Saturday, October 16, 2021

Plants to Food at Mt. Vernon - Veal Olives with Herbs & Vegetables

Martha Washington (1731-1802) - From the Garden to the Table 

While George Washington oversaw most aspects of managing Mount Vernon's  pleasure gardens & grounds, Martha Washington oversaw the Kitchen Garden (The Lower Garden), allowing her to keep fruits and vegetables on the table year round.

The Kitchen Garden at Mount Vernon

“…impress it on the gardener to have every thing in his garden that will be nece]ssary in the House keeping way — as vegetable is the best part of our living in the country.” – Martha Washington, 1792

Inside the Kitchen at Mount Vernon

Outside The Kitchen at Mount Vernon

Veal Olives

Veal olives are “a seventeenth-century variant of the so-called beef or mutton olives” that were stuffed, rolled up, and tied with string to be roasted on a spit or gridiron. Hannah Glasse suggested a lemon garnish for this recipe, which likely could have been a side dish or corner dish for a first or second course.

One of the most valuable tools in the Mount Vernon kitchen was Martha Washington's copy of The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy...By a Lady.  Martha's copy is in the Library at Mount Vernon. Hannah Glasse's (1708–1770) The Art of Cookery...was first published in 1747. It was a bestseller for a century after its first publication, dominating the English-speaking market. It was published in America from 1805.

Mrs. Washington may have owned a number of cookbooks, but her 1765 edition of Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery and a manuscript cookbook (now at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania) are the only ones known to survive. The manuscript book  (under the title Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery) is a very early compilation of 16th and 17th century receipts and came into Martha's possession at the time of her marriage to Daniel Parke Custis who died in 1757.

This recipe is a modern adaptation of the 18th-century original. It was created by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.


2 pounds veal scaloppini

1/2 recipe Mrs. Glasse’s Force-Meat Balls

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed

8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced

2 to 3 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)

Browned bacon strips for serving

Lemon slices for garnish


1. Spread each piece of veal with about 2 tablespoons of Mrs. Glasse's Force-Meat Balls. Roll the slices, beginning at the long sides, and tie firmly with kitchen string, making “olives.”

2. Combine the breadcrumbs with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

3. Coat the veal olives on all sides with the beaten egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs, coating them well.

4. Melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the veal olives on all sides until well browned, adding more butter, if necessary.

5. Stir in the mushrooms, and then pour in 2 cups of the chicken stock, stirring to blend with the butter in the pan. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the olives occasionally, until the veal is fully cooked.

6. To serve, place the veal olives on a platter, and spoon the sauce over the top. Break the bacon strips into pieces, sprinkle over the veal, and garnish with lemon slices.

Research & images & much more are available from the Mount Vernon website,

Colonial Era Cookbooks

1615, New Booke of Cookerie, John Murrell (London) 

1798, American Cookery, Amelia Simmons (Hartford, CT)

1803, Frugal Housewife, Susannah Carter (New York, NY)

1807, A New System of Domestic Cookery, Maria Eliza Rundell (Boston, MA)

1808, New England Cookery, Lucy Emerson (Montpelier, VT)

Helpful Secondary Sources

America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking/Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Colonial Kitchens, Their Furnishings, and Their Gardens/Frances Phipps Hawthorn; 1972

Early American Beverages/John Hull Brown   Rutland, Vt., C. E. Tuttle Co 1996 

Early American Herb Recipes/Alice Cooke Brown  ABC-CLIO  Westport, United States

Food in Colonial and Federal America/Sandra L. Oliver

Home Life in Colonial Days/Alice Morse Earle (Chapter VII: Meat and Drink) New York : Macmillan Co., ©1926.

A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America/James E. McWilliams New York : Columbia University Press, 2005.