Monday, December 30, 2013

New Amsterdam New Year's

New Year’s Calls started by the Dutch in the 1600s compared to the New York socialites of the 1870s. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Georgian holiday dessert table

Merry Christmas!

©2013 Patricia Bixler Reber

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mince Pie alert!

"Very fashionable mince pies are made at Strasbourg, in France, from the diseased livers of geese, or other animals. These pies are now brought, in some instances, to this country, especially to Philadelphia, and our other large cities." with Robert May receipts, 1685..

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cranberries on the English moors, 1814

'The Cranberry Girl' picks cranberries on the moors of Regency Yorkshire.  Though smaller, the cranberries tasted better than those imported from America and Russia...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Food History Symposiums, Exhibits 2014

11 activities in Amsterdam, York and Oxford UK, Greensboro NC, New York City, Chicago, Virginia and more   -

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving leftovers

How do you eat the turkey after Thanksgiving dinner... sandwiches, pour heated gravy over cold slices, curried turkey?  Some 1877 recipes to ponder: hash, escalloped turkey, and croquettes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Turkey in Scotland

This charming cookbook cover from 1862 Scotland includes a turkey, and within, detailed instructions to truss, roast, boil and debone...

Monday, November 11, 2013

WWI Pumpkin Pie

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice [ceasefire] on the Western Front took effect.  Some countries commemorate Armistice Day, but in the US we remember our fallen and vets on Veteran's Day.  During World War I bakers and cooks were recruited who used the Army manual for cooking, including a recipe which made 15 pumpkin pies.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall Fashion Trend - leaves

Not any fallen leaves, but maple, beech, willow oak, hickory and aspen were worn by Americans "... in Europe, formed into wreaths for the hair, or trimmings for ball-dresses, and the effect was considered beautiful." ...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Colcannon Night

As you prepare for Halloween think of an Irish tradition for that evening called Colcannon Night.  On that night "...a gold ring was concealed somewhere in the dish" of potatoes and cabbage... 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Snap-apple Night

Trying to bite into an apple. on a string.  revolving.  with candles.  what could go wrong??  Snap-apple was one of the games played on Halloween in Ireland and Scotland...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sugar Mills on Sugar Plantations

A wonderful wind mill sugar mill!  Other ways to power the rollers which pressed the sugar cane included slave labor, water wheels and farm animals.  Close-ups of mills from 1665 to 1835... 

Monday, October 7, 2013

National Angel Food Cake Day

While I can’t find out if this is an official day or just put out by a person, company or trade organization, Angel Food does deserve a day of recognition.  And it got October 10th.  The name appeared in print in the US in the 1870s, and the cake itself was created in the US by the 1830s… egg whites, flour and sugar, but no butter.  ...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Rat and mouse traps in Art 1270-1869

Gerrit Dou painted "The Mousetrap " circa 1650.  (Musee Fabre)  This closeup of the mousetrap also shows the mother peeling carrots.   Different types of traps appeared in sketches and paintings over the decades and a recipe from 1795. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Food History Symposiums 2013 pt. 3

4 food symposiums and conferences for the fall of 2013. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sandwich Carrots

"Sandwich-carrots! - dainty Sandwich-carrots." The 1796 print by satirist James Gillray portrayed John Montagu, 5th Earl of Sandwich (1744–1814) putting money in the pocket of a street vendor. (British Museum online).  Sandwich Carrots did not take their name from the Earl, but from the town.  They were called red carrots but actually were "a very deep orange...and the most esteemed."  [Hale, 1758]  Recipes below are for boiling and for soup.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lady Baltimore Cake

Described in the novel Lady Baltimore (1906) as "all soft, and it's in layers, and it has nuts,"  the Lady Baltimore Cake has more to do with Philadelphia than Baltimore or even Charleston (before the book was published).   ...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Young cooks in a French kitchen, 1890s

Joseph Bail (French, 1862-1921) painted many views of kitchen helpers and young cooks. 

