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We had a great group of folks
at the recent (April 15) hearth
cooking class at the Israel Crane
House
. Everyone worked diligently
on all the various dishes, and I think
it’s safe to say that a fun time was
had by all. Of course, the absolute
BEST part was sitting down to enjoy
a lovely meal of delectable goodies
straight from the open fire. HUZZAH!

So, without further ado, here are a few scenes, and some
receipts (recipes), from that day. Let the fun begin!

First up, from Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (1796):

To stuff and roast four Chickens.
Six ounces salt pork, half loaf bread,
six ounces butter, 3 eggs, a handful
of parsley shredded fine, summer-
savory, sweet marjoram; mix the
whole well together, fill and sew
up; roast one hour, baste with
butter, and dust on flour.

Next, from the Ashfield Family’s (of New York and New Jersey)
manuscript cookbook (1720s-1780s)*:

81. To make a Tansey to Bake
Take 18 Eggs and beat them well.
Put to them a quart of Cream and
the Crumb of a Stale penny Loaf
grated fine, one Nutmegg grated,
a little Salt, a Spoonfull of Orange
flower water, as much juice of Spinage
and Tansey as will make it green.
Sweeten it to your tast and put it
in your dish. Strew over it a quarter
of a pound of melted Butter. Put it
into a moderate Oven. Half an hour
will bake it. When you take it out,
Strew it with loaf Sugar and garnish
your dish with Oranges cut in Quarters.

Then it was on to:

Peeres in Confyt. XX. VI. XII.
Take peeres and pare hem clene.
take gode rede wyne &. mulberes
oper saundres and seep pe peeres
perin & whan pei buth ysode,
take hem up, make a syryp of
wyne greke. oper vernage with
blaunche powdour oper white
sugur and powdour gyngur & do
the peres perin. seep it a lytel
& messe it forth.

from The Forme of Cury, the published version of the manuscript
compiled by the Master Cooks at the Court of England’s King
Richard II (1399-1420):

Ahhh, there’s just nothing like a crackling fire:

Finding an original, historic receipt for cornbread has always
been mighty difficult. So I usually fall back on my recollections
of what we did when I worked at Conner Prairie long ago.
Thus, our somewhat “mo-dern” cornbread (made according
to my own recipe
)**:

In addition, we cooked one of my favorites, “Salmon in Cases,”
courtesy of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, made [sic] Plain
and Easy
. We also churned butter.

Finally, our sumptuous mid-day meal is served. Let’s eat!:

‘Til next time!

_________________________

* Published as Pleasures of Colonial Cooking, by The New Jersey
Historical Society, Newark, NJ (1982).
**There’s been a discussion about this very subject on one
of Plimoth Plantation’s blogs. I wanted to provide a link to it,
but, dagnabit, I can’t remember which one it was!

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My “Big Week” of hearth cooking (March 20 to April 1, when I had
one event after another) finally came to a close at the same spot
where it all began: the Israel Crane House. That Sunday was billed
as “Family Day,” since all of the properties owned by The Montclair
Historical Society (MHS) were now officially open for the new season.
And so I decided, in honor of this auspicious occasion, to cook an
old, and a new, favorite dish: a “Potatoe [sic] Pudding”; and more
“Salmon in Cases.” I also used up a bit of bread (for toast), along
with the fresh batch of butter that’d been churned earlier in the
week (all courtesy of Homeschool Day, doncha know!). Oh, and
a few remaining bites of my Seed Cake. Of course, as usual,
I brought in all this food, but left empty-handed. HUZZAH!

Okay, here we go…

Everything’s set out and ready:

the potato pudding’s prepped and ready to bake:

The receipt for my “Potatoe [sic] Pudding” came from the Leffert’s
manuscript cookbook. This little volume is part of the collection
of Lefferts Family Papers located at the Brooklyn Historical Society

(BHS) of Brooklyn, NY. Most likely, it was written at some point
in the 1830s. I’ve visited BHS several times to study this small
historical document, and it’s quite fascinating (more on it later).
In addition, when I did hearth cooking at the Lefferts historic
house (in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park) several years ago, I made
numerous dishes found therein. So it was great fun to make this
baked pudding again!

Here’s the receipt, taken from the “Puddings and Custards” section
of the manuscript:

33. Potatoe Puding.
Boil the potatoes very dry skin them and
rub them through a sieve to 1 lb. of potato
add 1 pt cream 7 eggs 6 oz. of butter
lemon juice sugar and nutmeg to your
taste, bake it with or without paste.*

TA-DA! It’s nearly done.

