Fannie Farmer Facts:
Occupation: cookbook author, educator, "domestic scientist"
Dates: March 23, 1857 - January 15, 1915
Also known as: Fannie Merrit Farmer, Fannie Merritt Farmer
Fannie Farmer Biography:
The publication of Fannie Farmer's 1896 cookbook, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, was an event in cooking history and in making domestic life a bit easier for family cooks, most of whom were women: she included very specific and accurate measurements. Before that cookbook, ingredient lists were estimates. "Your results will vary" was a phrase yet to become popular, but it sure described the older style recipes!
Just as Marion Cunningham has in recent years edited the Fannie Farmer Cookbook so it can be revised to take into account newer preparation techniques and newer dietary preferences, so Fannie Farmer herself was adapting an older cookbook.
During her high school years in Massachusetts, Fannie Farmer (who never married) suffered a stroke with paralysis, and she had to discontinue her education. After recovering, she worked as a mother's helper, where she learned her interest in and aptitude for cooking.
Fannie Farmer, with her parents' support, studied cooking under Mary J. Lincoln at the Boston Cooking-School. Lincoln published the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, used in cooking schools (which were at the time primarily aimed towards training professional cooks). The rising middle class, and the rise in the number of women who wanted to treat homemaking as their domestic profession -- in other words, more seriously and scientifically -- also found the cookbook useful.
Fannie Farmer graduated from Lincoln's school in 1889, remained as assistant director, and became director in 1894.
Fannie Farmer's Cookbook:
Fannie Farmer revised and reissued the cookbook in 1896, with her improvements. She standardized measurements and thereby made the results more dependable.
In 1902, Fannie Farmer left the Boston Cooking School to open Miss Farmer's School of Cookery, aimed not at professional cooks but at training housewives. She was a frequent lecturer on domestic topics, and wrote several more cooking-related books before she died in Boston in 1915. The school continued until 1944.
Fannie Farmer Bibliography:
The 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, Fannie Merritt Farmer. Hardcover, September 1997. (reproduction)
Original 1896 Boston Cooking School Cookbook
Boston Cooking School Cook Book: A Reprint of the 1883 Classic, D. A. Lincoln. Paperback, July 1996. (reproduction)
Chafing Dish Possibilities, Fannie Merritt Farmer, 1898.
Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent, Fannie Merritt Farmer, 1904.
What to Have for Dinner, Fannie Merritt Farmer, 1905.
Catering for Special Occasions, with Menus and Recipes, Fannie Merritt Farmer, 1911.
A New Book of Cookery, Fannie Merritt Farmer, 1912.
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Marion Cunningham. Hardcover, September 1996.
The American Frugal Housewife, Lydia Maria Child. Paperback, December 1999. (reproduction: originally published 1832-1845 -- an earlier attempt at making homemaking more "scientific")