The excerpt from Northwood details a tradition thanksgiving meal in 1827.  The entrée is friend chicken with gravy and ham. Wheat bread and butter is served as well. Dessert and sides include pies, pickles, preserves, puddings, and cranberry sauce.

A festive, uh, "cranberry" sauce should pair nicely.The family in the excerpt sets the table formally and a festival to celebrate the holiday. The guest they had at dinner was confused when the festival was supported by the state, not the church. At this time, not everyone in the United States observed Thanksgiving but they guessed it would become more popular as America became more established.

When I researched for modern thanksgiving dinners, I found an interesting interpretation of a thanksgiving meal. According to Buzzfeed, thanksgiving meals can now be made entirely out of fast food. The article, “Here’s How To Make A Totally Epic Thanksgiving With Fast Food,” describes how to utilize different fast food chains to make an eccentric (and totally epic) thanksgiving meal. Recipes include a fruit sauce made out of a 7-Eleven Slurpee and McDonald’s apple packages and gravy made out of sauces from Taco Bell, McDonald’s Arby’s and KFC. If you are interested in getting the most bang for your buck, you may want to look into some of these recipes for a delicious thanksgiving meal.

While researching for the final project, I came across the first documentation of a waffle in 1393. This document which included over 190 recipes and descriptions of ingredients was a predecessor of the cookbooks we have been able to look at in class. Although the pamphlet mirrors more of Lydia Marie Child’s The Frugal Housewife, Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy (1829) or Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife: or, Methodical Cook as it focuses on the best ways to create an efficient home and prepare proper meals, it is unique because it was written by a man to his wife. In the common patriarchal societies that existed in Europe, especially in France, it seems peculiar that the head of the household would transcribe such a document when women were supposed to have learned these skills. In particular, it is hard not to question that stripping of women of their only job by having their duties spelled out and therefore constricted.

Because of these assertions and the role of women introduced through cookbooks centuries after, the question of this pamphlet asserting male dominance or the shift of gender roles from 1393 to 1860 is to be made. Was this descriptive pamphlet given to the wife because this was a typical gesture of a husband to wife or was this author a very particular one who imagined his household running one way entirely? Is this author’s gender described by a translation of a higher class male to a lower class female? Or was cooking simply an interest of the author who then masked it by making this cookbook be more of a social contract between man and wife?


Most popularly coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, the idea of “The American Dream” has been left up to the interpretation of different writers for many decades.  Reading Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and the excerpts of Malinda Russell, and also referring back to Fitzgerald, we can see the differences between the transcendentalist’s and realist’s approaches to the American dream.  We start with Russell, who is born as a free black, but suffers countless hardships throughout her life.  She is robbed of all of her coin, which disallows her to move to Liberia, her original dream.  She then gets married, but her husband dies 4 years later, and she is left to care for a crippled son by herself.  As she masters her professions and economically saves her money so she can achieve her final dream, she is again robbed before she can move to her final home, Michigan.  She is forced to write this cookbook in hopes she can earn enough money to complete her move, but the reader does not know how this will end.  In this instance, I think Michigan bears similarity to the green light in Gatsby, knowing she may never actually attain her final goal.  This passage shows the workings of realism, that this dream will never come true, and that her life of hardships simply foreshadows what will become of her life.

On the other hand, we are introduced to the biopic writings of Walt Whitman in “Song of Myself.”  In an analysis of his writing, I can imagine that he believes that the American Dream is simply life itself; he teeters on the idea that life is majestic, and the idea that life is simply there.   This cross between transcendentalism and realism is what defines Whitman as a poet.  He begins by asking questions such as “What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you?” and “Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious?”, but given his self-awareness, he is capable of answering these questions. He knows why he is on the Earth and understands why others are as well.  He writes: “I exist as I am, that is enough, / If no other in the world be aware I sit content / And if each and all be aware I sit content.” So although Russell’s writing suggests that the American Dream can never be reached, Whitman’s accounts show that reaching complete self-awareness is the actual dream.

In Malinda Russell’s Domestic Cookbook, she is not only included receipts or recipes for people to use but she is also telling her story.  Today it would almost seem odd if the author of a cookbook prefaced it by giving their story and what lead them to write the cookbook.  However, Russell’s case was unique in the fact that she was among the first freed blacks in American history.  Even though she was free, Russell still endured terrible events.  She was robbed of all her money to travel back to Liberia and her son was kidnapped.  Due to these events and a hostile environment at home, she left for Michigan.  Here she hoped to sell her cookbook to support herself and in hopes to return home one day to a peaceful environment.  Using Russell’s life as an example, to me, embodied what we view the American Dream to be today.  She started from the bottom of the economic scale as a freed black woman immediately after the Civil War.  Then having her son and money taken from her she was only much worse off.  She did not give up, but instead learned culinary skills in Virginia from another freed colored woman.  Then by making the most of her skills, she wanted to sell her cookbook to make a profit to better her life and her family that may follow after her.  The American Dream discriminates to no one.  With this notion I tied her cookbook to the excerpt of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”  In the beginning of Whitman’s poem, he states the meal he has is open to all walks of life and does not hold prejudice against anyone.  And this message should not, in his words, “astonish” anyone because we are all in the end humans of the same Earth.  In the second section of the excerpt, Whitman does not fear the end of his life because I feel he is saying in some regard that despite the evils there is too much great in the world for it to fail.  Which kind of points to people like Malinda Russell who are on this Earth trying their hardest to proved for a better tomorrow no matter what hardships they endure.

– original recipe vs. updated version. same page or different?

– two kinds of images: manuscript pages and documentation of cooking. same location or different?

– documentation of cooking exercise: on recipe page or as blog post?

– research/context for recipe. on recipe page or elsewhere?

Cover of Leaves of Grass, 1855 edition

Cover of Leaves of Grass, 1881 edition

Walt Whitman reading “America

Gale (from Breaking Bad) reading “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer“:

Walter White’s copy of Leaves of Grass (150th Anniversary Edition, edited by David Reynolds)

And the scene where Hank figures it all out:

Image of Nathaniel Hawthorne ca. 1860.

Images of Walt Whitman (in 1854, in 1867, ca. 1870)

(from the The Walt Whitman Archive)


For reference, the task list generated in class on Tuesday…

Outstanding Tasks

Build out pages:

  • glossary,
  • recipe template,
  • landing page,
  • cookbook page,
  • about page,
  • create new recipe,
  • historical context (for 3 cookbooks)
Incorporating cooking exercise
Recipe research
Glossary research

Outstanding Issues

  • Structure of cookbook-level info and recipe-level info
  • Theme: combine 2 or tweak 1
  • Cooking experience



  • Website structure (developers)
  • Research prep (researchers)
  • Styling (developers)
  • Content transfer (class)

Unassigned Tasks 

  • UX/Testing
  • Glossary items
  • “About this Project” page
  • Book images
  • Cooking experience documentation
  • Copyediting (grammar, style, formatting, etc.)

After going through this article, I have made some connections with ideas presented in those times and that of current times. The entire length of the second chapter, it talks about Miss Hepzibah and the disgrace that came with opening a food store. The narrator discusses all the other options that would have been a better choice, but Miss Hepzibah must make money, so opening the food store had to be done. She has no other choice but to lower herself to the position of food store owner.


This disrespect of people working in the food service industry has a correlation with the modern dislike of working in a fast food restaurant. And working in a grocery store isn’t all that glamorous either. It’s funny how even after all this time, working in the food industry is still looked upon with contempt. After all, food is necessary and sustains us, but we look down on those who provide it. It’s funny that this was an idea in this early time; you would think the people who provided food who be highly regarded, but this is not the case. If this was already an idea at those times, then when did this thought become the norm? Maybe the connection between food and slavery puts the negative connotation on being a food store owner. It would be very interesting to explore if the disapproval of people in the food industry was present before slavery or if there’s always been an inherit disliking. The world may never know.

Glenn Ligon, “Untitled (“I Feel Most Colored When I Am Thrown Against A Sharp White Background”)” (1990)

Glenn Ligon, “Prisoner of Love Edition 1” (1992)

Glenn Ligon, “Malcolm X, Sun, Frederick Douglass, Boy with Bubbles” (2001)

The real House of the Seven Gables (history)

Relevant part (0:00-3:00)

This is a scene from the movie Pan’s Labyrinth.  Ofelia is tasked with opening one of the boxes and retrieving the knife inside.  She is specifically instructed not to eat any of the food.  Of course she ends up eating the food, the temptation proves too much.

This is similar to our reading and discussion last week when we talked about how some slaves would make very poor decisions just to get food.  The difference between these two is the motivation behind their decisions.  In the Frederick Douglass reading, slaves made their decisions because they were starving, whereas Ofelia makes her decision primarily because of the allure of the food.  When she is staring at the grapes it appears as if she is in some sort of trance, even neglecting the warnings of the fairies flying around her. Once she finally eats the grapes it looks as though she is in a state of pure bliss.

Both of these examples show the extremes we sometimes go to for food.  It’s the temptation of food that makes us take one more dessert or forgo the healthy food in favor of an unhealthy alternative.  And sometimes the necessity of food forces us to make a non-ideal decision.