Posts Tagged ‘historic foods’

This year will soon be gone. Yep, in just a few short
hours, 2015 will slide into the history books. And so
I thought I’d write up one last post before it goes!

The Israel Crane House was again part of the annual
Essex County (NJ) Historic Holiday House Tour, which
took place the weekend of December 5 and 6. Of course,
I was busyImage (63) in the Crane kitchen, where
visitors were welcomed with a variety
of foods to sample. The spread featured
the usual suspects: Gingerbread Cakes;
Pounded Cheese (with crackers); and
Shrewsbury Cakes. Newly-added were
Chocolate Drops. As in previous years,
we offered hot spiced cider, dried apple
slices, a ham, chestnuts, candied orange
peels, and more. No one left hungry, that’s for sure!

I always look forward to this annual event, and this year
was no exception. The best part (besides the yummy food!)
is all the lively, in-depth conversations I have with those
who stop by the kitchen to see “what’s cooking.” It’s never
a dull moment. I have fun every year. I trust the visitors
do, too! HUZZAH!

Welcome to the Crane kitchen. Come on in!


Our spread of goodies:


New for 2015 were these tasty Chocolate Drops:


I prepared and cooked a dish each day, as well. First I made
a “Squash Pudding” (Saturday) and then a “Tart of the Ananas,
or Pine-Apple” (Sunday).

Both were baked in the bake kettle:


the Squash Pudding:


the Pine-Apple Tart:


Our spiced cider heated up over the fire each day:


Also new this season was a sweetmeat I saw Stephen Schmidt,
a fellow member of Culinary Historians of New York (CHNY),
make during the “Eating Through Time” symposium held this
past fall at the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM). As he
did, I followed the “To Make White Marmalet of Quinces” receipt
from Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery (circa 1550-1625).

Here is a portion of one of two batches I made:


I was also busy hearth-side on December 15 for “Family Fun
Day,” when I made oodles of “Dough Nuts,” all in accordance
with a receipt in Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and
(1828), by Eliza Leslie. We had more hot spiced
cider, as well.

Little nut-sized balls of dough ready to be boiled:


the fire doing its magic with our Dough Nuts and our cider:


TA-DA! our Dough Nuts! YUM!


All in all, we had lots of good eats at The Israel Crane House
this year. Here’s to another fantastic and tasty year of cooking
over an open fire in 2016! HUZZAH!

Happy New Year to one and all!


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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,


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:


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


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):


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:


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…


it’s a-baking:


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


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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UPDATE: Summer 2014
Well, there’s nothing more constant than change, ay?! This video
series is always being moved. dagnabit

In any case, the previously-shared links no longer work. Even
what’s in the box, below, is just a quick succession of several
different sections. So, try this one HERE. You should be able
to find ALL of the episodes at this one location on youtube.
Ignore the “unavailable” notation. Just click on the videos
in the list on the right-hand side.

It’s a fantastic series. Enjoy!


I recently re-discovered a fantastic video series that I’d
like to share. Entitled “Tales from the Green Valley,” it
follows five historical experts as they spend 12 months
“living” in the year 1620 on an historical working farm
located along the Welsh borders (so yes, it’s British).
The work they do, the activities in which they engage,
and the challenges they face are all applicable to any
farm in any area during any pre-modern time period.
I hope everyone enjoys them as much as I do.

Comprised of 12 episodes, a playlist of the series exists
on youtbube, wherein one is shown right after another.
Believe me, this feature makes it much easier to view
each episode, rather than doing each one separately
and trying to figure out if E2P1-3 comes before or after
E1P2-5. Now, it will seem as if there are more than 12,
and there sorta are, because the playlist shows the
series in only 15 minute increments. It just means you
can watch as much or as little as you like. In the end,
believe me, it will be well worth it. I guarantee that
you will learn so much, and you’ll gain a very realistic
glimpse into 17th century farm life. HUZZAH!


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Several dishes that I made for use this past
December at The Israel Crane House during
the annual Essex County (NJ) Historic Holiday
House Tour were “repeats” from the previous
year. They included mulled cider, Pounded
Cheese, and of course, a visitor favorite,
Gingerbread Cakes.

As with last year, I used Hannah Glasse’s
receipt from her book, The Art of Cookery,
made Plain and Easy
(1747). They were fairly easy to do, and
they turned out quite well. However, there was one very slight
difference in this year’s batch: I was forced to use molasses
instead of treacle. dagnabit. As you may recall, in 2010 I was
extremely eager to follow Glasse’s receipt largely because it
called for the use of treacle. Those Cakes were a huge hit, so
I wanted to make them again. Alas, when I went to the grocery
store that usually sells treacle, there was not a can to be found.
Not a one! I even checked back THREE separate times. It was
highly disappointing, to say the least. And so, I had to substitute
molasses for the treacle. dagnabit. It was mighty painful to do so.
Sure, they were fine; everyone who stopped to visit me in the Crane
kitchen loved them; but, still…. And believe me, there IS a difference
in the taste. They seemed just a bit more bland. At least, to me.

