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Propagating Wild Yeast for Reenactments


Today, if you asked 50 people about how to start a wild yeast culture for making sourdough bread, it’s likely you’ll get 100 different answers, but in reality, all it takes is a little bit of flour, some water and…

Which Yeast (Time 0_00_55;12)

September 29, 2017


Akara Recipe


Akara is a simple, easy to make snack that was frequently made in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Dried Black-eyed Peas Onions Parsley flour Boiling water Lard First, pulverize the dried black-eyed peas into very small pieces. Add to…

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A Fanciful Yet Easy Asparagus Soup


This delicious Asparagus Soup recipe from Elizabeth Cleland’s A new and easy methods of cookery (1755). Many of this recipe's techniques, including roux, food coloring, bone broth, and court-bouillon (the ingredients boiled in the soup that are removed before eating)…

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September 28, 2017


Rye and Indian Bread


This is called Rye and Indian bread, because it’s made of part rye flour and part Indian meal or sometimes we call it cornmeal. You can use just those two grains to make the flour, or you can add wheat…

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Simple Boiled Plum Pudding


Many people hear the word pudding today and they think about some little custardy stuff in a cup or something you buy at the grocery store in a box and mix it up with some milk. Pudding has a much…

Plum Pudding (Time 0_11_05;10)


An Onion Soup Recipe from 1801


This recipe for onion soup is out of John Mollard’s 1801 cookbook, “The Art of Cooking Made Easy and Refined”. 4 oz. Butter 4 tbsps. Flour 8 midsized Onions of choice Salt 3 qts. Beef Stock 4 Egg Yolks 1…

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A White Pot Recipe


A White Pot with Raisins and Dates Serves 1 - 6 (depending on how polite you are) The name “White Pot” originates from the Devon region of England. But this sweet, buttery custard bread pudding, layered with sweetmeats (dried fruits)…

Also Known as a White Pudding


Master Wood Turner Erv Tschanz


In this special video, master wood turner Erv Tschanz shares his passion for the craft. Erv is one of several skilled artisans that sells handcrafted items through Jas. Townsend & Son. The treenware cherry wood plate being made in this…

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September 13, 2017


Weaver/Trapper Interview: Experiencing History Through Reenacting


We've been busy interviewing fellow reenactors for the purpose of inspiring and encouraging viewers who are interested in getting involved in historical reenacting but don't know how to begin. Today we interview Tony Baker, a weaver by trade, who has…

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Starting a Living History Group from Scratch


It took an idea and a group of friends, and it went from there. Albert Roberts tells the story of how the innovative historical interpretive group "The HMS Acasta" was born. http://ift.tt/2wQkO31 More great information! ***************************** Our Retail Website -…

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Page 1 of 69
Two 18th Century Vegetarian Recipes: Carolina Snow Balls And A Simple (but Delicious) Boiled Rice Pudding

Two 18th Century Vegetarian Recipes: Carolina Snow Balls and a Simple (but Delicious) Boiled Rice Pudding

As a follow-up to my last post, I’m offering a couple of 18th century recipes from the 1767 cookbook, Primitive Cookery; or the Kitchen Garden Display’d. As I previously mentioned, this book was a collection of recipes that were “borrowed” from other sources: the two recipes I’m highlighting were originally from Hannah Glasse’s earlier cookbook The Art of Cookery. Both recipes happen to use rice as their main ingredient.

Rice was an important food in 18th century English diets. That topic, however, is far too complex to be addressed at this time. Entire books have been written on the subject. One that I would highly recommend is Carolina Rice Kitchen: The African Connection by Karen Hess.

I struggled a bit writing this post. Normally, I enthusiastically celebrate 18th century foods. In contrast, this post has brought a certain degree of sobriety.

Much of the rice enjoyed on English tables originated either from West Africa or South Carolina and Georgia. While indigenous rice had been cultivated in Africa for thousands of years, it wasn’t until possibly the 16th century that the finer, whiter oriental varieties were introduced. The crop was so successful there and the grain so popular, that its production quickly surpassed the indigenous varieties.

By the late 1600s, these strains of rice had also been introduced to the swamplands of South Carolina and portions of Georgia.  Within a few years, hundreds of tons of rice were being exported. The success of the crop in the colonies was directly due to the expertise of African slaves brought from the rice-growing regions of West Africa.

We cannot correct the inhumanities of history by ignoring them. While the purpose of this post is to examine two very simple rice recipes, I do not want to overlook the reality that lies behind them. The fact is, the luxuries enjoyed by so few were the result of the blood, sweat, and tears of so many.

So are these recipes.

Having said that, here are the recipes. They are exceptionally easy to make.

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Carolina rice was a long grain rice. In my experience with these recipes, I found a medium grain rice to work better than a modern extra-long grain rice. The quantities used in these recipes are almost irrelevant. There is a great deal of latitude in terms of how much rice you use. I also found that while you need to leave some room in the pudding cloth for the rice to expand, if you leave too much, the end result will be a bag of soggy rice rather than a well-formed pudding ball.

One other word of advice draws upon 18th century kitchen wisdom that is not mentioned in these recipes: once the puddings are done boiling, you may find it easier to remove them from the pudding bag if you first dip them in cold water for a few seconds.