On this Labor Day, I’ve included some of his paintings depicting children working in a kitchen c.1893 ... a few of the scenes are playful, others poignant. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pickled and Stuffed Olives

Stuffing olives with capers or truffle pieces?  Yes, in 1818.  Grocery stores now sell all sorts of stuffed olives.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cooking and Dining onboard 19th century railroad cars

Pullman "Hotel Cars" in 1882 contained many ingenious devices such as a compact kitchen range/oven and temporary dining tables from "well-polished mahogany planks."

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chiffon Cake - a new sponge cake in 1948

Savoy Cake, Elkridge Huckleberry Pudding, and Victoria Sponge Cake were just some types of sponge cake.... and then, in 1948 ... Betty Crocker's Chiffon Cake. 

Generally, sponge cakes were made with flour, sugar, and eggs - the whites beaten hard for leavening.  No butter, water or baking powder/soda.  The new Chiffon Cake had oil, water and baking powder.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ice Tea, Sweet Tea history

Iced tea was given out free at a Tea Store in Macon, Ga, in August 1896 (ad below).  Ice or Iced tea in the second half of the 19th century was made with green or black tea, or both - blended.  Although generally brewed, there were early recipes for the tea made in cold water.

Early references to Ice Tea dealt with its immense popularity in Russia in the 1840s; and by 1860 it appeared in American books.  The Russian influence was noted in recipes labeled Russian Tea or Tea a la Russe.  

A northern cookbook contained the first recipe in a cookbook to brew sugar with the hot water – sweet tea – before the usually cited Old Virginia cookbook of 1877.  Another early sweet tea appeared in a medical recipe. ...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Butter shapes - 2

Continuing with Dutch, Flemish and French butter in paintings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. 

The butter in a mound shape is from Pieter de Hooch's A Woman Preparing Bread, (Dutch c1660) in the Getty Museum.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fried RED Tomatoes

For those of us who love green fried tomatoes, here is a delicious 1839 recipe for fried red ones with bread crumbs and fried minced onions...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yorkshire Range video

“The Old Black Lead Range” a seven minute video of Peter Brears cooking on the range is on Youtube  HERE . The Yorkshire Range, popular in English kitchens from the 1850s, was an ‘open range.'

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cook Stove Videos

The two short videos below, show cooking on early cast iron cook stoves, bringing to life these 19th century images.  The first stove has an upper or step-up oven, while the second is a box stove with oven.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Butter Shapes

Have you ever wondered what these objects were in the Dutch market paintings?  Butter was sold in various shapes, sizes, weights and 'prints' over the centuries.  The following Dutch and Flemish butter images from the 16th and 17th century show imprinted oval shaped butter. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Jefferson's Savoy Cakes

President Thomas Jefferson actually wrote this recipe.  And others, some written in French.  This recipe To make biscuit de Savoy includes an interesting step - "take care not to shut the oven till the biscuit begins to swell up, then close the oven."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Garlic Butter

Not for Italian bread...but when cows ate wild garlic in the spring, the flavor remained in the milk, and the cream was churned  into  garlic flavored butter.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Strawberry Cakes - Eliza Leslie

Probably the earliest Strawberry Shortcake recipe is by Eliza Leslie in 1847.  It is a crisp cookie/pie crust cake, made richer if you use the pint (4 sticks) rather than the half pound (2 sticks) of butter - Leslie mentions both.

Monday, May 27, 2013

HUGH fish smoker - 1779

This incredible kiln to smoke red herring is pictured in a French book published in 1779.  The fish were strung through sticks which were then passed up to be hung.  After being dried in the smoke, the fish were taken down, pulled off the sticks and put in barrels. While there are a couple women helping in the first image, all the workers in Figure 2 - even those climbing in their long dresses - are women. Click on the images for larger views.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Barding and Larding

How to bard, how to lard?  Images of larded and barded meat with instructions appeared in Miss Corson's Practical American Cookery in 1886...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Incorporators for Salad Dressing

Odd bottle #2.  Once the dressing for the salad was made, it was put in a bottle or poured down the side of the 'salad dish', to be mixed only when ready to eat, according to William Kitchiner.  He specified “an Ingredient Bottle, - These are sold at the Glass Shops, under the name of Incorporators,— we recommend the sauce to be mixed in these, and the Company can then take it, or leave it, as they like.”  [The Cook's Oracle by William Kitchiner.  London: 1822]

Monday, May 6, 2013

Codd Bottles

Marbles inside soda bottles??  This ingeneous replacement for the cork used the soda water's own pressure to keep the marble secured against a rubber ring just under the lip.  To release the seal, a special opener (see below) or finger pushed the marble ball away from the ring.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Here's Milk, ho!

