Archive for September, 2010

Birthday Wishes

Today would’ve been my mother’s 93rd birthday. She came out
to visit me for a few days on this date eight years ago. It was
to be the last time. She passed away shortly thereafter.

I cherish my memories of all her visits (and there were many!).
It was great spending time with her, traipsing around the Big
Bad City. I miss those times, and my mom, more each year.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Love you.


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 »

For some reason, I can’t seem to stop looking at, and comparing,
historic receipts (recipes) for carrot puddings. I think it’s the thrill
of the hunt. Or maybe it’s the numerous versions I’ve found. Or
perhaps it’s all the different directions each one takes me. And
then there are all the unanswered questions. Maybe it’s all of
the above! Whatever it is, it’s become a bit of an obsession.

In keeping with this carrot pudding theme, I thought I’d take
a look at a few of the receipts I found in select manuscript
cookbooks of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

First up is one from the receipt book of the Ashfield Family
of New York City and New Jersey. It was kept by the family
from the 1720s through the Revolutionary War period:

67. To Make a Carrot Pudding
Take a quart of milk and Scald it, and
Cut a towpenney [sic] white loaf in Slices.
Soak it in your milk. Great [grate]
in a whole Nutmegg, and 2 Midling
Carrots very fine. Put in a Little Salt
and the yolks of 6 Eggs and the whites
of 2 well beaten. Sweeten it to your
taste. Then make a Little fine paste
and twist it round the edge of your
dish and put in your pudding. Pour
over it half a pound of melted butter.
So bake it. When it comes out the oven,
Strew it with fine Suggar and Serve it up hot.

Of course, there are similarities between the above and the one
from Peckham’s book that we used during the Fort Lee bake oven
workshop, but there are also several differences, even within those
similarities: the amount of milk is specified; a twopenny (“towpenny”)
instead of one penny loaf is used (although, depending on the price
of grain on any given day, it’s possible they could’ve been nearly the
same size); there’s no orange flower water; the use of a whole nutmeg,
as opposed to just half; the butter, though melted, is not clarified (but
it may have been presumed that any melted butter was also clarified);
and, again, as with the Kidder receipt that I used at The Conference
, it calls for separate yolks and whites, rather than whole eggs.

Another aspect is that the two receipts (Ashfield and Peckham’s) are,
in a way, of British origin. The latter is from a cookbook published
in England, and the former is from a manuscript kept by a family
living in a British colony. Which makes me wonder: Was the Ashfield
receipt taken directly from Peckham’s book and then maybe altered?
Was it even based on it in any way? The Ashfields lived first in New
York City and then New Jersey, so goods from abroad were accessible,
including books published in England. Or did it come to the Ashfields
via someone else who had seen the British book? Someone else who
possibly changed sections? Or perhaps mis-copied or even mis-read
a sentence or two? Or maybe it’s source is an entirely different book?
Or…who knows? Oh, the questions are endless!

Here’s another manuscript receipt, with perhaps a more Southern take,
as the writer lived in the lowlands of South Carolina. It’s from Harriott
Pinckney Horry’s (1748-1830) personal receipt book, which she began
keeping in 1770:

Carrot Pudding
Take a large Carrot, boil it Tender
then set it by to be cold and grate
it through a hair sieve very fine,
then put in half a pound of melted
Butter beaten with Eight Eggs leaving
out half the Whites, two or three
Spoonfulls of Sack and Orange
flower Water, half a pint of good
thick cream, a little grated Bread,
a Nutmeg and a little salt, sweeten
it to your tast, and make it of the
thickness of an Orange Pudding.