Finally, this recipe calls for a sauce of equal parts melted butter and sugar. In my opinion, the sauce really makes these dishes. If, however, you choose to not use butter, you may want instead to try drizzling some sherry sweetened with a little sugar.

An 18th Century Vegetarian Cookbook, And A Peek Into The Diets Of The Poor

An 18th Century Vegetarian Cookbook, and a Peek into the Diets of the Poor

We are occasionally asked on our Facebook page and our Youtube channel if we could provide more vegetarian recipes. A few have asked if we have run across any information on vegetarianism in the 18th century.

I will not pretend to be an expert on the subject — not for a second. I will share a few things, however, that I have recently run across.

First, here’s a link to an interesting book by Colin Spencer, called The Heretic’s Feast: A History of Vegetarianism. If you’re interested in learning more on this topic, this book seems to be a go-to.

While the history of vegetarianism can be traced back thousands of years, much of its ancient form was founded on religious belief and ritual. Modern vegetarian ideologies are often based on ethical convictions or dietary health concerns. Spencer suggests that modern vegetarianism can trace its roots through the “radical ideas” forged in 17th century Europe.

Where are the Cookbooks?

Walk into any bookstore today, or peruse the shelves on line, and you can find volumes of vegetarian cookbooks. Not so in the 18th Century. That’s not to say that vegetarians didn’t exist then. It’s apparent from the few things I found that there was a segment of society whose dietary choices were determined by their ethical convictions.

Keep in mind that 18th century Europe was experiencing a massive population expansion. Food shortages were commonplace. Much of the wheat, for instance, that was grown in early America was exported to Great Britain to meet the under-supplied demand there for bread. This development resulted in a food vacuum of sorts that was naturally filled by indigenous “Indian corn.”

The old saying goes, “as American as apple pie.” Apple pie wasn’t American. There were scores of recipes for that dish long before Amelia Simmons ever picked up her first spoon. But corn…now that’s American.

I’ve had a few people ask if any vegetarian cookbooks existed in the 18th century. My response has always been, not that I’m aware of. I did, however recently run across a book that I thought might silence the scoffing from my fellow historical foodie enthusiast reenacting meat-eaters. It’s called, The Pythgorean Diet, of Vegetables Only. As I tore the Amazon box open, I thought to myself, “Here it is! A better answer for my vegetarian friends!” I was disappointed, frankly, to discover that it was a translation of a discourse delivered in Florence, Italy, by Antonio Cocchi, in 1743. There were no recipes. It wasn’t a cookbook. It was an argument for the Pythagorean philosophy that can be traced through time for thousands of years.

But wait! There’s still hope! Here’s another book I ran across: Primitive Cookery; or the Kitchen Garden Display’d, written in 1767. I suppose it could classify for the most part as an ovo-lacto vegetarian cookbook, as many of the recipes still include eggs and dairy products. As I began reading this book, however, two things quickly became apparent.

First, this book was written to encourage healthy eating among those who could not afford meat, rather than those who chose not to eat it for ethical reasons. This, in and of itself, is a bit ironic. A cookbook written for the poor. At the bottom of the book’s frontispiece is printed “[Price One Schilling.]” — full-day’s wages (and a pretty steep price) for a common man.

Second, this cookbook, to a greater extent, was a collection of recipes found elsewhere; likely in other cookbooks.

The feature in this book that I found most noteworthy, however, was an a section in the back titled, “A Bill of Fare of Seventy Pretty Little Dishes, Which Will not Stand in Two-Pence Charge.” It’s a list of seventy suggested meals that a poor person might eat. It’s kind of a “missing link” of sorts in period cookbooks. Period cookbooks were written for people of some means. They also tended to assume a certain commonsense among their readers. Some things aren’t mentioned in cookbooks because it’s assumed the reader knew already.

This section in Primitive Cooking offers insight in lowly cuisine — a rarity among period cookbooks. For example, recipe #11:

“Take eggs and beat them well together, and fry them with butter, when done, melt some butter and vinegar and put upon them.”

When it comes to historical reenacting, and specifically juried events, commonsense has occasionally been known to be thrown out with the bath water.

“Do you have documentation…any original recipes for those scrambled eggs you’re eating there for breakfast?”

“Well…no…uh, but…”

As far as vegetarianism goes in the 18th century, sure it existed, but for the masses, I’d venture to guess that it existed by necessity (or the lack thereof) much more commonly than it did by ethic conviction. I say that acknowledging that I have yet to touch upon the topic of Lent — the season leading to Easter when, in addition to other rights and rituals, the consumption of meat was generally forbidden. If you are a vegetarian trying to maintain or incorporate your dietary choices in your historical repertoire, you may wish to approach your research first with Primitive Cookery and then expand it to consider the foods of Lent. There are numerous period cookbooks that address those dietary restrictions.

Primitive Cookery is also an excellent resource for anyone, vegetarian or meat-eater alike, interested in understanding what life in the 18th century was like. Back then, the vast majority of people worked hard to squeak out a living.  This book is an excellent resource — that is, if you can sacrifice a full schilling. Fortunately, you can pick up the paperback version on Amazon for ten or twenty bucks.

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