Visitors to the House that afternoon ate up my “Potatoe Pud”
so quickly, that I wasn’t able to get a photo of the finished
dish. dagnabit.

Now, regular readers will recall my recent experiments in cooking
“Salmon in Cases” in reflector ovens. Well, it was so much fun,
I wanted to do it again. In fact, by this time I’d also decided that
we’d make them during our hearth cooking class on April 15, so
I figured a little more practice couldn’t hurt! In any event, I made
them, again following Hannah Glasse’s receipt from her cookbook
The Art of Cookery, made [sic] Plain and Easy (1747).

Cut your Salmon into little Pieces…

…butter the Inside of the Paper well…

…season it with Pepper, Salt and Nutmeg…

…fold the Paper so as nothing can come out, then lay them on
a Tin Plate to be baked…a Tin Oven before the Fire does best.

What fun! HUZZAH!

_______________

*NOTE: Most all the receipts in the Lefferts book are written in pen.
However, here the word “paste” is written in pencil. That one word
was probably added later. Also, on the page where this receipt appears,
it is written as
“28. Potato Pudding.”

Read Full Post »

Now that I’ve gotten a bit o’ rest after a busy week and have
done things like cleaned up kitchen messes and organized
my photos, I can now get back to blogging. HUZZAH!

Besides, a report on my most recent hearth cooking adventures is
long overdue. And there were several during the week of March 26
to April 1. Three, to be exact; well, four, if you count making a dish
for the Culinary Historians of New York’s (CHNY) program. In any
event, it began with Homeschool Day at the Israel Crane House,
followed by CHNY, then a Teachers Professional Development
Workshop at the Queens County Farm Museum, and finally,
it ended with a return to the Crane House. Whew!

My Big Week was filled with varied and numerous preparations,
as well. It seemed that I was constantly slicing, mixing, mashing,
cooking, and/or baking something. Not to mention all the planning
that’d been done days, even weeks, previously, including deciding
what dishes to make, selecting the receipts (recipes) to be used,
and developing the menus for each particular hearth cooking
session. Then throw in all the scurrying from one grocery store
to another to yet another, as I attempted to procure the required
ingredients for most of the dishes. Ahh, what a life: keeps me busy
and outta trouble. Besides, I absolutely love it! HUZZAH!

Okay. Onward. Let the hearth cooking adventures begin!

First up, I headed to the Crane House on Tuesday for the semi-annual
Homeschool Day. I had a fantastic time with all the young’uns, as we
learned the secrets of hearth cooking (with a few chores thrown in,

just for good measure, of course). We made toast and ate it with
pre-churned butter on top, as we churned some new. Then we fried
up a bit o’ salt pork, which greased the pan for lots of subsequent
Indian Slapjacks, made according to a receipt from Amelia Simmons’
American Cookery (1796) (it follows the photos, below).

____________________

Here is the receipt from Simmons’ American Cookery (1796):

Indian Slapjack.
One quart milk, 1 pint of Indian meal,
4 eggs, 4 spoons of flour, little salt,
beat together, baked on griddles, or
fry in a dry pan, or baked in a pan
which has been rub’d with suet,
lard or butter.

__________________________________
NEXT: Seed Cakes and Carrot Puddings

Read Full Post »

Okay. Back to my Yorkshire Pudding experiment. Sorry for the delay.
Although, you didn’t miss too much, as I only did one other! Now,
as you may recall (or not!), I used an 18th century receipt (recipe)
for the previous pudding (from Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery).
I decided to jump ahead a few years, into the early 19th century,
for the second and selected the following from The Cook’s Oracle,
by William Kitchiner, M.D. (1831; first edition published 1817):

Yorkshire Pudding under Roast Meat,
the Gipsies’ way—(No. 529).

This pudding is an especially excellent
accompaniment to Sir-loin of Beef,—Loin
of Veal,—or any fat and juicy joint. Six
table-spoonsful of flour, three eggs,
a tea-spoonful of salt, and a pint
of milk—so as to make a middling
stiff batter, a little stiffer than you
would for pancakes; beat it up well,
and take care it is not lumpy; put
a dish under the meat, and let the
drippings drop into it till it is quite
hot and well greased; then pour in
the batter;—when the upper surface
is brown and set, turn it that both
sides may be brown alike; if you
wish it to cut firm, and the pudding
an inch thick, it will take two hours
at a good fire.
N.B. The true Yorkshire Pudding is about
half an inch thick when done; but it is
the fashion in London to make them
full twice that thickness.

TA-DA! Here it is:

This time, I followed the receipt as written (no halving of ingredients
or anything), as all the amounts were quite manageable. What was
interesting, however, is that this specifies “six table-spoonsful of flour,”
yet it also instructs the cook to make a “middling stiff batter,” and,
in fact, to make it:

a little stiffer than you
would for pancakes;

Really?! But with only six tablespoons of flour, that’s mighty difficult.
In fact, I’d say it’s nigh impossible! I used my reproduction pewter
“table spoon” to measure out the flour, and each spoonful was fairly
heaping. The resulting batter, however, was far from stiff, “middling”
or otherwise. I considered adding more flour, but I didn’t want to
deviate too much from the receipt. Besides, surely it was tested by
an assortment of 19th century cooks, yes? So maybe it was just my
mo-dern sensibilities of what constitutes “stiff”? Or…who knows?!
In any event, I just had to go with it and trust that it’d turn out
perfectly fine. And, lo and behold, it did! (see photo above)

Of course, as before, the cooking was done in my modern oven. No
telling how different things would’ve been if I’d been able to cook
either of my puddings as they would’ve been done centuries ago
(i.e. under roasting meat on a spit before a fire).

And then there are those three little words in the receipt’s title,
declaring this pudding is done per “the Gipsie’s way.” What does
that mean, exactly? What is the difference between how Gypsies
prepare it and how “regular” people do? How does that fit into
the equation? I have no idea, but I welcome any you may have!

However, it did seem a little egg-y. And a bit dense. It reminded
me of one of the quotes given with the Oxford English Dictionary’s
definition of Yorkshire Pudding:

1836
[Hooton] Bilberry Thurland 1. vii. 140
At the bottom of all…lay
about half an acre of sad
and heavy Yorkshire pudding,
like a leaden pancake.

It was, indeed, rather heavy and “like a leaden pancake”! But then,
the receipt DID say to mix up the batter “stiffer than you would for
pancakes”! So…I guess…”leaden” it is! Despite all that, however, it
tasted fine. It was even good re-heated the following day. Overall,
I deem it a success. Two Yorkshire Pudding receipts, both the same,
yet both different! HUZZAH!

Read Full Post »

Of course, we included bread as part of the “Simple Mid-Day Meal”
that we created during the hearth cooking class held at The Israel
Crane House
about a week ago (March 19). Using Mrs. Lettice Bryan’s
receipt for “Saleratus Biscuit” in her cookbook The Kentucky Housewife
as our guide, we made a couple of batches. Participants churned some
creamy butter, as well:

____________________

Mrs. Bryan’s receipt from The Kentucky Housewife (1839):

Saleratus Biscuit.
Sift a quart of flour, sprinkle into
it a salt-spoonful of salt, and rub
into it one ounce of butter. Pour
half a tea-cupful of boiling water
on a small tea-spoonful of saleratus,
let it stand to dissolve, and then stir
it into enough sour milk to make the
flour into rather a soft dough. Knead
it but very little, flour your hands,
make it into small biscuits, and bake
them in rather a hasty oven. In using
saleratus or pearlash, for any kind
of cake or bread, be sure to dissolve
it in boiling water or sour milk, and
make up the bread with sour milk;
otherwise, it will not rise so well.
Pearlash biscuit may be made
in the same manner.

NOTES: We cut the amounts to about half. We didn’t have saleratus,
or potash/pearlash, so we used baking soda as a substitute. Yes,
I could’ve acquired some from Deb Peterson, but I had to consider
the expense and our class budget. Maybe next time! And so, we
didn’t bother with the “boiling water” portion. Of course, I made
dozens and dozens of biscuits during my years at Conner Prairie,
and it’s something I can do with my eyes closed. Basically, I relied
on that past experience, and the formula I used (which was akin
to Bryan’s receipt), to make these biscuits.

We did use sour milk, and it was made by adding a tablespoon
of vinegar to one cup of milk, then allowing it to “clabber.” It was
slowly stirred into all the other ingredients, which had been mixed
well together previously. Our dough was then hand-patted out on
a floured board, and the individual biscuits cut out with a tin cutter
(the one I’d made last summer at Old Sturbridge Village). They were
placed in a tin pie pan (which I’d bought in the OSV Gift Shop, also
last summer), and baked.

______________________________

NEXT: and finally, our Clove Cake

Read Full Post »

This past Saturday’s hearth cooking class at The Israel Crane House
was a HUGE success. HUZZAH! Everyone had a fantastic time as we
prepared, cooked, and, of course, ate, several dishes, all as part of our
“Simple Mid-Day Meal.” It was such great fun working with new and

old friends creating sumptuous dishes from the past. Of course, there
are lots and lots of photos to share, so I’ll be posting them, along with
all the historic receipts (recipes) we used, during the next few days.

Let’s get started!

______________________________

First up, a dish that reminded everyone of what we’ve seen prepared
so often on all those cooking shows. However, it’s from Joseph Cooper’s
17th century The Art of Cookery Refin’d and Augmented (1654):

An Excellent Way to Roast Pigeons or Chickens.
Prepare them to trusse; then make
a farcing-meat with Marrow or Beefe
filet, with the liver of the Fowle minced
very small; and mixe with it grated Bread,
the yolkes of hard Eggs minced, Mace and
Nutmeg beat, the tops of Thyme minced
very small, and Salt: incorporate all these
together with hard Eggs and a little Verjuice,
then cut the skin off the Fowle betwixt the
legs and the body, before it is trussed, and
put in your finger to raise the skin from
the flesh, but take care you break not the
skin; then farce it full with this meat, and
trusse the leggs close to keep in the meat;
then spit them and roast them, setting
a dish under to save the Gravy, which mixe
with a little Claret, sliced Nutmeg, a little
of that farced meat, and Salt; then give it
two or three walms on the fire, and beat
it up thick with the yolk of a raw Egg and
a piece of Butter, with a little minc’d Lemmon
and serve it up in the dish with the Fowle.

[Note: sadly, due to time limits, we didn't make the gravy]

______________________________

preparing the “farcing-meat”

first, the farce-meat was placed “betwixt” the skin and flesh

we “trusse the leggs close”

“then spit them”

“and roast them”

mmm-mm-mmmm, lookin’ mighty good ‘n tasty!

______________________________

NEXT: our Carrot Pudding

Read Full Post »

Here’s yet another receipt for carrot pudding from a manuscript
cookbook, that of the Van Rensselaers of Albany, New York. It’s
attributed specifically to Maria Sanders Van Rensselaer, who lived
from 1749-1830. The exact date of this particular receipt is not
known, but judging by its contents, I have reason to believe it’s
most likely from the 18th century portion of her lifetime. You’ll
soon see why.

____________________

Carrot Pudding
Take 1/2 lb Grated Carrot & 1 lb bread
8 Eggs leave out 1/2 the Wites & mix
the eggs with 1/2 pint of Milk then
Stirr the bread & Carrot 1/2 lb butter
1/2 pint Sack 3 Spoon of Orange water &
Nutmeg & Sweeten to your Likeing Mix
all well together & if not thin enough
stirr in a little Milk let it be a Moderate
thickness lay a puff Paste over the Dish
it well take 1 hour bakeing It also may
be boilt & Serv’d up with Puding Sauce

deep pie pan by Westmoore Pottery

As to my reasons for thinking it’s highly likely that the above receipt is
from the 18th century, take a look at this one from Hannah Glasse’s
The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy:

____________________

A Carrot Pudding.
Take a raw Carrot, scrape it very clean,
then grate it, take half a Pound of the
grated Carrot, and a pound of grated
Bread, beat up eight Eggs, leave out
half the Whites, mix the Eggs with half
a Pint of Cream, then stir in the Bread
and Carrot, and half a Pound of fresh
Butter melted, half a Pint of Sack, and
three Spoonfuls of Orange-flower Water,
a Nutmeg grated, sweeten to your Palate.
Mix all well together; and if it is not thin
enough, stir in a little new Milk or Cream.
Let it be of a moderate Thickness, lay
a Puff-paste all over the Dish, and pour
in the Ingredients. Bake it, it will take
an Hour’s baking, or you may boil it;
but then you must melt Butter, and
put in White Wine and Sugar.

____________________

Look familiar? Why, yes! The above two receipts are alike. Some
words and phrases are paraphrased, while others are exactly the
same. Even the amounts of several ingredients are perfect matches.
It would seem, therefore, that Maria, living at her home Cherry Hill,
near Albany, copied her carrot pudding receipt directly from Hannah
Glasse’s published work. Or, perhaps, someone else did so, and then
passed it on to her.

Interesting, too, is the fact that, here’s a woman from a prominent
Dutch family in upstate New York, and she has a copy of a receipt
in her personal records that’s most likely from a cookbook published
in Britain. In fact, the introduction to the modern re-print of the Van
Rensselaer manuscript mentions this. It states that such receipts prove
the “anglisizing” of the Dutch. This same phenomenon is mentioned
in Jean Zimmerman’s book, Women of the House, as well. According
to her, early Dutch colonists brought their traditional ways with them,
but members of the third, if not the second, generation of any one
native-born Dutch family were definitely English through and through.

