Monday, December 31, 2007

The Wonderful World of Welch's

Go to the Recipes below

Welch's Cookbook

Purple Meatballs?

Once, quite by accident, I created a dish I'll call, Purple Meatballs. My children were small and we were, well, slightly on the the poor side. At the time, I didn't own a crock pot but believe it or not, I did have access to one. My neighbor in back of me, who would later become my husband, had a brand spanking new crock pot. "George, are you ever going to use that thing?" I asked him one day. A man of few words, was George, so he shook his head, with a smeared smile and kindly said, "no". "Do you mind if I give it try", I asked. Of course, he didn't and the rest as we say in our house, is purple meatball history. I suppose I should explain. Although, I collect cookbooks, I don't really use them for cooking. I read them like others read novels. When I'm contemplating a new meal for either home or visit, I take a bunch of cookbooks off the shelves, sit back in my favorite chair, and I scan through the pages. This act is not a mission of reading. It's more of an inspiration for creating. I put all the cookbooks back in their nestled places, sleep on it, and the next day, I decide my menu. I've probably been doing this since I was around 9 years old. My mother had few cookbooks but even then I did the same thing.

The "invention" of the purple meatball was of course not my alone. Perhaps, in my mind's eye, I had seen the recipe before and just didn't recall it. It is certainly possible. My recipe was merely my favorite cocktail meatball recipe simmered in the crock pot with grape jelly, and apple cider vinegar. Yep, that's all it was and the kids just loved it! As I said, I didn't know much about crock pots then so with ingredients on hand, I made the meatballs, scooped out some grape jelly added a bit of apple cider vinegar and crocked away. I suppose I put the vinegar in just because I needed a bit of liquid and it happened to be in the fridge. There's just one thing I distinctly remember about those meatball; they didn't complement very many side dishes. "You guys want purple meatballs and noodles?" I would ask the kids. Nay, they would yell in between watching reruns of The Brady Bunch. I'll try again, "How about purple meatballs and rice?" "Nope" they would answer with eyes still glued to the TV. The solution would finally reveal itself in miniature purple meatballs with french fries and whatever vegetable happened to be in the cabinet, if any. Later, when I got married to George, we rarely had the purple meatballs. In 1994, George passed away. I recently gave my first crock-pot to my daughter. "Ma" she said as she was packing the crock-pot to bring across country to Idaho, "do you remember those purple meatballs we use to have for dinner"? I smiled, "I certainly do".

Concord Grapes?

At wikipedia, I discovered the Concord Grape. "The Concord grape was developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts". "The Father of the Concord Grape" worked tediously for over 10 years experimenting with seeds and seedlings and eventually in 1853, Bull's grape won first place at the Boston Horticultural Society Exhibition. Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch who developed the first 'Concord' grape juice in 1869 was born on December 31, 1825 in England. He emigrated to America with his father in 1834. In 1869, he discovered the pasteurization process to prevent the fermentation of grape juice. Through Dr. Welch's process of pasteurization, the grape juice did not ferment. Dr. Welch, a Methodist minister from New Jersey, originally tried to introduced the newly developed grape juice to his church, to be used as a "unfermented sacramental wine" for communion. His son, Charles Welch, began selling Welch's Grape Juice in 1873.

Since today is the birthdate of Thomas Bramwell Welch, I thought it a perfect time to share some recipes from the cookbook titled The Wonderful World of Welch's (1968)
(pictures will open to view recipes)

Welch's was founded by Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch in 1869, over 100 years ago. Through the years Welch products have become synonymous with natural goodness, excellent flavor and outstanding purity resulting in superior quality.

Welch's is now owned by The National Grape Cooperative Association which is comprised of over 1,282 grape growers located in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Ontario, Canada. In recent years, research has elevated the status of the Concord Grape. I have included some resources below for you to explore the health benefits of Concord Grapes. Now, let's get to the recipes!

Grape Doughnuts
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1/4 cup butter/margarine
1/4 cup warm water
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 eggs beaten
1/4 tsp. allspice
3-3*1/4 cups unsifted flour
Welch's Concord Grape Jelly
Confectioners' sugar (optional)
In a saucepan, scald milk; stir in sugar, salt, and butter. Cool to lukewarm. Pour water into large, warm mixing bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Add lukewarm milk mixture, eggs, allspice and half of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. turn dough onto well floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Place ball of dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Allow to rise until double in bulk (approx. 1 hour.) Punch dough down and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with 2-3/4 inch round cutter. Place on greased baking sheet; cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk.

In a skillet, fry in about 1 inch hot fat until brown on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper. When cool, puncture small hole in side of each and, using pastry tube, fill with grape jelly. Roll in confectioners' sugar, if desired. Yield: about 16.

Here is the recipe for the purple cake pictured on the cover of The Wonderful World of Welch's cookbook above.
Grapelade Cake
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tea. baking powder
1 tea. baking soda
1/4 tea. salt
1 tea. ground cinnamon
1 tea. cloves
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs well beaten
1-1/4 cups Welch's Concord Grape Jam
1 cup sour milk or buttermilk

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. Cream shortening until soft and smooth. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until very fluffy. Beat in eggs and grape jam. Add flour mixture alternately with sour milk, mixing after each addition, until mixture is smooth. Turn into (3) 9 inch greased and floured layer cake pans and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven about 30 minutes. Put layers together using a butter or boiled frosting as filling. Frost cake on top with same icing. Garnish with lavender coconut. Serves 8-10
Lavender Coconut: Tint coconut with a few drops Welch's frozen concentrated Concord Grape Juice, thawed and undiluted. Mix with spoon to blend.

Resources  (will open in new window)
  • 1. Mayo Clinic article
  • 2. High on Grape Juice article from Psychology Today
  • 3. Medical News Today
  • 4.The USDA Grape Juice Recipe (PDF file)
  • 5. Homemade Grape Juice Recipe
  • 6. Old Fashioned Grape Jelly Recipe
  • 7. Grape Jelly Cocktail Meatballs
  • 8. Cocktail Wieners
  • 9. Grape Jelly Chicken
  • 10. Welch's Website

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ode to Janet Mckenzie Hill

Ode to the Chafing Dish

Oh, I am a festive chafing dish,
I foam, and froth, and bubble.
I sing the song of meat and fish,
And save a deal of trouble.
In kitchen realm and dining hall,
The housewife now is able,
When I respond unto her call,
To cook dinner on the table.

Oh, I am a festive chafing dish,
Comely, quaint and cosy,
In circles rather revel-ish,
My mission somewhat rosy.
I'm ever ready to command
To do the best of cooking,
Am always sure to be on hand,
And, best of all, good looking.

I offer this poem an "Ode To The Chafing Dish," which I found in the book titled Aspic and Old Lace published by the Northern Indiana Historical Society. I thought it quite appropriate in light of the fact Janet McKenzie Hill author of Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing-Dish Dainties was born in December. I'm not usually in the habit of recommending cookbooks however, I have to say, this cookbook is so much more than signatures filled with recipes. I believe it to be a must for anyone interested in delving deeper into the recipes, cooking and fashions of long ago, especially related to Indiana. I can't begin to offer the delicacies you will discover in rhyme, recipe and reason.

Janet McKenzie Hill

Janet McKenzie Hill was born in Westfield, Massachusetts in December of 1852. (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the exact date) She was the daughter of Alexander McKenzie, a prominent clergyman, author and Harvard graduate and Nancy (Lewis) McKenzie. Janet McKenzie graduated from Massachusetts State Normal School in 1871, and became an assistant teacher at Stockbridge High School. In 1873 she married Benjamin M. Hill. Years later, she went back to school to study cookery, and in 1892 graduated from the Boston Cooking School, where Fannie Farmer was assistant principal. (#1) Four years later, in June 1896, Janet M. Hill founded the Boston Cooking School Magazine.

The official journal of the Boston Cooking-School Corporation from 1896 to 1905, the magazine began its publishing life as The Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics from 1896 to 1914. The title changed to American Cookery from 1914 to 1946, then became Better Food between 1946 to 1947, and ended as Practical Home Economics in 1947. (#2)

Many graduates from the Boston Cooking School of Culinary Science & Domestic Economics contributed editorial columns to the The Boston Cooking School Magazine and eventually had cookbooks of their own published. Alice Bradley began her lifelong culinary career by giving cooking demonstrations with Janet McKenzie Hill. In addition to the magazine, Janet McKenzie Hill was an author, demonstrator of cookery, and lecturer on domestic science. She authored many books on cookery. Some which include Salads, Sandwiches, and Chafing-Dish Dainties (1899) Cooking For Two: A Handbook For Young Housekeepers (1909). The Book of Entrees (1911) and The Up-to-date Waitress in 1912. She co-authored and contributed to many advertising recipe books. Some which include The Minute Man Cookbook for the Minute Tapioca Company in 1909. It is a beautifully illustrated 32 page pamphlet. Her recipe for Raspberry Jell-O Supreme appeared in a 1912 booklet for Jello.

Thoughts on Chafing Dish Cookery

A fine table-cloth, pretty dishes, a vigorous fern in the centre of the table, a brass kettle for boiling water for the coffee, a chafing-dish, a bowl of eggs, a silver fork, a daintily-clad woman, leisurely preparing the attractive dish for the breakfast, is a background that lends poetry to the hardest and most vexatious day. With its aid cold meat can be made delicious, and many dainties too delicate for the clumsy brain and hand of the maid-of-all-work can be easily supplied by the mistress, even in her dinner toilet. For the Sunday night tea it becomes a pan of magic, the contents of which are mixed with grace and home love. The House and Home: A Practical Book By Lyman Abbott (1896)
Chaffing-Dish, Chafin Dish: The chafing dish of coals was a portable brazier to hold burning coals or charcoal and designed to be set on a metal stand. Dishes could thus be finished or reheated away from the fierce heat of the hearth. The "chafing dish of coals" ultimately became the elegant silverplated chafing dish set over a spirit lamp and used for the table cookery of Edwardian dishes. By then the ‘dish’ was the dish of food to be cooked or heated, not the dish containing the fire. source

Food historian Alice Ross in the Journal of Antiques, praises chafing dishes as a symbol of luxury. In a letter dated 1520, chafing dishes are held in high esteem, especially in colder climates, they were used to serve meals to the Aztec ruler Moctezuma.

As the climate is cold, they put a chafing-dish with live coals under every plate and dish, to keep them warm. The meals were served in a large hall, in which Moctezuma was accustomed to eat, and the dishes quite filled the room, which was covered with mats and kept very clean.

Who invented these sometimes elaborate cherished warming platters? In her book Practical Cooking and Serving: A Complete Manual of how to Select, Prepare and Serve Food, Janet McKenzie Hill has this to say about the origins of the chafing dish.

The origin of the chafing-dish dates back to the period of unwritten history. Its use was common at least two thousand years ago. Like the brazier, chafing-dishes were once made of bronze and rested on the floor. As occasion demanded they were carried from room to room by means of handles on the sides...the Greeks and Romans—a saucepan of Corinthian brass—was also a species of chafing-dish, having several features of the modern chafing-dish...All of these appliances were a combination of sauce-pan and heat generator. Formerly the heat was supplied by live wood coals or the flame of burning oil. The ancient dishes were intended for gentle cooking or simmering, and for keeping hot food that had been cooked by other means. This is the rightful province of the modern chafing-dish and all other cooking, save that of a gentle simmering, should be left for some more appropriate utensil. This degree of heat, that of simmering, is well adapted to the cooking of eggs, oysters, and cheese, and the reheating of cooked materials in a sauce, the sauce having been first made in the blazer of the chafing-dish.

The blazer, a hot-water pan and a lamp are the indispensable parts of the chafing-dish—the hot-water pan is some, times though erroneously, omitted. A tray upon which the dish may rest, while the lamp is lighted, insures the tablecloth against fire from below.

I found quite a few chafing dish articles in the archives of The New York Times. One article especially caught my eye. It was published on March 17, 1908.

The Countess Lonyay, formerly Archduchess Stephanie, has invented a new chafing dish and spirit lamp combined, and taken out patents in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Belgium.

Since I found it, I may as well offer this circa 1900 photograph of the Countess Lonyay. If you notice in the claim, she has "invented" a new chafing dish. It appears to me, the chafing dish, in some form, has probably been around as long as there has been fire, fuel and cooking. Some chafing dish recipes have their legends ignited in the history of Lobster Newberg, Steak Diane, Cherries Jubilee and Shrimp Wiggle.


Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing-Dish Dainties by Janet McKenzie Hill
Preface to the First Edition
By many women cooking is considered, at best, a homely art, a necessary kind of drudgery; and the composition, if not the consumption, of salads and chafing-dish productions has been restricted, hitherto, chiefly to that half of the race "who cook to please themselves." But, since women have become anxious to compete with men in any and every walk of life, they, too, are desirous of becoming adepts in tossing up an appetizing salad or in stirring a creamy rarebit. And yet neither a pleasing salad, especially if it is to be composed of cooked materials, nor a tempting rarebit can be evolved, save by happy accident, without an accurate knowledge of the fundamental principles that underlie all cookery.
Chafing-dish Style Fillets of Chicken
Remove the breast from a plump and tender chicken and separate from the bone and skin. Detach the small fillets, then cut each side into two or three lengthwise slices the size of the small fillets. Keep covered closely until ready to cook. Heat the blazer very hot, butter slightly, and in it lay the fillets and sprinkle with the juice of half a lemon, salt and white pepper; add, also, one-third a cup of chicken stock and a tablespoonful of sherry. Cover and let cook about ten minutes. In the meantime prepare a sauce in a second chafing-dish, using two tablespoonfuls, each, of butter and flour, a dash of salt and pepper, and one cup of stock, in making which a small piece of ham or bacon was used. Add also a tablespoonful of mushroom or tomato catsup and a tablespoonful of sherry wine.
...Jean Anderson in The American Century Cookbook
Around the turn of the century, college girls kept chafing dishes in their dormitory rooms and cooked on the sly. A favorite production was Shrimp Wiggle: canned peas and shrimp heated in a basic white sauce, then served on toast. If the girls were living dangerously, they might sneak in a little "cooking sherry."

... Woman's Home Companion, April 1904; The Chafing Dish and the College Girl
She did not always possess the luxury of a chafing-dish, this young collegiate hostess. Many a bain-marie, or double-boiler proviso, has her ingenuity fashioned to meet the emergency of the moment - one small saucepan tottering perilously within another on top of a small kerosene-stove balanced on a mahogany desk-chair, or a tin pail, perhaps, bobbing about in a basin. These were always harrowing performances...
...The Bachelor and the Chafing Dish (1896) Twentieth century bachelors may have single handily brought the mystifying "magic utensil" back into the modern spotlight with their bohemian midnight suppers of Welsh Rabbit.
The new chafing-dish which is a most delightful evolution is accomplishing much as a civilizer. It is certainly an important factor nowadays in breaking formality and bringing people around a festive board under the happiest sort of circumstances. Its very general use by both men and women, its convenience for a quick supper or for a dainty luncheon, and its success as an economical provider where it is necessary all this is putting the chafing-dish upon a queenly dais. source
...Marion Harland's Complete Cook Book By Marion Harland
For a chafing-dish supper there should be no more guests than can group themselves comfortably about the dining-room table. As a rule, the dishes that are prepared are not of the variety that one can eat readily from a plate balanced on the knee, or in the hand. If the main table be not large enough to permit of all being seated about it, there may be smaller tables for the "overflow." If one chafing-dish is too small to prepare as much as the appetites of the eaters crave, there may be one at each end of the table, and there should be an expert in charge of each. The table may be simply set—either bare, or covered with a plain cloth. Flowers are out of place in the middle of it, as interfering with the free view of the chafing-dish by the guests. For it makes no difference how often one has seen a dish cooked, there is always curiosity to see it done once more. About the chafing- dish are placed all the paraphernalia that attend upon that kind of cookery—the condiments, the utensils, the spoons, forks, knives, measuring cups and the like. In chafing-dish cookery nothing can wait, and everything that by any chance can be needed must be there in advance...The occasion should be most informal. Persons who can not unbend readily should never go to chafing-dish parties. They will find themselves much out of place. To those who are fond of easy laughter and simple fun and a good deal of nonsense, and whose digestions—this is chiefest of all—are in good working order, there are few social relaxations that are pleasanter than a chafing-dish "affair."
...Hood's Practical Cook's Book
There is nothing in the way of cookery for which a chafing-dish is recommended that cannot be accomplished as well with a gas or oil stove, or common cooking range. But the chafing dish is exceedingly nancly for a social luncheon, where but one or two things are to be cooked, and where the heat of the range would be objectionable. Besides, it enables the party to sit around the table and see the process of cookery, and make suggestions to the cook, or exchange badinage with the other guests...The rule for stewing oysters or clams in a chafing dish does not differ materially from the rule for stewing on the stove. There are some variations in methods, and either can be used on the chafing dish. They may be stewed in milk or in their own liquor.

Nicole Aloni in her book Secrets from a Caterer's Kitchen offers unique uses for some of those lovely chafing dishes you can some times pick up for less than renting a sterno set up.

As long as understand their appropriate use, a chafing dish adds a lot of flexibility to your entertaining menus. I have an attractive four-quart chafing dish for my home I use at nearly every party.

Resources (all images will open larger)

  • 1) Feeding America
  • 2)
  • 3) Marion Harland's Complete Cook Book (page 680)
  • 4) Fannie Farmer
  • 5) The Up-to-date Waitress By Janet McKenzie Hill (google book)
  • 6) Hood's Practical Cook's Book
  • 7) Perfection Salad, Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century
  • 8) The House and Home: A Practical Book By Lyman Abbott(Published 1896) (online @ google)
  • 9) Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing-Dish Dainties by Janet McKenzie Hill (online reader)
  • 10) Recipes for Chafing Dishes from Fannie Farmer
  • 11) Home Made Candy Recipes by Mrs. Janet McKenzie Hill
  • Wednesday, December 26, 2007

    Grand Marnier, Elizabeth David

    A couple of weeks ago, I found an article in the June 1957 issue of The Epicurean Monthly titled Entertaining With Grand Marnier by Elizabeth David. I thought it would be fun to share some of the highlights of the article on the anniversary of Elizabeth David's birth which is today December 26.

    Elizabeth David was born on December 26, 1913. She was a pre-eminent British cookery writer of the mid 20th century. She is considered responsible for bringing French and Italian cooking into the British home. Elizabeth David helped reawaken the postwar British palate which had been worn down by post-war rationing and dull food by celebrating the regional and rural dishes of the Mediterranean rather than the fussier food of the gourmands and aristocrats.

    Elizabeth David studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and lived in France, Italy, Greece, and Egypt, where she worked for the Ministry of Information during World War II. While abroad she spent much of her time researching and cooking local fare. On her return to London in 1946, David wrote cooking articles and in 1949 the publisher John Lehmann offered her a hundred-pound advance for A Book of Mediterranean Food, a passionate mixture of recipes and culinary lore which was the start of a dazzling writing career. David spent eight months researching Italian food in Venice, Tuscany and Capri. Many of the ingredients were unknown in England when the books were first published, and David had to suggest looking for olive oil in pharmacies where it was sold for treating earaches. Within a decade, ingredients such as eggplants, saffron and pasta began to appear in shops, thanks in no small part to David's books. Elizabeth David gained fame, respect and high status and advised many chefs and companies. In November 1965, she opened her own shop, the Elizabeth David Kitchen Shop in Pimlico, London. She severed her ties with the shop in 1973, but went on to bring improved cooking equipment and kitchen tools to department stores in England.

    Long acknowledged as the inspiration for such modern masters as Child and Claudia Roden, Elizabeth's David's contribution to the gastronomic arts was recognized with numerous awards, including the first Andre Simon memorial prize. source @ wikipedia

    Grand Marnier As A Liqueur

    (the above article will open in a new window)

    Here are a few highlights from The Epicurean Monthly article.

    Grand Marnier As A Liqueur: The finest brandies in the world are distilled from wine produced in the small area of France known as Grande Champagne...In the heart of the country which produces these Brandies lies the Chateau de Bourg Charente, owned by the firm of Marnier-Lapostolle. Here is produced the Grande Champagne sold under the name of Cognac Marnier Lapostolle, and on a basin of this same Cognac is distilled the world famous orange liqueur known as Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge.

    Grand Marnier then, is not just "a liqueur," a term which nowadays implies almost any spirit based, sweetened, and fruit or herb flavoured compound. Now there is a world of difference between a liqueur in which the flavouring extract has been produced by distillation of a fruit syrup, and one in which the sugar and the flavours have been introduced by maceration, which means the fruit kernels, peels, herbs or whatever the flavouring may be, having been steeped in the spirit for varying periods is then removed and the spirit is filtered. In the past many such liqueurs were made at home according to treasured family recipes, and were called cordials or ratafia as distinct from distilled liqueurs.

    I decided to include this recipe (also from the article) for Lemon and Grand Marnier Ice-Cream in celebration of Elizabeth David and the invention of the lemon squeezer by, John T. White, which was also this month.

    Lemon & Grand Marnier Ice Cream

    2 large lemons
    3 ozs. icing sugar
    1/4 pint double cream
    Grand Marnier
    Put the thinly peeled rind of the lemons with the icing sugar in 4 oz. water, and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Leave this syrup to cool, strain and add to it the juice of the lemons. When quite cold, add it gradually to the whipped cream; stirring gently until the whole mixture is smooth.

    Pour into the ice-tray, cover with paper and freeze at maximum freezing point of the refrigerator for about 3 hours, taking it out to stir it twice, after the first 1/2 hour, and again after another hour. Half an hour before serving, stir in a good liqueur glass of Grand Marnier (the contents of a miniature bottle) and put back in the freezing compartment. Being an orange flavoured liqueur, the Grand Marnier mixes well with the lemon, supplying the rich flavour against the sharp background of the lemon.

    The amounts given will fill an 18oz ice tray. Should the quantities have to be altered to go in smaller or larger trays, alter them all in proportion. The amount of sugar in refrigerator made ice cream is important. Made in the above manner, there will be no little ice particles and the result is a soft, light ice-cream. but it melts quickly, so leave it in the ice tray until the moment comes to serve it.

    Instead of the customary wafers to go with the ice cream, serve minature, very fresh brown bread sandwiches with a filling of chopped walnuts, and a drop of Grand Marnier beaten into the butter with which the sandwiches are spread. Epicurean Monthly; June 1957, pg. 39


    Elizabeth David changed our attitudes to food, drawing on Mediterranean influences to enliven the British palate. Ten years after her death, her editor, Jill Norman, pays tribute." read more

    Remembering Elizabeth David and M.F.K. Fisher:

    It is significant that both writers lived in Continental Europe and wrote about the food of France and Italy long before Americans and Britons had any first-hand notion of what those cuisines were all about, at a time when their own countries were more or less culinary deserts, subsisting largely on canned food. read more

    Do Elizabeth David's recipes stand the test of time?
    Online Recipes
    1) Minestrone
    2) Elizabeth David's Gateau Au Chocolat Et Aux Amandes
    3) Elizabeth David's Mousse au Chocolatê l'Orange
    4. Elizabeth David's Pumpkin & Tomato Gratin
    1) Elizabeth David @ wikipedia
    2) An Award
    3) Elizabeth David's Kitchen @ Mae's Food Blog

    Present It a "Perk"

    So, did anybody get a new coffee pot for Christmas? It seems that James Mason's wife must have gotten a brand new percolator at least once for Christmas. You see, James Mason patented the first American coffee percolator on December 26, 1865. Patent #51741. Some say, the coffee pot was an improvement he designed for his wife. Although a coffee percolator had previously been invented by Laurens in Paris in 1818, it wasn't what we would recognize today as a percolator even after it had been improved upon in 1827. I would love to immerse myself in the invention of the coffee percolator and share it here but, it is the day after Christmas, so I will just leave you with this "gift" for now. P.S. There are those who credit Hanson Goodrich, as the inventor of the percolator calling him the "Father of the Percolator." Count Rumford also finds his name associated with the percolator and Baked Alaska.

    Did you know...
    Coffee filters were invented by a housewife who wanted to sip a perfect cup of java without the bitterness caused by over brewing. read more

    1. History of the percolator
    2. Brief Coffee History
    3. An Espresso Timeline
    4. Hanson Goodrich

    Friday, December 21, 2007

    Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune

    My departure from the beaten track of novel-writing, in which I had achieved a moderate degree of success, was in direct opposition to the advice of the friends to whom I mentioned the project. The publishers, in whose hands my first cook-book has reached the million mark, confessed frankly to me, after ten editions had sold in as many months, that they accepted the work solely in the hope that I might give them a novel at some subsequent period. Even my husband shook a doubtful head over the wild scheme. It was the only book published by me that had not his frank and hearty approval. Upheld by the rooted conviction that I had been made, through my own shortcomings and battles, fit to supply what American women lacked and needed sorely, I never debated or doubted. Marion Harland

    Like Jane Croly Cunningham (a.k.a. Jennie June) author of Jennie June's American Cookery Book, Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune had a penname, Marion Harland. And, like Jane Croly, she was born in the month of December. December 21, 1830 in Amelia County, Dennisville, Virginia. Both Jennie June and Marion Harland had brothers who thought highly of them and both found knowledge in their fathers' libraries. Both were American authors, who "promoted an ideal of womanhood that was strong, intellectual, and capable of independent living," although, neither were "feminist." There are so many similarities among them, one has to wonder. Amazing! Or is it?

    "It is a comfort to a believer in heredity to be assured that the tree was sound at heart, in spite of the warped and severed bough." Marion Harland

    Marion Harland: The making of a household word

    Common Sense in the Household

    Marion Harland: The making of a household word (1990) is an excellent narrative biography of Marion Harland's life by Karen Manners Smith, Ph.D. "It makes extensive use of manuscript sources, including collected letters, the recently discovered diaries of Marion Harland and her husband, and a family memoir, also unpublished and previously unknown." Twenty-four pages of the thesis are available online for reading or purchasing.

    Forgotten today by all but a handful of women's domestic and literary historians, Marion Harland (1830-1922) was one of the best known American women in the nineteenth century. She was the author of some 75 works of fiction and domestic advice, hundreds of magazine articles and short stories, and a series of syndicated newspaper advice columns. It is not extravagant to say that Marion Harland was, for many readers, the Julia Child, Danielle Steel, and Dear Abby of her day. read more

    "Virginia's illustrious daughter" published her first novel, Alone, privately in 1854. She married Reverend Edward Payson Terhune, a New Jersey clergyman in 1856. They had six children, three of whom survived into adulthood. She later wrote The National Cook Book, (1896) with her daughter Christine Terhune Herrick. Her son, Albert Payson Terhune was also a writer. I found it quite interesting to uncover, Mrs. Mary Virginia Terhune's, cooking talents were quite limited. She actually wasn't much of a "Martha Stewart" at the onset of her marriage. Perhaps, we should explore.

    I had already made a resolve from which I never swerved: If my cook did not understand her business, and I understood it even less, I would not confess it. Marion Harland

    Timing is Everything

    From the time Mary Virginia Hawes married Reverend Terhune (1856) to the time Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery (1871) was published, approximately 15 years had elasped. Although she had achieved great success with her antebellum plantation romances, (the commercial edition of Alone sold more than 100,000) her books and columns of advice for homemakers were more of a challenge. Before the inception of Common Sense In the Household, Marion Harland had no desire to repeat her continued reflections in her experiences in domestic lore. She was ignorant of most housekeeping skills and often relied on Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery: Directions for Cookery to be of assistance. But what of the other influences in her domestic life? She would live to see the end of the Civil War in 1865, the beginning of the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876 and the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

    Besides Eliza Leslie's cookery book, the housewife had many other influential authorities and text available to aid in the preparation of food and the domestic duties of the household. Those who could afford servants, found it necessary to educate themselves. For those who didn't, the never ending duties were not only labor intensive but also consumed a large part of every woman's day. Laundry Day alone consisted of carrying water (and the fuel to heat it), scrubbing, rinsing, wringing, hanging, drying and folding. It was a back breaking task that literally took the entire day. One of the most notable kitchen innovations which occurred during Mrs. Hawes marriage was the introduction of the wood burning cook stove in the late 1850's. The "new" cookstoves burned wood or coal more efficiently than open fireplaces. Fireplaces were quite difficult and dangerous to cook meals on. Popping logs spewed embers into rooms and it wasn't uncommon for a woman's clothes to get caught on fire. Children, which were often set in front of the fire for warmth, were often in danger also. The cookstoves had grates which allowed more control of the fire. It could be loaded from either side, and the built-in oven for baking was equally accessible. It also had an ash-bin for collecting the ashes. As a labor saving device, there was little difference in the amount of time and strength needed to operate them. Wood still needed to be placed in the small door of the firebox. Besides cooking, the stoves were used for heating water, boiling the laundry, heating sadirons and other tasks. In modern times, I suppose you could say cookstoves allowed for a certain amount of "multi-tasking." Mary Virginia could learn recipes from Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt-Book, 1858, "designed to make life easier and better for the average homemaker." The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph (1860), "widely regarded as the first truly Southern cookbook" and The Young Housekeeper's Friend (1863) by Mrs. Cornelius. The Boston Cooking School Cook Book which was published in 1884 by Mrs. D. A. Lincoln, and was honored as one of the most influential American books published before 1900, was also a kitchen standard.

    By 1875, Marion Harland published Breakfast, Lunch and Tea and moved from Springfield Massachusetts to Brooklyn, New York. While she was writing essays on domestic conduct, electric stoves were being introduced by the Carpenter Electric Heating Company and Josephine Cochran's; Garis Cochrane Dish-Washing Machine was a hit at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. While Harland was writing syndicated columns on women's affairs for the Philadelphia North American from 1900-1910 and Marion Harland's Complete Cookbook (1903), the electric coffee percolator was making its debut in 1908. In the next five years, Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune would not only publish her autobiography (1910), she would witness the evolution of the kitchen mixer, the waffle iron, and the first in home electric refrigerator. During her career as a writer of books on homemaking, the pop up toaster would be a dream of inventor Charles Strite, (later to be introduced after her death in 1922) she would be able to experience the delights of the stand up mixer introduced for the home by Kitchen-Aid (which is a story in itself) and possibly the electric blender which was invented in 1922 by Stephen Poplawski.

