Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lip Salve & Cold Cream, 1857

I decided to mess around with some period cosmetic recipes. For the first experiment, I looked at some 1850s recipes for tinted lip balm. There were several receipts available, mainly using either wax or lard for a base, with rose or orange flower scent and a pink tint derived from alkanet or carmine/cochineal.

The first receipt I decided to try was the "rose lip salve" from The Druggist's General Receipt Book (1857).  It calls for white wax, almond oil, otto of roses, and alkanet root.  You basically melt the wax and almond oil together with the alkanet, then strain out the alkanet and stir in a few drops of rose essence.  I used white beeswax this time.  When made, the balm set very quickly, and had a pleasing pale pink shade and rose odor.  I have not noticed that it imparts any rosiness to the lips, but it sure looks and feels nice.
Ingredients for lip balm, 1857 recipe
Ingrediants: white beeswax pellets, sweet almond
oil, rose essence, and a dram of alkanet chips.

1857 lip balm in progress
The liquid lip balm fresh off the stove.
The color lightens as it solidifies.

1857 Pink rose lip balm
The finished lip balm.
I also decided to try a receipt from Miss Leslie's Lady's New Receipt Book (1850).  Her red lip salve calls for a fifty-fifty mixture of lard and suet, colored with alkanet and then scented with rose water, orange flower water, or "oil of rhodium".  Since I already had the other pink lip salve, I decided to try the "cold cream" variation of this, which uses a 1:2 ratio of suet to lard and skips the coloring agent.

I melted the lard and suet (tallow--finally found some!) together on the stove, then took them off and added a tablespoon of orange flower water.  This was actually a bad idea, as it caused the previously-not-boiling fats to "bump", ie spew all over the place as it suddenly boiled.  Not to self: get boiling chips for future batches, or wait to stir in aqueous components until its started cooling down.  Flying liquid fats not withstanding, it solidified into a nice white cream which seems to do its job decently.
Cold cream is meant to soothe chapped skin, so it's a timely addition to my winter reenacting kit.

For those who prefer to buy ready-made cosmetics, Little Bits Apothecary apparently uses historical recipes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fur Cuffs

Many thanks to Nancy for teaching me how to make these (she took Maggie Koenig's class at Symposium while I was off learning beadwork).  They are a lovely addition to my winter wardrobe, and proved very helpful in battling the cold weather at Santa Train: poor planning left me in lawn under-sleeves in 30F weather, but between my velvet pagoda sleeves and these deep fur cuffs, my arms stayed perfectly comfortable.

White rabbit fur, lined in white polished cotton, over a canvas interlining.

1850s style white fur cuffs
White fur cuffs.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Snoqualmie Railroad, December 16th

Cleaning up the blog backlog, here are some pictures from a fun event at the Northwest Railway Museum: Victorian Santa Train!  Despite the frigid weather, it was a great deal of fun to ride the antique train and to entertain families with carols and period toys as they waited to visit Father Christmas in the historic Snoqualmie Depot.

Northwest Railway Museum Victorian Santa Train
Riding in the cars.

Northwest Railway Museum Victorian Santa Train Caroling
Singing at the depot.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Presents

Despite the lack of blog posts--school, work, and moving have all cut into my sewing time--I did manage to complete a few projects this month. Here are a some of the items I made for the Christmas tree at Fort Steilacoom earlier this month:

Victorian Seed Bead Greek Key Bracelets
Bracelets for Miss Franklin.  They're the same Greek key pattern
as mine, but in a different color scheme.
Rolled Doll, Eliza Leslie's American Girl's Book 1854
Brother and sister dolls for the children.  The lady is the "common linen doll"
from The American Girl's Book (1854), while the voyageur is my own
variation on that design.  Thanks to Miss Franklin for sewing the lady!

Friday, December 23, 2016

HFF 2.25: "Foreign Food"

Another tardy post, I fear.  The pudding was originally made within the challenge fortnight (December 13), but scheduling complications delayed it's debut by a week, and I've procrastinated writing this post since then.

The Challenge: "Foreign" Foods Make a dish that reflects the historical idea of “foreign” - either foods with a loose connection to foreign lands, named after faraway places, or attributed to foreigners. Real connections to actual foreign countries not necessary (or recommended) - the more tenuous the connection, the better.

Making a Christmas pudding is definitely a British practice, and thus foreign to this American.  After all, it's not like I use Mrs. Beeton's for most of my other challenges anyway.

The Recipe: Christmas Plum-Pudding from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management
1328. INGREDIENTS – 1–1/2 lb. of raisins, 1/2 lb. of currants, 1/2 lb. of mixed peel, 3/4 lb. of bread crumbs, 3/4 lb. of suet, 8 eggs, 1 wineglassful of brandy. 
Stone and cut the raisins in halves, but do not chop them; wash, pick, and dry the currants, and mince the suet finely; cut the candied peel into thin slices, and grate down the bread into fine crumbs. When all these dry ingredients are prepared, mix them well together; then moisten the mixture with the eggs, which should be well beaten, and the brandy; stir well, that everything may be very thoroughly blended, and press the pudding into a buttered mould; tie it down tightly with a floured cloth, and boil for 5 or 6 hours. It may be boiled in a cloth without a mould, and will require the same time allowed for cooking. As Christmas puddings are usually made a few days before they are required for table, when the pudding is taken out of the pot, hang it up immediately, and put a plate or saucer underneath to catch the water that may drain from it. The day it is to be eaten, plunge it into boiling water, and keep it boiling for at least 2 hours; then turn it out of the mould, and serve with brandy-sauce. On Christmas-day a sprig of holly is usually placed in the middle of the pudding, and about a wineglassful of brandy poured round it, which, at the moment of serving, is lighted, and the pudding thus brought to table encircled in flame.

