The Skillful Cook, by Mary Harrison

Lately, in my idle moments, I have spent some time poking around on Project Gutenberg’s cookery bookshelf. I’ve found — what, with the distracting news out of D.C. and the semester’s crush of grading — that I’m in serious need of inspiration. And considering that my teaching schedule is such that most nights I don’t get home until well after my usual dinner hour, simply being in the kitchen at suppertime doesn’t really cut it.

So I’ve thought to myself of late: what would get my cooking juices flowing better than a collection of public domain cookbooks, mostly from before 1923, published as primers for housewives and handbooks for the help? What’s better than hundreds of recipes that I never would have considered making on my own, attached to a healthy dose of culinary cultural history?