I could not resist giving you the following piece from yesterday’s source, The Domestic Encyclopedia: Volume 2 (Philadelphia 1821.) It pays homage to pies and pottage, and has some advice on domestic frugality too.
After the various and successful experiments made by Count Rumford, and others, who have written on domestic economy, little novelty can be expected in this article; but at the present work might be considered as incomplete, without some information on this important subject, we have selected a few practical hints which appear to merit particular attention.
Dr. Lettsom has observed, ("Hints designed to promote Beneficence, Temperance, and Medical Science,") that pies are more advantageous than either roasted or boiled meat. This he illustrates by an account of a dinner, where eight persons were completely dined off a pye, consisting of 24 oz. of wheaten flour, 64 of mutton, and eaten with 8¼ oz. of bread; weighing in the whole 96¼ oz. while 60 oz. of mutton roasted, and eaten with 33 oz. of bread, weighing in the whole 93 ounces, dined only five of the same persons.
Milk pottage for labouring persons is far more wholesome than tea with bread and butter; and, if made after the following manner, is in many respects preferable to milk alone: Let equal quantities of milk and water be boiled up with a little oatmeal, which will break the viscidity of the milk, and be at the same time more easily digested than the latter in an undiluted state. Besides, oatmeal is a much warmer nourishment than wheaten flour, and agrees better with weak stomachs.
Potatoes, if properly boiled, are an excellent and nutritious food. Particular care ought to be taken that they be good, and nearly all of the same size; the larger and smaller ones should, therefore, be boiled separately. They must be washed clean, without paring, or scraping, and put into a pot with cold water, but not sufficient to cover them; for their own juice will supply the apparent deficiency. If the roots be of a larger size, as soon as they begin to boil, some cold water should be poured in, and occasionally repeated, till they are boiled through to the centre: otherwise they will crack and burst on the outside, while the inside will remain half raw. During the time of boiling a little salt should be added, and the slower they are cooked the better will be their flavour. As soon as potatoes are done, the water should be poured off, and the roots re placed over the fire, in order that their moisture may evaporate, and they become dry and mealy; in which state they may be served up, without being previously peeled. This method of boiling or stewing potatoes, is in every respect superior to that of steaming, as by the former process they may be dressed in a shorter time, and will retain no moisture.
Potatoes may be made into puddings, which will both prove an agreeable change of food, and be at the same time uncommonly nutritious. Dr. Lettsom directs 12 oz. of potatoes, boiled, skimmed, and mashed; one oz. of suet, and an equal quantity of milk and cheese, to be mixed together with boiling water to a due consistence, and baked. An ounce of red-herring may be occasionally substituted for the cheese, and will give the pudding a flavour which is relished by many.
Barley-broth is an wholesome and nourishing dish, which, as it may be made with almost every kind of garden vegetable, is never out of season. One pound of barley will give the consistence of pudding to one gallon of water, but it will require five hours boiling; a circumstance worth taking into the calculation. Onions, leeks, and parsley, generally constitute part of the ingredients, to which may be added cabbage, or greens, turnips, carrots, and peas. These are to be mixed with 4 quarts of water, 4 pounds of beef with the bones, 4 oz. of common barley meal, and stewed together for two hours, when the herbs may be added, being previously cut small, and likewise a small quantity of salt. The whole should then boil till it be tender, and the fat skimmed off or not, at pleasure. Onions or leeks should never be omitted.
There is another article of domestic economy which is usually classed under the name of Pottage, for the making of which we have subjoined one or two recipes:
1. Take3 lbs. of the sticking piece of beef, a part of the skin, or any coarse piece. Boil it in eleven quarts of water for two hours; then add a pound of Scotch barley, and boil it four hours longer, when 6 lbs. of potatoes may be added, and half a pound of onions, together with a small proportion of thyme, pepper, and salt. With these may be mixed other vegetables, and half a pound of bacon cut into small pieces. The whole should be boiled over a slow fire, that it may acquire a proper consistence. It will yield three gallons of excellent and nutritious pottage, and has been found amply sufficient for twenty soldiers, without bread; the nature of the food not requiring any The expense of this was a few years ago about 2d per head; but, at the present advanced price of provisions, would at least be double.
2. Take of beef 1 pound, potatoes 2 lbs., barley, one third lb. a similar quantity of onions, Together with a small proportion of salt and pepper, and 3 oz. of bacon. The whole expense of these ingredients will be about 18d. Let them be well boiled in a due quantity of water, and they will afford nutriment sufficient to dine and sup three persons without requiring either bread or beer.
Other tried recipes with a view to economy are: [numbering as in the article]
1. Beef stickings 1 lb. Scotch barley 1 lb., potatoes boiled 6 lbs., bacon, chopped small 8 oz.,onions 1 lb., pepper and salt, water 12 pints, produce 7 or 8 quarts. Cost 16d. sterl. in London.
1. Sheep's head and pluck, or ox cheek, barley 1 lb. potatoes boiled; 6lbs. onions; 1 lb. pepper and salt, bacon 4 oz., water 12 pints, produce 7 or 8 quarts. Cost 20 d. sterl.
2. Shin of beef with the bones, well mashed and broken, bacon 8 oz barley 1 ½ lb. potatoes, boiled; 8 lbs. onions; 2 lbs. pepper and salt, water 20 pints, produce 12 quarts. Cost 2s. 6s sterl.
Any scraps of bread may be added: also a few sweet herbs: the whole to be stewed gently during 2 hours in a close vessel, and only boiled the last half hour.
Admit at your table no new bread, which is equally extravagant and unwholesome; no rolls or muffins; no toast and butter, which is equally so; no buckwheat cakes; no pies and puddings, which demand the finest flour: let your bread be household bread: bake your own bread in winter; buy it in summer. 1 lb. flour will furnish rather more than 1 ¼ pound of bread, but if, as in summer, you have to make fire on purpose, the saving does not pay.
Remember, all fat and dripping may be made soluble in water, by means of flour. If your flour be not good, add about one ounce of common carbonate of magnesia to 10 lbs. of your flour. This takes away the sourness, makes it rise better, and makes it more wholesome. Half an ounce of pearl-ash would have the same effect, but it hurts the colour of the flour. If you have no magnesia or pearl ash, you may safely substitute common whiting. All soups should be eaten with small slices of bread toasted hard to promote mastication.
Messes, or pottages like these, are doubtless far preferable to the common dishes, consisting of fat bacon and cabbage, with which a considerable quantity of bread and beer are always consumed. Those who feel an interest in this useful enquiry, we refer to the “Reports of the Society for increasing the comforts, and bettering the condition of the Poor," where they will find the subject minutely discussed, and many gross, though common, errors in domestic economy ably exposed.