Archive for April, 2012

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historical document, and it’s quite fascinating (more on it later).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.”

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On the Friday of my “Big Week” of hearth cooking events,
I was off to the Queens County Farm Museum for a Teachers’
Professional Development Workshop. As part of their program,
I was stationed in the Adriance Farmhouse, where I was ready,
waiting, and oh-so eager (!) to share the joys of 18th century
open-fire cooking.

The premise I created for the day was that I was knee-deep in
preparations for a mid-day meal when the roughly 60 teachers,
divided into two separate groups, arrived. The day’s meal was
to consist of roast chicken, boiled parsnips, a carrot pudding,
and toasted bread with freshly churned butter. And, luckily
for me, all these wonderful helpers showed up just in time
to assist. HUZZAH!

Now, we didn’t have enough time to do every dish, start to finish.
And thus, some of the work had either been completed previously
or was well on its way. For instance, the carrots for the pudding
had already been cooked, mashed, and strained “thro a sive,”
the Naples Biskets had not only been baked, but a few had
also been grated, and I had pre-churned the butter that was
to be slathered on our toast. I’d even baked a Carrot Pudding
in advance, so folks could see what it looked like. However,
there were certainly plenty of other chores for my assistants
to do: paring and cutting parsnips; grating all the remaining
Biskets; slicing bread for toast; and combining the ingredients
for our Carrot Pud, including the pureed carrots, the grated
Biskets, the cream, the eggs, sugar, and the Orange flower
water. Oh, and more butter was churned for our toast. And
can’t forget Mr. Chicken! He was already roastin’ on the spit
of the reflector oven when the teachers arrived.

Of course, while all these various and assorted activities
were taking place, I was having a simply marvelous time
talking non-stop to the two groups and explaining all the
hows, whys, whens, what- and where-fores of each task.
It was definitely great fun! I was reminded of many similar
joy-filled days back when I worked at Conner Prairie. I know
the teachers enjoyed it, too. I was even told later that our
cooking segment was deemed “a tremendous success.” In
fact, one teacher commented she was so well transported
back in time by the experience, that she was nigh convinced
I truly WAS from the 18th century. HUZZAH!

Unfortunately, I was so, SO busy, that I wasn’t able to get
any pictures. dagnabit. In fact, sadly, I got only one, and it
was taken towards the very end:

Now, as many of my readers probably know, carrot puddings are
one of my favorite dishes. My usual receipt of choice can be found
in E. Kidder’s Receipts of Pastry and Cookery (1740), the manuscript
cookbook of Edward Kidder, a professional baker. The teachers and
I followed his receipt:

A Carrot Pudding.
Boyl 2 large carrots, when cold
pound them, in a mortar, strain
them thro a sive, mix them nth
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”*

And, in case anyone is wondering what they look like, here’s
a photo of one I made awhile back for another event:

*handwritten notation
Also, I’d like to give a hale ‘n hearty HUZZAH shout-out to Chris
(sorry, I didn’t get her last name…tsk), one of the educators
at the Queens Farm, for all her help that day. She knew just
where to find exactly the bowl or poker or whatever that
I needed. I couldn’t have done it without her! HUZZAH!


NEXT: My “Big Week” finally ends

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After spending a day happily sharing the joys of hearth
cooking with a gaggle of Homeschoolers (and eating the
results) at The Israel Crane House, my next Big Event was
to do basically more of the same with about 60 teachers
at the Queens County Farm Museum (QFM). I had devised
a “menu” for the QFM event about a month earlier, and so
I knew I needed to prepare several items a day or two
in advance, including baking a batch of Naples Biskets.
I also had a Seed Cake to make for the Culinary Historians
of New York (CHNY) program that was to take place the day
after my adventures at the Crane House. And believe me,
scheduling all these required cooking tasks during that
hectic week was vital! Thus, I spent that Sunday and
Monday baking both the Biskets and the Cake.

TA-DA! The Naples Biskets:

Hmmm, do I see a Carrot Pudding in my future?:

Naples Biskets were typically made to be used in other dishes.
However, I did find awhile back an instance in a period novel
where they were eaten by themselves. And although receipts
for Naples Biskets are ubiquitous, they also tend to be quite
different from one another. I have two that I frequently use,
and both are unique. The one below is what I employed this
round. It’s taken from John Nott’s The Cooks and Confectioners
, (1726, 3rd edition):

To make Naples Biskets.
Take a Pound and half of fine Flour,
and as much double-refined Sugar,
twelve Eggs, three Spoonfuls of
rose-water, and an Ounce and half
of Carraway-seeds finely powdered,
mix them all well together with Water;
then put them into tin-plates, and bake
them in a moderate Oven, dissolve some
Sugar in Water, and glaze them over.

As for the CHNY program, it was to feature Anne Willan, who’s
written a book based on the vast collection of historic cookbooks
she and her husband have acquired through the years. In keeping
with that “history” theme, original receipts selected from works
in the Willan’s collection were sent out to those who’d be creating
the evening’s refreshments. Before seeing all of them, I picked
the one for Seed Cake. I’ve made them before, so I figured it’d
be fairly quick ‘n easy, especially considering the somewhat
limited time I’d have that week.

Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have of my Seed Cake:

Below is the receipt. It’s from The Compleat Housewife,
by E. Smith (1727):

To make a fine Seed Cake or Nun’s Cake
Take four pounds of your finest flour,
and three pounds of double-refin’d
sugar beaten and sifted, mix them
together, and dry them by the fire
till you prepare your other materials.
Take four pounds of butter, beat it
in your hands till it is very soft like
cream, then beat thirty-five eggs,
leave out sixteen whites, and strain
out the treddles of the rest, and beat
them and the butter together till all
appears like butter; put in four or five
spoonfuls of rose or orange-flower-
water, and beat it again; then take
your flour and sugar, with six ounces
of carraway-seeds, and strew it in
by degrees, beating it up all the time
for two hours together; you may put
in as much tincture of cinamon or
ambergrease as you please; butter
your hoop, and let it stand three
hours in a moderate oven.

Now, I’ve made a few Seed Cakes in the past, and I’ve always
used a receipt in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery (1747),
which, coincidentally, just happens to be an exact match to
the one above! So I announced to everyone that perhaps
Ms. Willan had made a mistake, that it should be attributed
to Glasse and not Smith. Well, not so fast! Turns out this is,
most definitely, courtesy of Smith’s book; seems it’s Glasse
who stole, er, “borrowed,” it from her. Oops. Silly me!

However, soon after I felt somewhat vindicated when I noticed
that the receipt Willan sent for “A Crookneck or Winter Squash
Pudding,” which she stated is from Lucy Emerson’s cookbook,
The New England Cookery (1808), is indeed a mistake. You see,
Emerson plagiarized, lock, stock ‘n barrel, Amelia Simmons’
American Cookery (1796). Tsk! (And an “oops, silly me”
for Ms. Willan.)


NEXT: Teachers and Carrot Puddings at the Queens County
Farm Museum and a return to the Crane House

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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

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