“A young woman, pretty, lively, with a harp as elegant as herself, and both placed near a window, cut down to the ground, and opening on a little lawn, surrounded by shrubs in the rich foliage of summer, was enough to catch any man’s heart…it was all in harmony; and as everything will turn to account when love is once set going, even the sandwich tray, and Dr. Grant doing the honours of it, were worth looking at.” – from Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, 1814.Read More »
Over a year ago, I discovered a recipe for my great-great-grandmother Grace Raver’s cake, thanks to an article from my grandfather’s cousin, Anne.
In her article, Anne recalled that her grandmother Grace would vary the cake according to the seasons; she would flavor it with black walnuts when they were harvested in fall, but would make the cake with orange and lemon the rest of the year. I’ve made the black walnut version of this cake a few times already, so I decided to try the orange and lemon version this time.Read More »
This recipe comes from Eliza Acton’s 1845 book Modern Cookery In All Its Branches, my favorite historic cookbook of all time – so far I have made more recipes from this cookbook than any other. In addition to her clear instructions and the fact that she actually lists measurable quantities for each ingredient, I also love Eliza Acton’s cookbook for its literary references. Acton was a published poet as well as a cookbook author, and seems to have been interested in contemporary literature. Some of her recipes, such as Ruth Pinch’s Beef-Steak Pudding, are named after specific characters; others relate more generally to the profession of writing, such as The Author’s Christmas Pudding. This recipe, Miss Bremer’s Pudding, is most likely named after the Swedish author Fredrika Bremer, whose works were popular in England at the time.Read More »
‘”Come along in, and have some tea!” he managed to say after taking a deep breath.
“A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you, my good sir,” said Balin with the white beard. “But I don’t mind some cake — seed cake, if you have any.”
“Lots!” Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise; and he found himself scuttling off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint beer-mug, and to the pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.’ – from The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937.Read More »
“‘Now what can I serve that everyone likes?’ you ask yourself when you plan party refreshments. And if you decide on ‘something chocolate,’ you’re sure to be right. For chocolate is America’s favorite flavor.” – My Party Book of Tested Chocolate Recipes, 1938.Read More »
“‘I don’t know, Tom,’ said his sister, blushing, ‘I am not quite confident, but I think I could make a beef-steak pudding, if I tried, Tom.’
‘In the whole catalogue of cookery, there is nothing I should like so much as a beef-steak pudding!’ cried Tom, slapping his leg to give the greater force to this reply.”– from Martin Chuzzlewit, by Charles Dickens, 1844
“As to Dolly, there she was again, the very pink and pattern of good looks, in a smart little cherry-coloured mantle, with a hood of the same drawn over her head, and upon the top of that hood, a little straw hat trimmed with cherry-coloured ribbons, and worn the merest trifle on one side—just enough in short to make it the wickedest and most provoking head-dress that ever malicious milliner devised.” -Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, 1841.Read More »
“‘But punch, my dear Copperfield,’ said Mr. Micawber, tasting it, ‘like time and tide, waits for no man.'” -Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1850.Read More »
Zimmetsterne (usually spelled Zimtsterne today) are a traditional German Christmas cookie. The name means “cinnamon stars;” although of course you can make them any shape, they are traditionally made with a star cutter.Read More »
Springerle are a type of traditional German cookie dating back at least to the 15th century. This particular recipe is from the 1861 American cookbook The Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia. Although the recipe is simply titled “German New Year’s Cookies,” several details such as the use of hartshorn, anise seed, wooden molds, and drying the cookies for 24 hours before baking clearly identify these as classic Springerle.Read More »