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Cookery Lessons, 1915-1917

F.S.N.S. Cooking Class, 1916
F.S.N.S. Cooking Class, 1916Mantor Library at UMF

Household Arts courses first appeared in the Farmington State Normal School's Catalog and Annual Circular in fall 1911. With demand in public schools for teachers trained exclusively in the domestic arts, the Normal School established a program specifically for training such teachers.

Students in the two year course studied sewing, cooking, home management, and other domestic science subjects. They also took selected courses from the regular Normal School program of study and were given time to practice teaching under supervision.

The first year of the Household Arts program included elementary cooking and sewing, household management, textiles, and home nursing. The second year included advanced cookery and sewing, care of children, household chemistry, sanitation, millinery, needlework and laundry.

An optional third year consisted of more advanced cookery and sewing, as well as accounts, marketing, food production and manufacture, costume design, house decoration, theory and practice of domestic science, practice teaching and academic work. It was intended to prepare students to be supervisors and special teachers of household arts in public schools.

The Cookery Notebooks of Annah Wright

Annah E. Wright entered F.S.N.S. in the fall of 1915. She was 23 years old, from Machiasport, Maine, and already had 100 weeks of teaching experience when she began the two year Household Art program.

Annah was a good student and did very well in her classes. The majority of her coursework was in domestic science subjects, and she excelled at sewing, millinery, and needlework. She was not as strong a student in Physics, Household Chemistry, and Drawing. Her other classes included Biology, Botany, Psychology, Geography, Physiology, English Grammar and Penmanship.

Her handwritten notebooks provide a glimpse into the experiences of a Normal student in the Household arts program as she learned cookery.

Junior Cooking (Fall, 1915)

At F.S.N.S., Cookery was taught with the an emphasis on meal preparation and menu planning. Outfitted in their required uniform of white (a plain tailored skirt, tailored shirtwaist with full or three-quarter length sleeves and soft turnover or stiff linen turnover collar, and an apron with bib and pocket), the students were introduced to basic cooking skills. They learned to make oatmeal, boiled rice, poached and boiled eggs, and simple white sauces. Hot beverages – tea, coffee and cocoa – were also covered, along with various dishes made with potato or macaroni.

Lyonnaise Potatoes

2 cups cold boiled potatoes
1 tbsp. onion finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. butter
2 t. salt

Cut potatoes into slices or cubes. Cook onion in the butter (1 ½ tbsp.) Melt with 2 tbsp. butter, season with salt and butter. Add pot. And onions. Mix well, place over fire to get hot. Stir occasionally with a fork.

Junior Cooking (Spring Term, 1916)

After mastering some of the basics in the Fall Term, the class moved on to soups, salad dressings, puddings and custards. Basic lessons on cooking meats and use of leavening agents were also introduced. Annah’s notes also make references to recipes in the Fannie Farmer cook book, which was used as a class text.

Cranberry Pudding

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 ½ cups flour
1 ¼ tbsp. baking powder
½ cup milk
1 ½ cup cranberries

Cream butter, add sugar gradually and eggs well beaten. Mix and sift flour and baking powder and add alternately with milk to the first mixture, stir in berries, turn into butter mold, cover (butter cover also) steam 3 hours, serve with thin cream sweetened and flavored with nutmeg or with foamy sauce No. 1. (1/3 recipe enuf for 3 girls)

Senior Cooking (Fall, 1916)

The new term covered even more advanced cookery. Annah made jams and jellies and learned the basics of canning. Other recipes included omelets, rice pudding, meringue, and brown sugar syrup. Several lessons covered making yeast breads and the students learned to make doughnuts and croquettes.