    The edition I have in my library of Marion Harland's Common Sense in the Household is copyrighted 1880. Since the book is black, I thought I would rather include an excerpt from the "Familiar Talk with My Reader" section.

    You must learn the rudiments of the art yourself. Practice, and practice alone, will teach you certain essentials. The management of the ovens, the requisite thickness of boiling custards, the right shade of brown upon bread and roasted meats, these and dozens of other details are hints which cannot be imparted by written or oral instructions. But, once learned, they are never forgotten, and henceforward your fate is in your own hands. You are mistress of yourself, though servants leave. Have faith in your own abilities. You will be a better cook for the mental training you have received at school and from books.

    When Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune died in New York City on June 3, 1922, a newspaper editor wrote, "There is no American city so great, no crossroads village so remote, but the name of ‘Marion Harland’ was as familiar there as if she had been a President of the United States."

    1. Marion Harland's Autobiography (1910)
    2. New Jersey Women's History
    3. Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune @ wikipedia
    4. Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery
    5. Another bio
    6. Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery by Eliza Leslie (online)
    7. The Virginia Housewife (sample recipes)
    8.Getting To Know Jennie June (previous post)
    9."Just a Housewife": The Rise and Fall of Domesticity in America (google reader)

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    Getting To Know Jennie June

    Jane Croly Cunningham (a.k.a. Jennie June) was born on December 19, 1829 in Leicestershire, England. Her family came to the United States in 1841. Jane finished her childhood in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Wappinger's Falls, New York. She received her early education by reading widely in her father's library. She lived and kept house for a time for her brother, a Congregationalist minister in Worcester, Massachusetts. She taught school there and wrote a semi-monthly newspaper for her brother's congregation. There's a wonderfully detailed biography about Jane Croly at Feeding America.

    "Casting Pearls Before Swine"

    I would like to share some morsels of information I found about the life of Jennie June beginning with this article published in the New York Times on November 10, 1866

    "An unpretending volume of 350 pages puts down a great number of recipes and directions for the furnishing of our tables. We need not remind readers that Americans seldom cook, they seldom eat, they forge, or gobble, or swallow, and leave the consequences to the family doctor. Mrs. Croly thrusts much common sense into her crisp paragraphs, and if the dyspeptic world would listen and obey, it would be well. It is really surprising to know how many few women in America know anything of cooking...If the genial Jenny succeeds in attracting the attention of housekeepers she will be fortunate; but the chances are that (we speak in a Pickwickian sense,) she is casting pearls before the swine."
    Sadly, I don't have a copy of Jennie June's American Cookery Book (the only cookbook she ever wrote:) but, I did find her suggestions for a Christmas Dinner and Jennie June's Brown Fricassee Chicken at epicurious. Also, the Baking History Blog has a deliciously sounding recipe for Apple Bread from the original recipe by Jane Cunningham Croly. Baking History just recently added (10/08) a recipe for Jane Croley's Potato Pie which looks scrumptiously easy to prepare. I should also note, I am including in the resource section of this page, a place where you might be able to "procure" a copy of the facsimile edition.
    Mrs. Croly's pen name of "Jenny June" was derived from a little poem by Benjamin F. Taylor that was sent to her, by her pastor, in Poughkeepsie when she was about twelve years old with the name underlined, because, he said, " You are the Juniest little girl I know." Mrs. Croly called the first Woman's Congress in New York in 1856, and also the second, in 1869, and in 1868 founded the Sorosis, and was its president until 1870, and again from 1876 till 1886. source

    Parlor & Side-walk Gossip

    As noted, Jane Croly was an author. She was also a fine journalist with a national reputation. In 1854, at age 25, she went to New York City in search of work. The New York Tribune accepted her first article, and she began working as a journalist for the New York Sunday Times and eventually wrote a women's column called Parlor and Side-walk Gossip. She married David G. Croly, a reporter for the New York Herald on Valentine's Day, in 1856. In 1855, she joined the staff of the New York Tribune and soon became one of the first women in the United States to write a syndicated column. After she had been banned admittance to a banquet honoring Charles Dickens in 1868 at the all-male New York Press Club simply because they were women, she became determined to organize a club for women only. The name initially chosen for the club was Sorosis. (Sorosis kind of fruit in which many flowers are united, as in a pineapple.) The work of Sorosis was "municipal housekeeping." In order to become a member of Sorosis, women had to be invited, pass inspection, take a loyalty oath, and pay an initiation fee of five dollars. Sorosis was one of the most influential organizations for women in late-nineteenth-century America. Joining Jane Croly in founding Sorosis were other notable women of the period. The organizational meeting at Delmonico's restaurant in New York City was itself a challenge to socially acceptable behavior. Not only was it deemed improper for women to be seen in public places without a male escort, many found it to be a "negative philosophical change" as shown in the many illustrated journals of the time.
    George William Curtis, the editor of Harper's Weekly, was a vocal advocate of women's rights and a vice-president of the American Woman's Suffrage Association. However, the cartoons in his publication, like this featured one, often presented women's rights and women's organizations in a light-hearted manner. The explicit intention of Croly and Sorosis was, on the contrary, to expand the acceptable sphere of women, not to nullify their role in the home.

    In Boston, Julia Ward Howe had helped organize the New England Women's Club also in 1868. source

    The New England Women's Club, one of the oldest women's clubs in the United States, had its beginnings in February 1868 at a meeting at the house of Dr. Harriot K. Hunt. The first public meeting, which officially initiated the life of the club, was held on May 30, 1868. Caroline M. Severance (the first president) and Julia Ward Howe explained the purposes of the club as providing a meeting-place for women outside their homes, giving them new knowledge and inspiration for their work at home and outside, and uniting their efforts in various social causes. source
    When her husband became ill in 1879, Jane Croly financially supported her family (including four children) through her work as a journalist, editor, and author. She wrote for various New York newspapers under the pseudonym Jennie June. From 1860 to 1887 she edited Demorest's Quarterly Mirror of Fashion and later was part owner of Godey's Lady's Book. She specialized in women's features and was among the first journalists who syndicated their articles. After her husband's death in 1889, she took a position as professor of journalism and literature at Rutgers University, becoming the first American woman to teach news writing.
    Some 20 years after beginning Sorosis, she proposed a conference in New York that brought together delegates from 61 women's clubs. The fruit of her labor was formed into the constitution of The General Federation of Women's Clubs founded in 1890. Individually, the clubs were under the authority of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. They would investigate conditions of industrial and educational establishments and then the clubs would send representatives to try to fix the problems. In 1898, she wrote The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America.
    Middle-class women, who had many priorities at home, started these women's clubs and civic associations for the benefit of everyone...As the nineteenth-century was coming to an end, middle-class women began to realize that many of their household duties were becoming obsolete. The birth rate of this group of women had lowered and there were so many immigrants that almost every household had a servant. These factors, along with new technologies of factory made goods and appliances left women with a lot less to do. With this extra time, many of them joined newly-formed women's clubs. The majority of these clubs were formed between 1860 and 1900. Their main goal was to bring middle-class women into the "economic mainstream"source

    The Woman

    At the time of life when people recognize the fact that their forces are waning, and that a well-earned period of rest has arrived, Mrs. Croly set for herself the last task of her busy life. She felt she had something to tell about the success of her great idea, her message to women, and she wrote the "History of the Woman's Club Movement in America," a volume containing eleven hundred and eighty pages, which told the story of nearly all the clubs in the General Federation. source
    "It is the moral influence of a training for self-support. Ignorance and idleness lead to vice and crime; and a Technical Training School would do more to remedy the Social Evil and raise the standard of morals than all other influences combined. The fact that work is the great purifier is what I wish could have been embodied in the plan presented." Jane Croly Cunningham

    For obvious reason, I could go on and on about the dedicated life of Jane Croly Cunningham. However, the many shimmering speeches given after her death on December 23, 1901 really shine a light on the Memories of Jane Cunningham Croly.

