To make fine pippen Tarts

To make fine pippen Tarts

To make fine pippen Tarts is a handwritten recipe from an early 1700s English manuscript in the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. It’s a recipe I’ve wagered in the battle to use up apples from the gargantuan apple tree in my back yard, and also a recipe that was interpreted in 2017 on the food history blog Cooking in the Archives. On this blog, Dr. Marissa Nicosia recreates Early Modern recipes from 1500- 1800 for the contemporary kitchen, and she is also one of my most enthusiastic supporters on twitter! You’ll find Cooking in the Archives at https://rarecooking.com/ and on twitter and Instagram as @rare_cooking.

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Apple Leather

Apple Leather

If you have a look at all the recipes in the “Fruit” category on this blog, you’re going to notice that most of my fruit recipes feature apples. I just did the math, and as of today, we’re talking 62.5% of my fruit recipes. Here’s the reason why: when we moved into our current home in Hamilton, we didn’t realize that the giant tree in our backyard was in fact a very prolific old apple tree!

August is my unofficial Apple Month, when I try to keep as many apples out of the compost bin as possible. Do you want cooking apples next summer? Let me know if you do and they are yours! This Apple Leather recipe is from one of the Victorian cookbooks that I turn to again and again, Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery from 1851.

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Oeufs au fromage

Oeufs au fromage

Oeufs au fromage (Eggs with Cheese) is probably the most delicious scrambled egg recipe I’ve ever made! The flavours of the Gruyere cheese, parsley, green onions, nutmeg and white wine combine beautifully and the recipe itself is simple to pull off. I found this recipe in the 1825 edition of La cuisinière bourgeoise, which was the first cookbook to be published in Canada and this is also my first bilingual post in both English and French.

Oeufs au fromage est probablement la plus délicieuse recette d’œufs brouillés que j’ai jamais préparée! Les saveurs du gruyère, du persil, des oignons verts, de la muscade et du vin blanc se marient à merveille et la recette est simple à réaliser. J'ai trouvé cette recette dans l'édition de 1825 de La cuisinière bourgeoise, le premier livre de recettes publié au Canada. C’est aussi mon premier poste bilingue en anglais et en français.

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Carrot Fritters

Carrot Fritters

Carrot Fritters are very delicious, but they taste like oranges, not carrots. I think sneaky parents of picky eaters could puree the carrots very smoothly, call them Orange Pancakes and use this recipe to get some vegetables into their kids.

I made this recipe from the 1787 The Lady’s Assistant for Regulating and Supplying the Table at a recipe testing day at Nelles Manor Museum in Grimsby, Ontario. I’ll be teaching 3 open hearth cooking classes on July 28 & 30 at Nelles Manor and as of today, there are still tickets available for all three classes. Contact Nelles Manor at info@nellesmanor.ca or 289 – 235 – 7755 to reserve your spots

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Rhubarb and Banana Fool

Rhubarb and Banana Fool

One evening recently, I found myself driving home from visiting my Mom with a small harvest of fresh rhubarb from her garden in the passenger seat. Basically as soon as I set foot in my door, I searched for a historic rhubarb recipe that wasn’t Rhubarb Jam, Stewed Rhubarb or Rhubarb Pie (the things I do for fun!). Rhubarb and Banana Fool, from the 1900 cookbook Mrs. Beeton’s Cold Sweets, was the most intriguing to me.

A good description of this recipe in today’s terms would be a low-sugar banana and rhubarb smoothie, with a suggested whipped cream topping. Discovering the Rhubarb and Banana Fool recipe made me wonder: “When did people start eating bananas in North America?”, so I delve into answering that question by having a look at American and Canadian cookbooks and the establishment of the Boston Fruit Company. You’ll also find a bit of bonus info about Cochineal, an insect used as a red dye.

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Chicken with Chili

Chicken with Chili

If you ask me over to your house to babysit, I will snoop in your kitchen while your baby sleeps and search for old cookbooks. That’s where I found The Hundred Menu Chicken Cookbook from 1972, which has the tagline “One-pot chicken recipes that are easy-to-make and a treat to serve” and boasts that it contains recipes from over 20 countries.


