Malinda Russell and Abby Fisher, two African-America cooks of Civil war era and afte

donna

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Malinda Russell was born about 1812 in Tennessee a free woman of color. At age 19 she had decided to move to Liberia. She was robbed of her money in Virginia. She decided to stay in America. She began to work as a cook, companion and laundress in Virginia. She married and had a son who was crippled. After four years her husband died and she returned to Tn. She kept a boarding house for 3 years, than a pastry shop for six years.

In 1864 she was robbed again by a guerrilla party. She never identified them as she was scared for her life. As she said: "Under these circumstances, we were obliged to leave home following a flag of truce out of the Southern borders". She went to Michigan and settled in Paw Paw.

Here she wrote a cookbook called: "A Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen". It was printed in 1866. It is suppose to be first cook book from African-American.

Abby Fisher was born in 1832 in South Carolina. She was raised there and was a slave for 30 years. She learned to cook in Plantation Kitchens of South Carolina. She became a very good cook. She married Alexander Fisher and they had eleven children. After the Civil War they moved to Mobile, Alabama. Then in 1877 they relocated to San Francisco. Here she became in high demand as a cook and caterer for the city's upper class. Her reputation as a cook and her award winning delicacies enabled the Fishers to open their own business in San Francisco known as "Mrs. Abby Fisher & Company" and later known as "Mrs. Abby Fisher, Pickle Manufacturer".

Mrs. Fisher blended African and American cultures by combining the foods and spices from two continents. Her unique dishes with their distinctive flavor represented some of the best Southern cooking of the day. At the insistence of friends and patrons she recorded her knowledge and experience of Southern cooking, pickle, and jelly making in a cook book. The recipes had to be written down by others as she dictated them as she could neither read nor write.

In 1881 Abby Fisher's cook book, "What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc," was published.

These are remarkable stories about African-American women of that era who overcame hardship, war and racism of the time to succeed in the businesses they had and publish a cook book.
 

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donna

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Two recipes from Abby Fisher's Cook book:

"Breakfast Corn Bread

1 teacup boiled rice (about 1/2 c.)
1 1/2 teacup corn meal (about 3/4 c.)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs. lard or butter
3 eggs
1/2 teacup sweet milk (about 1/4 c.)

One tea-cup of rice boiled nice and soft, to one and a half tea-cup of corn meal. Mix together then stir the whole until light. One teaspoonful of salt, one tablespoonful of lard or butter, three eggs, half tea-cup of sweet milk. The rice must be mixed into the meal while hot; can be baked in either muffin cups or a pan."

"Sweet Potato Pie

Two pounds of potatoes will make two pies. Boil the potatoes soft, peel and mash fine through a colander while hot, one tablespoonful of butter to be mashed in with the potato. Take five eggs and beat the yelks (yolks) and whites separate and add one gill(one half cup) milk, sweeten to taste, squeeze the juice of one orange, and grate one half of the peel into the liquid. One half teaspoonful of salt in the potatoes. Have only one crust and that at the bottom of the plate. Bake quickly."
 
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Annie if you can get it moved would appreciate. Thanks for additional information and picture of her book.
I'll bet there are some delicious recipes in that cookbook! MrsP has said many times she first became interested in cooking and learned the basics by sitting in her grandmother's kitchen as a child and watching Miz Emma cook.
 
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donna

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Since the Trivia Questions for June 1-4 are now closed, thought bring this thread back up as was basis for first set of questions. It sometimes good to review an old thread or be able to bring it to attention of new members on the forum.
 

18thVirginia

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Here's the reference to the African American Cookbook Collection at the University of Alabama that I mentioned above, donna.

The University of Alabama Libraries is proud to hold the David Walker Lupton African American Cookbook Collection, one of the largest collections of African American cookbooks in the country.

The collection currently consists of four hundred and fifty volumes covering the period from 1827, when the first book with recipes by an African American was published, through the year 2000.

David Lupton, who collected and published in several areas, put this collection together through intensive effort over a period of ten years. Simultaneously, he compiled a comprehensive bibliography of African American culinary literature, which is in the final stages of publication. Mrs. Lupton, who resides in Oriental, North Carolina, recently stated, “David had a deep conviction that cookbooks compiled by individuals in America of African heritage needed to be identified and preserved.”

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http://www.lib.ua.edu/libraries/hoole/collections/luptoncollection.htm
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Since JPK mentioned Abby Fisher in her current thread on Black Women, bringing this thread back up.
Forgot all about this from last year, Donna! What a good thing one of us has a memory!! So sorry to duplicate cookbooks! Abby's name came up in connection with Black History Month- I kept reading about her travels ( extensive ) and her story ( longggg and amazing ), everything else went right out of my head!
 

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