Selling milk from 12 gallon cans, from the 1808 book The Cries of New-York with a description.  Also pictures from 1795 and 1805 Great Britain.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring Puddings and Rhubarb

Rhubarb, with its strikingly red stalks and large green leaves, became popular in Victorian England and by 1822 was the main ingredient in Spring Puddings.  The "pie-plant" was forced by the warmth of the waste water from the boilers of the factories... in Yorkshire...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Shad fishing

The weather is warming and the Shad are running.  Actually they are swimming up the rivers to spawn.  The following 14 images [click to enlarge] from the 16th and 19th centuries show the various ways to catch the shad from wiers, spears, nets on sticks and large nets. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Smithsonian food exhibit

FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000, at the National Museum of American History in DC contains Julia Child's home kitchen, a Krispy Kream donut machine, the first frozen margarita machine and more...

Monday, April 1, 2013


For April Fools Day... a variety of Fools.   While most of the Fool recipes were for Gooseberry, other cooked and mashed fruits included Strawberry, Raspberry, Apple, Orange, Cherry or Rhubarb.  14 recipes from 1675 to 1908...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Irish Potato Pudding

When a Sweet Potato Pie is a sweet, Potato Pie.  Using Irish or white potatoes.  One of the recipes, by Mary Randolph, states 1 pound of potato to 3 sticks of butter!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Feeding the Papal Conclave

The most striking images of a Papal Conclave - at least for food historians - are found in The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, 1570.  Close-ups of the hamper, credenza tub, carafe container and the 'ruota' dumbwaiter door. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Liotard and a breakfast conversation

Jean-Etienne Liotards pictures, including an interesting one of a boy cutting a piece off a butter cone, highlight an interesting 1803 breakfast description.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pictures on Pinterest

Last month I started making some Pinterest boards.   Most of the pictures so far are from my old postings, so I am using it as an pictorial index of the contents of my blog.  ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chocolate by Liotard

Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-1789) did the famous watercolor "The Chocolate Girl" (La Belle Chocolatiere) c1744 which has been copied many times over the years. He also did some other interesting chocolate paintings with closeups of the details...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine Hearts

A recipe for Chocolate Hearts is from the Baker's Chocolate booklet, 1913.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Art of Refining Sugar

7 great images showing the equipment being made and used to refine sugar from a french book, 1764.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Flour bin at Zoar

Zoar Village in Ohio has a gorgeous flour bin in their 1845 bakery.  The top lid was made from one large width of wood and was constructed by community members. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Charles Darwin and... rice??

Emma Darwin kept a small handwritten recipe book, and about fifty of her recipes with modern interpretations are in Mrs. Charles Darwin's Recipe Book which also contains a lengthy information section.   Several of the recipes had differences from others in contemporary cookbooks, such as almonds replacing chestnuts in the Nesselrode ice cream...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


The tiny purple shells of the Cochineal (found on cactus - see last section of this post) was used as a dye.  The scale insects were generally dried in the sun or oven.  In food, it's pink/red/purple color enhanced jelly, marmalade, blanc mange as well as pickled Eggs, "Golden Pippins to look like Apricots," collared Beef,  icing (as described on the Christmas or Black Cake HERE ) and other foods.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Twelfth Night pranks

The beguiling display of elaborate cakes in the windows lured those walking by and waiting patrons too close to the window sills.

Mischievous boys would nail, NAIL the coat tails to the sills or pin adults coats together.. as many as "eight to ten persons." ...