Monday, February 8, 2016

Kinklings, Fastnachts, Donuts

'Fat Tuesday' (Mardi Gras) or 'Shrove Tuesday' was when all the excess fat was to be consumed before Lent started on Wednesday. Thus cooks in the German (Pa. Dutch) areas made doughnuts called faschnauts, fast nachts and numerous other spellings.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Frozen pump pipes

What to do if your water pump is frozen and the pump handle is 'immovable' when temps are 15 below zero?  A Massachusetts author should know...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Robert Burns' birthday and birthplace kitchen

On January 25, 1759 the great Robert Burns was born in the bed on the right side of the kitchen which became an ale-house and is now a museum.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mustard and a redhot poker

So why did the following two mustard recipes (one by the famed Alexis Soyer), use a hot fireplace poker?  The poker's heat was supposed to remove some of the 'acrimony' and water, thus making room in the mustard pot to top with a little vinegar.  Mustard made in this fashion kept well and "improves with age."

Monday, January 11, 2016

Black Monday - return to school after 12 days of Christmas holidays

What to send on the journey back to school? In this image from Georgian England it is a whole cake and apples. The days from Christmas through Twelfth Night were full of food and celebration, and no work.  Followed by Distaff Day, when women began spinning (with its distaff) flax, and the men start working until they stopped to burn the flax so the women threw water on them (image below). Now, back to crying students and Black Monday...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Twelfth Night characters on paper

Instead of a bean or coin in a cake, picking a paper from a hat to decide the king, and the women selected from a reticule (or bag) for queen and other roles was a 'role playing' game for Twelfth Night celebrations.  The rules as described in Revel's Winter Evening Pastimes, 1825 and examples from the 'sheets' are shown below. Figure on left is probably a cook, from the sheet, also below. Past posts on 12th Night HERE

Monday, December 28, 2015

New Year's Eve party... just for the guys

Celebrating the New Year are a group of men solemnly watching the clock, then at 12:00, the bells in the neighborhood ring out and a cheer is raised among them.  No kissing at midnight...

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Christmas dinner in antebellum Virginia

Bowls of calves foot jelly - like Saint Nicholas's belly.  Weeks spent preparing, such as the fruits for the "big fruit cake" and other treats.  On the table were a variety of traditional dishes: flaming plum pudding, egg shaped blanc mange on a nest of "thinly shaved lemon peel," turkey and pork or venison, calf's head or turtle soup, apple toddy and wines.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Snap Dragon - a Christmas or Halloween game

In a fiery game similar to Halloween's Snap-apple HERE, brandy and raisins in a shallow bowl were set afire. Then folks grabbed the flaming raisins to put in their mouths.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Turkeys on the Norfolk Coach to London...or they walked

During four days in 1793 over 2500 turkeys were sent by passenger coach from Norwich to London for Christmas. They "pay better" than the usual human passenger.  Turkeys also walked to market as seen in the last image.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Almack's Assembly Rooms, Thatched House Tavern's chef Michael Willis, Cheap Cookery and... turkey gravy

A past post on The Thatched-House Tavern HERE described the social clubs which met there and it's cook Michael Willis, who wrote Cookery made Easy in 1824.  He wrote a second book, Cheap, nice, and nourishing Cookery in 1831 and was connected to William Almack.  Below is his recipe for turkey gravy made without using a turkey.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stir up Sunday

It's time to stir up the Christmas pudding - on the 25th Sunday after Trinity, the Sunday before Advent.  In a Victorian poem the mother is making a plum pudding while watching her active children.  After adding raisins (take out the seeds/stone), bread crumbs, suet, eggs, currents, peel, and brandy, the kids added the cat into the pudding.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pickled Seckel Pears

What a fun name.  The mini Seckel pears are at the farmers markets now, so I tried a recipe from the 1800s to preserve Seckel pears. Very sweet. The pears pictured are from a different recipe using vinegar, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hearth cooking - rigging a pot over the fire

First.  Place the fire under the pot. Simple enough.  but.  In the 1820s a British naval officer, Basil Hall and two others were riding along Lake Erie.  In a cottage, they tried to start a fire, only to be chided by the young woman that they had not built the fire under the crane.  So what did the naval men do?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Food History Exhibits 2015. Symposiums, Conferences 2016

12 activities in Amsterdam, Brussels, Leeds, Oxford, NYC, Washington DC, CA, CT, VA

2 new food museums in London and New York City

Monday, October 26, 2015

Turnip jack o' lanterns for Halloween

This young chap (look at the bottom of his shoes!) is carving large turnips in the British artist Edward Docker's work "Making Lanterns."  Directions stressed to not cut through the rind so the candlelight could be seen through the face design, but the wind would not blow it out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Oh, who would wish to be a cook...

In this 1854 poem Peggy, the cook, starts the fire an hour before sunrise to fry the cakes (pancakes, hoecakes?). After breakfast and cleanup, she starts roasting some fowl or a haunch of meat... which has to be turned.  and turned.  Then, there is a pudding.  By the end of day, and the poem, she is "in such a toast" that "You scarce could tell which's done the most. Myself, or what I roast!"  Ever had that feeling after a day at the hearth? or brick oven?  or... at home in the kitchen before a holiday or big dinner?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Guns over the kitchen hearth

Were guns kept above the fireplace?  During an 1856 flood at Malvern, UK (some of us can relate) one gun kept on hooks on the kitchen chimney floated away and was replaced by chairs as the water receded.  and a couple other examples.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tallow from suet for candles, soap and... pie crusts

Suet (the fat around the kidney - generally beef) was clarified or rendered down - slowly cooked then strained - to make tallow "...for pie-crust, for basting and soups, as well as for frying." Recipes from an 1828 Scottish book and two Jewish manuals.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Spare ribs

Instructions on how to butcher, cook and carve a spare rib of pork from an 1831 Cincinnati cookbook is below.  During this time, the city contained large hog packing operations, shipping the meat to the eastern markets.