Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cook, Cooker, Cookery

So, I like cook books.  I’m fortunate enough to have a few that belonged to my great-grandmother, Margaret Laura Hudson Abbott.  And, then, I’ve collected several others from the late 1800’s.  They are fun, interesting, and often difficult to read.  I don’t recognize all the ingredients sometimes.

Just a small history lesson first –
Martha Dandridge married Daniel Parke Custis in 1750.  He died in 1757.  They had four children, two of whom died in infancy.  Martha Dandridge Custis then married George Washington in 1759.  You know who she is.

I have a reprint of the Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery.  While the book itself is relatively new, 1980, the recipes are not.  The inside fly page says, “Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats; being a Family Manuscript, curiously copied by an unknown Hand sometime in the 17th century, which was in her Keeping from 1749 to 1799 at which time she gave it to Eleanor Parke Custis, her granddaughter, on the occasion of her Marriage to Lawrence Lewis.

To make Excellent Fritters the French Way
Take a pinte of flowre & add thereto some cheese curd broaken small, & 6 eggs beaten, & about ye biggness of an egg in marrow shread small, mix these well with halfe a pinte of white wine, & some sugar, & a little salt, & add to these some apples shread, & preservd leamon pill, & other suckets, then melt some fresh butter in a frying pan, & fry them in little lumps about ye biggness of a walnut or less, & strow on them when they are servd up some sugar, & cinnamon, If you please.

Interesting.  There are also recipes to Stew Lamparies, Boyle a Carpe in its Blood, and Make Strawberries come Earley. 

The Modern Cookbook, 1880, gives all sorts of recipes along with basic household instructions.  Carving – beef, veal, mutton, pork and venison.  To Make Soap.  A section Pertaining to Plants“To kill the green fly or plant louse smoke the plants with tobacco”. Tells how to make cement for a cracked stove using silicate of potash and ashes.  How about a hair tonic “Two ounces of tincture of cantharides (A poisonous, blistering preparation made from the powdered, dried bodies of the beetle Cantharis vesicatoria), half a pint of Jamaica rum and one pint of rain water.”

The New England Cookbook, 1900, offers recipes from Mock-turtle Soup to Butter Taffy.  It also gives directions on how to serve a meal properly – “Square end tables are now the proper style.  They should be sufficiently roomy to wholly avoid crowding.  A spotlessly white table-cloth should be spread, with padding under it to deaden sound and make a softer appearance …….

And, last for this posting, is the Jewel Cook Book, 1890.  “A Compendium of USEFUL INFORMATION Pertaining to Every Branch of Domestic Economy.  A Manual for Every Household, also A BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE and Guide to Rapid Wealth.”  Wow – what more could you ask for in a book.  It has just too much good stuff to include now but maybe later.

Take care

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