So how do you find an old recipe?

Say your grandmother found this amazing recipe. Say this amazing recipe became part of family tradition as it was handed down to your mother, and then to you.

Only, say you lost it.

No worries, I have an amazing resource for finding old recipes. See, I take care of you!

Happy hunting! Recipe hunting, that is
The Michigan State Univeristy has created an online collection of some of the most important and influential American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century. The digital archive includes page images of 76 cookbooks from the MSU Library's collection as well as searchable full-text transcriptions.

Here are some of the titles that grabbed my attention:
  • Aunt Babette's Cook Book: Foreign and Domestic Receipts for the Household: A Valuable Collection of Receipts and Hints for the Housewife, Many of Which Are Not to be Found Elsewhere, by Aunt Babette
  • Good Things to Eat, by Rufus Estes
  • The Mary Frances Cook Book: Or, Adventures Among the Kitchen People, by Jane Eayre Fryer
Okay, so I've never met a garage sale cookbook I could turn down!

Yummy radishes
Personally, I find it fascinating to browse the old recipes. Here's an amusing one for radishes from Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery by Marion Harland, published 1873.
A friend of mine, after many and woful trials with "the greatest plague of life," engaged a supercilious young lady who "only hired out in the best of families as a professed cook." She arrived in the afternoon, and was told that tea would be a simple affair-bread-and-butter, cold meat, cake, and a dish of radishes, which were brought in from the garden as the order was given. The lady was summoned to the parlor at that moment, and remarked in leaving-"You can prepare those now, Bridget." Awhile later she peeped into the kitchen, attracted by the odor of hot fat. The frying-pan hissed on the fire, the contents were a half-pound of butter, and the "professional" stood at the table with a radish topped and tailed in one hand, a knife in the other. "I'm glad to see ye," thus she greeted, the intruder, "Is it paled or onpaled ye'll have them radishes? Some of the quality likes 'em fried wid the skins on-some widout. I thought I'd wait and ask yerself."

My readers can exercise their own choice in the matter of peeling, putting the frying out of the question. Wash and lay them in ice-water so soon as they are gathered. Cut off the tops when your breakfast or supper is ready, leaving about an inch of the stalks on; scrape off the skin if you choose, but the red ones are prettier if you do not; arrange in a tall glass or a round glass saucer, the stalks out-side, the points meeting in the centre ; lay cracked ice among them and send to table. Scrape and quarter the large white ones.

Good radishes are crisp to the teeth, look cool, and taste hot.

So the next time you misplace that old recipe for lemon cake, say, or potato gratin or any other treasured family recipe, try here. Maybe, just, maybe, you'll get lucky and find the original.