Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Taste of History: Recipe of the Week #3

All recipes featured in A Taste of History are taken from Modern Cookery, In All Its Branches edited by Mrs. S. J. Hale, 1852 from the collections of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois housed at Clarke House Museum.

Common Lemon Tartlets
Beat four eggs until they are exeedingly light, add to them gradually four ounces of pounded sugar*, and whisk these together for five minutes; stew lightly in, if it be at hand, a dessertspoonful* of potato flour, if not, of common flour well dried and sifted; then throw into the mixture, by slow degrees, three ounces* of good butter, which should be dissolved, but only just luke-warm; beat the whole well, then stir briskly in the strained juice and the grated rind of one lemon and a half. Line some pattypans* with fine puff-paste* rolled very thin, then fill them two thirds full, and bake the tartlets about twenty minutes, in a moderate oven.

*Instead of puff paste, try Miss Acton's recipe for :  
Very Rich Short Crust for Tarts 
 Break lightly, with the least possible handling, six ounces of butter into eight of flour; add a dessertspoonful* of pounded sugar*, and two or three of water; roll the paste for several minutes, to blend the ingredients well, folding it together like puff-crust, and touch it as little as possible.

Modern Conversions
*three ounces = aprx. 1/3 cup
*four ounces = 1/2 cup
*pounded sugar = confectioner's/ powdered sugar
*dessertspoonful = aprx. 1/2 tablespoon
*pattypans = use cupcake pans

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Taste of History: Recipe of the Week #2

All recipes featured in A Taste of History are taken from Modern Cookery, In All Its Branches edited by Mrs. S. J. Hale, 1852 from the collections of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois housed at Clarke House Museum.

Stay cool as a cucumber with this tasty 1850s recipe!
Mandrang, or Mandram; (West Indian Receipt.)
Chop together very small, two moderate-sized cucumbers, with half the quantity of mild onion; add the juice of a lemon, a saltspoonful or more of salt, a third as much cayenne, and one or two glasses of Maderia, or any other dry white wine. This preparation is to be served with any kind of roast meat.

Modern Conversions
saltspoonful = aprx. 1/2 tsp.

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Acquisition: Niagara Falls Lithograph, 1827

Clarke House Museum is pleased to announce a new addition to the collection of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois. Niagara Falls from the American Side is a hand-colored lithograph after an original sketch by French artist  Jacques G. Milbert, published in Paris in 1827. This drawing is from his "Itineraire Pittoresque du Fleuve Hudson" or Picturesque Route of the Hudson River, a series of sketches Milbert made in 1825 while he was in the United States surveying for the Erie Canal.

Henry and Caroline Clarke honeymooned at Niagara Falls following their marriage in 1827. According to daughter Caroline Clarke Forman, who filled out an Emma Willard School alumni survey form for her late mother, the Clarkes' travel companions were Mr. and Mrs. William H. Seward. Seward was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Mrs. Seward had attended Troy Female Seminary (later renamed Emma Willard School) with her husband's sister, Cornelia. The relationship between the Sewards and Clarkes most likely came from a friendship formed between Caroline Palmer Clarke, Frances Miller Seward, and Cornelia Seward while attending school together as young women in the early 1820s.

The print, measuring 7 1/2" by 11 1/4 inches, will be placed in a period frame and hung in the Northwest Sitting Room at Clarke House Museum later this year.
William Henry Seward (1801-1872)  c. 1850
Frances Adeline Miller Seward (1805-1865) c.1844.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Taste of History: Recipe of the Week #1

Food is a common thread that connects us to our ancestors. Our lifestyles today may be very different from what was experienced by the Clarkes and others in 1850s Chicago, but just like us they used food as a means to socialize and express creativity.  Clarke House Museum has only one period cookbook in its collection, but it is a treasure-trove of culinary advice and interesting dishes. Modern Cookery, In All Its Branches: Reduced To A System of Easy Practice, For The Use of Private Families was written by Eliza Acton in 1845 for an English audience. The cookbook in our collection is a second edition (1852) of the version revised for American housekeepers by Mrs. S. J. Hale in 1845.

