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It’s been nine years now, but I frequently
think of a beloved pet that passed away
on this day in 2006. He was a dear furry
friend and “cat-companion.” Yes, I have
another, and she’s a sweetie who keeps
me company, but it’s just not the same.
You could say it was a type of “first love”
with my previous buddy: he’s the one
I’ll never forget. In any event, as today
is the anniversary of his passing, once again I offer the following
remembrance. It’s the same every year, with minor updates.

___________________________________

IN MEMORIAM
Twenty-plus years ago, when I was living in Indianapolis, Indiana, I discovered
a stray cat sleeping now and then in an unused dog house in my back yard. As
time went on, I saw him more frequently, and I began to set out some food. Occasionally, I’d come home from work, and there he’d be out on the patio.
At first, I’d let him in, he’d ever-so-casually walk around the room, and then
head back out. sc001ab8d7 Slowly but surely, he became a regular visitor. Eventually, he’d come inside, eat, take a nap on
my couch, and go back out. Soon we became a team. It always seemed he
knew when I’d just gotten home, for he’d show up within minutes. Other times, if I didn’t see him right away,
I would soon hear him. There’d be meowing coming from one direction
or another, and all I had to do was meow back, and he’d come running. There were many times when I came home, and he’d be at the patio door, waiting patiently to come in. And if
I’d just had a long hard day, I’d lie
on the floor, he’d sit sphinx-like on
my chest, and we’d have ourselves a little cat nap. Before long, I’d come home,
let him in, and he’d stay until the next morning, when I’d be awakened by his meowing to be let out. As cats go, it was a match made in heaven. When I
moved to New York, he came with me. On the plane, in the cabin. In fact,
during the next several years, whenever I’d go back and forth to Indianapolis,
he went with me. He didn’t mind flying. I’m sure being in that cramped carrier, “placed under the seat in front” of me per airline regulations wasn’t the greatest, but he knew that I was right there. Several times I took him out (unbeknownst to the flight attendants, of course), and he’d quietly and calmly sat in my lap.
He’d even look out the window. As I said, we were a team. In any event, to make this long story short…the point of all this is that, eight years ago today (July 28) my beloved pal, this dearly-loved cat, who had essentially adopted me, passed away. He’d never been sick a day in his life, yet suddenly he became ill and was gone in no time. It was utterly devastating. And horribly heartbreaking.

Kitty-Pooh, 1992-2006

Kitty-Pooh, 1992-2006

Since those early days in Indianapolis, he had been my constant companion. He went from being a mostly outdoor cat to being a completely indoor one. He went with me from one state to another, and from one apartment to another and then another. There was even that short time spent in Jersey (what I refer to as my homeless period). He was there as I navigated the trials and tribulations of life in the Big Bad City. Not to mention all the ups and downs of pursuing an acting career. He was there, too, when my parents passed, first one, then the other. And the loss of my beloved dog, Casey. In short, for nearly 14 years he was the one constant in my life. And so, this is in honor of my beloved pal. You were the bestest cat I could ever hope for. My handsome fella. Mon copain. My gift from God. You were dearly loved and are greatly missed.

_________________________

scan0006

nap time!

nap time!

About a month ago, I hopped on a train and headed South
to Williamsburg, Virginia, in order to attend the 2015 Annual
ALHFAM* Conference. Held on the campus of William & Mary
College, it was hosted by its neighbor, Colonial Williamsburg
(CW)
. The five-day affair featured assorted pre-conference
field trips and workshops, a day to experience all that CW

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has to offer, another for traipsing ’round the four separate
sites that comprise Jamestown and Yorktown, and last, but
not least, two full days of informative sessions that covered
every topic imaginable, from the role of modern technology
in museum settings to the tools required to better engage
audiences of all ages to the care ‘n feeding of re-enactors
at historic sites. Yours truly led a session, as well, entitled
“Fake Fanny Receipts and Other Travesties…,” wherein
I delved into the folly of using any of the ever-increasing
number of so-called “historic” recipe compilations, instead
of the truly authentic, original historic cookbooks (more
on that later).

