists.
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