Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Lottie Moon Cook Book

Depending on a host of circumstances, a cookbook can be many things. Many were conceived as silhouetted passages recorded in family manuscripts handed down from generation to generation. Sprinkled with social history and darned in intimate family moments, these unpretentious hand crafted compositions cast a shadow on societies ever changing eating habits. I love them for many reasons. While cooking is the art of preparing food for the nourishment of the human body, cookbooks don't always paint a transparent glimpse into the living past but more of an interpretation as conveyed by the "artist." With these snippets of clues, one can imagine the blend of ingredients that shaped our palates. Authors may have had their purposes or expertise, however, as readers, we get to read between the lines. I treasure cookbooks for their functionality. Despite their age, these huddled messengers of the past, portray a distinct snapshot because of their combination of simplicity but also because of that essence they capture.

Along with Bibles, cookbooks were among the earliest of books printed. Many of these gifts from the past were seasoned with generous servings of medical advice, household hints, pictorial representations and stylish recipes. Bound in recognizable vignettes, chapter after chapter the virtues of domesticity were praised and rewarded. Some cookbooks became quite influential despite their narrative style. Today, I would like to share one such cookbook with you; the Lottie Moon Cookbook.

Who was Lottie Moon?

Born in Virginia on December 12, 1840, Lottie (short for Charlotte) Digges Moon was raised in a family "of culture and means" rooted in a deep foundation of Christian Faith and missionary devotion. She would grow to become one of the world’s most well known missionaries, mostly in rural China, and became a tireless advocate for support of foreign missions. Though she stood just 4’3” tall, she laid a foundation for solid support for missions among Southern Baptists.

Lottie Moon was born in 1840, third in a family of five girls and two boys, on the family’s fifteen-hundred-acre tobacco plantation known as Viewmont. Her father, Edward Moon, was the largest slaveholder (fifty-two slaves) in Albemarle County; he was also a merchant and a lay leader in the Baptist church. The Moon family valued education, and at age fourteen Lottie went to school at the Virginia Female Seminary at Botetourt Springs (later known as Hollins) and later at Albemarle Female Institute, Charlottesville where she became one of the first women in the South to receive both a bachelor’s degree and Master of Arts degree in teaching specializing in modern languages. A spirited and outspoken girl, Lottie was indifferent to her Southern Baptist upbringing until her late teens... (source)
The aroma of biscuits, ham, gravy, fired chicken, fresh vegetables, pigeon soup, and apple pie must have often filled Viewmont, a plantation home in Albermarle County Virginia...The kitchen was a separate building from the house and there were slaves to help with the work. Mrs. Moon, however, was the one who looked after the food and clothing for the family, directed their social life, and supervised the children's education and religious training.

Lottie seems to have been a refreshing individual with a happy and somewhat mischievous disposition. She loved the outdoors but nevertheless managed to master the "indoor arts" expected of young ladies then. Her bright mind was a challenge to the governesses and tutors who taught at Viewmont. With a mind of her own, Lottie did not seem religiously inclined and enjoyed the classics more than the Bible.

At the early age of 12, Lottie evidenced a flair for cooking. Sabbath day observance was very strict at Viewmont. All cooking for Sunday was completed on Saturday, and Sunday dinner was always served cold.

Somehow Lottie managed to remain at home one Sunday morning in 1852. While the family was at church service, she prepared a sumptuous meal all by herself. One wonders which Virginia dishes she chose to make that day! Lottie Moon Cook Book pgs.21-22

It is said, Lottie rebelled against Christianity until she was in college.

It was while attending school in Charlottesville that Lottie accepted Christ during an evangelistic meeting held on campus by then pastor John Albert Broadus.  At the age of eighteen years old, Lottie Moon became a Christian on December 21, 1858. (excellent source)

There is a wealth of information available online about the legacy of Lottie Moon. I have left a few resources for you to explore below. After 39 years as a missionary, mostly in China's Shantung province, Lottie Moon died on Christmas Eve in 1912. In 1918, the Woman’s Missionary Union named the annual Christmas offering for international missions in honor of Lottie Moon. Each Christmas season, Southern Baptist churches collect the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to support the missionaries and their work.

Although it was unusual for women of her time, Lottie had learned many languages, including Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish and Hebrew. In response to an inspiring missionary message she heard in February, 1873, Lottie Moon and her teacher friend, Miss A. C. Stafford, volunteered for missionary service. Single women were not usually sent as missionaries, but Lottie was not a believer in barriers. She found financial support from Baptist women in Virginia and was appointed as a Southern Baptist foreign missionary to China on July 7, 1873. She left port for China on September 1, 1873. 

The Cookie Lady

When Lottie Moon sailed for China in 1873, she brought with her the latest edition of Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book. Originally published as Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book, a Practical System for Private Families, in Town and Country with Directions for Carving and Arranging the Tables for Dinners, and Parties in 1872, it is believed, Lottie's "go to" cookbook was the 1875 revised edition authored by socially prominent Georgia native Annabella P. Hill. (Annabella Hill raised six children and managed a household that included as many as ten boarders in LaGrange, Georgia. She also served as the principal of the local Orphan's School.) Although this website seems to have misspelled her name, there's a short article about Mrs. Hill's book here.

Though the actual copyright date of Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book was 1872, the flyleaf of Miss Moon's copy was inscribed "L. Moon Jan. 7th 1875." which indicates that Lottie Moon used these recipes for some thirty-eight years during her forty-year tenure as a missionary in china.(pg.7)
Lottie Moon

The Lottie Moon Cook Book is a compilation of recipes gleaned from Lottie's personal copy of Mrs. Hill's recipes. The selected recipes are those which Lottie Moon marked with an X. Some recipes were also annotated by Lottie Moon with comments and dates used. The last recorded date in her cookbook, May 18, 1912, was inscribed besides a recipe for Chambliss Pudding. 

From the book:

Those first few years spent in Tengchow were busy but rather discouraging ones. There was distrust toward foreigners and she was often called the "Devil Old Woman." [she was 33 years old when she went to China] One day she tried a new method to reach people; cookies!... Chinese boys and girls couldn't resist the smell of those delicious cookies and as they munched happily, Lottie Moon had an opportunity to tell them the good news of Christ.

She served cookies many, many times through the years and used them as a point of contact with the Chinese people. Her cookie jar was also famous with children of missionary families who stopped over in her home from time to time.

Miss Moon, according to a China missionary, was lovingly nicknamed "The Cookie Lady." Her other more familar nickname came to be "The Heavenly Book Visitor" which replaced the "Devil Old Woman."

The Cookie Lady distributing tea cakes. Scene from film of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Lottie Moon Story

Lottie named her 300 year old home in China "The Little Cross Roads." Like a true home maker she transformed it into a little bit of old Virginia and greeted all who visited with Southern hospitality.

...Connected by an outer wall, three separate building or apartments surrounded a courtyard. One served as her own quarters, another as a guest house for foreigners, and the third as quarters for her Chinese servants and guests...When a newly appointed missionary, Dr. J. McF. Gaston visited her home in 1908 he commented that he had stepped into "Old Virginia" as he sat down to a dinner such as those served in that state. In one of her letters, (thank goodness, she was a prolific writer) Lottie mentioned she served oyster soup to her guests. Her home was a haven where weary missionaries from the interior of China could rest for a while. A crape myrtle brought from Virginia, touch-me-nots, hollyhocks, verbena and many roses scented the air where small crowds of women gathered to learn about Christianity.

For 39 years Lottie Moon labored in Tengchow and in P'ingtu. She fought many battles on behalf of the Chinese she grew to love. She was a leader in the effort to ban the foot-binding of young girls; She broke down barriers against the education of girls and labored under difficult circumstances.

It was in P'ingtu that Lottie first began to dress in Chinese clothing...Soon she was teaching and visiting from sunup to sundown. Often she would be inside a home teaching women, and the men would gather outside the windows to listen to her speak. She wrote, "I am trying honestly to do the work that could fill the hands of three or four women, and in addition must do the work that ought to be done by young men." (source)

After the Chinese Revolution, a famine struck China. Lottie continued to put the needs of others above her own. As she saw people starving, she gave away all she had to save them. She spent the last of her own money buying food for others. As she slowly starved, her Christian friends grew worried about her deteriorating health. On December 20, 1912 a missionary nurse, Miss Cynthia Miller, accompanied her as she set sail back to America. Aboard ship, on Christmas Eve of that year, while anchored at Kobe, Japan she died. It is said she weighed less than 60 pounds. On January 28, 1913, a memorial service for Charlotte Moon was held at the Second Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia.