Naturally, I took photos during the Conference. However,
just days before I left, my trusty camera went all wonky.
It still captured fantastic photos, but at a price. You see,
when I’d frame a shot, I’d do so blind. There’d be nothing
on the view screen, as it was completely blank! So, I had
to eyeball it, click the button, then check the resulting
photo (which it still showed, thankfully) to see if I got
what I wanted. If yes, I could go on to the next, but if
NOT, then I had to adjust, ever-so-slightly, how it was
aimed and try again. Repeatedly! Getting exactly what
I desired was rather hit ‘n miss (mostly, miss! although,
it did get easier as time went on). Of course, then I had
to sort through ’em all and delete the pesky “not-quites.”
dagnabit If I’d had enough time, I would’ve purchased
a new camera before I left, but alas…. So, I made do.
Besides, it was certainly better than nothing!

In any event, I’ll start sharing a few photos. And I’ll
begin with those that deal with my favorite subject,
historic cooking. Others, of the more general sort,
will follow. Enjoy!

================================

I’d have to say that, for me, the biggest and most
fan-ta-bu-lous thrill of this entire trip, was…well,
other than the fact that I got to wear THIS at all
times, all day, every day, everywhere I went…

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Woo-Hoo and HUZZAH! What fun!

Oh, sorry. Let’s see, where was I? Ahh, yes…the greatest
thrill was…walking into the recreated Rev War military
encampment at Yorktown and seeing this…

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…a fully-operational (albeit a partial) camp kitchen. HUZZAH!

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Now, I’ve read much** about the building and use of these
set-ups, have seen numerous period depictions of them, as
well as photos ‘n videos of modern-day attempts to re-create
them, and I always discuss the details of their use whenever

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I present my “Cook Like a Soldier” program, but this, THIS,
was the first time I’d ever seen one! AND seen it being used!
Wow! It was absolutely marvelous. I only wish I could’ve not
only stayed longer in order to explore it further, but also been
able to cook on it. How cool would that be?!

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There were also a couple of gridirons made outta barrel hoops…

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and the obliging barrels, filled with soldiers’ rations…

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It seemed that our time at this site was extremely limited, so
I know I missed alot. Maybe, some day, I’ll be able to return?
Here’s hoping!

Up next are various views of the communal clome bake oven
at the re-creation of the Jamestown Settlement (which, BTW,
is separate from the site of its actual location). Unfortunately,
no baking was being done at the time.

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In the section of the Jamestown Settlement site known as
the Powhatan Indian Village, a young fellow was cooking
squirrel and pigeons over an open fire…

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He was munching on previously-cooked fish, as well…

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NEXT: Photos taken during my pre-conference field trip

========================

*ALHFAM = Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums

**For more information, read John U. Rees’ highly-informative articles.

I spent this past Sunday, May 17, doing some hearth cooking
over at The Israel Crane House. It was my last time doing so
for the 2014-2015 season (I’ll return in the fall). To mark
the occasion, I devised a story wherein Mrs. Crane had me
prepare dishes for a tea she was holding for fellow female
members of the local Presbyterian Church (the Family was
an active supporter). Thus, I whipped up a few delightful
and delicious desserts.

First up was a Chocolate Tart.

Heating milk, eggs, sugar, and cream to a boil:

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The grated chocolate:

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Which was stirred into the cream mixture after it’d cooled:

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Now, I may’ve put in a little too much chocolate. I was doing my
best to gently and slowly shake it off the plate into the kettle,
but then *whoosh* a whole bunch slid off! Oh, well…

A simple paste was made with butter and put in a pie pan:

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Put it all together and…

It’s baking!

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TA-DA!!!

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The receipt I followed was first introduced to me during 2014’s
MA-ALHFAM,* Conference at the Peter Wentz Homestead. You
can find it HERE. It was taken from John Nott’s The Cooks and
Confectioners Dictionary
of 1723.

