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."

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Civil War mess kettles

The versatile mess kettle - to cook, for coffee, to carry water, to wash clothes.

"Food and Agriculture during the Civil War" talk is this Friday, TAPE HERE. Just learned about it today so putting out a quick post.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Scherbet - Turkish and Greek, 1838

Several types of Scherbet were described by Friedrich Unger, the German confectioner to King Otto of Greece, in his 1838 book. The Scherbet street vendor used snow to chill the water dripping onto the moving fan, then added the water to a glass with flavored syrup from the bottles.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Fire in flour mills - Sanborn fire insurance maps, 6 fire dangers 1795

Fire was one threat to flour mills, flooding was another. The Sanborn maps of all buildings in a town (earliest 1868) contained information to help insurance agents... and firemen - building material (stone - blue, wood - yellow, brick - red), fire equipment in the complex, what was on each floor, fuel and more. This is an Ellicott City MD mill. Check to see if your local mill, home or other building is on a Sanborn map.
Oliver Evans wrote about six flour mill fire hazards in 1795.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Candling, Egg testing

Holding an egg up to the light was one way to determine if it was newly laid as described by Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente (died 1619). Candling could also show if the egg was fertilized; or black spots ment the egg was bad. New eggs floated. Glass eggs and rounded egg baskets.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Silk bolting for flour mills 1790s

By 1794 a "manufactory for making bolting silk" was started in Wilmington, Delaware by Robert Dawson. He applied for a patent (got it), and petitioned the US House of Rep to not pay duty on imported raw silk (denied).