Afternoon Tea on the Veranda

This is the third article in August of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on August 15, 1909, and is an article on how to have afternoon tea on the veranda. This is one of the few articles also printed in the Dauphin Herald which got me interested in Marion Harland’s serial work.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Afternoon Tea on the Veranda

I LIKE that word—“veranda”—better than “piazza,” and it expresses something that “porch” does not cover. The latter word is synonymous with the old Knickerbocker “stoop.” Both imply roominess and cozy comfort, a secluded corner in which mynheer and his hausfrau cold take their ease, with pipe and mending basket, when the hard work of the day was done. The neighbors gathered there on summer evenings, and the air was thick with tobacco smoke and gossip. As a rule, the mistress of the house discouraged the growth of vines about the square stoop. They were harbors for mosquitos and slugs, and dry leaves and dropping flowers littered the floor.

Our veranda would not deserve the three-syllabled word were it bared of the draping vines. We got it from the orientals, with whom it signifies seclusion gained by lattices and shutters and vines. An English lexicographer appends to this definition the gratuitous observation that “The veranda is erroneously called a ‘piazza’ in the United States.”

Afternoon tea and the rechristening of porch, stoop and piazza have come to us simultaneously, and they have come to stay. It may be long before, from mansion to hovel, tea will be made and served at 5 o’clock throughout the length and breadth of our land, as in England, Scotland and Ireland. Were the vapor of the tilted teakettle visible, it would obscure the face of the sun between 4:30 and 5 in the British isles. Queen and washerwoman drink together then, and the clink of china marks the hour as faithfully as the town clock.

When Shadows Lengthen.

With us the pretty custom gained favor so fast within a quarter of a century that it is an exception when the cup that cheers but not inebriates is not offered to the afternoon guest. In thousands of homes it is as truly a family meal as breakfast.

I have called the custom “pretty.” It is never a more graceful function than when carried out upon the veranda. The simplest country cottage where the habit prevails is furnished with a wicker table, or one of “mission” manufacture, than stands on the veranda all the time. It has a modest corner for its own and keeps in the background until the “bewitching hour” of afternoon tea approaches. The aproned maid then sets it in the foreground, spreads the teacloth and brings out the tray upon which is arranged the tea equipage.

If the beverage is to be brewed by the mistress or by a daughter of the house, the teakettle and a spirit lamp form part of the pleasing array upon the tray. Or a 5-o’clock-tea stand precedes the appearance of the tray and is set beside the table. A silver or copper kettle swings over an alcohol lamp. Boiling water was poured into the kettle before it left the kitchen. The spirit lamp makes sure the actual boil before it goes into the teapot which must be hot from a recent scalding.

After the English.

The cozy, another English importation, is almost an essential when tea is served upon the veranda. If there be any breeze in the long summer day, it may be depended upon to spring up as the sun nears the western horizon. Moreover, the canny housemother sets the table in the coolest corner of the shaded veranda. She slips the cozy over the pot after the latter is filled, and leaves it there for the two minutes that are requisite to draw out the flavor and tonic properties of the Celestial herb without poisoning the infusion with tannic acid. The hot-water pot flanks the teapot, in case it should be needed to weaken the beverage for a “nervous” drinker. An alcohol flame burns under it while the function goes on.

Don’t cumber the simple and elegant ceremonial of afternoon tea by numerous and various appointments that make it heavy and expensive. I have in mind one city of fair size and abounding hospitality where the custom degenerated into “receptions” demanding salads, ices and a dozen et ceteras, entailing an expenditure of labor and money that made this form of entertainment impracticable for the woman of limited means.

Ask half a dozen of the nicest neighbors you have to take a cup of tea with you on the veranda on a given afternoon when you have a choice fiend staying with you. Group easy chairs and wicker rockers invitingly in the corner sacred to the tea hour, and assemble your guests there as they arrive. Your prettiest tea cloth should drape the table, and all the features of the “equipage” must be the best you can bring to the front. A single vase of flowers not a mixed bouquet should grace the center of the table. As you make and pour the tea, see to it that the talk flows on smoothly. There should be no break in the thread of anecdote and chat. Silence is always formality under these circumstances.

Have a plate or basket of thin bread and butter. Some tea-lovers prefer this accompaniment to sandwich or cake. If you or your cook can make good Scotch scones, for which you shall have a recipe presently, they will be received gratefully by those who have eaten them “on the other side.”

Another pleasant accompaniment of tea is the toasted sandwich. That, too, we will have by and by. Sandwiches of tongue and ham and chicken are popular at all times. In hot weather I refer the lighter varieties of tomato, cress nasturtium and lettuce sandwiches. On very warm afternoons you may substitute iced for hot tea. Yet, since this cooling drink disagrees seriously with many persons, it is best to have hot tea for such as prefer it.

A basket of light cake or cookies is passed after the bread and sandwiches. For those who take no sugar in their tea, cake is not amiss. It vitiates the taste of the drink for such as qualify it with cream and sugar. In addition to cream jug and sugar bowl have a plate of sliced lemon if you serve cold tea, a bowl of cracked ice.

Stop there! Bonbons, fruit and “Frappes” are foreign to the genuine, quietly refined function. You vulgarize it by introducing any of them.

Afternoon Tea Scones.

Sift a quart of flour three times with two teaspoonfuls of baking powder and one of salt. Chop into this a tablespoonful of butter and one of lard for shortening. Mix in a bowl with a wooden spoon into a dough by adding three cupfuls of sweet milk, or enough to make a soft dough. Do not touch with your hands. Lay the dough upon your kneading board and roll into a sheet half an inch thick. Cut into round cakes with your biscuit cutter and bake upon a soapstone griddle to a light brown. Split and butter while hot.

Toasted Sandwiches.

Cut slices of white or of graham bread thin, butter lightly, and spread one with cream cheese. Press the two slices firmly together and toast the outside of each before a quick fire. Send to table wrapped in a napkin.

Cream Cheese and Sweet Pepper Sandwiches.

Scald the peppers to take off the biting taste, and drain them. Lay on the ice for some hours. Wipe and mince. Mix two-thirds cream cheese and one-third peppers into a smooth paste. Spread upon lightly buttered bread and put together in sandwich form.

Tomato Sandwiches.

Butter thin slices of bread and lay between them slices of fresh ripe tomatoes from which the skin has been pared. Spread each slice of tomato with mayonnaise or a good French dressing.

Lettuce Sandwiches.

Butter thin slices of bread and lay between them in sandwich form crisp leaves of heart lettuce which have been dipped in mayonnaise dressing. One leaf of lettuce suffices for each sandwich.

Nasturtium Sandwiches.

Substitute for the lettuce leaves petals of nasturtium flowers dipped in French dressing. This is a piquant and appetizing sandwich.

Marion Harland

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The Tomato as Fruit and Vegetable

This is the first article in August of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on August 1, 1909, and is an article on the tomato which includes some recipes.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

The Tomato as Fruit and Vegetable

READERS who are familiar with the charming play, “The Old Homestead” (and few are not), will recall the dialogue between Aunt Tildy and her mature admirer, in which the small talk turns upon the tomato.

“We never use’ to thin of eatin’ them,” says the bashful suitor. And the housewife reminds him and herself how they were called “love-apples” when they two were boy and girl.

Two encyclopedias agree that the tomato was brought to the United States from tropical South America; that it was known in Southern Europe early in the sixteenth century—in France as “pomme d’amour” (love-apple.)

Some curiosity hunters claim for the vegetable an Egyptian ancestry. For all we can prove to the contrary, it may have been one of the cool, and hence “kindly fruits of the earth,” for which the Israelites pined vainly in the desert along with leeks, onions and melons.

The encyclopedias go on to assert that “the tomato was known only as a curiosity in the United States until about 1830.” Acting upon this assertion, a critic took me sharply to task for naming it as an ingredient in a “Brunswick stew,” described in my “Judith’s Chronicle of Old Virginia,” the date of which story is given as 1833-35.

In verification of my chronology, and in respectful demur to the learned compiler of dates and facts, I submit recipes from “The Virginia Housewife,” by Marcia Randolph, published in 1828. Said recipes called for “tomatas” (sic) and append no explanation of the word. It is evident that the estimable fruit-vegetable was in common use upon the table of the notable Virginia housemother of that generation. I may add that I made sure of this before writing that particular chapter of my “Chronicle.” Old housekeepers told me of having cooked and eaten stewed tomatoes before 1828, and one diligent Bible reader advances the theory that this was the “red pottage” for which Esau sold his birthright!

Not that the subject of our talk needs the stamp of age to establish its right to a distinguished place in our dietary.

“It is nutritious and wholesome, with laxative and antiscorbutic properties,” writes one authority upon horticulture and pomology. Doctors “away down South in Dixie” prescribed it fifty-odd years ago as a mild substitute for the calomel which was then administered in what seems to us murderous quantities. I recollect picking the yellow and red egg and plum tomatoes in my father’s garden and eating them out of hand in years when late frosts had cut short the fruit crop and the system carved the grateful anti-febrile acid. And that I was encouraged by our family physician to partake freely of the “substitute.”

I have yet to see the man, woman or child with whom the tomato disagrees. Eaten raw, with a French or mayonnaise dressing, or cooked in some one of the ways commended by our best cook books, it should form a part of summer and of winter family fare. In further recommendation of the valuable and amiable esculent, let me refer to a test of “canned goods” made at my instance five years ago by members of our scientific staff, chief among these standing one who, early in the history of our department won for himself the honorary title of “Our Courteous Consulting Chemist.” I recall, as one item in the analysis made by this colaborer, that he detected in three spoonfuls of preserved (canned) pears enough salicylic acid to dose an adult, I recall, more gratefully, that not one of our expects reported the presence of “preservative” drugs in canned tomatoes. They may be found in some brands, but not in any of those that have been tested and reported upon to us.

The tomato is so easily cultivated—sustaining its reputation for amiability here, likewise—that one wonders not to see it more frequently in the small patches that pass for city gardens. Given a trellis or a wire netting against a brick or stone wall or a board fence, and good soil, with a fair allowance of water and sunshine, and the vines clamber fast and lushly. One good woman I know starts her tomato vines in a box set in her laundry window early in January. They are sturdy plants by the May day, when she considers it safe to transfer them to her back yard; after which she has delicious tomatoes in abundance for her family until the frost cuts them down in late October.

Hardly a week passes in which I do not learn of some new and attractive way of preparing our vegetable for the table. One was brought to me last week from a “swell” luncheon party by a woman who is as keen as myself in the quest for new and better ways of doing old things.

It was served as the initiatory “appetizer” of the feast.

Tomatoes Stuffed With Sardines.

Select large ripe tomatoes of uniform size and pare them carefully with a sharp knife. Set on the ice to harden, and cut out the hearts neatly, leaving the walls whole. Prepare the filling by skinning boneless sardines and laying them upon tissue paper to absorb the oil. Then scrape as you would pick codfish for “balls,” and work in a little lemon juice and a dash of white pepper. Toss and work with a silver fork until smooth, and fill the cavities left in the tomatoes with the mixture.

The combination of flavors is very pleasant.

Tomato and Shrimp Salad.

This dish I believe to have been original with me. I had never heard of it until I prepared and set it before wondering eyes that were glad after the salad was tasted—then devoured.

Prepare the tomatoes as directed in the preceding recipe. Set the hollowed tomatoes in the ice after filling them with canned of fresh (cooked) shrimps. Arrange the shrimps neatly, the backs upward, and pack closely. Just before serving put a spoonful of mayonnaise dressing upon the top of each.

Tomatoes With Whipped Cream Dressing.

This too, I might have held, even to this day, to be an original device of my own, had I not chanced, awhile ago, to meet with it in Elizabeth Fennell’s delightful melange of culinary more and poetic fantasies, “The Feasts of Lucullus.” It was, then, coincidence and not plagiarism, when I evolved the combination from my brain.

Pare the tomatoes, halve each and set it in the ice until chilled to the heart. When you are ready to serve, heap whipped cream—chipped—upon each half, having first sprinkled it with salt and yet more lightly with white or with sweet pepper.

You may doubt my word that you will find it delicious. Try it, and complain if you do not like it.

Tomatoes with Mayonnaise.

Pare and cut out the hearts. Set on ice until they are very cold. Serve with mayonnaise filling the cavities. Pass heated crackers and cream cheese with it as a salad course at luncheon or supper.

Tomatoes Stuff With Green Corn.

This is also a salad. Pare as above, and extract the hearts. Fil with green corn that has been boiled on the cob, then cut off ad left to get perfectly cold. In serving, cover with mayonnaise or with a simpler French dressing.

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes.

Select large, fair tomatoes and, without peeling, cut a piece from the top and excavate from the center. Mix with the pulp thus extracted one-third as much fine, dry breadcrumbs; season with melted butter, a few drops of onion juice and pepper and salt. Stuff the hollowed tomatoes full with this, fit the tops on and arrange in a bakedish, pouring about them the juice that escaped from the tomatoes when you dug out the pulp. Put a tiny bit of butter upon each and bake covered. Serve in the dish in which they were cooked.

You may, if you like, substitute boiled green corn for the crumbs. This is a nice accompaniment to roast meat or fish.

Marion Harland

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How to Jelly Small Fruits

This is the second article in June of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on June 13, 1909, and is an article on the development of canning jellies and jams. Mrs. Harland also comments on the use of slang reguarding the shortening of words like ‘jelly.’

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

How to Jelly Small Fruits

IMPRIMIS, don’t sey “jell!”

