Monday, April 20, 2015

A Pyramid of Cakes

Layer cakes became very popular in the 1870s and continued for a century. They featured different colors, flavors, and even a variety of fillings on each layer.  An early description from 1839 is for a special occasion cake - tiered like our wedding cakes.  In 1907 an entire book  One Hundred and One Layer Cakes by May Southworth was published.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Eating Through Time: Food, Health and History

The New York Academy of Medicine Library in NYC has been collecting since it opened in 1847 and has over 10,000 food/health related items.  And what a collection! The library owns one - there are only two - Apicius’ De re culinarie, a Roman cookbook.  Also books by the greats: Scappi (man and cauldron image, left), Careme and others. Throughout this year there will be a series of lectures and an all day event on October 17.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Shish ka bob or cubbub

Get out the grill!  An 1815 encounter with the dish was described by an American cookbook author who pondered "does he mean that the skewers run through the meat?"

Monday, April 6, 2015

Lolling and the "boarding house reach"

Reaching across 3 or 4 people for a dish "is not only vulgar, but inconvenient."  FOUR persons - what a loooong boarding house reach!  Before there was 'lolling about' there was lolling. The American edition of Chesterfield's contained several new rules written by a Philadelphia lawyer in 1828.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pasch or Easter Eggs - Scratched, Waxed, Gilded, Dyed and Onioned

Get out the Paas dyes or go natural.  Here are some 1830 decorating ideas for eggs to give, roll or throw. Past posts on Easter Monday Rolls HERE and onion skin eggs HERE

Monday, March 23, 2015

Food History Conferences, Symposiums, Exhibits. 2015 pt 2

7 conferences and exhibits in the US and Portugal, with 9 other 2015 food history conferences on a previous post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Peat Mill - 80 tons of peat per day

Peat was cut into blocks and burned on kitchen hearths for centuries in Ireland, Scotland and other countries.  But in the mid 1800's large machines were designed to compress the peat into blocks for a wide variety of uses...to produce gas; use in steam engines; make gunpowder, paper, pavement and roofing tiles... A far cry from gathering peat near the home for cooking and heat.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rice Flour

Racahaut, blanc mange, snow-balls, flummery, breads, cakes, cookies, puddings, custard, waffles, journey cakes, slap jacks, fried bread and more could be made from rice flour.  Who knew??

Monday, March 2, 2015

Instant Cocoa -- Broma, Soluble Chocolate and Racahaut

By 1845 there were several 'mixes' to prepare hot chocolate.  Fry's Broma and Soluble Chocolate required no boiling or milling to keep dissolved.  Ads for Baker's cocoa stressed that it could be made in 1 minute at the table. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Frozen water pipes and clearing snow off the sky-light

Freezing temperatures and heavy snows are nothing new (and we've had enough for this year!!).  One idea for 19th century home owners to protect water pipes which went "up the outside of the house" was by twisting hay or straw around them.  Inside pipes used in steam kitchens, boilers in wood stoves, and kitchen sinks could also freeze and burst.  The following excepts tell how to handle frozen pipes and snow on the sky lights.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hercules - George Washington's Presidential Celebrity Chef

As a commanding and respected figure in the kitchen and "on the town,"  Hercules (Uncle Harkless) made such an impression that years later Washington's step-grandson/adopted son wrote a long section about him.  The money ($100-200) from his perk of selling the kitchen "slops" was used for fashionable clothes of fine white linen, a gold watch, gold topped cane...

Monday, February 9, 2015

Puddings and Potatoes as Dripping pans

A pan was placed under meat roasting on a spit to catch the drippings. Some, such as the one at Windsor Castle, were quite large.  Below are three Georgian and Federal recipes.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Coal snowballs for fuel - Sir Hugh Plat's coal-balles from 1603

Coal balls or an early 'charcoal briquette' were made by pounding seacoal into a powder, combining with loam and then forming the mixture into balls..."according to the maner and making of snowballs..."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Wine Devils, Biscuits for Drinkers and other tavern food

Superbowl Sunday means chicken wings and snacks. This year try some tasty tidbits from the past: Wine-devils (broiled gizzards and chicken legs), Anchovy Toast, Deviled Biscuit, Woodcocks underroasted, or the aptly named Biscuit for Drinkers, but not boiled mutton or stewed beef.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Selling sand in Regency London - for the kitchen, and more

"Sand O!" cried the street vendors in 1804.  Sand was used to clean kitchen utensils, store root vegetables and fruit, to clean floors or also form a layer like a rug to protect floors.  The red sand sold for "twopence halfpenny" while the white sand cost "five farthings per peck."  So next time you are driving behind that sand truck, think 'it could be worse' - you could be scrubbing the floor with sand...

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Dress Diet ... Georgian style

Perhaps this is the dress some of us should have worn over the holidays and to parties to eat less.  Or, from another viewpoint, the caption includes "Who'd not starve to lead the fashion?" Below is a 1786 fashion plate with only slightly less puff.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Auld Handsel Monday

In Scotland, the first Monday of the year or the Monday after Jan. 12th was a day for: presents (handsels); a breakfast of "roast and boiled, with ale, whiskey, and cake" for the farm hands and servants; visiting neighbors; Moving Day and even a day for hiring new workers.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Egg nog for Christmas, New Year's Eve, Twelfth Night

Eggnog was a southern tradition for Christmas and New Year's Eve.  In the following story, a tub of egg nog was set out on the porch for 12 days - from Christmas until Twelfth-night (January 6) - for visitors.  Mrs. B.C. Howard's recipe for Egg Nogg from her Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen is below.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cookbook carolers 1912

The three singers are from a delightful children's book - Mary Francis Cook Book; or Adventures among the Kitchen People by Jane Allen Boyer in 1912.    HERE

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cranberry Sauce vs. Preserves in the 1840s

What's the difference?  1/2 cup sugar.  1840s vs. modern sauce?  half the water and twice the sugar.  Elizabeth Ellicott Lea's recipe below, is compared with a nearby contemporary author, Eliza Leslie, and with a modern recipe.