Not to mention, if Maria started her manuscript cookbook when she
was first married (as many women did), seeing as she was about 20
years old at that time, then she was compiling items 100 years after
Britain had taken control of New York and the entire Eastern seaboard.
In short, English ways were the norm.

_______________

The manuscript cookbook mentioned above was published in 1976
as Selected Receipts of a Van Rensselaer Family, 1785 – 1835,
compiled and edited by Jane Carpenter Kellar, Ellen Miller, and
Paul Stambach, Historic Cherry Hill, Albany, NY.

______________________________

NEXT: yep, MORE carrot pudding receipts, maybe even some
from the 19th century!

Read Full Post »

Historically, Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery. There
are several explanations for its celebration, but all are based
on mere legend. It is a fact, however, that cards began to be
mass-produced around the middle of the 19th century. And,
of course, Hallmark soon ran away with the idea.

If you’re looking for an appropriate historic treat for this day,
however, bake some Queen Cakes. According to the Oxford
English Dictionary (OED)
, they’re “a small currant-cake,
usually heart-shaped.”

Try this receipt (recipe) for Queen Cakes, from Elizabeth Raffald’s
The Experienced English Housekeeper (1769):

_________________________

To make Queen Cakes

Take a pound of loaf sugar,
beat and sift it, a pound of flour
well dried, a pound of butter,
eight eggs, half a pound
of currants washed and
picked, grate a nutmeg,
the same quantity of mace
and cinnamon. Work your
butter to a cream, then
put in your sugar, beat
the whites of your eggs
near half an hour, mix
them with your sugar
and butter. Then beat
your yolks near half
an hour and put them
to your butter, beat them
exceeding well together.
Then put in your flour,
spices, and the currants.
When it is ready for the oven
bake them in tins and dust
a little sugar over them.

_________________________

Simply put, the above is basically just pound cake with currants
and spices. Couldn’t be easier, yes?!

Read Full Post »

I mentioned previously that I’m on a quest to find
receipts in New York-area historic cookbooks for
New-York cake and/or cookies, particularly ones
that are not copies from other works. Well, I may
have found one. I think. Maybe. Or maybe not.

In any event, it’s in the manuscript cookbook
of Maria Sanders Van Rensselaer (1749-1830),
which is included in the book Selected Receipts
of a Van Rensselaer Family, 1785-1835
, that was
published in 1976.

Problem is, I’m not sure that it’s what I’m looking for:

_________________________

York rusk’s NYork

To 14 lb flouwer add
1 1/2 lb of Butter —
1 1/2 lb Sugar — 14 Eggs
2 1/2 Quarts Milk, & as much
yeast as will them rise.

_________________________

What I wonder, is this a receipt for rusk’s or
for New York cakes/cookies? It’s in the “Cakes,
Pastries, &c” section of the book. But then,
so are the receipts for various rolls, “biskits,”
and breads. The ingredients are the same
as those in other rusk receipts. They’re similar
to those in the “New York” dishes, but there
are a few that’re missing, as well. Of course,
as is typical of manuscript cookbooks, there
are no instructions which might offer clues.

So why the words “York” and “NYork”? What do
they mean? Why were they used? Or are they
a mistake of some sort? Once again, so many
questions, but so few answers.

The quest shall continue.

Read Full Post »

With all the snow, at least everywhere but here
(although I understand that could change soon),
I’ve kinda been grazing through my library, looking
for receipts using the fluffy white stuff. I know there
are lots of modern ones. In fact, I saw one the other
day on someone’s website. So far, though, I’ve not
found any. Well, none using snow in the contents,
that is.

However, I did find the following historic sorbet
receipt, wherein snow is used as the freezing
agent. It’s from Italian Antonio Latini’s two volume
work, Lo scalco alla moderna, or The Modern Steward,
which was published in Naples in 1692 and 1694.

Typically, the goal of receipts such as this was an end
product that has the consistency and the look of snow.
In addition, many cookbook authors enjoyed using
the word “snow” in their receipt titles.

_________________________

Per Fare Venti Giare di Sorbetta di Limone
(To Make Twenty Goblets of Lemon Sorbet)

You need three pounds of sugar,
three and a half pounds of salt,
thirteen pounds of snow, and
three lemons, if they are fat.
If they are small, you must
adjust the amount according
to your judgment, particularly
in summer.

_________________________

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