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

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