The Virginia Housewife: or, Methodical CookBy Mary Randolph 1762-1828
Baltimore: Plaskitt, Fite, 1838
TO DRESS SALAD.
To have this delicate dish in perfection, the lettuce,pepper grass,chervil,cress, &c. should be gathered early in the morning, nicely picked, washed, and laid in cold water, which will be improved by adding ice; just before dinner is ready to be served, drain the water from your salad, cut it into a bowl, giving the proper proportions of each plant; prepare the following mixture to pour over it: boil two fresh eggs ten minutes, put them in water to cool, then take the yelks in a soup plate, pour on them a table spoonful of cold water, rub them with a wooden spoon until they are perfectly dissolved; then add two spoonsful of oil: when well mixed, put in a teaspoonful of salt, one of powdered sugar, and one of made mustard; when all these are united and quite smooth, stir in two table spoonsful of common, and two of tarragon vinegar; put it over the salad, and garnish the top with the whites of the eggs cut into rings, and lay around the edge of the bowl young scallions, they being the most delicate of the onion tribe.
TO BOIL POTATOS.
WASH them, but do not pare or cut them, unless they are very large; fill a sauce-pan half full of potatos of equal size, (or make them so by dividing the large ones,) put to them as much cold water as will cover them about an inch; they are sooner boiled, and more savoury, than when drowned in water; most boiled things are spoiled by having too little water, but potatos are often spoiled by having too much; they must merely be covered, and a little allowed for waste in boiling, so that they must be just covered when done. Set them on a moderate fire till they boil, then take them off, and set them by the fire to simmer slowly, till they are soft enough to admit a fork; (place no dependence on the usual test of their skin's cracking, which, if they are boiled fast, will happen to some potatos when they are not half done, and the inside is quite hard,) then pour off the water, (if you let the potatos remain in the water a moment after they are done enough, they will become waxy and watery,) uncover the sauce-pan, and set it at such a distance from the fire as will secure it from burning; their superfluous moisture will evaporate, and the potatos will be perfectly dry and mealy. You may afterwards place a napkin, folded up to the size of the sauce-pan's diameter, over the potatos, to keep them dry and mealy till wanted, this method of managing potatos, is, in every respect, equal to steaming them, and they are dressed in half the time.
TO FRY SLICED POTATOS.
PEEL large potatos,slice them about a quarter of an inch thick, or cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth, and fry them in lard or dripping. Take care that your fat and frying-pan are quite clean; put it on a quick fire, watch it, and as soon as the lard boils and is still, put in the slices of potatos, and keep moving them till they are crisp; take them up, and lay them to drain on a sieve; send them up with very little salt sprinkled on them.
WHEN the potatos are thoroughly boiled, drain and dry them perfectly, pick out every speck, and rub them through a colander into a clean stew-pan; to a pound of potatos put half an ounce of butter, and a tablespoonful of milk; do not make them too moist; mix them well together. When the potatos are getting old and specked, and in frosty weather, this is the best way of dressing them--you may put them into shapes, touch them over with yelk of egg, and brown them very slightly before a slow fire.
POTATOS MASHED WITH ONIONS.
PREPARE some onions by putting them through a sieve,and mix them with potatos; in proportioning the onions to the potatos, you will be guided by your wish to have more or less of their flavour.
TO ROAST POTATOS.
WASH and dry your potatos, (all of a size,) and put them in a tin Dutch oven, or cheese toaster; take care not to put them too near the fire, or they will get burned on the outside before they are warmed through. Large potatos will require two hours to roast them. To save time and trouble, some cooks half boil them first.
TO ROAST POTATOS UNDER MEAT.
HALF boil large potatos, drain the water from them, and put them into an earthen dish or small tin pan, under meat that is roasting, and baste them with some of the dripping; when they are browned on one side, turn them and brown the other; send them up around the meat, or in a small dish.
MIX mashed potatos with the yelk of an egg, roll them into balls, flour them, or cover them with egg and bread crumbs, fry them in clean dripping, or brown them in a Dutch oven. They are an agreeable vegetable relish, and a supper dish.
ARE boiled and dressed in the various ways we have just before directed for potatos. They should be covered with thick melted butter, or a nice white or brown sauce.
