Category Archives: Sample

History of Britain as seen by Samuel Pegge

Some interesting points, made as far as I can tell about History, by Samuel Pegge in the 18th Century (which was published in the forward of “The Forme of Cury” cookbook):

The Aborigines of Britain, to come nearer home, could have no great expertness in Cookery, as they had no oil, and we hear nothing of their butter, they used only sheep and oxen, eating neither hares, though so greatly esteemed at Rome, nor hens, nor geese, from a notion of superstition. Nor did they eat fish. There was little corn in the interior part of the island, but they lived on milk and flesh; though it is expressly asserted by Strabo that they had no cheese. The later Britons, however, well knew how to make the best use of the cow, since, as appears from the laws of Hoel Dda, A.D. 943, this animal was a creature so essential, so common and useful in Wales, as to be the standard in rating fines.

Hengist, leader of the Saxons, made grand entertainments for king
Vortigern, but no particulars have come down to us; and
certainly little exquisite can be expected from a people then so
extremely barbarous as not to be able either to read or write.
‘Barbari homines a septentrione, (they are the words of Dr. Lister)
caseo et ferina subcruda victitantes, omnia condimenta adjectiva
respuerunt’.

Some have fancied, that as the Danes imported the custom of hard and deep drinking, so they likewise introduced the practice of
gormandizing, and that this word itself is derived from Gormund,
the name of that Danish king whom Ãlfred the Great persuaded to be christened, and called Ãthelstane, Now ’tis certain that
Hardicnut stands on record as an egregious glutton, but he is
not particularly famous for being a curious Viander; ’tis true
again, that the Danes in general indulged excessively in feasts and
entertainments, but we have no reason to imagine any elegance
of Cookery to have flourished amongst them. And though Guthrum, the Danish prince, is in some authors named Gormundus; yet this is not the right etymology of our English word Gormandize, since it is rather the French Gourmand, or the British Gormod.

So that we have little to say as to the Danes.

I shall take the later English and the Normans together, on account of the intermixture of the two nations after the Conquest, since, as lord Lyttelton observes, the English accommodated them elves to the Norman manners, except in point of temperance in eating and drinking, and communicated to them their own habits of drunkenness and immoderate feasting. Erasmus also remarks, that the English in his time were attached to plentiful and splendid tables; and the same is observed by Harrison. As to the Normans, both William I and Rufus made grand entertainments; the former was remarkable for an immense paunch, and withal was so exact, so nice and curious
in his repasts, that when his prime favourite William Fitz-
Osberne, who as steward of the household had the charge of the Cury, served him with the flesh of a crane scarcely half-roasted, he was so highly exasperated, that he lifted up his fist, and would have strucken him, had not Eudo, appointed Dapiser immediately after, warded off the blow.

For more of Samuel Pegge’s opinion/history and all the references that I edited out (as well as the recipes), download a Form of Cury here for free.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Edited text (by me) from “Forme of Cury” discussing Sugar and Spice used during their period and previously. Some interesting points, made as far as I can tell, by Samuel Pegge in the 18th Century (which was published in the forward of the cookbook):

“Honey was the great and universal sweetner in remote antiquity, and particularly in this island, where it was the chief constituent of
mead and metheglin. It is said, that at this day in Palestine
they use honey in the greatest part of their ragouts. Our cooks had a method of clarifying it, which was done by putting it in a pot with whites of eggs and water, beating them well together; then setting it over the fire, and boiling it; and when it was ready
to boil over to take it and cool it. This I presume is called clere honey. And, when honey was so much in use, it appears from Barnes that refining it was a trade of itself.

Sugar, or Sugur, was now beginning here to take place of honey;
however, they are used together. Sugar came from the Indies,
by way of Damascus and Aleppo, to Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, and from these last places to us. It is here not only frequently used,
but was of various sorts, as cypre named probably
from the isle of Cyprus, whence it might either come directly to us,
or where it had received some improvement by way of refining. There is mention of blanch-powder or white sugar. They, however,
were not the same. Sugar was clarified sometimes with wine.

Spices. Species. They are mentioned in general, and whole
spices, but they are more commonly specified, and are
indeed greatly used, though being imported from abroad, and from so far as Italy or the Levant (and even there must be dear), some may wonder at this: but it should be considered, that our Roll was
chiefly compiled for the use of noble and princely tables; and the
same may be said of the Editor’s MS. The spices came from the same part of the world, and by the same route, as sugar did. The spicery was an ancient department at court, and had its proper officers.

As to the particular sorts, these are,

Cinamon. Canell. Canel, Editor’s MS. Kanell, ibid. is the Italian Canella. See Chaucer. We have the flour or powder, See Wiclif. It is not once mentioned in Apicius.

Macys, Editor’s MS. 10. Maces, 134. Editor’s MS. 27. They
are used whole and are always expressed plurally, though we
now use the singular, mace. See Junii Etym.

Cloves. Dishes are flourished with them, Editor’s MS.
10. where we have clowys gylofres, as in our Roll. Powdour gylofre occurs. Chaucer has clowe in the singular, and see him v. Clove-gelofer.

Galyngal, and elsewhere. Galangal, the long rooted cyperus,
is a warm cardiac and cephalic. It is used in powder and was
the chief ingredient in galentine, which, I think, took its name
from it.

Pepper. It appears from Pliny that this pungent, warm seasoning, so much in esteem at Rome, came from the East Indies, and,
as we may suppose, by way of Alexandria. We obtained it no doubt, in the 14th century, from the same quarter, though not exactly by the same route, but by Venice or Genoa. It is used both whole, and in powder. And long-pepper occurs, if we read the place rightly.

Ginger, gyngyn. 64. 136. alibi. Powder is used, 17. 20. alibi. and
Rabelais IV. c. 59. the white powder, 131. and it is the name of a
mess, 139. quÃlre whether gyngyn is not misread for gyngyr, for see Junii Etym. The Romans had their ginger from Troglodytica [109].

Cubebs, 64. 121. are a warm spicy grain from the east.

Grains of Paradice, or de parys are the greater cardamoms.

Noix muscadez. nutmegs.

The caraway is once mentioned and was an exotic from Caria,
whence, according to Mr. Lye, it took its name: ‘sunt semina, inquit, carri vel carrei, sic dicti a Caria, ubi copiosissimè nascitur.’

Powder-douce, which occurs so often, has been thought by some, who have just peeped into our Roll, to be the same as sugar, and only a different name for it; but they are plainly mistaken, as is evident from where they are mentioned together as different things. In short, I take powder-douce to be either powder of galyngal, for see Editor’s MS II. 20. 24, or a compound made of sundry aromatic spices ground or beaten small, and kept always ready at hand in some proper receptacle. It is otherwise termed good powders or powder simply. White powder-douce occurs, which seems to be the same as blanch-powder, called blaynshe powder, and bought ready prepared, in Northumb. Book. It is sometimes used with powder-fort for which see the next and last article.

Powder-fort, 10. 11. seems to be a mixture likewise of the warmer
spices, pepper, ginger, &c. pulverized: hence we have powder-fort of gynger, other of canel. It is called strong powder, and perhaps may sometimes be intended by good powders. If you will suppose it to be kept ready prepared by the vender, it may be the powder-marchant found joined in two places with powder-
douce. This Speght says is what gingerbread is made of; but Skinner disapproves this explanation, yet, says Mr. Urry, gives none of his own.

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.

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.

Foods That Will Win The War And How To Cook Them

I can’t remember where I hear this, but I was always told that War drives invention throughout time. Whether that is through bigger, better war machines, that in turn, we as a people, figure other cool new technology from as well as how we just learn to survive.

World War I was 1914 through 1919, and like every War, there are problems. “Foods That Will Win The War And How To Cook Them” (1918) by Goudiss and Goudiss (available for free download over here) has a glimpse into what life was like back then. The entire book explains why everything needs to be saved. It’s a grim reminder of what was going on nearly 100 years ago.

The Forward explains quite a bit:

FOREWORD

Food will win the war, and the nation whose food resources are best conserved will be the victor. This is the truth that our government is trying to drive home to every man, woman and child in America. We have always been happy in the fact that ours was the richest nation in the world, possessing unlimited supplies of food, fuel, energy and ability; but rich as these resources are they will not meet the present food shortage unless every family and every individual enthusiastically co-operates in the national saving campaign as outlined by the United States Food Administration.

The regulations prescribed for this saving campaign are simple and
easy of application. Our government does not ask us to give up three square meals a day–nor even one. All it asks is that we substitute as far as possible corn and other cereals for wheat, reduce a little our meat consumption and save sugar and fats by careful utilization of these products.

There are few housekeepers who are not eager to help in this saving campaign, and there are few indeed who do not feel the need of conserving family resources. But just how is sometimes a difficult task.

This book is planned to solve the housekeeper’s problem. It shows how to substitute cereals and other grains for wheat, how to cut down the meat bill by the use of meat extension and meat substitute dishes which supply equivalent nutrition at much less cost; it shows the use of syrup and other products that save sugar, and it explains how to utilize all kinds of fats. It contains 47 recipes for the making of war breads; 64 recipes on low-cost meat dishes and meat substitutes; 54 recipes for sugarless desserts; menus for meatless and wheatless days, methods of purchasing–in all some two hundred ways of meeting present food conditions at minimum cost and without the sacrifice of
nutrition.

Not only have its authors planned to help the woman in the home,
conserve the family income, but to encourage those saving habits which must be acquired by this nation if we are to secure a permanent peace that will insure the world against another onslaught by the Prussian military powers.

A little bit of saving in food means a tremendous aggregate total,
when 100,000,000 people are doing the saving. One wheatless meal a day would not mean hardship; there are always corn and other products to be used. Yet one wheatless meal a day in every family would mean a saving of 90,000,000 bushels of wheat, which totals 5,400,000,000 lbs. Two meatless days a week would mean a saving of 2,200,000 lbs. of meat per annum. One teaspoonful of sugar per person saved each day would insure a supply ample to take care of our soldiers and our Allies. These quantities mean but a small individual sacrifice, but when multiplied by our vast population they will immeasurably aid and encourage the men who are giving their lives to the noble cause of humanity on which our nation has embarked.

Name of the Cook

How did cooks socially rank in the 14th century England? How about in BC Rome? “The Forme of Cury” (from 1390) has some ideas for you to chew on. Some interesting points, made as far as I can tell, by Samuel Pegge in the 18th Century (which was published in the forward of the cookbook):

Though the cooks at Rome, as has been already noted, were amongst the lowest slaves, yet it was not so more anciently; Sarah and Rebecca cook, and so do Patroclus and Automedon in the “Ninth Iliad.”

It were to be wished indeed, that the Reader could be made acquainted with the names of our “master-cooks,” but it is not in the power of the Editor to gratify him in that; this, however, he may be assured of, that as the Art was of consequence in the reign of Richard, a prince renowned and celebrated in the Roll, for the splendor and elegance of his table, they must have been persons of no inconsiderable rank: the king’s first and second cooks are now esquires by their office, and there is all the reason in the world to believe they were of equal dignity heretofore. To say a word of king Richard: he is said in the proeme to have been ‘acounted the best and ryallest vyaund [curioso in eating] of all esten kynges.’ This, however, must rest upon the testimony of our cooks, since it does not appear otherwise by the suffrage of history, that he was particularly remarkable for his niceness and delicacy in eating, like Heliogabalus, whose favourite dishes are said to have been the tongues of peacocks and nightingales, and the brains of parrots and pheasants; or like Sept. Geta, who, according to Jul. Capitolinus, was so curious, so whimsical, as to order the dishes at his dinners to consist of things which all began with the same letters.

Sardanapalus again as we have it in Athenæus, gave
a præmium to any one that invented and served him with some novel cate; and Sergius Orata built a house at the entrance of the Lucrine lake, purposely for the pleasure and convenience of eating the oysters perfectly fresh. Richard II is certainly not represented in story as resembling any such epicures, or capriccioso’s, as these. It may, however, be fairly presumed, that good living was not wanting among the luxuries of that effeminate and dissipated reign.

[Addenda: after “Ninth Iliad,” add, ‘And Dr. Shaw writes, p. 301,
that even now in the East, the greatest prince is not ashamed to
fetch a lamb from his herd and kill it, whilst the princess is
impatient till she hath prepared her fire and her kettle to dress
it.’]

[Addenda: after heretofore add, ‘we have some good families in
England of the name of Cook or Coke. I know not what they may think; but we may depend upon it, they all originally sprang from real and professional cooks; and they need not be ashamed of their extraction, any more than the Butlers, Parkers, Spencers, etc.]

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.