Christmas Goose, Ham and Other Dinner Choices (Now with Figgy Pudding!)

 

Everybody knows the great scene at the end of "A Christmas Carol": Ebenezer Scrooge, reformed of his miserly nature, wishes to give the best, fastest gift he can imagine to the family of his downtrodden clerk Bob Cratchit, preferably one which will keep his crippled son Tiny Tim alive for awhile longer. What does he send them? A Christmas goose, of course.

The Civil War, whatever its ill effects may have been, was indisputably a historic high point in the creation of holidays. Thanksgiving as we currently practice it was being invented out of miscellaneous local legends and ethnic harvest festivals. Christmas, although perfectly well known, had gone through some ups and downs in America. The Puritans banished it altogether for having pagan influences and being an encouragement to indulgence and frivolity. In the mid 19th century it was undergoing the great transformation from just another solstice feast to the High Victorian end of year blowout we know today. Sure enough, the Puritans were right, and we now wallow in pagan influences and frivolity and just enjoy the heck out of it.

Dickens wrote of Ebenezer's redemption in 1843. The firm of Scrooge and Marley, however, was based in the heart of London. England had then, as it did for centuries, the greatest impact on American customs in all things. Rebellion, revolution, two wars and the passage of four score and some years had not yet cured the American psyche of the tendency to feel like raw colonials always eager to emulate the Mother Country.

One symptom of this can be seen in cookbooks. It was far from unusual for a book published in Great Britain to simply be republished on the other side of the Atlantic, possibly with a new title but always with a new "author's" name attached. Whether the original compiler or publisher received any recompense for this is difficult to tell from this side of the historic divide, but seems unlikely in most cases.

Then there was "The Cook's Oracle; and Housekeeper's Manual" which, after the lengthy subtitle customary for such things, was attributed to one William Kitchiner, M. D. This allowed publisher J & J Harper, of No. 82 Cliff-Street New York, to note on its 1832 printing that although it was "From the Last London Edition," the book had nevertheless been "Adapted to the American Public By a Medical Gentleman."

Slick, eh? They even claimed it contained "A Complete System of Cookery for Catholic Families," an interesting gimmick given the relative scarcity of Catholics in America at the time. (Despite the pitch, the "complete system" consists mainly of notes on recipes for fish and vegetable dishes that the items could be served on Fridays and other fast days, a point which observant Catholics could no doubt have deduced on their own without Dr. Kitchiner's assistance.)

We shall therefore explore primarily Dr. Kitchiner's recipes here, as they are likely to be the sort most typically used by the middle-to-upper class readers of the day. And even the poor, like Bob Cratchit, were more likely to indulge in a better meal on this day if it was the only one they got all year, unless their own personal Ebenezer Scrooge underwent a moral uplift.

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Dr. Kitchiner's Goose

When a goose is well picked [feathers removed], singed [pin feathers burned off by holding the bird over a small flame, usually gas], and cleaned [internal organs, feet, wingtips and head/neck removed], make the stuffing with about two ounces of onion*, and half as much green sage, chop them very fine, adding four ounces, i.e. about a large breakfast-cupful of stale bread-crumbs, a bit of butter about as big as a walnut, and a very little pepper and salt (to this some cooks add half the liver, parboiling it first), the yelk of an egg or two, and incorporating the whole well together, stuff the goose; do not quite fill it, but leave a little room for the stuffing to swell; spit it, tie it on the spit at both ends, to prevent its swinging round, and to keep the stuffing from coming out. From an hour and a half to an hour and three-quarters, will roast a fine full-grown goose. Send up gravy and apple sauce with it.

*If you think the flavour of raw onions too strong, cut them in slices, and lay them in cold water for a couple of hours, or add as much apple or potato as you have of onion.


Other Stuffings for Goose, Some with Recommended Gravy



Ham Stuffing #1

Make a stuffing of equal portions of minced onions, bread crumbs and grated ham season it with butter, salt, pepper and sage; make it moist with sweet milk, and work it together till it is well incorporated....

[Gravy]: Having boiled the heart and liver, mince them fine, and put them in the drippings, with a large spoonful of brown flour, and a few minced sage leaves; do not pour it round the goose, but serve it in a boat, and have upon the table apple sauce, or stewed peaches, and green peas or mashed potatoes.

Ham Stuffing #2

Prepare a goose as before directed, fill it with white potatoes, which have been boiled tender, mashed fine, and highly seasoned with salt, pepper, butter and cream.

[Gravy]: In the mean time, take some scraps or trimmings of fresh beef, or veal, stew them in a small quantity of water, till the gravy is extracted, strain the liquid into a clean sauce-pan, add to it two spoonfuls of butter, one of flour, two minced onions, a few minced sage leaves, a tea-spoonful of pepper, a grated nutmeg, a glass of port wine, and the giblets, which should be previously boiled and minced fine. When the goose is well done, serve it with apple-sauce and smoked tongue.

Both of the ham stuffings above are from Lettice Bryant's "The Kentucky Housewife" of 1839

HAM

Dr. Kitchiner was, it seems, no great fan of ham, or at least not of the product as it was usually produced and consumed in his day. It is here, however, that the underlying English origins of "his" book show through particularly clearly:

Though of the bacon kind [family], ham has been so altered and hardened in the curing, that it requires still more care.

Ham is generally not half-soaked; as salt as brine, and hard as flint; and it would puzzle the stomach of an ostrich to digest it.

The salt, seasoning, and smoke, which preserves it before it is eaten, prevent its solution after; and unless it be very long and very gently stewed, the strongest stomach will have a tough job to extract any nourishment from it. If it is a very dry Westphalia ham, it must be soaked, according to its age and thickness, from 12 to 24 hours; for a green Yorkshire or Westmoreland ham, from four to eight hours will be sufficient. Lukewarm water will soften it much sooner than cold, when sufficiently soaked, trim it nicely on the underside, and pare off all the rusty and smoked parts till it looks delicately clean.

Give it plenty of water-room, and put it in while the water is cold; let it heat very gradually, and let it be on the fire an hour and a half before it comes to a boil; let it be well skimmed, and keep it simmering very gently: a middling-sized ham of fifteen pounds will be done enough in about four or five hours, according to its thickness.

If not to be cut till cold, it will cut the shorter and tenderer for being boiled about half an hour longer. In a very small family, where a ham will last a week or ten days, it is best economy not to cut it till it is cold, it will be infinitely more juicy.

Pull off the skin carefully, and preserve it whole as possible; it will form an excellent covering to keep the ham moist; when you have removed the skin, rub some bread raspings through a hair-sieve, or grate a crust of bread; put it into the perforated cover of the dredging-box, and shake it over it, or glaze it; trim the knuckle with a fringe of cut writing-paper. You may garnish with spinage or turnips, &c.


Westphalia, Yorkshire and Westmoreland are of course towns or regions in England. Dr. K should have perhaps changed this to "Smithfield, New Orleans and Charleston hams" or just grabbed American town names at random to substitute here, but as it is a little late to criticize his editors on this point we will just snicker behind his back and press on.

As potatoes and "spinage"--better known today as spinach, and better appreciated by cartoon characters than diners raised on versions of the vegetable popular in the 1950s--are recommended, let's look at some treatments the good doctor suggests for these items:


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VEGETABLES

Wash them, but do not pare or cut them, unless they are very large. Fill a sauce-pan half full of potatoes of equal size (or make them so by dividing the larger ones), put to them as much cold water as will cover them about an inch: they are sooner oiled, and more savoury, than when drowned in water. Most boiled things are spoiled by having too little water, but potatoes are often spoiled by having too much: they must merely be covered, and a little allowed for waste in boiling, so that they may be just covered at the finish.

Set them on a moderate fire till they boil; then take them off, and put them by the side of the fire to simmer slowly till they are soft enough to admit a fork (place no dependence on the usual test of their skins' cracking, which, if they are boiled fast, will happen to some potatoes when they are not half done, and the insides quite hard.) Then pour the water off (if you let the potatoes remain in the water a moment after they are done enough, they will become waxy and watery), uncover the sauce-pan, and set it at such a distance from the fire as will secure it from burning; their superfluous moisture will evaporate, and the potatoes will be perfectly dry and mealy.

You may afterward place a napkin, folded up to the size of the sauce-pan's diameter, over the potatoes, to keep them hot and mealy till wanted.


Kitchiner is such a fan of potatoes that he provides no less than "Sixteen Ways of dressing Potatoes" in a convenient list. We will note here some of the more interesting ones. These all refer to white, or as they were known in the day "Irish" potatoes:



Potatoes Fried in Slices or Shavings

Peel large potatoes; slice them about a quarter of an inch thick, or cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth, and fry them in lard or dripping. Take care that your fat and frying-pan are quite clean; put it on a quick fire, watch it, and as soon as the lard boils, and is still, put in the slices of potato, and keep moving them till they are crisp. Take them up, and lay them to drain on a sieve: send them up with a very little salt sprinkled over them.



