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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

The Enterprising Housekeeper

The Enterprising Housekeeper

To aid home makers in preparing healthy and economical meals, the Enterprising Manufacturing Company of Pennsylvania manufactured labor-saving devices -- coffee mills, meat choppers, food choppers, raisin and grape seeders, fruit, wine, and juice presses, ice shredders, spice mills, and meat juice extractors. What better way to advertise than through a cookbook whose recipes required the use of their products? The Enterprising Housekeeper was both cookbook and advertisement.

The Enterprising Housekeeper went through several editions. The 3rd edition was distributed at the Pan-American Exposition.

Johnson, Helen Louise. The Enterprising Housekeeper: Suggestions for Breakfast, Luncheon and Supper. 3rd edition. Philadelphia, Pa.: Enterprise Manufacturing Co. of Pennsylvania, 1900.

It's author, Helen Louise Johnson, had previously authored Recipes for the Sutterley Chafing Dish (Sutterley, 1894) and Chafing-Dish Delicacies (Table Talk Publishing Company, 1894). The Enterprising Housekeeper was first published in 1896 and was last published in 1909. The products of the Enterprise Manufacturing Company are listed in its detailed catalogs.


As you examine the pages of The Enterprising Housekeeper you will find recipes to try, but be sure to read the prefatory and explanatory material. The text reveals things about America's attitude toward itself and the world.

Americans are/were a hard-working people, harder working than other people, the section on breakfast, luncheon, and supper asserts (page 8).

... As a race we are a hardworking people; a nation of wage-earners, yet high-strung and nervously organized. American habits, as well as climate, make the American breakfast a necessity. We cannot work on the delicate fare of the Frenchman, nor can we so easily assimilate the heavy food of the Englishman.

The Introduction (pages 6-7) asks and answers the question: "The value of a woman's work may not always be equated with financial savings, so how can the purchase of kitchen machinery be justified?" The author makes a compelling argument, clearly to men.

...Saving a woman's time may not mean a return in actual dollars and cents, but saving her energy does. If your cook can accomplish her work in such time that she has a portion of each day for rest and recreation, that work will undoubtedly be better done. The better equipped the shop, the better work it can turn out in a limited time, and the well-fitted kitchen represents the engine-room of the home, where energy, health, and happiness are manufactured. Men often refuse the money for kitchen equipment, paying many times as much in doctors' bills without realizing why: and the bills represent only a portion of the loss. The women who lack mechanical ability to see the saving use of certain devices are apt to decline to adopt them -- the others only because, for some reason, they must.

The effective use of the three standard meals as regards economy and health is thoroughly discussed. The Enterprising Housekeeper offers specific advice for each meal. "Left-overs" and plate appeal receive considerable attention.


Image of coffee grinder

Method, system, and science characterized discussions of cooking at the turn of the century. The Enterprising Housekeeper advised care and the careful reading of directions.

Introduction (page 7):

Simple explanations of the working of the machines mentioned are given with the guarantee of the manufacturers to do all in their power toward remedying seeming or actual defects. A household machine differs in no way from those made for other purposes: they all wear with use. Parts of all these machines can be replaced at a nominal cost, if lost or worn. It is more often the case than not, that when a meat chopper will not work, its knife has been put in wrong side out, and the machine, not the worker, receives the blame for the worker's error. The coffee mills occasionally need a new screw, but are not helplessly disabled when this occurs. Treat your household implements with the same intelligence you ask of your child with his toys. Read the directions carefully and follow them.

Similar in intent is the section,"The Care of Utensils" (pg. 77), which begins with an argument for why one should maintain kitchen tools.

Nothing more quickly defines the cook than the care taken of his or her utensils, for a good workman loves and cares for his tools. There are keepers of stables who abuse their horses, and there are people who even abuse their own children, as well as cooks who abuse the tools provided for them that their labors may be more easily performed.

This, however, is a poor argument against a well outfitted kitchen, for the inappreciative cook is usually the unskilled one, and the one who leaves a meat chopper uncleaned will generally do the same with a tin pan.

Cooking is a science, as well as an art, and without measurement there is no science and no predictable result.

Measuring (page 39):
There may be --in fact, evidence proves that there are--good cooks who seemingly never measure anything, but by "about so much of this," and "a pinch of that," bring about results so delicious that the would-be follower at once determines to throw rules to the winds and try the same way. Good cooks always measure--one by the cup and spoon, because she must; another by the judgement and experience long years of doing the same thing over and over again have given her; and the chances are that, unless you have the rare gift of cooking straight from the gods, you had better cling to exact measures and weights if you wish the best result every time, instead of once in a while.


Finally, The Enterprising Housekeeper argued that traditional ways of treating illness could be enhanced by the modern technology of superior kitchen appliances.

The Enterprise meat Juice Extractor The Enterprise Meat Juice Extractor (pg. 74):
There is no thing which, in cases of protracted illness or in imperfect nutrition, has to be served more often than beef juice. Beef juice is not beef tea, for the latter is weakened by the admixture of water, while the former is the pure and simple juice of beef--nourishment in one of its most concentrated forms. In many homes, when sickness comes, much material and time are wasted by the primitive methods of extracting the beef juice needed. In such cases the possession of a Meat Juice Extractor is an economy, even could it be used for the meat alone. It can be used, however, in extracting fruit juices in small quantities, sufficient for invalid and convalescent dishes.

Now that you've been introduced to some of the subtleties interesting asides of The Enterprising
Housekeeper
, it's time to step back into time and browse its pages.