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Old Time Recipes

Author: Harriet W. Luebker

( Article orginally published August 1943 by Hobbies )

Here are some of George Washington's favorite recipes, which are taken from "Martha's Historic Cook Book," a stout little volume, yellowed by age, and now one of the prized possessions of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, Martha was an excellent cook and here are some of the dishes that were prepared by the original First Lady in her' colonial kitchen at Mount Vernon.

"To Make French Pottage." -- "Four hours before you go to dinner or supper, hang on ye fire a good pot of water, with a pritty piece of beef and let it boyle an hour, then put in a marrow bone or two, and let it boyle an hour longer. Then put in the cragg end of a neck of mutton or veale (veal) ; and an hour before dinner put in a little bacon, some sorrel and spinnage (spinach) and cabbage leaves, green peass (peas) and what salt you like. When you serve it up, set in a dish over some coles (coals) with a good many sippets, and put some of this broth in it, and when ye bread is well soaked ye fill up the dish with the thickest that as in the pot, and in the middle lay ye marrow bones and some three yolks of eggs beaten in some of the broth to pour on the dish when it is served up." "Sippets" are small pieces or "sops" of bread.)

There were more elaborate stews and one that would seem to appeal to anyone is mutton stewed with oranges.

"To Stew a Rack of Mutton with Orringes." -- Take and cut a rack of mutton rib by rib, season it with pepper, salt and a little nutmeg. Lay in a dish with some raysons of yer sun (raisins), ye pitch of four or five orringes, and if you please, a little butter; cover them close and so let them stew till they are enough."

Beef steaks were evidently boiled, not broiled, at Mount Vernon, for the following recipe was well thumbed over.

"To Stew Beef Steaks" -- "Take some pieces of beefe that is interlarded with fat and cut them in slyces. Then lay them in a dish and put to them some water, a little vinegar, a little time (thyme), mint, savory, and parsely, and a few onions, all chopt small together and put them to ye steaks, with a little pepper nd salt and an anchovy or two, if you have them. Set them on the fire to stew between two dishes or in a pipkin, turning very often, and when they are enough lay them and their sauce upon sippets and service them up." ( A pipkin is a small earthenware boiler.)

No American home would, it seems, be complete without rice pudding once in awhile, and Martha Washington had her own recipe, as follows:

"To Make a Rice Pudding.' -- Take one quarter pound rice and as much new milk as will boyle it soft, and then put to it a quarter pound of mutton suet minced small and six yolks of eggs and two whites, a little rose-water, and some cinnamon, a pretty deal of salt, sugar and currants. When all these ingredients are brought together, bake it."

Few of us are aware that the man who penned the Declaration of Independence was a chef and when he set sail for France in 1784 as Minister to the court of Louis XVI he devoted part of those four years to the intricacies of French cooking. When he returned to America he came not only as a distinguished statesman, but as one of the greatest epicures and connoisseurs in the art of living of his day. A few of the French recipes which he brought back with him and served in his home at Monticello are printed here:

"Macaroons: " -- "Pour boiling water on one pound of almonds and remove the skins. Wash them in cold water. Wipe them well with a towel. Put them through a food chopper, using finest grinder. Turn into a wooden bowl and add three-fourth of a pound of sugar (powdered), beating thoroughly all the while with a wooden spoon. Add one by one, the whites of three eggs, beating constantly to a smooth paste. Drop from the top of a spoon on white paper, in small balls about the size of a nut. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in a slow oven."

"Coffee Custard." "Put in a pan one cup of very strong coffee, and one cup of milk. Bring to a boil. Beat four eggs and add four tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt. Add the hot milk, stir well and pass through a strainer. Fill custard cups with the mixture, set in a pan of water and bake until set."

"Pie of Sweetbreads." Drop a sweetbread into acidulated, salted boiling water and cook slowly for 20 minutes. Plunge into cold water. Drain and cut into cubes. Stew a pint of oysters until the edges curl. Add two tablespoons of butter creamed with one tablespoon of flour, one cup cream and the yolks of three eggs well beaten. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Line a deep baking dish with puff paste (dough). Put in a layer of oysters, then a layer of sweetbreads until the dish is nearly full. Pour the sauce over all and put a crust on top. Bake until the paste is a delicate brown. This is one of the most delicate pies that can be made."

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