It’s always been a “recipe” to me, at least until the early 1990s. But when I first started The Amish Cook column in 1991 reader letters would occasionally arrive asking if we had a “receipt” for blueberry bread or iced caramel rolls. And my first reaction was “I didn’t buy any blueberry bread, so I don’t have a receipt.” But enough letters came rolling in asking for receipts that I began to take a closer look. At first I dismissed them as simple misspellings, but dozens of letters all with the same error? Probably not….The missives almost always seemed to come from much older Amish Cook readers, hand-scrawled and almost illegible. I remember doing some research at the time and discovering that, yes, receipt was at one time (and probably still is) an acceptable alternative to the word “recipe.”
One of our site regulars had this to say to me about receipt vs. recipe:
I have been reading a book called “A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove” and just ran across a section on Catharine Beecher. I guess you could call her the Martha Stewart of the mid-1800s. At any rate, she authored a handful of publications on domesticity, well-ordered homes and, you guessed it, matters of food, including: “Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book” (1846). There’s even an excerpt from the Receipt-Book: “How to Salt Down Beef to Keep the Year Round. Oh, and if the name Beecher sounds familiar…her sister, Harriet (Beecher) Stowe, was the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” – Rebecca
The letters asking for receipts seem to be slowly dying out. It is interesting to note that the article describes receipt for recipe still being widely used as recently as the 1970s. I can personally vouch for it being later than that. But today, probably the first one in years, a letter arrived from a gentleman in rural Arkansas requesting a “receipt” for tomato jelly.
So, do any of our readers still regularly use receipt over the more common recipe?