Sunday, March 6, 2022

Garden to Table at Mt Vernon - Fairy Butter

 

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.

Fairy Butter

This simple dessert sauce makes a tasty accompaniment to gingerbread—either dotted onto the surface before serving or passed around at the table.

The recipe here was adapted by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump from one by Elizabeth Raffald in which she suggested letting the sauce “stand two or three hours” before rubbing it “through a cullendar upon a plate; it looks very pretty.” English author Maria Eliza Rundell (1745-1828)  included this recipe under the title Orange Butter in her 1808 cookbook, A New System of Domestic Cookery, noting that it pairs well with “sweet biscuits.”

Ingredients

4 large hardboiled-egg yolks

5 teaspoons orange-flower water

4 to 6 tablespoons sugar (preferably superfine)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

Directions

Mash the egg yolks with the orange-flower water. Add the sugar, and mix to a smooth paste.

Work in the butter until the mixture is smooth, and set aside in a cool place for 2 to 3 hours.

Press the butter through a strainer into a small serving bowl. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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

Friday, March 4, 2022

Proud Colonial writes & fights about the Food from America's Gardens & Fields

Benjamin Franklin by David Martin (1736-1798)

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) began writing about the food being produced in the gardens & fields of colonial British America in his early 30s.

Ginseng

"We have the Pleasure of acquainting the World, that the famous Chinese or Tartarian Plant, called Gin seng, is now discovered in this Province, near Sasquehannah:  From whence several whole Plants with a Quantity of the Root, have been lately sent to Town, & it appears to agree most exactly with the Description given of it in Chamber’s Dictionary, & Pere du Halde’s Account of China.  The Virtues ascrib’d to this Plant are wonderful.” (Described in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1738.)

Franklin was outraged by the negative English opinions concerning American food that he encountered during his long stay in London from 1757-17.  He took a patriotic pride in using “our own Produce at home” rather than being dependent on foreign imports.  

He published a long treatise as “Homespun” extolling the virtues of American cooking & foodstuffs: “Pray let me, an American, inform the gentleman, who seems ignorant of the matter, that Indian corn, take it for all in all, is one of the most agreeable & wholesome grains in the world; that its green leaves roasted are a delicacy beyond expression; that samp, hominy, succotash, & nokehock, made of it, are so many pleasing varieties; & that johny or hoecake, hot from the fire, is better than a Yorkshire muffin – But if Indian corn were so disagreeable & indigestible as the Stamp Act, does he imagine that we can get nothing else for breakfast? – 

Did he never hear that we have oatmeal in plenty, for water gruel or burgoo; as good wheat, rye & barley as the world affords, to make frumenty; or toast & ale; that there is every where plenty of milk, butter, & cheese; that rice is one of our staple commodities; that for tea, we have sage & bawm in our gardens, the young leaves of the sweet hickery or walnut, & above all, the buds of our pine, infinitely preferably to any tea from the Indies … Let the gentleman do us the honor of a visit in America, & I will engage to breakfast him every day in the month with a fresh variety.” (January 2nd, 1766, Benjamin Franklin)

Rice

“Rice is known to be one of the best Sorts of Food we have.  Some whole Provinces & even Kingdoms are nourished by it …” (B. Franklin, Poor Richard Improved, 1765)

Honey

“We have an Infinity of Flowers, from which, by the voluntary Labour of Bees, Honey is extracted, for our Advantage. … Bread & Honey is pleasant & wholesome Eating. ‘Tis a Sweet that does not hurt the Teeth.  How many fine Setts might be saved; & what an infinite Quantity of Tooth Ach avoided!" (B. Franklin, Poor Richard Improved, 1765)

Maple Syrup

“And from the Sugar Maple great Quantities may be made.  In the frontiers of Connecticut they are now much in the Practices of it.  A Friend, who has lately traveled in that Way, assures me, that … they make more than they can consume, & sell it at Eight Dollars & One Third per Hundred Weight” (B. Franklin, Poor Richard Improved, 1765)

Maize

“the Ears boil’d in their Leaves, & eaten with Butter are also good & agreeable Food.  The green tender Grains dried, may be kept all the Year, & mix’d with green Haricots also dried, make at any time a pleasing Dish.  … Ground into a finer Meal, they make of it by Boiling a Hasty pudding or Bouilli, to be eaten with Milk, or with Butter & Sugar; this resembles what the Indians call Polenta.” (B. Franklin, On Mayz, ca. April 1785, unpublished)

Franklin also introduced some British & European foods to the British American colonies. 

Rhubarb

Franklin sent seeds to John Bartram in the US in 1772 after seeing plants in Scotland. Bartram wrote Franklin that he had planted some seeds in a bright sunny place, others in the shade, & surprisingly it was the latter that produced.  Franklin had earlier sent a case of rhubarb root to Bartram (1770), with instructions on its use as a medicine.

Scotch Kale

“I send you also … some Seed of the Scotch Cabbage.” (Franklin, in London, to David Colden, New York, March 5, 1773)

The Mount Vernon Digital Encyclopedia published a great review of Franklin's life in London.  It probably does not belong in a blog about Early American gardens & plants and about the food & medicines that those gardens produced; but I am going to include part of it here. It was written by George Goodwin, Author of Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father (Yale University Press 2016).  An American patriot Franklin was a fiercely loyal British citizen for most of his life - until forces he had sought & failed to control finally made him a reluctant revolutionary at the age of 69. 

Franklin lived in a "small merchant’s house, near the River Thames & not far from the Houses of Parliament,... between 1757 & 1775...was at the very centre of Franklin’s domestic life from the 1st week he arrived in London in 1757 to the day he left in March 1775. 