Chicken with Chili is a warming full-flavoured chicken dish that would be an excellent slow-cooker recipe. I was intrigued by Chicken with Chili because it claimed to be an Ethiopian recipe and I was skeptical about how accurate it would be, but it turns out that it is reasonably similar to Doro Wat! A couple of ingredients that are typically served in Doro Wat are missing and the traditional spices have been substituted for spices that would have been found in the kitchens of most American families in 1972. What you end up with Chicken with Chili is an echo of Doro Wat without the spicy heat.

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Icing for Cake

Icing for Cake

Icing for Cake saved the day when I had about 5 dozen bland Ammonia Cakes that needed some extra pizzazz! Both Ammonia Cakes and Icing for Cake are found in the 1898 The New Galt Cookbook, which is a community cookbook compiled not far from where I grew up and where I live today. Icing for Cake is a simple white sugar and milk icing that hardens within minutes and you could drizzle it on cakes, cookies, donuts or squares.

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Ammonia Cakes

Ammonia Cakes

Ammonia Cakes: probably the least appetizing cookie name that I’ve ever come across. These cakes use ammonium bicarbonate (baker’s ammonia) as the leavening agent and I assure you that they don’t taste like ammonia, but they will temporarily stink up your kitchen while they bake! Ammonia Cakes fall on the bland side of the cookie spectrum, so I was lucky to find the recipe Icing for Cake in the same recipe book and I iced them the next day.

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Soda Bread

Soda Bread

Baking Soda Bread is a shortcut to eating fresh baked bread when you’re short on time. You’ll be spreading butter on a warm bread slice in about an hour and a half! This Soda Bread recipe, from the 1861 Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, is a favourite of mine because it produces a more moist and less dense soda bread than most recipes that I’ve tried. Soda bread doesn’t have the longevity of risen breads, so it will be toast (literally) sooner than later.

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Scalloped Turnips

Scalloped Turnips

I wanted to prepare one last root vegetable recipe before the greens & herbs start popping up here in Ontario, and I thought I'd turn to a local 1898 cookbook: The New Galt Cook Book. Galt is a town which is now part of Cambridge, Ontario and it's also close to where I grew up and where I live now in Hamilton. Scalloped Turnips is an interesting twist on scalloped potatoes. The turnips provide additional flavour to the dish, and it is creamy but also light because the sauce uses a butter & flour roux and the cooking water from the turnips instead of a white bechamel sauce.

Coincidentally, I had this recipe selected and the turnips purchased before I knew that cooking at an event using recipes from The New Galt Cook Book was even a possibility! I'll be preparing food from this cookbook for a Victorian Tea at the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario on May 18th, and Food Historian Carolyn Blackstock will be speaking about her year-old journey making a recipe a day from The New Galt Cook Book.

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Cheese Hooies

Cheese Hooies

One year ago today, on March 31st, I hit the "Publish" button for the first time and put out my first Food History blog recipe for the world to see and taste. I selected Cayenne Cheeses, a scrumptious cheese biscuit, from the 1861 Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management because it has been one of my favourite historic recipes since I began working in Historic House Museums. They are very delicious, you should try them!

When it came to picking out a 1-year anniversary recipe, I knew right away that I’d make Cheese Hooies. When I first read this recipe in the 1965 Stillmeadow Cookbook by Gladys Taber, I saw the ingredient list (butter, cheese, flour, salt and cayenne pepper) and thought, "These Hooies are basically Cayenne Cheeses". Cheese Hooies haven't kicked Cayenne Cheeses off my favourite recipes list, but making them was interesting look at how a century changes a recipe.

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Chicken Terrapin

Chicken Terrapin

Chicken Terrapin, from the 1903 Good Housekeeping Everyday Cook Book, is a creamy and decadent casserole dish, perfect for using up leftover chicken. After selecting this recipe, my research began with the question "Why is this dish called Chicken TERRAPIN?" and quickly descended down a rabbit hole. Literally. Before beginning to piece together what I learned about Terrapin recipes, I had pulled my childhood copy of Alice in Wonderland off my bookshelf!

The chicken meat in this recipe is meant to take the place of Terrapin Turtle meat and I'll be delving into how one prepares Terrapin meat, the popularity of Turtle recipes, specialized Turtle Soup Tureens and the replacement of dishes featuring turtle meat with Mock Turtle recipes. I'll also explain the appearance of the Mock Turtle character in Alice in Wonderland, and why he is so melancholy in the story.

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