The Date/Year and Region: 1861, London

How Did You Make It: I grated all the stale bread in my stash, until 12 oz. were obtained.  I then chopped up all the candied peel I had on hand (mostly orange with some lemon), which came in just under 8 oz.  I mixed these up with 24 oz of raisins, 8 oz of zante currants (actually a raisin variety, but the closest I could find to actual currants in my area), 0.78 lb rendered pork fat (lard, as five trips to butcher shops and meat counters could not procure suet), 8 eggs, and 1.5 oz of brandy (= 1 wineglass, says this 1842 book).  

After mixing this thoroughly, I piled it all up on a clean square of cotton, and tied it into a round bundle.  I then attempted to rig up a system to hold the pudding suspended in a large stock pot of boiling water for six hours--said device included part of a bookshelf, string, and a dumbbell; it also proved ineffective as 1) the pudding appeared to be floating anyway, and 2) it somehow still got scorched on the bottom.  C'est la vie.

I then let the pudding drip dry for three days.  Boiled it a further two hours before intending to serve it, but the pudding had gone completely soft and mushy by that point, so I ended up hanging it up again for three more days.  I then attempted to serve it cold, but unwrapping the pudding caused it to fall apart.

Time to Complete: An eternity.  Preparation took about an hour and a half, including grating crumbs; boiling took six hours, drying took several days, and the final boiling should have taken two hours.

Total Cost: Ingredients on hand, except for the fresh lard, which was about $6 at the fancy butcher shop (which totally said they would have suet after the weekend, and then didn't. Grah.)  It was actually a good receipt for the moment, in that it allowed me to use up some of my weird ingredients before moving--ie the bread crumbs, candied orange peel and raisins that were filling my fridge.

How Successful Was It? Not at all.  This is the worst cooking experiment since the Cherry Pie of  '14, and honestly might be the worst of all.  Though initially solid, the re-boiling attempt softened it up a great deal, and no amount of drying thereafter restored its structural integrity.  I also managed to burn the top of the pudding where it came in contact with the bottom of the pot (my rigging apparently was less successful than I thought it was).  I couldn't serve it properly with flaming brandy, on account of the aforementioned instability, as well as the fact that it was too large to fit easily on a plate.  

In its favor, the pudding was nice and moist, the bread crumbs incorporated well, and the raisins and peel tasted nice.  That being said, there was no other sweetener, and the main flavor was raisin and brandy. 

If I try this again, I will: 1) half the recipe, 2) use real suet, 3) let the pudding dry for weeks or months instead of days, 4) properly suspend the pudding while boiling, and 5) ideally use a mold rather than attempting to tie the pudding up in a cloth.  I'm also likely to try another recipe, as this was a great deal of work for not even a qualified successul.

How Accurate Is It? Hard to say. The main liberty was substituting lard for suet, but that's still a period ingredient, so... fairly accurate?

Mrs. Beeton Christmas Plum Pudding illustration
What it should look like.
(Color plate from a later edition of the BoHM)

Christmas Plum Pudding from Mrs. Beeton, 1861
Plum pudding: not a success.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

HFF 2.24: Redo!

The Challenge: Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Or, sometimes they go so well, you just want to do it again! Pick a challenge you already did and want to revisit, and try it once more.

I didn't actually use this receipt for an earlier challenge--I first tried it for the Candlelight Tour Dinner Party; the lemon cake from that event was used to fulfill challenge #10 in the first HFF round.  I realized half-way through that the pudding actually called for a pastry crust, and have been intending to remedy the error ever since.  Also, I wanted to experiment with less rosewater, as it was... overwhelming the first time.

The Receipt: Pumpkin Pudding from Miss Leslie's Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes and Sweetmeats
Half a pound of stewed pumpkin. Three eggs. Quarter of a pound of fresh butter or a pint of cream. Quarter of a pound of powdered white sugar. Half a glass of wine and brandy mixed. Half a glass of rose water. One tea spoonful of mixed spice nutmeg mace and cinnamon.  
Stew some pumpkin with as little water as possible. Drain it in a colander, and press it till dry. When cold weigh half a pound and pass it through a sieve. Prepare the spice. Stir together the sugar, and butter, or cream, till they are perfectly light. Add to them, gradually, the spice and liquor. 
Beat three eggs very light, and stir them into the butter and sugar alternately with the pumpkin.  
Cover a soup-plate with puff-paste and put in the mixture. Bake it in a moderate oven about half an hour.  
Grate sugar over it when cool.  
Instead of the butter, you may boil a pint of milk or cream, and when cold, stir into it, in turn, the sugar, eggs, and pumpkin. 
The Date/Year and Region: 1836 (9th edition), Boston

How Did You Make It: [I made a double receipt, ie two pie-sized puddings, as I had canned pumpkin to use up.] 

