Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hail History!

I was going through my cookbooks to find some recipes for next week's menu. I have a book called A Matter of History from Living History Farms in Iowa. The book is comprised of recipes from 1700 to 1900, some taken from cookbooks of each particular time period. I was amazed at the way these recipes were written and wanted to share some of them with you. These are written exactly as they were in my book.

1850 Pioneer Site
Grandma's Salt-Raisin Bread

Early morning, as soon as the tea-kettle reaches a boil, take a quart earthen jug or milk pitcher, scald it, and fill one-third full of water hot enough that you can just bear to hold a finger in it. Add a pinch of brown sugar, a teaspoonful of salt, and enough flour to make a batter resembling the batter used for making griddle cakes. Leave the spoon in the batter, set the jug (or pitcher) into a container which is deeper than the pitcher. Pour into the container enought moderately-hot water (not scalding) to bring the water up around the jug one-half to two-thirds, to keep the temperature evenly warm, but not hot when kept on the back of the range. Allow to ferment, adding a teaspoonful of flour once or twice during the process of fermentation. In five hours, when the yeast has reached the top of the jug, pour the yeast into the center hole made in a pan of sifted flour. Have ready a pitcher of warm milk, salted, and pour into the yeast and flour mixture, enough of the warm milk to make a pulpy mass, stirring rapidly. Cover the sponge closely and keep warm for an hour, then knead into loaves, adding flour to make proper consistency. Bake in a steady oven; allow to cool, then wrap in damp towels and store in earthen jars. From the Dear Daughter Cookbook.

Early in the morning when the tea-kettle boils? Am I supposed to know what time that is? And what does batter for griddle cakes even look like? Salted, warm milk...eww. Too bad I don't have an earthen jar to store them in... and where are the raisins??

The Tangen House
Fricasseed Chicken, White

The chickens are cut to pieces, and covered with warm water to draw out the blood. Then put into a stewpan, with three-quarters of a pint of water or veal broth, salt, pepper, flour, butter, mace, sweet herbs pounded and sifted; boil it half an hour. If it is too fat, skim it a little. Just before it is done, mix the yolk of 2 eggs with a gill (1/2 cup) of cream; grate in a little nutmeg. Stir it up until it is thick and smooth; squeeze in half a lemon. If you like onions, stew some slices with the other ingredients. From The Frugal Housewife.

I don't know how to pronounce the name of this. Cut the chicken to pieces and draw out the blood??? Oh dear, I don't think I could do that. Three quarters of a pint... that is just too confusing. And a gill is another word for a 1/2 cup? It's amazing the things you can learn!

1850 Pioneer Site
Ginger-Bread Nuts

One pound of sifted flour, three-quarters of an ounce of finely-powdered ginger, the grated rind of a lemon, and five ounces of good butter. Rub the butter into the flour, then add the strained juice of the lemon, two ounces of honey, and half a pound of good treacle, slightly warmed; knead to firm paste and let it stand in a cool place for an hour or longer. Roll out a quarter of an inch thick and cut into small round cakes, either with a wine glass or dredger-lid (if proper cutters are not at hand), and bake in a quick oven until quite crisp, about 15 minutes. From The Young Housewives Daily Assistant, 1864.

Three-quarters of an ounce? Here we go again! Make sure you only use good butter lol. Treacle? There is a note at the bottom that says treacle is molasses. Good thing they offered substitutes to use as cutters... unfortunately I don't know what a dredger-lid is, much less own one. And what in the world is a quick oven? They cooked over the fire or on the hearth with hot coals, so I guess you would just have to know! As a young housewife myself, I am glad that this book was not my assistant, because I would be lost!

I hope I didn't bore you too much with old recipes written in paragraph form, but I found them so fascinating. I love all things old and I wanted to share some of the many interesting recipes from my book. If you ever have the chance, visit Living History Farms, it is such a cool place!


  1. LOL, I love reading old recipe books, just because of the crazy things you find in them! One of my grandma's old cookbooks has a recipe for possum..ewwww.

    And ewww at warm milk, salt, and blood.

  2. Possum??? Funny thing is, we were at dinneg last night with some friends and they were talking about how people in the south (real south, not texas 'south') eat possum and squirrel and pig intestines...gag