Category Archives: America

Save FAT!

And you were always told fat was bad.

Well, it is and it isn’t. According to Goudiss and Goudiss in their cookbook, “Foods That Will Win The War And How To Cook Them (1918),” as part of the World War I war effort, saving fat is a good thing.

“SAVE FAT

REASONS WHY OUR GOVERNMENT ASKS US TO SAVE FAT, WITH PRACTICAL RECIPES FOR FAT CONSERVATION

With the world-wide decrease of animal production, animal fats are now growing so scarce that the world is being scoured for new sources of supply. Our Government has asked the housewife to conserve all the fats that come to her home and utilize them to the best advantage. To this end it is necessary to have some knowledge of the character of different fats and the purposes to which they are best adapted.

The word fat usually brings to one’s mind an unappetizing chunk of
meat fat which most persons cannot and will not eat, and fatty foods have been popularly supposed to be “bad for us” and “hard to digest.” Fats are, however, an important food absolutely essential to complete nutrition, which repay us better for the labor of digestion than any other food. If they are indigestible, it is usually due to improper cooking or improper use; if they are expensive, it is merely because they are extravagantly handled. The chief function of fatty food is to repair and renew the fatty tissues, to yield energy and to maintain the body heat. The presence of fat in food promotes the flow of the pancreatic juice and bile, which help in the assimilation of other foods and assist the excretory functions of the intestine. These are badly performed if bile and other digestive fluids are not secreted in
sufficient quantity. The absence of fat in the diet leads to a state
of malnutrition, predisposing to tuberculosis, especially in children
and young persons.

It is claimed that the most serious food shortage in Germany is fat;
that the civilian population is dying in large numbers because of
the lack of it, and that Von Hindenburg’s men will lose out on the
basis of fat, rather than on the basis of munitions or military
organization. Worst of all is the effect of fat shortage on the
children of the nation. Leaders of thought all over Europe assert
that even if Germany wins, Germany has lost, because it has sapped the strength of its coming generation.”

Here are some of their fat saving recipes.

TO RENDER FATS

TO RENDER FAT BY DIRECT METHOD

Run the fat through the household meat grinder or chop fine in the
chopping bowl. Then heat in the double boiler until completely melted, finally straining through a rather thick cloth or two thicknesses of cheese cloth, wrung out in hot water. By this method there is no danger of scorching. Fats heated at a low temperature also keep better than those melted at higher temperature. After the fat is rendered, it should be slowly reheated to sterilize it and make sure it is free from moisture. The bits of tissue strained out, commonly known as cracklings, may be used for shortening purposes or may be added to cornmeal which is to be used as fried cornmeal mush.

TO RENDER FAT WITH MILK

To two pounds of fat (finely chopped if unrendered) add one-half pint of milk, preferably sour. Heat the mixture in a double boiler until thoroughly melted. Stir well and strain through a thick cloth or two thicknesses of cheese cloth wrung out in hot water. When cold the fat forms a hard, clean layer and any material adhering to the under side of the fat, may be scraped off. Sour milk being coagulated is preferable to sweet milk since the curd remains on the cloth through which the rendered mixture is strained and is thus more easily separated from the rendered fat which has acquired some of the milk flavor and butter fat.

TO RENDER FAT BY COLD WATER METHOD

Cut fat in small pieces. Cover with cold water. Heat slowly. Let cook until bubbling ceases. Press fat during heating so as to obtain all the oil possible. When boiling ceases strain through cheesecloth and let harden. If desired one-half teaspoon salt, one-eighth teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon onion and 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning may be added before straining.

TO RENDER STRONG FLAVORED FATS

To mutton, duck or goose fat add equal amount of beef suet or
vegetable fat and render same as suet. This may then be used for
shortening, or pan broiling for meat or fish dishes, and not have the characteristic taste of the stronger fats.

When rendering strong mutton, duck or goose fats if a small whole
onion is added the strong flavor of the fat is reduced. Remove the
onion before straining. It may be used in cooking.

TO CLARIFY FAT

Melt the fat in an equal volume of water and heat for a short time at a moderate temperature. Stir occasionally. Cool and remove the layer of fat which forms on the top, scraping off any bits of meat or other material which may adhere to the other side.

