Monday, December 29, 2014

Egg nog for Christmas, New Year's Eve, Twelfth Night

Eggnog was a southern tradition for Christmas and New Year's Eve.  In the following story, a tub of egg nog was set out on the porch for 12 days - from Christmas until Twelfth-night (January 6) - for visitors.  Mrs. B.C. Howard's recipe for Egg Nogg from her Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen is below.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cookbook carolers 1912

The three singers are from a delightful children's book - Mary Francis Cook Book; or Adventures among the Kitchen People by Jane Allen Boyer in 1912.    HERE

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cranberry Sauce vs. Preserves in the 1840s

What's the difference?  1/2 cup sugar.  1840s vs. modern sauce?  half the water and twice the sugar.  Elizabeth Ellicott Lea's recipe below, is compared with a nearby contemporary author, Eliza Leslie, and with a modern recipe.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Dr. Johnson takes on Hannah Glasse and women cookbook authors

Women "... cannot make a good book of Cookery."  Johnson actually said that to a woman!! (she compared him to Hercules with a spinner's distaff)  In addition to discussing Mrs. Glasse's Art of Cookery, which he had "looked into," he proclaimed: "I could write a better book of cookery than has ever yet been written..."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Kettle v. Pot - When a kettle is a pot is a boiler

In a previous post on Dutch ovens, I listed some of its other names, such as bake kettle.  Many kettles included tea kettle, fish kettle, dish kettle, soup kettle, steam kettle, camp kettle, wash kettle and more.

They could be large, or small (Hannah Glasse); copper, brass, tin or iron.

One 1818 Virginia inventory included tea kettles, coffee pots, a chocolate boiler and a large brass kettle.
  The copper fish kettle was made in Harrisburg, PA c1807-1835 and is in Winterthur Museum.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Continental army's "sumptuous" Thanksgiving of 1777

After having no rations for 2-3 days, Congress "opened her sympathizing heart" and provided ..... 1/4 cup rice and 1T of eat with "a leg of nothing and no turnips."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pumpkin candies made from pumpkin pickles or chips

Several past posts have dealt with pumpkin chip recipes from 1770 and 1840 and how to cut pumpkins into chips HERE.  Chips or sweet pickles can be made into candies by rolling them in sugar.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Soup makes the soldier

Leopold Beyer (1789-1877) sketched French soldiers cooking soup in a pot in 1813.  A contemporary wrote that the French soldiers were better cooks than the English.  "...six French troopers fling their messes into the same pot, and extract a delicious soup ten times more nutritious..." while the English soldiers toss their meat onto the coals and burn it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

When a Steam Kitchen is not a kitchen using steam

Well, actually it used steam and was in the kitchen but steam kitchens were apparatus (after 1790) which heated water and then used the resulting steam to cook food.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween - Cake Night, Soul Cake, Seed Cake

The history of Halloween involves many traditions.  Giving out cakes on All Hallows Eve (the night before All Saints Day, Nov 1) or on All Souls Day (Nov 2) was an old tradition by 1511.  On 'All halowen daye,' brade was given to all crysten [Christian] soules. [Brand, 1813]  The sketch shows a group a-souling for Soul or Soule cakes or other name variations: Soul mass cake, Somas-cake, Soul-mas-cake, Soul-masse-Cakes (1656) or Seed Cakes.   

Saturday, October 25, 2014

18th century earthen camp kitchen at Mount Harmon

If you are near northeast Maryland (Earleville) tomorrow (Sunday) you can still see the freshly dug camp kitchen and enjoy the Revolutionary War encampment and battle at Mt Harmon Plantation HERE.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Clarified Marrow

"Eating pork-marrow will make a person stupid" was an 1825 saying. Beef marrow from within the bones was clarified over very low heat to be used as a substitute for butter and to store for longer periods.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Men doing the shopping - in late 1820s Cincinnati

6 days a week at dawn the men went to the market - even "those of the highest standing."  Mrs. Francis Trollope (1780-1863) wrote Domestic Manners of the Americans, 1832 about  her travels and travails in the United States with some of her children.  They settled for several years in the growing city of Cincinnati, Ohio where she opened a large store - the Bazaar.  And like NYC, HERE, pigs cleaned refuse from the streets.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Barbegal: a SUPER Roman flour mill complex

16 overshot wheels - using water from an aqueduct - ground an estimated four and a half tons of flour per day!  If that was not enough, the Romans cut through solid rock on top to connect the aqueduct they built to the mill troughs. AND they built the stone complex on a steep hill in Gaul (France).  All this during the 1st century.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Smelly beef steak pie by the Thatched House Tavern cook and his 1824 cookbook

Michael Willis, as the cook for many years at the Thatched House Tavern, prepared meals for members of the prestigious clubs which met there.  He wrote Cookery Made Easy in 1824 and another in 1831.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sargent's The Dinner Party - Mystery object

Does anyone have a guess what the small object on the floor near the sideboard is and why is it at that location? (closeup below)  I would think a stool, heater (food, dish), brazier bottom or whatever would trip up the servers. The Dinner Party by Henry Sargent (1770-1845) was painted c1821 in Boston.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Woman Guard your Kitchen!