The inscription on her tombstone includes her name, the dates 1840-1912, and these words: "Forty years a missionary of Southern Baptist Convention in China. "Faithful unto Death."
Lottie Moon's desk and memorabilia, including Mrs. Hills New Cook Book, in the Lottie Moon Room of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The author of the 1969 edition of the Lottie Moon Cook Book, Claude Rhea, did not change any of the wording formatted in the original book. Many of the recipes include measurements for a tumbler full, of milk, or a gill of cream. Thankfully, a table of weights and measurements is included in the book for translation.

Since today is Gingerbread House Day, I thought I would include a recipe for Colquitt Ginger Bread found on page 184 of the book. A quick search leads me to believe the recipe is named after Colquitt, Georgia. However, one never knows for sure:)

Colquitt Ginger Bread
Half pound of butter, one quarter of a pound of brown sugar, one tablespoonful of ginger, one teaspoonful of cinnamon, six eggs, three gills of molasses, half a gill of milk, the grating of one orange, half pound of flour, half pound of corn starch, and a teaspoonful of soda.

Beat the butter, sugar, and spice well together; mix the flour and starch. Beat the eggs, and add them to the starch and flour, half at a time. Stir the milk and molasses in; then the remainder of the flour and starch. After beating, add the soda. Line with paper, and grease the pan. Bake in moderate oven.

1. Lottie Moon Biography
2. A Snapshot of Lottie Moon's Life
3. Lottie Moon’s Cookie recipe @ Chan Knits
4. Lottie Moon Booklet (PDF)
5. Lottie Moon: Giving Her All for China By Geoff Benge (limited viewing @ google books)
6. Descendants of Edward Harris Moon
7. Gingerbread House Day (previous post)


  1. Beautiful, Louise. Just a fascinating post! Your affection for history is so apparent.

  2. This is a really neat post. I looooove my grandmother's old cookbooks with old family notations. We even have recipes calling for "a cup" of flower, but the cup is referring to a coffee cup that was always used as a measure, which is actually more like 1 and 1/3 cups :)

    You are a beautiful writer - your son sure comes by it honestly!

  3. Louise,

    This is just fantastic, especially since I am also researching early Virginia culinary history right now.

    Thanks for sharing all this!


  4. She's practically from my back yard! Why don't I have her cookbook? (I do know her name, but I learned much more from your post...)

  5. Hi Louise, I love knowing the history behind things and am a big fan of ‘historic’ recipes and finding out where they come from.

    It is things like your post which makes me regret not asking my Nan more about her life, recipes and herself. Thankyou for such a lovely post



  6. You are so talented at pulling together the details. I always learn so much from your posts.

  7. I do look forward to each of your new posts. What a great lady was this Lottie Moon!

  8. Thanks for visiting Jane. I'm delighted you enjoyed this post:)

    I would love to reminisce with you over a cup of tea sometime, dear Kyla. I'm sure your grandmother's cookbooks hold treasured family memories.

    Hi Cindy! How exciting to be researching Virginia's culinary history. I do hope you will be sharing your discoveries on your blog.

    Hi Channon, Wow! I guess you really did enjoy this post. I'm so glad you posted Miss Moon's cookie recipe on your blog. I found out a couple of new things about her just by visiting you. Thanks!

  9. Hi Gillian, I know how you feel. I wish I had done the same. Now, I am writing quick notes down for my grandchildren. Hopefully, someday I will gather them all together in one notebook. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. I'm still "smelling" those beautiful flowers of yours:)

    Hi Kathy! Thanks for dropping by. If you have an extra copy of this book, or come across it in your treasure hunts, let me know. There are a few readers out there looking for a first edition. I'll send them your way!!!

  10. Hi Julia, Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm delighted you enjoyed this post. Lottie Moon was quite a remarkable woman. I had to control myself from going into too much detail.

