Monday, December 25, 2017

Plum pudding for Old Christmas Day

"Old Christmas" was January 6th and new was December 25 in the following story. The father kept Christmas on the old date when the mother Martha Gold served her locally famous pudding - recipe below.  From an 1866 British magazine.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Flowering fruit tree branches as Christmas trees

Although fir trees were the most popular, small cherry or apricot trees were planted in pots, or branches were cut and put in water so the blossoms appeared during the holiday.  The picture of a flowering tree decorated with ornaments and candles is from 1790 Nuremberg Germany.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Luciadagen or St. Lucia Day breakfast

In Sweden, the oldest daughter in the family wears a wreath of candles on her head and serves breakfast ... then the family goes back to bed.  In the 'old calendar' the day fell on the shortest day of the year.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Belsnickel or Pelznichel

In Germany and Pennsylvania Dutch areas, Belsnickel or Pelznichel appeared on Dec.6 - the Saint's day of Saint Nicholas. He carried a rod and wore a scary disguise, with jingling bells and clanging chains... not a jolly Santa Claus.

Monday, November 27, 2017

How to Cook Apples - over 100 ways - by Georgiana Hill in 1865

The English author Georgiana Hill (1825-1903) compiled recipes from the mundane (apple pie) to unusual - Irish Stew with apples, apples and chocolate, fools, puffs, trifles, omelet, pickled, curry, and sausage with pimiento.  Two American apple recipes - one to cut thin and dry on string, and the other put in jar, cover with sugar and boil the jar and contents.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Pumpkin Pie poem recipe

A poem about gathering pumpkins heaped "high in the old red cart" hauled by oxen then made into a pie appeared in the November 23, 1889 edition of Good Housekeeping

Monday, November 13, 2017

Syringes and presses for fancy cookies

The familiar aluminum Mirro cookie press of the 1960s was preceded by Swedish sprutas, syringes, biscuit forcers & presses.  The dough is forced out as a long "ornamental" ribbon, then cut into individual cookies.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pine Apple Syrup for ice cream and Pineapple ice cream

Elizabeth Ellicott Lea's recipe for Pine Apple Syrup was "to season ice cream."  Mary Randolph's Virginia Housewife included a pineapple ice cream recipe as did the British author Nutt in 1819. The 1749 article on ananas (pineapple; below) may have been read by George Washington or Charles Carroll, Barrister, of Baltimore who each had a pinery to grow the expensive plant before 1800. Incredible picture of selling some of the "35,000 pines" that arrived at London in 1847 on one ship.

Monday, October 30, 2017

"Tricks" done on Halloween in Pa. Dutch areas

In the mid1800s, Halloween was celebrated "roughly" -  parts of a wagon were put in different trees, gates taken off hinges, wooden steps removed, taking wagons apart and rebuilt in a stable, and other extreme tricks.  And the food history part?  Throwing corn or string beans, hanging beets and cabbages at doors, OK maybe not too relevant, but I am amazed by the caliber of the tricks!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Apple cider press in 1840s Germany

The lovely long curved oak trough and millstone, apple press, and 'monstrous tuns' were used to turn the "golden apples" into "apple-wine" or cider.  Cows pulled the wagons during the harvest.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Citron melons for ice cream, jelly, sweetmeats, marmalade, tarts, sauce (applesauce) and syrup

The melon cannot be eaten unprocessed but when cooked in sugar water it is candied and used in cakes, puddings, mincemeat, green custard;  it's pectin will help other fruit jellies; a substitute for applesauce or pie/tarts filling; or pickled like watermelon rind.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Dog powered turnspits

A little dog - the turnspit dog - ran inside the wheel high on the wall which turned the spit in front of the fire.  The turn-spit was mentioned in a 1601 inventory (dog-wheell). Several early quotes from 17th through 19th century writings.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham and Oyster dinners in St. Mary's County, MD