Although the young housewife in Miss Alcott’s inimitable “Little Women” did bewail her evil case when her currants wouldn’t “jell,” take time to say “jelly.” At this point I digress from the main line to entreat correspondents to snatch, or make, time in writing to me to use the little personal pronoun “I.” Don’t say, “Would like to ask” or “Would say” in beginning a sentence. Write, “I should like to ask” and “I would say.” I have to supply the missing pronoun in putting MSS into printable shape. Say, likewise, in writing a recipe, “Let it stand,” instead of “Let stand.”

I believe “jell” to be a New England provincialism. Hence, “Meg’s” use of it. I have heard the shaking mold of translucent conserve offered to the guest in a Massachusetts farmhouse spoken of as “jell.” The monosyllable falls lawfully into line with other curtailed words under the new regime of orthography. When we cut off and drop into the waste basket the stately terminations of “prologue” and “catagloue” and make “thru” do service for “through,” we may be thankful to have the body of our “jelly” left to us.

A few prefatory words to the directions for putting up small fruits in this form may not be superfluous.

Not Overripe.

The berries must be fully ripe, but not what is called “dead ripe.” The old saying that currant jelly will not be firm unless put up before the Fourth of July has this proviso of perfect ripeness as a warrant. The housemother who understands her profession has learned that, in most instances there must be acid in the fruit she would jelly. Blackberries, strawberries and red raspberries, even the wild blackcap, if really ripe, do not jelly easily. The mixture of currants and raspberries, of which I shall speak presently, owes form, as well as flavor, to the red juice of the tart berry. Blackberry and strawberry jelly, if there be no addition of lemon juice or other acid, must be set in uncovered glasses in the hottest June sunshine or the vertical rays of the July sun for several days, hat evaporation may “boil down” the conserve to the right consistency. I have never been successful with peach jelly, except when lemon juice was added to the over-sweet syrup. This is the reason why the small fruits and before the sugared juice would be cooked into cloying sweetness.

Red Currant Jelly.

Gather the fruit on a sunny day. It is not necessary to strip it from the stems on which the cluster grow. In fact, the succulent stems contain an acid of their own that adds to the flavor of the jelly. Wash the fruit well, draining it in a colander, and pack into a stout stone or agate-iron jar. Put on a close cover and set the jar in a pot of cold water. The water should come more than two-thirds of the way to the top of the crock. Set the pot on the side of the range and go about your other duties for an hour or more. Then look into the jar, and crush down the heating berries with a wooden paddle. Move the kettle to a warmer place and close the jar again.

I usually heat the fruit all night, setting the pot over a very slow fire that will die down before morning. Before breakfast I visit the kitchen and examine the fruit. It is invariably broken all to pieces and, if not cold, quite cool enough to handle with comfort. It is then turned into a bag of doubled cheesecloth and suspended over a wide bowl to drip. A long-legged, backless chair is set, heels upward, on a table; the four corners of the bar are lashed to the inverted legs high enough up to allow the bowl to stand beneath. While we are at breakfast the juice drips steadily, and by the time the meal is over the pulp, or “pomace,” is almost dry. The residue of the juice is expressed by squeezing. If there be a pair of manly hands which are both willing and strong they are coaxed into service for this park of the work. A few dexterous twists of the crimsoned cloth and half a dozen mighty squeezes leave the pomace juiceless. The pulp is emptied into the garbage pail and the bag thrown into cold water to soak.

Measure the strained juice and put it over the fire in a preserving kettle. Weigh out as many pounds of sugar as you have pints of juice. Divide the sugar into three or four portions and spread each upon a platter or a shallow pan. Set these in the oven, leaving it open for the first 10 minutes and stirring several times. Close the oven when the juice in the kettle begins to simmer, but watch the contents of the platters, lest the hot sugar begin to melt. Stir often. When the juice boils hard skim off the scum, and when the boil has lasted 20 minutes dump in the hot sugar as fast as you can, stirring vigorously. After it has dissolved, which will be very soon, let the syrup boil exactly one minute.

Pour the jelly into small tumblers which you have rolled over and over in hot water to prevent cracking as the jelly fills them. The glasses must be taken directly from the hot water and filled while wet. At this stage of the process an assistant is needed to fish out the glasses and pass them to the main worker. If these rules be followed, and the fruit be ripe and not overripe, the jelly will form by the time it is in the glasses. Let it get perfectly cold; pour melted paraffine on the top of each glass and fit on metal tops or, if you have none, paste paper covers on them.

In over 45 years of jelly-making I have never lost a glass put up according to this recipe. The flavor of the fruit is preserved far better than when juice and sugar are cooked together in the old way and boiled down thick. The jelly is clear and sparking.

Keep in a cool, dry place.

Black Currant Jelly.

Make as above. It is highly recommended for coughs and as a tonic. It is more palatable if the black are mixed with a third as many red, ripe currants.

Gooseberry Jelly and Jam.

Top and tall the berries and beat them as for other jelly. They are very juicy, and if all the liquor that will flow from them after adding sugar were put with the jam it would be too thin. Therefore, turn the berries when soft and broken into a colander; let them drain without pressing or shaking. When most of the juice has run into the bowl below, empty the colander into a preserving kettle after measuring the berries. Bring to a boil; add a pound and a quarter of sugar to each pint of berries; stir to dissolving and cook steadily half an hour. Put up in jam pots, covering with paraffine, then fitting on tops.

For the jelly, strain the juice through a cheesecloth bag to get rid of the seeds that have escaped through the colander; measure it and heat as for other jelly. When it has boiled for 20 minutes stir in the heated sugar, a generous pound to each pint of juice, gooseberries being very acid.

Currant and Raspberry Jelly.

Allow one part of red currants to two of the red raspberries; heat both kinds of fruit together and proceed as I have directed.

The flavour is exquisite. It is particularly nice for jelly roll or for layer cake.

Green Gooseberries.

These may be put up in like manner, making delicious jelly for meat. The jam made of the reserved and unpressed pulp, or “pomace,” needs nearly a pound and a quarter of sugar for each pint of berries.

Red Raspberry and Pineapple Jelly.

Wash a ripe pineapple and cut it small without paring, the skin holding a peculiarly fine flavor. Set it over the fire in a farina (double) boiler and cook very tender. At the same time heat red raspberries enough to give out twice as much juice as you get from the pineapple. When all are cooked to pieces, strain and press out the juice from berries and from pineapple; mix in the proportions I have indicated and boil 20 minutes before adding heated sugar, pint for pound.

The blended flavors and acids produce a delicious jelly.

Blackberry Jelly.

This is made in the same way and subject to the same infirmity as that which attends the strawberry. It is worth putting up in liberal quantities for family use. The flavor is fine and it is extremely wholesome, also curative in cases of summer complaints. As the contents of the glasses shrink in evaporating fill one from the other. Out of a dozen glasses you may get nine when they have been sunned into consistency.

Don’t try to boil it down. You will injure the taste, darken the color and, ten chances to one, succeed in producing syrup, not jelly.

Strawberry Jelly.

Make according to the rules given for currant jelly. It is but fair to warn you that you may have to set the glasses in the sun for two or three days before the jelly will form.

Marion Harland

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Some Old Southern Dishes (continued)

This is the final article in April of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on April 25, 1909, and is a continuation of the previous article on Southern recipes. I particularly like the mention of how peacocks were raised more to be eaten than for decoration!

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Some Old Southern Dishes (continued)

I SPOKE last week of the prominence given to pork—fresh and corned and smoked—by the Southern cooks of ye olden time. Next to this staple stood poultry of all kinds. The reason for the extensive use of these two kinds of flesh-food is obvious, when we recall that there were no country markets in the South in the middle of the last century. Nor could what we style vaguely “butcher’s meat” be brought outside of the cities. Consequently, it was esteemed a luxury.

I well recollect that on the occasion of my first dinner part in my married home, which was in a country village, I sent 80 miles to Richmond to get a nice roast of beef to set forth the feast well and honorably. Poultry was a surfeit. Turkeys were raised upon every plantation, as were ducks, geese, chicken and pigeons, not to mention the guinea fowls, now sold at delicacies by fashionable market men and at exorbitant prices. Peacocks were likewise reared for eating, more than for ornament. A young peacock was tender and luscious, and often served at table in summer when turkey and geese were out of fashion.

“Ram, Lamb, Sheep and Mutton.”

Chickens never “Went out” from Christmas to Christmas. They were fabulously cheap. The negroes raised them in and about their own quarters, and were allowed to peddle them and eggs in the neighborhood on Saturday nights. They brought them into the village at all seasons, and in all weathers, on that, their holiday night.

I bought as many as I wanted for 25 cents a piece; eggs for 10 cents a dozen, and full-grown turkeys at 75 cents for gobblers, 50 cents for hens.

Amid all this abundance we longed for the flesh-pots of the shambles—veal, lamb and beef. The contemptuous summary of boarding-school fare familiar to every boy and girl, “ram, lamb, sheep and mutton,” would have been meaningless to us. When a sheep, a lamb, a calf or beef was slaughtered upon a plantation, portions were freely distributed as neighborly gifts within an area of ten miles, as we, the donor’s descendants, would send choice fruit and flowers. Otherwise it would have been impossible to get rid of it before it spoiled in a climate where the contents of the icehouse seldom lasted later than the middle of July, and it was not unusual for the winter to be so “open” that the icehouses were filled with snow, or perhaps went empty for the year.

The Oily Possum.

I digress slightly at this point to enter a housewifely protest, upon the authority of one who was born and brought up in the old South, against the prevalent belief, now raging into an absurd fad, that “possum” was ever a favorite dish with the whites of a former generation. In my own experience it appeared but once upon any table at which the “white folks” sat down to eat. That was when I, a petted child of ten, strolled into the kitchen in quest of chance tidbits, espied a possum cooked for the servants’ dinner and begged what I called “a ham” of the unctuous animal for myself. This I bore in triumph to the dining room upon a china dish from my doll’s tea set, and placed by my plate. The shout of derision from brothers and sisters and the fine disdain of my mother’s face fixed the scene in my memory. To this day I feel the mental and physical nausea that filled my small being as my father said quietly: “If you are going to eat that, my child, you must take it out upon the back porch.”

Where the dogs were fed! I eyed the greasy, rank, steaming and streaming morsel with loathing appreciation of the fact that it was part of an unclean beast. Nothing I ever heard or saw in Southern homes tended to alter the impression. The creature was no more the white man’s food than a muskrat would have been. The negroes caught and caged them for their private delectation, fattening them upon offal, such as the entrails of poultry, which the possum devoured by night. The flesh was pulpy, oily and redolent of the odor peculiar to the nocturnal prowler when alive. That I should live to see the day when it would bear a distinguished part in civic banquets held in honor of the chief magistrate-elect would have been an impossible imagination.

It is a curious characteristic of the lower classes in every country that they especially gloat upon fats and sweets. With the “colored people” of those bygone days (we were never allowed to call them “negroes”), the taste went with a barbaric love of bright colors and highly emotional religion. I do not pretend to explain the peculiarity. I state it as a fact and an idiosyncrasy in dismissing the unsavory “possum.”

Fried Chicken.

Fried chicken stook high and constantly upon the Southern housemother’s bill-of-fare.

Cut a pound of fat salt pork into small piece and fry until the grease is extracted, but not until to browns. Strain out the pork and set the frying pan with the fat in it on the fire. Have ready a young “broiler” which has been soaked for half an hour in salted water, then dried between two towels, seasoned with pepper and dredged with flour. Fry these pieces of chicken in the hot fat until brown on both sides. Turn twice. Take up the chicken, rain free of fat and set aside to keep hot in a covered dish over hot water. Pour into the gravy left in the frying pan a cup of rich milk (half cream, if you can get it ) into which you have stirred a pinch of baking soda; as it heats, stir in a tablespoonful of butter roiled in one of flour; cook to thickening, stirring all the time, add a tablespoonful of minced parsley, cook for one minute longer and pour over the dished chicken.

This is the genuine ancient and honorable recipe for “Virginia Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy,” popular upon hotel and restaurant menus as “Maryland Fried Chicken,” a palpable misnomer. The dish is delicious under either name.

The cream gravy is sometimes omitted and the chicken, prepared as above directed, is served up dry, with bunches of parsley dropped upon it and garnished with slices of fried bacon.

Chicken Batter Pudding.

Cut up a fat fowl as for fricassee, severing every joint; season well with salt and pepper and a tablespoonful of butter for each chicken, adding a teaspoonful of onion juice when the fowl is half done. Stew very slowly in just enough water to keep them from scorching before the juices of the fowl begin to make their own gravy. When tender, strain off the gravy and keep it hot.

Lay the pieces of chicken in a deep bakedish, arranging neatly in layers; thicken the gravy with browned flour and minced parsley and pour over the chicken.

Have the batter ready, but do not make it too long before the chicken is in the dish. Sift a pint of flour with a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, half as much soda and a saltspoonful of salt. Beat two eggs very light, yolks and whites together, stir into a large coffee cupful of milk, add two tablespoonfuls of melted butter; make a hole in the middle of the sifted flour and mix quickly to a rather stiff batter.

Pour this upon the hot chicken and gravy, and make in a steady, yet brisk, oven. The batter fills the interstices of the meat and absorbs the gravy in cooking.

If you have plenty of gravy, add to what is left the minced liver of the fowl, a dash of onion juice and chopped parsley, and send around with the pudding in a boat.

The left-over of fricasseed chicken may be utilized in this way, and most satisfactorily to the eaters thereof. I often do this, filling up the dish, with stewed fresh mushrooms, which I have never before known to be so plentiful and cheap as they are just now.

Smothered Chicken.