The dog - wish I could say 'hot dog' (dachshund) - is stealing Mrs. Weiser's sausages in this watercolor by Lewis Miller.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Jefferson's handwritten list of the Vegetable Market in Washington City

Artichokes, Broccoli, Eggplants, Sprouts and Watermelon were just some of the 37 vegetables and fruits sold from 1801-1809 and written down by Thomas Jefferson.  An avid gardener and collector, Thomas Jefferson kept records of the wide variety of plants in his gardens, but as President he also kept track of the vegetable market in Washington, D.C., charting the first and last days the vegetables were available. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dutch Oven - Iron or Tin or ... Brick?

What's in a name...?  Several types of ovens have been called Dutch Ovens.  They were generally cast iron bake ovens, or metal (tin or copper) reflector ovens.  Some inventories specified – “2 iron dutch ovens with only one lid” or “tin dutch ovens” while others listed only “oven” or “dutch oven.” And then the brick...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Spiced Peaches and Pickled Peaches

TEN peach recipes are in Elizabeth Ellicott Lea’s Domestic Cookery (Baltimore, 1846) including Spiced Peaches and To Pickle Peaches.  The Spiced Peaches (left) are delightful, but they cook down, so do halves or quarters.

Monday, August 18, 2014

They came, they ate, they burned the house down - the British burning the White House in 1814

On August 24, 1814, food was prepared for a 3:00 dinner for forty.  There were cut glass decanters of ale, cider and wine placed in coolers, plate warmers by the fire and a variety of meats on the spits.  The British troops sat down to a fine repast... then immediately set fire to the President's House.  A nice thank you for the meal. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Civil War salt works - 500 bushels a day - destroyed

Salt was important to preserve meat (like salt pork) in order to feed the soldiers.  Thus, the Union navy conducted raids on Confederate salt-works, as illustrated and described in Harper's Weekly, Nov. 15, 1862.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Food History Symposiums, Exhibits 2014 part 3

8 activities in Washington, D.C., Williamsburg VA, MS, NJ, Russia and Italy...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Thomas Jefferson and Ice Cream

Balls of ice cream encased in warm pie crust made by Jefferson's French chef were novel enough to stir comment by TWO Congressmen attending a Presidential dinner.  Among Jefferson's few handwritten recipes is one for vanilla ice cream. A 1786 French book of ice creams, an early British cookbook with recipe - which he owned - ice cream freezer in his inventory, and more...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Madeira - a Pot and a Quern

Madeira, the island off the coast of Portugal, not the fortified wine made there, was the subject of the 1821 book A History of Madeira.  Porridge is in the iron pot and grinding "Indian corn" in a quern is depicted below.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ice Cream Man in 1845 New York City and 1815 London

Selling Ice Cream - or more likely Ice Milk - on the streets of NYC "during the hot sultry weather in July and August" while carrying glasses and a sorbetiere. From the book Cries of New York we learn that 'you scream' to rhyme with ice cream is nothing new and that cream was hard to obtain...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Roll out the barrel ...on a sled

Foodstuffs and other items were stored in sacks, boxes, crates, jars and barrels of all sizes.  Smaller barrels could easily be put in wagons, but how did they transport the larger barrels? The Madeira barrel on a sled (1821) is described below.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Saddle, griddle and oatmeal for oatcakes

Traveling with "a broad plate of metal" (a 'girdle' or griddle) "under the Haps [cover, wrap] of his saddle," the fourteenth century Scottish soldier could make thin oat cakes from water and oatmeal over a fire.  This would warm and strengthen their stomachs after eating too-freshly butchered cattle, which was scavenged.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Drunken Botanist

This entertaining and well researched book details how all alcoholic beverages are composed of plants.  Actually, it is the focus on each plant and how it is made into different drinks, instead of the usual writings on the composition of beer, wine, etc., which makes this an interesting read.  Beer is generally barley, wheat, and flavored with hops.  But going from plant to drink - barley is also for whiskey; wheat is in vodka, whiskey and Maker’s Mark bourbon.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Midsummer Eve dining with newcomers

New residents in some parts of England held a dinner in front of their home on Midsummer Eve to meet their neighbors.  This custom was still observed in the Georgian and Regency periods as described in an 1814 book.