Creamed the butter and sugar in the electric mixer, then stirred in the spice (1/2 tsp mace, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and 1 tsp cinnamon), 1 wineglass of liquor (about 2 Tbsp brandy, topped off to about 4 oz with red table wine) and 1/4 cup of rosewater. [Last time, I could the "1/2 glass" to mean half a wineglass each of rosewater and of 50/50 wine/brandy.  The pudding ended up looking like pumpkin pie and tasting of rose...and only of rose.]  Beat six eggs and added them tot he mixture, along with a pound of pumpkin.

I made up puff paste (1 lb of flour, 1 cup, 1 lb of butter, made in the usual fashion--this was sufficient for two puddings and a generous plate of pie-crust cookies), lined two 9" pie plates with it, and poured in the pudding.  The pie tins were not particularly full, so 8" pans might work better in the future.  I baked it at 350F for about 40-50 minutes.  The pudding was basically solid at that point (if flooded with molten butter), though I'd be tempted next time to cook it at a slightly higher temperature or for a longer time.

Time to Complete: I didn't keep track.  It made up fairly quickly, and took about 40-50 minutes to bake.  Call it 1:15 at the most.

Total Cost: One pound of butter (for two puddings) on sale for $2, all other ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It? Alright.  The rosewater wasn't as over-powering this time, which was a benefit.  That, combined with the red wine, gave it an "interesting flavor profile" in the opinion of my test subjects the people who tried it.  The general consensus was that it was alright, different, and not too sweet. I think that it could, perhaps, have used a few more minutes of baking time.

How Accurate Is It? I used the modern stove and kitchen utensils, and canned pumpkin. The spice and rosewater/wine proportions were estimated

Historical Food Fortnightly 1830s Pumpkin Pie/Pudding
Pumpkin Pudding, 1836

Friday, November 25, 2016

HFF 2.23: Sweet Sips and Potent Potables

I'm a little late posting this one.  In fairness, it was done within [four days of] the challenge fortnight.

The Challenge: Sweet Sips and Potent Potables

The Recipe: Posset  (page 168) from Cookery, Rational, Practical and Economical, Treated in Connexion with the Chemistry of Food by Hartelaw Reid

Posset consists of hot wine added to custard (see page 107) the whole being well mixed by pouring it alternately from one vessel to another. It is generally made with canary or sack wine and called Sack Posset. 
Page 107:
Custard Sauce for Sweet Puddings and Fruit Pies or Tarts--Heat in a very clean saucepan till just about to boil a pint of new milk. Beat together in a basin the yolk of two eggs, a little cream and some pounded loaf sugar. Pour over this the hot milk and immediately return the whole to the saucepan and continue pouring it from the saucepan into the basin and back again until thoroughly mixed. Lastly return it to the saucepan set it over the fire and stir it continually till nearly boiling. Serve it cold in a glass dish or jug with nutmeg grated over the top.

According to Wikipedia, Canary or sack wine is a fortified white wine, such as sherry.

The Date/Year and Region: 1855, London

How Did You Make It: As instructed, I warmed 1 pint of milk until almost boiling, meanwhile mixing two eggs, 1/3 cup cream, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar (quantities guessed).  I poured the milk into the mixture, poured everything back into the pan, and repeated pouring.  I then heated up the whole mixture to almost-boiling, then set it aside to thicken.  While it cooled (in the freezer), I heated a bottle of sherry on the stove.  When the custard was cool, I poured the sherry into it, and repeated the pouring twice more until it was thoroughly mixed.

Time to Complete: I didn't note the time.  A bit over an hour, perhaps?

Total Cost: Ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?: Not very.  It ended up somewhat grainy in texture, and didn't taste particularly noteworthy--mostly just like sherry.  Perhaps it would work better with different quantities of cream and sugar in the custard?  Or with the right kind of wine?  I probably won't be making this again.  In fact, all of the recipes I try which contain sherry end unsuccessfully, so I probably will avoid it in the future.

How Accurate Is It?: Usual disclaimer about using modern heat sources.

Posset, 1855 recipe

Friday, November 4, 2016

Quilt Idea

Squirelling this design away for when I have more time. I've been meaning to do a red-on-white appliqué quilt at some point...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

HFF 2.22: Soups, Stews and Porridges

The Challenge: Whether it’s a delicate broth or a hearty porridge, if it’s served in a bowl, it’s fair game!

The Receipt:  Chicken Soup from Mrs. Hale's New Cook Book (page 56)
Chicken Soup Cut up a large fowl, and boil it well in milk and water; thicken with cream, butter, and flour. Add vegetables of different kinds cut in small pieces such as potatoes, turnips, the heart of cabbage, one or two onions, celery, &c, with thyme, parsley, cayenne or black pepper, and mace. Boil all together and just before you dish it, add wine, or a little lemon juice, and salt to your taste.
The Date/Year and Region: 1859, Philadelphia

How Did You Make It: As no measurements are given, I guessed on all of them--with variable results. Carved up a pre-cooked chicken (very badly), and boiled the meat in 4 cups of water and 4 cups of skim milk for about two hours.  Strained the broth through a cloth, then added the meat back it (to ensure that any bones or other fragments were removed). Added 1/2 c. of cream, 3 Tbsp butter, and about 1/2 c. of flour.  Sliced and added 4 small russet potatoes, 1 turnip, half of a large onion, and half of a head of cabbage.  At this point, I added another 2-3 cups of water, as the broth had boiled down.  Flavored with 1/2 tsp mace, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp dried thyme, and 1 Tbsp parsley flakes.  Added 1 cup of white wine before serving 

Time to Complete: Several hours.

Total Cost: Uncertain.

How Successful Was It? Too much cayenne pepper.  It smelled very nice--primarily of chicken and mace--but all I could taste was the cayenne.  I would like to try this again starting without about 1/8 tsp of cayenne (or switching to black pepper) and slowly adding more.

How Accurate Is It? I used the modern stove and kitchen utensils, but otherwise kept to period ingredients and techniques. 
1859 Mrs. Hale's Chicken Soup
Chicken soup in progress.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Still Here

I'm pretty busy with school just now, and my projects are moving at the pace of particularly slow snails.  So here's something I learned to do in class: make archival boxes.
Archival storage box with antique hair comb.
There will be acid-free tissue added.
Also, a lid.

Monday, October 10, 2016

HFF 2.21: Party Foods

This challenge lined up nicely with The Fort's event schedule, falling over Candlelight Tours.  So, what shall I have Mrs. Tolmie serve at her final reception in the Fort Nisqually Factor's House?

The Challenge: If there’s a party, there has to be food! Pick a dish meant to be served to a crowd, or at a festive gathering, and show your work!
"This plan is to ornament the sideboard with a basket of fruit, instead of insignificant pieces of pastry. Place in their stead things that can be eaten--such as jelly, plates of mixed pastry, and sandwiches of a superior kind, but not in too great profusion. Affix a label to each plate, indicating its contents...This is what is called a stand up supper..." --John Timbs Hints for the Table (London, 1859)

Though indicated for a ball, this "stand up supper" will do well for the Fort's 1859 Candlelight Tour itinerary: Mr. & Mrs. Tolmie are hosting a final evening party for their American friends before they depart for Fort Victoria.  With fourteen people in two rooms, the buffet-like arrangement will allow guests to mingle, converse and move freely.  Having all the dishes set out will also make a pretty display for the audience, while not over-burdening the servants with errands.

The Receipt:  
A PYRAMID OF TARTS from Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery 
Roll out a sufficient quantity of the best puff paste, or sugar paste; and with oval or circular cutters cut it out into seven or eight pieces of different sizes stamping the middle of each with the cutter you intend using for the next. Bake them all separately and when they are cool place them on a dish in a pyramid gradually diminishing in size the largest piece at the bottom and the smallest at the top. Take various preserved fruits, and lay some of the largest on the lower piece of paste; on the next place fruit that is rather smaller; and so on till you finish at the top with the smallest sweetmeats you have. The upper one may be not so large as a half-dollar containing only a single raspberry or strawberry. 
Notch all the edges handsomely. You may ornament the top or pinnacle of the pyramid with a sprig of orange blossom or myrtle. 
The Date/Year and Region: 1858 (1st ed. 1837)/ Philadelphia PA, USA

How Did You Make It: I took some liberties with this one.  The main being I used jam instead of preserved fruits as a matter of logistics (and, in my defense, "sweetmeats" elsewhere in this book names jams, jellies, and preserved whole fruits).

First I prepared puff paste using my usual period receipt from Mrs. Beeton (1 cup of water to 1 pound of flour, make a paste, fold in butter and roll out 3-4 times until 1 lb of butter has been incorporated). I cut out seven rounds of decreasing size; the scraps of paste were stamped into star shapes. The paste baked about 10-12 minutes at 400F.  To assemble, I spread cherry jam over the largest past circle, set the next largest round on pastry on top of it, and repeated the process, alternating raspberry and blackberry jam.  The pyramid was then decorated with the paste stars and sprigs of lemon balm.

A pyramid of tarts,from Miss Leslie's "Complete Cookery" 1858
A pyramid of tarts. 

Time to Complete: About an hour to roll and bake.  Twenty minutes or so to assemble.

Total Cost: $10 for three jars of jam and 1 pound butter, other ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?/How Accurate Is It? I'm treating these together, because I realized half-way through that the preserved fruit would give a much more impressive dimensionality.  So, my major deviation from the instructions was also a major point against the dish's successful appearance. Next time, I either need to make this during the summer when a lot of fresh fruit is in season, or else plan far enough ahead to have whole-fruit preserves.  That being said, the tart was tasty and well-received by the group.  It also didn't look as bad as I feared: even with the relatively flat individual layers, taken all together the dish made a nice pyramid shape.  I would make this one again, hopefully with improved presentation.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

HFF 2.20: Foods Mentioned in Songs

The Challenge: Find a historic song that mentions a food - and then cook a historic recipe around that food and the time of the song. Whether it’s Yankee Doodle’s macaroni, mussels a la Molly Malone, or the Muffin Man’s muffins, make sure it’s documented!