Split a pair of broilers—or tender fullgrown fowls—down the back, as for broiling. Lay them flat in the dripping pan, skin side up, and cover the pan with another of the same size, if you have not a covered roaster. (I hope you have!) Set in a hot oven, and at the end of five minutes baste with melted butter. Turn the chicken in half an hour, having basted them twice meanwhile with the butter. In ten minutes more they should be ready for the dredging. Sift heated flour over them on both sides, and wash once more with butter. Brown the flour. Test the joints with a fork, and if they are tender and no red juice flows out, take them up. Keep hot in a heated dish set over boiling water; thicken the gravy in the pan with browned flour, adding boiling water if there is not enough liquid; boil up once and pour into a gravy boat.

If the chickens be very large, gash each joint before putting down to cook. The “smothering” consists in keeping the fowls closely covered while in the oven, and imparts a pleasant flavor to the meat, besides retaining all the juices far better than in broiling.

Barbequed Chicken.

Broil the chickens in the usual way, and when they are dished pour over them this sauce:

Met two tablespoonfuls of butter in a saucepan, add the same quantity of vinegar, a teaspoonful of made mustard, a teaspoonful of sugar, a saltspoonful of salt and half as much pepper. Heat to a boil, mixing with a very little hot water should the ingredients not blend well, and pour over the chickens. Cover and leave over boiling water for five minutes before serving.

A most appetizing dish, and particularly welcome in the spring.

Barbecued “Old Hare.”

We call them “Rabbits” in the Northern and Middle States, in Virginia they were “old hares,” from their birth to their appearance upon the breakfast table as “barbecued.” They were usually steamed tender, then broiled and treated just as I have described the process of barbequing chicken. Barbequed ham was also in frequent request as a breakfast dish.

Transparent Pudding.

We called it a “pudding.” In reality it was a pie, being invariably baked in an open crust of fine pastry. It was often baked in small pastry shells. Then it was “transparent puddings.” It—or they—were ever delicious and were reckoned by unhappy dyspeptics as indigestible. Popular they were, and they will always be.

Cream half a pound of butter light, beat into the creamy mixture the yolks of six eggs, the juice of a lemon (strained), the grated rind of a lemon, a grated nutmeg and half a glass of good French brandy. Beat for three minutes—hard! and whip in the whites of six eggs.

Sometimes we reserved the whites of three eggs in the general mixing, and when the pies (or puddings) were “Set” in the baking, spread the meringue of the whipped whites, beaten up with three tablespoonfuls of powdered sugar and a little lemon juice, over the hot pies while in the oven. Then they were shut up again in the oven to brown the meringue slightly.

The pastry shells in which the transparent mixture was baked were the best the old-fashioned housemother could make. The puddings were eaten cold, by which time the puff-paste was almost translucent.

Yet the martyrs to a love of “good eating” were fewer then than now! Dyspeptics were few and far between, and the form of the unpleasant visitation diagnosed by twentieth century doctors as “nervous dyspepsia” was utterly unknown.

Marion Harland

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Some Old Southern Dishes

This is the third article in April of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on April 18, 1909, and is an article on Southern cooking, specifically cooking the hog.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Some Old Southern Dishes

I HAVE heard that you are a Virginian by birth. So was my grandmother, who used to entertain us by the hour with tales of the ‘way people lived then,’ and especially what royal ‘tables they set.’ That was her phrased. ‘He sets a good table,’ was her idea of hospitality, and ‘She does not set a good table,’ her way of condemning a poor housekeeper. I learned from her to hold a high opinion of the old school of housewives. Their families must have fared sumptuously every day, if half of what she said was true. If we have poultry once a week I consider that John and the boys have no right to complain of their table fare. Grandmother talked of mountains of fried chicken every other day, and the turkey that graced the foot of the table as regularly as Sunday came around, as long as the bird of plenty was in season, as matters of course.

“Her tales made our mouths water. Now, won’t you give up one of the days devoted to your cozy chats in the Exchange page to descriptions of some of the dishes we have heard so much of that we are disposed to look down upon our daily menus as less than mediocre? Did the tables groan literally, as well as figuratively, under the loads of good things, or does distance magnify, while it lends enchantment to the dear old lady’s views.”

“Miriam S.D. (Utica, N.Y.)”

As to the groan of the stout mahogany under which our forefather stretched their legs with great content, we must bear in mind that the said tables were spread before the introduction of what one of the markers of the big fortunes that swell the tax bills of our land called in my hearing the other day, “a dinnay ah lah Roose.” We set fewer dishes upon the board with each course as we advance in the minor refinements of civilization. Our grandmothers held that a table was ill-furnished that did not have a roast or boiled joint, or round, or fowl at each end, and a double line of side dishes making close connections with these. Down the center of the cloth were ranged pickles, jellies and relishes, meeting about the tall silver caster in the middle of the table. There was no room for flowers and mere decorations.

Abundant Sweets.

I recall, as an illustration if this prodigality, and what we would ban as unseemly and deappetizing crowding of dishes, that I had the curiosity, as a girl of 14, who had been trained to keep silence while her elders talked, to count the dishes brought in for dessert after the load of meats and vegetables was removed to make way for the next course. There were 20 kinds of sweets, including two varieties of ice cream, three pies, two puddings and two kinds of jelly. Preserves, cakes, great and small, and fruits made up the count. This was at a quiet dinner party at which two families from adjoining plantations, and nobody else, were present.

In your grandmother’s list of Southern dishes I assume that ham and other parts of the inevitable pig had a conspicuous place. Large herds of these were raised on every plantation, numbering hundreds to each owner. Yet they were insufficient to supply the demand in town and country. Immense droves were brought into the States of Maryland and Virginia from Kentucky and Ohio and slaughtered yearly to fill smokehouses and meat cellars. Therefore, in my enumeration of what went to make up the “good living” eulogized by your venerable and truthful relative, bacon and its congeners must take the lead. No dinner was round and perfect whole that did not have a boiled or baked ham or shoulder at the top or bottom of the board.

Steamed Ham.

Soak in cold water for 12 hours after it has been well washed with warm water and a stuff brush. Then steam over boiling water for at least 25 minutes to the pound, keeping the water at a fierce boil all the time.

Skin when cold and dab with dots of black pepper.

Baked and Glazed Ham.

Scrub hard to get off all the rusty and smoke-dried crust. Then soak for 12 hours. Change the water for lukewarm and soak all day in this changing four times for warmer water. The last water should be hot enough to soften the skin, allowing you to pull it off carefully, not to tear it. Trim off the rusty, ragged portions on the underside of the skinned ham; lay it, thus prepared, in a dish and wash with a cloth dipped in a mixture of a half a cup of vinegar, a glass of sherry or Madeira, a teaspoonful of made mustard, a tablespoonful of brown sugar, stirred together. Repeat the washing hourly all day; cover the ham to keep in the flavor of the sauce and leave it thus all night. Next day wash hourly four times. Finally, lay the ham in a dripping pan, pour a cupful of hot water about it to prevent burning, and cover while it bakes slowly. Add to a fresh supply of the mixture I have indicated a cupful of boiling water, and get this where it will keep hot, basting freely with it (every 10 minutes) until the liquor flows from the ham into the dripping pan. Then haste with that.

