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.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cats in the 16th and 17th century kitchen

Unlike the previous post on medieval cats, HERE, the cats in these paintings are more active.  In fact, the first painting is filled with activity: 'Cats fighting in a larder' by Paul de Vos (1663, at The Prado).  The still life includes asparagus, artichoke and... small birds strung on a stick.  Click images to enlarge.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Cats in the Medieval kitchen

Cats have always been clever creatures...the cats in the 3 images are staying near the food and people, and yet appear aloof. In the post on 16th and 17th cats in kitchens HERE they are more active. A few images (click to enlarge) from the Middle Ages...

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pickers' checks or tokens for Labor Day

In the early 1900s workers were given a metal token token or "check" for a set number of baskets filled with fruit or vegetables at "truck" farms.  Also for oysters shucked.  The discs were redeemed for merchandise at area stores or for cash. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

4 French mustard recipes, 1725

Dijon mustard or Anjou mustard, mustard seeds soaked overnight in water, dried mustard cakes and a mustard lasting eight days were four recipes from a French book revised by Richard Bradley in 1725.  And the source of the name 'moutarde' or 'moult tarde'? An article related a story of the Duke of Burgundy in 1382 and mustard, by an author who jested that the Dijonese didn't know Latin... 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Making a stove in sand at Hopewell Furnace

Cast iron 6 panel or 'box' stoves from the 18th century heated rooms and perhaps a kettle on the top.  Then came more panels to make an oven and the heating stove also became a cooking stove.  Cast iron plates were made by iron ore, limestone and charcoal chunks added to the furnace, as air blasts from the wonderful water wheel with bellows super heated the fire, then the molten ore was poured onto molded sand to form the panels for stoves. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

DC markets in the heat of summer

Few people were in Washington, D.C. during the summer 1822, so the markets were "cruelly ill-supplied."  Bad potatoes, lamb, rock fish and catfish (cheap, but good fried). The bright sun, wind, no rain then floods meant no fruit gardens.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mary Randolph's family - Bizarre scandal, Pocahontas, Jefferson, eccentrics and Spanish foods

Famous for The Virginia Housewife, 1824, Mary Randolph was from an interesting and prominent family. Thomas Jefferson was raised with her father and his daughter married Jane's brother; an affair, a murder trial, one sister lived in Spain, one sister was also an author, almost all faced financial crisis and all were descendants of Pocahontas (left).

Monday, August 3, 2015

Food History Conferences, Symposiums, Exhibits 2015, pt 3

16 events in Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, DC, NY, CT, TX, MS, IN, VA

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Blueberry Batter Pudding 1839

Batter puddings are a lighter cake-type 'pudding'. The following recipe is by Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (1788-1879) best known for her poem "Mary had a little lamb" and promoting Thanksgiving.  Also general instructions from 1827.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Watermelons - Italy 1810 and Cincinnati

When the British traveler Mrs. Trollope first tasted water-melon she "thought it very vile stuff."  She also felt the men, women and children who were sitting on the streets of 1830 Cincinnati, spitting the seeds "to the great annoyance of all within reach" and the juice pouring out of their mouths... looked "very unpleasant."  The delightful image is from Italy, 1810.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mrs. Goodfellow - Lemon Pudding before the Meringue

Mrs. Goodfellow (1767-1851) made a lemon pudding (pie) at her cooking school and shop in early Phila. (more HERE).  I've not found any proof that she created the first 'lemon meringue pie' (unlikely since she used whole eggs; if just yolks then the extra whites became the meringue), but her lemon pudding was popular and copied into several local authors' cookbooks.  More details and three recipes are below. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mrs. Goodfellow - raves from Miss Leslie and others

Mrs. Goodfellow (c1767-1851) was a renowned baker, confectioner and founder of a cooking school for wealthy young ladies. She changed the paragraph format of recipes to list the ingredients first, and her lemon pies, Spanish buns and cocoanut pies were locally renowned. Using her class notes, Eliza Leslie, a student, wrote the first of her many popular cook books, passing on Mrs. Goodfellow's recipes and ideas to future generations of cooks.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Red, white and blue boiled hams for the 4th of July

At Mercersburg, Pa., before the Civil War, the town folk and farmers would go out to President James Buchanan's birthplace and share a picnic.  One lady brought "boiled hams decorated with cloves and red, white and blue paper."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Esther Allen Howland - "The New England Economical Housekeeper," CPR, Valentines

The mother of the "Mother of the American Valentine," (both named) Esther Allen Howland, wrote the small cookbook in 1844 which sold 1500 copies in it's first 15 weeks! The next year it was expanded and later the regional cookbook, with a more national name The American Economical Housekeeper and Family Receipt Book, was reprinted many times until 1875.  Receipts economical (tainted beef), medicinal (early CPR), New England (chowder in dinner-pot)... 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Battle of Waterloo 200, Magna Carta 800

June 18 is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and the defeat of Napoleon. The Duke of Wellington celebrated his victory with an annual dinner.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Strawberries washed in milk

In the first recipe, berries were to be washed in skim milk (the milk which remained after the cream was skimmed off) "to take off any grit and sand."  Recipes for berries in cream and whipped cream Whips... 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Strawberries in Pottles and Punnets

What's a pottle? a punnet?  50 to 60 of the long conical baskets were placed in a HUGH basket, weighing 30-40 pounds! then carried on the head from the field to London... up to 10 miles.  The street vendor looks so charming in the painting. Women carriers caused less damage to the fruit than men carriers. A pottle was an old measure for 2 quarts, but by the Regency period, it held half that amount, and in Boston the baskets were pint sized and packed into square hampers.  A deposit fee of one cent was refunded if the basket was returned. Cries of London and other images...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day - Remember their sacrifice

Civil War soldiers cooking and dining "in the field."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Syllabub - Whisking for exercise

 "Whisking with all your might and main... is good exercise for young ladies" and, the author quipped, might be added to gym classes.  The recipe below called for osier twig whisks, but there were other ways to whip up a froth, such as chocolate mills, syllabub mills, milking cows, or tin-tube churns. And then, for cat lovers, store the tray of syllabubs in "the coolest nook you have, that is free from dust, draughts, and intrusive cats."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Syllabub under the Cow, without a Cow

As late as 1878, a book by Doctor Delamere, Wholesome Fare, used milk straight from a cow, or as a substitute for a cow: one could use a large syringe or stand on a table. Start milking a calm cow, then near the end when the milk is richest, milk "the strippings" into the bowl.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Syllabubs - Red and white wine

Pink and white syllabubs, just in time for Mother's Day.  Mrs. Raffald, 1769 pours some extra wine in the glass and topped with sweetened cream flavored with brandy or Madeira whipped in a chocolate mill. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Angel Food Cake

Made with beaten egg whites and no butter, Angel Food Cake is a sponge cake NOT a white butter cake (like Silver Cake, Lady Cake, Snow-drift Cake, or Cornstarch Cake).  And the first printed recipe was years before the Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1884.

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. HERE   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. Recap HERE

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.