[You are now entitled to scoff, mock, and openly jeer at any replays of a recent special on the History Channel which claimed that "potato chips" were invented at a hotel in Syracuse, NY in the 1850s. Impress your friends with your superior knowledge!]


Potatoes Mashed

When your potatoes are thoroughly boiled, drain them quite dry, pick out every speck, and while hot, rub them through a colander into a clean stew-pan. To a pound of potatoes put about half an ounce of butter, and a table-spoonful of milk; do not make them too moist; mix them well together.

Potatoes Mashed with Onions

Prepare some boiled onions by putting them through a sieve, and mix them with potatoes. In proportioning the onions to the potatoes, you will be guided by your wish to have more or less of their flavour.

[Duh!]

[On a more constructive note though, we have tried this and found that it is somewhere between monstrously difficult and downright impossible to scrape a boiled onion across a grater, much less push it through a sieve. Use of a food chopper, processor or blender can be rationalized on the basis that people in the 19th century were crazy about kitchen gadgets and would no doubt have used such mechanical devices with great glee if they had had them, and places to plug them in.]


Spinage

Spinage should be picked a leaf at a time, and washed in three or four waters; when perfectly clean, lay it on a sieve or colander, to drain the water from it.

Put a large sauce-[an on the fire three parts filled with water, and large enough for the spinage to float in it; put a small handful of salt in it; let it boil; skim it, and then put in the spinage; make it boil as quick as possible till quite tender, pressing the spinage down frequently that it may be done equally; it will be done enough in about ten minutes, if boiled in plenty of water; if the spinage is a little old, give it a few minutes longer. When done, strain it on the back of a sieve; squeeze it dry with a plate, or between two trenchers; chop it fine, and put it into a stew-pan with a bit of butter and a little salt: a little cream is a great improvement, or instead of either some rich gravy [meat broth]. Spread it in a dish, and score it into squares of proper size to help [serve] at table. Grated nutmeg, or mace, and a little lemon-juice, is a favourite addition with some cooks, and is added when you stir it up in the stew-pan with the butter garnished.


See? No vinegar mentioned anywhere. This is often suspected as the source of the aversion many people have to cooked spinage...er, we mean "spinach." Try serving this if you have access to fresh spinach leaves; even if no one eats it you can take credit for nutritional virtuousness.


Colcannon

Boil potatoes and greens, or spinage, separately; mash the potatoes; squeeze the greens dry; chop them quite fine and mix them with the potatoes, with a little butter, pepper and salt; put it into a mould, buttering it well first; let it stand in a hot oven for ten minutes.

Green mashed potatoes? This is almost guaranteed to be a spectacular hit with either of two groups: dedicated foodies and young persons through early adolescence. Remember that the other use for spinach juice is as a very indelible dye for cloth and do not serve this if food fights are even remotely possible, unless all diners are naked.

Sweet Potatoes: A Footnote

Sweet potatoes, otherwise called Carolina potatoes, are the roots of the Convolvulus batatas, a plant peculiar to and principally cultivated in America. It delights in a warm climate, but is raised in Connecticut, New-York, and all the states of the Union south of New-York. It is an excellent vegetable for the dinner-table, and is brought on boiled. It has an advantage over common potatoes, as it may be eaten cold; and it is sometimes cut into thin slices and brought to the tea-table, as a delicate relish, owing to its agreeable nutritious sweetness.


Whatever you might think of Dr. K's cooking knowledge, he--or more likely his British source, since the dash in "New-York" is more a UK than US usage-- is right on the money with his taxonomy.

But back to food, specifically the vegetable courses:


Broccoli

Set a pan of clean cold water on the table, and a sauce-pan on the fire with plenty of water, and a handful of salt in it.

Broccoli is prepared by stripping off all the side shoots, leaving the top; peel off the skin of the stalk with a knife; cut it close off at the bottom, and put in into the pan of cold water.

When the water in the stew-pan boils, and the broccoli is ready, put it in; let it boil briskly till the stalks feel tender, from ten to twenty minutes; take it up with a slice [straining spoon], that you may not break it; let it drain, and serve up. If some of the heads of broccoli are much bigger than the others, put them on to boil first, so that they may get all done together.