These fundraising annual dinners are held in church rec halls and fire departments in St. Mary's County.  The corned ham - wet cured with unusual taste - is stuffed with kale, cabbage, celery, onions & lots of red pepper, detailed in post HERE

Monday, September 25, 2017

Schnitz - dried apple slices, 1749 Schnitz House, schnitz baskets, schnitz un knepp

Schnitz are slices of apples placed on drying racks then put in a slack brick bake oven.  People could gather for 'apple cuts' parties, or in a building such as the Schnitz House. The dried apples were stored in rye baskets in the Lancaster, Pa. area and prepared in pies or Schnitz un Knepp.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Seckel or Seckle Pears originally from Philadelphia

The Seckel pear, the "finest pear," had a celebrated ‘original tree’ on Seckel’s farm, later part of the Stephen Girard estate, south of Philly.  The tree was said to have been found in the 1760s, survived for decades and was even pictured in magazines.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Asenath Nicholson - from Graham crackers to the Irish famine

Asenath Nicholson (1792-1855) started as a teacher then social activist, writer, managed Graham boarding houses in NYC, vegetarian and traveled alone through Ireland 1844-5, and 1847-9 during the famine.  She wrote two cookbooks -  Nature’s Own Book 1835 (27 recipes in 9 of the 84 pages) and her 1848 A Treatise on Vegetable Diet (60 recipes in 10 of the pages).

Monday, September 4, 2017

Soyer's Dublin Soup Kitchen 1847

Alexis Soyer (1810-1858) went to the aid of the starving poor during the Irish potato famine by designing a soup kitchen and recipes.  He was the famed chef and designer of the Reform Club kitchen from 1837-1850, inventor and writer.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Brandied Peaches

Another of the 10 peach recipes in Maryland's Elizabeth Ellicott Lea Domestic Cookery - Peaches in Brandy. The glorious peach on the right was obtained by pouring "boiling water on them, and wipe off the down."  When done properly, the skin came off easily; the other two of the first batch were... not all 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mary Randolph's Peach ice cream

Mary Randolph's Virginia Housewife, first published in 1824, included many ice cream recipes - peach, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, cocoa nut, iced jelly, strawberry, raspberries, lemonade iced, citron melon, almond and... oyster.

Monday, August 14, 2017


Standing in water for hours pushing their nets ahead of them in the sand, the picturesque Shrimpers captured the shrimp and/or prawns.  When prepared, the shrimp formed "a delightful show, their brilliant red coats being garnished with green parsley." From Pyne's 1827 book.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Summer Kitchen # 2 - 18th century out-kitchens

In a previous post - 7 years ago, (when this post was written, oops) - HERE, I discussed 19th century 'summer kitchens'.  In the 18th century they were called 'out kitchens', or just 'kitchens'.  The reason for the detached kitchens? - to keep homes "...more cool and Sweet" and "...because the Smell of hot Victuals, offensive in the hot Weather."

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Camp cookery - outdoor stewstove and improvised ovens

Stew stoves - one of my favorite flue-zies - were described in a 1882 camping book. The image shows two green logs flattened along the top to securely place the pots and pans over coals from the main fire.  Another camping book had illustrations of different pots and pans used to make ovens.

Monday, July 24, 2017

"The Nursery Chair" and a Gingerbread & lemonade stand

Two poems in a children's book from 1880.  In the first poem, the little girl is "plucking the raisins so rich" from her [Queen Cakes?] "cake that is flavoured with spice."  In the second poem - the children asked “If you please, Mrs. Grumpy, we’d like lemonade, and sweet sugar candy with almonds inlaid.”

Monday, July 17, 2017

Alligator Pears since 1600 (Aguacates, Alvacatas, Avocados)

The avocado, once called the Alligator Pear, appeared in books since the early 17th century, and by mid 1800s in London was "much eaten by all classes of people."  In 1696 Hans Sloane was able to cite numerous names for the fruit from books. Originally from Mexico, it was grown in the West Indies, St Augustine (1766) Florida, and California in the later part of the century. Claimed to taste like chestnuts, was "superior to the peach" and often served as a salad with French dressing (recipes below).

