Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Virginia Housewife

 My good friend Barb brought me a new cookbook that she found during her travels on the east coast. The name is The Virginia Housewife Or, Methodical Cook - A Facsimile of an Authentic Early American Cookbook by Mary Randolph." I have had the best time reading through this book. The first printing of this book was in 1824. The thing that strikes me the most is all the work that it took to put a meal on the table. It is apparent why you needed to be your own butcher, baker and candlestick maker!

I enjoyed this enough that I decided to share some of the recipes with you. Today the focus will be on main courses and sides.

From page 16-17; Barley Soup "Put on three gills of barley, three quarts of water, few onions cut up, six carrots scraped and cut into dice, an equal quantity of turnips cut small; boil it gently two hours, then put in four or five pounds of the rack or neck of mutton, a few slices of lean ham, with pepper and salt; boil it slowly two hours longer and serve it up. Tomatos are an excellent addition to this soup."

From page 30; To Stew a Rump of Beef "Take out as much of the bone as can be done with a saw, that it may lie flat on the dish, stuff it with forcemeat made as before directed, lay it in a pot with two quarts of water, a pint of red wine, some carrots and turnips cut in small pieces and stewed over it, a head of cellery cut up, a few cloves of garlic, some pounded cloves, pepper and salt, stew it gently til sufficiently don, skim the fat off, thicken the gravy, and serve it up; garnish with little bits of puff paste nicely baked, and scraped horse-radish."

From page 51; To Roast A Pig " The pig must be very fat, nicely cleaned, and not too large to lie in te dish; chop the liver fine and mix it with crumbs of bread, chopped onion and parsley, with pepper and salt, make it into a paste with butter and an egg, stuff the body well with it, and sew it up, spit it, and have a clear fire to roast it; baste with salt and water at first, then rub it frequently with a lum of lard wrapped in a piece of clean linen; this will make it much more crisp than basting it from the dripping pan. When the pit is done, take off the head, separate the face from the chop, cut both in two and take off the ears, take out the stuffing, split the pig in two parts lengthways, lay it in the dish with the head, ears, and feet, which have been cut off, placed on each side, put the stuffing in a bowl with a glass of wine, and as much dripping as will make it sufficiently liquid, put some of it under the pit, and serve the rest in a boat."

From page 62; To Dress a Salt Cod " Steep your salt fish in water all night, with a glass of vinegar; it will take out the salt, and make it taste like fresh fish; the next day boil it; when it is enough take off the skin, pull it in fleaks into your dish, then pour egg sauce over it, or parsnips boiled and beat fine with butter and cream; send it to the table on a water plate, for it will soon grow cold."

From page 69; To Roast A Goose "Chop a few sage leaves and two onions very fine, mix them with a good lump of butter, a tea-spoonful of pepper, and two of salt, put it in the goose, then spit it, lay it down, and dust it with flour; when it is thoroughly hot, baste it with nice lard; if it be a large one, it will require an hour and a half, before a good clear fire; when it is enough, dredge and baste it, pull out the spit, and pour in a little boiling water."

From page 72; To Roast A Turkey " Make the forcemeat thus: take the crumb of a loaf of bread, a quarter of a pound of beef suet shred fine, a little sausage meat or veal scraped and pounded very fine, nutmeg, pepper, and salt to your taste; mix it lightly with three eggs, stuff the craw with it, spit it, and lay it down a good distance from the fire, which should be clear and brisk; dust and baste it several times with cold lard; it makes the froth stronger than basting it with the hot out of the dripping pan, and makes the turkey rise better; when it is enough, froth it up as before, dish it, and pour on the same gravy as for the boiled turkey, or bread sauce; garnish with lemon and pickles, and serve it up; if it be of a middle size, it will require one hour and a quarter to roast."

From page 75-76; Fried Chicken "Cut them up as for the fricassee, dredge them well with flour, sprinkle them with salt, put them into a good quantity of boiling lard, and fry them a light brown; fry small pieces of mush and a quantity of parsley nicely picked, to be served in the dish with the chickens; take half a pint of rich milk, add to it a small bit of butter, with pepper, salt, and chopped parsley; stew it a little, and pour it over the chickens, and then garlish with the fried parsley."

