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the cuisine of 1776.

The preface itself is suggestive of old-time pro-
prieties, for the American Orphan makes it the
means of conve3ring to her readers sentiments whose
connection with cookery does not now seem very

"As this treatise," she says, "is calculated for the
improvement of the rising generation oi females in
America, the lady of fashion and fortune will not be
displeased if many hints are suggested for the more
general and universal knowledge of those females in
this country, who, by the loss of their parents or
other unfortunate circumstances, are reduced to the
necessity of going into families in the line of domes-
tics, or taking refuge with their friends or relations,
and doing those things which are really essential to
the perfecting them as good wives and useful mem-
bers of society. The Orphan, though left to the
care of virtuous guardians, will find it essentially
necessary to have an opinion and determination of
her own. The world, and the fashion thereof, is so
variable, that old people cannot accommodate them-
selves to the various changes and fashions which
daily occur. They will adhere to the fiishion of
MWr day, and will not surrender their attachments to
the ^ood old way^ while the young and the gay bend
and conform readily to the taste of the times or fancy
of the hour."

The volume begins with instructions how to choose

meats and vegetables in the market Some of these
instructions are indicative of the changes -which
eighty years have made in ways of locomotion, as
this : " Veal brought to market in panniers or in car-
riages is to be preferred to that brought in bags and
flouncing on a sweaty horse."

" Every species generally of salt-water fish,*' she
says, "are best fresh from the water, though the
Hannah Hilly Black Fish, Lobster, Oyster, Flounder^
Bass, Cod, Haddock, and Eel, with many others,
may be transported by land as many as forty miles,
find a good market and retain a good relish ; bat, as
generally live ones are bought first, deceits are used
to give them a freshness of appearance, such as pep-
pering the gills, wetting the fins and tails, and even
painting the gills, or wetting with animal blood.'*

Here is an original scheme for extinguishing the
national debt: ** There is not a single family bat
might set ca apple-tree in some otherwise useless
spot, which mi^t serve the twofold use of shade and
fruit, on which twelve or fourteen kinds of finit-trees
mig^t easily be engrafted, and essentially preserve
the orchard from the intrusions of boys, eta, whkh
is too common in America. If the boy who thus
planted an apple-tree, and guarded it and protected
it in a useless comer, and carefuUy engrafted differ-
ent fruits, was to be indulged free access into
orchards, while the neglectful boy was prohibited,
how many millions of firuit would spring into growth,
and what a saving to the Union ! The net saving
would in time extinguish the public debt and enrich
our cookeryj**

We find by this book, what we might have been sup*
posed to know before, though some of our Centen-
nial supper committees do not seem to know, that our
ancestors were very fond of roasts, whether of bcefi
veal, lamb, pork, or venison, turkey, goose, or duck;
that they delighted in oysters, smothered fowls in
the same, and dressed turtles, just as we do to-
day. Chicken, pigeon, and meat pies were highly
esteemed. Minced-meat pies were then as now
composed of one part of minced beef to ten or
twelve parts of fruits and spices, and their allow-
ance of ''best Madeira wine'* was a good deal big-
ger than we could now afford. Fruit pastries were
confined to apple, currant, and gooseberry pies. The
genial "pompkin," though baked as we bake it to-
day, in a paste, was then called a pudding. To
make it as made in 1796, and probably in 1776, we
must take one quart of stewed and strained pumpkin,
three pints of sweet cream, ten well-beaten eggs,
two glasses of wine, with sugar, mace, nutmeg, and
ginger "to taste,' and bake in a deep dish lined
with a rich puff paste.

For a "simple rice pudding" we boil six ounces
of rice in a quart of very sweet cream, over a slow-
fire, till tender. When cold we stir in one pound
of sugar. ** Interim beat fourteen eggs to a stiff froth.
[Bear in mind that there were then no patent egg-
beaters. ] Add to the pudding when cold, with sugar.

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salty spices, and wine to taste, and one pound of
raisins. Line the padding dish with rich puff paste,
and bake one and a half hours.*'

For a "plain Indian pudding;," recommended as
^* economical," we "scald seven spoonfuls" (size of
spoon not mentioned — supposed to be table-spoon)
^' of sifted Indian meal in three pints of very sweet
cream. When cold add seven well-beaten eggs,
half a pound of raisins, the same of butter and of
sugar; spice to taste, and bake one and a half

"A plain bread pudding" requires a pound of soft
bread crumbs soaked in one qusut of sweet cream,
and forced through a fine sieve. To this is added
seven beaten eggs, a pound of sugar, a half pound
of butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, and rose water "to
taste," and a pound of raisins. It is then baked
three-quarters of an hour in a "middling oven."

Besides the above there are flour puddings, boiled
and baked; a Sunderland, a cream almond, and a
carrot pudding ; puddings of apples, gooseberries,
pears, plums, oranges, and lemons, and one which is
made of " one pound of boiled and mashed potatoes,
a potmd of sugar, half a pound of butter, ten eggs,
three gills of sweet cream, one nutmegs the juice and
grated peel of a lemon, and two glasses of rose
water ; the whole to be baked for one hour."

The cheapest pudding of the lot, which hides its
diminished head as if ashamed of its poverty, is a
" Whitpot," which requires only half a loaf of bread,
two quarts of milk and half a pound of sugar, with
nutmeg and rose water to taste.

There are custards by the dozen, tarts by the
score, and "creams," "trifles," and "syllabubs."
Among the latter we find a receipt telling us how
"to make a fine syllabub firom the cow." We are
first to " sweeten a quart of cider" (supposed to be
hard), "with double refined sugar, and grate into
this plenty of nutmeg. Then milk your cow into
3rour liquor. When you have thus added what
quantity of milk you think proper, pour over it half a
pint or more, in proportion to the quantity of sylla-
bub you wish to make, of as sweet cream as you
can get."

The "imperial plum pudding" very much resem-
bles the Christmas pudding of to-day, which is not
wonderful, considering that both are but descend-
ants of the old English Yule-tide pudding, the chief
difference being in the amount of brandy and wine
and the number of eggs. "To four pounds of raisins,
two of currants, three of slivered citron, three of
sugar, two of finely chopped suet, and two of fine
bread crumbs ; six ounces of candied peel, one each
of nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon; a pint of brandy; the
same of Madeira wine, and two lemons — add three
dozen of well-beaten eggs." This receipt, which,
we are told, makes only " enough for eight persons,"
will have to be several times duplicated, if Lady
Washington intends giving a large dinner party dur-
ing her stay with us. It would mortify the hospita-
ble dame if each guest should not be able to report
a very frisky nightmare when he visits the next
morning's breakfast-table and partakes of " Indian
fli^jjadcs" (whose principal ingredient is eggs); of

delicate golden waffles, swimming in melted butter
and sugar ; of hot biscuits and rusks ; of aromatic
coffee (" one pound of coffee, cleared with four eggs,
and steeped, not boiled; enough for six persons") ;
of fried sausages, or ham and eggs, and crisp fried

Of receipts for sweet cakes this cookery-bpok
contains as large a proportion as Mrs. Beeton's pon-
derous tome ; and each of them demands an uncon-
scionable number of eggs. It is no wonder that our
notable great-grandmothers were obliged to pay
strict attention to their poultry-jrards. Listen to
this receipt for " plain soft gingerbread : " " Rub three
pounds sugar and two pounds butter into three
pounds flour. Add twenty eggs, four ounces each of
ginger and cinnamon and four spoons of rose water,
and bake in a quick oven."

In the following receipt for " a plain loaf cake,"
we are reminded that Uie place of our skimping
stove or range oven was then filled by the gener-
ous brick. For this loaf cake we are told to "rub
six pounds of sugar, two of lard, and three of butter
into twelve of flour. Add twenty-four beaten eggs,
one quart of milk, two ounces eadi of cinnamon and
nutmeg, and a teacupful of coriander seed pounded
and sifted. Then add one pint each of brandy and
Madeira wine, six pounds of stoned raisins, and
one pint of emptins [xm*]. First having dried your
flour in the oven, dry and roll the sugar half an
hour; it will render the cake much whiter and
lighter. Heat the oven with dry wood for one and
a half hours. If large milk pans are used the cake
MriU then require two hours baking, and in propor-
tion for smaller loaves."

In this ancient cookery-book we find no mention
of baked pork and beans. Yet we have actually
heard a lady complaining that it was so difficult to
get dishes for Centennial suppers, since they must
be ancient, and modem appetites refused to partake
largely of. pork and beans !

To counterfeit the supper-table of 1 776, full sets of
old china are essential ; but these are difficult to find.
Still, we will imagine that we have one, and will set
our table as that of Lady Washington was set at a
supper given at Mount Vernon to a party of gentle-
men during her husband's second term in the Presi-
dential chair. The details were described in an old
letter from one of the guests to his wife, who had
doubtless requested " full particulars."

The table, of dark mahogany, waxed, and polished
like a mirror, was square (supported, we may sup-
pose, on many legs), and supplemented at each end
by a half circle of the same wood and polish, which
fitted the table. In the center of the large table so
made, stood a branched ^pergne of silver wire and
cut glass, filled with a tasteful arrangement of
apples, pears, plums, peaches, and grapes. At one
end Mrs. Washington, "looking as handsome as
ever," assisted by a young lady, presided behind a
handsome silver tea service, "an enormous silver
hot-water urn nearly two feet high," and a whole
battalion of tiny flaring cups and saucers of blue
India china. All the plates were likewise of this
china, but most of the service was of silver, which.

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polished to its highest, reflected the blaze of many
wax candles in branched candelabra, and candle-
sticks of silver standing upon the table and about
the room.

As the meal was a late supper, the edibles were
nearly all cold : fried oysters, and waffles, and fried
chickens being the only exceptions. On the table
were cold roasted turkey, canvas-backed ducks and
venison, a baked ham and " a meat pasty of some
sort which I did not taste, though it looked very
good." Besides, there was "an abundance of rich
cakes and of fine West India sweetmeats," while
"capital Madeira wine was served firom elegant decan-
ters to those who preferred it to tea, which," to their
credit be it S]>oken, "hardly any one did."

Verily, as we look over this table, we do not see
that we need return to the simplicity of savage diet
in order to please the tastes of our ancient and
honored guests !

Rural Topics.


With beginners, and those of limited experience
in the art of gardening, there is always a strong
desire to rush the work in the garden, have the
beds dug and raked, the seeds sown, and the trees
and shrubs planted before the frost is well out of the
ground, or the soil dry or warm enough to facilitate
vegetation. This natural, but very common, error,
to turn over or disturb the ground too soon in the
spring not infrequently leads to discouraging results
later in the season. Garden seeds, sown too early,
while the soil is still cold and wet, are sure to be
seriously injured, rotting in many instances before
germinating. This will be found true in degree of
fruit-bearing trees as well as garden seeds. I have
known of many cases where young pears, apples,
and cherries were permanently stunted from the
very start by this unwise course of planting when
the soil was cold and soggy. On clay land, no more
fatal blunder can be made than planting fruit-trees,
vines, or shrubs, before the soil is in the right con-
dition. Better by for wait two weeks than start one
day too soon. If the soil is thrown around the roots
when heavy and wet, it soon hardens, encasing the
fibers in an impervious cement which hinders their
natural action, and, as a matter of course, checks the
growth and vigor of the trees or vines. Early
planting in the open ground of vegetables or fruit-
trees possesses no other advantage beyond that of
having the work out of the way, and for this the risks
run from the causes named are out of all proportion.
I have known of instances time and again, even
with as hardy a vegetable as the potato, that those
planted about the middle of April were ripe and
ready for use one to two weeks in advance of those
planted a month earlier, and produced a larger yield,
— this, too, on the same farm, and under the same
treatment and culture.

Hot-Beds. — Those who enjoy home-raised early
tomatoes and egg plants will have to sow the seeds
in a hot-bed not later than the middle of March.
To propagate enough for family use, a single sash
and firame 3x6 feet will give abundant room, not

only for those nam^ but also for some cauliflowers,
peppers, and lettuce.

llie frame for this bed can be made of rou^ hens-
lock boards nailed together, a single board twelve
inches high in front, and two boards tweoty-fbur
inches high in the rear. The frame, when com-
pleted, should be level on the bottom, and inclined
enough on top, so that when the sash is put in place
there will be sufficient fall to carry off the water from
the rear to the front of the frame. For the bed,
select a spot sheltered from the north winds, with a
south-eastern exposure. On such a spot make a
bed of manure 4x8 feet and a foot or so in thickness.
Then set the frame on this bed, and, when firmly
pressed down, add another layer of manure inside
the frame, and, at the same time, bank up aroond
the outside of the frame to the top of the boards.
The earth may then be put on six or seven inches in
depth, and the sash set in place. The third day
from the date of making the bed, the earth may be
raked over and made level, and the seeds sown and
carefully covered in shallow drills running frxxfk
front to rear, and each kind labeled. A small paper
of " New York Improved " Egg Plant, one each of
"Arlington" and "Trophy" Tomato, "Early Er-
furt" Cauliflower, "Curled Silesia" Lettuce, and
" Bull Nose " Pepper will be enough. When the
seeds are sown, give the bed air daily, and water
when the soil needs it with tepid water. Market
gardeners always transplant into another bed to get
stocky plants ; but for home use, where the seeds
are sown thinly, it is not necessary.

Trek Peddlers. — Persons moving from the dty
to the country with the intention of making it their
homes are quickly besieged by the ever-watchful
tree peddler. These men are always equipped
with a goodly supply of books filled with colored
plates of monstrosities in fruits and flowers, attract-
ive and enticing to the novice, and made more so
when their good qualities are deftly and ingeniously
described by the ghb-tongued fellows, who seldom
fail in capturing their victim — ^if not at the first,
surely at the second, third, or fourth visit. The
stock of trees and plants with which they fill their
orders is usually of an inferior quality, seldom true
to name ; but their prices run from 50 to 100 per
cent higher than those at which first-class trees,
plants, or vines can be purchased from responsible
nurserymen who have reputations to maintain.

These tree peddlers, in order to perfect a sale, often
represent themselves as the authorized agents of
nursery firms, with whom they have no such con-
nection. They go from place to place and buy at
very low prices what is known to the trade as " hos-
pital stock," the cullings of one or more years' busi-
ness, and such stock as nurserymen wouldn't send
out to their regular customers. It is, indeed, dis-
couraging to wait four or five years for a pear-tree
to come into bearing, and then find that, instead of
a Bartlett or Seckel, you have some worthless sort
that has no value, fit only to feed to the hogs.

The best and least expensive way to get fruit-trees,
vines, or plants, is to send direct to some well-known

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nursery firm ; yoa then get what you order, and
if it does not turn out well, there is a way of redress.
Those who will purchase their stock from itinerant
tree venders are almost certain to be cheated.

Small Fruits. — A family garden at this day and
age is not complete without a full stock of the best
kind of small fruits. These are so largely propa-
gated now, so cheap, and the plants can be sent
through the mail at such low rates, that it has become,
with a little care, very easy to have a full supply.
To make a selection from the long lists usually
found in nurser3rmen's catalogues is a puzzling ques>
don for the beginner, and more so for the reason
that the bulk of these are described as of " good
quality, tender flesh, and melting." In such cases,
orders are often sent to nurserymen living in widely
distant parts of the country with the selection of
kinds not named, leaving the choice to the seller.
This is not always the best way to do, for no
matter how conscientious the nurseryman may
be, soil and dimate have such a marvelous effect on
varieties, both as to quality and productiveness, that
sorts that do well in one State are worthless in
another. There are only very few kinds of either
large or small fruits that will grow freely and bear
abundantly in any wide range of our country. Those
who cultivate fruit as a business know the fact that
there are a number of varieties grown with profit in
Western New York, which in the eastern part of the
State amount to nothing. Another case in point
is the Hudson River Antwerp Raspberry, that
grows and bears to perfection along the Hudson
River, producing crops of delicious fruit year after
year; yet, over in New Jersey, on the light
soil, it is a waste of time and money to under-
take its culture. These matters are worthy of con-
sideration before selecting either large or small
friuts for garden culture.

Strawberries.— This truly delicious fruit, so
long neglected, has within the last ten years left the
bounds of the garden fence, and now receives the
dignity of field culture in New Jersey, Delaware,
Maryland, and South Carolina. Within a few miles
of Charleston, on what is called the " Neck," I saw
growing a few weeks ago more than 150 acres of
strawberries, all intended for the New York market.
It was not until quite recently that the best methods
of culture were put into general practice. It was
the general belief among the people that strawber-
ries did best on poor soil, and with poor culture.
But this fallacy is no longer entertained.

