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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.

Follow the links below to learn more about:

The Project

Mary Randolph

The Researcher/Cook

Visit the Contact Page to get in touch with questions, comments, or other feedback.

Latest from the Blog

Asparagus Soup

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.

To Make Carolina Snow-Balls

For most readers, snowballs likely conjure memories of childhood winter games or, perhaps, the small, rounded cookies covered with shaved coconut or powdered sugar often prepared around the winter holidays. There is also the Sno-Ball snack cake (cream-filled chocolate cakes covered with marshmallow frosting and colored coconut flakes), first introduced to American supermarkets in 1947.… Continue reading To Make Carolina Snow-Balls

Sweet Potato Buns

The recipe looks straightforward enough but is deceptively challenging. Randolph’s Sweet Potato Buns provide a good example of two of the primary challenges of using historical recipes: format and assumed knowledge.

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