Oneida Community Cooking – Excerpts

Visitors to the O. C. praise the dinners.  Sometimes when parties first sit down and see no meat, they demur, and doubt whether anything can compensate for the absence of roast meats and broiled chicken; but after eating they are pleased to assure us that they missed nothing, that the bread and the vegetables and the fruits were so nice they did not want any meat.

String beans should not be broken or cut across, but whittled longitudinally, or more strictly diagonally, as a boy whittles a stick.  The whittlings to be thin and less than two inches long.  Boil uncovered in plenty of water.  Take them up with a skimmer, put into a dish with butter on the bottom; or if you choose cream-dressing, into a stew-pan on the back of the range in which the cream has been a little warmed.  We learned this way of cutting string beans of an English woman who had cooked for the gentry in her own country.

Harriet Skinner’s UNIVERSAL MAXIMS in Oneida Community Cooking

Soft water is much to be preferred for all purposes of cooking.  Our spring-water is hard, and we use filtered cistern-water, which indeed is supposed to be the best of any as it is free from all organic impurities.

Cook by steam when you can.  Its convenience for doing many things quickly, safely and nicely cannot be told.

Water should always boil briskly when vegetables are put in, and be kept boiling till they are done.

If you wish to preserve the green color of peas, asparagus, string beans, etc., boil them uncovered.

In cooking omelet and warming sliced potato do not use a spoon or knife, but a pan-cake turner, or shovel which you can slip under your egg or potato and save from sticking without any necessary stirring.

Butter and cream should never be allowed to “cook in” to vegetables.  Add when your tomato or corn or whatever you are cooking is just ready to take up.  The butter should only be melted and the cream only warmed, or the oil will separate and the nice flavor spoiled.

Cream in the OC receipts (recipies) means the top of last night’s milk, the milk standing in water or in a cold place.

For quick rising use Baking Powder, and sweet milk instead of acids and soda.  Mix the powder thoroughly into the flour.  Mrs. H. sifts her flour, after the powder is put into it, three times through a fine sieve.  We have used the Royal Baking Powder, and Holman’s and Taylor’s, and find them all good.

For all kinds of cake beat the white and yolk of eggs separately.  Beat the white to a froth that will cut with a knife.  Use the Dover Egg Beater.  It is a perfect sprite of a machine.  It will take the white of four eggs, and whisk it into a hanging froth in one minute.  Turn it in a common bowl.

In baking cake, beware of a very hot oven.  Cover the bottom of your tins with buttered paper.  Our baker protects cake from scorch by perforated tin covers, an invention of his own.  They are twice as high as the baking tins are deep.



  1. November 8, 2010 at 7:24 am

    I love that tin!

  2. Annette Hopper said,

    December 8, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Have you attempted any of the recipes? Is there a copy of this book in the OC Library?

    • tontine 255 said,

      December 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm

      I haven’t tried any of the recipies yet, but will begin soon! No, there is no copy in the OC Library.
      I transcribed the cookbook from a photocopy and added information for the modern reader. I’ll create a publishable version early next year when my graphic designer has time to work with me on a layout.

  3. CamAmateur said,

    March 6, 2011 at 11:31 am

    what a well done post unlike most other sites with all the spam i had to read today

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