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.

Jane Grant Gilmor (1801-1890) married Benjamin Chew Howard (1791-1872) in 1818.  She give birth to twelve children, published the cookbook at age 72 (a year after her husband died), and lived to be 89 years old. At 65 Jane Howard was president of the Ladies' Southern Relief Association of Maryland which gathered and dispersed over $164,000 ($2.3 million today) collected at their fair in April 1866. [Report, 1866] More HERE

They were both from wealthy Baltimore families. Benjamin was one of six sons and two daughters born to Col. John Eager Howard of Revolutionary War fame and his wife Margaret (Peggy) Chew, daughter of Pennsylvania Chief Justice Benjamin Chew of Cliveden in Philadelphia and courted by the British Major John Andre.  

Jane's father was William Gilmor, a wealthy merchant who built a mansion on Monument Square and a country house "Vineyard," her uncle was the collector Robert Gilmor, and her aunt Jane Gilmor Grant died a couple years after Jane's birth.

Belvidere was Governor John Eager Howard’s mansion with impressive gardens. The estate was just north of Baltimore City in a large wooded area known as "Howard's Woods" on the west side of the Jones Falls river. (Shown in the 1801 map below, in the center with a white arrow pointed at the house and gardens.)  Started the year before they married in 1787, they moved into the completed north wing building, until it the central part was finished eight years later.  Benjamin was raised on the large estate, and after he wed Jane, the “… early married life of the young couple was passed at Belvidere, and Mrs. Howard, who is now an interesting lady past fourscore, has a very agreeable recollection of the gayety that reigned there when Colonel John Eager Howard was the head of the house.” [Harpers]

In 1827, when Col. Howard died, Ben and Jane Howard inherited Belvidere, even though he was the third son, the eldest, John Eager Howard, Jr. had died in Oct. 1822 (with brother-in-law John McHenry in Mercersburg, Pa. where both were buried) and the second son (a future Governor) George had been given another estate, Waverly (now owned by Howard County, MD).  After fighting in the War of 1812 and a decade practicing law in Baltimore, Benjamin Chew Howard was elected to four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives beginning in 1829, then spent twenty years as the Recorder of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. 

Belvidere’s garden is described at American Garden History, one of Barbara Sarudy’s impressive blogs.

The "Howard mansion house" was bought by wealthy businessman John S. McKim in 1844, (photo) sold to the city for one dollar by his widow in 1874 then demolished to make room for the encroaching Calvert Street.  On land once part of Belvidere, The Belvedere - spelled with an e instead of i - hotel was built in 1903 at Charles Street, and still exists. [Appleton’s]
Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen by Mrs. B. C. Howard - Jane Grant (Gilmor) Howard - was published in Baltimore in 1873.  It was “…produced soley for the purpose of aiding certain benevolent undertakings…” thus she reluctantly allowed her name to be included.  Almost all the receipts (recipes) “…have been practically and repeatedly tested by the author in her own family and are the results of careful selection from a collection made during a period of more than fifty years.”  She wanted the “simple and practical” instructions to suit the “young housekeeper” or the experienced.
Belvidere Rice Pudding  

Two quarts of new milk.               [ 8 C]
One gill of rice.                            [1/2 C]
One tea-cupful of brown sugar.    [3/4 C]
One stick of cinnamon about three inches in length.  [1/8-1/4 powdered]

Wash the rice to remove the floury particles, and put it into the oven, in the dish in which it is to be served, with the sugar, cinnamon, and half of the milk, reserving the other half to add, a little at a time, as the first stews away.

It requires to stew slowly, not boil, from three and a half to four hours, and when finished, should be rather thick, and look like rich yellow cream.

No milk must be added the last half hour, as it should be covered with brown skin when sent to table.

It should not be stirred or disturbed, except by the addition of the milk, while in the oven.

Note:  After 4 hours of slow baking, the rice pudding becomes very thick and viscous.  Well worth the time. However the resulting crust was not the best.  Perhaps improved if topped with dabs of butter during the last hour - as my grandmother used to do. Generally I remove the crust with each addition of milk, and stir in the milk and rice on the sides.  

other posts on Jane Grant (Gilmor) Howard HERE -

Ladies’ Southern Relief Association fair of 1866 raising $millions HERE

Waverly Jumbles HERE and Waverly Mansion HERE

Many recipes by Jane Howard HERE

Endnotes -

Appleton’s Journal. NY: Dec 26, 1874    black and white sketch of house
Harpers Magazine, 1882   
McKim, Randolph H. A Soldier’s Recollections…a young Confederate.  NY: 1910   photograph
Report of the Ladies' Southern Relief Association of Maryland. 1866.   Also mentioned in her New York Times obit, and other newspapers around the country.  
Sully, Thomas.  First portrait. Maryland Historical Society.  1820
Warner + Hanna's Map, Plan of the City of Baltimore. 1801  Johns Hopkins University
Weidenbach, Augustus.  Belvedere.  c1869  Maryland Historical Society   second image

©2014 Patricia Bixler Reber

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