PICK cabbages very clean, and wash them thoroughly; then look them carefully over again; quarter them if they are very large; put them into a sauce pan with plenty of boiling water; if any skum rises, take it off, put a large spoonful of salt into the sauce pan, and boil them till the stalks feel tender. A young cabbage will take about twenty minutes, or half an hour; when full grown, nearly an hour; see that they are well covered with water all the time, and that no dirt or smoke arises from stirring the fire. With careful management, they will look as beautiful when dressed as they did when growing. It will much ameliorate the flavour of strong old cabbages, to boil them in two waters, i.e. when they are half done, to take them out, and put them into another sauce pan of boiling water.
ARE boiled in the same manner; quarter them when you send them to table.
SPROUTS AND YOUNG GREENS
THE receipt written for cabbages will answer as well for sprouts, only they will be boiled enough in fifteen minutes.
SET a stew-pan with plenty of water on the fire, sprinkle a handful of salt in it, let it boil, and skim it; then put in the asparagus prepared thus: scrape all the stalks till they are perfectly clean; throw them into a pan of cold water as you scrape them; when they are all done, tie them in little bundles, of a quarter of a hundred each, with bass, if you can get it, or tape; cut off the stalks at the bottom, that they may be all of a length; when they are tender at the stalk, which will be in from twenty to thirty minutes, they are done enough. Great care must be taken to watch the exact time of their becoming tender; take them just at that instant, and they will have their true flavour and colour; a minute or two more boiling destroys both. While the asparagus is boiling, toast a slice of a loaf of bread, about a half an inch thick; brown it delicately on both sides; dip it lightly in the liquor the asparagus was boiled in, and lay it in the middle of a dish; pour some melted butter on the toast, and lay the asparagus upon it; let it project beyond the asparagus, that the company may see there is a toast. Do not pour butter over them, but send some in a boat.
Is tied up in bundles, and dressed in the same way as asparagus.
TO SCOLLOP TOMATOS.
PEEL off the skin from large, full, ripe tomatos--put a layer in the bottom of a deep dish, cover it well with bread grated fine; sprinkle on pepper and salt, and lay some bits of butter over them--put another layer of each, till the dish is full--let the top be covered with crumbs and butter--bake it a nice brown.
TO STEW TOMATOS.
TAKE off the skin, and put them in a pan with salt,pepper, and a large piece of butter--stew them till sufficiently dry.
CHOOSE those that are close and white, and of a middle size--trim off the outside leaves, cut off the stalk flat at the bottom, let them lie in salt and water an hour before you boil them. Put them in boiling water, with a handful of salt in it--skim it well, and let it boil slowly till done, which a small one will be in fifteen minutes, a large one in twenty--and take it up the moment it is enough: a few minutes longer boiling will spoil it.
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.
ARE to be cooked just in the same manner as carrots; they require more or less time, according to their size; therefore match them in size, and you must try them by thrusting a fork into them as they are in the water; when this goes easily through, they are done enough: boil them from an hour to two hours, according to their size and freshness. Parsnips are sometimes sent up mashed in the same way as turnips.
LET them be weil washed and scraped--an hour is enough for young spring carrots; grown carrots will take from an hour and a half to two hours and a half. The best way to try if they are done enough, is to pierce them with a fork.
THERE are many varieties of these peas; the smaller kind are the most delicate. Have them young and newly gathered, shell and boil them tender; pour them in a colander to drain; put some lard in a frying pan; when it boils, mash the peas, and fry them in a cake of a light brown; put it in the dish with the crust uppermost--garnish with thin bits of fried bacon. They are very nice when fried whole, so that each pea is distinct from the other; but they must be boiled less, and fried with great care. Plain boiling is a very common way of dressing them.
PEEL off half an inch of the stringy outside--full grown turnips will take about an hour and a half gentle boiling; try them with a fork, and when tender, take them up, and lay them on a sieve till the water is thoroughly drained from them; send them up whole; to very young turnips, leave about two inches of green top; the old ones are better when the water is changed as directed for cabbage.
TO MASH TURNIPS.
WHEN they are boiled quite tender, squeeze them as dry as possible--put them into a sauce pan, mash them with a wooden spoon, and rub them through a colander; add a little bit of butter, keep stirring them till the butter is melted and well mixed with them, and they are ready for table.