Bake 25 minutes to the pound after the ham begins to exude juices. When a flesh fork pierces readily to the bone it is done. Remove to a large dish and cover with a paste half an inch thick made of cracker crumbs, milk and melted butter, with a beaten egg worked in at the last to bind the paste. Set in the oven to brown.

To make a sauce for this “royal” dish, strain and skim the gravy, add a glass of wine, a tablespoonful of catsup, the juice of a lemon and a dash of sugar. Boil up and send to the table in a boat.

The baked ham was eaten hot by our ancestors, carved in thin slices always. A “hunk” of bacon was a solecism. It was especially delicious when cold. Then the slices were of wafer-like thinness, curling like pink and white shavings over the carver.

Other by-products of the invaluable porker known to our forebears and lost to the denizens of northern climes, were chine and sparerib. They were as unlike the bony sections vended under those names in New Pork, Chicago and Philadelphia as a tender fillet of beef to a firstly shinbone.

A New York butcher to whom I made this plaint let me into part of the secret of the unlikeness:

“You see, ma’am, we in this part of the world aim to get all the meat off the sparerib and backbone, and don’t care what becomes of the rest. In Virginia they leave all the meat that can be left, without skimping some other piece—bacon sides, and the like.”

Another reason for the difference in the quality of the tidbits, and indeed, in the flavor of the “whole hog,” is that the Southern breed is fed upon corn in winter, and mast-fed all summer and autumn long. Moreover, to slaughter and put upon the market an animal that has passed the bloom of early maturity would be a barbarity to the eating public. A stringy, tough ham would be scorned by a beggar.

After this manner, then, did your granddame and mine prepare this choice viand for the delectation of those for whom they catered.

Roast Chine.

Score the skin on the ridge heavily. Put the chine down in the dripping pan with a half cup of hot water to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Cover with thick greased paper for the first half hour to retain the juices. Remove the paper at the end of that time and dredge the chine with flour. As soon as the grease shows through the flour, baste well with butter, and every ten minutes afterward plentifully with its own gravy. Season with salt and pepper and cook 20 minutes to the pound. Just before taking it up strew thickly with fine breadcrumbs, seasoned with powdered sage, pepper, salt and a small onion minced very fine. Cook five minutes after this crust goes on, basting it with butter. Dish the chine and keep hot while you skim the gravy of all the fat that will come off, putting it back over the fire, adding a half cupful of hot water, the juice of a lemon and enough browned flour to thicken the gravy. Boil up once, strain and pour over the mat. Serve tomato catsup with it.

This dish is nice when hot, and yet better when it is cold. My mother’s recipe from which the foregoing recipe is abridged, asserts that “the meat next the ribs is delicious when scraped off and made into sandwiches or laid upon buttered toast.”

To which I enjoin a fervid assent in memory of school day luncheons and picnics.

Roast Sparerib.

It is cooked just as chine is prepared for eating, only there is no dorsal strip of skin to be scored. It is as good hot as when cold, and there was seldom enough left for a left-over.

Time and space would fail me were I to attempt to speak of sausage, the savoriness of which one never knows in this degenerate day—real young pork sausage, with not an ambiguous ingredient in it; or of roast pig! Charles Lamb has been there before me. Or of pork steaks, chops and tenderloins; of pork potpie, as dear to every Englishman’s hear as the reminiscence is to the hoary-haired Virginian. They treat pork in Great Britain as our ancestors handled it, and value it accordingly.

Next week we shall talk of Southern poultry and sweets as our grandmothers cooked and our grandfathers ate them.

Marion Harland

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Second Paper on Colonial Cookery

This is the fourth article in January of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on January 24, 1909, and is a continuation of the previous article on colonial cookery.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Second Paper on Colonial Cookery

The “spider” and the “hoe,” described in our former chapter on the colonial kitchen, had short, thick handles, by which they were lifted on and from the fire. The handle of the frying-pan was from three to four feet in length. There was not an inch too much of it when pancakes were to grace the family board.

The traditional feat of tossing a pancake up the chimney with dexterity that made it turn a somersault in the transit and alight unerringly in the middle of the pan may be an overstrained version of the fact that pancakes were tossed high and straight by accomplished cooks. If the daughter of a housewifely mother in training for managing a home of her own did not win the reputation accorded by a western traveler to the locomotive on a certain railway, of “jumping higher and lighting truer than any other in the State, the more refined phraseology of her eulogists meant the same thing. “She beats all for tossing a pancake,” conferred the degree of “past mistress of cookery.”

Here is one recipe for the vaunted delicacy.

Old-Time Pancakes.

“Beat six eggs light; whites and yolks must be separate. Beat the yolks 10 minutes by clock, then strain. The whites must stand alone. Mix the beaten yolks with a pint and a half of sweet milk that has not been skimmed. Warm milk from the cow is best. Then stir in a quarter of a pound of melted butter. Sift a scant cup of flour with a little salt; stir the flour, one handful at a time, into the egg and milk by turns, with a great spoonful of the stiff whites.

“You must have the frying pan clean and on the fire with a quarter of a pound of butter heaped in it. It must not burn, but it should hiss around the edges. Put in enough batter to cover the whole bottom of the pan, but the pancake should not be too thick.”

“Fry over hot, clear coals, toss the minute the lower side is done. Sprinkle with sugar with which you have mixed a little cinnamon. Or, if you prefer, roll the pancakes up plain and eat with a sweet butter sauce.”

“Mem. It is customary to have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.”

You will complain that the formula the eighteenth century matron had time to write and to follow is elaborate by comparison with the terms of our modern recipes. What, then, will you say to our next selection?”

To Make Oyster “Pye.”

“Take a quart of large oysters and boil them in their own liquor, with onion, a little thyme, winter savory and sweet marjoram. Season with whole peppers and a blade of mace. When they have stewed a little take them off the fire and let them stand until they are almost cold. Then take the yolk of an egg, beat it up in a little of the liquor, and take some parsley, thyme and a little lemon peel, 12 of the oysters, a little salt, pepper, and a blade of mace and two good spoonfuls of grated white bread. Mince all very small, mix it with egg, and make it into lumps as big as oysters. Then make a good short crust, and put it in the patty-pan. Then put in the parboiled oysters, the lumps of ‘forced’ (sic) meat and the marrow of marrow bones, the yolks of 10 hard-boiled eggs, whole. Then cover your ‘pye,’ and just as it goes into the oven put in liquor the oysters were stewed in. It will take an hour’s baking. Then take off the lid. Have ready half a pound of butter, half a pint of gravy, the yolk of a hard egg, bruised and dissolved in the gravy, and a little lemon peel shred very small. Put it over the fire and make it very hot. Then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, and pour it all over the ‘pye.’