In the preface to the American edition Mrs. Hale writes:
I have often been surprised to observe how far behind the art of Cookery in the United States is behind the age. It was therefore with much pleasure that I undertook, at the request of the publishers, to superintend an American edition of this new work of Miss Acton, when on examination, I found how well it adapted to the wants of this country, at the present time.
The Preface of the Author is so complete, and explains so fully her wishes and motives in publishing, that I have little to add, except to state that, as the work is presented solely as a result of the Author's experience, it would have been inconsistent with the plan to make any additions. Therefore, the few which have been made, rather chiefly to the preparation of those articles which may be regarded as more strictly American: such as Indian Corn, Terrapins, and some others. Whatever revision has taken place, is in reference to the use of a few articles and terms not generally  known here, for which sunstitutes are presented, so as to adapt the work to this country. The additional matter will be found distinguished by brackets [-].
This work has been so well received in England, as to have already passed to a second edition; enjoying the universal approbation of the press, and the general favour of the public. I cannot feel persuaded that, when known, it will provide equally satisfactory to the housekeepers of this country, and find its way into the hands of all who wish to improve the Art of Cookery.
S. J. H. Philadelphia, 1845
This 1852 edition at Clarke House Museum is signed in three places by Jane E. Rose who may have been the original owner of the book.

In an effort to connect the past with the present, Clarke House Museum  introduces A Taste of History, a weekly recipe feature here on the Clarke House Museum Blog. Look for a different recipe from Miss Acton and Mrs. Hale each week!  Tips on converting period measurements to modern-day standards will be given, but part of the fun is experimenting with what our ancestors used. We hope you'll enjoy this weekly feature. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section following the blog post. Bon Appetite!

A Taste of History: Recipe of the Week #1

Common Carrot Soup 
The easiest way of making this soup is to boil some carrots very tender in water slightly salted; then pound them extremely fine, and to mix gradually with them boiling gravy-soup (or buillion), in the portion of a quart to twelve ounces of carrot. The soup should then be passed through a strainer, seasoned with salt and cayenne, and served very hot.
Soup, 2 quarts; pounded carrot, 1 ½  lb.; salt, cayenne: 5 minutes.

Modern Ingredient Conversion
2 quarts boiling soup gravy = 4 cups chicken stock
12 ounces pounded carrots = 1.5 cups processed/blended carrots

Monday, June 13, 2011

"A Walk Through Time": A Great Success!

Docent Aimee Daramus interprets in the parlor during the 2:00 tour.
Clarke House Museum was one of ten historic sites featured during "A Walk Through Time"- Glessner House Museum's annual house walk benefit on Sunday June 12, 2011. We enjoyed wonderful weather and even better attendence. In addition to Clarke and Glessner House Museums, the walk included Second Prebyterian Church and seven privately owned Prairie Avenue District residences: the William W. Kimball House (1892), Joseph G. Coleman House (1886), Elbridge G. Keith House (1870), the Calvin T. Wheeler Mansion (1870), Dr. Charles W. Purdy House (1891), Harriet F. Rees House (1888), and the William H. Reid House (1894).

Close to 100 people came for a 30-minute tour of the first floor, kitchen, and orientation gallery at Clarke House Museum during the three-hour program. Tours were offered on the hour and half-hour from 1-4pm. Docent Aimee Daramus, Assistant Curator Becky LaBarre and husband Steve LaBarre dressed in period clothing to represent the look of the 1850s. The presentation reinforced the social themes of paying calls and typical room use of the period. Guests asked great questions and everyone enjoyed an afternoon of touring homes in the Prairie Avenue Historic District. "A Walk Through Time" is an annual event, so if you weren't able to attend this time please join us next year!
Assistant Curator, Becky LaBarre, museum volunteer Steve LaBarre, and docent Roberta Siegel in the
Glessner House Museum coach house before the start of "A Walk Through Time."

Period outerwear on the bench near the Indiana Avenue entrance echoes the theme
of calling on neighbors. Close to 100 people paid a call to Clarke House during Sunday's program.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's Behind the Fence? Public Art to be Installed Near Clarke House

Construction fence erected north of Clarke House Museum in Chicago Women's Park.
As many of our neighbors, friends, and museum docents have noticed construction fencing was erected a few weeks ago in the Chicago Women's Park & Gardens, site of Clarke House Museum. But what's going on behind the fence?

"The fence has been erected due to the installation of the Helping Hands sculpture, by renowned artist Louise Bourgeois, in Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens.  In honor of the late Louise Bourgeois, Jane Addams and countless other great women, the Chicago Park District believes it appropriate to place this symbolic art piece in Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens to be viewed by park patrons," according to Dana R. Andrews, Legislative and Community Affairs Liaison for the Chicago Park District.

Artist Louise Bourgeois, sculptor of Helping Hands.

Helping Hands was originally dedicated in 1996 and placed in Jane Addams Memorial Park, part of Navy Pier Park near Ohio Street Beach. The six-piece installation was created by renowned French-American sculptress Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) and consists of life-size hands perched atop rusticated pedestals, carved from black granite. It remained in Jane Addams Memorial Park until 2005 when it was removed due to repeated instances of vandalism and placed in storage at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Chicago Reader ran the story in February 2005. According to Art Institute documents, the piece "celebrates the thousands and thousands of people Jane Addams served, rather than glorifying a single, humble individual." Sometime last year, talks began to take place between the Art Institute and the Chicago Park District concerning a new public space for the sculpture's re-installation.

Helping Hands in its previous location at Navy Pier's Jane Addams Memorial Park
"We have been working closely with the Art Institute of Chicago on the project," said Julia Bachrach, Department of Planning and Development at the Chicago Park District. "and have commissioned Andrzej Dajnowski to do the installation." Danjnowski is an object conservator with AIC and is best known for his work on Loredo Taft’s Fountain of Time (c. 1920), located in Hyde Park.

At the Chicago Women's Park Advisory Council meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 Michael Darling, head curator at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art,  spoke about the artistic significance of the piece. He explained the prolific career of Louise Bourgeois and her influence on the art world. The sculpture is extremely visually dynamic, according to Darling, and represents the far reach Jane Addams and other influential Chicago women had throughout the city. The expert level of detail Bourgeois was able to attain is evident in the hands, some clearly very young, some markedly aged, and some in-between. Darling praised the skill of the artist and the successful execution of the piece. 

The area where Helping Hands is to be installed formerly held a fountain made by Robinson Iron, Alexander City, Alabama using nineteenth-century molds and pattern books. A favorite fixture of many neighborhood children, the small fountain features a fish finial rising from its bowl and frogs and turtles along the edge of the lower basin. The fish fountain has been removed to make space for Helping Hands and its  whereabouts and intended use are currently unknown to Chicago Park District liaisons.

Robinson's Iron fish fountain before it was removed from Chicago Women's Park & Gardens
According to Liz O'Callahan of the Chicago Park District, who also attended Tuesday's advisory council meeting, the beds surrounding the sculpture will retain a formal design- a central circular area covered in crushed red granite  framed with low-lying plantings of ‘Chicagoland Green’ boxwood, ‘Rozanne’ Geranium and ‘Blue Hill' Salvia.The installation will include a metal interpretive plaque on stand with a narrative titled "Visionary". Work on the area is expected to be completed by next Friday, June 17, 2011. A formal dedication is planned for September.

Interpretive sign to accompany Helping Hands installation.

We took a peak to see what was going on 
behind the fence the afternoon of June 2, 2011.
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