    1. National Women's Hall of Fame
    2. Jennie June
    3. Facsimile Edition
    4. Jane Croly @ Smithsonian Libraries
    5. Harvard University Library
    6. National Women's History Museum

    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    Peanut Brittle Recipe Poem

    Peanut Brittle Recipe Poem
    When it is Christmas candy time,
    Or any time of year,
    This peanut brittle recipe
    Becomes especially dear.

    You add to One large cooking pan
    A cup of each of these
    White syrup, sugar, water too
    And blend with gentle ease.

    A teaspoonful of table salt,
    When it is added too,
    Will mean that you have reached the point
    When you must cook the brew.
    So cook it to the soft ball stage
    And then itis time to add
    A tablespoon of butter
    And the peanuts to your pan.

    It takes one pound of peanuts
    That you've purchased in the shell,
    And shucked yourself ahead of time
    To make this turn out well.

    With all ingredients in the pan
    You cook until it's brown,
    And take your pan from off the stove
    Your candy's almost done.

    Stir in one teaspoon soda,
    Pour on a buttered sheet,
    And let it harden as it will,
    Then break in chunks your treat
    The rest comes very naturally
    Just eat to suit your will,
    And have a happy holiday
    That's peanut brittle filled.
    This delight is from Polish Town Fair & Festival 1984

    Perhaps, you would like to visit
    Peanut Butter by the Mouthful for more peanut butter recipes. BTW, January 26th is National Peanut Brittle Day

    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    Women Tea & Champagne

    "the cause of Boston was the cause of us all."
    Daniel Earle
    As Americans, we are all familiar with the details leading up to the Boston Tea Party. I, for one, did not realize that the Boston Tea Party was also the inspiration for a number of similar events in colonial America. Just months after the more famous Boston Tea party, "Revolutionary Tea Parties" were staged across the colonies.


    Although women in the colonies were not "allowed" to actively discuss politics, social tea parties were one of the first acceptable places women were able to gather amongst themselves.
    On October 25, 1774, Penelope Barker called a meeting of local women, and 51 of them signed a document pledging to back the assemblymen in giving up British goods. The Edenton Tea Party, as their gesture came to be called, is believed to be the first purely political action by women in the American colonies. (In response a London newspaper published a caricature of masculine-looking mothers neglecting their children, calling it “A Society of Patriotic Ladies at Edenton in North Carolina.”) (source)
    It was most natural that leading women of the time would inspire protests and have followers who would pledge not to drink tea or buy English goods. After all, colonial women were big tea drinkers and the tea boycott, was a relatively mild way for women to identify themselves and their household as part of the patriot war effort. Other colonial cities where "tea parties" were held included Maryland, South Carolina and North Carolina. Penelope Padgett Hodgson Craven Barker, was the leader of the Edenton Tea Party in North Carolina. Penelope Barker, decided that she wanted to do something for the American cause. She visited over 50 homes in the early fall of 1774 and invited ladies to a very special tea party to be held on October 25, 1774, at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth King. Some of Mrs. Barker's neighbors eagerly agreed to attend, and others refused. There, she encouraged her neighbors and friends to stop drinking English tea and using English products until the King repealed the tea tax.
    "Here and now, I propose that we solemnly engage to drink only apple cider, buttermilk, or cool spring water so long as the King insists that his special tax remain upon tea from India!" Penelope Barker

    Those women who were there, became The Signers of the Resolutions of the Edenton Tea Party. It is said, this document is the first purely political action by women in the American Colonies.
    "As we cannot be indifferent on any occasion that appears nearly to affect the peace and happiness of our country, and as it has thought necessary, for the public good, to enter into several particular resolves by a meeting of Members deputed from the whole Province, it is a duty which we owe, not only to our near and dear connections who have concurred in them, but to ourselves who are essentially interested in their welfare, to do everything as far as lies in our power to testify our sincere adherence to the same: and we do therefore accordingly subscribe this paper, as a witness of our fixed intention and solemn determination to do so."
    A contemporary account of the Edenton Tea Party, along with the resolution, its signers and a caricature appeared in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser portraying the women with masculine features. We must remember, this was printed in England to make the colonials in America look foolish.
    Penelope Padgett Hodgson Craven Barker has quite an interesting background. Her first husband John Hodgson died when she was 19 and expecting her second child. She inherited substantial property from Hodgson. Her second husband, John Craven also died and left her all of his property. When Thomas Barker, her third husband died, he left Penelope all his property. Penelope died in 1796. She was a rare colonial woman in that she completely managed her own affairs. She had borne 5 children and raised 4 others. She outlived all but one. source
    The legacy of these women is represented by the Edenton town symbol, a tea kettle atop the barrel of a cannon.


    When the colonists responded by boycotting tea, it also helped link the colonies together. Particularly important to the movement were the activities of colonial women, who were one of the principal consumers of tea. As mistresses of the domestic economy, housewives used their purchasing power to support the Patriot cause. Women refused to purchase British manufactured goods for use in their homes and decisions made to boycott tea would not have been possible if women had not created a substitute for the imported tea. Hence, "Liberty Teas" of Colonial America were brewed. To drink these teas was a sign of defiance of the Crown. Black tea was boycotted and substituted with domestically grown herbs, some such as Oswego Tea from the Oswego Indians had been introduced to the early settlers by American Indians. Although the colonial housewife had made drinks from the herbs in her garden long before the Boston Tea Party, she was now forced to use herbal teas calling them "Patriotic Teas" instead. Women brewed herbal teas from rosemary, lavender, thyme, chamomile, sage, mint and lemon balm. American tea was also made from raspberry leaves and stalks of whorled loosestrife plant. Liberty Teas often included red rose petals, linden blossoms, elder, red clover, violets and goldenrod. Special flavor additions came from sassafras and willow tree barks, the twigs of sweet gum, the seeds of fennel and dill, and the fruits of the rosebush, called rosehips. "Liberty teas," remained popular even after the British tea taxes were no longer an issue.
    Colonial New Hampshire women met at local homes and organized what became a campaign to ban English tea from their households. Although consuming a great deal of tea at that time, New Hampshire's residents were determined not to drink it any further. Instead they used alternative "Liberty Teas." These included Labrador tea (from the Red Root bush that few along New England riverbanks), Ever Green tea (made from evergreen needles), New Jersey tea (from Ceanothus americanus), Indian Lemonade Tea (using red sumac berries), Raspberry Leaf tea, and teas made from herb garden flavors. 
    The spark that lit my interest in the Edenton Tea Party came from the cookbook Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal. Unfortunately, I do not have the book here with me in New York but, I do have the recipe he includes for tea-cake. Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie also gives an account of the Edenton Tea Party. From the book:
    "The first known organized political action by women in the American colonies took place in the lovely port of Edenton, North Carolina, on October 25, 1774." Women from five counties, he notes, met under the leadership of Penelope Barker. They were responding to actions of the British Parliament and took to issuing protest resolutions. These resolutions now rest in the British Museum, but the tea-cake recipe used for their party remains, according to Neal, a traditional favorite in our state.
    To make the cakes, you will need:
    3 eggs

    1 tsp. vanilla

    2 c. lightly packed dark brown sugar

    6 Tb. butter

    6 Tb. lard

    1 tsp. baking soda

    4 c. all-purpose flour

    1 Tb. warm water

    Beat the eggs well; then next beat in the brown sugar. Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water; then stir into the eggs along with the vanilla. Work the butter and lard into the flour, then stir in the egg mixture. Chill, then roll out thinly. Cut into shapes (rounds, squares, diamonds) and bake on lightly buttered baking sheets in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F. for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a rack. Makes about 100 cookies.


    Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin (Madame Clicquot) was born on 16 December 1777, She married François Clicquot on 10 June 1798, It was a storybook wedding in the fabled champagne town of Reims. Her husband died on October 23, 1805, leaving her a widow (French veuve) and in control of the company. Up until this point, the company was splitting its affairs between Champagne production, banking, and wool trading. Under Madame Clicquot's guidance, the company invested its entire focus into Champagne production. The remarkable Madame Clicquot was known as "la grande dame de la Champagne" and is often considered the first businesswoman of the modern era. She is still a source of inspiration to her successors. wikipedia
    La Veuve Clicquot was one of the famous widows of the Champagne-history. The Veuve Clicquot Champagne House is named after Madame Clicquot who took over her husband’s small champagne business when he died. In 1804 Madame Clicquot invented pink champagne and the mushroom shaped cork. source
    During the Napoleonic Wars, she was successful in exporting her champagne (to Imperial Russia in 1814, among others) and establishing it in the royal courts. One of her most significant triumphs was sending a secret shipment of her Champagne to Russia in 1814 in defiance of Napoleon's blockade. source
    Mrs Nicole Barbe Ponsardin from early on took a lively interest in the Champagne business of her husband François Clicquot. She took the reins of the estate at the untimely death of the latter without hesitation. At that time, she was a young widow of only 27. This self-willed and innovative woman did her utmost to develop and transform her family-in-law’s trade into a great Champagne House. She was even considered by her contemporaries as La Grande Dame de la Champagne. source
    The Veuve Clicquot Award was launched in France in 1972 to commemorate Madame Clicquot, and to honour women who exemplify the qualities that earned her an international reputation as 'la grande dame de la Champagne' – vision, innovation, entrepreneurial drive, leadership, individuality and tenacity. source
    • 1.Penelope Barker, (bio)
    • 2. The Story of Mrs. Barker's Tea Party
    • 3. The Edenton Tea Party @ PBS
    • 4. The Signers of the Resolutions of the Edenton Tea Party
    • 5. The Barker House
    • 6. Penelope's Tea Caddy
    • 7. Which Way to the Tea Party...
    • 8. Wilmington Tea Party
    • 9. Sarah Bradlee Fulton "Mother of the Boston Tea Party"
      Tea Resources
    • 1. Colonial Tea Parties
    • 2. The Robinson Tea Chest
    • 3. Goldenrod Tea (The Patriotic Species
    • 4. Liberty Tea
    • 5. Patriotic Tea Source
      Madame Clicquot Resources
    • 1. Miss Charming's Alcohol Timeline 1800's
    • 2. eCocktail
    • 3. Louis Bohne

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    Meet me at Del's

    There ne'er was seen so fair a sight
    As at Delmonico's last night;
    When feathers, flowers, gems and lace
    Adorned each lovely form and face;
    A garden of all thorns bereft,
    The outside world behind them left,
    They sat in order, as if "Burke"
    Had sent a message by his clerk.
    And by whose magic wand is this
    All conjured up? the height of bliss.
    'Tis he who now before you looms-
    The Autocrat of Drawing Rooms.

    I first nibbled at Delmonico's when I was 13. Yes, it was my thirteenth birthday that I was "formally introduced" to Delmonico's. I even remember where I was. I was having cheesecake at Junior's in Brooklyn. My very best favorite aunt in the whole wide world took me to Junior's right after we went shopping on 86th street. She bought me the most unforgetable leopard jacket. It was so furry and soft and I looked like a million dollars! ( I was 13:)

    She chatted about Delmonico's like best friends speak confided secrets. She memorialized the fabled restaurant beginning with the stream of taxis arriving at the door. She detailed the sparkling costumes of the elaborately dressed women and the stiffness of the men darned in their irreproachable waistcoats. It was like hearing a fairy-tale for the first time. The wonderment, the excitement, the elegance. Cinderella at the ball. In the morning, one could feast on an omelette of parsley overlooking Fifth Avenue. In the evening one could dine on the most expensive of luxuries and brush shoulders with the highbrows of the world in the grand ballroom...

    "Americans are just beginning to regard food the way the French always have. Dinner is not what you do in the evening before something else. Dinner is the evening." Art Buchwald

    On December 13, 1827, Giovanni ("John") and Pietro ("Peter") Delmonico opened their first cafe, where they sold coffee, wine and pastries. The pastry shop was so successful, the Delmonico brothers enlisted the help of their brother Lorenzo to supervise and hand pick the necessities needed to embellish the business. The family set up a 20 acre farm in Brooklyn, to insure the harvest of the most freshest fruits and vegetables. Delmonico's was first listed as a restaurant in 1830 and under the constant detailed attention of Lorenzo, Delmonico's became synonymous with the highest standards of food and service.

    Delmonico's Restaurant is one of the first continuously run restaurants in the United States. And, while the Delmonico brothers can hardly be called the first to open a full-service restaurant in the United States, Delmonico's is considered to be the first in "fine dining." Delmonico’s offered luxury, the availability of private dining rooms, an extensive wine cellar, and innovative cuisine. Unlike the inns that existed at the time, restaurants like Delmonico's would permit guests to order from a menu, rather than requiring its patrons to dine on meals at fixed prices. The dining experience was only limited by the imagination. Above all, warm, personal service was a chef-d'oeuvre!

    Once let Delmonico have your order, and you are safe. You may repose in peace up to the very moment when you sit down with your guests. No nobleman of England, no Marquis of the ancienne nobles, was ever better served or waited on in greater style that you will be in a private room at Delmonico's. The lights will be brilliant, the waiters will be curled and perfumed and gloved, the dishes will be strictly en règle and the wines will come with precision of clock-work that has been duly wound up. If you "pay your money like a gentleman," you will be fed like a gentleman, and no mistake... The cookery, however, will be superb, and the attendance will be good. If you make the ordinary mistakes of a untraveled man, and call for dishes in unusual progression, the waiter will perhaps sneer almost imperceptibly, but he will go no further, if you don't try his feelings too harshly, or put your knife into your mouth. source

    The original pastry shop burned down in 1835, the Delmonico brothers reopened a new restaurant with a three story cafe, complete with a grand ballroom. There was also a private dining room and patrons selected their viands from a seven page menu. The wine menu listed 62 different imported wines. Diners were intrigued by this menu which was also offered in French and English. Delmonico's became a must visit for foreign as well as the native elite of the era. In May, 1862, Lorenzo Delmonico hired Charles Ranhofer.  It was there that Ranhofer made his real fame, though others say that he made the fame of the restaurant as well. He was the chef at Delmonico's until his retirement in 1896. (Except for a short hiatus from 1876 and 1879 when he owned the "Hotel American" near Paris at Enghen-les-Bains.) By 1876 there were four Delmonico Restaurants enhancing New York's culture.

    Delmonico's hosted some of the highest occasions that occurred in nineteenth century New York, and Ranhofer personally planned them all. Some of the most influential personalities in American history regularly brushed shoulders at Delmonico's. Charles Ranhofer had a talent for naming dishes after many of these famous and prominent people. It's been said, every president from 1832 to the turn of the century dined there. (President Lincoln would visit town quietly during the war for unpublicized meetings and stayed at rooms above the restaurant gratis at Lorenzo Delmonico's insistence.) source

    Fifth Avenue's greeting to Charles Dickens, on the occasion of his second visit, was in the form of the dinner that was tendered to him at Delmonico's, on the evening of April 18, 1868. The hosts were two hundred men of the New York press. Covers were laid for a hundred and eighty-seven guests.

