My grandmother Sylvia taught me to make pie crust using the Crisco Single Crust recipe printed on the label. This recipe is included in Crisco’s American Pie Celebration, from the Szathmary Recipe Pamphlets collection. Because I have a penchant for oversized pies, I tripled the recipe and cut the dough in half for top and bottom crusts, ensuring there was no difficulty rolling the dough to fit.
Feeling overwhelmed by the more than 20,000+ cookbooks from 1498 to the present day, thousands of recipe pamphlets, and multitudes of handwritten cookbooks?
Sample an item from a tasting menu.
Just stop by the Reading Room on the 3rd floor of the Main Library and order up a culinary item to browse from one of these choices:
Thank you to all who attended last week’s first meeting of the Historic Foodies! For those of you who missed the meeting, Kathrine’s Moermond from the Old Capitol Museum told tales of tracking down the variations of Marlborough Pudding. I’ve included her account here and hear her tell some of the tale on this week’s episode of Talk of Iowa!
Marlborough Pudding or Pie
I happened across the recipe as I was looking through Alice Electa Pickard’s recipe book that dates back to 1868 (page 49). I love to look for new dessert recipes and this one intrigued me because of its unusual name and simple ingredients. Sure enough, the pie I found to be a traditional Thanksgiving dessert and its praise was beaming on the Old Village Sturbridge Village website where if you’re looking for traditional New England Turkey Day recipes, this would be place to find them. But, I was intrigued. Marlborough Pie is very English, calling for nutmeg, lemon, and apple. And, were some of the Pilgrims yearning for the mother land when preparing and serving this pie? The recipe listed on the website called for a slightly different preparation and a few different ingredients. So, I just had to make both.
Marlborough Pie, Alice Electa Pickard, 1868
My first attempt at making Alice’s recipe was exuberant and exciting and I think I took things a little too fast. I had consulted another recipe online though that recommended grating the apples directly into the batter as to prevent browning, so that’s what I did. I also had the hunch to melt the butter first before blending. I prepared the all butter crust first though with a recipe from Sarah Josepha Hale’s book, Early American Cookery, 1841. I then prepped the ingredients, using a cheap chardonnay for the wine and large brown organic eggs. Since she said “spice to taste”, I took the liberty of using freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger as well. I then grated the apple into the mix, stirred, and then placed it in the “undercrust” and then into the oven. Since she does not reference a temperature, I went for a reliable 350 Fahrenheit and checked it at 35 minutes. And, it turned out just right. Or, so I thought. Soon after cutting into it I realized the egg had separated from the apple and there were two distinct layers. The taste was great, but I thought that this might not be the end goal.
1st attempt at Alice’s recipe
The following evening I attempted to make Alice’s version again and the Old Sturbridge Village version. The Old Sturbridge Village version is a modern adaptation of Amelia Simmons’ version from 1796 and includes stewed apples, lemon, cream, sherry, and two teaspoons of grated nutmeg. Spicy! In hopes to save time, I stewed the apples for the new recipe first and prepared the filling for Alice’s recipe. I then made the crusts for each and then put the new recipe together. I baked the new one first and Alice’s second. In my timely preparation for both pies, I did not realize that this actually was the key to Alice’s recipe, let the filling do some blending in the bowl before you bake it.
Old Sturbridge Village pie (left) and Alice’s pie (right).
As I sliced into the second attempt at Alice’s pie I let out a sigh of relief, it wasn’t in two layers! I realized then that all that time it sat waiting to place in the oven probably helped to make the ingredients blend happily with one another. Then, I cut open the second and I noticed the texture was much different, almost more of a cooked applesauce custard. In the Old Sturbridge Village recipe I had only used one teaspoon of grated nutmeg. However, it was still very alive with nutmeg, and with sherry. Both turned out to be very tasty, but I have to give my props to Alice’s recipe. It didn’t call for lemon, probably too expensive at the time to include, and it was very basic with great results. The texture of the pie hints to apple, but along with the eggs and butter, comes together to make a lovely and delicate dish.
I like Alice’s recipe so much that I’m sharing it with boyfriend’s family for their Thanksgiving!
Next meeting: Tuesday, December 11 at 6PM. Our theme for next month is holiday recipes and cookies so find a recipe from DIY History or the Szathmary printed cookbooks in Special Collections and bring a story of your success or failure, and photos of your dish as well as a sample to share! We’ll start the meeting with hands-on time to explore the handwritten manuscripts from the Szathmary Culinary Collection and tours of the collection.
This morning I was a guest on Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa program, where we discussed Thanksgiving recipes, cookbooks, and traditions. You can listen to an archived version of the program here. Below are links to some of the items from Special Collections that were discussed on the show.
Szathmary Culinary Manuscripts: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cookbooks
DIY History: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu
Mary Shelton, Dec. 7, 1865 (1865-12-07): http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cwd/id/4275
Thomas Rescum Sterns from a letter home dated Nov. 28, 1862: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cwd/id/15325
Below are a few other Thanksgiving-food related images from the Szathmary collection:
The Thanksgiving table , from the Pennsylvania Cookbook: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/transcribe/scripto/transcribe/120/7344
Turkey, from the Pennsylvania cookbook, 1889: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/transcribe/scripto/transcribe/120/7352
James Doak cookbook: The Art of Cookery, circa 1760s, Turkey recipe: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/transcribe/scripto/transcribe/116/7052
James Doak cookbook: The Art of Cookery, circa 1760s, Sauce for a Boild Turkey: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/transcribe/scripto/transcribe/116/7074
Ginger Cakes, 1840s (page 24): http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cookbooks/id/2865
Of course carving the fowl is often one of the most challenging steps of the Thanksgiving meal. Look no further than this copy of Pierre Petit’s carving manual of 1647, which has been extensively modified with manuscript additions and drawings:
Want to make historic recipes? Or how about reading handwriting, converting measurements, recreating historic cooking implements, food photography, or writing and blogging?
300+ years of handwritten cookbooks with thousands of recipes from Chef Louis Szathmary’s culinary collection from Special Collections & University Archives are now online in DIY History, the newest transcription project from the University of Iowa Libraries. Helpful people around the world are trying to puzzle out what the handwriting says. But is that where it ends? Unlike letters, diaries, or even menus, recipes are not done even what you can read what it says. They are instructions just calling out to be tested to bring a slice of history back to life one piece of hardtack at a time.
Sound interesting? Come to the first meeting and have a voice in determining what the group should be.
If you can’t make the meeting but want to be in the loop, e-mail colleen-theisen @ uiowa dot edu to be added to the e-mail list.
Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
PS-Z, 120 N. Dubuque St.
(3 blocks north of PS1, on the lower level of the Wesley Center)