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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)…

Asp6

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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…

onion-soup-time-0_00_4313


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
An Onion Soup Recipe From 1801

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 cup Cream
  • Frazer’s Mixed Spices (Black Pepper, Allspice, Nutmeg, Clove)
  • Bread

Start by placing 4 ounces of butter and about 4 tablespoons of flour in a large skillet. Keep it stirred well while it browns so it doesn’t burn.

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Next add about 8 midsized onions, peeled and sliced very thin. Any onions will do, white, yellow, sweet. I like onions, so I’m using a lot of red onion which is the stronger flavor. Red onions were used in the 18th century probably more often in medicine, but they were used in cooking as well. You can also mix your onions to get a unique flavor.

Season your onions with a little salt and stir until the onions are soft and have begun to caramelize. The longer you reduce them, the sweeter and more flavorful they will become.

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Bring about 3 quarts of beef stock to boil and add the onions to the pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

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While your onions are simmering, you need to prepare the rest of the ingredients. This version is a cream of onion soup, so we need to prepare what is called a liaison. Gently whip together 4 egg yolks and a cup of cream with just a little bit of salt, then add to the onion soup.

At this point, this is a very basic, plain onion soup. You could add a lot of things to this. I’m going to season this one with a little bit of our Mrs. Frazer’s Mixed Spices.

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This is an authentic blend of spices from an 18th century recipe. It contains black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and clove. This will be a great addition. You could also add other things like vegetables or other kinds of spices.

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Onion soup was routinely served over a piece of bread. Sometimes that bread was toasted as we are doing, other times it was fried. After another 20 minutes this is ready to serve.

Transcript of Video:

You’re going to love this episode today. We went back in the archives and we got an episode on French Onion Soup we did several years ago. It’s a great one and we are working on so much right now. We’ve got lots of great episodes coming up, bonus topics, the next season of 18th Century Cooking starts next week, so stay tuned. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking.

In a previous episode, we did a dish, Fried Onion Rings. Something that’s thought to be purely modern, but it actually came from John Mollard’s 1801 cookbook, “The Art of Cooking Made Easy and Refined”. Today we’re going to be making another one of John Mollard’s recipes. A recipe for 18th century Onion Soup. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking with Jas. Townsend and Son.

We start by placing 4 ounces of butter in our spider along with about 4 tablespoons of flour. I’ll want to keep this stirred well while it browns so it doesn’t burn. Next I’ll add 8 midsized onions, peeled and sliced very thin. Any onions will do, white, yellow, sweet. I like onions, so I’m using a lot of red onion which is the stronger flavor. Red onions were used in the 18th century probably more often in medicine, but they were used in cooking as well.

I’ll season this with a little salt. I’ll continue to stir this until the onions are soft and they have begun to caramelize. The longer I reduce them, the sweeter and more flavorful they will become.

We need about 3 quarts of beef stock on the fire here and we’re going to add our onions.

We’re going to let this simmer about 30 minutes. While this is simmering, I’m going to prepare the rest of our ingredients. Onion soup was routinely served over a piece of bread. Sometimes that bread was toasted as we are doing, other times it was fried.

In addition, Mollard’s version of the onion soup here is a cream of onion soup, so I have prepared what’s called a liaison, it’s 4 egg yolks, a cup of cream and a little bit of salt and we’re going to add this to the soup. Mollard’s onion soup here is just a very plain basic onion soup. You could add a lot of things to this. I’m going to season this one with a little bit of our Mrs. Frazer’s Mixed Spices. This is an authentic blend of spices from an 18th century recipe. It contains black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and clove. This will be a great addition. You could also add other things like vegetables or other kinds of spices.

After 20 minutes this is looking wonderful. I’m going to dish some out.

This smells wonderful. Let’s give it a quick try.

Mmm. This is really, really good. You’re going to really enjoy this. It’s got a wonderful medley of flavors. The wonderful sweet onions. You can get all those wonderful spice flavors in there. The texture of the bread. This is really great.

Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

A Rare Glimpse And A Unique Resource

A Rare Glimpse and a Unique Resource

Here at Jas. Townsend & Son, we’re presently researching, of all things, the history of pancakes.  We noticed a broad range of various pancake recipes as we perused the numerous period cookbooks in preparation for our video series, but we routinely skipped over them for more adventurous fare. But the ubiquitous pancake has finally caught the attention of our easily enticed eyes, and as a result, you can fully expect future blog entries as well as videos on this historically important food item.

But pancakes are not the point of this post.

Nestled in this grand terrain of flapjack, fritter, and crepe recipes rises a mountain of a treatise on pancakes by William Ellis, in his book The Country Housewife’s Family Companion. Lacking the pedigree of most of his competing culinary counterparts, Ellis, who was a maven of anecdote, drew upon his skills in observation and storytelling to present a grand collection of conventional wisdom. The frontispiece of this 1752 work on country life and cooking admits the rather unconventional qualifications for an author of a cookbook with the line, “The whole [of this book is] founded on nearly 30 years of experience by W. Ellis, Farmer…”

The few remaining references on Ellis’s life suggest that he was a popular 18th-century author, albeit only briefly, on English agriculture. His collection of best practices in agricultural affairs was popular among English country gentlemen, yeomen, and farmers, that is, until some of his readers visited his farm hoping to observe his prescribed methods as well as their successful outcomes. Instead, what they reported was a farm in complete disarray, and consequently much of Ellis’s writing was eventually dismissed as being largely fabricated.

Let that serve as a caveat to our modern interpretations, but even so, let us also avoid being too hasty to throw out the curds with the whey. The fact is, The Country Housewife’s Family Companion still gives us a rare glimpse into the daily customs, challenges, and conditions of  English country folk.

This book merits further study by those interested in 18th-century cooking, husbandry, and country living in general.

You can find a digital version of  The Country Housewife’s Family Companion here, with a superglossary offered here.

Printed versions are advertised here by Prospect Books.

Suet, Part One: Its Role In 18th Century Foodways And Life

Suet, Part One: Its role in 18th Century Foodways and Life

Scan through almost any 18th century cookbook and you will find a recurring term: Suet. Suet was an important ingredient in English cooking. It’s still used today, though it seems to have reserved its spot on British grocery shelves much more so than here in the United States.

Wikipedia

Suet is a special hard fat found in the loins of beef and sheep — I’ll explain specifically what suet is (and what it isn’t) in my next post. As an ingredient, it fills the columns of the old cookbooks. It’s an essential component in many traditional puddings, dumplings, crusts, mince pie, sausage, haggis, and forcemeats and stuffings. It was used to create an air-tight seal for potted meats and preserved fruits and vegetables. In its clarified state, it was used for deep frying, broiling, basting, and grilling.

David Steel’s 1795 book, “The Ship Master’s Accountant,” explains how sailors were issued flour, currants, and suet one day a week (Sunday, according to other texts) in lieu of their normal ration of beef. With these ingredients, the men would make “Plum Duff” — a simple boiled plum pudding.

Suet had numerous non-culinary uses in the 18th century as well. Countless medicinal ointments used suet as a base ingredient. It was used as lamp oil, as well as in the production of soap and leather treatments such as dubbin and black ball.

Maria Rundell, in her 1807 cookbook, “A New System of Domestic Cookery” uses suet in a couple recipes for Pomatum — the 18th century version of Pomade. She goes on to explain how suet can be used as a rust inhibitor of metal pots and utensils.

Will Hays, in his 1775 book, “Valuable Secrets Concerning Arts and Trade,”  publishes a formula which uses suet for oil-based paint. And if you’re ever concerned that someone may find out that you make your candles out of suet, here’s his recipe for a suet candle that no one will ever suspect:

Hays also offers a recipe for fish bait which uses suet and various other sundry (and stinky) ingredients along with a little cotton fiber to hold it all together. More “fish paste” recipes can be found in the 1800 publication, “The Sportsman’s Dictionary.”

Probably the most serendipitous find in my research was Elizabeth Moxon’s instructions for making carbon paper in her 1749 book “English Housewifry.”

Rundell explains further in her book how this black paper can be used to copy clothing patterns.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll take a closer look in future posts at what Suet is and what it isn’t. In addition, I’ll explain what you should look for when purchasing suet and how to process it for use. I’ll also post a sampling of recipes from various 18th and early 19th century cookbooks that use suet as a major ingredient.

The Overlooked Purslane

The Overlooked Purslane

Just as it is across half of the United States, this part of Indiana where I live is under the oppressive effects of extreme drought. I’ve given up on my lawn. The grass crunches beneath my feet and breaks off at the ground with each step. I fear spontaneous combustion should the sun even look at it wrong. The only signs of life in my yard are the towering weeds which have shown themselves once again to be the most well-equipped to survive.

The other day I braved the heat and went outside to uproot those few remaining living things. I felt a bit “Grinchy” doing so. As I made my way to the front of the house where the tallest stand thrived, I was delighted to find a splayed-out clump purslane growing up through the crack in my scalding hot sidewalk.

Purslane is considered an exotic weed in most parts of the U.S., but there is some fossil evidence that it was at one time native to North America. It is common throughout many parts of the world. It’s a succulent plant that stores water in its leaves, stems, and roots. It reminds me of a diminutive version the jade plant I have growing in my living room. Both purslane and my jade plant seem to be equally resistant to drought.

Both the stalks and leaves of purslane are edible. It has a snappy texture and its taste can vary depending on the time of day it’s harvested: pick it before the sun rises and it can have a slightly tart flavor; by midday, it’s likely to taste more mild with a hint of earth. And what’s especially nice about this plant is that it’s extremely high in Omega-3 oils — more so than any other leafy plant you can find in the produce section. It’s also high in Vitamins A, B, and C. If you suffer from kidney stones or gout, however, you may want to be careful about making purslane a regular addition to your diet, as it also contains high levels of oxalate, a contributor to these ailments.

Purslane can be found in a number of 18th century cookbooks. It was typically used in soups and stews, as well as eaten raw in salads. It was also used as a garnish, often being blanched and pickled. Here are a few recipes:

The Compleat Housewife, Eliza Smith, 1739
 

By the way, a “walm” is a bubble according the O.E.D. Boil the stalks in salted water for a dozen bubbles…in order words, blanch them.

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