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A Well-To-Do Rice Pudding


Get Your Copy of the Cookbook Here! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/american-cook… ▶▶ Visit Our Website! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/ ▶▶ Help support the channel with Patreon ▶ https://www.patreon.com/townsend ▶▶ Sign up for the YouTube Mailing List! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/youtube_list.htm ▶▶ Twitter ▶ @Jas_Townsend Facebook ▶…

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April 4, 2018


A Poor Man’s Rice Pudding


Get Your Copy of the Cookbook Here! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/american-cook… ▶▶ Visit Our Website! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/ ▶▶ Help support the channel with Patreon ▶ https://www.patreon.com/townsend ▶▶ Sign up for the YouTube Mailing List! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/youtube_list.htm ▶▶ Twitter ▶ @Jas_Townsend Facebook ▶…

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Macaroni And Cheese


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Barley Soup


Get your copy of the cook-book here ▶ http://www.townsends.us/the-art-of-co… ▶▶ Visit Our Website! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/ ▶▶ Help support the channel with Patreon ▶ https://www.patreon.com/townsend ▶▶ Sign up for the YouTube Mailing List! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/youtube_list.htm ▶▶ Twitter ▶ @Jas_Townsend Facebook ▶…

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Pink Pancakes!


Perfect for Valentines Day! Pink Pancakes featuring last week’s candies lime peel! Visit Our Website! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/ ▶▶ Help support the channel with Patreon ▶ https://www.patreon.com/townsend ▶▶ Sign up for the YouTube Mailing List! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/youtube_list.htm ▶▶ Twitter ▶ @Jas_Townsend…

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Candied Lime Peel


A simple and delicious sweet meat from the 18th Century. #townsendspeel Visit Our Website! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/ ▶▶ Help support the channel with Patreon ▶ https://www.patreon.com/townsend ▶▶ Sign up for the YouTube Mailing List! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/youtube_list.htm ▶▶ Twitter ▶ @Jas_Townsend Facebook…

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A perfect recipe just in time for Christmas! This is another German recipe translated by Kayla and Karen at Old Salem Museums and Gardens. #townsendslittleantlers Visit Our Website! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/ ▶▶ Old Salem’s Website ▶ http://www.oldsalem.org/ ▶▶ Help support the…

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March 23, 2018


Yellow Turnips


The translation for these “Yellow Turnips” was made possible by Kayla and Karen at Old Salem Museums and Gardens, who are presently translating two 18th Century German cookbooks. Visit Our Website! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/ ▶▶ Old Salem’s Website ▶ http://www.oldsalem.org/ ▶▶…

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March 22, 2018


Open Fire Roast Beef


There is nothing like cooking over an open fire! Today we are doing a very simple recipe for Roast Beef from “American Cookery” by Amelia Simmons. Visit Our Website! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/ ▶▶ Help support the channel with Patreon ▶ https://www.patreon.com/townsend…

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Apple Puree


Another delicious, German recipe given to us by Kayla and Karen at Old Salem Museums and Gardens, who are presently translating two period German cookbooks. Check Out Our Brand New Website! ▶ http://www.townsends.us/ ▶▶ Old Salem’s Website ▶ http://www.oldsalem.org/ ▶▶…

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Page 1 of 73
Read Twice, Bake Once.

Read Twice, Bake Once.

When it comes to interpreting 18th century cookbooks, sometimes it pays to go with your instinct when it tells you a recipe may be inaccurate.

Take for instance this recipe from the book “The Universal Cook” by Francis Collingwood and John Woollams (1806):

I’m quite certain even the most robust palette would find a mincemeat pie made with eight ounces each of mace and nutmeg shockingly inedible.

Now, I don’t want to sound overly critical of all the hard work that Mr. Collingwood and Mr. Woollams put into their book. I don’t want to be another Ann Cook, for instance, who started her 1760 cookbook, “Professed Cookery” with a lovely poem followed by nearly 70 pages of scathing criticism of the work, “The Art of Cookery” by her culinary rival, Hannah Glasse. After all, I have made my share of mistakes in life and have even made a few mistakes on behalf of my closet friends. I’m sure the mistake here was a simple one: the word “pound” was innocently used in place of the word “ounce.”

But not all innocence is innocuous. Small amounts of nutmeg and it’s aril companion, mace, are just fine for human consumption (albeit, not so for pets, which is why you should never let your dog drink the leftover eggnog after the party). These are versatile spices, used in both sweet and savory dishes. But unfortunately for all of those inexperienced 18th century cooks who took the above recipe at face value, consuming large amounts of nutmeg can result in myristicin poisoning. Symptoms include convulsions, dehydration, nausea, palpitations, headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, blood-shot eyes, memory disturbances, visual distortions, hallucinations, and paranoia.

I knew when I read the recipe that a full pound of this spice combination had to be erroneous. So I cross-referenced this recipe to others found in some of my favorite 18th century cookbooks. It was then I began to smell something a little more sinister (at least by modern standards) wafting from the kitchen: plagiarism!

The first edition of “The Universal Cook” was published in 1792 — that’s nine years following the original publication of John Farley’s book, “The London Art of Cookery.” Compare Mr. Farley’s mincemeat recipe to the aforementioned version:


Plagiarism was apparently pretty common in the 18th century, that is, if the considerable number of offenses I’ve noticed in the old cookbooks is any indication of that. But in this case, I wonder if it carried dire consequences. Kind of a culinary karma.

The moral of this story is to read twice, bake once — similar to the ol’ carpenter’s mantra, “measure twice, cut once.” Calmly put the whisk down if your instinct tells you something smells fishy. If a recipe calls for eight ounces each of nutmeg and mace, you may want to consider cross referencing the recipe.

And for a broader application of this principle, in the reenactor’s or historical foodie’s endeavor to be historically accurate, one might want to be sure that what he or she is meticulously replicating was accurate in the first place.

One would hate to be the death of a party.

Spices In The 18th Century English Kitchen

Spices in the 18th Century English Kitchen

Proper seasoning can make all the difference between a bland chunk of meat and a course fit for royalty. We decided to dig through a collection of 18th and early 19th century cookbooks to see which spices were mentioned. We also took one of the more recognized books and looked at the frequency by which the spices appear in the recipes.

It’s seems to me to be a fairly safe and logical conclusion that the frequency by which particular spices, herbs, and seasonings were mentioned may lend insight into which were more popular. Granted, I can’t be too dogmatic in my conclusions. First, my sample is small. Second, taste preferences in the 18th century varied regionally and culturally just as they do today. So I wouldn’t attempt to apply my conclusions to every 18th century English-speaking cook, but this exercise seems to be an interesting starting point toward understanding preferences of the day. This is intended to be one snap shot of perhaps many, and hopefully helpful in a general sense for the interested reenactor or historical foodie who, perhaps, wishes to put together a spice kit or stock a spice box.

My sample includes the 1797 cookbook, The Lady’s Assistant for Regulating and Supplying her Table by Charlotte Mason; English Housewifery, by Elizabeth Moxon, 1764; The Art of Cookery, Hannah Glasse, 1774; The Scotch Forcing and Kitchen Gardener, by Walter Nicol, 1798; The English Art of Cookery, by Richard Briggs, 1788; and The Art of Gardening, by John Wollridge, 1700.

The Collective List of Seasonings:

Salt — Sure, salt is a given as far as seasonings go. But if you’ve ever run across in the old recipes the terms “bay salt,” “sea salt,” “salt-petre,” etc, and wondered what specifically was being referenced, a good explanation can be found in Mason’s book:

Other seasonings include: Allspice (Jamaican Pepper), Anise Seed, Basil, Bay leaf, Caraway, Cayenne, Chives, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Horseradish, Lemon Zest, Mace, Marigold Blossoms, Marjoram, Mint, Mustard, Nutmeg, Parsley, Pepper (Black and White),  Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Sorrel, Tarragon, Thyme, and Turmerick.

I would not be at all surprised if I missed a few, but it’s pretty safe to say that this includes most of the spices found in the best-supplied English spice cabinets.

The Frequency by which Seasonings were Mentioned:

We took Moxon’s book and analyzed it for usage frequency. Of course, Salt is the most commonly included ingredient, mentioned nearly 300 times. Second was lemon peel or zest — mentioned 198 times. Then there is pepper with 158 mentions. Then nutmeg with 120, followed close behind by its aril companion, mace, with 110. Beyond that, the numbers drop off: parsley, 58 mentions; cinnamon, 30; ginger, 27; and cloves, 15.

Other Cryptic Seasonings:

We can’t overlook the phrase “sweet herbs,” as it is mentioned in nearly every period cookbook. The term remains more of a suggestion than a prescription of specific herbs. In nearly every case, “sweet herbs” referred to a bundle of fresh herbs — typically aromatics. I did find two specific recommendations: one for a combination of thyme, parsley, sweet marjoram, and savory; the other for sage, sweet marjoram, thyme, and mint.  Marjoram and thyme, given all the honorable mentions in other recipes, seem to be the most typical components to these “sweet herb” bundles.

Kitchen Pepper” is mentioned in Mason’s book, as is the phrase “Mixed Spices” in Mrs. Frazer’s 1795 book, “The Practice of Cookery.” These were spice blends which used some of the more common seasonings. Recipes are found in the respective books. Frazer’s blend includes allspice, pepper, nutmeg, and clove, while Mason’s blend primarily includes salt, pepper, ginger, and cinnamon.

We’ve reproduced these spice blends and made them available at Jas. Townsend & Son. We also carry a number of bottlespots, and cans perfect for storing your favorite seasonings.

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