In that time, Franklin boarded with widowed landlady, Margaret Stevenson, & was like a father to her daughter Polly. They rapidly became his 2nd family, with their home becoming his own household & with Mrs Stevenson managing it for him.  

Franklin had 1st visited London as a teenage printer in the mid-1720s & stayed for 18 months. He returned in 1757...to Britain as the representative of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, but his prestige was founded on something else entirely. Franklin was a famous scientist in the Atlantic World, a Fellow of the Royal Society & friends with many of the leading intellectuals of the day, including Joseph Priestley, David Hume, & Erasmus Darwin.1  Moreover, his groundbreaking electrical experiments gave him greater political access at a time when the dominant British aristocracy, men & women, were gripped by a scientific craze...

In 1757 Franklin’s ostensible role was to persuade the absentee Proprietors of Pennsylvania, the sons of William Penn, to provide funds to the colonial Assembly on a permanent basis, rather than to govern the colony through discretionary grants. This proved impossible, & by 1760 Franklin was convinced that the only solution was for the Proprietors to lose power & for Pennsylvania to become a British Royal colony...”2  

It was after 1763, when the extent & expense of Britain’s military triumph in the Seven Years’ War had begun to destabilize the relationship between Britain & its colonies, that Franklin’s optimism began to come under pressure. Prime Minister George Grenville believed that the Americans themselves should contribute to the cost of the ongoing presence of the British Army on American soil, around £40,000 per year...Grenville...approved a Stamp Act in 1765.  

The Stamp Act caused uproar in the colonies. The imposition of an internal tax by the British government was unconstitutional according to the colonies’ charters. There was mass protest & outraged citizens burned the houses of stamp collectors...when a new government under Prime Minister Rockingham established a committee of the whole House of Commons to consider repeal of the Act. Franklin was the committee’s star witness & the act was duly repealed.3

...Yet Franklin was now also troubled by fears for the future relationship of Britain & America. Just a year after the repeal of the Stamp Act, Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, sparked further uproar in the colonies by introducing duties on glass, paint, paper & tea. By February 1769, Franklin was already writing “Things daily wear a worse Aspect, & tend more to a breach & final separation.”4

...The British government’s denunciation of Franklin before the Privy Council, in the wake of the Boston Tea Party...made Franklin take a ship for America – shortly before a warrant was issued for his arrest. It was only then that Franklin became an enemy to Britain & one of the fiercest American patriots of all."  

Notes

1. In 1753 the Royal Society awarded Franklin the Copley Medal, the 18th century equivalent of the Nobel Prize. 

2. Benjamin Franklin to William Shirley, December 22, 1754, in Leonard W. Labree, et. al., eds, Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 5 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), 450-451. 

3.  "Examination before the Committee of the Whole House of Commons," February 13, 1766, Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 13, 129-159.

4. Benjamin Franklin to Lord Kames, February 21, 1769, Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol 16, 48.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Garden to Table at Mt Vernon - Rice Pancakes

 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.

Rice Pancakes

This recipe is from Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis (1779-1852), known as Nelly, who was the granddaughter of Martha Washington and the step-granddaughter and adopted daughter of George Washington. Although Nelly Custis omitted sugar in her recipe for these lovely, delicate pancakes, published cookbooks of the period often suggested “strewing” sugar over them before sending them to the table. E. Smith, for one, additionally recommended garnishing them with orange, a suggestion also included here. This recipe can be readily doubled.

This recipe was adapted by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking

2 large eggs, well beaten

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour

Sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Orange slices for garnish

Directions

1. Combine the rice, cream, and butter. Add the eggs, stirring together until well blended.

2. Sift the flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and blend thoroughly into the rice mixture. Cover the batter and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 200°F.

4. When you are ready to cook the pancakes, remove the batter from the refrigerator and whisk together well. Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter is sizzling, add a small amount of batter to the pan to test the heat level. If necessary, reduce the heat to medium before cooking the pancakes.

5. For each rice pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the prepared pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surfaces and the edges of the pancakes are lightly browned. Using a spatula, carefully turn the pancakes over and cook about 2 minutes more, until done. Transfer the finished pancakes, separated by parchment paper, to an ovenproof platter, and set them in the oven to keep warm. Prepare the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the pan as needed.

6. To serve, lightly sprinkle the rice pancakes with sugar (if desired), and garnish with orange slices.

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

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Garden to Table - Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Loved Cranberries

 Benjamin Franklin by David Martin (1736-1798)

Cranberries were native & growing in North America as Europeans began to explore the continent in the 16C.  French explorer of Acadia (Maine & the Maritimes in Canada) Marc Lescarbot (c. 1570-1641) observed natives eating cranberry sauce with meats in the early 17C. He also came to the conclusion that cranberry jelly was excellent for dessert. "Everywhere there is life...wherever there is crack or cranny soil can gather in, with partridge-berry, blueberry, & mountain cranberry; penetrating the forest shade & profiting by the dense northern covering of leafy humus that it finds there..." Marc Lescarbot. Histoire de Nouvelle-France, 1609.  

Long before colonists landed on the shores of New England, Native Americans harvested cranberries from peaty bogs & marshes. The Aquinnah Wampanoags still celebrate their most important holiday, Cranberry Day, on the 2nd Tuesday of October. Called sasemineash by the Narragansett and sassamenesh by the Algonquin & Wampanoag tribes, the tart berries were an important food source, as European colonists came to discover. "We proceeded to Cranberry Lake, so called from the great quantities of cranberries growing in the swamps … this was one inducement for settling here which was increased by the prospect of a plentiful supply of fish, rice and cranberries …" John Long in Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader (London:1791) 

Cranberries were among the favorite native American garden, farm, & bog foods enjoyed by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), author, publisher, scientist, inventor & diplomat. Franklin had his wife Deborah & their daughter, who remained in the British American colonies as he traveled across the Atlantic, ship him barrels of cranberries both to England & later to France.  