“Lay on the lid again, and serve very hot.”

Without stopping to inquire how much oyster flavor remained in the “pye” by the time all the ingredients were in, pass we on to a formula that is simplicity itself when contrasted with the last:

To Make Butter Chicken.

“Take two chickens, picked very clean, and boil them with a blade of mace and a little salt. Take them off and cut them in pieces and put them into a toss-up pan with a little parsley. Shred a little parsley, a little lemon peel, a bit of butter, a little of the liquor the chicken was boiled in. Toss up all together with four spoonfuls of cream. Put in a little salt. Put it into your dish and some juice of lemon. Garnish the dish with sliced lemon, then serve it up hot.”

Crab Soup.

A recipe for crab soup was given to me, with the assurance that the original was found in a scrap book which bore upon a tattered fly-leaf the name of “Martha Washington.”

“Boil one dozen large, fresh crabs. They must be lively when they go into the pot. Let them get cold and pick out the meat with a fork or awl. Cut into bits a pound of corned pork and boil very fast half an hour. (Mem.—Smoked bacon will not do.) Take the pot from the fire and set in very cold water to cool. Skim off the fat as it congeals on the top and throw away. Put the liquor the pork was boiled in back over the fire. As soon as it is hot put the crab meat into this and stew slowly half an hour. Meanwhile whip the yolks of six eggs very smooth, pour upon them, stirring all the time, a pint of fresh milk which has not been skimmed, heated scalding hot. Put this into a clean stew pan, stir in the crab meat and the liquor in which they were cooked. At the last stir in a spoonful of green parsley chopped very small. Serve very hot.”

We heave a sigh of relief that onions, heard-boiled eggs and “lemon peel shred small” do not smother the taste of the sea food in this formula.

Writers of New England folk tales have made us familiar with the name of “tansey pudding.” One of them speaks of it as “a delicate dainty.” Could it have been what our North river chatelaine registers under the head of “a tansey”?

To Make a Tansey.

“Take the yolks of 18 eggs, the whites of four, and half a pint of cream, half a pint of the juice of spinage (sic) and tansey, together with a spoonful of grated bread and a grated nutmeg. Put in a little salt and sweeten it to your taste. Then beat it well together and put it in the dish and strew loaf sugar over it. Garnish it with oranges cut in quarters and serve it up hot.”

Presumably the dish was put into the Dutch oven after the loaf sugar (pulverised in the mortar and sifted through coarse net) was strewed on top. Please note that the write hints at nothing of the kind, or so much as approaches the fire in imagination until she enjoins that the “tansey” be served up hot.

Alas for the tyro in housewifery who was her contemporary, if she tried to lean practical cookery from the manuscript manuals of her elders!

Eggs were not 50 cents per dozen 150 years agone, yet 18 for one dish of “tansey” and a dozen for the next recipe on our list must have kept Dame Partlet and her pullets busy.

To Make Puffert.

“Take 12 eggs, one pint of milk, three-quarters of a pound of butter, one pound of sugar, one pound of currants, four pounds of flour, three spoonfuls of yeast, 12 cloves and one nutmeg. Mix well together; let it stand to rise. Then bake it. The milk and butter must be warm.”

Again, alas for the learner who could not read between the lines how long “it” was to rise; when the eggs were to go in; how the flour should be incorporated with the fruit; if this last were to be dredged, and if cloves were put in whole.

The cook-book maker of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries sets, in fancy, the unskilled worker before her, and, if she understands her trade, instructs her reader as if the learner were ignorant of the successive processes of compounding and cooking. Our very great-grandmother took too much for granted. Hence we find her store of practical recipes—which she called “receipts”—broken reeds, when we would fain depend upon her garnered wisdom. Her books are amusing reading. And other lessons than those that have to do with the preparation of rare and racy dishes are to be gathered from the study of them and of the times to which they belong.

Lessons of contentment with the lives we stigmatize as artificial and unhealthy, fast and crowded. If those were “good old times,” ours are better. If spinning was fine exercise for the growing girl, tennis, golf and other outdoor games are more healthful.

Solomon kept a very far look ahead in these as in major and minor masters of his day and ours.

“Say not though, ‘What is the cause that the former days were better than these?’ For thou dost not inquire wisely concerning us.”

Marion Harland

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Colonial Cookery

This is the third article in January of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on January 17, 1909, and is an article on colonial cookery.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Colonial Cookery

I WAS conducted through an alleged “suite” of rooms the other day that ended in what should have been called “a light closet,” if it had not had at one side a tiny gas range that might have helped furnish a doll’s house.

“This,” said my hostess, proudly, “is my kitchenette! I had never heard the word before. No other would have fitted so well into the wee corner at sight of which I could not command my risible muscles. For that means the preparation of meat and drink for a family of four. So much—or so little—for the march of modern improvement in the housewifely world.

The whole kitchenette would have gone badly into the fireplace of a colonial kitchen. Those who have seen the domestic offices of lordly mansions in England and o this side of the Atlantic, visited now as antiquities, lived in as homes a century and a half ago, will testify that the above assertion is not an exaggeration of a fact. Even in thrifty New England, where space was not wasted as in the Southern and dwellings were more compact than in New Amsterdam and South Carolina, the huge fireplace filled nearly all of one end of a kitchen spacious by comparison with the rest of the house. The fireplace was wide, and it was deep. Massive andirons (we call them firedogs now) sprawled for a part on the hearth laid with great flat stones. Midway in the cavernous mouth of the chimney was fixed the crane, a stout, horizontal iron bar, hinged at one end, and fastened deep in the masonry. From this were suspended on pothooks and hangers, pots and kettles, big and little.

Two generations later school children knew their first copies in writing books as “pothooks and hangers,” with no thought of the origin of the words. They were solid verities, material agencies to our colonial dame. Crane and dependencies were of honest wrought iron. No “castings” for the cook of that day. Below the crane, whether it were dull or empty, burned a fire that never went out in winter, and smouldered for weeks together in summer under a blanket of ashes.

Before Stoves.

The cook stove and range were as yet in the imagination of the daring inventors. Everything was cooked over and in front of the open wood fire. Tea kettles clothes boilers, big-bellied pots, in which hams and “barons” of corned beef were boiled, and smaller “stew-pans” for vegetables, swung amicably side by side, in the red glare of deep beds of hickory embers.

In front of this substratum of living coals—so hot that the very ashes were alive—were ranged vessel in which baking was done. The semi-weekly baking of bread in the northern States was in the brick oven, built in the outer wall of the kitchen.

We see brick ovens still in colonial houses that have escaped the vandalism of improvement. They are usually closed by a blank wall within, leaving no token of their former work. From the outer wall protrudes the useless hump, like a wen upon the face of the “restored” homestead. Said restoration never goes so far as to open the mouth of the oven. It had an iron door in the days of its usefulness, and an iron floor laid upon a brick foundation.

