2 pints milk
8 oz. cream
small piece vanilla bean
12 oz. sugar
Two pints of milk, eight ounces of cream, four grains of vanilla, twelve ounces of sugar, split the vanilla [bean], and cut it into small pieces; beat it with a little sugar in a marble mortar till it becomes powdered;
put it into a stew-pan or skillet, with the milk, cream, and sugar; let them boil till the whole is sufficiently thick, then strain through a cloth, and pour into a bowl to cool.
From “Madame de Genlis” in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, 1847
Comment: “Madame de Genlis’” term for the quantity of vanilla to be used here is a bit unclear. A “grain” was indeed a unit of measurement, but a very small one: 20 grains made a scruple, three scruples made a drachm (or “dram”) and it took eight drachms to make an ounce. So “four grains” would hardly seem to be enough to flavor this quantity of milk, cream and sugar. We leave the matter to the discretion of the cook. Additionally, it would seem like the author has taken for granted the final step of putting the recipe through an ice-cream freezer (which were perfectly well known in the 19th century) as the resulting product would otherwise be known as “vanilla pudding.”
It was quite common in 19th century cookbooks for individual recipes to be attributed to a specific source, usually a person known to the author or otherwise locally famous for superior cookery skills. This added a touch of uniqueness to what was otherwise just a collection of the same receipts as were carried in every other cookbook in the store. It also gave both author and donor a shot at a bit of fame in a time when this was a rare opportunity for women. “Respectable” women, at any rate.