Food historian Rae Katherine Eighmey writes of the nearly 2 decades Benjamin Franklin spent in London before the American Revolution. There he rented rooms from widow Mrs. Margaret Stevenson & her daughter Polly. They grew close to Franklin's wife Deborah & daughter Sally back home in Philadelphia. Goods were shipped back & forth across the Atlantic. Deborah sent her husband & the Stevensons Philadelphia biscuits, & barrels of apples & cranberries. The Stevenson's had never before tasted cranberries or experienced the tart richness of this native American fruit.

As agent for the British American colony of Pennsylvania, Franklin lobbied for colonial interests during his long London stay,  He met with politicians, scientists & philosophers with whom he had corresponded for years. He spent many evenings at social & scientific gatherings & dinners. His correspondence gives a glimpse of his affection for (or obsession with) America's cranberries.


I have no Prospect of Returning till next Spring, so you will not expect me. But pray remember to make me as happy as you can, by sending some Pippins for my self and Friends, some of your small Hams, and some Cranberries. From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 10 June 1758. American Philosophical Society

I never receiv’d any Cranberry’s from Boston. From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, [c. 7 April 1759] American Philosophical Society

I received your kind Letter per Capt. Story, of Nov. 19, and a subsequent one per Capt. Falkner without date. I have received also the Indian and Buckwheat Meal that they brought from you, with the Apples, Cranberries and Nuts, for all which I thank you. From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 13 February 1768 American Philosophical Society


Thanks for the Cranberrys. I am as ever Your affectionate Husband B Franklin (Benjamin Franklin to wife Deborah, November 1770)

Franklin's Cash Accounts record that he purchased Fish and Cranberries from a "New Engld Vessell" in December of 1772, presumably for holiday entertaining. From The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, vol. 9, 8 January 1772 – 18 March 1774, ed. W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994,

19C Picking Cranberries in Massachusetts

Capts. All, Osborne, and Sparkes, are arrived; and a Barrel of Apples with another of Cranberries are come, I know not yet by which of them. p.s. Have just opened the Apples and Cranberries, which I find in good order, all sound. Thanks for your kind Care in sending them.  Mrs Franklin From Benjamin Franklin to wife Deborah Franklin, 1 December 1772

I am much oblig’d by your ready Care in sending them, and thank you for the Cranberries, Meal, and dry’d Apples. The latter are the best I ever saw. Benjamin Franklin in London to William Franklin, 14 February 1773 from a Letterbook draft at the Library of Congress

Perhaps Franklin had learned to make his own favorite delicacy in all those years away from home.  I have lately received some Cranberrys from Boston … I will pick out enough to make you a few Cranberry Tarts”  (friend Jonathan Williams, Jr. to Benjamin Franklin, March 9, 1782.  

 Massachusetts Cranberry Bog
See:
The Unbound Blog of The Smithsonian Libraries & Archives, "Native Fruit: Cranberry for all Seasons" by Julia Blakely November 4, 2017

Rae Katherine Eighmey. Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father's Culinary Adventures. Smithsonian Institution Press. 2018.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Garden to Table at Mt Vernon - Mushroom Sauce

 

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.

Mushroom Sauce

Mary Randolph (1762–1828) wrote in her 1824 cookbook The Virginia Housewife recommended this as a “very good sauce for white fowls of all kinds.”

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.

Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound fresh mushrooms (preferably cremini), rinsed, stemmed, and cut into thick slices (about 6 cups)

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon ground mace

2 cups heavy cream

2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

1. Melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms, salt, and mace. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are very tender.

2. Combine the cream with the egg yolks. Gradually blend into the mushrooms, stirring continuously over medium-low heat, until the sauce just reaches the boiling point and begins to thicken. Watch carefully, as the sauce scorches easily.

3. Stir in the lemon juice, continuing to stir until heated through.

4. Pour the sauce into a sauceboat, and serve hot.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Garden to Table at Mt Vernon - Baked Bread Pudding

 

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.

Baked Bread Pudding

Bread pudding recipes found in historic cookbooks offer numerous preparation suggestions. Many bread puddings are boiled, while others are baked in a crust. Ingredients for seasoning vary; they include grated lemon zest, rose water, vinegar combined with butter, raisins, or currants as well as spices such as ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. This baked, firm-textured bread pudding is an adaptation of a Hannah Glasse recipe, with variations drawn from other sources.

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.

Ingredients

2 cups half-and-half

3 sticks cinnamon, broken into pieces

3 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

4 cups breadcrumbs (grated from stale bread)

1/2 cup currants

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Boiled Custard or Fairy Butter for serving (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish.

2. In a saucepan, combine the half-and-half with the cinnamon sticks and lemon zest. Scald (bring just below the boil) over medium heat, whisking constantly. Do not let the milk boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and set aside to cool to room temperature. Stir occasionally.

3. Combine the breadcrumbs with the currants in a large bowl. Add the sugar, salt, nutmeg, and ginger and combine well.

4. When the milk has cooled, strain and discard the cinnamon sticks. Whisk in the eggs. Pour into the breadcrumb mixture, and combine thoroughly.

5. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool to room temperature before serving.

6. Serve slices of the bread pudding with Boiled Custard or Fairy Butter, if desired.

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

Monday, February 21, 2022

South Carolina Landscape - A 1728 "Meetinghouse" near Jacksonborough in 1799.

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) A "Meetinghouse" near Jacksonborough in 1799.