Red Beet-Roots

Are not so much used as they deserve; they are dressed in the same way as parsnips, only neither scraped nor cut till after they are boiled; they will take from an hour and a half to three hours in boiling, according to their size. When young, large and juicy, it is a very good variety, an excellent garnish, and easily converted into a very cheap and pleasant pickle.

Parsnips

Parsnips are cooked in just the same manner as carrots ["Let them be well washed and brushed, not scraped. When done, rub off the peels with a clean coarse cloth, and slice them in two or four, according to their size"]. They require more or less time according to their size; therefore match them in size; and you must try them by thrusting a fork into them as they are in the water; when that goes easily through, they are done enough. Boil them from an hour to two hours, according to their size and freshness. Parsnips are sometimes sent up mashed in the same way as turnips, and some cooks quarter them before they boil them.

After parsnips are boiled, they should be put into the frying-pan and browned a little. Some people do not admire this vegetable, on account of its sickish sweetness. It is, however, a wholesome, cheap and nourishing vegetable, best calculated for the table in winter and spring. Its sweetness may be modified by mashing with a few potatoes.


We confess: we do not really expect very many of our readers to actually served parsnips at their Christmas dinner. We just had to include it to get the instructions on how to prepare the beets. Thus do we display our dedication to bringing you historic recipes in their precise original form. Be impressed.


SOUP

It would be a rather fancy party to have a separate soup course, but what the heck, here are a couple of the less complicated potages from Dr. Kitchiner's collection:



Winter Hotch-Potch

Take the best end of a neck or loin of mutton; cut it into neat chops: cut four carrots, and as many turnips into slices; put on four quarts of water, with half the carrots and turnips, and a whole one of each, with a pound of dried green pease, which must be put to soak the night before; let it boil two hours, then take out the whole carrot and turnip; bruise and return them; put in the meat, and the rest of the carrot and turnip, some pepper and salt, and boil slowly three-quarters of an hour; a short time before serving, add an onion cut small and a head of celery.

Cocky-leeky Soup

Take a scrag [neck] of mutton, or shank of veal, three quarts of water (or liquor in which meat has been boiled,), and a good-sized fowl, with two or three leeks cut in pieces about an inch long, pepper and salt; boil slowly about an hour; then put in as many more leeks, and give it three-quarters of an hour longer: this is very good, made of good beef-stock, and leeks put in at twice.

Carrot Soup

Scrape and wash half a dozen large carrots; peel off the red outside (which is the only part used for this soup); put it into a gallon stew-pan, with one head of celery, and an onion, cut into thin pieces; take two quarts of beef, veal or mutton broth...when you have put the broth to the roots, cover the stew-pan close, and set it on a slow stove for two hours and a half, when the carrots will be soft enough (some cooks put in a tea-cupful of bread-crumbs); boil for two or three minutes; rub it through a tamis, or hair-sieve, with a wooden spoon, and add as much broth as will make it a proper thickness; put it into a clean stew-pan, make it hot, season it with a little salt, and send it up with some toasted bread, cut into pieces half an inch square. Some put it into the soup, but the best way is to send it up on a plate, as a side-dish.



We take a vacation from our dedication to historical authenticity by omitting a lengthy discussion on broth-making from roasted meat bones. It is nearly impossible to find a soup recipe from this period that does not involve meat as an ingredient, if only in the form of broth, but if this were to be made with vegetable broth it would be a nice option for any non-meat-eating dinner guests.

CHEESES/APPETIZERS



Toast and Cheese

Cut a slice of bread about half an inch thick; pare off the crust, and toast it very slightly on one side so as just to brown it, without making it hard or burning it.

Cut a slice of cheese (good fat mellow Cheshire cheese, or double Gloster, is better than poor, thin, single Gloster) a quarter of an inch thick, not so big as the bread by half an inch on each side: pare off the rind, cut out all the specks and rotten parts, and lay it on the toasted bread in a cheese-toaster; carefully watch it that it does not burn, and stir it with a spoon to prevent a pellicle forming on the surface. Have ready good mustard, pepper and salt. If you observe the directions here given, the cheese will eat mellow, and will be uniformly done, and the bread crisp and soft, and will well deserve its ancient appellation of a "rare bit."


Dr. Kitchiner makes a joke here, as this recipe is quite identical to the one commonly known as "Welsh rarebit" or by the vulgar as "Welsh rabbit." Trust us, this is a real rip-snorter by the standards of the period. If you think cooking has changed a lot since the 19th century, try looking into their humor some time.



Pounded Cheese

Cut a pound of good mellow Cheddar, Cheshire, or North Wiltshire cheese into thin bits; add to it two, and if the cheese is dry three, ounces of fresh butter; pound, and rub them well together in a mortar till it is quite smooth. Spread on bread. N. B.: The piquance of this is sometimes increased by pounding with it curry powder, ground spice, black pepper, cayenne, and a little made mustard; and some moisten it with a glass of sherry. If pressed down hard in a jar, and covered with clarified butter, it will keep for several days in cool weather.


Pumpkin Chips

It is best to defer making this sweetmeat (which will be found very fine) till late in the season when lemons are ripe and are to be had in plenty. Pumpkins (as they keep well) can generally be procured at any time through the winter.

Take a fine pumpkin of a rich deep colour, pare off the outer rind; remove the seeds; and having sliced the best part, cut it into chips of equal size, and as thin as you can do them. They should be in long narrow pieces, two inches in breadth, and four in length. It is best to prepare the pumpkin the day before; and having weighed the chips, allow to each pound of them a pound of the best loaf sugar. You must have several dozen of fine ripe lemons sufficient to furnish a jill [note: 1 jill = 1/2 cup] of lemon-juice to each pound of pumpkin. Having rolled them under your hand on a table to make them yield as much juice as possible, grate off the yellow rind and mix it with the sugar. Then having cut the lemons, squeeze out all the juice into a pitcher. Lay the pumpkin chips in a large pan or tureen, strewing the sugar among them. Then having measured the lemon-juice in a wine-glass (two common wine-glasses making one jill) pour it over the pumpkin and sugar, cover the vessel, and let it stand all night.

Next day transfer the pumpkin, sugar and lemon-juice to a preserving kettle, and boil it slowly for an hour or more, or till the pumpkin becomes all through tender, crisp and transparent; but it must not be over the fire long enough to break and lose its form. You must skim it thoroughly. The chips should be so thin as to curl up at the ends. When you think it is done, take up the pumpkin chips in a perforated skimmer that the syrup may drain through the holes back into the kettle. Spread the chips to cool on large dishes, and pass the syrup through a flannel bag that has been first dipped in hot water. When the chips are cold, put them into glass jars or tumblers, pour in the syrup, and lay on the top white paper dipped in brandy. Then tie up the jars with leather, or with covers of thick white paper.

If you find that when cold the chips are not perfectly clear, crisp and tender, give them another boil in the syrup before you put them up.

This, if well made, is a handsome and excellent sweetmeat. It need not be eaten with cream, the syrup being so delicious as to require nothing to improve it. Shells of puff-paste first baked empty, and then filled with pumpkin chips, will be found very nice.



To use as appetizers these chips should probably be dried off enough to be handled without making diners' hands all gooey. Pack some up in jars as directed, though, as the batch looks like it should make enough that plenty will be left over, and they will serve as unique handmade gifts. This recipe is from Eliza Leslie's Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery, 1853

DESSERTS

We promised you figgy pudding, because that's what's in the song. We lied. Apparently, as best we can figure out from our personal collection of more than two dozen 19th century cookbooks as well as online searching, nobody in the Civil War period ever ate a pudding, or anything else for that matter, whose principal constituent was the fig. The best we can do is the following, from The Good Housekeeper by Sarah Josepha Hale, 1841. At least it specifically cites Christmas as the occasion for its making:



Plum Pudding

As Christmas comes but once a year, a rich plum pudding may be permitted for the feast, though it is not healthy food; and children should be helped very sparingly. The following is a good receipt:--

Chop half a pound of suet very fine; stone half a pound of raisins, half a pound of currants nicely washed and picked; four ounces of bread crumbs; four ounces of flour; four eggs well beaten; a little grated nutmeg; mace and cinnamon pounded very fine; a spoonful of salt; four ounces of sugar; one ounce candied lemon; same of citron.

Beat the eggs and the spices well together; mix the milk with them by degrees, then the rest of the ingredients; dip a fine, close linen cloth into boiling water, and place it in a hair sieve; flour it a little, them pour in the batter and tie it up, allowing a little room to swell; put it into a pot containing six quarts of boiling water and fill up your pot as it wastes [evaporates]; be sure to keep it boiling at least six hours--seven would not injure it.

This pudding should be mixed an hour or two before it is put on to boil; it makes it taste richer.


Oh, you noticed the minor ingredient not included in this "receipt"? Yup. Not a plum to be seen anywhere. Apparently truth in advertising laws were not what one might have hoped for back in the Olden Days either. Sigh.


Pumpkin Pie (from the magazine Godey's Lady's Book, 1860)

Take out the seeds, and pare the pumpkin or squash; but in taking out the seeds do not scrape the inside of the pumpkin; the part nearest the seed is the sweetest; then stew the pumpkin, and strain it through a sieve or colander. To a quart of milk for a family pie three eggs are sufficient. Stir in the stewed pumpkin with your milk and beaten-up eggs till it is as thick as you can stir round rapidly and easily. If the pie is wanted richer, make it thinner, and add sweet cream or another egg or two; but even one egg to a quart of milk makes "very decent pies." Sweeten with molasses or sugar; add two teaspoonfuls of salt, two tablespoonfuls of sifted cinnamon, and one of powdered ginger; but allspice may be used, or any other spice that may be preferred. The peel of lemon grated in gives it a pleasant flavor. The more egg, says an American authority, the better the pie. Some put one egg to a gill [note: same thing as the "jill" cited above: 1/2 cup] of milk. [Pour into piecrust and] bake about an hour in deep plates or shallow dishes, without an upper crust.


Now that you have a selection of menu items, we conclude with a description of just precisely what to do with all the goodies you have just cooked. This dissertation presumes that you have an extensive staff of not only kitchen personnel but servants to attend to serving, waiting and cleanup, leaving you only the duties of maestro over the orchestra. Good luck with that part of things:


The Christmas Dinner Party, or, Start by Laying Your Tablecloth Right Side Up

(from The Practical Housekeeper, Mrs. E. F. [Elizabeth Fries] Ellet, New York: Stringer and Townsend, 1857)




"The cloth being laid with its proper side uppermost, I order a napkin, two knives, two prongs, two tablespoons, and two wineglasses to be placed for each person, a saltcellar between every other; that being a condiment which every one uses, though often wrongly; the cruet-frames and other requisites are kept on the sideboards. I then have the fish and soup served together; the potatoes and sauce on the sideboard; I serving the soup, and Mr. B. the fish; and often a little dish of fried fish, such as smelts, &c., to remove the soups. This gives me an opportunity of seeing that my guests are properly attended to, and also leisure to take wine with any gentleman who challenges me. During the time this course has been progressing, the cook has had time to dish up the removes nice and hot, and get all up close to the door, as I like as little time as possible to intervene in changing the dishes; and these consist generally of variously dressed chickens, which I have before me, as this gives an opportunity for the gentleman on my right to display his gallantry; Mr. B., who is a capital carver, either has a saddle or a haunch of mutton, or a quarter of lamb before him, the rest of the dishes consisting of a tongue and entrees. I select those most easy to carve, and also easy for the cook to prepare. This is a period of dinner where a great deal depends upon the attendants; they should know almost by the look what this lady or that gentleman requires, and what kind of vegetables to hand them; a first-rate butler should be able to judge by the physiognomy to whom he should offer mint sauce with the lamb, and who prefers cayenne; on their attention and hot plates depends the success of the substantial part of the dinner.


"As soon as I see that all are served, and words are few in consequence of the organ which utters them being employed in another way, I give a look to the two servants which they understand, and immediately two reports are heard--they are from two bottles of champagne, opened at the same time by the attendants, who have each a salver with six glasses on it; this takes but a short time to serve, and prepares the palate for the entrees, which generally get praised; indeed, my cook would think something was wrong if two of the dishes did not go down empty. By having the champagne thus, I find it goes much further than if only one bottle was opened at the time, there being sufficient left in the bottles for a gentleman to challenge a lady to take champagne with him. If I have game I remove the top and bottom dishes with them, and make the sweets a separate course, taking care to have cold plates for the jelly, and having the liquors handed round when the sweets are on the table; one cheese I place opposite Mr. B., and macaroni opposite myself. In the dessert I generally introduce some new importation, such as bananas, sugar-cane, American lady apples, prickly pears, &c.; these also give a subject for the gentlemen to talk about when the ladies have left, as free trade, colonial policy, &c. About half an hour after the dessert is on the table, and when I see that the conversation is becoming less general, I retire to the drawing-room; the servants then remove the used glass and plates, and Mr. B. introduces some of his choice claret or Burgundy in ice coolers."



Bon appetite, and a happy New Year to all.




 

 

 



 

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