Fats which have formed on top of soups, of cooked meats (such as pot roast, stews), salt meats (such as corned beef, ham, etc.), or strong fats, such as from boiled mutton, poultry and game, may be clarified in this way and used alone or combined with other animal or vegetable fats in any savory dish.

CARE OF FAT AFTER BEING USED FOR COOKING

If fat is used for deep fat frying as croquettes, doughnuts, fritters,
etc., while fat is still hot, add a few slices raw potato and allow it
to stay in the fat until it is cool. Remove potato–strain fat, allow
to harden and it is ready to use. The potato absorbs odors from fat.

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Wartime Candies

Sugar was something that needed to be on ration during World War 1 per “Foods That Will Win The War And How To Cook Them” (1918) by Goudiss and Goudiss.

From the Book:

“One ounce of sugar less per person, per day, is all our Government asks of us to meet the world sugar shortage. One ounce of sugar equals two scant level tablespoonfuls and represents a saving that every man, woman and child should be able to make. Giving up soft drinks and the frosting on our cakes, the use of sugarless desserts and confections, careful measuring and thorough stirring of that which we place in our cups of tea and coffee, and the use of syrup, molasses or honey on our pancakes and fritters will more than effect this saving.

It seems but a small sacrifice, if sacrifice it can be called, when
one recognizes that cutting down sugar consumption will be most
beneficial to national health. The United States is the largest
consumer of sugar in the world. In 1916 Germany’s consumption was 20 lbs. per person per year, Italy’s 29 to 30 lbs., that of France 37, of England 40, while the United States averaged 85 lbs. This enormous consumption is due to the fact that we are a nation of candy-eaters. We spend annually $80,000,000 on confections. These are usually eaten between meals, causing digestive disturbances as well as unwarranted expense. Sweets are a food and should be eaten at the close of the meal, and if this custom is established during the war, not only will tons of sugar be available for our Allies, but the health of the nation improved.

The average daily consumption of sugar per person in this country is 5 ounces, and yet nutritional experts agree that not more than 3 ounces a day should be taken. The giving up of one ounce per day will, therefore, be of great value in reducing many prevalent American ailments. Flatulent dyspepsia, rheumatism, diabetes, and stomach acidity are only too frequently traced to an oversupply of sugar in our daily diet.”

If I were to compare 1918 sugar consumption to 2010’s sugar consumption, I can confidently say that we blow their numbers out of the water. The differences are mind blowing when everything we eat has sugar, natural or processed, in it.

Below are some of the recipes for Sugarless Candies Goudiss and Goudiss suggested making.

SUGARLESS CANDIES

FRUIT PASTE

2 teaspoons gelatine
2 tablespoons cold water
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped raisins
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water. Heat corn syrup to the boil, add cornstarch and cook for three minutes. Soften the gelatine in two tablespoons cold water for five minutes; stir into the hot syrup after taking from fire. When gelatine has dissolved add the fruit and nuts and flavoring. Chill, cut in squares, and roll each in powdered sugar.

WARTIME TAFFY

2 cups corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons vinegar

Boil the syrup for fifteen minutes, then add the soda. Cook until a
little snaps brittle when dropped in cold water. Add the vinegar when this stage is reached and pour into oiled pans. When cool enough to handle, pull until white; make into inch-thick rolls and clip off into neat mouthfuls with oiled scissors, or chill and break into irregular pieces when cold.

PEANUT BRITTLE

1 cup corn syrup
1 tablespoon fat
1 cup peanuts

Boil syrup and fat until brittle when tested in cold water. Grease a
pan, sprinkle the roasted and shelled peanuts in it, making an even
distribution, then turn in the syrup. When almost cold mark into
squares. Coconut, puffed wheat or puffed rice may be used for candy instead of peanuts.

RAISIN AND PEANUT LOAF

Put equal quantity of seeded raisins and roasted peanuts through the food chopper, using the coarsest blade. Moisten with molasses just enough so that the mixture can be molded into a loaf. Chill, cut and serve as candy. Chopped English walnuts combined with chopped dates or figs make a very delicious loaf sweetmeat.

POPCORN BALLS AND FRITTERS

1 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons vinegar
Popcorn

Cook syrup for fifteen minutes, add vinegar, then when a little snaps when dropped in cold water turn over popped corn, mix well, and form into balls with oiled hands, or if fritters are desired, roll out the mass while warm and cut out with a greased cutter.

COCONUT LOAF

1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon mapline

Mix corn syrup and mapline. Add enough to the dates and coconut to form a stiff cake. Mold into neat square at least an inch thick. Let stand in the refrigerator for one hour, then cut in squares and roll each in cornstarch.

STUFFED DATES

Mix one-half cup each of chopped peanuts and raisins. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and two tablespoons of cream cheese. Remove stones from fine large dates, and in their place insert a small roll of the cheese mixture. These are nice in place of candy or can be served with salad.

FRUIT LOAF

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup nuts
2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
1/2 cup figs or dates

Put fruit and nuts through the food chopper, using the coarsest
blade. Add enough syrup or honey to make a stiff loaf. Place in the
refrigerator for one hour; slice and serve in place of candy, rolling
each slice in cornstarch.

STUFFED FIGS

Cut a slit in the side of dried figs, take out some of the pulp
with the tip of a teaspoon. Mix with one-quarter cup of the pulp and one-quarter cup of finely chopped crystalized ginger, a teaspoon of grated orange or lemon rind; and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Fill the figs with mixture, stuffing them so that they look plump.

Part II of What was Available in Post Colonial America

Continued…What was available in Post Colonial America?

_BEANS._

_The Clabboard Bean_, is easiest cultivated and collected, are good for string beans, will shell–must be poled.

_The Windsor Bean_, is an earlier, good string, or shell Bean.

_Crambury Bean_, is rich, but not universally approved equal to the other two.

_Frost Bean_, is good only to shell.

_Six Weeks Bean_, is a yellowish Bean, and early bro’t forward, and tolerable.

_Lazy Bean_, is tough, and needs no pole.

_English Bean_, what _they_ denominate the _Horse Bean_, is mealy when young, is profitable, easily cultivated, and may be grown on worn out grounds; as they may be raised by boys, I cannot but recommend the more extensive cultivation of them.

_The small White Bean_, is best for winter use, and excellent.

_Calivanse_, are run out, a yellow small bush, a black speck or eye, are tough and tasteless, and little worth in cookery, and scarcely bear exportation.

_Peas_–_Green Peas._

_The Crown Imperial_, takes rank in point of flavor, they blossom,
purple and white on the top of the vines, will run, from three to five feet high, should be set in light sandy soil only, or they run too much to vines.

_The Crown Pea_, is second in richness of flavor.

_The Rondeheval_, is large and bitterish.

_Early Carlton_, is produced first in the season–good.

_Marrow Fats_, green, yellow, and is large, easily cultivated, not
equal to others.

_Sugar Pea_, needs no bush, the pods are tender and good to eat,
easily cultivated.

_Spanish Manratto_, is a rich Pea, requires a strong high bush.

All Peas should be picked _carefully_ from the vines as soon as dew is off, shelled and cleaned without water, and boiled immediately; they are thus the richest flavored.

_Herbs, useful in Cookery._

_Thyme_, is good in soups and stuffings.

_Sweet Marjoram_, is used in Turkeys.

_Summer Savory_, ditto, and in Sausages and salted Beef, and legs of Pork.

_Sage_, is used in Cheese and Pork, but not generally approved.

_Parsley_, good in _soups_, and to _garnish roast Beef_, excellent
with bread and butter in the spring.

_Penny Royal_, is a high aromatic, altho’ a spontaneous herb in old
ploughed fields, yet might be more generally cultivated in gardens,
and used in cookery and medicines.

_Sweet Thyme_, is most useful and best approved in cookery.

_FRUITS._

_Pears_, There are many different kinds; but the large Bell Pear,
sometimes called the Pound Pear, the yellowest is the best, and in the same town they differ essentially.

_Hard Winter Pear_, are innumerable in their qualities, are good in
sauces, and baked.

_Harvest_ and _Summer Pear_ are a tolerable desert, are much improved in this country, as all other fruits are by grafting and innoculation.

_Apples_, are still more various, yet rigidly retain their own
species, and are highly useful in families, and ought to be more
universally cultivated, excepting in the compactest cities. There is
not a single family but might set a tree in some otherwise useless
spot, which might serve the two fold use of shade and fruit; on which 12 or 14 kinds of fruit trees might easily be engrafted, and
essentially preserve the orchard from the intrusions of boys, &c.
which is too common in America. If the boy who thus planted a tree, and guarded and protected it in a useless corner, and carefully engrafted different fruits, was to be indulged free access into orchards, whilst the neglectful boy was prohibited–how many millions of fruit trees would spring into growth–and what a saving to the union. The net saving would in time extinguish the public debt, and enrich our cookery.

_Currants_, are easily grown from shoots trimmed off from old bunches, and set carelessly in the ground; they flourish on all soils, and make good jellies–their cultivation ought to be encouraged.

_Black Currants_, may be cultivated–but until they can be dryed, and until sugars are propagated, they are in a degree unprofitable.

_Grapes_, are natural to the climate; grow spontaneously in every
state in the union, and ten degrees north of the line of the union.
The _Madeira_, _Lisbon_ and _Malaga_ Grapes, are cultivated in gardens in this country, and are a rich treat or desert. Trifling attention only is necessary for their ample growth.

What was Available in Post Colonial America

Amelia Simmons’ cookbook “American Cookery” gives a great detail of what was available around her. We know she was American, however there is little about the woman on where she specifically lived. Researchers have discussed by the terms she used in the book that it could be from the Hudson Valley region in New York, but many assumed she was a New Englander.

Where ever she lived, the list of ingredients, much like the previous entry on “How to Choose Flesh” mentions the food materials that she would have access to. These lists are important in documenting the history of ingredients. Some are no brainers in usage, as in certain foodstuffs like Milk or eggs have been used for centuries around the world. However, some items are a little more unique to the US, especially to a very young group of Colonists.

To put this in perspective, the end of the American Revolution was in October 1781 and the Treaty of Paris was 1783, so America was a shiny baby country when this book was written.

Amelia’s Simmon’s list:

_Butter_–Tight, waxy, yellow Butter is better than white or crumbly, which soon becomes rancid and frowy. Go into the centre of balls or rolls to prove and judge it; if in ferkin, the middle is to be preferred, as the sides are frequently distasted by the wood of the firkin–altho’ oak and used for years. New pine tubs are ruinous to the butter. To have sweet butter in dog days, and thro’ the vegetable seasons, send stone pots to honest, neat, and trusty dairy people, and procure it pack’d down in May, and let them be brought in in the night, or cool rainy morning, covered with a clean cloth wet in cold water, and partake of no heat from the horse, and set the pots in the coldest part of your cellar, or in the ice house.–Some say that May butter thus preserved, will go into the winter use, better than fall made butter.

_Cheese_–The red smooth moist coated, and tight pressed, square edged Cheese, are better than white coat, hard rinded, or bilged; the inside should be yellow, and flavored to your taste. Old shelves which have only been wiped down for years, are preferable to scoured and washed shelves. Deceits are used by salt-petering the out side, or colouring with hemlock, cocumberries, or safron, infused into the milk; the taste of either supercedes every possible evasion.

_Eggs_–Clear, thin shell’d, longest oval and sharp ends are best; to ascertain whether new or stale–hold to the light, if the white is
clear, the yolk regularly in the centre, they are good–but if
otherwise, they are stale. The best possible method of ascertaining, is to put them into water, if they lye on their bilge, they are _good_ and _fresh_–if they bob up an end they are stale, and if they rise they are addled, proved, and of no use.

We proceed to ROOTS and VEGETABLES–_and the best cook cannot alter the first quality, they must be good, or the cook will be disappointed_.