Monday, June 9, 2014

"Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen"...and Belvidere

The wealthy and socially prominent Jane Gilmor Howard, as Mrs. B. C. Howard, wrote the immensely popular 1873 fundraising cookbook.  One of the recipes, “Belvidere Rice Pudding” was named for Belvidere, the large 18th century 'seat’ of the Howards, where she lived.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cherries on a stick

Cherries were tied with white thread to sticks in addition to being sold by weight.  Some sticks held up to eleven bunches (1825)  and 350 years earlier “Cheryes in the ryse…a twig.”  Numerous sketches of cherry 'kabobs' and info below...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A day at White Sulphur Springs... in 1869

Drinking the water, shooting, bowling, billiards, dancing, walking, talking, riding and eating...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Petticoat Tails

Scottish short bread in some 19th century recipes was baked in a "petticoat" shape.  A recipe from 1820 had carraway seeds, a mutchkin of water, butter, lots of flour and less sugar, mixed then rolled thin and pricked on top.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spring Cakes

Two Spring Cakes, one with candied violets, and angelica stems from 1920, and a Regency recipe, Gateau de Mai (Cake of May) which is not sweet... using udder, suet, herbs, spices and served with stewed greens or sharp sauce.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Stuffing stomachs for Haggis and Hog Maw

It is not Fall butchering time nor Burns Night (January 25), but after hearing an talk on Haggis yesterday, I wanted to do a quick pictorial on how to stuff a stomach.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Food History Symposiums, Talks, Workshops 2014. part 2

11 Activities in Virginia, Maryland, Ireland, Amsterdam, UK, Italy, Mass., Miss., and Ill.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A wig for the cook - 1776

BETTY the COOK MAIDS HEAD DREST is a satirical image from London in 1776.   Her exaggerated wig contains some cooking tools, cheese, vegetables, animals and a cooking fire in a grate.  Closeup of each with sketches from other period images...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Eggs and onion skins

The marvelous mahogany hues of hard-boiled eggs boiled in onion skins make a wonderful backdrop to etch with a needle or knife, as seen in the eggs done by Tom Martin at Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, Pa.  1826 and 1876 directions...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Saratoga Chips - Potato Chips

You can't eat just one... in 1887 - "The more you have of them, the more you will want one."  The paper thin chips were eaten hot or cold, and one writer felt they had "all the nutriment cooked out of them."  A few recipes, a joke from 1889 and more...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Egg shell perfumed bombs - 1685

Egg shells filled with scented rose-water were to be thrown by the ladies during banquets... after the cannons were fired on board pastry boats... to cover the smoke smell.  Then live birds and frogs came out of the pies.  Robert May described how to make these and other incredible dishes in his The Accomplisht Cook, 1685. ...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Food prices were lower in Federal America than Regency England

In 1818 Cobbett listed the many “groceries” the Americans paid half or even a third the price that the British paid.  Furthermore, everyone was able to partake of chocolate “which is a treat to the rich in England.”  The British people paid to keep the Indies, and yet, “What a hellish oppression must that people [Americans] live under!”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


For hundreds of years depictions have shown extensive creases on the tablecloths. This was achieved by ironing, placing in a napkin press and later, in the mangle. Several references show that the mangle was available in the early federal period, but more widespread in the 19th to the early 20th centuries.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oven Radiator

Radiators could do more than heat a room.  The steam pipes could warm plates, keep food hot for the table, or raise bread dough as was done in 'warming ovens' and 'hot closets'....

Monday, March 3, 2014

Flip 'n pancakes

New England "rum makes pancakes light. Flip makes very nice pancakes." 

Monday, February 24, 2014

In Meat We Trust

The meat industry changed radically from the colonial farm to the corporate giants of today. Along the way railroads and their stockyards took over walking the cattle to market; town butchers were replaced with precut frozen pieces of meat.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Coffee Cake

When a Coffee Cake is coffee in a cake...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More snow - Snow Pancakes and Fritters

Once again a lot of us are in the midst of a snow storm...DC is shoveling out now, and in this 1925 photo.  Several years ago I posted recipes for Snow Cream, and this time it is Snow Pancakes or Snow Fritters.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Jelly and fruits

Three centuries of fruit in jelly and jelly shaped as fruit.  The early receipts used a base of jelly from calves feet, issinglass or hartshorn.  One jelly using "a Gang of Calf's Feet" from 1769 is given at the end of this posting.  Powdered gelatin, created about 1840, made the process less laborious. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

You are what you wear

Literally.  'Grotesques costumes' created by Nicolas de Larmessin (died 1694) included many tradesmen and women.  Tools and products of each trade will give a hint on what is being sold that is cooking related, such as the fruit vender.  Try to guess the others...    Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Carrots in Art

A mother peeling carrots while the son eats one in "A Family Seated Round a Kitchen Fire" by Brekelenkam, 17th century (in Manchester City Galleries).  This Dutch painting is among many images at Carrots in Fine Art Works