Archive for April 1st, 2011
6 egg whites, beaten
Juice of 1 orange or lemon
Fine granulated or powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot
Butter for coating baking sheet
Beat the white of six eggs to a stiff froth, add the juice of an orange or lemon, and stir into it powdered loaf sugar, a little at a time, till it is of the consistence of thick dough, adding a very little starch. Have ready some small paper cases, about three quarters of an inch square, put some buttered paper on tin sheets, lay on them the cases, drop in each a large tea-spoonful of the sugar and egg, make them smooth, and bake them for a few minutes in a moderate oven; then take them out of the cases, wrap round each a slip of paper containing a single verse [poem] or pun [joke], and envelope [wrap] them separately in small pieces of fine white paper that is neatly fringed, giving each end a twist.
From The Kentucky Housewife by Lettice Bryan, 1839
Comment: We are not sure whether these are better compared to homemade fortune cookies (for the written content), Hershey’s kisses (for the wrapping style) or Peeps (for the resulting sweet product itself.) As any such speculation is liable to draw us stern letters from the copyright attorneys of the companies involved, we will refrain from comparisons of any sort.
As far as the recipe itself is concerned, we note only that “powdered loaf sugar” means just plain granulated sugar in today’s terms. Sugar was at this time sold in solid lumps from which one had to grind or grate the amount needed for a given recipe. If you do choose to use a finer grade, check the packaging carefully for ingredients. Even those labeled “100% pure cane sugar” may contain cornstarch to keep the product loose and powdery. In this case the cornstarch or arrowroot called for in the recipe may be omitted.
1 knuckle of veal [foot with hoof removed]
Boil a knuckle of veal, and serve it up with a sauce made with the usual proportion of butter, flour, water, and salt, and parsley, which, in order to extract its flavor, must be chopped very fine.
From The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, 1847
Comment: For your skeptical friends who do not believe just how very bare-bones recipes were in the 1800′s, we invite you to display this one which we print here in its entirety. A similar receipt today would specify quantities of ingredients down to the fractional portions of an eighth of a teaspoon while here you can almost see Mrs. Rutledge’s sniff of disapproval of anyone who did not simply know from experience what “the usual proportion” of these items should be.
Rub some of the sugar on the peel of the lemon to extract the oil; roll the lemons under the hand on the table, and press out all the juice; add to every lemon two heaping table-spoons of loaf-sugar; mix it thoroughly with the lemon; fill the pitcher one-quarter full of broken ice, and add water.
From The Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia by Mrs. E. F. Haskell, 1861
Comment: Today a direction to “rub sugar on the lemon peel” looks a bit peculiar, and attempting to follow it would undoubtedly produce a dreadful mess of sugar grains scattered about, leading to an infestation of ants in the kitchen.
Sugar in the 19th century was not sold in the already-granulated form we find in bags in supermarkets today. It was sold as “loaf sugar,” produced at the refinery in large cones which were wrapped in paper for shipment to merchants. There it would be sold whole only to very large consumers, perhaps plantations which supported a number of families or else commercial users such as hotels.
For buyers from smaller households the grocer would knock off a chunk with a mallet and chisel and sell it by weight. This still left the end user with the task of further chipping it into bits which would then be ground in a mortar, scraped over a grater, or, in this case, rubbed on the peels of lemons to extract their flavor. Once the lemon juice and water were mixed the remaining sweetener could be tossed in in chunk or chip sizes and allowed to dissolve. Ice, if available, would probably be added last, just before serving.
2 large lemons, peeled
4-5 oz. sugar
yolks of 6 eggs
1/2 lb. butter
Boil the peel of two large lemons till they are quite tender, and then pound it well in a mortar, with four or five ounces of loaf sugar, the yolks of six eggs, half a pound of fresh butter, and a little curd beaten fine; pound and mix together, lay a rich puff paste in some patty-pans, fill them half full, and bake them carefully.
From The Cook’s Own Book by “A Boston Housekeeper” (Mrs. N. K. M. Lee), Boston, 1832
Comment: “Curd” is the hard part of cottage cheese. Either get the dry form of this or put regular cottage cheese in a strainer and rinse the milky white stuff out. Unlike modern cheesecakes, those of the period were baked in regular pie crust, not the crushed graham cracker version more common today. The boiled lemon peel should be the yellow part only with as little of the underlying white pith as possible, as it is bitter. It will mush up with the sugar in the mortar more easily the thinner the strips into which it is cut.
“Loaf sugar” is just regular white sugar, which in the 19th century was normally sold in hard blocks or cones and grated into granulated form for use. We can, thankfully, skip that step today.
Sugar or syrup
1 pint cream
Bit of orange-peel
Squeeze the juice of two lemons into a China bowl, or small deep dish, that will hold a quart; sweeten it like sirup, add a little brandy; boil one pint of cream with a bit of orange-peel; take out the peel, when cold, put the cream into a teapot, pour it to the sirup, holding it high. Make it the day before it is wanted.
From The Cook’s Own Book by “A Boston Housekeeper” (Mrs. N. K. M. Lee) Boston 1832
Comment: This is sort of a cross between a syllabub (see other recipes) and a pudding. To “sweeten [something] like sirup” is to add as much sugar to the lemon juice as it will absorb and still be liquid. The resulting posset should be stored in a lidded container, to protect it from insects, and in the coolest available part of the room, but not refrigerated during the resting period.
1 lemon, yellow part of peel pared & saved, white rind then removed
1/2 pint melted butter
Pare a lemon, and cut it into slices twice as thick as a half-crown piece; divide these into dice, and put them into a quarter of a pint of melted butter.
Obs: Some cooks mince a bit of the lemon-peel (pared very thin), and add it to the above.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: We would rather Dr. Kitchiner had called this “Lemon Butter” but suppose it is a bit late to persuade him to change his mind on the matter. We would also inquire as to the precise thickness of “a half-crown piece” (one of the many places where the English origins of this book show through the good doctor’s attempts to “Americanize” it) but will instead just take a wild guess and suggest making the lemon slices about a quarter inch thick.
Lemon peel can be removed with either a common vegetable paring tool (so long as care is taken not to go so deep as to include the bitter white pith underneath) or with a specialized utensil known as a “zester.” This is something like a single-row grater, with a head containing five or six holes attached to a handle. You scrape the instrument over the fruit as if you were wielding a disposable razor. The zest emerges in thin threads, precisely as needed for this recipe.