_Potatoes_, take rank for universal use, profit and easy acquirement. The smooth skin, known by the name of How’s Potato, is the most mealy and richest flavor’d; the yellow rusticoat next best; the red, and red rusticoat are tolerable; and the yellow Spanish have their value–those cultivated from imported seed on sandy or dry loomy lands, are best for table use; tho’ the red or either will produce more in rich, loomy, highly manured garden grounds; new lands and a sandy soil, afford the richest flavor’d; and most mealy Potato much depends on the ground on which they grow–more on the species of Potatoes planted–and still more from foreign seeds–and each may be
known by attention to connoisseurs; for a good potato comes up in many branches of cookery, as herein after prescribed.–All potatoes should be dug before the rainy seasons in the fall, well dryed in the sun, kept from frost and dampness during the winter, in the spring removed from the cellar to a dry loft, and spread thin, and frequently stirred and dryed, or they will grow and be thereby injured for cookery.

A roast Potato is brought on with roast Beef, a Steake, a Chop, or
Fricassee; good boiled with a boiled dish; make an excellent stuffing for a turkey, water or wild fowl; make a good pie, and a good starch for many uses. All potatoes run out, or depreciate in America; a fresh importation of the Spanish might restore them to table use. It would swell this treatise too much to say every thing that is useful, to prepare a good table, but I may be pardoned by observing, that the Irish have preserved a genuine mealy rich Potato, for a century, which takes rank of any known in any other kingdom; and I have heard that they renew their seed by planting and cultivating the _Seed Ball_, which grows on the tine. The manner of their managing it to keep up the excellency of that root, would better suit a treatise on agriculture and gardening than this–and be inserted in a book which would be read by the farmer, instead of his amiable daughter. If no one treats on the subject, it may appear in the next edition.

_Onions_–The Madeira white is best in market, esteemed softer
flavored, and not so fiery, but the high red, round hard onions are
the best; if you consult cheapness, the largest are best; if you
consult taste and softness, the very smallest are the most delicate, and used at the first tables. Onions grow in the richest, highest cultivated ground, and better and better year after year, on, the same ground.

_Beets_, grow on any ground, but best on loom, or light gravel
grounds; the _red_ is the richest and best approved; the _white_ has a sickish sweetness, which is disliked by many.

_Parsnips_, are a valuable root, cultivated best in rich old grounds,
and doubly deep plowed, _late sown_, they grow thrifty, and are not so prongy; they may be kept any where and any how, so that they do not grow with heat, or are nipped with frost; if frosted, let them thaw in earth; they are richer flavored when plowed out of the ground in April, having stood out during the winter, tho’ they will not last long after, and commonly more sticky and hard in the centre.

_Carrots_, are managed as it respects plowing and rich ground,
similarly to Parsnips. The yellow are better than the orange or red;
middling fiz’d, that is, a foot long and two inches thick at the top
end, are better than over grown ones; they are cultivated best with onions, sowed very thin, and mixed with other seeds, while young or six weeks after sown, especially if with onions on true onion ground. They are good with veal cookery, rich in soups, excellent with hash, in May and June.

_Garlicks_, tho’ used by the French, are better adapted to the uses of medicine than cookery.

_Asparagus_–The mode of cultivation belongs to gardening; your
business is only to cut and dress, the largest is best, the growth of a day sufficient, six inches long, and cut just above the ground; many cut below the surface, under an idea of getting tender shoots, and preserving the bed; but it enfeebles the root: dig round it and it will be wet with the juices–but if cut above ground, and just as the dew is going off, the sun will either reduce the juice, or send it back to nourish the root–its an excellent vegetable.

_Parsley_, of the three kinds, the thickest and branchiest is the
best, is sown among onions, or in a bed by itself, may be dryed for
winter use; tho’ a method which I have experienced, is much better–In September I dig my roots, procure an old thin stave dry cask, bore holes an inch diameter in every stave, 6 inches asunder round the cask, and up to the top–take first a half bushel of rich garden mold and put into the cask, then run the roots through the staves, leaving the branches outside, press the earth tight about the root within, and thus continue on thro’ the respective stories, till the cask is full; it being filled, run an iron bar thro’ the center of the dirt in the cask and fill with water, let stand on the south and east side of a building till frosty night, then remove it, (by slinging a rope round the cask) into the cellar; where, during the winter, I clip with my scissars the fresh parsley, which my neighbors or myself have occasion for; and in the spring transplant the roots in the bed in the garden, or in any unused corner–or let stand upon the wharf, or the wash shed. Its an useful mode of cultivation, and a pleasurably tasted herb, and much used in garnishing viands.