ARE the shoots which grow out, (in the spring,) from the old turnip roots. Put them in cold water an hour before they are dressed; the more water they are boiled in, the better they will look; if boiled in a small quantity of water, they will taste bitter; when the water boils, put in a small handful of salt, and then your vegetables; they are still better boiled with bacon in the Virginia style: if fresh and young, they will be done in about twenty minutes--drain them on the back of a sieve, and put them under the bacon.
CUT off the stalk end first, and then turn to the point and strip off the strings; if not quite fresh, have a bowl of spring water, with a little salt dissolved in it, standing before you; as the beans are cleansed and trimmed, throw them in; when all are done, put them on the fire in boiling water, with some salt in it; when they have boiled fifteen or twenty minutes, take one out and taste it; as soon as they are tender, take them up, and throw them into a colander to drain. To send up the beans whole, when they are young, is much the best method, and their delicate flavour and colour is much better preserved. When a little more grown, they must be cut lengthwise in thin slices after stringing; and for common tables, they are split, and divided across; but those who are nice, do not use them at such a growth as to require splitting.
SOAK them in cold water, wash them well, then put them into plenty of boiling water, with a handful of salt, and let them boil gently till they are tender, which will take an hour and a half, or two hours; the surest way to know when they are done enough, is to draw out a leaf; trim them, and drain them on a sieve, and send up melted butter with them, with some put into small cups, so that each guest may have one.
THE kind which bears flowers around the joints of the stalks, must be cut into convenient lengths for the dish; scrape the skin from the stalk, and pick out any leaves or flowers that require to be removed; tie it up in bunches, and boil it as asparagus; serve it up hot, with melted butter poured over it. The brocoli that heads at the top like cauliflowers, must be dressed in the same manner as the cauliflower.
To have them in perfection, they must be quite young, gathered early in the morning, kept in a cool place, and not shelled until they are to be dressed; put salt in the water, and when it boils, put in the peas; boil them quick twenty or thirty minutes, according to their age; just before they are taken up, add a little mint chopped very fine; drain all the water from the peas, put in a bit of butter, and serve them up quite hot.
PUREE OF TURNIPS.
PARE a dozen large turnips,slice them, and put them into a stew-pan, with four ounces of butter and a little salt; set the pan over a moderate fire, turn them often with a wooden spoon; when they look white, add a ladle full of veal gravy, stew them till it becomes thick; skim it, and pass it through a sieve; put the turnips in a dish, and pour the gravy over them.
RAGOUT OF TURNIPS.
PEEL as many small turnips as will fill a dish; put them into a stew pan with some butter and a little sugar, set them over a hot stove, shake them about, and turn them till they are a good brown; pour in half a pint of rich high seasoned gravy; stew the turnips till tender, and serve them with the gravy poured over them.
RAGOUT OF FRENCH BEANS, SNAPS, STRING BEANS.
LET them be young and fresh gathered, string them, and cut them in long thin slices; throw them in boiling water for fifteen minutes; have ready some well seasoned brown gravy, drain the water from the beans, put them in the gravy, stew them a few minutes, and serve them garnished with forcemeat balls; there must not be gravy enough to float the beans.
THIS is the smallest and most delicate species of the Windsor bean. Gather them in the morning, when they are full grown, but quite young, and do not shell them till you are going to dress them. Put them into boiling water, have a small bit of middling, (flitch,) of bacon, well boiled--take the skin off, cover it with bread crumbs, and toast it; lay this in the middle of the dish, drain all the water from the beans--put a little butter with them, and pour them round the bacon. When the large Windsor beans are used, it is best to put them into boiling water until the skins will slip off, and then make them into a puree as directed for turnips--they are very coarse when plainly dressed.
LIMA, OR SUGAR BEANS.
LIKE all other spring and summer vegetables, they must be young and freshly gathered: boil them till tender, drain them, add a little butter, and serve them up. These beans are easily preserved for winter use, and will be nearly as good as fresh ones. Gather them on a dry day, when full grown, but quite young: have a clean and dry keg, sprinkle some salt in the bottom, put in a layer of pods, containing the beans, then a little salt--do this till the keg is full; lay a board on with a weight, to press them down; cover the keg very close, and keep it in a dry, cool place--they should be put up as late in the season, as they can be with convenience. When used, the pods must be washed, and laid in fresh water all night; shell them next day, and keep them in water till you are going to boil them; when tender, serve them up with melted butter in a boat. French beans (snaps) may be preserved in the same manner.
TURNIP ROOTED CABBAGE.