  11. Hello darling and thank you for visiting my cottage and for leaving kind words behind, much appreciated. You have a lovely blog full of interesting posts and a new follower…me. Please stop by and visit me again, I am looking forward to our future afternoon tea get-togethers.

    Love & Hugs

  12. How fascinating to learn about the far-flung adventures of Lottie Moon. Thanks for introducing us, Louise!

  13. You've gone into so much detail, this post is unreal. It's a lot for one sitting, you could easily have made it into several posts.

    I never thought of a cookbook as part of history, but then I've only ever seen the bought ones. It would be great to have one that has been passed down through the ages.

  14. So interesting! I had never heard of her before. I was born where she died. Well, not on a boat..

  15. There's always plenty of beef tips and rice here!

  16. That got the geneaolgy bug activated in me again! That was a great historical portrait.

    I really like the old writing, the original, that you scanned.

  17. Thank you Duchess, I am so glad you enjoyed your visit. Do stop by again when you're in the neighborhood. I can't wait for our next Kettledrum:)

    Thanks for visiting T.W. I wish I could have dug up more about her culinary tastes.

    Hi there Sire, thanks for stopping. I thought about making it more than one post but decided against it. Perhaps, I should have. Hence the need for my own URL. Thanks for all your help with the Wordpress info.
    I don't think I have an Australian cookbook yet. Any suggestions?

    Hi Natashya, Does someone have a birthday coming:) I'm glad you like the post!

    Thanks duckie, I'll keep that in mind. You make a "mean" beef tips and rice:)

    Hi Tina, it seems this post had that sort of affect on Chan too!!! She's delving into more history "as we speak." The book is way cooooool...thanks for stopping.

  18. Louise,

    I mentioned your blog as being one of my favorites on my blog, Gherkins & Tomatoes, today. (12/16/09)


    (I didn't know where else to send the message! So it's a comment.)

  19. Thank you Cindy. It was so sweet of you to include me in such a fascinating list of food blogs; some of which I have never visited.

  20. An Aussie cook book, man I reckon I'm the wrong bloke to ask that question. If I come across one, I'll be sure to let you know.

  21. Thank you for this glimpse into history, this tribute to Lottie Moon's memory. I had never heard of Lottie Moon, but you have brought her to life here in your blog. It's always good to read about people who have served as quiet, positive influences, serving others without expectation of fame or glory. (Nothing wrong with fame and glory in service to others, but nice to shed a bit of light on those who would never turn the spotlight on themselves, too.)

    I find old recipes fascinating, too; sometimes, they are written in such a way that they might just as well be written in a foreign language - they provide insight into everyday living that we modern women can barely fathom. I remember reading about pioneer women on the Oregon Trail, honestly thinking that if I had to endure all that these women endured, I'd just lay at the side of the road to die and say "Go on without me!" (Probably not, but these were strong, capable, amazing women who led ordinary lives for their time. We should re-read, whenever we're feeling stressed and put upon.)

    To find this wonderful post, I followed the hand-crafted links from Sire's delightful Journey to Bloggersville post.

  22. Welcome Holly. I'm delighted that you enjoyed this post. You have no idea how much I appreciate your kind words. One of the reasons I started this blog was to try to introduce others to the people behind the books. Without them, treasured recipes and may have been lost forever. It is important to some times image their footsteps. I plan on doing a post about the Oregon Trail someday. Thanks again for visiting, do drop by anytime. I'll provide the coffee:)

  23. Thanks for share this information, i really didn't know about that, will get advantage from this,Thanks for share this.

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  24. You are more than welcome, Daniel. Thank YOU for visiting:)

  25. Louise, thank you for information about this cook book. The recipes are awesome. I am also researching early Virginia culinary history right now and even ordered my term paper on this topic in custom writing service. Waiting for your updates.

  26. Thanks for visiting "custom." I'm delighted you enjoyed this post. Drop by any time:)

  27. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  28. Great website...and cool article man...thanks for the great post...keep on posting such articles... Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.

  29. The modern methods and appliances of cooking are much more convenient, efficient and reliable in contrast to the conventional methods and appliances that were used by earlier generation to prepare food.