"This is the meeting-house of Bethel Congregation of Pon Pon organized in St. Bartholomew’s Parish in 1728 and first ministered to by the Reverend Archibald Stobo, the Father of Presbyterianism in South Carolina. One historian told of Reverend Robert Baron, sent out to St. Bartholomew’s Parish by the Society for the Propagation of the gospel in 1753: “He arrived at Charles Town June 1st and entered on the duties of his cure on the 7th of that month. Mr. Baron was soon after taken ill, and had a severe seasoning, as it is usually called. His Parishioners were scattered over a great extent of country, and were an orderly and well behaved people. The Presbyterians were numerous, but they all lived together in mutual friendship and Christian charity.” 

Fraser notes in his Reminiscences, even during his boyhood, the Presbyterian "dissenters" never called their places of worship churches!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Garden to Table at Mt Vernon - Apple 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.

Apple Fritters

Early physicians cautioned that fritters were bad for one’s stomach, possibly contributing to indigestion. That warning was no obstacle to those who long enjoyed these fried pastries. A thin egg batter envelops a wide selection of foodstuffs that includes thinly sliced vegetables and fruit. Apple fritters were the most popular, generally appearing on menus as part of a second course.

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 rendition combines two recipes from the Booke of Cookery, a manuscript possibly dating to the seventeenth century that came to Martha Washington during her first marriage, to Daniel Parke Custis. An heirloom variety such as the Newtown Pippin—which was grown and enjoyed at Mount Vernon—is suggested. This recipe was adapted by Culinary Historian Nancy Carter Crump for Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertainment, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon.

Ingredients

3/4 cup dark ale

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3 large eggs, separated

5 to 6 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

Lard or vegetable oil for frying

Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

Directions

1. Combine the ale and sherry in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Warm slightly and set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, salt, mace, nutmeg, and cloves.

3. Whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Pour into the flour, and stir until well combined. The mixture will be dry and crumbly. Gradually add the ale and sherry, blending in each addition well before adding the next. The batter will be somewhat lumpy. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight, to allow the batter to rest.

4. While the batter is resting, lay a sheet of waxed paper on a large baking sheet, set a wire rack on top, and cover with a clean dishtowel. Place beside the stove.

5. To finish the fritters, remove the batter from the refrigerator and whisk until smooth. Beat 2 of the egg whites (reserving or discarding the third egg white) to stiff peaks. Gently fold into the chilled batter in two additions until thoroughly incorporated.

6. Over medium-high heat, heat 2 to 3 inches of lard in a deep frying pan to 375°F. Use a thermometer to determine the correct temperature, or test by dropping a bit of the batter into the hot lard. If the lard sizzles, it is hot enough to fry the fritters. Dip the apple slices, a few at a time, in the batter, coating well on both sides. Carefully drop into the hot oil and fry for 3 to 5 minutes, turning once to lightly brown on both sides. Remove and drain well on the towel-covered rack.

7. To serve, sprinkle the warm fritters generously with cinnamon sugar.

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

Saturday, February 19, 2022

South Carolina Landscape - 1743 "Meeting House" in Prince William's Parish

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) Meeting House in Prince William's Parish

The Stony Creek Presbyterian Church built in Indian Land on Stony Creek near Pocotaligo in 1743. Fraser notes in his Reminiscences, even during his boyhood, the Presbyterian "dissenters" never called their places of worship churches!

Kimberly Pyszka tells us that in 1706, the Church of England became the established church of South Carolina. Construction of several churches began shortly thereafter under the supervision of local parish supervisors. Archaeological testing at the 1707 St. Paul's Parish Church indicates parish supervisors purposely altered the church's orientation from the traditional east—west orientation in order to make it more of a presence on the landscape. A subsequent regional landscape study of other early-18th-century South Carolina Anglican churches suggests that throughout the colony church supervisors strategically placed churches on the landscape to be material expressions of the Anglican Church's presence and power in the culturally and ethnically divided colony. As a consequence of the intentional placement of churches on the landscape, the South Carolina Anglican Church played a larger role in the development of the colony by affecting the expansion of transportation networks and, later, settlement patterns.  See: Pyszka, Kimberly. ""Built for the Publick Worship of God, According to the Church of England": Anglican Landscapes and Colonialism in South Carolina." Historical Archaeology 47, no. 4 (2013): 1-22.

To read more about South Carolina churches & their landscapes, see:

Bolton, Charles S. 1982 Southern Anglicanism: The Church of England in Colonial South Carolina. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

Brinsfœld, John Wesley 1983 Religion and Politics in Colonial South Carolina. Southern Historical Press, Easley, SC.

Crass, David, Steven Smith, Martha Zierden, and Richard Brooks 1998 Introduction. In The Southern Colonial Backcountry: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Frontier Communities, David Crass, Steven Smith, Martha Zierden, and Richard Brooks, editors, pp. 1-35. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Dalcho, Frederick 1820 An Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina. E. Thayer, Charleston, SC.

Kryder-Reid, Elizabeth 1994 As Is the Gardener, So Is the Garden: The Archaeology of Landscape as Myth. In Historical Archaeology of the Chesapeake, Paul Shackel and Barbara Little, editors, pp. 131-148. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.

Kryder-Reid, Elizabeth 1996 The Construction of Sanctity : Landscape and Ritual in a Religious Community. In Landscape Archaeology: Reading and Interpreting the American Historical Landscape, Rebecca Yamin and Karen Bescherer Metheny, editors, pp. 228-248. University ofTennessee Press, Knoxville.

Lewis, Kenneth E. 2006 Camden: Historical Archaeology in the South Carolina Backcountry. Thomson Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.

Linder, Suzanne Cameron 2000 Anglican Churches in Colonial South Carolina: Their History and Architecture. Wyrick and Company, Charleston, SC.

Nelson, Louis P. 2001 The Material Word: Anglican Visual Culture in Colonial South Carolina. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Art History, University of Delaware. University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI.

Nelson, Louis P. 2008 The Beauty of Holiness: Anglicanism and Architecture in Colonial South Carolina. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.

Pyszka, Kimberly 2012 "Unto Seytne Paules": Anglican Landscapes and Colonialism in South Carolina. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University ofTennessee, Knoxville. University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI.

Pyszka, Kimberly, Maureen Hays, and Scott Harris 2010 The Archaeology of St Paul's Parish Church, Hollywood, South Carolina, USA. Journal of Church Archaeology 12:71-78.

South, Stanley, and Michael Hartley 1980 Deep Water and High Ground: Seventeenth Century Lowcountry Settlement. Institute of Archaeology/ Anthropology, University of South Carolina, Research Manuscript Series 166. Columbia.

Young, Amy L. 2000 Introduction: Urban Archaeology in the South. In Archaeology of Southern Urban Landscapes, Amy L. Young, editor, pp. 1-13. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Zierden, Martha, and Linda S tine 1 997 Introduction: Historical Landscapes through the Prism of Archaeology. In Carolina s Historical Landscape: Archaeological Perspectives, Linda F. Stine, Martha Zierden, Lesley M. Drucker, and Christopher Judge, editors, pp. xi-xvi. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Garden to Table at Mt Vernon - Geo Washington (1732-1799) & Tea

 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.

Tea

George Washington's first recorded order for tea dates to December of 1757, when he wrote to England seeking "6 lb. best Hyson Tea" and "6 lb. best Green Ditto."1 Washington, of course, drank tea prior to placing that order; about a month before, sick and having arrived back at Mount Vernon from the frontier to find his sister-in-law out of the house, the young bachelor sent a note to his neighbor Sally Cary Fairfax requesting some foodstuffs to get him through his illness, including "a Pound, or a smaller quantity if you can't spare that, of Hyson Tea."2 Washington continued to acquire tea throughout his life and the last known purchase was for one pound of Imperial tea the year before his death.3

The Washingtons used several varieties of tea throughout their time at Mount Vernon, including Bohea, Congo, Green, Gunpowder, Hyson, and Imperial. Among the specialized objects purchased to serve tea in the Washington household imported from England, France, and China, were: tea boards, tea caddies, tea chests, tea china, tea cups, a pewter tea equipage, a copper tea kettle with chafing dish, a tea kitchen, tea pots, tea sets, silver tea spoons, tea tables, and a silver-plated tea urn.4

Washington's enslaved people also possessed tea wares, although it is possible that they were utilized as all-purpose drinking vessels. Among the furnishings, one visitor found in a cabin on one of Mount Vernon's outlying farms were, "A very bad fireplace, some utensils for cooking, but in the middle of the poverty some cups and a teapot."5

Breakfast was generally eaten at Mount Vernon around seven in the morning during the summer or at seven-thirty in winter. George Washington's habitual meal, according to one of Martha Washington's granddaughters, consisted of "three small mush cakes (Indian meal) swimming in butter and honey" and "three cups of tea without cream.''6

Guests at Mount Vernon also mentioned tea being served at breakfast. Benjamin Henry Latrobe recorded in his journal that, "Breakfast was served up with the usual Virginian style. Tea, Coffee, and cold and broiled Meats."7 In January of 1802, two years after George Washington's death, Manasseh Cutler and his friends were served a specially prepared breakfast by an enslaved cook late one morning at Mount Vernon. After describing the foods on the table, the minister noted, "At the head of the table was the tea and coffee equipage, where she [Martha Washington] seated herself, and sent the tea and coffee to the company."8

One of the more charming references to tea at Mount Vernon is given in the memoirs of prominent land speculator and world traveler Elkanah Watson, who visited the Washingtons in January of 1785. Watson recollected:

"I was extremely oppressed with a severe cold and excessive coughing, contracted by the exposure of a harsh whiter journey. He [George Washington] pressed me to use some remedies, but I declined doing so. As usual after retiring, my coughing increased. When some time had elapsed, the door of my room was gently opened, and on drawing my bed-curtains, to my utter astonishment, I beheld Washington himself, standing at my bed-side, with a bowl of hot tea in his hand. I was mortified, and distressed beyond expression. This little incident, occurring in common life with an ordinary man, would not have been noticed; but as a trait of the benevolence and private virtue of Washington, it deserves to be recorded."9

By Mary V. Thompson, Research Historian, George Washington's Mount Vernon

Notes:

1. "George Washington to Thomas Knox, 30 December 1757," The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, Vol. 5 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia), 76.

2. "George Washington to Sally Cary Fairfax, 15 November 1757" The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, Vol. 5, 56.

3. "Bennett & Watts...Contra, 31 March 1798," Mount Vernon Farm Ledger (bound photostat, Mount Vernon Ladies' Association), 98.

4. "George Washington to Thomas Knox, 30 December 1757," The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, Vol.5 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia), 76; "Cash...Contra," 28 February 1774, Ledger B (bound photostat, Mount Vernon Ladies' Association), 105a; "Washington's Household Account Book, 1793-1797" Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 31, Nos. 1-3 (1907), 179; Ibid., "23 May 1796," 183.

5. Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Under Their Vine and Fig Tree; Travels Through America in 1797-1799, 1805, ed. Metchie J.E. Budka (Elizabeth, New Jersey: Grassman Publishing Company, 1965), 100.

6. "Nelly Custis Lewis to Elizabeth Bordley Gibson, 23 February 1823" (typescript, Mount Vernon Ladies' Association)

7. Benjamin Henry Latrobe, "July 1796" The Virginia Journals of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1795-1798, Vol. 1 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977), 171.

8. William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL.D. By His Grandchildren, Vol. 2 (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Company, 1888), 56.

9. Men and Times of the Revolution; or, Memoirs of Elkanah Watson ed., Winslow C. Watson (New York: Dana and Company, 1856), 244.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Garden to Table - A Disgruntled Employee & a Murder led to 1st Woman Winery Owner in 19C Napa Valley

Hannah Weinberger / Photo from the St. Helena Public Library

The Wine Enthusiast tells us that Napa’s modern wine industry began in the 1960s, but viticulture and winemaking were integral to the economy before Prohibition. Women had worked growing grapes and making wine for centuries before Hannah Weinberger earned the distinction of becoming California’s first female winemaker during the 1880s.

Weinberger’s husband, John, was shot dead in March 1882. As a result, she assumed control of his winery and filled his role as director of the Bank of St. Helena. In 1889, she crossed the Atlantic to appear at the World’s Fair in Paris as the only California female vintner to win a silver medal in the wine competitions...
Little is known about Weinberger’s early life. She was from Ohio, listed as Hannah Rabbe from Cincinnati, and she married John Christian Weinberger in 1871. This is according to Mariam Hansen of the St. Helena Historical Society, who created a timeline of her life in 2016.

The Weinberger property grew to 35 acres before John was “murdered by a disgruntled employee who had been making unwanted advances to daughter Minnie,” Hansen says. An 1889 ledger from Wines and Vines of California, noted Hannah Weinberger, along with 17 other women, on their list of cellar masters and vineyardists.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Garden to Table - Dinner & Libations at Mt Vernon

 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.

Dinner & Libations

The hospitality at Mount Vernon was perfectly simple. A traveller relates that he was taken there by a friend, and, as Washington was “viewing his laborers," we “were desired to tarry." “ When the President returned he received us very politely. Dr. Croker introduced me to him as a gentleman from Massachusetts who wished to see the country and pay his respects. He thanked us, desired us to be seated, and to excuse him a few moments. . The President came and desired us to walk in to dinner and directed us where to sit, (no grace was said). The dinner was very good, a small roasted pigg, boiled leg of lamb, roasted fowles, beef, peas, lettice, cucumbers, artichokes, etc., puddings, tarts, etc., etc. 

We were desired to call for what drink we chose.Washington took a glass of wine with Mrs. Law first, which example was followed by Dr. Croker and Mrs. Washington, myself and Mrs. Peters, Mr. Fayette and the young lady whose name is Custis. When the cloth was taken away the President gave a toast to ‘All our Friends.'' 

 Another visitor tells that he was received by Washington, and, “after . . . half an hour, the General came in again, with his hair neatly powdered, a clean shirt on, a new plain drab coat, white waistcoat and white silk stockings. At three, dinner was on the table, and we were shown by the General into another room, where everything was set off with a peculiar taste and at the same time neat and plain. 

The General sent the bottle about pretty freely after dinner, and gave success to the navigation of the Potomac for his toasts, which he has very much at heart... 

After Tea General Washington retired to his study and left us with the . . . rest of the Company. If he had not been anxious to hear the news of Congress from Mr. Lee, most probably he would not have returned to supper, but gone to bed at his usual hour, nine o'clock, for he seldom makes any cerenony. We had a very elegant supper about that time. The General with a few glasses of champagne got quite merry, and being with his intimate friends laughed and talked a good deal. Before strangers he is very reserved, and seldom says a word. 

From: George Washington: Farmer 1915 by Paul Leland Haworth (1876-1936)

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Garden to Table - Ancient Wine Goddesses & 19C Women help manufacture Wine in the USA


19C Women as Wine Manufacturers & Grape Growers.

About Ancient Wine Goddesses & 19C US Women Growing Grapes & Making Wine
 Wayward Tendrils Quarterly (Vol 18, No. 2, April 2008)

Dr.  Liz Thach explains that usually left out of the history books are the ancient stories of the goddesses of wine – most who came into being centuries before Bacchus & Dionysus.

Modern technology & carbon-dating prove that wine from cultivated grapes was being made in what is now the modern-day nation of Georgia, in the Caucasus Mountains around 6,000 B.C. There are also reports of wine remains in Armenia, Turkey, Iraq, Iran & China which claim to be older than those found in Georgia. Regardless of the birthplace of wine, it is commonly agreed that because women were involved in the gathering of berries, grapes, & other crops that it was most likely a woman who picked some grapes & placed them in a pottery container in a cool dark corner were it fermented.

From Persia, there is an ancient legend documented in the Epic of Gilgamish that supports a woman discovering wine. She was a member of the harem in the palace of King Jamshid, & she suffered from severe migraine headaches. One day the king found that a jar containing his favorite grapes had a strange smell & was foaming. Alarmed he ordered that it be set aside as unsafe to eat. When the woman heard of this, she decided to drink from the container in an effort to end her life with the poison inside. Instead she found the taste of the beverage very delightful. Furthermore, it cured her headache & put her in a joyful mood. When she told King Jamshid, he tasted the “wine” as well & then ordered that more should be made & shared with the whole court.

In the Sumerian Empire in what is modern-day Iraq, the most ancient goddess of wine is 1st mentioned. Her name was Gestin & she was being worshiped as early as 3000 BC. Gestin, which translates as wine, vine, &/or grape, is also mentioned in the ancient Indus manuscript, the Rig Veda. Experts believe that it is quite reasonable that the first gods of wine were women, because the oldest deities were female agriculture goddesses of the earth & fertility. 

