As someone addicted to cookbooks, it's almost impossible for me to imagine a world without them. I suppose that's why I feel I owe Eliza Acton such a debt of gratitude. Her release of Modern Cookery for Private Families in Britain in 1845 created the model for the cookbook as we know it today, with lists of ingredients and suggested cooking times. It's surprising no one thought to do such a thing before. Thankfully for cookbook-aholics like me, she did. This 46-year-old woman whose poetry had already earned her acclaim refocused her considerable talent to the writing and careful observation of the domestic art of cooking.
This weekend I dusted off a few of Ms. Acton's recipes for a summertime Sunday dinner:
Roast Fowl -- A French Receipt
Carrots in Their Own Juices
(My deviations: For the bird, I prepared bread stuffing instead of meat stuffing, and cooked it separately. If I've learned anything from Alton Brown, it is this: Never trust stuffing cooked inside of a bird. For the carrots, I added the juice of one orange to the cream sauce.)
And the result?
An old-fashioned dinner that more than pleased my family's modern appetite.