From page 83-84; Chicken Pudding, A Favourite Virginia Dish "Beat ten eggs very lightly, add to them a quart of rich milk, with a quarter of a pound of butter melted, and some pepper and salt; stir in as much flour as will make a thin good batter; take four young chickens, and after cleaning them nicely, cut off the legs, wings, &c. put them all in a sauce pan, with some salt and water, and a bundle of thyme and parsley, boil them till nearly done, then take the chicken from the water and put it in the batter pour it in a deep dish, and bake it; send nice white gravy in a boat.

From page 84; Mock Macaroni "Break some crackers in small pieces, soak them in milk until they are soft; then use them as a substitute for macaroni."

From page 87; A Nice Twelve O'Clock Luncheon "Cut some slices of bread tolerably thick, and toast them slightly; bone some anchovies, lay half of one on each toast, cover it well with grated cheese and chopped parsley mixed; pour a little melted butter on, and brown it with a salamander; it must be done on the dish you send it to table in."

From page 89; Gaspacho - Spanish "Put some soft biscuit or toasted bread in the bottom of a sallad bowl, put ina layer of sliced tomatoes with the skin taken off, and one of sliced cucumbers, sprinkled with pepper, salt, and chopped onion; do this until the bowl is full; stew some tomatos quite soft, strain the juice, mix in some mustard, oil, and water, and pour over it; make it two hours before it is eaten.

From Page 90-91; Gravy "Take a rasher or two of bacon, and lay it at the bottom of a stew pan, putting either vean, mutton, or beef, cut in slices, over it; then add some sliced onions, turnips, carrots, celery, a little thyme, and alspice. Put in a little water, and set it on the fire, stewing til it be brown at the bottom, which you will know from the pan's hissing; then pour boiling water over it, and stew it an hour and a half; but the time must be regulated by the quantity. Season it with salt and pepper."

From page 93; Common Sauce " Plain butter melted thick, with a spoonful of walnut pickle or catsup, is a very good sauce; but you may put as many things as you choose into sauces."

From page 102; Red Beet Roots " Are not so much used as they deserve to be; they are dressed in the same way as parsnips, only neither scraped nor cut till after they are boiled; they will take from an hour and a half to three hours in boiling, according to their size; to be sent to the table with salt fish, boiled beef, &c. When young, small and juicy, it is a very good variety, an excellent garnish, and easily converted into a very cheap and pleasant pickle."

From page 108; Egg Plant "The purple ones are best; get them young and fresh; pull out the stem, and parboil them to take off the bitter taste; cut them in slices an inch thick, but do not peel them; dip them in the yelk of an egg, and cover them with grated bread, a little salt and pepper  -- when this has dried, cover the other side in the same way -- fry them a nice brown. They are very delicious, tasting much like soft crabs. The egg plant may be dressed in another manner: scrape the rind and parboil them; cut a slit from one end to the other, take out the seeds, fill the space with a rich forcemeat, and stew them in well seasoned gravy, or bake them, and serve up with gravy in the dish."

From page 109; Sweet Potatos Stewed "Wash and wipe them, and if they be large, cut them in two lengths; put them at the bottom of a stew pan, lay over some slices of boiled ham; and on that, one or two chickens cut up with pepper, salt, and a bundle of herbs; pour in some water, and stew them till done, then take out the herbs, serve the stew in a deep dish -- thicken the gravy, and pour over it."

From page 109; Spinach " Great care must be used in washing and picking it clean; drain it, and throw it into boiling water -- a few  minutes will boil it sufficiently; press out all the water, put it in a stew pan with a piece of butter, some pepper and salt -- chop it continually with a spoon till it is quite dry; serve it with poached eggs or without, as you please." 

From page 111; Cabbage with Onions " Boil them separately, and mix them in the proportions you like; add butter, pepper, and salt, and either stew them, or fry them in a cake.

I realize that there are misspelled words, but I decided to enter these recipes exactly as they were written.

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