Many people think chocolate was only consumed as a beverage
in the 18th and early 19th centuries. And although that’s how
the general public most likely used it, as you see, chocolate
could also be eaten.

Next, I used a receipt from a manuscript cookbook of a Boston
apothecary’s wife to make a Lemon Pudding:

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As I prepared this dish, I wasn’t sure if it was coming together
properly. The batter seemed too liquid-y. Perhaps there was
an ingredient missing? One that the copier of the receipt had
inadvertently left out? More importantly, will this be any good?!
But when all was said and done, and nicely baked…WOW! It
was fantastic! What a light ‘n lemon-y, refreshing treat for such
a hot ‘n muggy day! I hope I can make this again.

Below are the instructions, taken from the published version
of Anne Gibbons Gardiner’s manuscript, which is entitled
Mrs. Gardiner’s Family Receipts from 1763:

Lemon Pudding
Take the Yolks of 8 Eggs well beaten, &
the whites of only 4 of them, the Rhinds
of 2 Lemons grated and the Juice of one
of them, somewhat less that [sic] half
a pound of white Sugar & a quarter of
a pound of Butter. Mix all well together,
& bake it half an hour.

A few weeks ago, Pat Roos, a fellow member of the Order
of the Ancient and Honorable Huntington Militia, expressed
interest in making a hedgehog. I later found an 18th century
receipt for it in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made
Plain and Easy
(1747). It looked quite intriguing, and so
I tried it. Here’s the one I made at the time:

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Even though I’d cut the proportions in half, there was still alot
of extra dough. But then, I was making small-ish critters. In any
event, I took it to the Crane House and made more:

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They sure is cute, yes?!

Below is Glasse’s receipt. As I mentioned previously, I cut
the ingredient amounts. I also didn’t make the sauce:

To make a Hedge-Hog.
Take two Pounds of blanched Almonds,
beat them well in a Mortar with a little
Canary and Orange-flower Water,
to keep them from oiling. Make them
into stiff Paste, then beat in the Yolks
of twelve Eggs, leave out five of the
Whites, put to it a Pint of Cream,
sweeten it with Sugar, put in half
a Pound of sweet Butter melted,
set it on a Furnace or slow Fire,
and keep it constantly stirring,
till it is stiff enough to be made
into the Form of an Hedge-Hog;
then stick it full of blanched
Almonds, slit and stuck up like
the Bristles of a Hedge-Hog,
then put it into a Dish, take
a Pint of Cream, and the Yolks
of four Eggs beat up, sweetned
with Sugar to your Palate. Stir
them together over a slow Fire
till it is quite hot, then pour it
round the Hedge-Hog in the Dish,
and let it stand till it is cold, and
serve it up.—-Or a rich Calf’s Foot
Jelly made clear and good, pour
into the Dish round the Hedge-Hog;
and when it is cold, it looks pretty,
and makes a pretty Dish; or looks
pretty in the Middle of a Table
for Supper.

hedgehogs at Crane Hse  5_17_2015

What else? Oh, yes. I’d made a batch of Shrewsbury Cakes
at home and brought them for folks to enjoy:

another angle Shrewsbury Cakes 5_17_2015 at Crane Hs

These were prepared in accordance with my usual go-to
receipt
from Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (1796).

As you see, we had quite a spread of delicious goodies!
Or should I say, Mrs. Crane had them?! LOL In any event,
lots of visitors came through, and they all enjoyed each
one. There was nary a crumb remaining! So, despite the
heat ‘n humidity, it was a fun-filled afternoon. HUZZAH!

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______________________________

* MA-ALHFAM stands for Mid-Atlantic region of the Association
for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums.

