Gelatin: the "Most Nourishing Part"
I was excited to read that, back in the 1800's, people still realized the value of gelatin-rich broth. The cookbook describes that:
Boiling [meat] is the dearest, as most of the gelatin is extracted by the process of boiling, which is the most nourishing part, and if not used for soup, is completely lost.Wide Variety of Meats and Cuts
There are recipes for many types of animals, including the usual chicken, beef, and pork. There are also recipes for animals that are uncommon on our modern day plates, such as duck, goose, pigeon, eel, and many types of fish.
And of course there are recipes for all parts of the animals, including heads, brains, tongues, and all organs. There is even a recipe specifically for cod tongue and sounds (I wasn't even aware that cod fish had tongues), and one for making calves feet jelly.
Some of the recipes in the cookbook sound amazing:
Chicken Salad. Boil a chicken that weighs not more than a pound and a half. When very tender, take it up, cut it in small strips, and make the following sauce, and turn over it—boil four eggs three minutes—then take them out of the shells, mash and mix them with a couple of table spoonsful of olive oil, or melted butter, two thirds of a tumbler of vinegar, a tea spoonful of mixed mustard, a tea spoonful of salt, a little pepper, and essence of celery, if you have it—if not, it can be dispensed with.
Beef Liver. Liver is very good fried, but the best way to cook it, is to broil it ten minutes, with four or five slices of salt pork. Then take it, cut it into small strips together with the pork, put it in a stew pan, with a little water, butter, and pepper. Stew it four or five minutes.
Ham. The Virginia method of curing hams, (which is considered very superior), is to dissolve two ounces of salt-petre, two tea spoonsful of saleratus, in a salt pickle, as strong as possible, for every sixteen pounds of ham, add molasses in the proportion of a gallon to a hogshead of brine, then put in the hams, and let them remain three or four weeks. Then take them out of the brine, and smoke them with the hocks downwards, to preserve the juices. They will smoke tolerably well, in the course of a month, but they will be much better, to remain in the smoke-house two or three months. Hams cured in this manner are very fine flavored, and will keep good a long time.
Bring on the Butter and Cream
Butter is used liberally in the recipes, and often used as a sauce for meats and vegetables. I have wondered if we are overdoing the butter in our house, as we eat quite a lot of it, so I was very interested to see that the recipe for an omelet calls for one dozen eggs and a whole stick of butter. That is the same ratio I use for scrambled eggs, and they taste so delicious that way!
There is also liberal use of cream in recipes. The only use of skim milk in the book is to restore rusty fabric!
Recipes for Home Remedies
A couple of the home remedies really stood out to me.
Beef Tea. Broil a pound of fresh lean beef ten minutes—then cut it into small bits, turn a pint of boiling water on it, and let it steep in a warm place half an hour—then strain it, and season the tea with salt and pepper to the taste. This is a quick way of making the tea, but it is not so good, when the stomach will bear but a little liquid on it, as the following method: Cut the beef into small bits, which should be perfectly free from fat—fill a junk bottle with them, cork it up tight, and immerse it in a kettle of lukewarm water, and boil it four or five hours. This way is superior to the first, on account of obtaining the juices of the meat, unalloyed with water, a table-spoonful of it being as nourishing as a tea-cup full of the other.Recipes for Preservation
Cough Tea. Make a strong tea of everlasting—strain, and put to a quart of it two ounces of figs or raisins, two of liquorice, cut in bits. Boil them in the tea for twenty minutes, then take the tea from the fire, and add to it the juice of a lemon. This is an excellent remedy for a tight cough—it should be drank freely, being perfectly innocent. It is the most effectual when hot.
Of course, this book was written before the days of refrigeration, so there are also many recipes for preservation of food, such as "to keep insects from cheese", "to extract rancidity from butter", "to keep eggs several months", and "to keep various kinds of fruit through the winter". One recipe sounds particularly interesting to me:
Portable Soup. Take beef or veal soup, and let it get perfectly cold, then skim off every particle of the grease. Set it on the fire, and let it boil till of a thick glutinous consistence. Care should be taken that it does not burn. Season it highly with salt, pepper, cloves and mace—add a little wine or brandy, and then turn it on to earthen platters. It should not be more than a quarter of an inch in thickness. Let it remain until cold, then cut it in pieces three inches square, set them in the sun to dry, turning them frequently. When perfectly dry, put them in an earthen or tin vessel, having a layer of white paper between each layer. These, if the directions are strictly attended to, will keep good a long time. Whenever you wish to make a soup of them, nothing more is necessary, than to put a quart of water to one of the cakes, and heat it very hot.Do you have a favorite old cookbook?
*The American Housewife: Containing the Most Valuable and Original Recipes in All the Various Branches of Cookery and Written in a Minute and Methodical Manner. Together with a Collection of Miscellaneous Recipes and Directions Relative to Housewifery. The Kindle version of this cook book is free on Amazon, and you can also download a free Kindle for PC application to read it on your computer.
This post is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade and Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop!