Saturday, November 29, 2014

Beans and Valetudinarian Stomachs

I  had no idea the dried beans were not considered proper people food in the 18th and early 19th century England by the economically comfortable section of the population.  This got me looking more into beans, which I admire from an aesthetic viewpoint as well as the yummy one.

The English were aware they were used in France and by some "poorer, rougher sorts" of folks, but dried beans were not considered healthful as they were a "flatulent food", and simply not valued for the kitchen.   They were valued for animal feed, however, and it was noticed that mangels grown in a field after a crop of beans were bigger.  The field bean I found mentioned so often in old publications valued for stock feed and straw is the Vicia faba, or what is known to me fava bean.    If a bean was used in cooking the variety was what we call a kidney bean.

Beans are nutritious, but, like the preceding vegetable (peas), must be taken but sparingly by valetudinarian stomachs.  Perhaps this was the reason that Pythagoras forbad their use to his disciples; but many speculations have been adventured on the subject.  Some persons affirm that he believed the bean to be the retreat of the soul after death; and there were many superstitions formerly connected with this seed, which was by some nations consecrated to the gods.  Others suppose that the prohibition was founded merely on sanatory principles, and that Pythagoras, like Hippocrates, conceived that beans were unwholesome, and weakened the eyesight. 
 Even in the present day, it has been observed that mental alienations are more frequent during the blossoming of the bean than at other seasons:—a circumstance, however, explicable from the excessive summer heats which about that season usually occur, and not attributable to the bean, although its black flowers were supposed by the signature physicians to be a prophetic mourning for the maladies to ensue.
 Other commentators, however, and with more seeming probability, affirm, that when Pythagoras said, 'abstain from beans,'  lie merely intended to restrict his disciples from intermeddling in political affairs; for it is well known that votes were formerly given by beans: and vestiges of this practice, at least in words, remain with us to the present day.  (White beans were a yes vote and black the no...possibly leading to our current phrase of blackballing someone.)
The meal of the kidney-bean was formerly so much liked in certain parts of Scotland, that Cullen says, the farm-servants would not take a place unless their masters agreed to give them regularly a fixed quantity of it.
Haricot beans are more used on the Continent than in England; they are a good variety, and appear to have given a well-known dish its name, though now, at least, they do not generally form a part of it.

1826 - New England Farmer - BEANS
The only species of beans much used in this country, is that which in England, is called Kidney Bean, and in France, Haricot; (Phaseolus vulgaris.)  The bean of English writers, is what is commonly called here the Horse Bean, (Vicia faba.)
 Considerable confusion has arisen from the indiscriminate use of the term bean, applied as it is, by
some good American writers on agriculture, to two very distinct genera or sorts of plants. The horse-bean (vicia) being tap-rooted, is much used in England as a fallow crop; and probably might be advantageously introduced here. 

White kidney-beans are almost the only kind used for field culture at present.  They require dry land that has been tilled with care, so as to destroy the weeds; and of such fertility as would produce a moderate crop of Indian corn. ...

These images from Wikipedia are of the
Vicia faba, the fava, or horse bean.
When about two thirds of the pods are ripe, and before the frosts, pull and spread them in rows; but they must be turned occasionally at mid-day, that the dampness of the ground
may not mould 
those underneath. After thrashing, if there are any unripe ones which require more drying, spread them on a clear floor, under cover, till they are thoroughly dried.
White beans will yield from ten to forty bushels to the acre; twenty bushels is called a good crop. 
They are valuable for the table and for stock, particularly for sheep and hogs.

This a  good read, with some skimming :-)

1887 - Baked Beans: A Serio-humorous Medical Paper    This is an informative 20 page paper by a Harvard grad that walks the line between science and twitting the New Englander for their partiality to baked beans.  Interesting comments on the quality of different brands of canned baked beans available!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

1890 - A Short Tale, plus the Possum Nose Pumpkin

Maule's catalogs have style...  and it is distinctive to Maule!  They got more boring in the 1900s.

The last 10 blog posts have all had pumpkin pie as the theme.  I am pied out, but not pumpkined out yet!  

I wonder if Possum Nose pumpkin is still around somewhere.  The stem is quite bumpy. 

I had to look up opossum noses to see what is going on. The photo does show a lumpy nose tip on the animal...I guess that is the answer.

Later: Nope! Here is a 1886 description of the pumpkin which explains it (I think). "POSSUM NOSE PUMPKIN, Greg., '86. Fruit slightly oblate, hollowed about the stem, and terminating in a small cylindrical protuberance at the blossom end; ribs obscure, surface smooth, slightly warty; pale salmon color, with whitish stripes; 

And, tying that into Thanksgiving, I am still thankful for the World Wide Web where 'possum noses are at my fingertips! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

1886 - The Days of Pumpkin Pies and Peace

"Gold has always been considered one of the ingredients of the elixir of life, and this pumpkin gold, taken in the form of pie will do as much toward giving one eternal life as anything on this unhappy old globe."

 THERE is something good~natured and honest and wholesome about a pumpkin; something solid and hearty, and a placid rotundity that seems very restful in this lean, nervous, hurrying age of the world. 
When will you see a pleasanter sight in all the sightly month of October than a community of them straggling about among the 
 cornstooks, and turning up their comfortable, yellow faces to the sun. I always feel my face widening out with unwonted good humor when I look upon their contented countenances. 
What good dispositions they seem to have; —too genial and amiable for this frosty, bovine, 
pie-loving world. How sociable they are among themselves. Sometimes when I come suddenly out of the woods, or over the hill-top, I catch little groups of them gossiping together, but when I arrive in the family circle every face is blandly blank. That always convinces me that they were talking about some of their human neighbors. Perhaps they are only making estimates of the corn crop for the crows’ Board of Trade, or discussing the probabilities of a frosty night. I have never caught a word of this gossip, although I have heard the murmur of it afar off; nor have I distinctly seen their lips move, or their eyes turn, but late one evening, as I was coming home across the field, I fancied I saw one wink solemnly at me; beneath a big leaf. It might have been the shadow of the wind-shaken leaf, or it might have been a rabbit or gopher that did the winking, but I preferred to believe in the pumpkin. I saved it for seed, in hopes of raising a new winking variety, but although the seed grew famously, the winks failed to develop.
The pumpkin is an indispensable piece of furniture in the cornfield, as well as in the pantry. Was there ever a boy husking corn who did not have one of these golden thrones, thrones fit for kings and princes of the blood? I often rest on one while I wait for my dog to dig out a reluctant mouse from under a cornshock, or while I interview some lonely, frost-nipped husker who is delving pure gold from the brown stooks throwing it in heaps about the field. The pumpkins are gold too,  red Australian gold,  lying about in huge nuggets and to be had for the picking up. If Don Quixote were to see one of our Western cornfields, what a glorious victory he would have over the trembling cornstooks that guard those fields of gold, and what a mass of treasure he would carry away with him, after furnishing himself with a new helmet of pumpkin shell. How the cows and boys would run after him until he mistook them for buffaloes and savages and attacked them with that lance that so valiantly slew the wine-skins.
Gold has always been considered one of the ingredients of the elixir of life, and this pumpkin gold, taken in the form of pie will do as much toward giving one eternal life as anything on this unhappy old globe. Like all elixirs it must be made just right; the proper rites must be observed at the proper times, but when it is done it is something worth doing. and eating, and digesting with care.  It fills one with satisfaction and peace,—-perhaps almost too much satisfaction for the number of pieces.
It is an honor to the woman who invented it, to the woman who makes it—right—and to the man who eats it. It is plain and honest, and worthy of the blessings that are asked over it, which is more than can be said of everything on our tables. I don’t know that one can find a pleasanter appetizer than coming into a warm kitchen on a 
biting fall day, and encountering a deck-load of pumpkin pies coming out of the oven. and taking flight into the pantry. Life ceases to be a blank. One’s faith in a divine Providence strengthens and grows tangible, and the world seems a good place to be in and stay in. While we are sure of such pies in this world, one hates to try another on uncertainties.
Perhaps our New England grandmothers might have invented a better pie than this, but doubtless they never did, although they came very near it in a certain kind well stuffed with Duchess apples. It is a monument to their memories. wherein their virtues are recorded in letters of pumpkin on tablets of crust, or vice versa.
Though the pumpkin in the field is gold, it is crude; this is the refined gold, stamped and coined in convenient sizes, and it will pass current with any man for what it is worth. The size may seem a little unwieldy for change, but put in the right pocket it incommodes no man or woman, and especially no boy. Where the pumpkin pie is there the boy is, and where the boy is there a goodly share of the pie is, world without end. That is also true of the girl, at least it was of the girl I knew.
If you have ever taught a country school during the months of October and November, and have been present at the mystic hour of midday when dinner-pails yawn and give up their contents, you have had a vision of pumpkin pie, and have seen it in all its varieties and conditions. I had that experience once,—-a pleasant one as I now recall it,--and I used to amuse myself counting the pieces that certain sturdy boys and girls managed to put away under their jackets and aprons. There was one poor, pinched, pieless boy whose parents were averse to pork and pie in all their forms. I shall never forget the hungry, disconsolate way in which he used to watch the other children gorging themselves on the forbidden sweets, like intelligent little anacondas. I longed to fill him up with pie and make him feel like other boys for once in his life, but I feared the curse of his swine hating mother.
To properly finish I ought to give my recipe for pumpkin pie, but alas! all I can say is, “ Make them as your grand-mother made them in the old farmhouse kitchen.” If you cannot do that I sympathize with you, for I cannot either. I do not suppose any one can now-a-days, although I sometimes come across one that has a faint, far-away hint of the old flavor.
We were young then, and the bloom was on the pie,—the bloom of a childish hunger, developed by romps in the haymow, the orchard or the corn-field,—and our paths were lined with pumpkin pies and peace. I like to fancy that some day I shall get just the right mixture of ingredients, and that the elixir will come out as good as it used to be when I was a child, but until I succeed I shall have no hope of living forever.