I spent a good chunk of time earlier this year developing menus for two different hearth cooking classes at The Israel Crane House (including one that never materialized…ahh, well, so it goes). It’s always an interesting journey when I search for dishes that might have made up a typical mid-day meal at the Crane family table. I usually begin by making a general list of what I’d like to include, along with specific dishes and cooking techniques that I think class IMG_9597 participants might like to try. I consider what foods would’ve been in season at the time, and what was likely available to a family such as the Cranes, who lived so close (relatively!) to Manhattan. I often simply skim the table of contents and indexes of assorted historic cookbooks for ideas. Frequently, I’ll open one at random and just start reading, which can be fascinating, as I never know what I’ll find! If nothing else, creating menus for these classes is always a fascinating and educational experience. And so, my recent search for receipts (recipes) followed this same basic path. However, as I went along my merry way, I suddenly discovered some shocking, good-golly-miss-molly, eye poppin’ and jaw-droppin’ information. As I perused the vegetable section of the Index in Mrs. Lettice Bryan’s The Kentucky Housewife (1839), I came upon these two little words:

Potatoe pumpkin.

“Wow!” I thought. “Is this another, a second, receipt for the dish that I know so well and have made multiple times? If so, how cool is that?! I’ve gotta check this out.” You see, there’s a “Potato Pumpkin” in The Virginia Housewife (1824), by Mary Randolph. I was first introduced to it during the 18th Century Historic Foodways Conference back in 2009 at Colonial Williamsburg. The Historic Foodways folks there had made one that played a major role in various displays and “live” presentations. It was a most unique dish, and I was just fascinated with it. I vowed then and there to try it when I got home. And, indeed I did, both for use at the Crane House and at my own celebratory meals. Many of my fellow hearth cooks have prepared it, as well, and I’ve seen a wide range of photos posted online that showcase their efforts. Of course, I’ve also shown off my handiwork here on my blog. One made for use at the Crane House: and another, eaten at home: And although I’d shared Randolph’s receipt for “Potato Pumpkin” often, I admit I’d never paid too much attention to the specifics contained therein. I mean, I’d read it and re-read it, and there was that one puzzling sentence, but, golly, I’d seen it, and heard its preparation discussed, at Colonial Williamsburg, and thus had a clear idea of what it was and how it went together. Certainly, the foodways folks at CW must’ve known what they were doing and what was up and what was correct, yes? There was no need to question their efforts! So, in accordance with everything that I’d witnessed, making a “Potato Pumpkin” appeared to simply involve cutting off the top of a regular (pie or sugar) pumpkin, paring and gutting it, filling the cavity with forcemeat (which typically consists of sausage or other meat mixed with herbs, bread crumbs, and other ingredients), baking it, and then, finally, eating the entire thing. Yeah, well…no! There’s one part of those basic instructions that’s completely wrong! How do I know? Well, remember when I stated previously that I’d discovered another “Potato Pumpkin” receipt in The Kentucky Housewife? Turns out, not only is it NOT the same as Randolph’s (HUZZAH! no stealing, er, “borrowing” here!), but it’s also much, MUCH different. Here’s what I found in Mrs. Bryan’s book:

POTATO PUMPKIN. Potato pumpkin when large and ripe, is very good, tasting much like the sweet potato, and can be kept well through the winter, put up in a dry place, and covered securely with fodder or shucks. They may be dressed by the various receipts I have just given for winter squash.

A-HA!!! It’s a squash! A specific squash. And it’s a food item unto itself, one that’s wholly distinct and separate from a regular pumpkin. And it’s called a “POTATO pumpkin” because it TASTES like a SWEET POTATO. [emphasis mine] Good golly, miss molly. After reading this, I turned again to the receipt in Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife:

POTATO PUMPKIN. Get one of a good colour, and seven or eight inches in diameter; cut a piece off the top, take out all the seeds, wash and wipe the cavity, pare the rind off, and fill the hollow with good forcemeat—put the top on, and set it in a deep pan, to protect the sides; bake it in a moderate oven, put it carefully in the dish without breaking, and it will look like a handsome mould. Another way of cooking potato pumpkin is to cut it in slices, pare off the rind, and make a puree as directed for turnips.

“Get one of a good colour,” as in one of the specific vegetables that’re known as potato pumpkins. And, again, NOT a REGULAR pumpkin! Then that last line, which greatly puzzled me: “another way of cooking potato pumpkin….” Well, seeing as it’s referring to a specific type of squash, cutting IT into slices, cooking and making IT into “a puree as directed for turnips,” I understand better now. But golly, I’d always wondered how you were supposed to cut a regular ol’ pumpkin filled with forcemeat into slices and then puree them all together. It just didn’t make any sense! Now, though, it does. HUZZAH! Then, as I was reading these two different receipts, I suddenly recalled seeing the words “potato pumpkin” in another section of my facsimile of Randolph’s 1824 book. Ahhh, yes, it was in the “Historical Glossary”! So I looked, and sure enough, there it says, in part:

POTATO PUMPKIN—I take this to be calabaza or West Indian pumpkin. In a letter to Samuel Vaughn, Jr., in 1790, Jefferson speaks of the potatoe-pumpkin, calling it thus ‘on account of the extreme resemblance of its taste to that of the sweet-potatoe’…

Good golly. Wow, WOW, WOW! One good part of all this is we may FINALLY be rid of that constantly-asked and annoying, but unanswerable question, “Why is the dish called a potato pumpkin, when there’s no potato in it?!” I don’t know about anyone else, but it sure made me uncomfortable. There I’d be, putting it all together with relative ease, and yet I couldn’t offer up an explanation for the name of it. THAT didn’t make any sense, either! Of course, after this major discovery, I wanted to know more and to get as much information as I could about this squash called a potato pumpkin. So, first I turned to my facsimile of Noah Webster’s 1828 edition of his American Dictionary of the English Language. Nothing was given for potato pumpkin, but under “Calabash,” I found:

[Sp. calabaza, a pumpkin….] (In case you’re wondering, “Sp.” is the abbreviation for Spanish)

Next, I consulted that well-known source for definitions of all “odd” and unfamiliar words, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Again, there was no potato pumpkin. However, I did find:

calabaza Chiefly West Indies Known as West Indian or green pumpkin…not to be confused with pie pumpkin… (emphasis mine)

Wow. There you have it. What more need I say?! Nothing. Other than the fact that I now have LOTS of questions about the research (or lack thereof?!) done on this dish by members of the Historic Foodways staff down at Colonial Williamsburg. I mean…really?!? It’s bad enough that they insist on using a 19th century cookbook (The Virginia Housewife), one that wasn’t to be published for another half century (50 years!) after the time period the site is portraying. Golly, what’s up with that?!? Furthermore, which edition of Randolph’s are they using? Indeed, there are several, from its 1824 original to those of 1828, 1836…even 1860 (incidentally, she died in 1828). If theirs is the facsimile of the original of 1824, is it the one with notes and commentaries by the late Karen Hess? And, if yes, haven’t they ever found and READ her “Historical Glossary”?! And if they have, well, so…what? They forgot what’s in it? Or they purposely chose to ignore it? And if, indeed, they’re aware they’ve used the wrong squash, did IMG_3656 they do so because they couldn’t find the correct one? So why haven’t they ever said as much? Substitutions occasionally must be made, for one reason or another, so why not share that bit of information? Particularly during the 2009 Conference. When all their fellow hearth cooks and food historians were present?! You know, saying something along the lines of “A potato pumpkin is a specific type of squash, but we’ve been unable to procure one, so we’re substituting a regular pumpkin”?! I mean, golly, don’t they think they’re obligated to tell us the truth?! And I’m fully aware that CW gives adapted receipts to the general public, particularly on its “History is Served” pages, but, come on, that ain’t us! We’re striving to closely follow historic receipts, too, and to make every dish as correctly as possible. Besides, being workers in the various kitchens at Colonial Williamsburg, they’re at the center of the 18th century living history world. We look to them to provide us with solid, factual information, and NOT namby-pamby “enh, we’ll just fudge it” shenanigans like this. On a personal level, I feel duped and betrayed, like I’ve been led astray and sent down the wrong path. I expected better, so it’s rather disappointing. Alas, I guess it highlights the fact that it’s best to do your own experimentation and conduct your own research. Don’t rely on anyone else, no matter who they are or where they work. It reminds me of what the woman told me as she led a group of us on a tour of CW’s Costume Design Center awhile back. She said, “Don’t copy us. We don’t always get things right.” Okay, good to know! Guess maybe that sentiment also applies to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways, ay?! In any event, I’ll end here with two items I found of interest online. One is an image of a potato pumpkin, the other a video of a chef creating a potato pumpkin soup. Be sure to note the colors, texture, and shape of the squash in both. Courtesy of Wikibooks: image of calabaza from wikibooks And then check out this video for making Calabaza Soup. It offers a good idea of what a calabaza looks like, inside and out. Note especially when he peels it. The rind is much thinner than that of our everyday pumpkin. Oh, and one other thing. There’s a large Caribbean population here in NYC/Brooklyn. I’ve asked around, and I should be able to find a calabaza, a potato pumpkin, at a market somewhere! My plan is to buy one and make an actual, true “Potato Pumpkin.” When I do, I’ll be sure to post an update, complete with photos. Can’t wait! HUZZAH!!! IMG_1934

