Monday, July 25, 2016

Neptune House chef rejected the new cooking range

A respite from the heat drew guests to Neptune Island, in the Long Island Sound near New Rochelle, NY.  Built in 1837, in 1851 a new large cooking range was bought to replace the old setup with a stew stove.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mad dash in the White Sulpher Springs diningroom - in 1832

The wealthy elite would go to the Virginia (now WV) spa for health and society... and had to race to get a seat in the dining room (left).  And bribe the cook. And enjoy a "hail storm" (mint julep). John H. B. Latrobe, described the rough and tumble dining rules and sketched several of the sights in 1832.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Fried cucumbers

Cucumbers were fried in round slices, cubed or stuffed whole.  Hannah Glasse's Art of Cookery had cucumbers sliced and a whole one stuffed with fried onions then fried and put into a flavor-full sauce of the frying butter, flour (to thicken), water, wine, catchup, mace, cloves, and nutmeg. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Colonial Kitchen in 1864

The Brooklyn Sanitary Fair in 1864 featured a New England kitchen with cooks in colonial garb, spinning wheels on left, and tables to eat.  During the Civil War several Sanitary Fairs were held to raise money for Union troops.  Click to enlarge the Library of Congress image.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The first mealing station - the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

Relay House in Relay, Md., built by the B & O Railroad, was the first “mealing station" for passengers to enjoy reliably good meals, and not miss the train, because the conductor ate "in full view of all."

Monday, June 20, 2016

Skim milk and buttermilk

Where does each come from?  The cream is skimmed off the cooling milk with a skimmer and what remains is skim milk.  Then, after churning, the butter is removed and buttermilk remains in the churn.

Where was each popular?  Ireland - skim milk; Cheshire - buttermilk; but in southern England, buttermilk was avoided. Skim milk for calves; buttermilk for pigs.  Cream or whole milk to make butter...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sharpening Millstones

At one time thousands of grist mills operated with sets of two grinding stones.  They were obtained from England, then France, but could also be quarried in some locales (see below). The mill stones had to be sharpened periodically. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Jefferson's cheeks and grates for his Monticello and Poplar Forest stew-holes

Surviving stew stoves (stewing stoves, masonry stoves) vary in size, shape and how they were heated.  Jefferson sketched a plan for his kitchen in 1796 with a long range of 8 stew-holes.  Thirteen years later he ordered 8 grills [grates] with "box-part" [cheeks] from Henry Foxall - then took two years to pay for them.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"May butter" or "grass butter" lambs (or dogs) ... in Holland

Easter is generally the time when "butter lambs" are sold, but butter figures were a May tradition in Holland. In the spring, cows were sent out to eat the new grass, instead of the winter hay. Samples of the fresh - and more yellow - butter were made into shapes and given to loyal customers.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Making butter

Some of the many processes involved to make butter are shown in the following paintings and photos.  For example, after carrying the buckets of fresh warm milk, carefully so as not to disturb (churn) it, to the dairy, the milk was poured through a sieve to remove hairs and dirt, and into a bowl to cool.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Never-ending dish washing

Thomas Kinnicut Beecher (1824-1900), the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, cookbook author Catharine Beecher, and Henry Ward Beecher, was "astounded at the number of thoughts and steps and acts and processes involved in a very plain supper...from fifty to two hundred separate things."  He was also shocked by the number of items to wash when making each dish - biscuits 6, steak 8, strawberries 6, and to cook four eggs 6 items.  His lesson: every 'he' should have a 'she'. Then to Mr. Henpeck (photo below)...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Oh baby! - babies in the kitchen from 1650 to 1803

Paintings of babies kept warm in the kitchen... for Emilia Elizabeth...

Monday, May 2, 2016

Kentucky Derby Benedictines

The Kentucky Derby is run this Saturday.  Benedictines - green cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese and onions - were created in the 1890s by Jennie C. Benedict, a caterer in Louisville.  Although she wrote two cookbooks, neither contained her famous recipe.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mint Juleps for the Kentucky Derby

The drink of the Kentucky Derby is the sweet refreshing Mint Julep.  If you go to Churchill Downs, the Mint Juleps are served in yearly glass glasses.  More Derby dishes HERE. A British visitor in 1839 described the drink. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fire at Edwards' Ham Company

I just learned about the devastating fire so I'm reposting a 2009 article on curing hams at Colonial Williamsburg, Edwards' and in period books.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Flowers on the table - in Jelly

Jelly made from boiled flowers - violets, roses, orange flowers -  are a step beyond grapes or strawberries.  And also recipes to suspend flowers in jelly...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Thomas Jefferson's charming invitation to Richard Peters of Belmont Mansion

"Call on me whenever you come to town [Philadelphia], and if it should be about the hour of three, I shall rejoice the more. You will find a bad dinner, a good glass of wine, and a host thankful for your favour and desirous of encouraging repetitions of it, without number, form, or ceremony.”  More on Belmont and its elaborate gardens and woods...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sesquicentennial of Jane Gilmor Howard's HUGE million dollar relief fair

150 years ago on April 2, 1866 the ten day fair of the Ladies’ Southern Relief Association began in Baltimore. The President "Mrs. B. C. Howard" and her hardworking crew raised and distributed over $160,000 (that's $2.3 million! 2016) for starving Southerners.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Jellies whipped or with whipped cream or ice cream

Three recipes to beat jelly to a froth, like the old Jell-O dessert - except from two centuries ago, and the jelly is made from isinglass, hartshorn, or calves' feet. Or just fill with whipped cream or ICE cream...

Monday, March 14, 2016

Chopping onions in a wooden tub, 1646

Chopping a TON of onions and nary a tear.  The shallow wooden tub makes a marvelous cutting board with retaining sides.  George IV purchased the painting "Girl Chopping Onions" by Gerrit Dou (from the Dutch city of Leiden) which is now at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.