Monday, January 15, 2018

James Hemings turns down Thomas Jefferson

In 1801, newly elected Thomas Jefferson wanted his former (freed in 1796) slave James Hemings (1765-1801) as his presidential chef, but Hemings wanted Jefferson to contact him personally and said he was busy with an engagement with Mr. Peck, a "Tavern Keeper" in Baltimore.  William Evans, the owner of the Indian Queen, a block away on the same street as Peck's Columbian hotel, was the go-between for Jefferson and Hemings. James had accompanied Jefferson to France where he took lessons on French cooking. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Francatelli bombs

In last year's first season of the TV series "Victoria," chef Francatelli created a Bombe Suprise from ice cream and chocolate.  The real chef included a list of bombs in his Royal English and Foreign Confectioner, 1862.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bonbons - gifts on New Year's Day in France

It was the custom in 18th & 19th cen. France for people to visit their relatives and friends with gifts of bonbons very early on New Year's Day. The containers varied from paper to elaborate hollowed vegetables, fruit, books, balloon even lobster made of confectionery.  These gifts could add up. "Parisian of 8,000 franc a year to make presents on New Year's Day which cost him a fifteenth part of his income."

Monday, December 25, 2017

Plum pudding for Old Christmas Day

"Old Christmas" was January 6th and new was December 25 in the following story. The father kept Christmas on the old date when the mother Martha Gold served her locally famous pudding - recipe below.  From an 1866 British magazine.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Flowering fruit tree branches as Christmas trees

Although fir trees were the most popular, small cherry or apricot trees were planted in pots, or branches were cut and put in water so the blossoms appeared during the holiday.  The picture of a flowering tree decorated with ornaments and candles is from 1790 Nuremberg Germany.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Luciadagen or St. Lucia Day breakfast

In Sweden, the oldest daughter in the family wears a wreath of candles on her head and serves breakfast ... then the family goes back to bed.  In the 'old calendar' the day fell on the shortest day of the year.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Belsnickel or Pelznichel

In Germany and Pennsylvania Dutch areas, Belsnickel or Pelznichel appeared on Dec.6 - the Saint's day of Saint Nicholas. He carried a rod and wore a scary disguise, with jingling bells and clanging chains... not a jolly Santa Claus.

Monday, November 27, 2017

How to Cook Apples - over 100 ways - by Georgiana Hill in 1865

The English author Georgiana Hill compiled recipes from the mundane (apple pie) to unusual - Irish Stew with apples, apples and chocolate, fools, puffs, trifles, omelet, pickled, curry, and sausage with pimiento.  Two American apple recipes - one to cut thin and dry on string, and the other put in jar, cover with sugar and boil the jar and contents.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Pumpkin Pie poem recipe

A poem about gathering pumpkins heaped "high in the old red cart" hauled by oxen then made into a pie appeared in the November 23, 1889 edition of Good Housekeeping

Monday, November 13, 2017

Syringes and presses for fancy cookies

The familiar aluminum Mirro cookie press of the 1960s was preceded by Swedish sprutas, syringes, biscuit forcers & presses.  The dough is forced out as a long "ornamental" ribbon, then cut into individual cookies.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pine Apple Syrup for ice cream and Pineapple ice cream

Elizabeth Ellicott Lea's recipe for Pine Apple Syrup was "to season ice cream."  Mary Randolph's Virginia Housewife included a pineapple ice cream recipe as did the British author Nutt in 1819. The 1749 article on ananas (pineapple; below) may have been read by George Washington or Charles Carroll, Barrister, of Baltimore who each had a pinery to grow the expensive plant before 1800. Incredible picture of selling some of the "35,000 pines" that arrived at London in 1847 on one ship.

Monday, October 30, 2017

"Tricks" done on Halloween in Pa. Dutch areas

In the mid1800s, Halloween was celebrated "roughly" -  parts of a wagon were put in different trees, gates taken off hinges, wooden steps removed, taking wagons apart and rebuilt in a stable, and other extreme tricks.  And the food history part?  Throwing corn or string beans, hanging beets and cabbages at doors, OK maybe not too relevant, but I am amazed by the caliber of the tricks!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Apple cider press in 1840s Germany

The lovely long curved oak trough and millstone, apple press, and 'monstrous tuns' were used to turn the "golden apples" into "apple-wine" or cider.  Cows pulled the wagons during the harvest.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Citron melons for ice cream, jelly, sweetmeats, marmalade, tarts, sauce (applesauce) and syrup

The melon cannot be eaten unprocessed but when cooked in sugar water it is candied and used in cakes, puddings, mincemeat, green custard;  it's pectin will help other fruit jellies; a substitute for applesauce or pie/tarts filling; or pickled like watermelon rind.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Dog powered turnspits

A little dog - the turnspit dog - ran inside the wheel high on the wall which turned the spit in front of the fire.  The turn-spit was mentioned in a 1601 inventory (dog-wheell). Several early quotes from 17th through 19th century writings.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham and Oyster dinners in St. Mary's County, MD

These fundraising annual dinners are held in church rec halls and fire departments in St. Mary's County.  The corned ham - wet cured with unusual taste - is stuffed with kale, cabbage, celery, onions & lots of red pepper, detailed in post HERE

Monday, September 25, 2017

Schnitz - dried apple slices, 1749 Schnitz House, schnitz baskets, schnitz un knepp

Schnitz are slices of apples placed on drying racks then put in a slack brick bake oven.  People could gather for 'apple cuts' parties, or in a building such as the Schnitz House. The dried apples were stored in rye baskets in the Lancaster, Pa. area and prepared in pies or Schnitz un Knepp.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Seckel or Seckle Pears originally from Philadelphia


The Seckel pear, the "finest pear," had a celebrated ‘original tree’ on Seckel’s farm, later part of the Stephen Girard estate, south of Philly.  The tree was said to have been found in the 1760s, survived for decades and was even pictured in magazines.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Asenath Nicholson - from Graham crackers to the Irish famine

Asenath Nicholson (1792-1855) started as a teacher then social activist, writer, managed Graham boarding houses in NYC, vegetarian and traveled alone through Ireland 1844-5, and 1847-9 during the famine.  She wrote two cookbooks -  Nature’s Own Book 1835 (27 recipes in 9 of the 84 pages) and her 1848 A Treatise on Vegetable Diet (60 recipes in 10 of the pages).

Monday, September 4, 2017

Soyer's Dublin Soup Kitchen 1847

Alexis Soyer (1810-1858) went to the aid of the starving poor during the Irish potato famine by designing a soup kitchen and recipes.  He was the famed chef and designer of the Reform Club kitchen from 1837-1850, inventor and writer.