After taking part in a hearth cooking class at The Israel Crane House
about a year ago, a woman rounded up several friends and arranged
to do another this year. So on Saturday, February 28, they all arrived,
each one ready, willing, and oh-so-eager to whip up a winter’s mid-day
meal. We had seven lovely ladies, and I tell you, they were great fun!
Everyone worked so well together. And given the ease with which they

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tackled the five different receipts, nobody would’ve known that all but
one had never done any hearth cooking before. It was a fantastic group,
one that operated like such a well-oiled machine, that we even ended
early. A hearty HUZZAH to them all!

As for the day’s menu, my goals in creating it were to include dishes
that were not only appropriate for the season, but also for a merchant’s
family such as the Crane’s, and to showcase multiple cooking processes,
including frying, baking, and roasting. We traveled through time, as well,
for the receipts we used came from cookbooks of the 17th, 18th, and
early 19th centuries:

An Excellent Way to Roast Pigeons or Chickens.
The Art of Cookery Refin’d and Augmented (1654), by Joseph Cooper;

Carrot Pudding.
American Cookery (1796, 1st ed.), by Amelia Simmons;

Potato Fritters.
The Cook’s Own Book: Being a Complete Culinary Encyclopedia
(1832), by A Boston Housekeeper;

To Make a Tart of the Ananas, or Pine-Apple. From Barbadoes.
The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director…Part II (1732),
by Richard Bradley; and

No. 51. Chocolate Drops.
The Complete Confectioner, or, The Whole Art of Confectionary
(1790, 2nd ed.), by Frederick Nutt.

Okay. Enough of that! On to some photos. And thankfully, THIS time
I was able to take quite a few. Unlike the class I conducted late last fall,
when I totally spaced it and forgot. Heck, even I was disappointed! In
any event, as you’ll see from the following, when all was said and done,
and the ladies had worked their magic, we had a truly marvelous meal,
one which definitely provided some mighty good eating! HUZZAH!

______________________________

The fire was blazing and the ingredients were set…

photo 1(1)

photo 3

All the ladies arrived, and we were ready to begin. First, I presented
the background of our menu. I also explained some unfamiliar terms
and gave a few basic tips on cooking at an open hearth, handling all
the various equipment and utensils, what cooking technique to use
for which dish, and other such matters.

photo 5

And thus, it was on to the prepping ‘n cooking…

First up, our chicken. Now, Cooper’s receipt directs the cook to make
a forcemeat (what we might call stuffing or dressing today) containing
grated bread, hard boiled egg yolks, the fowl’s liver, a couple of spices,
and so on, which is finely minced. This mixture is then placed between
the bird’s skin and flesh, instead of in its cavity. Finally, it’s trussed
and roasted.

