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Archive for August, 2013

I’ll be conducting a new program, “Cook Like a Soldier,”
at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House this coming
Saturday, August 24. We’ll discuss, then prepare and
cook, the typical daily fare of a Revolutionary War soldier.
We had a highly successful trial run of the program today
for members of the Press. All despite a bit of thunder and
a whole lotta pouring rain! HUZZAH!

Then, on Sunday, August 25, I’ll be fireside again, during
the re-enactment of the Battle of Brooklyn. It’ll be staged
in Green-Wood Cemetery, where a portion of this important
battle took place.

Both programs are part of the annual series of events and
activities known collectively as Battle Week. They’re designed
to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn,
the first TRUE battle in the War for Independence.

It’s gonna be one busy weekend! HUZZAH!

____________________

UPDATE: CLICK HERE to see the article in today’s (Friday, 8/23/2013)
edition of NYC’s
The Daily News.
News about this event is making the rounds! CLICK HERE for coverage
by an online media source in Queens County.

______________________________

Cook like a Soldier 2013(1)

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…at the end of the second hearth cooking class I conducted
this past spring at The Israel Crane House. HUZZAH!

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Held in April, this session was totally different menu-wise.
It consisted of dishes that reflected the bounty of the new
season, including veal, eggs, and milk. Of course, this class
was just as jam-packed with eager participants as the first,
and we all had a blast preparing, cooking, AND eating our
spring-time “Simple Mid-day Meal.”

Photos and receipts (recipes) from the first class held
back in February have already been shared. So now,
without further ado, here are scenes from April’s class,
along with the receipts we used, in all their original,
as-they-were-written and unaltered-in-any-way glory,
and found in assorted historic cookbooks.

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First up, our main dish, “Olaves of Veale,” which are made
of meat slices that’re topped with an herb mix, rolled up,
and then roasted:

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Some of our “Olaves of Veale” were roasted on a gridiron
placed atop the bake kettle:

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And others were set on a tin tray in the reflector oven:

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Both cooking methods worked well.

Below is the receipt, from The Art of Cookery Refin’d and
Augmented
(1654), by Joseph Cooper:

How to make Olaves of Veale.
Slice your Veal into slices, but as broad
and as long as you can cut out of a leg
or fillet of Veale, and provide for them
grated Bread, Cloves, Nutmeg, Mace
beat, Sweet Herbs minced, Currans
and Salt; mixe all these together with
Verjuice and raw Egg, with a little Sugar,
and roul it into the slices of Veale as close
as you can, and spit them the convenient
way to keep the meat in, and roast them
browne for the sauce, mixe Verjuice, Sugar,
Butter, Cynamon and Ginger; beat it up thick
together and dish it with your meat being
roasted well.

Our cooks prepared one of the side dishes, parsnip puffs:

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And fried ’em up:

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For the puffs, we used Eliza Smith’s receipt from her book,
The Compleat Housewife (1727):

To make Carrot, or Parsnep Puffs.
Scrape and boil your carrots and parsnips
tender; then scrape or mash them very
fine, add to it a pint of pulp, the crumb
of a penny loaf grated, or some stale
bisket, if you have it, some eggs, but
four whites, a nutmeg grated, some
orange-flower water, sugar to your
taste, a little sack, and mix it up
with thick cream; they must be fried
in rendered suet, the liquor very hot
when you put them in: put in a good
spoonful in a place.

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We also made a spinach ‘n egg dish, with eggs from the Crane
House Hens. Alas, I have no photos of it. dagnabit! However,
here’s the receipt we followed, as given in Hannah Glasse’s
The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy (1747):

Stewed Spinage and Eggs.
Pick, and wash your Spinage very clean,
put it into a Sauce-pan, with a little Salt,
cover it close, shake the Pan often, when
it is just tender, and whilst it is green,
throw it into a Sieve to drain, lay it
into your Dish. In the mean time have
a Stew-pan of Water boiling, break as
many Eggs into Cups as you would poach.
When the Water boils, put in the Eggs,
have an Egg-slice ready to take them out
with, lay them on the Spinage, and garnish
the Dish with Orange cut into Quarters,
with melted Butter in a Cup.

And finally, we concluded our meal with a custard:

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Our guide was a receipt from Mrs. Lydia Child’s cookbook,
The American Frugal Housewife (1832):

Custard Puddings.
Custard puddings sufficiently good
for common use can be made
with five eggs to a quart of milk,
sweetened with brown sugar,
and spiced with cinnamon, or
nutmeg, and very little salt. It
is well to boil your milk, and set
it away till it gets cold. Boiling
milk enriches it so much, that
boiled skim-milk is about as good
as new milk. A little cinnamon,
or lemon peel, or peach leaves,
if you do not dislike the taste,
boiled in the milk, and afterwards
strained from it, give a pleasant
flavor. Bake fifteen or twenty minutes.

A creamy and delicious cup o’ custard:

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A few of our intrepid cooks, enjoying the fruits of their labors:

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HUZZAH for a job well done!

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______________________________

Additional hearth cooking classes will be held in the future.
Be sure to check the
“Carolina’s Calendar” page for dates
and times. Come join the fun!
HUZZAH!

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I tell ya, there’s nothing like a modern recipe masquerading
as an original receipt (recipe) from an historic cookbook to
ruin my day and get me all riled up! It’s just the sort of thing
that drives me absolutely NUTS!!!

It started two weeks or so ago when Paul Gasparo, a friend
and fellow member of The Huntington Militia (HM), sent me
a copy of the recipe he’d used to bake a couple of loaves
of bread during HM’s annual Independence Day festivities*
at the end of this past July. His bread had turned out well,

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and it was mighty tasty. So naturally, all the HM members
were abuzz with excitement over it. The most intriguing
aspect of Paul’s bread was the fact that it didn’t require
any kneading. Other than modern no-knead breads, I’d
not previously encountered any in an historic setting.
Thus, I was eager to see the recipe Paul had used!

Soon this arrived via e-mail:

Plain Bread

OK. First I see it’s for a no-knead French Bread. Interesting.
Then, it’s from Charles Carter’s cookbook, The London and
Country Cook
, published in 1749. OK, great! I have that
book downloaded on my computer. Next I notice…oh no,
it can’t be! The first ingredient given is “All-Purpose Flour!”
This immediately tells me that what I’m looking at is NOT
an original receipt. Yep, sadly, it’s yet another re-written
and modernized adaptation. And, as many people know,
I HATE those! With a passion! dagnabit.

So I asked my friend where he’d found this recipe. Well,
here we go again; it was taken from the 2013 calendar
that James Townsend & Sons published. “OH!” I told him,
THAT explains it!”

And so, off I went to search Carter’s 18th century work
for the original French Bread receipt. Well, lo and behold,
along with a few others, I found these two:

To make French-bread.
BEAT two eggs with a little salt, lay
to them half a pint of ale-yest, or
more, then put to it three pounds
of fine flour, and put into it as much
blood-warm milk as will make it soft
and light; then make it into loaves
or rolls, and when bak’d and cold,
rasp or grate all the outside off,
and then it is fit to set at table.

_________________________

To make French bread.
TAKE a quarter of a peck of flour;
three or four eggs; and beat them
very well in a porringer with two
or three spoonfuls of sugar: mix
the eggs and sugar together, and
put them into the flour: take a quart
of milk lukewarm; put a little salt into
it, to give it a savoury taste; a pint
and a half of yest: mix the salt and
yest together with the milk, put it
into the flour, make it up into dough
very weak, and put it into a clean
cloth till it rises as big again: make
it up as large as you please, put it
into wooden dishes, and let it rise
almost as big as it did before: the
oven must be made very warm;
and when they are proved, put
them into the oven: if it be very
hot, let them stand an hour; if not,
an hour and a quarter. You must
take care to keep the dough, while
it is in the cloth or wooden dishes,
very warm, covering it with a blanket.

Of course, now the Big Question is, which of the above
receipts did Townsend adapt? If, indeed, it was either
one of those. After all, there ARE others in Carter’s book
that he could’ve modernized. However, I don’t think that’s
the case; it’s gotta be one of the above. But which one?
I’m leaning towards the second. If nothing else, it calls
for sugar, as does Townsend’s, and the other ingredients
are the same. The similarities end there, however, as he
not only rearranged the order of combining the wet and
dry ingredients, but he also jettisoned a second rising.
And what happened to putting the dough first into
a cloth and then into “wooden dishes”? Ahh, well, as
is typical of most “receipt modernizers,” Townsend
re-wrote it as he saw fit.

However, the Elephant in the Room is whether or not
either (or both) of the above French breads doesn’t
require kneading. True, that exact word isn’t used,
but does that mean it doesn’t apply? After all it IS
bread, and everyone KNOWS that bread dough MUST
be kneaded, yes? Besides, it’s widely known that many
historic receipts leave out those minor details we may
deem highly important, from specific steps in the whole

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process to the amounts of each ingredient to how long
a dish should be cooked. In short, every little step is
NOT always spelled out. But does that “unwritten rule”
apply here? Maybe. Maybe not!

There are also specific phrases above, such as “make it
up as large as you please” and “make it up into dough,”
that could be construed to imply, or even mean, kneading.
Many other historical receipts use those same, or similar,
words. In fact, in other 18th century (and earlier) bread
receipts, I found directives to “work it up into a light
paste” and “make it up pretty stiff,” as well as “work
up the dough very light” and “worke your paste well.”
So, do those call for kneading? Or no?

In addition, what about those two little words “very weak”
that follow “make it up into dough” in the second receipt?
Is that entire phrase saying to merely mix every ingredient
and then let them all sit, with no kneading, before putting
the whole thing into the oven? But won’t such a dough be
rather soupy or liquidy? Seems it might be more batter-like,
perhaps similar to cake batter or waffle batter. Except that
it’s not batter, it’s DOUGH. Alas, I pose these questions, but
I have no answers! (If anyone out there has any ideas,
please share!)

Interestingly, I found another 18th century French bread
receipt that also calls for making up the dough “very weak,”
and it seems, possibly, to call for a light kneading. It’s from
W.A. Henderson’s cookbook The Housekeeper’s Instructor, or
Universal Family Cook
(circa 1795). It states in the first few
sentences to mix the flour and yeast “till it is tough.” Then,
after the dough has its first rising:

Instead of working it with your
hands, as you would dough
for English bread, put the ends
of your fingers together, and
work it over your hands till it
is quite weak and ropey…
(emphasis mine)

Now, to me, this possibly says to knead the dough, albeit
gently or lightly. And so, making it “weak” perhaps does
NOT mean to let it just sit like a big ol’ blob or to allow it
to be mushy. Still, I wonder…maybe I’ve got it all wrong?
And if that’s the case, just WHAT then does “weak” mean?!
Sadly, once again, I don’t have an answer. Ahh, yes, so
many questions, so few answers. However, I will continue
to search.

Despite these nagging questions surrounding the meaning
of this or that word or the interpretation of these phrases
or those in any of the above historic receipts, I suppose,
in the end, none of it really matters. Knead it, don’t knead
it, heck, as long as it works, who cares?! Especially if you
aren’t concerned with the whole historic vs modern issue.
I’ve even considered making two batches of dough and
kneading one but not the other, just as an experiment
to see what, if any, difference it makes either way in
the final product.

Of course, when (and if) I do so, I’ll use Carter’s original
receipt and NOT Townsend’s version. I’m not particularly
interested in whether his works, kneaded or not. After
all, his is a MODERN, totally NEW, recipe, through and
through. Which, by the way, I don’t understand at all.
Why do people adapt, re-write, and modernize receipts
from historic cookbooks? What’s the point? If you want
a modern recipe, go buy the Joy of Cooking or a book

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by Martha Stewart. Otherwise, present the original,
as it was written, and then tell us how to make THAT.
It can be done, and it’s really quite easy (and fun!).
Heck, I do it all the time. Even in my hearth cooking
classes, with folks of varying skills, we’re able to
figure out original receipts from past centuries. All,
mind you, with fantastic results! Besides, how else
will anyone get a TRUE taste of food from the past?!
Modernize an historic receipt, and that’s exactly what
you’ll get: a modern dish.

My BIGGEST complaint, however, about Townsend’s
modern re-write is the fact that it’s being passed off
as an original receipt. He wants us to believe that
the recipe for “No-Knead” French bread on the March
pages of his 2013 calendar is taken from The London
and Country Cook
, by Charles Carter. And yet, it’s NOT!
C’mon, Mr. Townsend, if you’re going to do these dang
adaptations, please, PLEASE, tell us so upfront. But
don’t claim your newly-created mash-up is the actual
as-it-was-originally-written receipt from a specific
historic cookbook. To say, or imply, that it IS, when
clearly it ISN’T, is a Big Fat Lie! This recipe is a fake!
In fact, what you’re doing here looks and smells an
awful lot like FRAUD. Ugh. People do this all the time,
and as I said previously, it drives me absolutely NUTS!!!
There are far too many of these historic wanna-be’s.
And it’s especially annoying and disconcerting when
a seller of historic reproductions perpetuates them.
Year ’round, in a calendar, no less. dagnabit. Well, all
I gotta say is, better watch your back, Mr. Townsend.
I’m on to you and your wily ways!

And finally, if Townsend wanted to include an 18th
century no-knead French bread receipt (modernized
or not) in his calendar, why didn’t he use one that
specifically says that? Why muck about with one
that seems rather vague? Besides, receipts stating
flat-out “no kneading required” DO exist. I searched
a few of my historic cookbooks and found three. And
I imagine there are plenty more. A perfect example is
the following, courtesy of The Compleat Housewife,
an 18th century cookbook by Eliza Smith (1727):

To Make French Bread.
Take half a peck of fine flour,
put to it six yolks of eggs, and
four whites, a little salt, a pint
of good ale yeast and as much
new milk, made a little warm,
as will make it a thin light paste;
stir it about with your hand, but
by no means knead it; then
have ready six wooden quart
dishes, and fill them with dough;
let them stand a quarter of an
hour to heave, and then turn
them out into the oven; and
when they are baked, rasp
them: the oven must be quick.
(emphasis mine)

C’mon Townsend. Get with it!

bread loaf round and metal topped decorative jug w face

P.S. As for Townsend’s claim (hidden in the fine print on the photo
for March 2013) that “Some early 19th century texts use ‘Dutch oven’
and ‘bread oven’ interchangeably.” I have NO idea where he got that!
I’d sure like to know what his source is. I wonder, as well, about his
interpretation of it. I’d like to see a couple examples of this supposed
“interchangeable” use, as well, because I’ve never heard of it. Ugh.
Just what we need. A fake recipe AND mis-information!

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*Although the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 2, 1776
and published in
The Pennsylvania Gazette on July 4, it didn’t arrive
in Huntington, Long Island, until July 23 (via a rider on horseback,
of course!). This historic event is commemorated by The Huntington
Militia every year with a variety of festivities that’re open to the public,
including a reading of the Document, musket and cannon firings, open-fire
cooking, historic children’s games, and more.

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