Friday, November 20, 2009

American Cookery - Happy Thanksgiving!

The earliest known recipe combining turkey and cranberries appeared in Amelia Simmons' American Cookery: or, the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables. And the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, From the Imperial Plum to Plain Cake. Adapted to This Country and All Grades of Life.  In this first cookbook written by an American for American consumers, Simmons calls for the use of ingredients specific to North America such as cornmeal from American maize. American Cookery also introduced the use of pearlash, an early non-yeast leavening agent and a precursor to baking powder.

This early edition (Walpole, N.H. : Printed for Elijah Brooks, 1812) provides the following recipes for some traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
To Stuff and roast a Turkey or Fowl
One pound soft wheat bread, three ounces beef suet, three eggs, a little sweet thyme, marjoram, pepper and salt, and some add a gill of wine; fill the bird therewith and sew up, hang down to a steady solid fire, basting frequently with butter and water, and roast until a steam emits from the breast, put one third of a pound of butter into the gravy, dust flour over the bird and baste with the gravy; serve up with boiled onions and cranberry sauce, mangoes, pickles or celery.


Pumpkin
No. 1. One quart stewed and strained, three pints milk, six beaten eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg and ginger, laid into paste No. 7, or 3, cross and chequer it, and bake in dishes three quarters of an hour.
Ask for NH Imprints, Walpole 1812b to see other early American recipes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Poems and Heaths of New England

After Emily Dickinson's death, her editors, Mabel Loomis Dodge and T. W. Higginson, selected a sampling of her poetry from the voluminous manuscripts she left behind. In their introduction to Poems by Emily Dickinson (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890), they described the poet as "a recluse by temperament and habit, literally spending years without setting her foot beyond the doorstep." They graced the cover of the book with a stand of indian pipe flowers stamped in silver. It was an conscious choice meant to convey a specific meaning that helped to establish the popular conception of Emily Dickinson.

This past week we acquired a contemporary description of the indian pipe in the privately printed The Heaths of New England.  Next to a dried specimen of the indian pipe the text, poetical in its own right, states:
Among the dark tall hemlocks this pale herb lifts its flower which is of the same hue as the stem.  Plants which have chlorophyll prepare their food from the crude inorganic elements of the earth and air.  This is therefore a root parasite, living on the juices elaborated by some other plant.
Ask for Val 816 D56L211 to see Dickinson's Poems; White Mountains QK495 E68 H35 1880z for The Heaths of New England.