Saturday, December 3, 2011

Vintage Viands

I've been on the vintage bandwagon concerning clothes and shoes it seems since even before my own mom was born, but my latest obsession with the old-fashioned comes in the form of my favorite domestic activity: cooking! I've been trying recipes straight from places like 1861's The Book of Household Management and Martha Washington's "Booke of Cookery," and I confess: Though a term like "a spoonfull of sack" doesn't translate to the modern kitchen, I sure get a kick out giving it my own interpretation and winging it when I have no idea what I'm doing! It truly adds to the fun, and using these antique recipes reminds me that cooking isn't a chore, but rather a long-standing tradition that women have typically enjoyed and excelled in. If you're brave enough to traverse the unknown like the English settlers did in the 1700s, I dare you to try a few vintage recipes yourself! Here's an easy one to get you started, from 1887's "The American Girls Handy Book: How to amuse yourself and others."


2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup of New Orleans molasses
2/3 cup of vinegar & water mixed
A piece of butter half the size of an egg.

When the candy hardens in cold water, pour into shallow buttered tins, and as soon as it is cool enough to handle, pull it until it is of a straw-color. Splendid!

"What in the world are they making? What but molasses candy! It is nearly done. It ought to be, after the boiling and the stirring that the girls in turn have given it. Finally, some one holds forward a pan of cold water. Dorothy, carefully dipping out a spoonful of the fragrant syrup, drops it into the water. It fizzes; it stiffens – hurrah! The candy is ready to be taken from the fire. Cool enough now…  They are pulling the candy already. Boys and girls in pairs, with hands daintily washed and greased, are taking soft lumps of the cooling mass, drawing them out into great, long, shining ribbons, doubling and drawing them out again until they get lighter and lighter in color, and finally the beautiful golden strands are declared ready for more artistic handling."
From : "Donald and Dorothy" by Mary Mapes Dodge.  St. Nicholas Magazine, 1882.

Photocredits from top to bottom:,

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