If They Were Calling it Old-Fashioned THEN…

Beauties from the indispensable White House Cookbook

I rarely endorse cookbooks, but this one is a must for any gourmand’s shelf. I know I can trust the book to give me good advice because, as the publishers say in their preface, “Every recipe has been tried and tested, and can be relied upon as one of the best of its kind” (p. iii). This is the book I consult whenever I’m wondering how To Roast Beef Heart (”wash it carefully and open it sufficiently to remove the ventricles, then soak in water until the blood is discharged…”, p. 119) or if I’m in the mood to make Baked Calf’s Head (the secret is to boil it first, then split it in half and bake it. For ideal presentation, bake only the better-looking half; dice the meat from the other half and fry the pieces in lard to present around the edge of the platter, [p. 127]).

Likewise, this comprehensive volume has taught me that to make Coffee, one must use “One full coffeecupful of ground coffee, stirred with one egg and part of the shell, adding half a cupful of cold water… pour onto it a quart of boiling water… [and] boil hard for ten or twelve minutes”(pp. 437-8). I don’t know why nobody had advised me of my coffee-making errors previously. I fell terrible about all the times I’ve slighted my guests by serving them a substandard brew.

I’ll never waste my money on store-bought vinegar again, now that former White House Steward (of the Cleveland and McKinley administartions) Hugo Ziemann has informed me of a great technique for Home-Made Table Vinegar: “Put in an open cask four gallons of warm rainwater, one gallon of common molasses, and two quarts of yeast; cover the top with thin muslin and leave it in the sun…” (p. 449). I’d never known it was so easy!
Perhaps the most useful advice for this time of year comes from White House Cookbook contributor Dr. B. I. Kendall of Enosburg Falls, VT, who advises us that “nearly every cold is contracted indoors, and is not due directly to the cold outside, but to the heat inside.” He warns us against starchy food and a warm bed: should a man be so brave to partake of such things, “if he doesn’t have a cold in the morning, it will be a wonder.” He advises us that, to avoid getting sick, we need to ventilate our rooms as we sleep “by simply opening the window an inch at the bottom and also at the top, thus letting the pure air in, the bad air going outward at the top.” And here I was wasting all my time trying to weather-proof my house. If I’d have read the good Dr.’s suggestions earlier, I wouldn’t have wasted my time.

Should you be so unlucky as to catch a cold from sleeping in your warm bed at night, the White House Cookbook is there for you with Molasses Posset. “This old-fashioned remedy for a cold is as effectual now as it was in old times. Put into a saucepan a pint of the best West India molasses, a teaspoonful of powdered white ginger and a quarter of a pound of fresh butter… simmer it slowly for half an hour, stirring it frequently. Do not let it come to a boil. Then stir in the juice of two lemons, or two tablespoonsful of vinegar; cover the pan and let it stand by the fire five minutes longer…. It is the preparation absurdly called by the common people a stewed quaker“(p. 503). Now that I’ve been corrected, I’ll never call it a stewed quaker again.

If these advices is what you seek for the ideal maintenance of your home and table, get the White House Cookbook today.

2 Responses to “If They Were Calling it Old-Fashioned THEN…”

  1. lindy Says:

    Just saw the reference to your blog with your squash article in the PG. Welcome to the (smallish) community of foodbloggers in the ‘burgh. I will be checking in with interest.

  2. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » Inauguration Doughnuts Says:

    [...] big to-do in Washington, D.C. today.  In honor of the occasion, I’ve reached into my copy of The White House Cookbook for a recipe that can be brought into modern times and enjoyed all [...]

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