Monday, December 26, 2016

Hogmanay or Hog-ma-nay - A Scottish New Years Eve

Until recently, Christmas was not celebrated in Scotland. Hogmanay became the major holiday with its many traditions, including handing out bannock or oatcakes to needy children.  They wore a sheet or tartan folded in front, or a large pocket to hold their cakes on the last day of the year. Geese and turkies were sold in incredible displays on poulterer shops (image below).

Monday, December 19, 2016

German Christmas tree, sugar ornaments and garden board base

Gilded walnuts, apples, little cakes, and sugar figures adorned the trees in 1840s Germany. The 'sugar-baker' confectioners sold all kinds of sugar or chocolate characters "chiefly to hang upon the Christmas-tree:" grotesque figures, animals, students smoking, peasants, country women, child on rocking-horse, girls in various nations costumes, sausages, fruits, musical instruments...

Monday, December 12, 2016

1730 Christmas poem

This poem about Christmas coming contains flowing bowls, minced pies, capon, goose, brawn, sturgeon, a Christmas box of sweet plumb cakes and then, to the Christmas Ball.  The book has a delightfully long descriptive title with "fiddle faddle stuff" and pranks...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

North Platte Canteen

75 years ago today Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  That Christmas day local Nebraskan ladies were at the railroad station to give food and drink to the men and women on their way to war.  They continued all day every day to meet each passing train and fed over 6 million until April 1, 1946.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Citron cake and other recipes for candied citrons

After processing the citron watermelon (previous post HERE) the pieces could be sliced thin and added to fruit cakes, pound cakes, cheesecakes, creams, puddings and ratafia.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Shaping citron while on the tree - 1806

When half grown, the citron (or pear, apple, pomegranate) was encased in a mould of gypsum or clay to form it into the shape of a bird, face or animal.  Now there are plastic boxes to make square watermelons and other creatively shaped fruits and vegetables.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Citron melon or citron watermelon - to make mock candied citron

The citron growing on a tree was imported as a sweetmeat.  Amelia Simmons had, in her 1796 cookbook, a mock citron recipe entitled 'The American Citron' - using watermelon.  The following recipe is Lea's candied citron recipe using a Citron Melon.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Quern in 1772 Scotland... and fulling wool by foot

In late 18th century Hebrides in areas without mills, grain ("corn" - wheat) was ground in a hand mill (quern). To the right ten women are depicted fulling wool by hand or feet on a ridged board (Luagh).  A bagpiper is near the tree.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Scottish Halloween spell - by Robert Burns

Robert Burn's poem Halloween had several 'spells' for young folks to do on All Saints eve to foretell their future.  The sketch of a Scottish peasant's cottage interior is from an 1812 book published in Edinburgh. The three dishes on the hearth contain clean, dirty, and no water.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pumpkin waffles made with yeast

... then dipped in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar.  Once again it is time to dig into my hundreds of old recipes on pumpkins. For the past few years I've tried this 'newer' 1906 recipe, and not been successful so far. Does any one have ideas on historic pumpkin waffles with yeast? or without? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Smithsonian Food History live stream and Have-A-Cup interactive pages - water, tea, chocolate, whiskey

If you are unable to attend this year's Smithsonian Food History weekend in Washington, D.C., you can live stream the round tables on Friday October 28 (9:30-4). Long list of speakers, times HERE

Monday, October 3, 2016

The first floating mill in America

A flour mill on boats on the Ohio River was built in 1791 by early settlers in the "Northwest Territory" due to low water and fear of attacks by Native Americans.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hussey, the inventor who made bread cheap

Obed Hussey (1797-1860) created the first successful reaper in America, rather than the more well known Cyrus McCormick (1809-1884). Great films of harvesting 1904, 1938...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Pickled bamboo or elder tree recipes

In 1756 Mrs. Bradley included a recipe to imitate pickled bamboo using the tender spring shoots of the elder tree with wine and beer vinegar in her The British Housewife.  Pickled bamboo had the "appearance [of] pickled yellow cucumbers cut in long slices."

Monday, September 5, 2016

People powered churns

We often think of the dairymaid charmingly churning butter in a picturesque setting (image below) - plunging the dasher into the churn or turning the handle of a barrel churn; but in 1850s Holland, other devices were created to churn 200 quarts of cream at a time. The Treadle Lever or standing see saw; and pulling down large levers...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Dogs and sheep churning butter ... on a treadmill

Dogs were workers: sheep herding, turning spits, watch dogs, and on the treadmill to churn butter in a swing or dash churn. By 1832 dog churns were common along the Hudson River. Descriptions and images from 19th century NY and New England works...

Monday, August 22, 2016

The U.S. National Park Service is 100!

On August 25, 1916 President Woodrow Wilson created the US National Park Service - ranging from stellar landscapes to homes such as "Hampton".  And what a house... and kitchen!  When built in 1790 it supposedly was the largest private house in the United States.  The state-of-the-art kitchen included a stew stove and Reip metal wall oven.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Freezing chocolate - 17th, 18th and 19th century

The first Earl of Sandwich kept a private journal which gave a recipe for a container of chocolatti placed into a bowl with snow to freeze. The early drink was made with water, thus when frozen, was more like a sherbet.  Later chocolate ice creams used cream or a cooked custard of eggs and cream.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Piki bread of the Hopi

A marvelous video explaining "Making Piki Bread" - HERE


The 1906 photo is of a Hopi woman inside a pueblo making bread.
 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tom Martin and The Landis Valley Cookbook

Last month Tom passed away, and on August 17th, Landis Valley Museum, where he worked for over 30 years, will host a celebration of his life. He knew so much about brick bake ovens and Pa. Dutch foods, and was always willing to share, and yet always researching to learn more.

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.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Day of Dining at Doughoregan with Charles Carroll of Carrolton

Charles Carroll (1737-1832) walked to his bath house every morning at 4 AM (more here) and at 8:00 had a breakfast of coffee, tea and chocolate, 2 inch thick johnnycakes, cornmeal pancakes the British visitor called 'cookies', ham shavings and herring.  Then dinner at 3:00 and tea at 7:00... 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Food history conferences, symposiums 2016

8 conferences or symposiums (so far) with half in the UK; Brussels, Melbourne; NYC and Williamsburg-

Monday, February 22, 2016

A 17th century home with brick oven for beans

Considered the oldest wood frame home in America, the Jonathan Fairbank's kitchen was described in 1876 when the home was still lived in by descendants of the owner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

President Monroe's Waverly Jumbles ... or not

A few books and blogs have included President Monroe's favorite cookie - Waverly Jumbles.  Trouble is... the recipe first appeared 40 years after he died. 

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