THE cabbage growing at the top is not good; cut the root in slices an inch thick, peel off the rind, and boil the slices in a large quantity of water, till tender, serve it up hot, with melted butter poured over it.
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 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.
GET one of a good colour, and seven or eight inches in diameter; cut a piece off the top, take out all the seeds, wash and wipe the cavity, pare the rind off, and fill the hollow with good forcemeat--put the top on, and set it in a deep pan, to protect the sides; bake it in a moderate oven, put it carefully in the dish without breaking, and it will look like a handsome mould. Another way of cooking potato pumpkin is to cut it in slices, pare off the rind, and make a puree as directed for turnips.
TAKE those that are nearly of the same size, that they may be done equally--wash them clean, but do boil them till tender, drain the water off, and put them on tin sheets in a stove for a few minutes to dry.
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.
SWEET POTATOS BROILED.
CUT them across without peeling, in slices half an inch thick, broil them on a griddle, and serve them with butter in a boat.
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.
Is dressed as the spinach; and if they be mixed in equal proportions, improve each other.
GET a fine head of cabbage, not too large; pour boiling water on, and cover it till you can turn the leaves back, which you must do carefully; take some of those in the middle of the head off, chop them fine, and mix them with rich forcemeat; put this in, and replace the leaves to confine the stuffing--tie it in a cloth, and boil it--serve it up whole, with a little melted butter in the dish.
SQUASH OR CIMLIN.
GATHER young squashes, peel, and cut them in two; take out the seeds, and boil them till tender; put them into a colander, drain off the water, and rub them with a wooden spoon through the colander; then put them into a stew pan, with a cup full of cream, a small piece of butter, some pepper and salt--stew them, stirring very frequently until dry. This is the most delicate way of preparing squashes.
THE crooked neck of this squash is the best part. Cut it in slices an inch thick, take off the rind, and boil them with salt in the water; drain them well before they are dished, and pour melted butter over--serve them up very hot. The large part, containing the seeds, must be sliced and pared--cut it in small pieces, and stew it till soft, with just water enough to cover it; pass it through a sieve, and stew it again, adding some butter,pepper, and salt; it must be dry, but not burnt. It is excellent when stewed with pork chops.
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.
SCRAPE and wash the roots, put them into boiling water with salt; when done, drain them, and place them in the dish without cutting them up. They are a very excellent vegetable, but require nicety in cooking; exposure to the air, either in scraping, or after boiling, will make them black.
HALF boil it, cut it up, and put it in a stew pan, with a very little water, and a spoonful of butter; stew them dry, and serve them up. For change, you may, after stewing, cut them in scollop shells with grated bread, and bake them; or make them into cakes, and fry them. They are delicious in whatever way they can be dressed.
GATHER grown mushrooms, but such as are young enough to have red gills; cut off that part of the stem which grew in the earth--wash them carefully, and take the skin from the top; put them into a stew pan with some salt, but no water--stew them till tender, and thicken them with a spoonful of butter, mixed with one of brown flour;red wine may be added, but the flavour of the mushroom is too delicious to require aid from any thing.
PREPARE them as above directed--broil them on a griddle, and when done, sprinkle pepper and salt on the gills, and put a little butter on them.
TO BOIL RICE.
PUT two cups full of rice in a bowl of water, rub it well with the hand, and pour off the water; do this until the water ceases to be discoloured; then put the rice into two and a half cups of cold water; add a tea-spoonful of salt, cover the pot close, and set it on a brisk fire; let it boil ten minutes, pour off the greater part of the water, and remove the pot to a bed of coals, where it must remain a quarter of an hour to soak and dry.
RICE JOURNEY, OR JOHNNY CAKE.
BOIL a pint of rice quite soft, with a tea-spoonful of salt; mix with it while hot a large spoonful of butter, and spread it on a dish to cool; when perfectly cold, add a pint of rice flour and half a pint of milk--beat them all together till well mingled. Take the middle part of the head of a barrel, make it quite clean, wet it, and put on the mixture about an inch thick, smooth with a spoon, and baste it with a little milk; set the board aslant before clear coals; when sufficiently baked, slip a thread under the cake and turn it: baste and bake that side in a similar manner, split it, and butter while hot. Small homony boiled and mixed with rice flour, is better than all rice; and if baked very thin, and afterwards toasted and buttered, it is nearly as good as cassada bread.
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.