Monday, July 1, 2024

Piles of Puff Paste cake

A ‘Gateau de Mille Feuilles’ recipe was described in La Varenne’s Le Cuisinier Francois, in 1651. It’s name, translated ‘Cake of a thousand leaves,’ described the many layers in each sheet of puff paste, and the number of layers with fillings (jelly, fruit, cream).

Monday, June 17, 2024

Gone fishing

Excerpts about bait, 1594; preserving fish, 1732; To cure tainted Fish, 1819; and cooking.
Over thirty taped talks on fishing, Herring Girls of Scotland, smokehouses, ice factory, shad, oysters, shrimp, river restoration by removing weirs and old mill dams, fish migrations, Garum and more.
Upcoming talks.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

World War I trenches - dining & baking

Memorial Day - never forget.

Soldiers had a rough time in the trenches, and civilians at home were asked to...
"FEED A FIGHTER Eat only what you need – Waste nothing – That he and his family may have enough" 1918.

Click to enlarge images. Upcoming online talks at end.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Mothers and children by the fire

Happy Mother's Day.
This is one of my favorite pictures ... a Russian stove 1803 by Atkinson. Interesting baby keeper and a sleeper on the top.

Upcoming talks for the rest of the month, listed below.

Monday, April 29, 2024

To clean hanging paper (wallpaper) with a loaf of bread

If your loaf of bread becomes stale, you can clean “wall-paper that has become darkened by smoke." Following are a sampling of instructions from 1831, 1885 and 1903.
A few food history virtual food talks at the end.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Dumb-waiters - table

There are several items which have been termed dumb waiters over the years - a table, revolving door with shelf/shelves or a small shelf to be moved between floors. Thomas Jefferson used all three types in his homes and while in the White House.

Upcoming zoom talks at the end.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Derricke's 1581 Ireland - dining and cooking

John Derricke wrote in his The Image of Irelande about English victories over the Irish... and describing an image of cooking and a feast. Not having a pot, the beef was cooked in it's skin.

Monday, March 4, 2024


By 1850, some sponge biscuits (cookies) were named Ladyfingers. “Fingers, or Naples Biscuits” combined the two names in a recipe by Francatelli in 1846. Their shape was described by Philadelphian Eliza Leslie in 1857 as “double ovals joined in the centre.” Later, Harland (see below) said they were long narrow cakes that were nice when dipped in chocolate icing or caramel. Leslie, and others, sprinkled sugar on the top before baking.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

38 foot chocolate monument

During the World's Fair of 1893 in Chicago, the Stollwerck chocolate company of Germany created the Statue of Germania out of a 2,200 pound block of chocolate and the entire structure was made of 30,000 pounds of chocolate.
The small card is 2" wide by 3 3/4"

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Stone sinks

There are many styles of stone sinks. This 1740s one by the window is in the Ephrata Cloisters kitchen, Pennsylvania. The second set of images is a stone sink in The Woodlands, c1780s in Philadelphia. Several 1800s descriptions are below. My favorite stone sink in a window will be in a future post.
Food history talks are listed at the end.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Peter Cooper's gelatine

Although Peter Cooper (1791-1883) of New York City may be more well known for designing 'Tom Thumb', the first American steam locomotive that lost a race with a horse in 1830 on the early B&O Railroad line from Baltimore to Ellicott Mills (now Ellicott City, MD). But there is more... Cooper Union, glue, iron and ... gelatin.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

New Year's Eve/Day in Germany 1840s-1860s

Gifts were exchanged on New Year's, and foods included German gingerbread made with honey, aniseeds, almonds in the shape of hearts that could be as large as half a yard and a foot wide. Herrings, lentils, wassail-bowls, and Glee wine.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Baker's peels and huge hoop skirts - George Cruikshank sketch

In 1850 the dresses had become so large that the gentlemen had to serve the wine or jelly on a baker's peel... according to satirist George Cruikshank.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Frederick MD working hearths ... Museums by Candlelight

On Saturday, December 9, there will be 26 sites open for free with music, activities, and crafts in Frederick and the County. Several homes have squirrel tail ovens (in small section in photo) and other interesting features. Always fun. If you are nearby, go visit.

Friday, November 10, 2023

WWI and WWII bakers and cookery schools

A World War I recruiting poster. Enlist as a group and serve with your "pals" in a Company of Bakers. For experienced or trainees up to 45 years old.

A World War II school in the desert in Egypt used ovens out of petrol tins and oil drums. Both images from Library of Congress.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Charleston SC iron top stew stove

Aiken-Rhett House's original stew stove, left. Gov. William Aiken added the stewstove with cast iron top to the kitchen in the outbuilding in 1858. I've seen cast iron tops on stew stoves, and each is wonderfully different. Charleston and tea are the focus of three upcoming talks.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Sweet potato storage in 1843 Virginia

Special sweet potato houses or cellars were constructed to be ventilated, heated or smoked to dry out the potatoes. On loft over fire. Cooked on coals. Upcoming zoom talks, CHAA's Gilded Age dining is today.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Cider press - wood or stone

William Sidney Mount's 1840 painting of cider making in Setauket, Long Island, NY. Lancaster, Pa. cider presses 1778 and 1800.
Upcoming virtual talks.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Working stew stoves in museums

Stew stoves (US), Stewing stoves (UK), Stew-hole stoves, Brick stove, Masonry stoves and Portagers are some of the modern terms. They are different shapes and height, and generally made from brick and clay. The following is a sampling of museums doing demos on their stew stoves.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Culinary Historians of Boston

In 1980, Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, Joyce Toomre and Ann Robert started what would become the Culinary Historians of Boston. The first in the US. But they "have decided to suspend activities as of the end of 2022."