Again, there are similarities and differences between the above
and the others (Peckham’s and Kidder’s). First, a major difference
amongst all these is that, thusfar, Kidder’s is the only one that calls
for Naples Biskets. I wonder if that fact says something, perhaps,
about Kidder himself and his profession? After all, he was a baker
and pastry maker by trade. Another difference is that the above
calls for only one carrot, not two; but then, it does specify one
“large.” In many other ways, however, the Horry manuscript version
is most similar to Kidder’s: the carrot is to be boiled and strained;
sack and Orange flower water are used; there’s a pint of cream;
and the eggs are separated. However, the butter is again melted,
and a nutmeg is used. I found it interesting, too, that nutmeg is
used in all the receipts we’ve looked at so far, except for Kidder’s.
What’s up with that?! Perhaps he just didn’t care for the taste?
Maybe he felt it wasn’t something he needed to specify? Or
perhaps he was leaving the spice choice up to the cook?

So, as I said previously, there certainly are alot of carrot pudding
receipts in historic cookbooks. They’re all pretty much the same,
and yet, they’re all a bit different. Hmmm…what else is out there?!
Stay tuned, there’s more.


1.) The Ashfield Family Receipt Book was published as Pleasures of Colonial Cooking,
by the New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ, 1982.
2.) The Complete English Cook…, 2nd Edition, by Ann Peckham, London, England, circa 1767.
3.) Harriott Pinckney Horry’s receipt book was published as A Colonial Plantation Cookbook, edited by Richard J. Hooker, Columbia, South Carolina, 1984.
4.) E. Kidder’s Receipts of Pastry and Cookery, by Edward Kidder, London,
England, 1740


NEXT: published and manuscript receipts of the early 19th century.

Read Full Post »

Just for comparison’s sake, I thought
I’d share the carrot pudding receipt
(recipe) that we used during the bake
oven workshop held the day after the
recent historic baking symposium up
at Fort Lee, NJ.

You’ll see it is similar to the one I used
last week
, but there are also several very distinct differences:
it uses bread, instead of Naples Biskets, which is scalded with milk;
there’s no cream; the carrots are grated, but not boiled; the butter
is clarified;* half a nutmeg is added; whole eggs are used; it specifies
a puff paste; and there are instructions for making an accompanying
wine sauce. Hmmm, perhaps it’s more different than the same! It
also looked different, almost like a modern-day pumpkin pie, whereas
the other resembled a custard, or even a souffle (probably due
to its egg yolks and cream!).

Here now is the receipt, taken from Ann Peckham’s The Complete
English Cook
, 2nd edition (circa 1771-2; 1st ed. 1767):

Take the crumbs of a penny loaf,**
and scald it with milk to be stiff;
grate two middling carrots fine,
a spoonful of orange flower water,
half a pound of clarified butter,
a little salt, and half a nutmeg,
six eggs well beat, and sugar
to your palate; do puff paste
round, mix all well together,
and bake it; for sauce, use
wine, butter, and sugar.


Fort Lee’s carrot pudding:

The Conference House carrot pudding:


*clarified butter: butter that’s been heated and then allowed to sit so that any
milk particles still remaining settle out; the resulting froth is also removed.

**penny loaf: the baking and selling of bread was heavily regulated in Britain.
The price a common consumer paid was determined by the current price of grain,
and so the size and weight of any loaf widely fluctuated. A penny loaf was whatever
could be bought for a penny on any given day.

Read Full Post »

There are lots of receipts for carrot puddings in historic cookbooks.
All are somewhat the same, and yet, each one is also a bit different.
For the pudding I made at The Conference House this past Saturday,
I chose the one in Edward Kidder’s Receipts of Pastry and Cookery (1740).
Which incidentally, is similar to, but also quite different from, the one we
used during the Bake Oven Workshop two weeks ago:


A Carrot Pudding.

Boyl 2 large carrots, when cold pound
them, in a mortar, strain them thro
a sive, mix them nth [with] two
grated biskets, ½ a pound of butter,
sack and Orange flower water, Sugar
and a little Salt, a pint of cream mixt
with 7 yolks of eggs and two whites,
beat these together and put them
in a dish covered and garnished. “Good”*


Note that included in the above receipt’s ingredients are “two grated
biskets.” Well, those would be Naples Biskets. Which meant, of course,
that I had to make some. So I dug out the receipt I’d gotten from my
friend, Clarissa Dillon, awhile back when I made them for a Fireside
session (or two), and went to work. Naturally, as with carrot
puddings, receipts for Naples Biskets can also be similar, yet vastly
different. In fact, what I made was very unlike those we baked
up at Fort Lee. They even looked and tasted differently.