F.S.N.S. Domestic Science students with their fresh baked bread


1/8 c. sugar
1/3 t. butter
½ egg
½ t. baking powder
7 tbsp. flour
1/8 c. milk

Cream butter and add ½ of sugar. Beat egg until light and add remaining sugar to egg. Combine mixtures. Add flour mixed and sifted with baking powder, salt and spices. Then add milk. Add enuf flour to make stiff enuf for a dough. Put on a board and knead slightly. Roll into ½ in thickness. Cut n fry in deep fat. Brown one side and then the other. (Sugar with plain or powdered sugar.)

Senior Cooking II and III (Winter Term, 1916 and Spring Term, 1917)

In the next rounds of instruction, the students ventured into candy, making peanut brittle, fudge and fondant. Pie crust and “frozen dishes”- such as Philadelphia ice cream, cocoa frappe and frozen custard - were also covered. Lessons on different cuts of meats and the best ways to cook them were followed by more advanced forms of cooking, such as fireless cookery and use of chafing dishes.

Students began exploring “experimental cookery” using beef loaf, egg powders, and evaporated and condensed milk. For one experimental lesson, Annah recorded her observations comparing deep fat frying of plain and chocolate doughnuts in lard, Crisco and Wesson Oil. During this term, students also served a formal dinner to the State Board of Education.

Annah Wright graduated from the Normal School in June, 1917. She married Granville C. Gray and lived in Presque Isle, Maine.

The F.S.N.S. Cook Books

In 1922, the Normal School published a Household Arts Cook Book, which sold for 50 cents. Arranged alphabetically by food type, it had recipes for breads, cake, cake frostings, entrees, fish, ices and ice creams, meats, puddings, salads, sauces and soups. Lunch box and seasonal menus suggestions were included. The recipe for traditional Domestic Economy Cake, which was taught in Senior Cooking II, was also included in the booklet:

Domestic Economy Cake

3 square chocolate
3/8 cup butter
¾ cup boiling water
2 small eggs
1 ½ cup pastry flour
3/8 cup sour milk
1 1/8 teaspoon soda

Pour water over chocolate and butter, stir until melted. Add sugar, flour with which soda has been sifted, and milk. Break eggs in last and beat. Bake in two layers and use this filling:

2-3 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg yoke
1 square chocolate or two heaping tablespoons of cocoa
½ cup sugar

Scald milk and add to the ingredients which have been mixed. Cook in double boiler until thickened. Cool, put between layers. Use egg white for boiled frosting.

In 1935, the Normal School’s Home Economics Department published a new book of recipes compiled by Mary Palmer, who taught in the program, and Helen E. Lockwood, who was the program director. It was intended for the students and alumnae of the program at the Normal School as well as students of home economics in the town of Farmington. In addition to the categories of the previous cook book, there were recipes for Creamed and Scalloped Dishes, Eggs, Fruits, Desserts (including Frozen), Salad Dressings and Chowders. A section of “Miscellaneous Supper or Luncheon Dishes” included recipes for English monkey, Welsh rarebit, cheese fondue, baked beans, and Boston roast.

Boston Roast

2 c. baked beans
½ lb. cheese
1 c. moist bread crumbs
½ tsp. salt

Mash beans. Cut cheese into small pieces. Mix beans, cheese and crumbs and heat over direct heat until cheese melts and all is blended. Put into greased baking dish and bake 20 to 30 min. Serve with tomato sauce.

Full text copies of the F.S.N.S. cookbooks can be viewed on UMF's digital collections site, Scholarworks.

Sources: Cookery notebooks of Annah E. Wright, 1915 - 1917; Admissions Record Book, 1891-1928, Farmington State Normal School; Attendance Record Book, 1911-1922, Farmington State Normal School; Ranks in Household Arts, Book I, 1913-1926, Farmington State Normal School; Catalogue and Annual Circular for the Year Ending June 15, 1916, State Normal and Training School, Farmington, Maine; Catalogue and Annual Circular for the Year Ending June 21, 1917, State Normal and Training School, Farmington, Maine; Household Arts Cook Book, Farmington State Normal School, 1922; Recipes, Farmington State Normal School, 1935; Alumni records, Class of 1917.