Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Miss Corson Cooks.

Today, March 13th …

Miss Juliet Corson was born in 1841, and became a librarian when her stepmother insisted she earn her own living at the age of sixteen. Her poor pay and conditions (she had to sleep at the library) gave her a great insight into the difficulties women faced when they had to join the workforce and in particular she developed a great sympathy for the poor.

In the early 1870’s she became involved in the Women's Educational and Industrial Society of New York which offered vocational training for women – and one of the few acceptable occupations was domestic work. In spite of not having any training in it herself she was asked to teach cookery – so she taught herself from books. She must have been a very quick learner and had a natural gift for cooking, because in the space of a few years it was suggested that she open a school.

The school opened in 1876 and had a sliding scale of fees, so that it was affordable for any student. On this day in 1877 she went one better and opened a new department to provide free lessons in “plain cooking” to the daughters and wives of working men. The venture was a success, and Miss Corson became the supreme champion of good nutrition and frugal cookery for the poorer folk.

In August of 1877 she published at her own expence a small book called Fifteen Cent Dinners for Families of Six, which gave suggested bills of fare and recipes for each day for a week. She allowed charitable organisations to distribute the book free of charge to the “families of workingmen earning less than One Dollar and Fifty Cents, or less, per day”.

The suggested Tuesday menu from her book was:

Breakfast: Broth and bread 10c.
Dinner: Baked Beans 10c
Supper: Macaroni with Cheese 12c.

The dishes will cost a little more to make today, but here are the recipes anyway:

Baked Beans.

Put one pint of dried beans, (cost six cents,) and quarter of a pound of salt pork, (cost four cents,) into two quarts of cold water; bring them to a boil, and boil them slowly for about twenty minutes, then put the beans, with about a teacupful of the water they were boiled int, into an open jar, season them with salt and pepper to taste, and one tablespoonful of molasses, (cost of seasoning one cent, ) lay the pork on the top, and bake two hours, or longer. The dish will cost about ten cents, and is palatable and nutritious. The liquor in which the beans were boiled should be saved, and used next morning as broth, with seasoning and a little fried or toasted bread in it.

Macaroni with Cheese.
Boil half a pound of macaroni, as above, put into a pudding dish in layers, with a quarter of a pound of cheese (cost four cents), grated and mixed between the layers; season it with pepper and salt to taste; put a very little butter and some bread crumbs over it, and brown it in the oven. It will make just as hearty and strengthening a meal as meat, and will cost about twelve cents.

Tomorrow's Story ...

The Authentic Waldorf Salad.

A Previous Story for this Day …

Military Ice-Cream was the topic for the day.

Quotation for the Day …

Cooking is one of the oldest arts and one which has rendered us the most important service in civic life. Brillat-Savarin.

No comments: