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January 5, 2012

IT'S 1796: WHAT'S FOR DINNER?

So it's winter and what better time to have a nice chicken pot pie and some pumpkin pie for desert?
You can go to Stop n Shop for a Willow Tree chicken pie and
stop in the bakery for a nice pumpkin pie, or you can run
outside in the yard and catch you some chickens and go to the root cellar for your pompion, a 1796 spelling of pumpkin:

Now, six chickens,  with their inwards (what we get in those little paper bags inside the chickens) in a deep dish. 
I think I like the oven be poor method. If you are thinking that the writing doesn't make sense, remember that in 1796 they printed the letter 's' as an 'f' when it began a word and followed a vowel.
Here are the receipts by Amelia Simmons as written in 1796 "American Cookery":
 So using No. 8 Paste (pastry) recipe is 6 pounds of flour! With 1 1/2 lbs. of suet and 2 1/2 lbs of butter. I'd like to try this just for fun if butter, shortening and flour didn't cost so much. Our Crisco shortening today is probably their 
equivalent of suet in this recipe. And I think that the quantities seem large to us (No.2 for example) but remember that they most likely did the baking for the week when they got the beehive oven going in the fireplace. No. 1 recipe
and No. 5 recipe look like they might actually work as they are written. Remember that they didn't have thermometers so they knew the temp of the oven by how many seconds they could hold their hand over the heat. O.K., on to pumpkins:
Until this cookery book was published, the only other recipe for something close to pumpkin pie called for sliced apples and sliced pumpkin, uncooked and covered with sugar, layered in 2 crusts and baked like today's apple pies. This is the first recipe known to contain eggs, spices, milk & molasses made with pumpkin that was stewed and put through a strainer (our pureed can pumpkin) into the custard like pie that we know today. This recipe appears in Amelia's section of Puddings and not pies. The dough spur  is what we know as our pastry wheel of today.
Amelia Simmons was said to be an "American orphan". She
is credited with adapting Indian corn into the first printed American recipes using corn meal; our Indian pudding, Johny Cakes and "Indian Slapjacks". She also includes pot ash, or pearl- ash, the baking powder of her time, in her recipes for gingerbread.
  They separated potash by putting  wood ashes in big iron pots of water; when the water evaporated they had a white powder, "pot ash".  Potash was baked in a kiln to remove the impurities and a white powder was left from that,  which they called pearl ash. This was their "baking powder". Pearl ash was a commonly used ingredient by 18th century cooks but it was to appear in Amelia's cookbook as the first printed reference using this as a leavening ingredient in baking recipes.
The words "cookey" and cookies were in use at the time but 
their appearance in American Cookery is the first known cookbook where they are used in recipes. British cookbooks
had called cookies "little cakes". The Dutch word "koekje" is where the word "cooky" was derived from. Remember that colonial New York had many Dutch settlers, and it was the cookie that was offered on New Year's Day to their visitors.
Now I want to go into the kitchen and bake something sweet, but I have to snack on celery and carrot sticks instead!
(But you don't...)
'Nite, Primmies



 

5 comments:

Deb Paxton Valley Folk Art said...

Oh my gosh Susan, that is fascinating, where in the heck did you find that recipe book?! Love that the recipe for the chicken pie starts out with catching the chickens! And I can't believe the amount of butter that was used although I guess when you were working at hard labour every waking hour of every day you'd burn through those calories in no time. Thanks so much for sharing this, I enjoyed it very much! Deb

Trace4J said...

Morning Susan
I really love this post..
But we really do raise our own chickens here. Their inards are not in baggies here when we remove them..lol
Love all the cool things you share.
Hugs Trace

www.grannytracescrapsandsquares.com

maddyrose said...

Great post. I'd love to get a copy of this cookbook. My grandmother on my mother's side used to cook like this which probably explains my grandfather's weight. My mother told me that my grams used chicken fat in some of her baking. Thanks for sharing.

frontporchprims said...

Well, I can't understand most of the Pompkin recipe but, I may try the chicken next time I can catch a few:) That's and intersting fact about the f's and s's. I love these posts. Keep them coming. -Steph-

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

This is so much fun to read! Thanks for sharing these treasures of the past! ♥

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