Monthly Archives: August 2015

  • Young Mother by Marquard Wocher 1778

    Young Mother_Marquard Wocher(1760-1830)_1778 18th century drawingMarquard Wocher (1760-1830)

    Detail: Mother, child, plant pot, rake, chicken, basket, dog, scythe, sickle, shovel, shaving bench, house, window, garden, thatch roof, timber frame

  • An Old- Woman by a Fireplace by Jacob Vrel ~1660

    Mid 17th century Painting of a Lady by a fireplaceJacob Vrel

    Detail: foot warmer, chair, brass kettle, fireplace, curfew, meat fork, skimmer, tiles, sconce, porringer, delft plates, candles sticks, wall panelling, mantle, mantle curtain

  • Selfportrait with Family by Hendrik Spilman ~1760

    Selfportrait with Family_Hendrik Spilman_~1760Hendrik Spilman (1736-1784)

    Detail:  girl's clothing, doll, cat, book, Ladies' floppy black hat, cravat, wig

  • A Simply Fantastic Lemon Cream


    Don't be fooled by the word "cream." This delicious recipe for Lemon Cream from Amelia Simmons’ cookbook American Cookery (1796), is ironically completely dairy-free. Instead, it uses an interesting egg-cooking technique which yields a delicious custard-like dessert. While fruit creams of this nature have over time fallen off most modern culinary menus, lemon cream is one of the few survivors. It's most recognizable today in the form of lemon cream pie.

    This is a very easy recipe. Be sure to use only fresh lemon juice!

    recipe lemon cream

    Lemon Cream


    • 6 egg whites
    • 1 whole egg
    • the juice of 4 lemons (about 1 cup)
    • 1 cup of water
    • 2 cups of sugar
    • the rind of one lemon


    Mix together the egg whites, egg, lemon juice, and water.


    Whisk in the sugar until it's completely dissolved.

    Pour the mixture through a sieve to strain off any egg treadles.


    Put the whole mixture in a pot with the lemon rind, and place it over medium-low heat.

    Stirring constantly, slowly bring the mixture up to a simmer -- just under boiling. If any foam or scum forms, remove it.

    Lemon3The mixture will remain very liquid as it heats up. It's very important that you stir the mixture continuously. Immediately prior to boiling, the mixture will suddenly and noticeably thicken. When this happens, immediately remove it from the heat.

    Lemon4Remove the lemon rind.

    Serve the cream warm or cold “in china dishes”. (Jon serves them in these beautiful bowls.) The cream will continue to set as it cools.


    This cream can be served by itself or in other desserts. Jon, Michael, and Ivy brainstorm a few such desserts, like a tart, pie, and doughnuts.


    What would you make?

    Post your ideas and or pictures below!

  • Delightfully Whipped Syllabubs

    Sweet recipes and desserts exploded in popularity during the 18th century. Cook books from that time are full of sugary treats that are as assorted in form as you can imagine. As delicious as many of these treats were, it can be a bit perplexing that they didn't survive -- at least in the North American context. The Syllabub is an example of a yummy dessert that for some strange reason has fallen into obscurity.

    Syllabub was always a dessert beverage. Trying to define it further is a bit complicated. This is because the characteristics of syllabubs vary greatly. Recipes from many books, from over a broad span of time, call for many different wines, densities, processes, and flavors. Even just within Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife (1739), are three very different recipes for Syllabubs. To simplify things we will talk about just one fantastic version; the whipped Syllabub.

    recipe whipt syllabub

    While it may be difficult to concisely define a syllabub, don't despair! You should see the variety as a green light for your creativity! Feel free to embellish, add, subtract, substitute or change the recipe however you desire. With syllabubs, if you imagine it is delicious, it will be -- this is undoubtably one of the reasons why there are so many variations in the first place. In the video below Jon and Michael make a few variations of Smith’s “Whipt Syllabubs”.


    Whipt Syllabubs


    For the drink

    • approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine per serving (Smith’s recipes call for Sack or sherry, Rhenish White Wine, or Claret, but feel free to use another white wine or even hard cider. For a nonalcoholic version try white grape juice or apple juice.)
    • about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar per serving (you may wish to eliminate the sugar altogether if you're using a sweet wine)

    For the topping

    • 1 cup white wine or juice
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • Juice of 2 lemons (less if you desire a less-tart topping)
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • garnish with grated nutmeg and a squeeze of lemon rind


    For the drink


    Combine the wine and sugar and stir until dissolved.


    For the topping

    Combine the wine or juice, the lemon juice, and a 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.


    Once the sugar is dissolved, mix in the heavy cream.


    Whisk the mixture until it forms soft peaks.  This can be done by hand or with a mixer with a whisk attachment.


    Serving Procedure

    Fill each of your serving glasses until about half full, then top with the whipped cream topping.


    Garnish with a sprinkle of grated nutmeg and squeeze of fresh lemon rind.

    Sit back, relax, enjoy your syllabub. For yet another variation, stir the whipped topping with the drink to create what was called a "jumble syllabub."


  • London Cries - A Muffin Man by Paul Sandby ~1759

    London Cries - A Muffin Man_Paul Sandby(1730-1809)_~1759Paul Sandby (1730-1809)  from the Yale Center for British Art

    He looks pretty grumpy to me - I don't think I would by any muffins from this guy.

    Details: Shoes, buckles, stockings, breeches, coat, tricorn, food, basket, muffin, fence, house, window, tea party, street vendor

  • A Gardener by Balthasar Denner 1735

    A Gardener by Balthasar Denner(1685-1749) in 1735Balthasar Denner (1685-1749)

    I could not find a larger color version of this image but I like it so much I will use it anyway.

    Detail: Shoes, small shoe buckles, socks, socks over breeches, watering can, breeches, garden rake, waistcoat, shirt, suspenders, hatless

  • Fishmongers by Jean Baptiste Charpentier

    siftingthepast-from Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes_Pescadores_Jean Baptiste Charpentier(1728-1806)_Jean Baptiste Charpentier (1728-1806) from Museum of Fine Arts, Buenos Aires

    Detail: fish, lobsters, dog, market, wooden tubs, basket, children, children's clothing,  women's clothing

  • Switchel: the Original Energy-Ade

    What do you drink if you're worn out and need a little kick? An Ade, soda, an energy boost? In the 18th century, before supermarkets had shelves lined with this stuff,  many people drank a delicious beverage called Switchel.


    Beverages similar to switchel date all the way back to ancient Greece, and were drank all the way around the world. This recipe was typical of those popular in America from New England all the way to the Caribbean. Of course regional influences made for local flares. In Vermont, for example, Switchel was made with Maple Syrup and mixed with oatmeal. (The oatmeal was eaten as a snack once the beverage was finished.) While in Trinidad the drink was almost always mixed with special branches from the quararibea turbinata plant. (Also known as the swizzlestick tree.)

    Like Jon mentions in the video above Switchel is excellent with alcohol rum. The succulent balance of vinegar and sweetness makes for an exquisite cocktail base.



    • 1/2 gallon of Drinking Water
    • 1/2 cup of Unsulfured Molasses (not blackstrap!) -- to understand better what type of molasses this is, make sure you watch the video on Switchel posted above. You may also substitute maple syrup or honey.
    • 1/4 cup of Apple-Cider Vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon of Powdered Ginger


    Mix all ingredients in a large vessel. Stir vigorously, especially making sure the ginger is well assimilated. Refresh yourself accordingly!

    Switchel, along with many other tasty beverages, can be found in Libations of the Eighteenth Century by David Alan Woolsey, sold at Jas. Townsend and Son.

  • Portrait of Abraham Beurer by Johan Christoph Dehne about 1740

    Portrait of Abraham Beurer_Johan Christoph Dehne_~1740Johan Christoph Dehne ( 1713 - 1741 )

    I picked this picture out especially for the shirt collar detail.

    Detail:  Man's coat, decorative buttons, band collar shirt, cloth hat, mustache

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