Southern Cooking by Mrs. S.R. Dull


Any discussion of Georgia cookbooks begins with Henrietta Stanley Dull’s regional masterwork. An able cook who became the family wage earner when her husband’s health failed, Dull catered and demonstrated gas stoves for Atlanta Gas Light Company before being named the editor of the home economics page for the Atlanta Journal’s Sunday magazine in 1920. She wrote a weekly column called “Mrs. Dull’s Cooking Lessons” that ran for a quarter century.

A first edition of Southern Cooking was published locally in 1928; New York publishing house Grosset and Dunlap printed an expanded and reworked edition with 1,300 recipes in 1941 that sold an impressive 150,000 copies. Almost seventy years later, the plain-spoken style of recipe writing from that era comes across as inevitably outmoded, but the book is still an authoritative, fascinating read. Her instructions for preparing possum and animal-rich Brunswick stew redefine “from scratch”—she coaches how to pull off hair and saw through backbones. (Most recipes—oyster bisque, eggplant soufflé, drop biscuits, or watermelon-rind pickles, for example—are far less graphic.) The University of Georgia Press’s 2006 reprinting of Southern Cooking includes a new foreword by Damon Lee Fowler that further illustrates the importance of Dull’s book as a culinary record of transitional Dixie in the twentieth century.

Southern Cooking
By Mrs. S.R. Dull
University of Georgia Press

RECIPE: Georgia Gumbo

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  • Jackson Reeves

    I want to meet someone who grew up on “Mrs. Dull’s Cooking Lessons.” I also wonder if there were any jokes about her name in her era. (That column title just seems like such a missed opportunity.)

    • Kim Massey

      I grew up with my mother using Mrs. Dulles cookbook and to this day I still cook the way my mom taught me (from this book). My Mom recently lost her home and all contents in a terrible house fire and one of the things she has asked for (she’s 87) is for me to find her a copy of Mrs. Dulles Cook Book.

  • Natalie

    This is my husband’s great-great aunt. We actually have a signed copy of her book from 1940 to my husband’s great-grandmother, Mrs. Dull’s sister. So yes, definitely know someone (a lot of someones) who grew up listening to her cooking lessons.

  • TorenAnderson

    My son gave me a copy of Mrs. Dull’s book. He found it at Good Will and I treasure his thoughtfulness. We had no idea the history behind the thrift find. So far we have tried the spice cake and frosting. It was a perfect recipe and showed portion sizes have really multiplied since 1928. Her savory recipes include possum and other critters. So it’s historically interesting reading.

    We look forward to Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubert’s upcoming updated version that will cover all aspects of Southern Cooking. A staple-to-come, we can’t wait.