Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category
6 lb. salt
1 lb. sugar
4 oz. saltpeter
4 gallons water
Six pounds of salt, one pound of sugar, and four ounces of saltpetre, boiled with four gallons of water, skimmed, and allowed to cool, forms a very strong pickle, which will preserve any meat completely immersed in it. To effect this, which is essential, either a heavy board or a flat stone must be laid upon the meat. The same pickle may be used repeatedly, provided it be boiled up occasionally with additional salt to restore its strength, diminished by the combination of part of the salt with the meat, and by the dilution of the pickle by the juices of the meat extracted. By boiling, the albumen, which would cause the pickle to spoil, is coagulated, and rises in the form of scum, which must be carefully removed.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner M.D., New York, 1832
Comment: Again we see a “pickle” recipe in which the pickle in question is the preserving liquid and not the item preserved. The fortunate advent of both rapid transport and mechanical refrigeration has rendered the pickling process, at least for meat, fairly obsolete.
This is a very basic pickle since it does not include any spices, vinegar or other flavoring agents beyond the salt and saltpeter. These are preservatives, not flavorings, as they serve to draw moisture out of the meat and thereby reduce its vulnerability to decay producing bacteria.
To have fried cakes good, it is necessary that the fat should be of the right heat. When it is hot enough, it will cease to bubble, and be perfectly still. It is best to try it with a little bit of the cake to be fried. If the heat is right, the dough will rise in a few seconds to the top, and occasion a bubbling in the fat; it will swell, and the under-side quickly become brown. It should then be turned over. Cakes should be turned two or three times. The time necessary to fry them, depends on their thickness; if about as thick as the little finger, they will be done in seven or eight minutes. It is best to break open one, in order to judge.
When done, drain them well with a skimmer. If the fat is too hot, the outside will be burned before the centre is cooked at all; if too cool, they will become fat-soaked, which makes them very unhealthy and disagreeable. The fire must be carefully regulated. A person who fries cakes must attend to nothing else; the cakes, the fat, and the fire will occupy every minute. The use of many eggs prevents cakes from absorbing much fat. But they can be so made without eggs, as not to take up much fat.
From The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. [M. H.] Cornelius, Boston, 1863
Comment: Anyone fond of Navajo fry bread, or the various and sundry fried-dough items sold at carnivals and fairs, should read this directive carefully. Mrs. Cornelius does not give us a specific temperature to which the fat should be heated, because in the 19th century thermometers of such range were rare and expensive instruments found only in the laboratories of science, not cheap items found in every kitchen drawer. Following her instructions, though, will produce the same results even without the tool, and illustrate how practice and experience enabled cooks of an earlier time to produce results we would today consider entirely impossible.
2 oz. beef suet
3 oz. bread crumbs, fine
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. shallot, minced
1 tsp. marjoram, lemon thyme, or winter savory
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Liver from hare, optional
Two ounces of beef suet, chopped fine; three ounces of fine bread-crumbs; parsley, a drachm; eschalot, half a drachm; a drachm of marjoram, lemon-thyme or winter savory; a drachm of grated lemon-peel, and the same of pepper and salt: mix these with the white and yelk of an egg; do not make it thin–it must be of cohesive consistence; if your stuffing is not stiff enough, it will be good for nothing: put it in the hare, and sew it up.
If the liver is quite sound, you may parboil it, and mince it very fine, and add it to the above.
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: A “drachm” is a very small quantity (the term was used by chemists and pharmacists of the day) and is less than an eighth of a teaspoon. “Pinch” is about right. Although Dr. Kitchiner was employed specifically to “Americanize” an English cookbook for the New World audience, he overlooked a good many opportunities to do precisely that. One of them is notable here: there are no hares in America. Hares are a European species. What we have here are rabbits. They may be jackrabbits, or bunny rabbits, or a number of other regional varieties of either name or subspecies, but they are all rabbits. Not hares.
Of course you are perfectly free to use this stuffing on rabbits, although they tend to be just a bit smaller than their Euro cousins. Make less stuffing, or get more rabbits. If you have a shortage of rabbits, just plant a garden, and you will suddenly have more rabbits than you would have ever dreamed existed in three surrounding counties. Any sentimental thoughts you may have had about the creatures will, at this point, disappear.
1 oz. salt
1/2 oz. ground mustard (dry)
1/4 oz. ground allspice (or 1/8 oz. each of mace and cloves)
1/2 oz. ground black pepper
1/2 oz. dried lemon peel, ground
1/4 oz. ginger
1/4 oz. nutmeg
1/4 oz. cayenne pepper
Pound them patiently, and pass them through a fine hair-sieve; bottle them for use. The above articles will pound easier and finer, if they are dried first in a Dutch oven before a very gentle fire, at a good distance from it. If you give them too much heat, the fine flavor of them will be presently evaporated, and they will soon get a strong, rank, empyreumatic* taste.
N. B. Infused in a quart of vinegar or wine, they make a savory relish for soups, sauces, &c.
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1832
Comment: We are almost tempted to leave a certain word here undefined, so as to encourage good research habits amongst our readers, but then again we do not want to remind anyone of bitter memories of evil fourth-grade teachers who always told you to “Look it up yourself!” when you asked a tough question. So:
*Empyreumatic: Being or having an odor of burnt organic matter as a result of decomposition at high temperature. (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary)
Beyond that the recipe is reasonably self-explanatory. Unless one is making this seasoning mix in commercial quantities or eats ragout on an almost daily basis, we suggest making only as much as is needed for a particular recipe, or at least will be used in a fairly short time. Spices keep their flavor best when whole. Once ground, grated or pounded in a mortar as called for here, their volatile elements, the molecules which give them their flavors, start to evaporate rapidly.
1 and 1/2 pints cream
1/2 pint milk
Additional cream & sugar for serving
Warm three half pints of cream with one half pint of milk, or according to the same proportion, and put a little rennet to it; keep it covered in a warm place till it is curdled; have a proper mould with holes, either of China or any other; put the curds into it to drain, about an hour, or less; serve with a good plain cream, and pounded sugar over it.
From The Cook’s Own Book by “A Boston Housekeeper” (Mrs. N. K. M. Lee) Boston 1832
Comment: This is probably less “cream cheese” as we think of it today than a sort of quick-made cottage cheese. Rennet may look like an anachronism for a recipe from 1832, but it did not in those days come from the supermarket in a little box in tablet form. It came from the fourth stomach of a calf, which was cleaned, cut up into squares of about an inch, and preserved for use in cheesemaking or any other occasion in which milk-curdling was called for.
Apples with small defects, such as bruises, with the bad parts cut off
1 pint brown sugar
Tartaric acid (optional)
Let your stock of apples be picked over several times in the course of the winter, and all the defective ones taken out. Let the good parts of these be pared, and if not used for pies, be made into apple-sauce. Boil it in a preserving kettle. After it is tender, add a pint bowl of brown sugar, and boil it gently fifteen minutes longer. Towards spring, when apples become tasteless, a teaspoonful of tartaric acid, dissolved in a little water, should be added to a gallon of apple
From The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. [M. H.] Cornelius, 1863
Comment: Apples were a popular and valued fruit in part because they are sturdy enough to keep without expensive, time-consuming processing such as canning. They will wither from loss of moisture but remain otherwise sound. Unless of course you get “one bad apple” with rot in it. To avoid this disaster we follow Mrs. Cornelius’ directions. Even those bad apples can be salvaged if caught in time and the rotted parts cut off. The tartaric acid called for can be found at shops stocking winemaking supplies. This is not the same product as cream of tartar so get the real thing or skip this step altogether.