Farmington Recipes of 1879

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | October 7, 2020

The Farmington News, whose circulation included West Milton and Milton at any rate, published the following five recipes in its weekly issue of Friday, June 20, 1879. The cook was not credited.

CORN MUFFINS – Three cupfuls of corn meal, one cupful flour, one egg, one-half cupful of sugar, two teaspoonfuls of cream tartar and one of soda; add a piece of butter, size of an English walnut, and enough milk to moisten. Bake quickly.

Lemon juice, at double the cream of tartar amount, is regarded as a substitute for cream of tartar. For example, four teaspoons of lemon juice might be substituted for the two tablespoons of cream of tartar mentioned here.

Reference sources describe English walnuts as having a slightly oval shape and measuring 1½–2″ in diameter.

A “quick” oven temperature would be about 375-400º Fahrenheit. Modern recipes suggest 400º for the first ten minutes, followed by 375º for an additional ten to fifteen minutes or so. (Until a toothpick comes out clean).

SCOTCH SHORTBREAD – Rub together into a stiff short paste two pounds flour, one pound of butter and six ounces loaf sugar, make it into square cakes, about a half inch thick, pinch them all along the edge at the top; over the whole surface of the cakes sprinkle some white comfits; put the cakes on tins so as to touch each other on their edges, and bake in a slow oven.

Strictly speaking, Scotch is a drink, as in Scotch Whisky (uisge beatha), and Scottish would be the descriptive adjective attached to shortbread.

Loaf sugar was merely refined sugar that had been formed into a conical loaf in a mold. A comfit is a confection consisting of dried fruits, nuts, seeds or spices coated with sugar.

A “slow” oven temperature would be about 300º Fahrenheit. Modern recipes suggest 325º for 20-25 minutes. (Until the surface is lightly browned).

PICKLED CAULIFLOWER – Tear off the leaves from a head of cauliflower and cut the head apart at every stalk. Put the pieces into strong brine and let them stand twenty-four hours. Boil two ounces of mixed spices in a quart of cider vinegar; drain the cauliflower, put in jars and pour on the vinegar boiling hot. When cold, cover, and put away two weeks before using.

One modern recipe suggests teaspoons of coriander seeds and mustard seeds, and a ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds, for the mixed spices. Another suggests a spicier mix of jalapeño or habanero pepper, garlic, and lime juice.

The result might be preserved long-term through canning or bottling. Alternatively, the pickled cauliflower mix should steep for a couple of days in a refrigerator, and be eaten up from there within two weeks. Some suggest the addition of a few other vegetables, chosen for a pleasing mix of colors.

PICCALILLI – Soak a peck of green tomatoes for twenty-four hours in salt water. Chop them up quite fine, adding three or four green peppers, chopped, after removing the seed; mix them with a teacup of white mustard seed. Scald enough good vinegar to cover them, spicing it with pepper, cloves and allspice in a thin bag. Pour the vinegar upon the tomatoes. Tie up the mouth of the jar in which it is put away.

My father is quite fond of piccalilli as a condiment, although he uses “store-bought” piccalilli. This version might be canned or bottled, but its final step implies that it was expected to be used up quite quickly. I believe that is called “refrigerator canning,” i.e., it is expected to be used in the near future, rather than to sit on a shelf for an extended time.

A peck of tomatoes would be a quarter-bushel (or eight quarts) of them. That is the makings of a lot of piccalilli, unless one is an aficionado such as my father. One might reasonably halve or even quarter the amounts given.

CURRY OF COLD MEAT – Cut thin slices of cold roast beef into rather small pieces; slice thinly and fry an onion in about two tablespoonfuls of butter until nicely browned; then pour in as much good broth as required for the gravy; add a little salt and a tablespoonful of curry powder; let boil up and add the beef; stir constantly for ten minutes; make a border or wall of boiled rice around a dish and pour the meat and gravy in the center.

The beef broth might be thickened with a tablespoon of flour. Some modern recipes include also a small amount – say a ½ cup – of tomato sauce, or to substitute noodles for the rice. Others add in also small amounts of cloves, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, and red pepper.


Food. (2020). Oven Temperature. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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