Monday, April 16, 2018

Flour as a war target

In April 1861 the Civil War was started when Ft. Sumter was attacked. The tale from the Revolutionary War, below, from an 1831 children's book, describes how a miller trickily did not lie while protecting barrels of flour from the British.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Secret communal bread ovens during the French Revolution

Some revolutionary period bake ovens still remain in the Dordogne area.  Before the French Revolution began in 1789, rural ovens were owned by the wealthy overlords, then clandestine ovens were built in the woods to feed the peasants.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Birds in the kitchen: 16th through 18th century bird cages

There are several paintings... particularly from the 1600s... showing bird cages in the kitchen and taverns. Many of the paintings by the Dutch painter Jan Steen included bird cages. The late 18th cen. cage, left, has a marvelous water glass.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Left over jelly made into drinks

Two jelly drink recipes made when "jams or jellies are too old" for "table use" contain vinegar and soda for effervescence - Beecher, 1850 or the later, 1884 recipe is just jelly stirred in water and sugar.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Easter scratched egg with the Battle of Bunker Hill

Germans in Pennsylvania and Maryland dyed their eggs in brown onion skins or logwood, then scratched designs on the shells to give as gifts. A young Capt. Wm Beatty carved the Battle of Bunker Hill on an egg!! The fabulous design was described by a British officer prisoner in 1781 Frederick, Md. Eggs in photo were made by Tom Martin of Landis Valley museum.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Stew stoves (or stewing stoves) in two Hamptons

Hampton, north of Baltimore, was the large home of the wealthy Ridgely family  completed in 1790.  The more well-known Hampton Court Palace, west of London, contains the huge kitchen complex of King Henry VIII (1491-1547).

Monday, March 5, 2018

Food History Conferences, Symposiums, Exhibits and Writings 2018

Symposiums in England (Leeds, Oxford), Amsterdam, Australia and USA.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Native Americans making maple sugar described by Chateaubriand

Chateaubriand - the vicomte not his steak - left France in 1791 during the Revolution to spend a year in America.  In his book, published in 1826, he described how the native Americans gathered, then boiled the maple sap into syrup, ending as small cones of sugar. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Apple Tansey


Fried apple slices dipped in a batter of eggs, cream, sugar, nutmeg and rosewater or apples chopped fine in a batter thickened with flour are delicious fried.  Tanseys are an old recipe, and appear in cookbooks by La Varenne (1673), Smith (1730) and cooking manuscripts from the 1600s (William Penn's wife and Martha Washington's Custis inlaws - both their apple recipes are delicious).  The herb 'tansey' is no longer used in the recipe, but the name lives on.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tortillas made in 1800s Mexico and Hondorus

The Mexican women are grinding, forming and baking tortillas in 1835 Mexico.  The description of making tortillas, below, is in a book on Honduras published two decades later.

Monday, February 5, 2018

"Tiddy-Doll" - famous London gingerbread street vendor

The flamboyant seller of gingerbread was "hailed as the King of itinerant tradesmen."  Dressing "like a person of rank" the tall Ford (his real name) wore gold lace, white stockings and a white apron.  He would harangue the audience at "fairs, mob meetings, Lord Mayor's shows, public executions" and holiday festivities; and include in his 'cries' Tiddy tiddy dol.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Andrew Jackson's Great Cheese Levee

Jefferson was given a 1,600 pound cheese from Cheshire, Mass. Every farmer brought his curd to be poured into a large cider press to make the huge variegated cheese.  A large round of cheese from New York was given to President Jackson, kept in the vestibule of the White House and finally cut in 1837.  "The air was redolent with cheese, the carpet was slippery with cheese."

Monday, January 22, 2018

Queen of the Kitchen: a collection of old Maryland receipts by Miss Tyson

In 1870, a charity cookbook was compiled by "Miss Tyson" to fund a new church building for the Protestant Episcopal Church in Oakland (western Maryland).  The first edition was so successful that the church building was built.  Enlarged and no longer for charity, the cookbook went through three more editions by a publisher in Philadelphia.  So who was "M. L. Tyson"?

Monday, January 15, 2018

James Hemings turns down Thomas Jefferson

In 1801, newly elected Thomas Jefferson wanted his former (freed in 1796) slave James Hemings (1765-1801) as his presidential chef, but Hemings wanted Jefferson to contact him personally and said he was busy with an engagement with Mr. Peck, a "Tavern Keeper" in Baltimore.  William Evans, the owner of the Indian Queen, a block away on the same street as Peck's Columbian hotel, was the go-between for Jefferson and Hemings. James had accompanied Jefferson to France where he took lessons on French cooking. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Francatelli bombs

In last year's first season of the TV series "Victoria," chef Francatelli created a Bombe Suprise from ice cream and chocolate.  The real chef included a list of bombs in his Royal English and Foreign Confectioner, 1862.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bonbons - gifts on New Year's Day in France

It was the custom in 18th & 19th cen. France for people to visit their relatives and friends with gifts of bonbons very early on New Year's Day. The containers varied from paper to elaborate hollowed vegetables, fruit, books, balloon even lobster made of confectionery.  These gifts could add up. "Parisian of 8,000 franc a year to make presents on New Year's Day which cost him a fifteenth part of his income."

Monday, December 25, 2017

Plum pudding for Old Christmas Day

"Old Christmas" was January 6th and new was December 25 in the following story. The father kept Christmas on the old date when the mother Martha Gold served her locally famous pudding - recipe below.  From an 1866 British magazine.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Flowering fruit tree branches as Christmas trees

Although fir trees were the most popular, small cherry or apricot trees were planted in pots, or branches were cut and put in water so the blossoms appeared during the holiday.  The picture of a flowering tree decorated with ornaments and candles is from 1790 Nuremberg Germany.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Luciadagen or St. Lucia Day breakfast

In Sweden, the oldest daughter in the family wears a wreath of candles on her head and serves breakfast ... then the family goes back to bed.  In the 'old calendar' the day fell on the shortest day of the year.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Belsnickel or Pelznichel

In Germany and Pennsylvania Dutch areas, Belsnickel or Pelznichel appeared on Dec.6 - the Saint's day of Saint Nicholas. He carried a rod and wore a scary disguise, with jingling bells and clanging chains... not a jolly Santa Claus.