Thursday, November 21, 2019

From Garden to Table at Mount Vernon - Corn Fritters

 

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

In the matter of eating & drinking George Washington was temperate. For breakfast he ordinarily had tea & Indian cakes with butter & perhaps honey, of which he was very fond. His supper was equally light, consisting of perhaps tea & toast, with wine, & he usually retired at nine o'clock. Dinner was the main meal of the day at Mount Vernon, & usually was served at two o'clock. One such meal is thus described by a guest:  "He thanked us, desired us to be seated, & to excuse him a few moments.... The President came & desired us to walk in to dinner & directed  us where to sit, (no grace was said).... The dinner was very good, a small roasted pigg, boiled leg of lamb, roasted fowls, beef, peas, lettice, cucumbers, artichokes, etc., puddings, tarts, etc. etc."   The General ordinarily confined himself to a few courses & if offered anything very rich, he would protest, "That is too good for me." He often drank beer with the meal, with one or two glasses of wine & perhaps as many more afterward, often eating nuts, another delicacy with him, as he sipped the wine.

Corn Fritters

George Washington's papers contain many references to corn, a popular vegetable that was enjoyed fresh during the summer, or dried for winter use, ground into meal for bread, or made into mush.

This recipe, virtually identical to most modern versions, was adapted by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump from one in the Mary Custis Lee Papers at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond.

Ingredients

3 large eggs, separated

1/2 cup half-and-half

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 12 ears corn)

About 1 cup lard or vegetable oil

Directions

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until foamy. Add the half-and-half, flour, and salt, combining well. Stir in the corn.

Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold into the corn mixture until well combined.

Melt the lard in a frying pan over medium-high heat. (Once melted, it should be about 2 inches deep.) Heat until the oil sizzles when a small amount of batter is dropped into it.

Reduce the heat to medium, and drop in tablespoonfuls of the batter, frying the fritters on both sides until golden brown. (To prevent the fritters from touching and maintain the oil's temperature, do not crowd the pan.) Set the fritters on paper towels to remove the excess oil, and set each batch aside to keep warm while frying the remaining batter.

Pile the fritters into a serving bowl, and serve hot.

Research plus images & much more are available from the Mount Vernon website, MountVernon.org.