Something Old, Something New

One man’s trash, another (wo)man’s treasure. This weekend in a small town between Washington, D.C. and West Virginia, I walked into a used bookstore with a resident friendly cat. Of course I was immediately drawn to the cookbook section…

…and I walked away with a few interesting finds…

On the top is a photocopy reproduction of 600 Receipts worth their Weight in Gold by John Maquart, published in 1867 by a John E. Potter and Company in Philadelphia. It contains, well, 600 recipes for various things around the kitchen and household including such gems as: No. 513 How to cure butter that will keep for years; No. 503 How to make cucumber catsup; No. 103 How to bake a queen cake; and even No. 31 A cure for giddiness.

The red volume in the middle is the revised 1936 Rumford Complete Cookbook, published by the popular baking powder brand (though it contains many recipes that do not call for baking powder). The language in these recipes more closely resembles the culinary terms in use today, but some of the recipes seem foreign: brown bread ice cream, sweetbreads and peas, liver terrapin, and wedding fruitcake to name a few.

Finally, A Quaker Woman’s Cookbook edited by William Woys Weaver and including the full text of Elizabeth Ellicott Lea‘s Domestic Cookery. This is a fascinating publication that Lea wrote to help instruct new housewives in the ways of cooking, cleaning, and tending to one’s servants, garden, and farmland.

Naturally I was the most interested in the cooking recipes; simple ingredient lists representative of a time when eating out wasn’t an option and so everyone knew how to bake a cake or roast a chicken (seriously – there are no instructions in the recipes in these books regarding what pan to use or how hot to make your oven fire; this was common knowledge to some extent). So, attempting to recreate some of the recipes may take a bit of research – especially to find the modern equivalent measures of a “teacup” or a “wineglass” or a “drachm.” But I may turn to these recipes from time to time…just out of curiosity…for auld lang syne, if you will.

And now for something new…our first (light) meals of the new year…

Breakfast: Mushroom, Broccoli, Onion Omelet with Pecorino-Romano

Dinner: (adapted from Jamie Oliver's Salmon Stir-Fry recipe) Salmon, Snow Peas, Bean Sprouts, Baby Bok Choy, Crushed Peanuts, Green Onions, and Brown Rice in a Coconut Milk Cilantro-Curry Broth

Are you still singing Auld Lang Syne? What sorts of light meals are you craving so far in this new year? What ingredients will sustain you back to health following your holiday-induced feeding frenzy?

Consider No. 40 A Cure for Cramp in the Stomach: “Warm water, sweetened with molasses or brown sugar, taken freely, will in many cases remove cramp in the stomach when opium and other remedies have failed.” (from 600 Receipts by John Marquart, 1867).

(Or just take some TUMs and commit to lighter, nutrient-packed dishes for some time).

Happy New Year! Welcome 2011!

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2 thoughts on “Something Old, Something New

  1. […] were the Dijon mustard and the tiny bit of oil I used to help the onions along (despite my recent used book purchases, I have not yet learned how to churn my own butter. Local lard though? Maaaybe I’d consider […]

  2. […] by trying to find the oldest cookbook I can find and looking up unusual desserts. If I end up purchasing said ancient cookbook (I have about 3, currently), I stash it away, convinced that I’ll remember the colonial […]

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