Mary (Haselhaugen/Larson) Ove: A Compendium of Cookery

December 22, 2017

Mary (Marn) Ove, the original owner of the Compendium of Cookery is pictured second from the right. Her daughters Ida (second from left) and Nettie (fourth from left) are also pictured. Unfortunately, I do not know the others in the photo.
Food and family heritage

One of the most precious objects I inherited from my mom’s side of the family is a well-worn recipe book from 1890, “The Compendium of Cookery and Reliable Recipes” which originally belonged to my second great-grandmother, Mary (Haselhaugen/Larson) Ove. Anyone who has visited my house knows how much I love to cook for family and friends, so this cookbook is truly a treasure to me.

Mary was the daughter of Lars, “The Husmann”, who I recently wrote about in a blog post linked here. Mary was born in Norway and immigrated to Wisconsin in 1877. She wed Jacob Ove in 1888 and moved from Baldwin, Wisconsin to Minnesota soon after the birth of her daughter, Nettie, in 1890. She must have bought the 1890 cookbook right after it was published because the inside cover still lists her home as Baldwin.

rules for eating

This well-rounded reference book contains so much more than just recipes. The book begins with rules for eating and offers tips on “marketing” (buying things at the market). Apparently, our generation has completely abandoned propriety. How many times have I been guilty of sitting down for a meal even though I was anxious or tired?


The recipes go beyond traditional meals to include “cosmetiques” and “invalid cookery”. Old recipe clippings were inserted into pages as bookmarks. The bookmarked pages, pictured below, include methods for preparing pigeon and a complexion wash recipe that claims to remove “flesh worms”. I wonder if this is the cookbook “Bumps” (Marvin Gregoire) used to prepare his infamous Pigeon Pie?

household and fashion tips

The miscellaneous section contains tips on how to make hard soap, clean lamp wicks, and mix cement for stove repair. Additional tips include how to be handsome, have courage, and get rid of tapeworms.  Fashion advice absolutely forbids white stockings and high-heeled boots. “A good bootmaker will not make high heels now, even if paid double price to do so.”

the book of knowledge

The final section is a book of knowledge which includes “1000 ways of getting rich”. One of the primary wealth creation methods was for the housewife to learn the “Secrets of the liquor trade”, which included recipes for making champagne, wine, port, brandy, and whiskey.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into everyday life in the 1890’s. The cookbook’s copyright has expired, so it is in the public domain of the United States and can be freely copied and distributed. If anyone is interested in trying some of the old recipes, the complete digitized version of this cookbook is available on (follow the link.)

To learn more about Mary Ove and her family, click on the tree link below:

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