Ahh, well…maybe next year. One thing is certain: if I see any cans
of treacle at that store between now and then, I’m buying up several!



NEXT: those “unique” meat dishes

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I had an absolute blast making ice cream this past Monday eve
during the “Edible Conversations” series at Manhattan’s Roger
Smith Hotel
. The night’s session, “Ice Cream: A Global History,”
featured Laura Weiss, author of the book with the same title.
Of course, she was the star of the proceedings, and I merely
played the “sidekick” who briefly discussed and demonstrated
the 18th century method of ice cream making.

For the event, two types and flavors were shared with gathered
guests: a custard-based vanilla that I made in advance, using
a receipt (recipe) that Thomas Jefferson copied while in France;
and a simple raspberry from Eliza Leslie’s 75 Receipts for Pastry,
Cakes, and Sweetmeats
(1828), which I froze on the spot.

Incidentally, although unbeknownst to me at the time, both receipts
are included in the recipe section at the back of Weiss’ book. How
serendipitous was it that I selected those two?! I couldn’t have
planned it better. HUZZAH!

First up, making Jefferson’s receipt for “Ice Cream.” It’s custard-
based, made of egg yolks, sugar, and cream, all of which is infused
with a vanilla bean while cooking:


NEXT: The raspberry

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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

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We’ll be making a carrot pudding during our hearth cooking class,
“A Simple Mid-Day Meal,” this coming Saturday at The Israel Crane
. Of course, my favorite receipt (recipe) will be used, which
as my regular readers know, is from Kidder’s Receipts for Pastry
and Cookery
(1740s). And it calls for the use of…Naples Biskets!

So, I’ve been busy baking. This time, however, just to mix things
up a bit, I decided to use a receipt that’s different from “my usual.
I chose John Nott’s version from his The Cooks and Confectioners
(1726). Incidentally, it’s the same receipt that we used
during the brick oven historic baking workshop at Ft. Lee this past
summer (as part of Deb Peterson’s Symposium). Now, one of the
major differences between this receipt and my “usual” is its use
of caroway seeds. Which, by the way, are to be “finely powdered.”
Yep, time to get out the mortar and pestle!

Nott’s receipt requires “double-refined Sugar,” as well. Superfine
Sugar found at most groceries is perfect to use, and I had some,
but, unfortunately, not enough. I really didn’t want to run out to
buy more, so I made my own:

I think you can see the difference. Here’s the “regular” sugar:

and the “pounded” or “powdered” sugar:

Finally, I was ready to mix up the Naples Bisket batter, pour it into
individual ramekins, and slide them into the oven:

In an effort to make it go faster, and so I wouldn’t have to bake
more batches than necessary, I used every ramekin I have, no
matter what the shape. Both ceramic and tin. In the end, however,
some worked better than others. (more on that later)


Oooooh, pretty!

I think they turned out pretty well, yes?

Here’s Nott’s receipt:

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.

(NOTE: I didn’t bother with the glaze.)

Now, a pound and a half of flour is roughly the equivalent of six
cups in modern measurements. Which would mean a boat-load
of Naples Biskets! I really only need two, if that. Well, and maybe
a few for folks to try on Saturday. So I cut all the measurements
in half. I still ended up with a seemingly endless quantity. Doing
so made for a much more manageable batter, as well.

Of course, these taste quite differently than my “usuals.” It’s not
bad, just different. The caraway seeds lend a hint of rye bread,
of course. I did put in the rosewater. Sometimes I leave it out,
because, well, it’s just over-powering. Reminds me of the smell
of ladies “lounges” (restrooms) back in the day of such things.
But it wasn’t bad. In fact, I hardly noticed it. Maybe the caraway
taste helps to mask it? The tops of them are interesting, too.
Even without the glaze, they still kinda shine (see photo above).
They easily flake off, as well. Not good! And I usually don’t have
trouble getting them out of the baking dishes, but I had a heck
of a time with these. I didn’t butter them at first, but even when
I did, they still stuck like glue. Not sure what that’s all about. Ahh
well, I may just stick with the other receipt from now on!

In any event, it was fun to try something different. And we’ll
definitely put these Naples Biskets to good use this weekend.

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