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  30. It's a fantastic cook books, Many peoples will get the help from this book, It has many nice and interesting Recipe to making a good healthy and yummy tasty food;s for the family.

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  31. If you're reviewing a cookbook try as many recipes as possible. Five recipes is usually a good number to shoot for as it gives you a chance to sample various dishes and write a comprehensive review, however the more recipes you try the better. You don't have to mention every single dish, but it gives you choices for reference and you can state with confidence if they worked or not, and why.

  32. This is not only very educational but a good bit of history here. Very nice job.

  33. The LOTTIE MOON COOK BOOK is a compilation of recipes taken from Lottie’s personal copy of Mrs. Hill recipes which she starred or dated or commented on. It also contains a fascinating biographical sketch of Lottie Moon, as well as pictures of actual pages of her book.
    Claude Rhea is a musical artist who spends a great deal of his time traveling. Since one of his hobbies is cooking and eating gourmet foods, traveling offers him an excellent opportunity to collect unusual recipes. When he came across Lottie Moon’s personal cookbook in the Archives of Southern Seminary in Louisville, the idea of the LOTTIE MOON COOK BOOK was born. Mr. Rhea has a Doctor of Music Education degree from Florida State University and has taught at both New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and at Houston Baptist College. He has also held administrative posts at Houston Baptist College and with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. In September 1969 he became Chairman of the Division of Music of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.
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  34. Another great article. I like that you are very honest and direct to the point.

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  35. Thank you chhipa. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. It was fun to do!!! Drop by anytime:)

  36. My friend suggested me to visit your blog. Very well explained. I would like to say that it is very interesting to read your blog.


  37. Thank you for your kind words, anon. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit. Please thank your friend for me.

    BTW, I saved your link. I'm thinking about a few minor blog design changes. Thanks for dropping by...

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  39. Welcome! I'm Delighted you enjoyed it perfect. I visited your site. It looks like your shop is in Australia:) Thank you so much for visiting...

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  42. nice post..There are many person searching about that now they will find enough resources by your post.Thank you for sharing to us.Please one more post about that..

  43. Wow... This would be so much fun by having this book.

  44. Thank you new visitors.

    I am delighted this post is being shared! Do drop by anytime:)

    Folding... It is very difficult to find this book but keep looking, it took me over 5 years!

  45. The stuff here is pretty cool and awesome. I got the meaning clearly and need no longer time to understand it. It’s really interesting.

  46. I'm amazed that such an old cookbook was still dug up today. I'm wondering if the cookbook was preserved by her descendants or something. Something that old wouldn't survive if it's just lying around.
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  47. Thank you obagi. I'm glad you enjoyed it:)

    Hi car insurance. I believe this book was preserved by a collector such as myself. It sits proudly on my shelf and I'm delighted! Thanks for visiting...

  48. Hello again louise,

    My knowledge with antiques is very limited so I'm quite curious on how you deal with these stuff. Presently, how do you put the book on display and what are your counter measures to preserve the book to retain it's present condition?

    Thanks for your answer in advance. It's a pleasure visiting your site. :)
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  49. Nice blog. Are those photographs from the book too? It looks really clear for an old photo.
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  50. Like many of my books, car insurance Lottie is in a protective bookcase under optimum conditions. Thanks for asking...

    Thanks you. Yes, Credit Score, they are pictures from the book.

  51. It would be great if you could add the rest of the recipes in the book as well. I'm curious to know if Lottie had other unique recipes from their time.

  52. That's a wonderful idea, Lucy! Perhaps I will see if I can share some of her recipes on the 12th of December. Just in time for her birthday! In the mean time, I will see what other info I can find out about her.

    Thank you so much for dropping by and offering your constructive comments.

  53. Can I just say, this blog is what got me through the day today. Every time I read it, I just get more and more excited about whats next. Very refreshing blog and very refreshing ideas. Im glad that I came across this when I did. I love what youve got to say and the way you say it.

  54. Such kind words, dating Thank you so very much. Drop by anytime:)

    Hi Custom. Thanks for visiting. I'm delighted you enjoyed this post. It was quite a learning experience for me too:)

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise