Having Dinner with Robert Jocelyn

I’ll have the Scollop of Oysters, hartychokes, cold lobster, and olive pudding! Winterthur has in their collections the Dinner Book of Robert Jocelyn, First Viscount of Jocelyn and one time Lord Chancellor of Ireland. The book includes drawings of his … Continue reading

Liquor Shopping in 18th Century New York

With all the cocktail goings-on currently, it’s worth a look back toward the 18th century processes being rediscovered and further riffed upon today. New York’s Vaux Hall Gardens were once located near Astor Place.   I did find this recipe … Continue reading

Transportation Tuesday: Fred Harvey Is Your Host

I just finished Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West by Stephen Fried (visit his website here). Combine my nerdiness for railroad nostalgia with food and you have my ideal 515 … Continue reading

Museum Monday: Lunch Hour at the New York Public Library

My mother’s favorite meal of the day is lunch. Usually those with a bent towards a particular meal time choose breakfast, but for Mom, it’s lunch. So when my parents came up to visit for the day, we went to … Continue reading

Devil’s in the Details – Deviled Eggs

Devilled eggs. A staple at my family’s picnics. A 1950s joke. A modern canvas for fine herbs and expensive vinegar. From boiling the eggs properly to prevent the olive green ring on the yolk, to preventing the tear of a … Continue reading

It’s Sunday – Make Whafles!

This eighteenth century spelling of waffles was too good not to share. From Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery (1747/1805): To Make Whafles One pound of sugar, one pound of flour, one pound of butter, half an ounce of cinnamon, … Continue reading

Asparagus – Time to Pickle

Asparagus season is drawing to a close, depending where you live. If you’ve reached your limit of fresh asparagus, and can’t possibly make any more asparagus soup, try Hannah Glasse’s recipe for pickled asparagus. From The Art of Cookery Made … Continue reading

Thoughts on the Winter Garden

I come from a gardening family, and at this time of year, I’m biding my time until garden season. My great grandfather was listed in the 1930 Census as “Superintendent” for an “Orchard Farm.” This was Mt. Pleasant Orchard on … Continue reading

Image

Welcome to The Still Room.

Barbara Fritchie Restaurant, Frederick MD, RL Fifield photo, 2009.

Conjuring the appearance of a 17th or 18th century Still Room yields a beautiful bounty of preserved foods for the grimness of winter, as well titillating sweetmeats. Here, harvests of the better months are sugared and salted, turning them into something more robust and intense. Fruits suspended in sugar, candies, a good tonic for darkening hair, and many a stringent spiced pickle issued forth from the Still Room. We might even get a little tipsy on quince brandy.

To make a fine Bitter.

Take an ounce of the finest Jesuit powder, half a quarter of an ounce of snake-root powder, half a quarter of an ounce of salt of wormwood, half a quarter of saffron, half a quarter of cochineal, put it into a quart of the best brandy, and let it stand twenty-four hours; every now and then shaking the bottle.

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, 1805 Alexandria VA, edition.

Lest you think this is a food preservation or home remedy blog, let me clarify my purpose. My Still Room is for the percolation of past thoughts, wants, and the daily coincidence in the street. I’m pulling these stories into the Still Room for preservation and sharing with my friends. So my earthenware crocks are labeled many a different thing. I’m a Museum Collections Manager in a New York area museum, so museums and collections care will be widely talked about. Some other topics dear to my heart are historic preservation, transit, food and foodways, textiles and costume, women’s history and reproductive rights, general social history, indentured and enslaved servants, road trips, living history, and genealogy. A bit of original fiction and poetry might trickle in from time to time. I live a liberal arts life.

One note: still rooms of the past served as workshops for home remedy making. While  canning, domestic history, and agricultural history are certainly my thing, homeopathy and home remedies certainly are not. Many people over the centuries have struggled to bring us the wonder that is science – if you are sick, please see a medical doctor. If you want to read about some slices of life, stick with The Still Room.

Perhaps you’ll find a little of this and that to catch your fancy in this blog. Not everyone is a fan of pickles or cares for raisin wine, but perhaps a little from this jug or that pot will suit. I hope to hear your ideas. Don’t forget a caraway comfit on your way out.