Monday, July 10, 2017


For Girl Scouts, and now most campers, s'mores are THE summer campfire treat.  And no, you can't eat just one.  From the 1965 official GS calendar - "'S'mores'... that favorite campfire dessert."  The recipe "Some More" is from a 1927 GS book, and "S'mores" started appearing by the 1940s.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

4th of July Kitchen Parade

A variety of kitchen items become musical instruments in this 1890 sketch: "Fourth of July in the Kitchen."  Click to enlarge, closeups below...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Artificial crab, lobster and even anchovies

Richard Bradley's 1727 cookbook had several fake/mock crabs using liver or chicken & potatoes, anchovy liquor, lemon and placed in cleaned crab shells.  In the 1870s cheese became a primary ingredient for mock crabs.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Fishing Miseries - an 1833 advice book for fishermen

Cartoons and descriptions of the hazards of fishing.

"Wading half an inch deeper than the tops of your boots, and finding afterwards that you must carry about with you four or five quarts [of water] in each, or must sit down on the wet grass whilst your attendant pulls them off, in order that you may empty them, and try to pull them on again."

Monday, June 5, 2017

800 pound Plum Pudding - boiled in huge brewing kettle for a June fair

A plum pudding for the June 7, 1809 Bartholomew Fair at Paignton was so enormous it had to be boiled in a "brewer's copper."  How big?  400 lbs of flour, 175 lbs of suet, 140 lbs raisins and 240 eggs to make a pudding weighing in at 800 lbs!  It was boiled from Sat. morning until Tues. evening and pulled in a wagon by 8 oxen.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Flour mill and bakery onboard naval ships during Crimean War

To support the British troops with their daily bread ration during the Crimean War in 1855-6, two iron steamers were refitted – one named “Bruiser” as a floating mill and the other “Abundance” as a bakery.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Greek and Turkish confectionary

These fabulous colored images are from Conditorei des Orients (1838) by Friedrich Unger, the German confectioner to King Otto I of Greece.
The first picture is a confectionery in Athens.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Brown-Eyed Susan Cake

The yellow and brown (chocolate) marble cake is from the 1933 Betty Crocker New Party Cakes.  The Black-eyed Susan is the official drink of the Preakness.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Calling bees - Tanging or ringing

"Why does the old lady knock with her key on a frying-pan?"  Bees swarm when the hives "be too much crowded by the young brood" and the weather warms in late April or May.  To settle/calm the bees into an empty hive people would beat a kettle, pan or ring a little bell.  Perhaps to sound like thunder or it was done to claim ownership of the swarm.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Ruth Hanly (1891-1973) and her friend Rebecca Gooch, both in their 20s, left teaching in 1919 to start a candy business – Rebecca Ruth Candies - in Frankfort Ky.  The company, still in business, still sells the famed Bourbon Balls it created in 1938.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Maple Sugar described in Goodrich/Parley books

Generally maple syrup is the end result from the sap tapped from maple trees.  However the following excerpts detail how maple sugar was made.  Samuel Griswold Goodrich (1793-1860)  wrote numerous books (excerpts from 1832-1856) under his name or as 'Peter Parley". 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

H. L. Barnum's cookbook from Cincinnati

Not the great showman P. T. Barnum, but H. L. Barnum (another of the vast Conn. family), lived in Cincinnati in 1831 when he compiled the 400 page Family Receipts, including an egg and boiling tea substitute for milk. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Good Friday Hot Cross Buns kept for a year

Hot Cross Buns stored for a year?  Cornish folklore- "In some of our farmhouses the Good Friday cake may be seen hanging to the bacon-rack, slowly diminishing..."  Poor Robin's Almanack of 1753 noted it would not get moldy and was used to cure illnesses in humans and farm animals.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Easter in Germany - hares laying eggs?? decorations, egg hunt and toss

