Suzi's Blog

Chicken and Tomato Dinner from The Virginia Housewife

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This post will look a bit different than the typical one. And the format surely is. And some spellings. I’ll explain why later. What you do get here is a complete meal:

  • Chicken Pudding
  • Scallop Tomatas
  • Peach Cream

[No, that spelling is correct. Just be patient, please.]

Here we go.

Chicken Pudding

Beat ten eggs very light, add to them a quart of rich milk, with a quarter of a pound of butter melted and some pepper and salt, stir in as much flour, as will make a thin good batter; take four young chickens, and after cleaning them nicely, cut off the legs, wings, &c. put them all in a sauce pan, with some salt and water and a bundle of thyme and parsley, boil them ‘till nearly done, then take the chicken from the water and put it in a the batter, pour it in a deep dish and bake it; send nice white gravy in a boat

Scallop Tomatas

Peel off the skin from large full, rip tomatas — put a layer in the bottom of a deep dish, cover it well with bread grated fine; sprinkle on pepper and salt, and some bit of butter over them — put another layer of each, ‘tlll the dish is full — let the top be covered with crumbs and butter — bake it a nice brown.

Peach Cream

Get fine soft peaches perfectly ripe, peel them, take out the stones, and put them in a China bowl; sprinkle some sugar on and chop them very small with a silver spoon; if the peaches be sufficiently ripe, they will become a smooth pulp; add as much cream or rich milk as you have peaches; put more sugar and freeze it.

These are real recipes. From Virginia. From 1828. Hence the spelling and the style. And, did you note this, the absence of quantities. A quart of milk, rich milk, yes. But otherwise, you are just adding salt, pepper, bread crumbs and butter. Oh, you need to use that silver spoon, too. You know, I had a grandmother who did exactly that, though I never knew why. Somewhere, there is a chemist who knows.

Andrews McMeel Publishing is collaborating with the American Antiquarian Society to preserve the foundations of American culinary history. The Antiquarian Society has 1,100 cookbooks in its preservation shelves. Andrews McMeel has a project to publish 100 of these books, some in paper and some as e-books. The recipes above do come from the 1828 edition of The Virginia Housewife by Mrs. Mary Randolph. The book portrays a culinary world that is very, very different from the one we have now. This is all way before Whole Foods.

No, Suzen and I have not prepared any of these recipes, but we are going to attempt them. And others. We won’t do the calf’s feet fricassee, but there are plenty of things to try.

If you are a foodie, if you think things haven’t changed all that much over time, well, you need to get this charming book. It was not just a different time in 1828. It was a different world. The Virginia Housewife is a time machine, showing you how much has changed and offering some gems that just still may please you, your family, and your friends.

 

 

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