This has got to be the last pumpkin pie post!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"The Summum Bonum of Piedom"

I thought I was done with pies but this is a good article from 1899 in Table Talk which gives names and recipes from well known chefs in New York City at the turn of the 20th century!

Restaurants and cafés in New York were then as now, competitive and ego driven establishments.
Their recipes and tips are worth taking a look at.

The Pumpkin Pie

Each year the newspapers for the corresponding month of the previous year are gone over and put to various uses, but from one of the St. Louis Globe-Democrats have been rescued the following interesting recipes for this delectable dish:
At the Fifth Avenue Hotel the culinary lord is Charles Prestinari. Here is his own formula for the pumpkin pie for which that house is noted: One quart of pumpkin, four eggs, one gill of molasses, four ounces of sugar, two ounces of butter, two teaspoonfuls of ginger, one teaspoonful of cinnamon, one-half teaspoonful of nutmeg, one-half teaspoonful of salt.
This makes a rich, full-flavored. heavy bodied pie. With a piece of good English or American cheese it is a perfect meal by itself.
Downtown, under the chimes of Trinity, is the Cafe Savarin. The destinies of the kitchen are managed by a delightful Frenchman, Edward Lapertuque. With all the nobleness of a high-minded chef, he gives in explicit terms his method of making pumpkin pies.
“Cut two pounds of good pumpkin in slices; suppress the seeds and peel; put into a saucepan with some water over a brisk fire. Drain and press the pulp through a sieve. Mix with eight eggs, little ginger, little cinnamon, nutmeg, two ounces of melted butter and one quart of milk. Stir well. Have your pie plate lined the same as for other pies—fill with your preparation and bake in oven about forty minutes."    If the directions are followed the result is a pie as light and beautiful as a custard, with a warm tropical flavor and bouquet.
Simplest of all is the recipe of “ Oscar," the inimitable major-domo of the Waldorf Astoria. He tried many formulas, but found that the one which gave the deepest satisfaction was one in which the delicate flavor of the vegetable was not completely buried beneath the spices. His advice is:  “ Boil and strain the pumpkins, allowing for three pints, two tablespoonfuls of flour, four eggs, one pound of sugar, one tablespoonful of ground ginger, one teaspoonful of salt, and two quarts of milk. Mix all well together while the pumpkin is hot.  Butter a pie dish, line it with a thin layer of short paste, put the mixture into it and bake in a moderate oven for a little less than one hour. Serve the pie while hot."
This makes a pie almost as light as charlotte russe and so palatable as to make the eater follow the example of Oliver Twist and ask for more. It is the summum bonum of piedom.
Philippe G. Goetz is the distinguished chef at Sherry’s. His pies are naturally chefs d'oeurres, and among them the pumpkin holds the front rank. In his own handwriting he tells the world the secret of his success.
“Cook some nice pumpkins and drain them on a sieve. When all the water is gone, press them through a fine sieve, which will leave you a fine pulp. Take one-half pound of sugar, four yolks of eggs, four whole ones, a little nutmeg and mace, two tablespoonfuls of molasses, one quart of cream and one and a half pints of the pulp. Mix all together and fill the pies. This will make two good-sized pies.”
This comes quite close to the old-fashioned recipes, and will produce a smooth velvet-cream of rare delicacy and refreshing power.
The pumpkin pie deserves its immortality. Nor should it be forgotten that the original pumpkin pie was an aristocrat. Like other pies, it contained butter and brown sugar or molasses. But, unlike them, it contained eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger. Steam has made the world very small, and cheap freights have enabled the poorest to enjoy the fragrant spices of the far East. But it was not so 200 years ago. A single nutmeg cost a shilling or a bushel of wheat, and the cinnamon, ginger and allspice used in one baking cost even more. A pumpkin pie as late as 1690 was more of a luxury than is stewed terrapin or canvasback duck today.
No viand has a clearer or purer lineage. The bag-pudding of the seventeenth century is as obsolete as the dainties of the Pharoahs. The “goodly bear’s-meate pastie” is as extinct as the dodo or the eohippus. Even old-fashioned home-made bread has been driven to the wall by the products of Parisian and Viennese bakeries, by Parker House rolls and the uncanny creations of Graham, Kellogg and other diet reformers and deformers. But the pumpkin pie of 1898, whether made in the Waldorf Astoria or the little dutch bakery around the corner, is practically the same as that which tickled the palate of Cotton Mather or of Bishop Berkeley.
The first in point of time is an heirloom of the Adams family and dates from the early part of the eighteenth century. It is eloquent to one who can read between the lines and tells of a generous and well fed race, one which was bound to produce jurists, Scholars, orators and Presidents. From the pies made pursuant to its provisions sprang John Adams and John Quincy Adams, two of the noble names in American annals. Here is the recipe: One cupful pumpkin boiled down quite thick, one-half cup muscovado, one egg, one piece of butter as big as an egg, one cupful of cream and milk, a little salt, a little cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice and ginger. Bake in a quick oven thirty minutes.
The Alden family has an ancient recipe, for which extreme antiquity is claimed by such members of the family as belong to the Mayflower Society. Some go as far as to declare that it was this formula which enabled the fair Priscilla to charm Miles Standish and John Alden. It runs as follows: One pint pumpkin, one egg, one gill molasses, quarter pound muscovado, one piece of butter big as an egg, one gill of milk, salt, a little cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger; bake forty minutes.
The Wilsons, of Hartford, Conn, can trace their recipe back to 1810.  It shows a slight progress over the two more ancient ones, but not enough to justify comment. It reads: One large cupful of boiled pumpkin, one tablespoonful of flour stirred up in half a cupful of milk, one egg, one piece of butter large as a walnut, half a cupful of yellow sugar, half a teaspoonful of salt, a little nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and ginger; bake forty minutes.
It will be seen that in one hundred years no radical change had occurred. Undoubtedly many experiments had been tried, and many variations tested. but all had been found wanting. Out of these attempts undoubtedly sprang- the squash pie and the sweet potato pie. Both of these are good dishes; they are also slightly filling; but to compare them with pumpkin pie, golden, brown-barred, aromatic and soul satisfying, is simply sacrilege.
In the present century the change has been less than in the last. There has been an improvement in the undercrust or lining. Flour is better and more wholesome to-day than ever before, and the making of piecrust and pastry has been developed into both a science and an art. Though the lining has changed for the better, the filling is the same glorious golden paste delicately browned on the surface as it was in the days of George Washington.

1893 -Appletons' General Guide to the United States and CanadaWith Special Itineraries, Table of Railway and Steamboat Fares, and an Appendix Describing the Columbian Exposition

Delmonico's (cor. 5th Ave, and 26th St.),  
the Holland House Café (Fifth Ave. and 30th St.),  
the Café Brunswick (also at the cor. of 5th Ave. and 26th St.),  
and Sherry's (cor,  5th Ave. and 37th St.), are among the best. 

The St. Denis (cor. Broadway and 11th St.),  Clarke (22 W. 23d St.),  
Purssell's (914 Broadway), and 
the Vienna Bakery (cor. Broadway and 10th St.). are of excellent repute, and places where ladies or families may lunch or dine. 

The café and restaurants attached to the large hotels on the European plan are generally well kept; among the best of these are the Hoffman House, cor. Broadway and 24th St.; 
the St. James, cor. Broadway and 20th St.; 
the Coleman House, Broadway, between 26th and 27h Sts.; 
and the Clifton, 8th Ave. and 35th St.; 
Delmonico's, 22 Broad St. atid at junction of Beaver and William Sts.;
Cable's, 130 Broadway;
the Hoffmann House Cafe, in the Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange, 7 Beaver and 23 New Sts.; 
Sutherland's64 Liberty St.; 
the Cafe Savarin, in the Equitable Building, 120 Broadway; 
the Aster House, in Broadway, are first-class restaurants. 

There are a number of restaurants where table-d'hote dinners may be got from 5 to 8 PM., for from 75c. to $1.50, usually including wine;  of these may be mentioned 
the Brunswick, cor. 5th Ave. arid 2<ith St.; 
trie Murray Hill, cor. Park Ave. and 40th St. ; 
ami Morello's 4 W. 29th St. ;
Ricadonna'(42 Union Square) 
and Moretti's (22 E. 21st St.) have the Italian cuisine, on the table-d'hote plan. 

There are also English chop-houses; of these, 
Farrish'(64 John St.), 
Browne's (31 W. 27th St.), and 
The Studio (332 6th Ave.), are noted.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

1895 - Pease's Singing Book: Music for Pumpkin Pie

I figured singing turkey's were as close as I would come to singing pumpkin pies...besides, they are funny!

Pease's singing bookfor the use of high schools and singing classes -1895