Robert Barnwell Roosevelt.

Superior fishing; or, The striped bass, trout, and black bass of the northern states. Embracing full directions for dressing artificial flies with the feathers of American birds; an account of a sporting visit to Lake Superior, etc., etc., etc online

. (page 17 of 18)
Online LibraryRobert Barnwell RooseveltSuperior fishing; or, The striped bass, trout, and black bass of the northern states. Embracing full directions for dressing artificial flies with the feathers of American birds; an account of a sporting visit to Lake Superior, etc., etc., etc → online text (page 17 of 18)
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pickerel, from the monstrous mascallonge to the
tiny native of Long Island ; by the trout of lake or
brook ; by the black-bass of the North and South,
and by the young blue-fish of the salt water ; it is
generally a greater favorite than the artificial, and
sometimes even than the natural bait ; with black-
bass it has no competitor but the fly, and with sea-


trout it occasionally surpasses the artificial fly itself.
Its irregularity of motion, consequent upon the mode
of revolution, seems to be its charm ; and although
it does not spin as well as the Archimedes, it is in-
finitely more killing. It has in open water almost
supplanted the use of bait for pickerel and mascal-
longe, and it has been used to a murderous extent
by greedy fishermen in trolling the waters of Moose-
head Lake for trout.



Among all the arts and sciences that improve, ele-
vate, or embellish society, or that contribute to the
pleasure and comfort of mankind, the one that is the
most necessary to health and happiness, has produced
the fewest great geniuses, and is the least under
stood, is cookery. Amid the thousands of men and
women who pretend to a knowledge of its mysteries,
how difficult is it among the former, and how im-
possible among the latter, to find a good cook —
one who is devoted heart and soul to the intricate
science, who passes days in pondering and nights in
dreaming of these delicate combinations that consti-
tute pure and refined taste !

The world has produced in hundreds painters that
delight the eye. composers that enrapture the ear,
scholars that convince the intellect, poets that touch
the heart ; but of culinary artists that enchant the
stomach, the truly great may be counted on the fin-
gers. In ancient times more attention was paid to
gastrology, but the degraded taste that could em-
ploy an emetic to enable the repetition of indul-
gence, and the limited resources of restricted na-
tional intercourse, have left us little of value to be
gleaned for the experience of antiquity. The great
masters of the kitchen of those times have passed


away into oblivion, or have left only a few crude
dishes, remarkable more for their extravagance than
their excellence. It was a deficiency of knowledge
and high art that drove the gourmands of early days
to peacocks' brains, nightingales' tongues, and dis-
solved jewels.

The middle ages have left us some right royal
dishes ; the boar's head, the roasted ox, the black
pudding, mince-pies, the plum-pudding ; remarka-
ble, however, more for their substantial character
that satisfied a vigorous appetite, than for delicacy
that would gratify an educated taste. During this
period, howeyer, many drinks attained a perfection
that has never been improved on, and those deli-
cious combinations that were called cardinal, bishop,
punch, and the hearty sack, are almost as well
known and as great favorites now as then. There
is nothing to be drawn from the dark ages in the
least elevating to the science of gastronomy, and we
must look to modern times, and mainly to the
French nation, for our highest authorities and tru-
est instruction.

Catherine de Medicis introduced the art of cook-
ery into France, and liqueurs were invented during
the reign of Louis XIV., since v.hich time the re-
vered names of Vatel, Soyer, Ude, Kitchiner, Be-
chamel, and Carmel have become household words
throughout Christendom ; their skill has shed a be-
nign influence over mankind, has restored invalids
to health, and brought peace to families ; they are
quoted and looked upon with deep respect by all.


Coarse minds, to whom the allurements of gastro-
nomy are incomprehensible, consider cooking vul-
gar ; while a few pitiable individuals are created
without the sense to distinguish the tasty from the
tasteless, as there are persons without an eye for
the beauties of nature or an ear for the harmony of
sounds. These unfortunates deserve our sympathy ;
but for the individual who affects to despise the
pleasures of the table, as loftily placing himself above
what he terms grovelling appetites, nothing is ap-
propriate but contempt. Who would believe or
respect the man who claimed that his inability to
distinguish green from red was a credit to him ?
Or could tolerate one who was filled v/ith ostenta-
tious pride because, by a wretched malformation, he
could not tell Old Hundred from Casta Diva f

The sense of taste is as noble, and as capable of
education and improvement, as the art of the painter
or the musician. The stomach being the governor,
master, and director of the body, when it is pleased
the intellect works with force, the eye and ear are
in full play, and the nerves and muscles tingle with
animation; when it is sick or exhausted the eye
grows dull, the intellect feeble, the ear inaccurate,
and the whole body drooping and spiritless. It has
its ramifications in every part of the system, and
controls as inferiors the other organs. An ill-cooked
dinner has lost many a battle, ruined many an indi-
vidual, and disgraced many a genius ; it is said that
an indigestible ragout cost Napoleon his crown.

Life is dear to all, and yet persons are continually


committing a disagreeable and prolonged suicide,
accompanied with painful indigestions and untold
sufferings, by attempting to despise the rules that
the imperative stomach has laid down. Under cer-
tain well-known chemical laws, food is rendered
both digestible and palatable by special modes of
preparation, and mdigestible and unpalatable by
other modes. The same piece of meat that, fried,
will resemble shoe-leather, and afford neither plea-
sure nor sustenance, if nicely broiled would prove
agreeable to the palate and wholesome to the body.

Oui: country is overflowing with abundance of the
raw material from w^hich good dinners are made;
but we are absolutely without cooks, and the average
American life is shortened one-tenth by the misera-
ble ignorance of the rules of cookery that pervades all
classes. The farmer Jbolts his heavy griddle cakes
and tasteless fried meats ; while the wealthy citizen
devours rich gravies and ill-prej)ared compounds.
The former loses his teeth, the latter incurs the
thousand horrors of dyspepsia, and both shorten
their lives.

But to rise above the unimportant consideration
of mere life, which is held in our land at its true
value, and regarding cookery from a loftier point
of view, is there not something noble in the art that
moulds together the various subjects of taste, and
builds up an exquisite, soul-thrilling composition ? Is
not that man worthy of our deepest admiration, who,
not only from the wealth of materials prepares the
perfection of luxury, but when reduced to the sim-


plest articles, still manages to gratify the most deli-
cate and exacting of our organs ? Who has not felt
his heart expand as he surveyed a royal feast ; his
affections become purified, his feelings elevated, as
dish followed dish, and each proved itself worthy of
the other ; and at last has not taken a gentler view
of human kind when contentment filled his soul ?
A good dinner encourages generosity, begets sympa-
thy, increases geniality, while it strengthens the
intellect and the nerves ; a bad dinner produces ill-
nature, leads to discontent and quarrelling, dulls
the mind, and injures the body. The former aids
Christianity and promotes virtue ; the latter is the
bold accomplice of vice and crime ; evil humors can-
not exist in the body without spreading to the mind,
and vices in the former create vices in the latter.
Controlled by that complacency which is the sto-
mach's return for kind treatment, the evil passions
sleep, and fading gradually, lose half their strength;
whereas, if aggravated by perpetual dissatisfaction
and uneasiness, they become- daily more violent, till
they disdain command and burst forth in unrestrain-
ed fury. So that the soul, even, may be endangered
by bad cookery. The civilization and power of na-
tions advance in proportion to their improvement
in their cuisine, and the reformation is said to be
due to the strong Teutonic impatience of fast days.
A coarse taste in eating is as sure an indication of
coarseness in mind and habits, as delicacy of taste is
of delicacy and refinement in other particulars. As
the more vulgar desires are controlled by the


higher impulses of the mind, and clean hands are
often the index of a clean heart, so purity of appe-
tite usually accompanies purity of soul. Nothing
condemns the vulgar man more quickly than the
nature of his appetite, and his mode of gratifying it ;
driven on like the beasts by hunger, he thinks only
of the readiest and quickest mode of satisfying the
unpleasant craving, and never dreams there can be
anything intellectual in a dinner. The Americans,
as a nation, are ignorant of the first principles of
dining; in private, they ruin their digestions ; in pub-
lic, they disgust their fellows. With that practical
turn for which they are famous as a body, they de-
vote themselves to what is profitable; and the arts
of sculpture, painting, and gastronomy are just begin-
ning to be appreciated.

Those huge dishes that delight hungry, vulgar
John Bull, such as roast beef, boiled mutton, and
the like, still meet with the approbation of the active
American ; and while our women, with their natural
elegance, draw their fashions from France, our mat-
ter-of-fact men imitate the rude cookery of England.
It is a melancholy truth that there is no place in
America where a dinner can be obtained; feed-
ing-places, miscalled restaurants after those priceless
legacies of the French revolution, are innumerable ;
but even the famous Delmonico fails to appreciate
that wonderful production, the pride of our land —
none of the miserable little coppery European
abominations, but the great American oyster — does
not understand it, and never rises to a proper com-


prehension of its capabilities, and consequently never
serves a perfect dinner.

So must it be while ignorant Irish cooks — whose
only claim to the title consists in having spoiled
thousands of potatoes, in having rarely seen, and
never cooked, a piece of meat, and only dreamed of
coffee— possess our kitchens and rule the roast ; and
as it is impossible for the master of the house, and
would be unladylike in the mistress, to superintend
the dinner, the only spot for truly scientific cookery
is in the woods. There, under the blue vault of
heaven, where the shade of some friendly tree tem-
pers the combined heat of sun and fire, accompanied
only by the interested and appreciative guides, with
the hot wood fire rapidly forming its pile of glowing
coals, can the contemplative man, tempted by appe-
tite and opportunity, devote himself to the higher
branches of epicurism. Not that the materials are
plentiful, rich, or costly, but working up from the
very plainness of his fare a more gratifying com-
pound. With that bed of coals suggesting broiling,
and that dancing, smokeless blaze inviting roasting,
no intelligent being would think of frying meat.

Under such circumstances, the larder being neces-
sarily limited, and repetition threatening to breed
disgust, ingenuity is sharpened and exercised to
produce variety ; an accurate knowledge of the pow-
er of different sauces is obtained, and new modes of
dressing simple articles invented. It is to lead the
mind of the reader in this direction, and not v^'ith
the hope of instructing Irish cooks, or educating


American taste, that this short article on cookery is
written ; and if the life in the woods, or on the water,
of our sportsmen shall be in a degree improved by
the effort, the main object will be attained.

The materials generally at the disposal of the
hunter or fisherman on the coast and in the woods
consist of fish, oysters, clams, ducks, ^ame .birds,
and venison ; while he will carry of necessity pork,
ship-biscuit, salt, and pepper, and, if possible, eggs,
flour, sauces, Indian-meal, and as many of the minor
aids of a good cuisi7ie as his means of transportation
will admit.

No attempt will be made to confuse the reader
with complicated directions for the construction of
highly seasoned and strangely named French dishes,
but the simplest and readiest mode of cooking each
article will be given, with instructions in varying
the effect. If the enthusiasm inherent in the sub-
ject shall occasionally carry the writer away and
lead him to indulge in what the reader — living on
hard tack and salt pork — may regard as vain ima-
ginings, the weakness of man in the contemplation
of so vast a subject must be the excuse ; and the
disciple need undertake nothing for which he has
not the materials.

One of the great deficiencies, although partially
supplied by the solidified article, is milk, which can-
not be kept in its natural state, and is badly repre-
sented by its substitute. Generally, however, water
will answer in its stead, and for gravies or thicken-
ing for stews, a little flour mixed with a lump of


butter, and dissolved in a cupful of tepid water, is
an excellent equivalent.

Oyster Stew.

The American oyster, to the thoughtful mind, pre-
sents itself almost as an object of veneration, and
would among barbarous nations have altars raised
to its honor ; to the practical mind it is a mine ot
luxury, a very Golconda of epicurean wealth ; raw
broiled, baked, roasted, fried, stewed, or scolloped,
it is the tit-bit of perfection, and in every mode may
be varied extensively ; it takes all flavors, and is
delicious without any ; it is improved by all sauces,
and needs none. It accords with every other dish,
or mates a dinner alone. The subject has never
been half explored, much less exhausted.

A stew may be made with crackers or flour, with
celery, cheese, or milk, and with or without sauces ;
but in every instance the juice must be separated
from the oysters and well cooked before the latter
are added, or they will be over-done, shrivelled, and
ruined. The simplest mode is to put some pepjDer,
salt, and butter in the juice, boil it five minutes, add
the oysters, and cook for one minute longer.

Or you may add to the juice crackers pounded
fine and rolled in butter, and some celery chopped
fine, or a little cheese and Worcestershire or Har-
vey sauce ; or you may put a table-spoonful of flour
and as much butter in a cup, and having rubbed
them together and added a little of the warm juice,
may mix this slowly with the rest. This must


all be done before the oysters are added ; and where
flour is used, care must be taken to mix it first with
a small quantity of fluid, or it will lump. A dry
stew, which is preferred by many, is made by cook-
ing the oysters, from which the liquor has been care-
fully strained, in butter, salt, pepper, and sauce.

Fried Oysters.
Dry each oyster separately on a towel ; dip them
in the yolk of eggs beaten up, and then in pounded
crackers that have been seasoned with salt and
pepper ; heat butter or pork drippings in the frying-
pan, and cook the oysters over a slow fire, turning
them frequently. Do not use too much butter or
drippings, but add fresh as required, so as to leave
the oysters dry when done. A clean tin pan is the
best, and red pepper preferable to black. Lard is
detestable for frying anything, and salad oil is per-
fection. If black pepper is ever used, it should be
purchased whole and ground by hand, as the fine
pepper is generally adulterated and flavorless.

Roasted Oysters.
To roast an oyster, it is simply put on the fire till
it opens, when the shell is forced off", and it is eaten
.from a hot, concave shell, in which butter has been
melted with vinegar, salt, and pepper ; or it may be
taken out when half done, and cooked in a pan with
its own liquor, salt, pepper, and a little butter.

Broiled Oysters
Are prepared as for frying, then dipped in melted


butter, placed in a double gridiron, and cooked over
live coals.

Scolloped Otstees

Are placed in a deep dish with butter and bread-
crumbs, or pounded crackers well seasoned and


The only proper mode of baking clanis was dis-
covered by the aborigines, and was invariably prac-
tised by them on their yearly visitations to the sea ;
the clams are placed on a flat rock side by side, with
their sharp edges down and the valves up, and when
so arranged in sufficient numbers, are kept in their
places by a surrounding circle of stones. A large
fire is built over them and allowed to burn for about
twenty minutes, when it is cleared away and the
clams are extracted from the ashes, overflowing with
juiciness and steaming with aroma. Burnt fingers
and lips add to the pleasures of an Indian clam-
bake. The best sauce is pepper-vinegar.

Clam ok Fish-Chowder.

Pork, potatoes, butter, crackers, sauce, salt, pep-
per, vegetables, and meat, if any can be had, clams
or fish, or both, are covered with water, placed in a
close vessel, and stewed slowly till patience is ex-
hausted, appetite insists upon indulgence, or the
mess threatens to burn. The large articles are cut
in pieces of an inch square or thereabouts, and may
be highly seasoned.



Stewed Clams, or Clam Soup.
Hard clams are not fit to eat, stew them as you
will. Soft clams, after the tough parts are removed,
are excellent stewed with a little butter, or butter
rolled in flour, as directed for oysters; but being
richer than oysters, they do not need so many addi-
tions. The soup is made by thinning the juice be-
fore it boils with milk, which will curdle if thrown
into the boiling liquid. Hard clams make a good
soup if they are cut fine and not eaten.

Feied or Broiled Clams.
Soft clams may be prepared as directed for oys-
ters, the tough parts being first removed.

Scrambled Eggs.
Eggs are broken one by one in a cup to make
sure they are fresh, and then- thrown . into a pan
with a lump of butter, some salt and pepper, and
stirred carefully, so as not to break the yolks imme-
diately, over a slow fire till the whole is almost hard.
They had better be too soft than too firm.

Poached Eggs
Are broken into a cup and poured one by one
carefully into hot water, and when done are ladled
out on a flat, broad stick or spoon, so as to let the
water drain ofi*.

Fried Eggs.
Fried eggs are broken one at a time into a cup,
and poured into hot grease.



Eggs are broken into milk, thickened with a
moderate quantity of flour, salt, and pepper, which
is beaten up and fried with butter ; parsley, ham, or
bacon may be added, cut fine.

Smoked Beef
May be fried in grease with a little pepper, or
may be stewed in milk. A little flour rubbed with
butter in a cup, and mixed with some of the warm
gravy, may be added.

Boiled Fish.

There are two modes of boiling fish ; one recom-
mended by Sir Humphrey Davy, and the other by
the great Soyer. By the former, the fish cut into
pieces is thrown into boiling salt and water, one
piece at a time,' and the largest first ; by the latter
it is placed in cold water, heated slowly, and allowed
to simmer by the fire. The former, in his Sahnonia^
page 120, quotes chemistry to show that by the
excessive heat the curd is coagulated at once and
preserved ; the latter refers to his unequalled repu-
tation. I have generally pursued the former course
as the more rapid ; the water must be allowed
to recover its heat after each piece is thrown in, so
that it may be always intensely hot ; about fifteen
minutes of hard boiling will be required, but the
only reliable plan is to examine and try the fish with
a fork from time to time, as it is ruined if cooked
too long, and uneatable if not cooked enough.


In Soyer's receipt the fiah is placed in cold water
that contains a pound of salt to every six quarts,
which is then heated to the boiling point and allowed
to simmer for half an hour if the fish weighs four
pounds, for three-quarters if it weighs eight pounds,
and so on.

Of course, a fish must be scaled ere it is cooked,
and should be cleaned, although if it is cooked whole
and the party is hurried, the latter process may be
omitted without injury ; the entrails, however, are
not to be eaten.

A little of the liquor in which the fish has been
boiled, with Harvey or Anchovy sauce, or Chili
vinegar, makes an excellent dressing ; but the best
sauce is obtained by dissolving a spoonful of flour,
that has been thoroughly mixed with a lump of but-
ter, in a little warm water, and boiling the whole
for a few minutes. This may be prepared in any tin
pot, and, cooked with chopped parsley, is the making
of boiled fish.

Fkied Fish.

The fish, which should be small, after being cleaned
and scaled, are dipped in water and then in Indian-
meal, and fried, well seasoned with pepper, in the
pan with pork drippings or butter. If the latter is
used, salt must be added. Trout are excellent pre-
pared in this manner.

Broiled Fish.
Fish for broiling may be larger than for frying ;


they are scaled, split open down the back,- and well
seasoned. They are placed on the gridiron and
approached for a few moments close to the fire, so
as to sear the pores. They are then cooked more
slowly and well basted with butter, imless a piece
of thin pork is laid across them, the grease from
which will answer the place of basting. A favorite
way to cook a shad or blue-fish alongshore is to split
him entirely in two, and tacking the halves, seasoned
and buttered, to shingles, to roast them rapidly ; each
man eats from his own hot shingle.

Baked Fish.

Small fish or pieces of fish, cleaned, scaled, and
seasoned, may be rolled in oiled paper and baked in
the ashes ; or a whole fish unsealed, but cleaned
and wiped dry, may be rolled in damp leaves and
buried deep in hot ashes. When it is done, the skin
and scales will come off together.

Stewed Fish.

Cold fish may be cut up into small pieces, sea-
soned and stewed in water, with a little salt pork.
If milk is substituted for water, the dish will be
more j^alatable.


Must be boiled when alive till they turn red.
For a dressing the yolk of a raw egg is beaten up,
with a tea-cupful of salad oil poured in very slowly
till it is firm ; a tea-spoonful of mustard, a little salt,


pepper, and vinegar are added and beaten together,
after which more oil may be added, if necessary.
The meat is picked from the shell, cut up fine, and
mixed with a few spoonfuls of vinegar ; the dressing
is then poured over it.

Or the dressing may be omitted, and the meat
cut into pieces may be warmed up in milk and but-
ter, with pepper and salt, and served hot.


Are usually boiled by being throwm, after they have
been washed, into an iron pot filled with cold water
and a little salt, placed on the fire till the water
boils, and allowed to cook till they are done, which
is ascertained by puncturing them with a fork. The
water is then poured ofi*, and they are allowed to
steam near the fire for a few minutes.

When cold they may be cut up and fried in
grease, or mashed and stewed in milk, or mixed
with small pieces of salt pork or meat, and made
into a species of hash ; in either case they must be
w^ell seasoned, and are improved by the addition of

The best way to fry them is to slit thin pieces
from the raw potatoes, and letting them drop into
cold w^ater, leave them for a few minutes. When
taken out and fried in butter, they will be crisp and

Potatoes are tender and mealy if simply baked
in hot ashes, which can be done by burying them
under the fire until they become soft.


Boiled Meats.
s Meats are placecT in cold water with a little salt,
and boiled slowly, the scum that rises being re-
moved from time to time.

Feied Poek or Bacon.

Pork is cut into thin shces and freshened by being
heated in the frying-pan with a little water. It is
fried without any addition whatever, and the grease
fried out of it is saved for cooking other articles.
It can be breaded by being dipped first in cold
water, and then in crumbs or Indian-meal, and fried

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Online LibraryRobert Barnwell RooseveltSuperior fishing; or, The striped bass, trout, and black bass of the northern states. Embracing full directions for dressing artificial flies with the feathers of American birds; an account of a sporting visit to Lake Superior, etc., etc., etc → online text (page 17 of 18)