_Raddish_, _Salmon_ coloured is the best, _purple_ next
best–_white_–_turnip_–each are produced from southern seeds,
annually. They grow thriftiest sown among onions. The turnip Raddish will last well through the winter.

_Artichokes_–The Jerusalem is best, are cultivated like potatoes,
(tho’ their stocks grow 7 feet high) and may be preserved like the
turnip raddish, or pickled—they like.

_Horse Raddish_, once in the garden, can scarcely ever be totally
eradicated; plowing or digging them up with that view, seems at times rather to increase and spread them.

_Cucumbers_, are of many kinds; the prickly is best for pickles, but
generally bitter; the white is difficult to raise and tender; choose
the bright green, smooth and proper sized.

_Melons_–The Water Melons is cultivated on sandy soils only, above latitude 41 1/2, if a stratum of land be dug from a well, it will bring the first year good Water Melons; the red cored are highest flavored; a hard rine proves them ripe.

_Muskmelons_, are various, the rough skinned is best to eat; the
short, round, fair skinn’d, is best for Mangoes.

_Lettuce_, is of various kinds; the purple spotted leaf is generally
the tenderest, and free from bitter–Your taste must guide your
market.

_Cabbage_, requires a page, they are so multifarious. Note, all
Cabbages have a higher relish that grow on _new unmatured grounds_; if grown in an old town and on old gardens, they have a rankness, which at times, may be perceived by a fresh air traveller. This observation has been experienced for years–that Cabbages require new ground, more than Turnips.

_The Low Dutch_, only will do in old gardens.

The _Early Yorkshire_, must have rich soils, they will not answer for winter, they are easily cultivated, and frequently bro’t to market in the fall, but will not last the winter.

The _Green Savoy_, with the richest crinkles, is fine and tender; and altho’ they do not head like the Dutch or Yorkshire, yet the
tenderness of the out leaves is a counterpoise, it will last thro’ the
winter, and are high flavored.

_The Yellow Savoy_, takes next rank, but will not last so long; all
Cabbages will mix, and participate of other species, like Indian Corn; they are culled, best in plants; and a true gardener will, in the plant describe those which will head, and which will not. This is new, but a fact.

The gradations in the Savoy Cabbage are discerned by the leaf; the richest and most scollup’d, and crinkled, and thickest Green Savoy, falls little short of a _Colliflour_.

The red and redest small tight heads, are best for _slaw_, it will not boil well, comes out black or blue, and tinges, other things with which it is boiled.

What was Available in Post Colonial America will continue in part II….

Flesh: How to Choose? by Amelia Simmons

Some interesting comments Amelia Simmons wrote about choosing the best meats for your kitchen. From the pages of American Cookery, 1796.

How to choose Flesh

BEEF. The large stall fed ox beef is the best, it has a coarse open
grain, and oily smoothness; dent it with your finger and it will
immediately rise again; if old, it will be rough and spungy, and the
dent remain.

Cow Beef is less boned, and generally more tender and juicy than the ox, in America, which is used to labor.

Of almost every species of Animals, Birds and Fishes, the female is
the tenderest, the richest flavour’d, and among poultry the soonest fattened.

_Mutton_, grass-fed, is good two or three years old.

_Lamb_, if under six months is rich, and no danger of imposition; it
may be known by its size, in distinguishing either.

_Veal_, is soon lost–great care therefore is necessary in purchasing. Veal bro’t to market in panniers, or in carriages, is to be prefered to that bro’t in bags, and flouncing on a sweaty horse.

_Pork_, is known by its size, and whether properly fattened by its
appearance.

_To make the best Bacon_.

To each ham put one ounce saltpetre, one pint bay salt, one pint
molasses, shake together 6 or 8 weeks, or when a large quantity is
together, bast them with the liquor every day; when taken out to dry, smoke three weeks with cobs or malt fumes. To every ham may be added a cheek, if you stow away a barrel and not alter the composition, some add a shoulder. For transportation or exportation, double the period of smoaking.