It is very interesting, to those of us raised accepting a bunny delivered Easter eggs, that writers outside of Germany and the German areas of the US were perplexed by the tradition.  And surprised by the egg hunt.  The following excerpts and sketches from an 1878 article also show the range of chocolate or sugared figures far exceed our chocolate bunnies and eggs...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Barley Lemonade

Generally found in the foods for the sick section, barley water was often flavored with lemons and sugar, but this recipe was actually named lemonade by famed chef Alexis Soyer.  The pearl barley is boiled in water, strained and added to the sugar water and lemon. Then the lemonade is strained.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Nott's Barley Gruel

John Nott's The Cook's and Confectioner's Dictionary went through four editions from 1723-1733.  His gruel is enriched with cream, wine, sugar, currants and egg yolks. A rather fine gruel!  Other barley recipes in Nott's book are broth, cream, pottage, posset, pudding, and barley sugar.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Melting snow with salt - in Victorian England

"Persons can do few more silly or injurious things than to sprinkle salt upon snow before their doors. The result is to change dry snow or ice at the temperature of 32°, to brine at 0°. So low a temperature affecting the feet of passengers is a prolific source of colds. If, then, any one does sprinkle salt upon snow in the street, he ought to feel it a matter of conscience to sweep it away immediately."

Monday, March 6, 2017

Geometry in food

In the 1841 book The Childs Pictorial Geometry a slice of cake is an equilateral triangle and a sugar loaf is a cone.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Those annoying cries of London

The following excerpt from 1827 describes "the incessant bawling of" street vendors to the annoyance of those "who have not the happiness to be deaf."  From the "muffin man's little bell," the bakers barking dogs, to a "stentorian bawler" for beer bottles until "the characters thicken, and tenfold cries distract the worried ear."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Baker's cart guard dogs

The little dogs under the cart to the left, did not pull the cart, but would protect the contents by wildly barking while the baker delivered his bread.  The image is by the British artist WH Pyne, 1827 and the write up below about terriers in New York is from an 1872  magazine.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Queen Victoria's chef Charles Elme Francatelli

A famed chef and cookbook author appears in the TV series "Victoria" - Francatelli (1805-1876).  Born in London, trained in France by Careme, he became "Chief cook and Maitre d'Hotel" from 1840-1842 for Queen Victoria (crowned 1838). After a "fracas" at Buckingham Palace in 1841, he was let go and his first, highly popular, cookbook The Modern Cook was released in 1845.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Baron von Steuben's French chef at Valley Forge

Cooking beef on a string.  Steuben's "cook of celebrity" couldn't prepare their ration of beef and bread without utensils. He asked their 'wagoner" how to cook the meat and was told "by hanging it up by a string, and turning it before a good fire..."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cranberry Muffins

This 1908 recipe has a very rich, thick batter loaded with baking powder.  The berries were fresh and softened during the baking. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A hard life - gathering & carrying firewood in the winter; start early in the morning

Cooking and heating needed fuel... and it was very labor intensive for the poor.  "In the depth of snow" women and children dragged hacked up stumps, branches or anything the "wood police" allowed.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Richard Dolby's The Cook's Dictionary and the Thatched House Tavern

This extensive 1830 cooking dictionary is remarkable because it was touted as the first cookbook set in alphabetical order.  Also Dolby was the second cook-turned-author from the famed Thatched-House Tavern.  The frontispiece is left.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Food History Conferences, Symposiums, Exhibits and Writings 2017

This year there are conferences/symposiums in Leeds and Oxford, UK; Oxford, Miss; France; Amsterdam. A new exhibit using Getty Institute images "The Edible Monument" is being held in Detroit.  For food history in Pennsylvania, an upcoming special issue on food.