One of our members recently gave the historical society two old books. One, dated 1862, is the annual publication from Codey’s Lady’s Book. It is filled with fashions and sweet fiction from the time. The other is a cookbook dated 1812. Cooking was a challenge in those days when most of it was done over an open fire. Small contraptions that looked like boxes were placed near the fire and served as ovens in which to bake pies, breads, etc.
Anyone wanting to return to their roots and cook as their ancestors did will want to copy this recipe from The Art of Cookery – Made Plain and Easy.
Here is one of the shorter recipes – “How to Pickle Lemons,” just as it appears:
Take twelve lemons, scrape them with a piece of broken glass; then cut them across in too, four parts downright, but none quite through, that they will hang together; put in as much salt as they will hold, rub them well, and strew them over with salt. Let them lie in an earthen dish three days, and turn them every day; slit an ounce of ginger very thin, and salted for three days a small handful of mustard seed bruised and searced through a hair sieve, and some red Indian pepper; take your lemons out of the salt, squeeze them very gently, put them in a jar with the spice and ingredients, and cover them with the best white wine vinegar. Stop them up very close, and in a month’s time they will be fit to eat.
The recipe for hashing a calf’s head is a bit longer, but here is how it starts:
Boil the head almost enough, then take the best half, and with a sharp knife take it nicely from the bone, with the two eyes. Lay it in a little deep dish before a good fire, and take great care no ashes fall into it, and then hack it with a knife cross and cross; grate some nutmeg all over, the yelks of two eggs, a very little pepper and salt, a few sweet herbs, some crumbs of bread, and a little lemon-peel, chopped very fine, baste it with a little butter, then baste it again; keep the dish turning that it may be all brown alike; cut the other half and tongue into little thin bits, and set on a pit of drawn-gravy in a sauce pan, a little, bundle of sweet herbs, an onion; a little pepper and salt, a glass of white wine, and two shalots; boil all these together a few minutes then strain it through a sieve, and put it into a clean stew-pan with the hash.
… The recipe goes on from there as to what to do with the other half of the head and brains, adding vegetables, herbs and other seasonings, garnishing with 20 fried oysters “dripped in the yelk of an egg,” and finally “throw the rest over the hash, lay the bacon round the dish, and send it to table.”