On baking day the interior was filled with short billets of hickory or birch, the torch was applied and the door was closed. A narrow flue supplied a draught that converted the wood into coals. After they had heated the oven walls through and through, the coals were transferred to the fireplace, the floor and sides of the oven were swept clean and the loaves of bread were slid into the innermost recesses of the cave from a broad wooden shovel kept for that purpose.

It was my privilege as a girl to see, in the venerable homestead which was the birthplace of eight generations of our family, the identical shovel, black with age and hard as lignum vitae, from which had slidden brown and white loaves for 200 years. The dear great-aunt who then presided over the household took the Virginia guest into the spacious kitchen, lifted the latch of the iron door, and with her own hands showed me how the ancient utensil had done its part in the family baking.

“The oven was still in use when your father was a boy,” said the gentle voice. “Tell him that you saw it and the old shovel.”

When the fragrant loaves—light, hot and mellow brunette in complexion—were drawn from the recess, cake and gingerbread went in, and if the oven were a good specimen of its kind, there remained after the cakes were done heat enough for the weekly batch of pies.

The “Dutch Oven.”

I never saw the “brick oven” at the South. Bred was made daily there and in variety that still earns for southern “hot-breads” international reputation. It was baked in loaves, or as rolls, closely set together in the “Dutch oven.” Why the name, I do not know. It was a round or oval pot with a flat bottom and a tightly-fitting lid. Iron legs held it above the coals, among which frying pan and griddle loved to nestle, for baking and roasting required that air should pass between the coals and “oven.” A shovelful of coals covered the lid and kept the heat even.

“A spider” was a smaller pot of the same shape and furnished with three strong short legs. Johnny and hoe cakes were known also as “spider cake” when cooked in this. The hoe had no top. It was round and legless. To bring cakes and pones to perfection it was set in hot ashes—the live ashes of which I spoke just now—a mass of sparks dug out of the bowels of the fire that was never quenched for six months on a stretch.

Our colonial ancestors brought the turnspit with them from England. In some houses they were retained until the beginning of the 19th century. I talked last week with a gentlewoman of the old school, who had seen the “spit” in action in her father’s house.

“It demanded constant attention,” she said. “After the roast went on it was one person’s business to keep the ‘jack’ in gentle motion. But the properly-tended roast was perfect of its kind. A dripping-pan placed under I saved every drop of gravy.”

Where the spit was not available, large roasts were set before the fire in roasting-pots of corresponding dimensions. Coals were piled beneath and on the lid. The lid had to be removed for each basting and turning of turkey or joint.

The concoction of sweet dishes involved an amount of work the modern housewife would be horrified to contemplate.

Spices and pepper were ground involved an amount of work the modern housewife would be horrified to contemplate.

Nothing was bought ready made. Even flavoring essences were of home manufacture. Within my memory, the housewife who clung pertinaciously to the former ways as indubitably better than these, flavored blanc mange, jellies and cakes with lemon by rubbing the fresh peel upon lumps of loaf sugar, and with bitter almond by rubbing the sugar with green peach leaves. Rosewater flavoring was obtained by steeping rose petals in brandy. After the lump sugar was tinged to the proper degree of yellow or green, it was pounded in a mortar with a pestle, then sifted through lace or muslin to the powder suitable for cake-making.

Had “Longer Days.”

I shall, by and by, offer recipes in evidence of the truth that our foremothers had longer days than ours, hence more time to bestow upon the various processes of culinary operations.

One important branch of cookery in that far-off time when, according to my computation, there were 48 hours to the day, 14 days to the week, and 60 to the month—was putting up all manner of fruits and a few manners of vegetables for use when fruits and green vegetables were clean out of season.

I have recipes for pickles that call for an hour a day for a whole month; for preserves that could not have been brought to the requisite lucency and crispness by less than 12 hours’ skilled labor. Apples and peaches were pared, sliced and dried under the watchful eye of the mistress, turned twice a day, taken out with the young turkeys if the sun shone, and brought in should the skies threaten rain. Then they were put up in muslin bags and examined every Monday, lest worms and mould might attack them. Pears and peaches were pared, crushed and sun-dried into leather” and tomatoes stewed and strained and sunned into “honey.”

We have a way speaking of those departed dames as “thrifty and frugal!” To borrow an expressive nonsense word from Lewis Carroll, I fairly “chortled aloud” with wicked glee in poring over the time-sallowed manuscripts lent to me in the course of my explorations into the daily works and ways of our revered colonial housemother. Foodstuffs were cheaper then than now, it is true. But there was less money in circulation, and what was to be had was worth more than our currency.

Judge for yourself, my economical reader, as to the frugality of a bona-fide recipe, laid before me by the great-great-great-granddaughter of the chatelaine who administered domestic law in a dear colonial homestead on the Hudson River, over 160 years back of our extravagant times. I bring the spelling down to date:

A Stew of Pigeons.

“Take the pigeons, clean and flour them. Brown a quarter of a pound of butter in a stewing pan; put in your pigeons and, when they are brown on both sides, take them out, fling away your butter and wash your pan clean. Put your pigeons in again, with as much water as will cover them, two clovers, pepper, salt and one bay leaf. Let them stew slowly one hour and a half. Strain out the liquor and take the yolks of two eggs beaten up with a teaspoonful of vinegar. Mix in your liquor and thicken it. Put your pigeons in the dish and throw your sauce upon it. You must add to your sauce upon it. You must add to your sauce sweetbreads, mushrooms and roasted chestnuts. Boil these half an hour.”

The quantity of each of the articles last named is left to the discretion of the individual housewife or cook. Madame is more explicit in the next formula:

To Make Waffers (Waffles!)

“Half a pound of white flour, half a pound of fine sugar; then take a little water and boil and melt in it half a pound of good butter. Beat the yolks of two eggs well in a little lemon peel, orange water and a little lemon peel, shred small. Beat all these very well, butter your irons and bake them over a quick, clear wood fire. When the wafers are baked roll them up.”

Another authentic recipe is for

Pound Cake.

“One pound of flour, one pound of butter, washed in three waters, to get out the salt. Knead it well in the water, then squeeze out every drop of water in a clean linen cloth. Rub the butter then to a cream, with a pound of fine sugar flavored with lemon peel before it is pounded and sifted; beat into this a glass of brandy, a grated nutmeg and the same of mace, pounded fine and sifted. Now, whip the yolks of six eggs very light, and beat these into the butter and sugar and spice. At the last put in the whites whipped stiff and high by turns with a pound of sifted and sundried flour. Mix well and beat steadily for half an hour, always from the bottom of the batter.”

None of these were accounted “fancy dishes” by the thrifty dames aforesaid. They reel off the list of pounds of butter and quarter pounds thrown away as coolly as they call for mushrooms by the dozen and pairs of sweetbreads.

Next week we will record other and as startling instances of the “frugality” in time and material which, we were brought up to hold and believe as certain, was characteristic of our revered exemplars.

Marion Harland

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