Later, in 1500 BC, we find mention of another wine goddess, Paget, in the same part of the world. The clay tablets refer to her as working in the vineyard & helping to make wine. Then around 300 to 400 BC as wine became more prominent in Sumeria, a new wine goddess, Siduri, is described as living near the city of Ur. She is reported as welcoming the hero in the Epic of Gilgamish to a garden with the tree of life which is hung with ruby red fruit with tendrils. Siduri is referred to as the Maker of Wine.

Across the deserts in Egypt the wine goddess Renen-utet is mentioned on hieroglyphic tablets as blessing the wine as early as 1300 BC. She usually had a small shrine near the wine press & often her figure would appear on the spout where the grape juice flowed into the receiving tank. She is sometimes joined by Ernutet, the Egyptian goddess of plenty, in blessing the grape harvest.

What is intriguing about these early wine goddesses is how little is known about them today, whereas the male Gods Dionysus & Bacchus have much more coverage in the literature. The earliest records of Dionysus, the Greek wine god, show he appeared around 500BC in the Greek Islands, whereas Gestin dates from 3000 BC. However, the tales of Dionysus, as a child god who was born of a mortal woman & a god can be traced back 9000 years, but  do not include wine. Dionysus as a wine god came later. Indeed, another legend says that Dionysus came from the lands near Sumeria to the islands of Greece.  Bacchus, the Roman name for Dionysus, became known in the literature around 200 BC as the Greek Empire was fading. Other wine gods included Osiris from Egypt & I-Ti from China.

Why did most of these ancient connections between women & wine become lost in the history of time? Is it because the culture changed towards a more masculine image, which gave rise to the male wine gods? Is this why in the period of the Roman Empire, women were banned from drinking wine? Indeed, a husband who caught his wife drinking wine could legally kill her on the spot.

...Today in wine-drinking countries, women are the primary purchasers of wine. The connection between women & wine has always been there. See: The Ancient Connection between Women & Wine.  Wayward Tendrils Quarterly (Vol 18, No. 2, April 2008)

Centuries later in 1863, Virginia Panny wrote about American women wine workers. Many persons are becoming interested in the culture of the grape; & some are spending time & money in experimenting. Longworth of Cincinnati has realized a fortune from his operations. Relle Britain says: “In Longworth's cellars are 700,000 bottles of wine. Mr. L. informed her that we have in this country at least 5,000 varieties of the grape, & his vineyards yield from 600 to 700 gallons to the acre." 

The color of wine depends on the color of the grapes from which it is made. In several of the States, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, & Alabama, vineyards are flourishing, & many new ones are being planted out. The variety of soil & surface in our country is such that there is every probability of success. As yet, only two kinds have been much grown. 

No doubt a large number of women will, in the course of a few years, be employed in the cultivation of the vine & the manufacture of wine. One can soon learn, with a few instructions in each season, the proper culture of the vine. 
A great deal of the work in the vineyards of France & Switzerland is done by women. Women do better that men, because their fingers are smaller & more nimble. 

The want of intelligent culture has been the greatest barrier in the introduction of graperies into our country; but such is the number of  foreigners now among us that have a practical knowledge of the business, we need fear no want of workmen. Many, too, have not been willing to invest capital in an uncertain enterprise. 

Wine manufacturers in Orange county, N. Y., write: “We have not employed women to any great extent in our business. There are some branches of the business in which women might be suitably & profitably employed, where those branches are extensively carried on. The bottling process, including cleaning of bottles, filling, putting on foil, labels, &c., could be done by women as well as men. Women could pick the grapes, & cull out the green & poor berries, & prepare them for the press. They are employed for this purpose in Europe. The reasons why we have not employed women in these branches are, we bottle not more than one sixth of our wine; we manufacture principally for church communion & medicinal purposes, & the principal demand for those purposes is by the gallon-consequently we send it out mostly in casks. (Some wine growers bottle all.) The men, whom we necessarily employ by the year or month in the cultivation of the ground, vines, &c., are of course employed in the season of the vintage, bottling, &c.; & in hurried times, such as the time of picking the grapes, we get such additional help as is easiest obtained, generally boys & girls, with sometimes women. Women are in such demand here for household labor, that, unless sought for at the proper time, March & the 1st of April, & hired for the year, it would be almost impossible to obtain them. The wages generally paid are from $5 to $7 per month, mostly $5 & $6.” 

Another grape grower writes, in answer to a circular: “I do not employ female help in my business, except for a few weeks during the time of tying up the vines & in gathering the fruit, for which I pay 50 cents per day, without board. Women might be employed to quite an extent in this business, which is increasing in the country to a wonderful degree." 

The Employments of Women: A Cyclopaedia of Woman's Work by Virginia Panny Published Boston, MA. by Walker, Wise & Company. 1863

A Few References:

Barnet, R.D. (1980). “A Winged Goddess of Wine on an Electrum Plaque,”Anatolian Studies, Vol. 30, Special Number in Honour of the    Seventieth Birthday of Professor O. R. Gurney, pp. 169-178

Hackin, J. (1932). Asiatic Mythology. London: George G. Harrap & Co.

Johnson, H. (1989). The Story of Wine. UK: Octopus Publishing Group.

McGovern, P.E. (2003). Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viticulture. NJ: Princeton University Press.

Ushanas, E.R. (1997) The Indus Script & the Rg-Veda. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass

Younger, W. (1966) Gods, Men & Wine. Ohio: The Wine & Food Society Limited.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Garden to Table - Home-Made Hops & Molasses Beer

John Greenwood (American artist, 1727-1792) Sea Captains Carousing, 1758.  Detail

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines Cordials & Liqueurs 1909 by Helen S. Wright


MOLASSES BEER

One ounce hops, one gallon water. Boil for ten minutes, strain, add one pound molasses, and when lukewarm, add one spoonful yeast. Ferment.


Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines is a cookbook for those who want to make their own wines & liqueurs from available ingredients, including fruits, flowers, vegetables, & shrubs from local gardens, farms, & orchards. It includes ingredients & instructions for making & fermenting spirits, from wine & ale to sherry, brandy, cordials, & even beer. 

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.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Geo Washington (1732-1799) - Profit & Loss - A 1915 View

George Washington as Farmer by Junius Brutus Stearns. 1851

George Washington: Farmer (1915) by Paul Leland Haworth (1876-1936) 

Profit & Loss

... comparatively little of his fortune, which amounted at his death to perhaps three-quarters of a million dollars, was made by the sale of products from his farm. Few farmers have grown rich in that way. Washington's wealth was due in part to inheritance & a fortunate marriage, but most of all to the increment on land. Part of this land he received as a reward for military services, but much of it he was shrewd enough to buy at a low rate & hold until it became more valuable.

This much, however, is plain--a farmer can handle much less money than a salaried man & yet live infinitely better, for his rent, much of his food & many other things cost him nothing.

In Washington's case the problem is further complicated by a number of circumstances. As a result of his marriage he had some money upon bond. For his military services in the French war he received large grants of land & the payment during the Revolution of his personal expenses, & as President he had a salary of twenty-five thousand dollars a year.

The depreciation of the paper currency during the Revolution proved disastrous to him in several ways. When the war broke out much of the money he had obtained by marriage was loaned out on bond, or, as we would say to-day, on mortgage. "I am now receiving," he soon wrote, "a shilling in the pound in discharge of Bonds which ought to have been paid me, & would have been realized before I left Virginia, but for my indulgences to the debtors." In 1778 he said that six or seven thousand pounds that he had in bonds upon interest had been paid in depreciated paper, so that the real value was now reduced to as many hundreds. Some of the paper money that came into his hands he invested in government securities, & at least ten thousand pounds of these in Virginia money were ultimately funded by the federal government for six thousand two hundred & forty-six dollars in three & six per cent. bonds.

And yet, by examining Washington's accounts, one is able to estimate in a rough way the returns he received from his estate, landed & otherwise. We find that in ten months of 1759 he took in £1,839; from January 1, 1760, to January 10, 1761, about £2,535; in 1772, £3,213; from August 3, 1775, to August 30, 1776, £2,119; in 1786, £2,025; in 1791, about £2,025. Included in some of these entries, particularly the earlier ones, are payments of interest & principal on his wife's share of the Custis estate. Of the later ones, that for 1786--a bad farming year--includes rentals on more than a score of parcels of land amounting to £282.15, £25 rental on his fishery, payments for flour, stud fees, etc.


A much better idea of the financial returns from his home estate can be obtained from his actual balances of gain & loss. One of these, namely for 1798, which was a poor year, was as follows:

BALANCE OF GAIN AND LOSS, 1798

DR. GAINED                           CR. LOST

Dogue Run Farm  397.11.2         Mansion House .. 466.18. 2-1/2

Union Farm .... 529.10.11-1/2    Muddy Hole Farm   60. 1. 3-1/2

River Farm .... 234. 4.11        Spinning .......  51. 2. 0

Smith's Shop ..  34.12.09-1/2    Hire of Head

Distillery ....  83.13. 1          overseer ..... 140. 0. 0

Jacks .........  56.1

Traveler ......   9.17

  (stud horse)

Shoemaker .....  28.17. 1

Fishery ....... 165.12. 0-1/4     By clear gain on

Dairy .........  30.12. 3          the Estate.....£898.16. 4-1/4

But Washington failed to include in his receipts many items, such as the use of a fine mansion for himself & family, the use of horses & vehicles, & the added value of slaves & live stock by natural increase.

Washington died possessed of property worth about three-quarters of a million, although he began life glad to earn a doubloon a day surveying. The main sources of this wealth have already been indicated, but when all allowance is made in these respects, the fact remains that he was compelled to make a living & to keep expenses paid during the forty years in which the fortune was accumulating, & the main source he drew from was his farms. Not much of that living came from the Custis estate, for, as we have seen, a large part of the money thus acquired was lost. During his eight years as Commander-in-Chief he had his expenses--no more. Of the eight years of his presidency much the same can be said, for all authorities agree that he expended all of his salary in maintaining his position & some say that he spent more. Yet at the end of his life we find him with much more land than he had in 1760, with valuable stocks & bonds, a house & furniture infinitely superior to the eight-room house he first owned, two houses in the Federal City that had cost him about $15,000, several times as many negroes, & live stock estimated by himself at $15,653 & by his manager at upward of twice that sum.

Such being the case--and as no one has ever ventured even to hint that he made money corruptly out of his official position--the conclusion is irresistible that he was a good business man & that he made farming pay, particularly when he was at home.

It is true that only three months before his death he wrote: "The expense at which I live, & the unproductiveness of my estate, will not allow me to lessen my income while I remain in my present situation. On the contrary, were it not for occasional supplies of money in payment for lands sold within the last four or five years, to the amount of upwards of fifty thousand dollars, I should not be able to support the former without involving myself in debt & difficulties," This must be taken, however, to apply to a single period of heavy expense when foreign complications & other causes rendered farming unprofitable, rather than to his whole career. Furthermore, his landed investments from which he could draw no returns were so heavy that he had approached the condition of being land poor & it was only proper that he should cut loose from some of them.