A good many wives are utterly spoiled by mismanagement in cooking and so are not tender and good. Some men keep them constantly in hot water; others let them freeze by their carelessness and indifference. Some keep them in a stew with irritating ways and words. Some husbands keep them pickled, while others waste them shamefully. It cannot be supposed that any wife will be tender and good when so managed, but they are really delicious when prepared properly.
In selecting a wife, you should be guided by the silvery appearance as in buying a mackerel; not by the golden tint as if you wanted salmon. Do not go to the market for her as the best ones are always brought to the door. Be sure to select her yourself as tastes differ. It is far better to have none unless you will patiently learnt how to cook her.
Of course, as preserving a kettle of the finest porcelain is best, but if you have nothing better than an earthenware pippin, it will do—with care. Like crabs and lobsters, wives are cooked alive. They sometimes fly out of the kettle and do so become burned and crusty on the edges, so it is wise to secure her in the kettle with a strong silken cord called Comfort, as the once called Duty is apt to be weak. Make a clear, steady flame of love, warmth and cheerfulness. Set her as near this as seems to agree with her.
If she sputters, do not be anxious, for some wives do this until they are quite done. Add a little sugar in the form of what confectioners call kisses, but use no pepper or vinegar on any account. Season to taste with spices, good humor and gaiety preferred, but seasoning must always be with great discretion and caution. Avoid sharpness in testing her for tenderness. Stir her gently, lest she lie to flat and close to the kettle and so become useless. You cannot fail to know when she is done. If so treated, you will find her very digestible, agreeing with you perfectly; and she will keep as long as you choose, unless you become careless and slow the home fires to grow cold. Thus prepared, she will serve a lifetime of happiness!
From the Yankee Kitchen Cookbook…Author and Date unknown, but from the early 1800’s