"There was before us..."

Blog
 

"There was before us—soup, a roast turkey, boiled beef, chicken pie, potatoes fried with grease, turnips.  Then cranberry pie, custards, preserves.  There was toddy offered before dinner & wine.” 1

                             -George Shattuck, visitor to Montpelier, 1835 

 

George Shattuck, a native of Boston and soon-to-be minted M. D. from Harvard Medical School, visited Montpelier in early 1835.  His diary entry provides us with a window upon what food was prepared and served at Montpelier.  This weekend our interpreters at the Demonstration Kitchen prepared a portion of the meal Shattuck described in his diary entry.  To prepare our meal, we turned to several cookbooks published on either side of Shattuck's 1835 visit.  You'll find the recipes we selected, and the links to those cookbooks.

 

 


The Menu:

CHICKEN PIE

A nice way of serving up cold chicken, or pieces of cold fresh meat, is to make them into a meat pie. The gizzards, livers, and necks of poultry, parboiled, are good for the same purpose. If you wish to bake your meat pie, line a deep earthen or tin pan with paste made of flour, cold water, and lard; use but little lard, for the fat of the meat will shorten the crust. Lay in your bits of meat, or chicken, with two or three slices of salt pork; place a few thin slices of your paste here and there; drop in an egg or two, if you have plenty. Fill the pan with flour and water, seasoned with a little pepper and salt. If the meat be very lean, put in a piece of butter, or such sweet gravies as you may happen to have. Cover the top with crust, and put it in the oven, or bake-kettle, to cook half an hour, or an hour, according to the size of the pie. Some people think this the nicest way of cooking fresh chickens. When thus cooked, they should be parboiled before they are put into the pan, and the water they are boiled in should be added. A chicken pie needs to be cooked an hour and a half, if parboiled; two hours, if not.

Source: The American Frugal Housewife. By Lydia M. Child.  1832
 

TO FRY SLICED POTATOS

PEEL large potatos, slice them about a quarter of an inch thick, or cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth, and fry them in lard or dripping. Take care that your fat and frying-pan are quite clean; put it on a quick fire, watch it, and as soon as the lard boils and is still, put in the slices of potatos, and keep moving them till they are crisp; take them up, and lay them to drain on a sieve; send them up with very little salt sprinkled on them.

Source: The Virginia Housewife, or Methodical CookBy Mrs. Mary Randolph.  Baltimore, 1838

 

TO MASH TURNIPS.

When they are boiled quite tender, squeeze them as dry as possible--put them into a sauce pan, mash them with a wooden spoon, and rub them through a colander; add a little bit of butter, keep stirring them till the butter is melted and well mixed with them, and they are ready for table.

Source: The Virginia Housewife, or Methodical Cook. By Mrs. Mary Randolph. Baltimore, 1838.

 

FRUIT PIES

Fruit pies for family use, are generally made with common paste, allowing three quarters of a pound of butter to a pound and a half of flour. Peaches and plums for pies, should be cut in half, and the stones taken out. In making pies of juicy fruit, it is a good way to set a small tea-cup on the bottom crust, and lay the fruit all round it. The juice will collect under the cup, and not run out at the edges or top of the pie. The fruit should be mixed with a sufficient quantity of sugar, and piled up in the middle, so as to make the pie highest in the centre. The upper crust should be pricked with a fork, or have a slit cut in the middle. The edges should be nicely crimped with a knife. If stewed fruit is put in warm, it will make the paste heavy. If your pies are made in the form of shells, or without lids, the fruit should always be stewed first, or it will not be sufficiently done, as the shells (which should be of puff paste) must not bake so long as covered pies. Fruit pies with lids, should have loaf-sugar grated over them. If they have been baked the day before, they should be warmed in the stove, or near the fire, before they are sent to table, to soften the crust, and make them taste fresh.

Source: Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats. By Miss Leslie of Philadelphia. 1832.

 

TO MAKE PASTE FOR THE PIE.

Pour half a pound of butter or dripping, boiling hot, into a quart of flour, add as much water as will make it a paste, work it and roll it well before you use it. It is quite a savoury paste.

Source: The Virginia Housewife, or Methodical Cook. By Mrs. Mary Randolph.  Baltimore, 1838.

 

 

1. George C. Shattuck, Diary, 1834-1842 (January 1835), George Cheyne Shattuck Diary, MS N-910, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

 

  

 

Chicken Pie

Sliced "Potatos"

Mashed Turnips

Cranberry Pie

 

Kyle M. Stetz