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.

References:

Food. (2020). Oven Temperature. Retrieved from www.food.com/about/oven-temperature-528

Miss McClary’s Candies and Such

By Muriel Bristol | April 25, 2019

Miss M. Emilie McClary taught French, mathematics, and science at Milton’s Nute High School in 1899-1902. She was one of Miss Benson’s successors. (She worked with Nute principals Arthur T. Smith and Arthur D. Wiggin). After her time here, she returned to her hometown of Malone, NY.

Her mother, Mrs. Martin E. McClary (Patience (Ford) McClary), belonged to the Women’s Aid Society of the First Congregational Church of Malone, NY. The Women’s Aid Society published The Malone Cookbook in 1908, likely as a fundraiser. Mrs. McClary was one of its editors.

The cookbook included five recipes submitted by her daughter, Emilie McClary, Milton’s quondam teacher. (Then teaching Latin at Wellesley College).


Cucumber Boats. Pare medium-sized cucumbers and cut through the center lengthwise and scoop out the seeds; place in a pan ice water until ready to serve. Prepare a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, cut in small cubes, with cream dressing No. 1 and fill boats with the salad just before serving and garnish with nasturtiums –  Emilie McClary

Dressing is very much a matter of taste. The Cream Dressing No. 1 mentioned may be found  on Page 99 of the Malone Cookbook (in the References below). Nasturtium flowers are edible. They might be used as an edible garnish, as Miss McClary suggests here, or even appear in the salad itself.


Panned Oysters. Place oysters in the dish with a tablespoon of butter and a little salt. Cover closely and light the lamp. Stir occasionally and when the oysters are plump and the gills curled they are ready to serve. One-half cup of thick sweet cream may be poured over them if desired before taking up. – Emilie McClary

The “dish” of which she spoke was a chafing dish and the lamp its heat source. (This may be compared with the Milton Mills Oyster Fritters Recipe of 1895).


Peppermint Drops. One cup of sugar, a very little water, boil until it hairs. Remove from the stove, add a pinch of cream [of] tartar and three drops of oil of peppermint, stir until the mixture begins to whiten. Drop with a spoon on buttered paper. Wintergreen oil may be used instead of the peppermint, and cochineal may be used to color them pink. – Emilie McClary

In the absence of a candy thermometer, the temperature might be tested by dropping a bit in cold water. At 235° F, it should form a soft ball; at 260° F, it should form a hard ball; at 300° F, it should form a brittle strand or “hair.” Therefore, it might be said that the mixture “hairs” at 300° F.

(Similar period recipes sometimes go on to dip the resulting drops in melted chocolate The results would be not unlike commercially available Junior Mint peppermint patties).


Miss McClary’s own alma mater was Wellesley College, from which she received her B.A. with the class of 1899. (She also taught there).

College Candy. Two cups of maple or brown sugar, one-third of a cup of sweet cream, one half pound of English walnuts. Boil the sugar and cream until it forms a ball when dropped in water, stirring constantly. Remove from the stove and add the walnuts chopped fine; stir until the mixture begins to whiten, turn into pans and when cold cut into squares. – Emilie McClary

As seen in the Peppermint Drops recipe just above, a soft ball temperature would be about 235° F (and a hard ball might be expected at about 260° F).


Salted Almonds. Shell the nuts and pour boiling water over them; let them stand in the water a minute or two, then throw them into cold water, and rub between the hands. To every cupful add one even tablespoon of melted butter and let stand a while. Sprinkle with a level teaspoon of salt. Place in a moderately hot oven and bake until brown, stirring occasionally, then place on brown paper. Peanuts may be salted in the same way. – Emilie McClary

Other spices or flavorings might be added (or substituted for some of the salt), in the same manner that baked pumpkin seeds are flavored. For example, Sriracha is popular these days.


These are not Milton recipes, as such, but they are recipes of one of Milton’s early high school teachers. For the most part, the Nute principals and teachers all lived within walking distance of the Nute High School, either on School Street or on “the Farmington road” (now Elm Street). It might be that she served some of these dishes at social gatherings there.

Just imagine if we had also some recipes of Miss Terrill, who taught home economics at the University of Chicago and the University of Vermont.


References:

Wikipedia. (2019, April 20). Tropaeolum [Nasturtium]. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropaeolum

Women’s Aid Society. (1908). The Malone Cookbook. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=dTI2AQAAMAAJ

Durgin-Park Restaurant Closes

By Muriel Bristol | March 25, 2019

Boston’s famous Durgin-Park restaurant closed its doors for the last time on Saturday, January 12, 2019, after nearly two hundred years (founded in 1827). I heard about it recently from a friend that lives in Boston.

Durgin-Park occupied an upstairs location in the northern row of buildings at the Quincy Marketplace. It was known for its communal seating at long tables, and its menu of what might be called traditional “Yankee” food: cornbread, seafood, chowders, broiled meats, Boston baked beans, boiled dinners, apple pie (and cheese), and Indian pudding. Even spruce gum for afters.