Of course, if a portion of skin tears during the process, a few little
well-placed stitches will take care of the problem…

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into the reflector oven it went…

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photo 1(2)

After several unsuccessful attempts to insert the chicken “normally”
(aka horizontally) and securely in the oven (so it wouldn’t flop
around), it was decided to place it perpendicular to the spit…

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It worked! It may’ve looked a bit odd, but at least it was roasting…

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On to the carrots for the pudding, which were cleaned, sliced,…

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and boiled, along with the potatoes for the fritters…

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The carrots were then mashed, combined with other ingredients,
and the whole set into a bake kettle. Soon, our Carrot Pudding
was cooked to perfection!

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Pineapple pieces were par-boiled in Madeira for the tart…

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a simple paste was made…

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the two were put together, and it was ready for the bake kettle…

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NICE!!!

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Mashing those previously-mentioned boiled potatoes for the fritters…

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the clumps of ‘tater fritter batter may not’ve looked too pretty, but…

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once fried, either in a spider…

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or on the griddle…

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they were very, VERY delicious! So much so that we nearly ate
them ALL before the cooking of the entire meal was completed!

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Several of our dishes posed on the hearth for a group photo…

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Our chicken cooked up fairly quickly!

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And finally, the Chocolate Drops, which proved to be the easiest
and simplest dish to prepare!

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And so, after all the chopping, slicing, grating, mixing, pounding,
stirring, boiling, frying, baking, and roasting, our wonderful winter’s
mid-day meal was ready to be eaten:

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The Carrot Pudding…

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Our “Tart of the Ananas, or Pine-Apple“…

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and the Chocolate Drops…

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Excellent job, ladies! HUZZAH!!! I look forward to working
with you, again.

photo 2(2)

Before we say “Farewell” to December and 2014, I thought
I’d share a few photos taken at The Israel Crane House
recently, during the annual Essex County (NJ) Historic
House Holiday Tours.

I thoroughly enjoy this event every year, and I always
look forward to it. It offers a marvelous opportunity
to share food and in-depth discussions with visitors.
This year, the crowds were non-stop on Saturday,

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when it poured rain, and they tended to ebb ‘n flow
on Sunday, when we had sun with clear blue skies.
Go figure!

As in the past, quite a spread of goodies was available
for visitors to enjoy. It consisted of the usual suspects,
ranging from a baked ham to shelled walnuts and roasted
chestnuts to hot spiced cider. Several items that’d been
prepared in advance were offered, as well. Of course,
all were done in accordance with receipts from several
of my favorite historic cookbooks. They included…

Hannah Glasse’s “Ginger-Bread Cakes” from her book
The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy (1747). And
as I’ve mentioned here previously, these are unique
in that treacle is specified, rather than molasses:

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“Shrewsbury Cakes,” from American Cookery (1796) by Amelia Simmons:

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Open any cookbook written prior to 1830 or so, and you’re
bound to find a receipt for these small cakes. Sadly, they’ve
since fallen out of favor.

“Pounded Cheese” per Dr. William Kitchiner’s The Cook’s Oracle (1817):

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And “Naples Biscuits,” from the 18th century receipt book
of the James Logan Family of Germantown, PA. These were
generally made in advance for use in other dishes. Numerous
historic receipts specify that grated Naples Biscuits be added
to other ingredients. However, they were often served just
as they are, along with tea or another beverage:

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I usually make a dish or two during each year’s event, as well.
This year, I put together a Potato Pudding. Time was sorely
limited, so I mixed all the ingredients on the first day and
baked it on the second. I followed the same receipt that I’d
used previously for a Culinary Historians of New York (CHNY)
program. It’s from an early 19th century manuscript cookbook,
which is part of a new online collection of such sources. The type
of potatoes to be used are not specified, so I chose sweet:

into the bake kettle…

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it’s a-baking:

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between the visitors and staff, it didn’t last long!

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All in all, it was a highly successful AND enjoyable event.
I can hardly wait ’til next year’s!

In the meantime, Happy New Year to all! I hope your 2015
is as good, no, better, than your 2014. I’m looking forward
to everything it has to offer. HUZZAH!

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to one and all. HUZZAH!

Rockefeller Ctr Tree 2009

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