The bed intended for strawberries in the garden
should be forked over at least three times before setting
out the plants. Furrows should then be opened six
or eight inches deep, and two and a half feet apart.
In these furrows plenty of well-decomposed yard
manure should be scattered, with the addition of
wood ashes, or some other fertilizer, and then cov-
ered over with five or six inches of fine soil.
The plants should then be set on the top of these

ridges about a foot and a half apart in the row, and,
in planting, the soil should be pressed firmly around
the roots. The after-culture is simply to keep the
surfieure loose, and the weeds down. With strong
plants to start with by the fall, there will be a con-
tinuous bed of plants two feet in width, leaving just
room enough for a path between these rows. In
the Southern States, where the soil is light and sub-
ject to long droughts, this method of putting the
manure directly under the plants won't answer, for
the plants are likely to bum up in dry weather. In
South Carolina, bone dust, or superphosphate of
lime, is spread broadcast, and the plants are set out
in level beds.

Varieties to Plant. — Up to this time •* Wilson's
Seedling " has taken the lead of all the other kinds
as a market berry, and it would be a safe estimate
to make, that for every quarter of an acre of any
other kind planted, there are at least 100 acres of the
"Wilson," and this, too, in every section of the
country where strawberries are grown for market,
with the single exception of near Charleston, S. C,
where a new variety called the " Neunan " has taken
its place. But while the ** Wilson " has proved a
valuable market sort, being productive, hardy, and
firm of texture, it is of an inferior quality, and not
a desirable sort in a collection of three or four varieties
for home use. For garden culture and family needs
there are three requisites to be sought for in making
a selection of strawberries. The first should be
productiveness ; the second, quality ; and the third,
size. It is stated every now and then that one gets
size in the strawberry at the expense of quality.
This, however, is not the case, for one of our large-
sized berries, the ** Triomphe de Gand," stands at
the head of the list for firmness and quality. In a
small collection for the garden, it is not desirable to
have more than four kinds, say seventy plants of
each to start, or three hundred in alL This
number, planted and cared for in the way recom-
mended, will yield fruit enough for a £aunily of eight
or ten persons three times a day through the entire
season. In a selection of four kinds for garden
culture, I would include the "Charles Downing,"
"Seth Boyden," "Triomphe de Gand," and "Green
Prolific," with the " Neunan " for the South. All
of these sorts, except the last named, produce large
fruit, and plenty of it, under what is known as high

The "Green Prolific" is not quite up to the
standard in quality; but this variety possesses so
many other good characteristics, that it may be
safely recommended in a collection of this kind.

In cultivating strawberries, either /or home use
or market purposes, the ground around the roots
should not be disturbed in the spring of the bearing
year. P. T. Q.

NoTR. — In the sugiKestion regarding lawns in the March
"Rural Topics ' the types made the writer recommend the
sowing of RedQXxrttx instead of WhiU^ as he intended. — Editor.

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Emerson's ** Letters snd Social Aims." *
It is a little amusing to find keen critics of Emer-
son philosophizing on the modifications of style and
form visible in this, his last volume, when compared
with its predecessors. One at least of the present
essays has floated down unchanged from the times
of " The Dial ; " the essay on ** The Comic " having
first appeared in that periodical more than thirty
years ago, namely, in October, 1S43, and being here
reprinted with scarcely a syllable of alteration, though
with the omission of the opening paragraph. There
is, however, thus much of truth in these critical sur-
mises, that we can either see or fancy in the essays,
as a whole, a slightly increased love of structure, and
a dawning taste for a beginning, a middle, and an
end. They are less premorse^ as the botanists say
of those roots which end abruptly, as if bitten off—
a phrase so perfectly descriptive of Mr. Emerson's
habitual terminations that he would doubtless have
used it if duty had called him to pass upon his own
style as a subject for criticism. At least half the
present essays begin with a studied openmg, and
lead up to a marked and even cadenced close.
This is the more impressive and agreeable to the
reader, because Emerson's manner as a lecturer,
owing to increasing dimness of sight, has grown
more fragmentary year by year ; and the more satis-
factory aspect of the printed pages may, after all, be
due to the aid covertly rendered by some skillful

Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 159 of 163)