There were and are many fine ethnic restaurants in Boston and New England, but only Durgin-Park presented traditional Yankee cuisine so authentically and so thoroughly.

I have (from an older relative) one of their postcard-like handouts from some forty-five years ago, which featured their recipes for Boston Baked Beans, Baked Indian Pudding; Tea Cake, Blueberry Cake, and Cornbread; and Old-Fashioned Apple Pie.

I will here reproduce, as a sort of tribute, the Durgin-Park recipe for Tea Cake, Blueberry Cake, and Cornbread, which all shared a common base.


TEA CAKE, BLUEBERRY CAKE, AND CORN BREAD

For Tea Cake:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups milk

Mix sugar with beaten eggs. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add melted butter and milk. Beat up quickly and bake in a large buttered pan in a very hot oven. This makes one large pan, which will cut into 21 squares.

For Blueberry Cake, add one cup blueberries last.

For Corn Bread, substitute one cup granulated yellow corn meal for one of the three cups of flour.


One may notice that, as with the Milton Cookies of 1895-96, no specific temperature or time is given. You are supposed to just know that. For those that do not, a modern oven temperature of 400° might be taken to be a “very hot oven,” and a baking time of about ½ hour should be about long enough, but keep an eye on it. A 9″x14″ baking dish of 3″ depth would be about the right size.

Should there be sufficient interest, I am prepared to reproduce one or all of the other Durgin-Park recipes from the handout also.

Meanwhile, if you ever find yourself in need of lunch in Boston, Jacob Wirth’s German Restaurant (founded 1868) offers a not too dissimilar experience, except with German food instead of Yankee food. You might drown your sorrow over the loss of Durgin-Park in a nice Hefeweizen beer.

References:

Boston Globe. (2019, January 4). Durgin-Park, a Faneuil Hall Stalwart, Closes after Almost 200 Years. Retrieved from www.boston.com/food/restaurants/2019/01/04/durgin-park-a-faneuil-hall-stalwart-closes-after-almost-200-years

Forbes. (2019, January 10). After 192 Years, Boston’s Iconic Durgin-Park Restaurant Serves Its Last Meal. Retrieved from www.forbes.com/sites/julietremaine/2019/01/10/after-192-years-bostons-iconic-durgin-park-restaurant-serves-its-last-meal

Wikipedia. (2019, March 4). Durgin Park. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durgin-Park

Milton Cookies of 1895-96

By Muriel Bristol | December 14, 2018

Mrs. N.W. and P., of Milton, NH, corresponded with the True and Tried Cooking column of the Boston Globe in 1895 and 1896. They submitted recipes of their own as well as making requests for those of others.

I have transcribed below their cookie and drop-cake recipes, which might be fun to try over the holidays. (Cakes and other things might follow sometime). The recipes are mostly just lists of ingredients with little or nothing in the way of instructions. Why waste space on instructions when everybody and their mother knows what to do? I have supplied some general parameters from other sources.

These women were using wood-fired ovens or chimney-side ovens. There were no temperatures settings. They had to guess the temperature and manage it, by stoking the oven with wood kindling. The temperature could be assessed by gauging how long one could keep one’s hand in the oven. Yikes!

A few of these recipes guide their user somewhat by suggesting a “rather quick” oven or a “quick” oven. A “quick” oven temperature is said have been in the 400° to 425° range. Lower temperatures and longer times tend to produce thinner, crisper cookies (and need wider spacing), while higher temperatures and shorter times tend to produce thicker, softer cookies. No times were given.

Modern cookie recipes tend to fall more to the 350° to 375° range, with times of between 8 and 11 minutes (larger cookies requiring more time). One imagines a “quick” oven would require less time. Good luck.

Cookies

Newport Cookies. One egg, 1½ cups of sugar, ⅔ cup of butter, ½ cup of sweet milk. 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of chopped raisins, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt to taste. Drop out in teaspoon and bake. Mrs. N.W. Wilton [Milton], N.H. (Boston Globe, April 7, 1895).

Mama’s Molasses Cookies. In looking over some February papers I saw where a lady in Sanford, Me, asked for my mama’s molasses cookies. One cup of molasses, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of sour milk, 1 cup of shortening. 1 small tablespoon of saleratus, ginger and salt to taste. My mama uses a coffee cup. These cookies are very nice, and will keep as long as you wish. Mix with pastry flour. All cookies should be made of it. Nine-Year-Old. Ayer. (Boston Globe, April 19, 1895).

Saleratus was the precursor to baking soda.

Spice cookies for M.J.B. – One cup of sugar, ½ cup of butter, ½ cup of milk, 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of currants, 1 teaspoon of soda, spice of all kinds. Cheap marble cake – Two eggs, 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup of shortening, ½ cup of milk, 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of soda. Take ½ the above. and add 2 tablespoons of molasses and spice of all kinds. and marble the two kinds together in the tin. Milton. N.H. Mrs. N.W. (Boston Globe, May 9, 1895).

Cocoanut Cookies. One egg, 1 cup of sugar, ⅓ cup of butter, 1 cup of cocoanut, 2 tablespoons of sweet milk, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon of soda. Mrs. N.W. Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, May 12, 1895).

Date Cookies. If Mrs. N.W. will make date cookies like this recipe, I think she will find them nice: One large cup of dates, stoned and cut in small pieces, 1 cup of sugar, 1 egg, little salt, ⅔ cup of butter or lard, or half of each, little cinnamon and nutmeg, ½ teaspoon of vanilla, 2 cups of flour sifted together with 1 teaspoon of soda and 2 of cream of tartar; then add ½ cup of sweet milk or water; use more flour if needed, roll quite thin and bake in rather quick oven. South Berwick. (Boston Globe, May 15, 1895).

Sugar Cookies. Two eggs, 2 full cups sugar, large, 1 cup butter, ½ cup milk, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon soda. Flour to roll stiff. Currants may be rolled lightly on the dough, and are very nice. P. Milton. N H. (Boston Globe, July 12, 1896).

Drop Cakes

Newton Puffs. One cup of molasses. 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of sugar, 4 cups of flour, ½ cup of butter and lard mixed, scant teaspoon of soda, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, scant measure, salt to taste; mix the ingredients all together at once. adding soda last; drop in great spoonfuls in a pan a little way apart, and bake. Children like these very much. Mrs. H. C. L. North Weymouth. (Boston Globe, February 22, 1895).

Vanilla Drop Cakes. A cup of sugar and ¼ cup of butter, creamed together; 1 egg well beaten, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, 10 tablespoons of sweet milk, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon of soda. 2½ cups of flour. Drop out in teaspoonfuls on a biscuit tin and bake in a quick oven. Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, April 7, 1895).

Sponge Drops. Three eggs; beat the whites to a stiff froth. add yolks, 1 cup of sugar, and a heaping cup of flour, into which 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar and ½ teaspoon of soda are mixed. Flavor and drop on buttered tin sheets, three inches apart. Bake instantly. Please try and report. Mrs. N.W. Wilton [Milton], N.H. (Boston Globe, April 11, 1895).

Recommendations

I tried Mrs. N.W.’s sponge drops, and found them very nice, also L.B.S.’s sponge ginger bread, which was splendid. Minnie M. Arlington Heights. (Boston Globe, April 28, 1895).

All of The Globe recipes which I have tried have been nice. Among them are orange pie by Mrs. F.H.C., May’s silver cake, which is lovely; cream pies by M.L.G., molasses chewing candy by N., banana pudding by Mrs. E.M.H., and molasses cookies by Nine-Year-Old. Milton, N.H. Mrs. N.W. (Boston Globe, May 9, 1895).

Questions and Answers. Will the lady from Rockland (I think) please send recipe for molasses cookies that called for 1 pint of molasses boiled 15 minutes? I have misplaced it, and would like it, as they were the best I ever ate. P. Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, January 5, 1896).

And, for those that might want to go professional:

Female Help Wanted. WANTED – To pay $1 per day for first-class cook, steady job. Milton hotel, Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, June 29, 1896).

 

Milton Mills Oyster Fritters Recipe of 1895

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | November 4, 2018

The following recipe was published in the Boston Globe in 1895. It was submitted by Mrs. J.L. of Milton Mills, NH.


Oyster Fritters

Take 25 oysters, 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 dashes of black pepper, 2 cups of flour, ½ teaspoon of baking powder; 

Drain the oysters and strip them with your fingers to remove any pieces of shell;

Chop them fine and beat them all together until light;

Add to them the milk, then the flour and salt until perfectly smooth;

Add the oysters free from all liquor and the baking powder;

Drop by spoonfuls in hot fat;

When light brown, take out and put on a piece of paper in a dish.

Some one please try these; they are delicious.

Milton Mills, N.H. Mrs. J.L.


The original was printed as a single paragraph. It is here broken into lines at the semi-colons for readability.

There seemed to be only one candidate with the right initials in Milton Mills Village in the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census.

That would have been Mrs. Jennie N. (Stevens) Lovering. She was born in Brookfield, NH, circa 1865, daughter of Plummer G. and Lydia Stevens. She married in Milton, March 13, 1895, George S. Lovering. She died in Milton, NH, March 26, 1901, aged only thirty-five years.

There were one or more fish stores in Milton Mills and J.U. Simes even once listed himself as selling oysters.


Answers. Of the many recipes I have taken from The Globe, I wish to thank, especially, Bertha of Melrose for soft gingerbread, A.M.K. of East Harwich for egg omelet, Mrs. J.L. of Milton Mills, N.H., for oyster fritters, and S.F.P. of Chelsea for graham gems. I have not the dates of the above, so cannot give them. Mrs. R.P.M. Lynn (Boston Globe, April 2, 1895).


References:

Boston Globe. (1895, February 14). Oyster Fritters. Boston, MA: Boston Globe.