When did electrical cooking really become the standard in home kitchens? The invention of the electric cooking range is credited to Thomas Ahearn in 1882, although patents for small electrical cooking appliances had been granted in the USA from about 1859. The large electricity-producing companies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were behind the development of many these appliances, as it was assumed that these would help to drive the demand for electrification of towns.
The New York Edison Company produced a small booklet called Recipes for Cooking by Electricity, in 1911. The recipes in this small book are for tabletop electrical appliances, such as the cooking plate, griddle, chafing dish, waffle iron, frying kettle, and percolator – not electric stoves. It was not until the 1930’s that domestic electric stoves began to replace those run on gas.
The introduction to the book reads:
The devices shown in this little book will be of interest to every housekeeper and will add greatly to the comforts of home. There are also some helpful suggestions as to how to get the best results from the various articles of electric heating and the best way to care for them.
On the following pages will be found a few simple and economical recipes which have been selected with great care. They are particularly well adapted to the electric chafing dish or stove which may be used on the dining room table and connected to the electric lamp socket.
The first new appliance described in the booklet is one that we take for granted nowadays - the toaster.
The Electric Toaster.
Turn the current on the toaster about two minutes before you are ready to use it. Have the bread cut in even slices about one-half inch thick; trim off the crust. The toaster will hold two large slices or four small slices at one time and will brown nicely on both sides in about one minute.
The toaster can be used for 15 minutes at a cost of 1 ¼ cents.
And a recipe for one of my favourite dishes (although it should be ‘Welsh Rabbit’!)
2 lbs. American cheese
1 teaspoonful of butter
I teaspoonful of English mustard
I tablespoonful of Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of Tobasco sauce
The yolk of one egg
½ glass of ale.
Turn the current on to full heat in the electric chafing dish. Have the water boiling in the lower part, then put the butter in the blazer, and when melted add the cheese and stir until the cheese begins to melt. Add the mustard, Tobasco and Worcestershire sauces, and stir in the ale. Keep on stirring until the mixture is perfectly smooth, and then add the yolk of the egg, well beaten. Serve on nicely browned slices of toast, or on toasted crackers.
Cost of current is l ½ cents for making a rarebit of this size.