_Fish, how to choose the best in market_.

_Salmon_, the noblest and richest fish taken in fresh water–the
largest are the best. They are unlike almost every other fish, are
ameliorated by being 3 or 4 days out of water, if kept from heat and the moon, which has much more injurious effect than the sun.

In all great fish-markets, great fish-mongers strictly examine the
gills–if the bright redness is exchanged for a low brown, they are
stale; but when live fish are bro’t flouncing into market, you have
only to elect the kind most agreeable to your palate and the season.

_Shad_, contrary to the generally received opinion are not so much richer flavored, as they are harder when first taken out of the water; opinions vary respecting them. I have tasted Shad thirty or forty miles from the place where caught, and really conceived that they had a richness of flavor, which did not appertain to those taken fresh and cooked immediately, and have proved both at the same table, and the truth may rest here, that a Shad 36 or 48 hours out of water, may not cook so hard and solid, and be esteemed so elegant, yet give a higher relished flavor to the taste.

Every species generally of _salt water Fish_, are best fresh from the water, tho’ the _Hannah Hill, Black Fish, Lobster, Oyster, Flounder, Bass, Cod, Haddock_, and _Eel_, with many others, may be transported by land many miles, find a good market, and retain a good relish; but as generally, live ones are bought first, deceits are used to give them a freshness of appearance, such as peppering the gills, wetting the fins and tails, and even painting the gills, or wetting with animal blood. Experience and attention will dictate the choice of the best. Fresh gills, full bright eyes, moist fins and tails, are denotements of their being fresh caught; if they are soft, its certain they are stale, but if deceits are used, your smell must approve or denounce them, and be your safest guide.

Of all fresh water fish, there are none that require, or so well
afford haste in cookery, as the _Salmon Trout_, they are best when caught under a fall or cateract–from what philosophical circumstance is yet unsettled, yet true it is, that at the foot of a fall the waters are much colder than at the head; Trout choose those waters; if taken from them and hurried into dress, they are genuinely good; and take rank in point of superiority of flavor, of most other fish.

_Perch and Roach_, are noble pan fish, the deeper the water from
whence taken, the finer are their flavors; if taken from shallow
water, with muddy bottoms, they are impregnated therewith, and are unsavory.

_Eels_, though taken from muddy bottoms, are best to jump in the pan.

Most white or soft fish are best bloated, which is done by salting,
peppering, and drying in the sun, and in a chimney; after 30 or 40
hours drying, are best broiled, and moistened with butter, &c.

_Poultry–how to choose_.

Having before stated that the female in almost every instance, is
preferable to the male, and peculiarly so in the _Peacock_, which,
tho’ beautifully plumaged, is tough, hard, stringy, and untasted, and even indelicious–while the _Pea Hen_ is exactly otherwise, and the queen of all birds.

So also in a degree, _Turkey_.

_Hen Turkey_, is higher and richer flavor’d, easier fattened and
plumper–they are no odds in market.

_Dunghill Fowls_, are from their frequent use, a tolerable proof of
the former birds.

_Chickens_, of either kind are good, and the yellow leg’d the best,
and their taste the sweetest.

_Capons_, if young are good, are known by short spurs and smooth legs.

All birds are known, whether fresh killed or stale, by a tight vent in
the former, and a loose open vent if old or stale; their smell denotes their goodness; speckled rough legs denote age, while smooth legs and combs prove them young.

_A Goose_, if young, the bill will be yellow, and will have but few
hairs, the bones will crack easily; but if old, the contrary, the bill
will be red, and the pads still redder; the joints stiff and
difficultly disjointed; if young, otherwise; choose one not very
fleshy on the breast, but fat in the rump.

_Ducks_, are similar to geese.

_Wild Ducks_, have redder pads, and smaller than the tame ones,
otherwise are like the goose or tame duck, or to be chosen by the same rules.

_Wood Cocks_, ought to be thick, fat and flesh firm, the nose dry, and throat clear.

_Snipes_, if young and fat, have full veins under the wing, and are
small in the veins, otherwise like the Woodcock.

_Partridges_, if young, will have black bills, yellowish legs; if old,
the legs look bluish; if old or stale, it may be perceived by smelling
at their mouths.

_Pigeons_, young, have light red legs, and the flesh of a colour, and prick easily–old have red legs, blackish in parts, more hairs,
plumper and loose vents–so also of grey or green Plover, Blade Birds, Thrash, Lark, and wild Fowl in general.

_Hares_, are white flesh’d and flexible when new and fresh kill’d; if
stale, their flesh will have a blackish hue, like old pigeons, if the
cleft in her lip spread much, is wide and ragged, she is old; the
contrary when young.

_Leveret_, is like the Hare in every respect, that some are obliged to search for the knob, or small bone on the fore leg or foot, to
distinguish them.

_Rabbits_, the wild are the best, either are good and tender; if old
there will be much yellowish fat about the kidneys, the claws long,
wool rough, and mixed with grey hairs; if young the reverse. As to
their being fresh, judge by the scent, they soon perish, if trap’d or
shot, and left in pelt or undressed; their taint is quicker than veal,
and the most sickish in nature; and will not, like beef or veal, be
purged by fire.

The cultivation of Rabbits would be profitable in America, if the best methods were pursued–they are a very prolific and profitable
animal–they are easily cultivated if properly attended, but not
otherwise.–A Rabbit’s borough, on which 3000 dollars may have been expended, might be very profitable; but on the small scale they would be well near market towns–easier bred, and more valuable.

Some Christmas Recipes from the Americas after they became a Nation

Some cookie recipes for you all to try. One specifically mentions to be baked for Christmas and the others are traditionally known to be made during the holidays.

These are from Amelia Simmons cookbook “American Cookery” which was published in 1796. This cookbook is so important to me as an American and history geek because it is known as the first cookbook written by an American. Before this one, all cookbooks that were used at the time in the United States were published and written were British.

The original title of this book was: The full title of this book was: American Cookery, or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country, and all grades of life.

So how about some post Revolution Cookies, huh?

Another _Christmas Cookey_.

To three pound flour, sprinkle a tea cup of fine powdered coriander
seed, rub in one pound butter, and one and half pound sugar, dissolve three tea spoonfuls of pearl ash in a tea cup of milk, kneed all together well, roll three quarters of an inch thick, and cut or stamp into shape and size you please, bake slowly fifteen or twenty minutes; tho’ hard and dry at first, if put into an earthern pot, and dry cellar, or damp room, they will be finer, softer and better when six months old.

_Molasses Gingerbread_.

One table spoon of cinnamon, some coriander or allspice, put to four
tea spoons pearl ash, dissolved in half pint water, four pound flour,
one quart molasses, four ounces butter, (if in summer rub in the
butter, if in winter, warm the butter and molasses and pour to the
spiced flour,) knead well ’till stiff, the more the better, the
lighter and whiter it will be; bake brisk fifteen minutes; don’t
scorch; before it is put in, wash it with whites and sugar beat
together.

_Gingerbread Cakes_, or butter and sugar Gingerbread.

No. 1. Three pounds of flour, a grated nutmeg, two ounces ginger, one pound sugar, three small spoons pearl ash dissolved in cream, one pound butter, four eggs, knead it stiff, shape it to your fancy, bake 15 minutes.

_Soft Gingerbread to be baked in pans_.

Rub three pounds of sugar, two pounds of butter, into four
pounds of flour, add 20 eggs, 4 ounces ginger, 4 spoons rose water, bake as No. 1.

_Gingerbread_.

Three pound sugar, half pound butter, quarter of a pound of
ginger, one doz. eggs, one glass rose water, rub into three pounds
flour, bake as No. 1.

While this isn’t a “Christmas” recipe, here was something that mentions Christmas at least which I found amusing.

_To keep Green Peas till Christmas_.

Take young peas, shell them, put them in a cullender to drain, then by a cloth four or five times double on a table, then spread them on, dry them very well, and have your bottles ready, fill them, cover them with mutton suet fat when it is a little soft; fill the necks almost to the top, cork them, tie a bladder and a leather over them and set them in a dry cool place.