While I was investigating the fashionable social event of the American 1890’s – the Chrysanthemum Tea – for yesterday’s post, I came across a reference to another social event of the time. This one was rather more spontaneous and decidedly less elegant – but no doubt a great deal of fun.
The article appeared in the Humboldt County Republican (and associated newspapers) on November 29, 1894, and the event was a “Mush and Milk Surprise Party.”
Lots of Fun.
Milk and mush surprise parties are popular a hundred miles to the southward. Those who make the party swoop down upon the subject of the surprise with a box of cornmeal and a jug of molasses. The mush is set to boil, the molasses is turned into taffy and abundantly pulled, cakes are baked, apples pared, and the mush is eaten along with fresh milk and rich cream. The mush and milk surprise furnishes a maximum of fun for a minimum of expenditure.
So far, I have not been able to find out any more about these fun-sounding events, but if you have heard of them, I would love to know.
There are many recipes for cornmeal mush in one form or another on this blog – far too many to link – but as cornmeal seems to have found its natural partners in milk and molasses, a few more recipes wont be a waste of time, methinks. From a wartime edition of the Newark Advocate (August 24, 1918) here are some choices.
Here are three good conservation puddings which take no wheat and no sugar. They are made chiefly out of milk, cornmeal, and molasses.
Indian Pudding: Five cups milk, 1/3 cup cornmeal, ½ cup molasses, 1 teaspoonful salt, 1 teaspoonful ginger.
Cook milk and meal in a double boiler 20 minutes; add molasses, salt, and ginger; pour into buttered pudding dish and bake two hours in a slow over; serve with cream.
This serves eight people.
Cornmeal and Fig Pudding: One cup cornmeal, 1 cup molasses, 6 cups milk (or 4 of milk and 2 of cream) 1 cup finely-chopped figs, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt.
Cook the cornmeal with four cups of the milk, add the molasses, figs, and salt. When the mixture is cool, add the eggs well-beaten. Pour into a buttered pudding dish and bake for three hours or more. When partly cooked add the remainder of the milk without stirring the pudding.
This serves eight or ten people.
Cornmeal and Apple Pudding: For the figs in the above recipe, substitute a pint of finely-sliced or chopped sweet apples.
This serves eight or ten people.
When I saw this title in my sidebar, I just couldn't resist popping in to see what you were up to. You did not disappoint, you never do:)
I am so intrigued by the thought of a “Mush and Milk Surprise Party.” What a hoot. I don't remember ever coming across a reference to it but if I do, I will certainly let you know. (I think I'll check through some early editions of American Cookery Magazine.)
Thank you so much for sharing, Janet. Good luck with your research...
I wish I knew anybody who would be delighted to have me descend on them with cornmeal and molasses, expecting them to eat cornmeal mush and make molasses candy. I love mush (and Indian Pudding!) and have always wanted to make molasses candy like I read about in Louisa May Alcott's "An Old-
Fashioned Girl" (minus the walnut shells).
The cornmeal-molasses puddings with figs and apples sound delicious. Funny; the one with figs in particular sounds like a real Southern U.S. dessert, as we use a lot of cornmeal and molasses and everybody's got a fig tree, but I never knew anyone who made anything like that -- Indian Pudding is a Northern dish.
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