|From the tomato harvest of the author's garden (photo by the author)|
|Title Page of American Cookery|
Amelia Simmons, who added the title "An American Orphan" to her author name, wrote her book with the express purpose of using ingredients which could be procured on American soil, either through direct propagation or easy importation. Printed in Hartford, Connecticut in 1793, her cookbook bore the usual eighteenth century penchant for exceedingly long subtitles. In her case, the subtitle handily served the purpose of a table of contents as well:
ART OF DRESSING
VIANDS, FISH, POULTRY, AND VEGETABLES,
BEST MODES OF MAKING
PASTES, PUFFS, PIES, TARTS, PUDDINGS,
CUSTARDS AND PRESERVES,
AND ALL KINDS OF
C A K E S,
FROM THE IMPERIAL
PLUMB TO PLAIN CAKE.
ADAPTED TO THE COUNTRY,
AND ALL GRADES OF LIFE.
Reading Miss Simmons's recipes and anecdotal notes is a delight. Her proposal of putting naughty, and otherwise orchard-marauding, boys in charge of planting and caring for fruit trees is priceless (but that's for another blog post.)
|The first cucumber of the summer in the author's garden (photo by the author)|
I've printed, below, some of her directions for preserving summer's bounty, maintaining most of its original spellings. As you will see, her directions for preserving gooseberries is very similar to our present day canning methods.The last recipe is for something called Diet Bread, not related to food preservation but I just had to include it today. Obviously, the eighteenth century's use of the word diet was far different than its popular use today but, when you note how long you're supposed to beat the sugar and eggs, it might not be a bad way to lose weight after all!
To Pickle Cucumbers:
Let your cucumbers be small, fresh gathered, and free from spots; then make a pickle of salt and water, strong enough to bear an egg; boil the pickle and skim it well, and then pour it upon your cucumbers, and stive them down for twenty four hours; then strain them out into a cullender, and dry them well with a cloth, and take the best white wine vinegar, with cloves, sliced mace, nutmeg, white pepper corns, long pepper, and races of ginger, (as much as you please) boil them up together, and then clap the cucumbers in, with a few vine leaves, and a little salt, and as soon as they begin to turn their colour, put them into jars, stive them down close, and when cold, tie on a bladder and leather.
|Naked peaches (photo by the author)|
To Preserve Peaches:
Put your peaches in boiling water, just give them a scald, but don't let them boil, take them out, and put them in cold water, then dry them in a sieve, and put them in long wide mouthed bottles: to half a dozen peaches take a quarter pound of sugar, clarify it, pour it over your peaches, and fill the bottles with brandy, stop them close, and keep them in a close place.
To Dry Peaches:
Take the fairest and ripest peaches, pare them into fair water; take their weight in double refined sugar; of one half make a very thin sirup; then put in your peaches, boiling them till they look clear, then split and stone them, boil them till they are very tender, lay them a draining, take the other half of the sugar, and boil it almost to a candy; then put in your peaches, and let them lie all night, then lay them on a glass, and set them in a stove, till they are dry, if they are sugared too much, wipe them with a wet cloth a little; let the first sirup be very thin, a quart of water to a pound of sugar.
Gather them when dry, full grown, and not ripe; pick them one by one, put them into glass bottles that are very clean and dry, and cork them close with new corks; then put a kettle of water on the fire, and put in the bottles with care; wet not the corks, but let the water come up to the necks; make a gentle fire till they are a little coddled and turn white; do not take them up till cold, then pitch the corks all over, or wax them close and thick; then set them in a cool dry cellar.
The American Citron:
Take the rind of a large watermelon not too ripe, cut it into small pieces, take two pound of loaf sugar, one pint of water, put it all into a kettle, let it boil gently for four hours, then put it into pots for use.
One pound sugar, 9 eggs, beat for an hour, add to 14 ounces flour, spoonful rose water, one do. cinnamon or coriander, bake quick.
To see more of this gem, go to: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/books/americancookery/amer.html
Have a good week, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!