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, and in the Victorian period were mostly purchased from street-sellers, whose calls supposedly gave rise to the song.

The Receipt:  Cross Buns from Five Thousand Receipts: In All The Useful And Domestic Arts, by Colin MacKenzie (page 179)
Cross buns 
Put 2 1/2 lbs. of fine flour into a wooden bowl, and set it before the fire to warm; then add 1/2 a lb. sifted sugar, some coriander seed, cinnamon and mace powdered fine; melt 1/2 lb of butter in half pint of milk; when it is as warm as it can bear the finger, mix with it three table spoonsful of thick yeast, and a little salt; put it to the flour, mix it to a paste, and make the buns as directed the last receipt. [...cover it over and set it before the fire an hour to rise, then make it into buns, put them on a tin, set them before the fire for a quarter of an hour, cover over with flannel, then brush them with very warm milk and bake them of a nice brown in a moderate oven.] Put a cross on the top not deep.
The Date/Year and Region: 1854, American (Philadelphia), adapted from a British source

How Did You Make It:  Using this helpful conversion chart, I decided to use 6 tsp of dry yeast for the amount of flour in the receipt*.

Measured out 2.5 lbs of all-purpose flour (about 9 cups) and 1/2 lb of granulated sugar, then added 4 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp coriander, and 1 tsp mace. The spices are pure guesswork; I used all of them pre-ground, as that's what was on hand.  After mixing the dry ingredients, I melted 1/2 lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter on the stove, added 1 cup of 1% milk to the butter, then stirred in 6 tsp of active dry yeast and 1 tsp salt.  The liquid ingredients were the incorporated with the dry, and the resulting dough was placed inside the oven (on the lowest warming setting) to rise for one hour.

After rising, the dough was kneaded and worked into rolls.  The rolls were incised with crosses per the instructions ("not deep" indicates the cross should be cut rather than drawn in sugar), and allowed to rise a further 15 minutes, with the second pan rising a bit more while the first baked.  Baked at 375 for just over 20 minutes.  I brushed the second pan with milk before baking.

*As it turns out, I probably should have used a bit more yeast.

Time to Complete: About 3 hours, include rising and baking time.

Total Cost: $2 worth of butter, other ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It? Tasty, but a bit dense. The dough didn't rise as much during the first hour as I would have hoped.  It may be that I didn't use enough yeast, or that I didn't knead it enough initially, or that the temperature was too high, etc. Next time, I'd try a bit more yeast (at least 3 full packages or 6.75 tsp, maybe 4 packs), and ask one of my friends who is actually good at making bread for advice on kneading/shaping buns.  The flavor gave satisfaction--sweet and spicy, but not overly so.  I think I picked good starting values for the spices, though I'm tempted to experiment a bit, particularly with adding a little more mace and/or coriander (or using the specified coriander seeds rather than pre-ground).

How Accurate Is It? Deviations on yeast and estimated spices previously noted.  Of course, these are apparently an item that is normally purchased rather than made at home in the 19th century, so my amateurish attempts are already of questionable accuracy.

Hot Cross Buns from 1854 recipe, for Historical Food Fortnightly
The densest Cross Buns ever.

Monday, September 26, 2016

HFF 2.19: Ethnic Foods

[I'm a few days late on this one--I was out of town, but mainly, I had the date wrong and thought this challenge ended next Thursday.]

The Challenge: Foodways and cuisine are at the heart of every ethnic group around the world and throughout time. Choose one ethnic group, research their traditional dishes or food, and prepare one as it is traditionally made.

I'm not sure whether I'd call this an "ethnic" German dish, but I did translate it from an 188-year-old German cookbook, complete with archaic spelling, usage, and typeface.

The Receipt:  Himbeer Eßig [Raspberry Vinegar] from Stuttgarter Kochbuch, page 32
Himbeer Eßig recht gut. 
An die Himbeer wird Eßig gegossen, bis er dar über geht, hernach wird ein Geschirr oder Brettlen auf die Himbeer gelegt, ein Schoppenglas darauf gestellt mit einem Gewicht, daß es die Himbeer hinab druft aber nichts in das Glas lauft und solche 24 Stunden in den Keller gestellt; den andern Tag wird der Saft durch ein Haarsieb abgegossen, und in eine Pfanne gethan; zu einer Maas Eßig nimmt man ein voellig Pfund Zuker welcher zu kleinen Stüklein zerschlagen wird; wenn er zerschmol zen ist wird er über ein starkes Kohlfeuer gethan, wo man ihn wie ein paar weiche Eyer [Eher?] sieden läßt. Der erste Schaum wird abgenommen.
My translation: 
Vinegar is poured over the raspberries, until they are covered, then a dish is placed on the berries, a pint glass is placed on it with a weight, so that the berries [are pressed?] and it is left that way for 24 hours in the cellar. The next day, the juice is poured through a hair-sieve into a pan; per liter* of vinegar, a pound of sugar is needed, which has been broken into small pieces; when the sugar is dissolved, place the mixture over a hot fire, where one keeps it at rather soft boil**.  The initial foam is removed.
*This 1875 document (Commercial Relations of the United States With Foreign Countries, page 463) indicates that a "Maas" is a Bavarian volume unit slightly larger than liter; and that the 'new' pound is about 7/8 of an old Bavarian pound.  I'm rounding these to 1 liter/1 pound.

**This could be wrong. I suspect there's some idiom or obsolete usage that I'm missing here.

The Date/Year and Region: 1828, Stuttgart (Swabian/German)

How Did You Make It: Rinsed the berries, then set them in a glass dish and covered with white vinegar (1 pint vinegar over 12 dry oz of berries). Placed another glass dish on top of them, and weighed it down with a pint glass full of water.  Set aside for 24 hours.

The next evening, I drained off the now-red vinegar, using a piece of muslin to strain it.  Twelve ounces of white sugar were added to the 2.75 cups of liquid, which was then brought to a boil on the stove.  The pink foam/scum which formed upon heating was skimmed off as it rose.  Once clear, the liquid was removed from heat and bottled.

Time to Complete: 24 hours to press the berries; about a half-hour for the rest

Total Cost: $5 for raspberries out of season; sugar and vinegar on hand.

How Successful Was It? I like it.  Full-strength, the vinegar flavor is very strong, but about 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) of it added to an 8-oz glass of water produces a very pleasant beverage.  It has a sweet raspberry flavor, with a slight kick from the vinegar, making an effect comparable to lemonade.  It was also fairly straightforward to make, and I'll be adding this to my event menus for next summer.

How Accurate Is It? Translation errors are distinctly possible.  Aside from that, I made guesses on the type of vinegar (white) and sugar (granulated).  The receipt mentions breaking the sugar into very small pieces, which I suspect means loaf sugar is intended--alternatively, it may mean to call for powdered/pounded sugar.  As the sugar ends up dissolved, I doubt it matters much.  I went with white vinegar so as to not mix flavors (though that might be a fun experiment).  An electric stove was used instead of a coal fire. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

ALHFAM Western Region Conference 2016

I've just returned from the ALHFAM (Association for Living History Farms and Museums) Western Region Conference.  This year, it was hosted by the Dorris Ranch in Springfield, OR, which is just outside of Eugene.  It is also an interesting mixed used park, historic site and living history village, which includes a working filbert/hazelnut orchard, and is approximately 172 times the size of Fort Nisqually.
ALHFAM 2016. Filbert/hazelnut trees. Dorris Ranch, Springfield, OR.
Filbert (hazelnut) trees at Dorris Ranch, Springfield, OR.
[They're also dealing with a really nasty blight that's affecting about 130 acres of America's oldest commercial hazelnut orchard, including trees over 110 years old.  Click here to find out more.]

ALHFAM 2016 Living History Clothing Collection Presentation.
Nancy prepares to give her presentation on site wardrobes.
I was there to provide tech support for Nancy's talk: "Clothes Make the Person: How We Run a Successful Living History Clothing Program at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum".  From the other presenters, we got to learn about Genesee Country Village's experiential programming around spices (the best-smelling presentation), points to consider when reproducing historic clothing (best display of original garments), and crowd-sourced museum funding (best slide-show).  Over dinner, author William Sullivan took us through 14000 years of Oregon history.  In a related note, he's a formidable hiker.

On Saturday, we toured the Dorris Ranch, and took time for some hands-on activities to explore Oregon history, while perhaps getting a bit silly. 
ALFHAM 2016 Dorris Ranch Filbert Nut Orchard.
Janna knows a great deal about filbert trees.
ALFHAM 2016 Dorris Ranch Oregon Trail Activity
Conference attendees prepare to embark on the Oregon Trail.
ALFHAM 2016 Dorris Ranch Archery
Peggy's archery puts us all to shame.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Wool Side-Lacing Gaiters, c.1856

Pattern and instructions from Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker (1856), with advice from Mrs. Ryan, Mr. Kempe, and an anonymous brigader.

Wool gaiters or ankle boots from "Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker" (1856)
Plaid wool ladies' gaiters, style of mid/late 1850s. 
Sideview of ankle boots (gaiters).
Side Laces.
The fit could use further refinements, but I'm generally quite pleased with how they turned out.  I'll try a stiffer lining on the next ones.
Front view of Victorian-style ankle boots (gaiters) with chevron.
This is how I match plaids. :)

The outer material is wool (from S. R. Harris); the lining is pimatex cotton.  The silk bias binding and cotton laces were dyed to match.  Scrap leather for the soles and heel-stiffener.  Upper sewn with silk thread, soles attached with coarse linen (waxed).

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Another Rolled Sewing Kit

One of these days I will make some of the other items in Fanciful Utility (there's just too many to pick from!), but for now, here's another rolled sewing kit.  It's a gift for my other awesome mentor at The Fort.

Mid-nineteenth century sewing kit, open, from Anna Bauersmith's "Fanciful Utility".
Sewing kit open.
Victorian rolled sewing kit, closed, from Anna Bauersmith's "Fanciful Utility".
Rolled shut for transport or storage.
The blue stripe print is leftover from my wrapper (Windham 30586-2, from Eileen Trestain's "Sally Rose" line), the red is a Sturbridge Village print, and I don't recall the name of the purple coral. The needle pages are red wool, and the pin cushion is stuffed with wool roving.

Friday, September 9, 2016

HFF #2.18: Let's Get Saucy!

The Challenge: They can be the perfect addition to a delicious dish, the crowning glory, or stand on their own. Make your best sauce and show us how to use it!

The Receipt: Sweet Pudding Sauce  from Modern Household Cookery by Sarah Josepha Hale (page 54-55)
Boil together for fifteen minutes the thin rind of half a small lemon, an ounce and a half of fine sugar, and a wine glassful of water; then take out the lemon peel and mix very smoothly an ounce of butter with rather more than half a teaspoonful of flour; stir them round in the sauce until it has boiled one minute; next add a wine glassful and a half of sherry, or Madeira, or two thirds of that quantity and a quarter of a glass of brandy; when quite hot serve the sauce. Port wine sauce is made in the same way with the addition of a dessert spoonful of lemon juic,e some grated nutmeg, and a little more sugar; orange rind and juice may be used to give it flavour when preferred to lemon. Rind: half a lemon. sugar: one and a half ounce, water: one wine glassful; fifteen minutes. Butter: one ounce, flour: large half teaspoonful; one minute. Wine: one and a half wine glassful or one of wine and a quarter of a glass of brandy. 

To go under it: a plain rice pudding (page 223 of the same):
Wash well and pick eight ounces of rice, and put it into a deep dish with two quarts of milk; add to this two ounces of butter, four ounces of sugar, and a little cinnamon or nutmeg, ground; mix them well together and bake in a very slow oven. It will take about two hours.
The Date/Year and Region: 1854, London

How Did You Make It:  Mixed 8 oz of rice, 4 oz of sugar, approximately 1/3 of a nutmeg (grated) and a scant 2 oz of butter [estimated] in a pan, then poured over about 1.5 quarts of skim milk until the pan was full.  Stirred, then placed mixture in an oven pre-heated to 300F.  Baked about 2.5 hours, until rice was cooked, though the liquid in the pudding was not completely evaporated at that time.

Brought to boil on the stove 4 oz of water containing 1 oz of granulated sugar and the peel of half of a small lemon.  Allowed to boil for almost 15 minutes*, at which point very little of the original liquid remained.  Added approximately 1 oz of butter and a generous 1/2 tsp of flour to the pan, stirring all the while; added 6 oz of sherry and kept the sauce on low heat until ready to serve.

*The first time I attempted this, I went the whole 15 minutes, and ended up with a pan of charred sugar.  The liquid volume is reduced to almost nothing at that point, so I erred on the side of caution with the second batch.

Time to Complete: Nearly 3 hours.

Total Cost: Ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It? Excepting the inedible cherry pie from year one, this was probably my worst HFF dish to date.  

Despite the decreased quantity of milk, there was a lot of extra liquid in the rice pudding.  Nonetheless, the rice cooked nicely, and while it did not taste bad, the pudding somewhat bland and generally uninspiring.  The sauce basically tasted like sherry with some butter--unfortunately, the lemon flavor didn't come through at all.  The general effect was both rich and insipid.  I'm not in a hurry to try this one again.

Edit: After leaving the rest of the pudding in the cooling oven, it did eventually solidify.

How Accurate Is It? I didn't deviate from the instructions, except in reducing the amount of milk by 1/4, and having to estimate the butter quantities.

Rice pudding with sweet sauce, Sarah Hale's Modern Household Cookery 1854
It tasted better than it looks, but not enough to make it again.
Cranford fans: I ate it with a fork.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

18th/19th Century Silk Robe

Another recently completed project: a turn-of-the-nineteenth-century robe.  The inspiration pieces are a series of fashion plates showing a flowing outer garment which is fully open in front and has short sleeves.
Purple open robe over white dress with purple hair bands and reticule, 1797.
1797 fashion plate from
Journal des Luxus und der Moden
From Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1798
The pattern was taken from a c. 1795-1803 example in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion I (the garment is in the VAM collection).  I altered the pattern to omit the front bodice and shortened/re-shaped the sleeves to better resemble the fashion plates. The outer material is a silk taffeta with satin stripes; the lining is a lighter weight plain silk.

Edited to add pictures of the front (er, side):

c. 1797 Open Robe, Jane Austen Festival

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Aerophane Embroidered Purse

Silk purse with aerophane and chenille embroidery, late 18th century design.
Silk purse, based a c. 1800 design.
The design from an original dated c. 1790-1800, which is featured in 18th Century Embroidery Techniques by Gail Marsh.  I decided to make it up as a gift for a mentor and friend who is travelling to Bath for the Jane Austen festival.