    As with most recipes, there are often quite a few variations to the originals but in his book The Epicurean Chef Ranhofer reveals his recipe for Veal Tart or Pie à La Dickenson. The recipe is as follows:

    VEAL TART OR PIE à LA DICKINSON (Tarte de Veau à la Dickinson).
    Suppress all the fat and sinews from a kernel of veal; cut it up into thin slices, having them an inch and a half in diameter. Butter a pie dish that can go into the oven; set slices of bacon and ham on the bottom, and over these the sliced veal, alternated; season with salt, pepper and parsley; add finely cut-up potatoes, chopped shallots or onions, then continue to fill with the same until the dish is quite full and well rounded on top; pour some clear gravy  into the bottom, lay a small band made of puff paste parings on the edge of the dish, and a flat of the same paste on top; cut away the surplus paste around the dish, decorate and egg the pie over twice; bake it in a medium oven for one hour and a half for a dish containing a quart. source

    Other fashionable personalities included; William Astor, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Charles Louis Napoleon, Oscar Wilde, Walter Scott, and Queen Victoria and her eldest son, the Prince of Wales. A dinner for the Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch, who was entertained by the New York Yacht Club, featured Lobster Duke Alexis December 2, 1871 and was kept on the menu by chef Charles Ranhofer. Jenny Lind ate there every night after her show. A millionaire of the time, August Belmont, whose wine bill alone was estimated at $20,000 dollars a month, badgered Lorenzo into a bet with three of his friends to serve the best dinner in New York no matter what the expense. Lorenzo was in a bind because he would have to have one chef create all three meals for each man. The bet ended in a draw but truffled ice cream which later became a must at every posh restaurant in New York was born at one of those dinners. Another frequent visitor to Delmonico's was Diamond Jim Brady usually escorted by Lillian Russell. It was because of Ms. Russell's overcoming beauty that Oscar Tschirky applied for a job at Delmonico's. He wanted to serve Ms. Russell. Of course, his ambition excelled from Delmonico's to becoming chef at The Waldorf.

    In his book entitled "Society as I Have Found it," Samuel Ward McAllister, describes a banquet at Delmonico's at which seventy-two of the famous "Four Hundred" sat down, and which cost $10,000. He states:

    "The table, covered with flowers, seemed like the abode of fairies." "The wines were perfect. Blue Seal Johannisberg flowed like water; incomparable 1848 claret, superb Burgundies, and amber-colored Madeira added to the intoxicating effect of the scene." "Lovely women's eyes sparkled with delight at the beauty of their surroundings, and I felt that the fair being who sat next me would have graced Alexander's feast."

    Author Arthur Bartlett Maurice from the book Fifth Avenue published in 1918:

    "There have been many Delmonicos. But for the purposes of fiction there has never been one just like the establishment that occupied a corner at the junction of the Avenue and Fourteenth Street. It was a more limited town in those days. The novelist wishing to depict his hero doing the right thing in the right way by his heroine did not have the variety of choice he has now. Two squares away, the Academy of Music was, theatrically and operatically, the social centre, so to carry on the narrative with a proper regard for the conventions, the preceding dinner or the following supper was necessarily at the old Delmonico's. They were good trenchermen and trencherwomen, those heroes and heroines of yesterday! Many oyster-beds were depleted, and bins of rare vintage emptied to satisfy the healthy appetites of the inked pages. Somehow the mouth waters with the memory. When Delmonico's moved on to Twenty-sixth Street, and from its terraced tables its patrons could look up at graceful Diana, there were many famous dinners of fiction, such as the one, for example, consumed by the otherwise faultless Walters, for a brief period in the service of Mr. Van Bibber--the menu selected: "Little Neck clams first, with chablis, and pea-soup, and caviare on toast, before the oyster crabs, with Johannisberger Cabinet; then an _entree_ of calves' brains and rice; then no roast, but a bird, cold asparagus with French dressing, Camembert cheese, and Turkish coffee," may be accepted as indicating the gastronomical taste of the author in the days when youth meant good digestion--but with the departure from the old Fourteenth Street corner something of the flavour of the name passed forever...But to that generation of New Yorkers of which only a few remain, there has been only one great Delmonico's, the one which in 1861 opened its doors at the northeast corner of Fourteenth Street and Fifth Avenue. It was the centre of the town in the sixties and early seventies. Two blocks away was the Academy of Music, the Metropolitan Opera House of the time, and Fourteenth Street was burgeoning out as the new Rialto. Society set its seal upon the establishment. The clubs of the immediate neighborhood, of which there were several, did not think it necessary to install cuisines when Delmonico's was so close at hand."

    There is also a legend about “pie à la mode“ at the Cambridge Hotel in Cambridge, New York.

    Professor Charles Watson Townsend, dined regularly at the Cambridge Hotel during the mid 1890's. He often ordered ice cream with his apple pie. Mrs. Berry Hall, a diner seated next to him, asked what it was called. He said it didn’t have a name, and she promptly dubbed it Pie a la mode. Townsend liked the name so much he asked for it each day by that name. When Townsend visited the famous Delmonico Restaurant in New York City, he asked for pie a la mode. When the waiter proclaimed he never heard of it, Townsend chastised him and the manager, and was quoted as saying; "Do you mean to tell me that so famous an eating place as Delmonico's has never heard of Pie a la Mode, when the Hotel Cambridge, up in the village of Cambridge, NY serves it every day? Call the manager at once, I demand as good serve here as I get in Cambridge."  The following day it became a regular at Delmonico and a resulting story in the New York Sun (a reporter was listening to the whole conversation) made it a country favorite with the publicity that ensued. source

    Culinary Parlance

    Sprinkling the menu is a culinary bouquet of pungent aroma that enlivens us like a scented welcome. The hospitality pot, in the shape of a pineapple is filled with nostalgic and alluring flavors. It is as vigourous as a soup, with the virtue of herbs, the value of sauces, a suspicious hint of nutmeg, and a dusting of cinnamon. The captivating taste and aroma, tang us like the peel of an orange skin as the air fills with redolent odors. Atlas, culinary parlance.

    Lobster a la Newburg
    June 1957, The Epicurean Monthly June 1957 pg. 24

    In spite of the "a la" connotation this is not a French dish. It is strictly of American origin. The story goes that around the turn of the century when Delmonico's was one of the few top restaurants in New York City where gourmets, connoisseurs of fine food, made their headquarters, this dish saw light of day.

    One of the discriminating patrons was a physician whose wealthy clients enabled him to dine there regularly. The menus in Delmonico's were in French as was customary in metropolitan cities all over the civilized world in that era. The good doctor was very fond of lobster and instructed his waiter one day how he would like his favourite crustacean prepared and served, previously cooked, lobster tail cut in slices, sauteed in butter and served in a sauce similar to Terrapin Maryland sauce.

    This request was duly passed on to the chef who instructed the fish cook accordingly. The order was made with meticulous care and the lobster tail chunks were served in a rich sauce consisting of sweet cream, thickened with egg yolks and finished with a dash of dry sherry.

    The chef promptly added the new concotion on the menu as "Homard a la Neuberg" because that was the doctor's name. However, Doctor Neuberg strenuously objected to having his name identified on the menu in connection with a dish. Therefore it was changed to Newburg. There is a town by the name of Newburgh in New York state so no objections could be made. Now we find Lobster Newburg, which should be served in a chafing dish all over the country. Of course some unavoidable changes have been made, the cut up lobster claws are also used and cream sauce is used to prevent curdling, particularly when made in advance as a du jour dish, or for parties. A sprinkling of paprika is used to effect a pinkish colour and hot toast is always served with this dish. We also find Shrimps a la Newburg and other seafood served Newburg style.

    Delmonico's closed May 21, 1923.


    • 1. wikipedia
    • 2. History of Delmonico's Restaurant
    • 3. John Delmonico
    • 4. Delmonico's @ American Heritage
    • 5. Delmonico's Menu 1862
    • 6.Delmonico's in Tuxedo history
    • 7.Incredible New York