“Why are you asking me at noon?”
“Cause it takes that long for you to fix it.”
I may have exaggerated the above a little, but not by much. Cooking for the 19th century family took a lot of time and effort. If you didn’t raise it or kill it, you basically did without. Families raised gardens designed to feed them through the lean months of winter. Smoke houses and root cellars were a part of rural life. Women calculated how much food was needed to feed her ever increasing family—and extra for rainy days and those less fortunate.
As towns sprang up, flour, sugar, salt, beans, coffee, and other staple items became more available. And as civilization grew closer to the west, canned items added to the family’s nutrition. The industrial revolution caused the growth of flour and grain mills, meat packing plants, and breweries. Railroads help to transport much needed items all over the country.
The 19th century woman advanced from cooking over an open hearth to the modern convenience of a wood-fed stove. My grandmother, born in 1883, preferred her cast iron stove until the day she died. A true cook knew how much wood to add and just how hot her oven needed to be for perfectly browned biscuits and tempting pies and cakes.
One of my favorite books is Food in History by Reay Tannahill. This reference book gives the reader and writer an overview of what foods were available and how they were preserved, including some information that I would have rather not known!
The following came from my sister in
For those of you who want a breath of days gone by, I invite you to try the following! Don’t use any modern tools of the cooking trade, just muscle power. J
1 cup of butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
l cup molasses
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
l cup milk
2 16 1/2 ounce jars chunky-style spice applesauce
Cream together butter and sugar till light. Stir in molasses: add eggs, one at a time beating after each. Stir together flour soda, and salt, add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition. Grease and flour three 8x1 1/2-inch round baking pans. Pour 1-1/3 cups of batter into each pan. Bake at 375 till done, about 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pans and cool on rack. Wash pans, grease and flour. Repeat with remaining batter. Spread applesauce between layers. Spread whipped cream atop, sprinkle with nuts. Makes 24 servings.