The purse material is black silk taffeta (the original was black satin), with stem-stitch embroidery in green silk chenille; the roses are made from bias-cut strips of custom-dyed silk chiffon.  The lining is white silk; cord and tassels are made from size FF beading silk in black and gold.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

HFF 2.17: Myths & Legends

The Challenge: It’s time to make some legendary food! Pick a story from folklore (a myth, fantasy, legend, or fairy tale) that features food, and use a historical recipe to recreate it. 

Unfortunately, I didn't have much luck with mythic food--most of the references I found were vague (King Arthur has "meat" and "wine" at his feasts; Valhalla serves wine, mead, and pork), don't require cooking (apples appear in everything from Snow White to The Illiad to Genesis), or aren't possible to make (the gods' ambrosia).  There are some German and Scandinavian fairy tales which have soft cheese as a plot point--always keep some around to impress giants/trolls with your strength--but I'm not quite up for unsupervised cheese-making at the moment.
So, I decided to work with a more modern legend: The Titanic.  Well-documented foods, and legendary status.

The Receipt: Apple Meringue from the Titanic First Class Luncheon Menu for April 14, 1912

Receipt from The Mendelssohn Club Cookbook (1909):
Apple Meringue
Eight tart apples stewed with 1 cup water and put through a sieve; add 1 cup sugar. 1 teaspoon lemon juice and the well beaten yolks of 4 eggs; bake in a buttered pudding dish 20 minutes in a quick oven. Make a meringue of the 4 whites of eggs and 2 tablespoons of fine sugar. Put on top and brown lightly. Serve very cold with cream and lady fingers.
Served with lady fingers (Naples biscuit) from Practical Cooking and Serving (1908):
6 eggs
1 cup of flour
1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
A grating of lemon or orange rind
The juice of half a lemon  
Mix according to formula. Press the mixture through a tube on to a baking sheet covered with paper in portions an inch wide and five inches long. Dust with powdered sugar and bake from ten to fifteen minutes without browning. Remove from the paper brush over the flat surface of one biscuit with white of egg and press the underside of a second biscuit upon the first. 
The Date/Year and Region: 1909/1908, Illinois/New York

How Did You Make It: Followed the instructions above, on a half-scale.  I baked the meringue in two single-serving glass bowls (lacking appropriate pudding moulds), at 350F for about 20 minutes, and a further 5-10 to set the meringue.  After cooling to room temperature, I refrigerated the meringues so as to serve them cold.

The lady fingers were less successful: I halved the recipe, but produced such a thin batter that I ended up doubling the sugar and flour.  It was still incredibly runny, making it difficult to arrange and bake. No pictures were taken, as they really looked awful.

Time to Complete: Unknown

Total Cost: Ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It? Mixed.  The apple portion tasted and felt like applesauce (the egg made it stay together a little, but otherwise didn't affect the texture).  The meringue topping went together like a dream.  I rather enjoyed it, but my dining companion did not--they found it none too sweet and don't care for applesauce in the first place.  Contrarily, they loved the lady fingers, which I found mediocre: like thin, not-quite-crisp strips of sponge cake.  The flavor was alright, and having a solid accompaniment suited the meringues. but the cakes weren't really anything special.

How Accurate Is It? I omitted the cream from the serving suggestion, as I did not know what to do with it (whipped cream or liquid? plain? sweetened?).  Similar apple meringue pie receipts from the period do not call for it, and omit the lady fingers in favor of a pastry crust beneath the apple.  I couldn't fine my sieve, so a few small chunks of apple found their way into the dish, but they weren't particularly noteworthy.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Throw Pillows

Appliqued hexagon throw pillow
Fun fact: no actual sheep were employed in the
production of this item--not even in trade for wood.
A modern, if somewhat nerdy, version of the hexagonal patchwork I've taken up.  Hexes are 2/3 standard playing size, all the decoration is (necessarily) hand-sewn.  This pillow is one of a pair made for some awesome newly-married friends of mine.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hexagon or Honey-Comb Patchwork

Here's one of my on-going projects: a hexagon patchwork quilt.  It's to use up all the little odd pieces left over from sewing garments.

The inspiration is a quilt in Eileen Trestain's collection, which I encountered while taking her class at Marge Harding's Century of Fashion Conference in 2015.  The original had 1.5" hexagons arranged into rosettes, which in turn were arranged in concentric circles with a dominant color in each ring. Two white hexagons separated each rosette.  While Ms. Trestain's quilt was dated c.1830s-1840s, an almost identical design--albeit with a striped background and only one intervening hex--shows up in this 1870s quilt at the Met.  The International Quilt Study Collection and Museum has another like it from the 1820s-30s, with what appears to be a chintz medallion at the center.

Hexagon patchwork is still used today, under the names "English Paper Piecing" or "Grandmother's Flower Garden". A description of the method appears on page 300 of Eliza Leslie's The American Girl's Book (1831, page 313 of the 1857 edition).  It even calls for arranging the hexagons into rounds of colored calico, with white hexagons at the center of and between each ring.

The method apparently remained a patchwork staple from (at least) the 1820s into the twentieth century, as attested by the many surviving quilts with hexagonal pieces in various arrangments: rosettes (and another), concentric "rings" of colorstars, and even random; these quilts could also get rather complex (even recursive) and may be organized in lines or around a central motif.