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After taking part in a hearth cooking class at The Israel Crane House
about a year ago, a woman rounded up several friends and arranged
to do another this year. So on Saturday, February 28, they all arrived,
each one ready, willing, and oh-so-eager to whip up a winter’s mid-day
meal. We had seven lovely ladies, and I tell you, they were great fun!
Everyone worked so well together. And given the ease with which they

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tackled the five different receipts, nobody would’ve known that all but
one had never done any hearth cooking before. It was a fantastic group,
one that operated like such a well-oiled machine, that we even ended
early. A hearty HUZZAH to them all!

As for the day’s menu, my goals in creating it were to include dishes
that were not only appropriate for the season, but also for a merchant’s
family such as the Crane’s, and to showcase multiple cooking processes,
including frying, baking, and roasting. We traveled through time, as well,
for the receipts we used came from cookbooks of the 17th, 18th, and
early 19th centuries:

An Excellent Way to Roast Pigeons or Chickens.
The Art of Cookery Refin’d and Augmented (1654), by Joseph Cooper;

Carrot Pudding.
American Cookery (1796, 1st ed.), by Amelia Simmons;

Potato Fritters.
The Cook’s Own Book: Being a Complete Culinary Encyclopedia
(1832), by A Boston Housekeeper;

To Make a Tart of the Ananas, or Pine-Apple. From Barbadoes.
The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director…Part II (1732),
by Richard Bradley; and

No. 51. Chocolate Drops.
The Complete Confectioner, or, The Whole Art of Confectionary
(1790, 2nd ed.), by Frederick Nutt.

Okay. Enough of that! On to some photos. And thankfully, THIS time
I was able to take quite a few. Unlike the class I conducted late last fall,
when I totally spaced it and forgot. Heck, even I was disappointed! In
any event, as you’ll see from the following, when all was said and done,
and the ladies had worked their magic, we had a truly marvelous meal,
one which definitely provided some mighty good eating! HUZZAH!

______________________________

The fire was blazing and the ingredients were set…

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photo 3

All the ladies arrived, and we were ready to begin. First, I presented
the background of our menu. I also explained some unfamiliar terms
and gave a few basic tips on cooking at an open hearth, handling all
the various equipment and utensils, what cooking technique to use
for which dish, and other such matters.

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And thus, it was on to the prepping ‘n cooking…

First up, our chicken. Now, Cooper’s receipt directs the cook to make
a forcemeat (what we might call stuffing or dressing today) containing
grated bread, hard boiled egg yolks, the fowl’s liver, a couple of spices,
and so on, which is finely minced. This mixture is then placed between
the bird’s skin and flesh, instead of in its cavity. Finally, it’s trussed
and roasted.

Of course, if a portion of skin tears during the process, a few little
well-placed stitches will take care of the problem…

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into the reflector oven it went…

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After several unsuccessful attempts to insert the chicken “normally”
(aka horizontally) and securely in the oven (so it wouldn’t flop
around), it was decided to place it perpendicular to the spit…

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It worked! It may’ve looked a bit odd, but at least it was roasting…

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On to the carrots for the pudding, which were cleaned, sliced,…

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and boiled, along with the potatoes for the fritters…

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The carrots were then mashed, combined with other ingredients,
and the whole set into a bake kettle. Soon, our Carrot Pudding
was cooked to perfection!

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Pineapple pieces were par-boiled in Madeira for the tart…

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a simple paste was made…

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the two were put together, and it was ready for the bake kettle…

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NICE!!!

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Mashing those previously-mentioned boiled potatoes for the fritters…

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the clumps of ‘tater fritter batter may not’ve looked too pretty, but…

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once fried, either in a spider…

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or on the griddle…

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they were very, VERY delicious! So much so that we nearly ate
them ALL before the cooking of the entire meal was completed!

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Several of our dishes posed on the hearth for a group photo…

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Our chicken cooked up fairly quickly!

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And finally, the Chocolate Drops, which proved to be the easiest
and simplest dish to prepare!

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And so, after all the chopping, slicing, grating, mixing, pounding,
stirring, boiling, frying, baking, and roasting, our wonderful winter’s
mid-day meal was ready to be eaten:

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The Carrot Pudding…

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Our “Tart of the Ananas, or Pine-Apple“…

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and the Chocolate Drops…

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Excellent job, ladies! HUZZAH!!! I look forward to working
with you, again.

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I’ve had several requests for the receipts that were used to create
the chocolate dishes presented in my previous posting. All of them
were compiled by Deb Peterson, the workshop’s instructor, and they
came from an assortment of 18th century cookbooks.

Let’s start with the most-awesome Chocolate Tart.

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We used the following receipt from John Nott’s The Cooks and
Confectioners Dictionary
, which was first published in 1723:

132. To make a Chocolate Tart.
Mix a little Milk, the Yolks of ten Eggs,
with two Spoonfuls of Rice-flour, and
a little Salt; then add a Quart of Cream,
and Sugar to your Palate; make it boil,
but take care it do not curdle; then grate
Chocolate into a Plate; dry it at the Fire;
and having taken off your Cream, mix
your Chocolate with it, stirring it well in,
and set it by to cool. Then sheet a Tart-pan,
put in your Mixture, bake it. When it comes
out of the Oven, glaze it with powder’d Sugar
and a red hot Shovel.

Note there’s no mention of the crust with which to “sheet your
tart-pan.” I imagine any would do, but Deb choose to have us
make the one below, which is found in the cookbook Bradshaw’s
Valuable Family Jewel
(1751), by Mrs. Penelope Bradshaw:

To make proper Paste for Tarts.
Take three Quarters of a Pound of Butter
mixed well with a Pound of Flour. Or thus:
Take equal Quantities of Flour, Butter, and
Sugar mixed well; beat it with a rolling Pin,
and roll it thin.

Interestingly, the above tart receipt is also in The Court and
Country Confectioner
(1770), by a Mr. Borella. His version,
however, is ever so slightly re-worded, and the quantities
of all the ingredients have been cut in half. I suppose that’s
one way to avoid claims of plagiarism, ay, Mr. B.?!

Ahh, well…

In addition, I found a fun video the other day wherein a similar
tart is prepared. It was filmed as part of the 2012 long-awaited
opening of the newly-renovated Royal Kitchens of London’s Kew
Palace
. Unfortunately, no clue is given as to what receipt the cook
was using, and it’s been modernized/adapted, but it sounds very
similar to the one above. Even his process matches (somewhat)
what we did during our workshop. And, dagnabit, I think his
comment dealing with the “is chocolate a food or a beverage?”
debate is still a bit off, albeit he’s closer than some others.
I’m beginning to think that, in some ways, it’s all in how it’s
stated. But even if by 1789, a Chocolate Tart receipt had been
floating around since at least 1723 (nearly 70 years! almost
a century!), surely somebody had to’ve been whipping it up
now and then, so just how “unusual” was it?! Particularly for
the “better sort”! Ahh, well…so it goes.

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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!

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* 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.”

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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).

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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.

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NEXT: Seed Cakes and Carrot Puddings

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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!

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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:

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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.

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NEXT: and finally, our Clove Cake

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