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Early American settlers used only a wood burning stove or open hearth fireplace to cook their meals. With no thermometers, cooks determined how hot their ovens were by how long they could safely hold their hand inside. For meat on a spit or cooked in pots, they “cooked until done.”
With no food inspectors, cooks had to know how to buy meat from the butcher that was fresh and untainted.
“The flesh of healthy animals is hard and fresh colored, the fat next the skin is firm and thick, and the suet or kidney-fat clear white and abundant. If this fat is soft, scant and stringy, the animal has been poorly fed or overworked. ”
They also had to know how to cook it properly so none was wasted, and how to use any leftovers. They didn’t waste any food; besides animal flesh, bones, fat, internal organs, feet and the heads were also used.
This book is about cooking domestic meats; beef and veal, mutton and lamb, pork, and poultry (chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys).
Below are a few recipes from the book:
“Boiled Beef – Put the beef into your three or four gallon pot, three parts filled with cold water, and set it on the fire to boil. Remove all the scum that rises to the surface. If the scum be suffered to sink, it will stick to the meat, and spoil its color. When the meat has boiled gently for an hour and is about half done, add some parsnips, and at the end of another half hour put in some cut cabbages. A piece of beef weighing five or six pounds will require about two hours’ gentle boiling to cook it thoroughly. Dumplings may be boiled with the beef. Dumplings and vegetables, with a small quantity of the meat, would be all-sufficient for the children’s meal.”
“Bacon Roll-Pudding – Boil a pound of fat bacon for half an hour, and then cut it up into thin slices. Peel six apples and one onion and cut them in slices. Make two pounds of flour into a stiff dough and roll it out thin. First lay the slices of bacon out all over this, and then upon the slices of bacon spread out the slices of apples and the slices of onion. Roll up the dough so as to secure the bacon, apples and onions in it. Place this pudding in a cloth, tied at each end, and let it boil for two hours in a two-gallon pot with plenty of water. Serve it with boiled potatoes or boiled cabbage.”
“Mince Pies – These pies are always made with covers and should be eaten warm. If baked the day before, heat them on the stove or before the fire. Mincemeat made early in the winter and packed closely in stone jars will keep till spring if it has a sufficiency of spice and liquor. Whenever you take out any for use, pour some additional liquor into the jar and add some more sugar before you cover it again. No mincemeat, however, will keep well unless all the ingredients are of the best quality. The meat should always be boiled the day before you want to chop it. For pie, cover the bottom of a pan with paste, put in a sufficiency of mincemeat and lay on it a lid of paste to completely cover, notching the edges tightly together. Cut a slit in the top before baking.”
“Calf’s Feet Broth – Boil two feet in three quarts of water till reduced to half the quantity. Strain it and set it by. When to be used, take off the fat, and put a large teacupful of the jelly into a saucepan. Add half a glass of sweet wine, a little sugar and nutmeg, and heat it up till it begins to boil. Then take a little of it, and beat it by degrees with the yolk of an egg, adding a bit of butter the size of a nutmeg. Stir it all together, but do not let it boil. Grate a little fresh lemon peel into it.”
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