Mixing up the batter:

Ready to bake:

TA-DA! Lovely Naples Biskets:

I also made a few in little scalloped tart pans:

Naturally, I had to conduct a taste-test:

Most of these biskets were later taken to The Conference House in order
to share them with the crowd. Two of them were to be used in the pudding
made at the site, and so they were set aside to dry out.

I also made a carrot pudding ahead of time. That way, not only could
folks on Saturday see what it looked like, but they could also try out
samples right away, without waiting for another to finish baking.

Boiling the carrots:

Mashing them:

Now, I had a couple of good ‘n stale Naples Biskets that had been
baked up at Fort Lee:

So, I decided to mix things up a bit and grate them into this pudding.
They were ideal for grating, as they had become hard as rocks:

Ready for the oven:

About a half hour or so later, give or take, I had a lovely baked carrot pudding:

And thus, it was on to the fun at The Conference House!


*”Good” was a notation written at the end of the receipt in the original
manuscript. (A few hundred Conference House visitors and I agree!)

Read Full Post »

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of doing some 18th century
cooking at The Conference House out on Staten Island. The occasion
was the re-enactment of the September 11, 1776, Peace Conference,
wherein an attempt was made by opposing sides, namely the British
and the 13 Colonies, to settle their differences. On behalf of Britain,
Lord Admiral Richard Howe met with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin,
and Edward Rutledge, who represented the colonies. Alas, the meeting
was unsuccessful, and the War for Independence continued. Of course,
eventually the colonists had the last word and won their freedom!

As part of the day’s festivities, there were various crafts people selling
their wares, colonial music and dancing, children’s crafts and games,
as well as scrumptious food, cooked over an open fire. For my part,
I whipped up a lovely carrot pudding, which I then shared with any
and all visitors. I had a marvelous time chatting with everyone
about colonial open-fire cooking, in general, and about puddings,
in particular. It was great fun! The weather was absolutely gorgeous.
It couldn’t have been a more perfect day. The entire event, and all
the folks associated with it, deserve a hale ‘n hearty HUZZAH!


Soup’s a cookin’!

There were carrots to be cooked:

Two comely lasses handle cooking duties:

The beginnings of my carrot pudding:

Ready for baking:

Looks mighty tasty (smelled wonderful, too!):


Count ’em, THREE, carrot puddings are nearly gone. Yep, they were
definitely a major hit with the larger-than-ever crowd. HUZZAH!

In addition to the re-enactment of the Peace Conference, a memorial service
for 9/11 victims was held. The Staten Island Pipe & Drum Corps led the way:

Some young visitors joined the procession:

Yep, another successful event. HUZZAH!


NEXT: the receipt and pre-event pudding preparations

Read Full Post »

I’ve lived in New York City now for 15 years. Nine years ago today,
tragedy struck this metropolis that I now call home. It affected nearly
every New Yorker’s life for days after, and it does so even today.
Personally, I didn’t lose any family members or friends, nor do
I know of anyone who did. But that fact doesn’t, and didn’t, make
the attacks any less horrific. At times, the despair was so palpable,
the grief so overwhelming, that it just rocked you to the core.
We must never forget.

And so, I offer this video in remembrance of all those who were lost,
to their families and friends, in the attacks on September 11, 2001.
I know it’s made the rounds online many times, but I think one more
look won’t hurt. I was deeply touched by it. I hope you will be, too.


P.S. And no, I’m not, in any way, shape, or form, endorsing Budweiser, or even
beer in general. For me, this video is a heartfelt tribute, and nothing more.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »