Monday, December 27, 2010

Candy Stew, Candy Pull and other pull parties

Candy pulls, candy stews, molasses pulls, sorghum-stews, and a taffy-pulling were popular parties in the 19th century.  Numerous descriptions and recipes...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

1864 Christmas in the south

Julia Johnson Fisher, 1814-1885, from Camden County, Georgia recounted their 1864 Christmas dinner.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Long neck pumpkins

How to cut a long neck pumpkin to make Pumpkin Pickles.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hale and making Thanksgiving a national holiday

Last Thanksgiving I wrote a bit about Lydia Child, this time I'll present the more well known connection - Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (1788-1879). She worked for years to get Thanksgiving recognized and celebrated as a national holiday. Her description of a dinner in New England, 1827 and recipes...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham

The first time I tasted stuffed ham, I thought there was something wrong with the meat! It didn't taste at all like the ham and curried fruit my Mom prepared for Easter, rather, it had a spicy and a unique taste, not like country ham or corned beef, something different. In St. Mary's County, a corned ham must be used... with or without the bone (folks have their own decided preference about the bone)....

Sunday, September 26, 2010


There are numerous ways to prepare beets. In addition to Pickled, Salad, or Harvard Beets, beets are delicious fried or used in baking. Some past recipes include Beet Pie (1860), Lombardy Tarts (1588), Crimson Biscuits (1727), To Fry Beets (1723), Pink Pancakes (1788) Beet Fritters (1889),  Beet Vinegar (1854) and a Stuffed Beet with rice and pecans (1919). Recipes for these dishes can be found at the end of this article.  The proper way to prep beets and whether to boil or bake...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Women's Suffrage - 90th anniversary

This year is the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, ratified on August 18, 1920,which declared "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."  Illinois Constitutional Law before that had stated that "neither idiots, lunatics, paupers, felons nor women shall be entitled to vote." Suffragist cookbooks and a recipe for a Pie for a Suffragist's Doubting Husband...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Blues - Blueberries, Huckleberries, Whortleberries

Although botanically different, the three berries were often used interchangeably by cooks, as seen in the following recipes. The White House Cookbook of 1887 used huckleberries in the title, then blueberries in the ingredients. Other recipes...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cinnamon harvesting in Ceylon 1813

A marvelous description of the harvest of cinnamon from the book Oriental Commerce describes the twice a year barking, the rolling into 4 foot bundles and shipped amongst black pepper...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kitchen in the Royal Pavillion at Brighton

In 1816, John Nash updated the Royal Pavillion at Brighton kitchen with state of the art steam features, while still containing a roasting hearth with long spits.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Salmagundy is a layered salad with colorful greens, meat, anchovies, and eggs among the variety of ingredients, with a vinegar based dressing. Descriptions, recipes for salad and dressing, and types of lettuces. ...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Planked Fish

There were several methods, in addition to roasting on a plank or encasing in clay, to prepare fish by a fire. The Lewis and Clarke expedition of 1804-6 found that the Clatsops of the Pacific Northwest used a spike. ...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Asparagus Loaves or Sparrow Grass Rolls

The term Sparrow Grass, was occasionally used in the 18th and 19th centuries to refer to Asparagus. "Sparrow-Grass. A vulgar pronunciation of asparagus both in England and America, sometimes in the New York market contracted to 'grass.' " [Dictionary of Americanisms by John Bartlett. 1877]  Recipes below.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Summer Kitchen

When was the term "summer kitchen" first used? The separated kitchen building we refer to as the summer kitchen has been built for centuries and in many cases still remain. References can also be found in probate inventories, letters, diaries, etc. to a kitchen building separate from the house, but were simply called "kitchen." Other terms were "out kitchen" and "back kitchen." ...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Steam Kitchen

A picture of Slater's Patent Steam Kitchen, 1812.
Click to enlarge. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This engaging and thoroughly researched (150 pages of endnotes) work delves into all aspects of Madeira from the growing of the grapes on the Portuguese island of Madeira to the merchants, shippers, and consumers.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Potting Pots - Potted Meat, To pot a Swan

One way of preserving foods, but also for “present use” [Hale] was by potting. Many cookery books from the 18th (almost twenty) into the 20th century contained a variety of recipes - Robert Smith [1723] had eleven, and Beeton [1863] had many more. ...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tossing the Pancake

George Cruikshank illustrated the custom of tossing the pancake on Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday, in the 1837 edition of Comic Almanac.
A description from 1867 school -

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Cream

The large snowfalls (45") in the mid Atlantic area has caused a sudden popularity of Snow Cream recipes on the internet, and local news.  Below are historical receipts and my interpretation, which are delicious and simple to make.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gridirons - chalking and cleaning, broiling and basting

For centuries cooks have used the gridiron as one way to prepare meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables. Hearth cooks often misuse the gridiron, treating it like our modern grill - such as basting causing smoke, keeping the bars black, and imprinting lines on the meat. Most modern cooks don’t use chalk. or paper ...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Candy Thermometer

The candy thermometer did not become available to most housekeepers until the early 1900s when appeared in advertisements and recipes. The professional confectioner's thermometers were longer and more expensive. On the left is a patent from 1878 for a glass encased one...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Soup Tureen

Whether silver or part of a china set, the tureen is a glorious piece for the table. During the Federal period it was generally placed at the bottom end of the table for the first course with the fish platter on the top. ...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twelfth Night Cakes

Two pictures, from 1869 and 1794, show celebrating Twelfth Night and the cakes. 

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Cookies

Sometimes called New York Cookies since several New York authors, including Washington Irving, included the imprinted cookies in their fiction.  He wrote that Rip van Winkle was stamped on one side and St. Nicholas on the other of the cookies given out on January 1.