|Author||Nancy Carter Crump|
Nancy Carter Crump
Early American Southern Cuisine
Updated for Today’s Hearth & Cookstove
C H A PE L HI
SEC OND ED IT ION Foreword by Sandra Oliver
University of No
© 2008 Nancy Carter Crump
All rights reserved
Manufactured in the United States of America
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Set in MT Garamond by Tseng Information Systems, Inc.
This volume is a revised edition of the book published in
1986 by EPM Publications.
Line drawings are by Emily Whaley.
Frontispiece: Weights and measures as tested and arranged
by Miss Eliza Leslie from her 1857 New Cookery Book.
The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence
and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for
Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources.
The University of North Carolina Press has been a member of the
Green Press Initiative since 2003.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Crump, Nancy Carter.
Hearthside cooking : early American Southern cuisine
updated for today’s hearth and cookstove / Nancy Carter
Crump ; foreword by Sandra Oliver. — 2nd ed.
Originally published: McLean, Va. : EPM Publications, c1986.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-8078-3246-2 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Cookery, American—Southern style. 2. Cookery—
Virginia—History. 3. Fireplace cookery. I. Title.
12 11 10 09 08 5 4 3 2 1
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This one is for my children:
Nancy Erin, Jacqueline Lindsay, Michael Carter, and Anne Courtenay
Mes raisons d’être
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The Pleasures of Hearthside Cooking 1
Fires, Tools, and Techniques 7
Traditional Virginia Cuisine 19
Bills of Fare 41
Cakes and Little Cakes (Cookies) 195
Sweet Pies, Puddings, and Cheesecakes 219
Custards, Creams, Ices, and Fruit 239
Salad Dressings 277
Catchups and Condiments 283
Sources for Supplies 323
Index of Recipes 329
General Index 333
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Nancy Carter Crump is a pioneer in American food history, or at
least one of the earliest settlers in the field. She has been my mentor in
Virginia food history, always generous and kind. This book is a revised
edition of Hearthside Cooking, one of food history’s earliest handbooks
for modern cooks using the hearth for cooking.
When it first appeared in 1986, it was part of a mere trickle of books
about food and history that would, in twenty years, turn into a mighty
stream. Many of food history’s early practitioners had begun, like
Nancy and myself, as museum-associated educators. Academia did
not yet deign to regard food history as a topic worth serious research
and writing about, but writing a cookbook was perfectly all right.
Cooking, using period technology and instructions, has always
been an essential part of truly understanding the history of cookery
and the people who cooked. Reading recipes or looking at antique
cooking equipment is informative, but these activities cannot provide
the understanding that is gleaned from using the early implements
themselves. We who grew up, as almost anyone under the age of sixtyfive has done, accustomed to precise recipes specific in every detail,
learn a great deal about the cookery of the past by actually getting
down and doing it.
Since people have begun to rediscover the joy of cooking on the
fire, some modern homes are being built with cooking hearths. For
those who don’t have a cooking fireplace, however, the recipes provide
alternative directions for the modern kitchen.
Hearthside Cooking provides the original recipe as written in the historical source, then Nancy’s interpretation of it, side by side, so we can
readily see what her choices and adaptations are. When Nancy did not
have early Virginia voices to instruct her about how to prepare something, she then referred to one of the standard cookbooks of the time:
Mary Randolph’s The Virginia House-wife, Philadelphian Eliza Leslie’s
Directions for Cookery, or the Englishwoman Hannah Glasse’s The Art of
Cookery Made Plain and Easy, for instance. These cookbooks continued
to be published well into the nineteenth century.
The study of early Virginia kitchens includes many fascinating topics, such as the dynamic interaction between slave cooks and the mis-
tress of the household, and the terrific changes following the Civil War,
when housewives had to cook for themselves or employ a cook, likely
one they had formerly owned. In this book, Nancy Carter Crump has
shed some much-needed light on these topics through her research
into manuscript sources and journals recording the recipes of identified black cooks and experiences of white women left to their own
devices in the postwar years.
While you will learn about traditional Virginia cuisine and its history, you will also find in this book an infectious enthusiasm for fireplace cookery. Nancy provides detailed directions for acquiring and
using fireplace tools and handling fire in a chapter wholly dedicated
to the topic. Then, each recipe has instructions for modern kitchens
as well as specific advice about how to cook the dish on the hearth. In
the chapters that follow, you can find recipes for dishes of every sort,
including soups, entrées, vegetables, and an array of desserts and the
sauces to serve them with. There are complete, seasonally appropriate
menus in case you are adventurous enough to do an entire meal from
soup to beverages.
The recipes, in keeping with the gentrified plantation fare of early
Virginia, are sophisticated: for example, sweet potatoes baked with
wine; beef collops seasoned with nutmeg and a whole array of herbs;
a ragout of oysters; fig pudding; pears stewed with gingerroot; and
grand syllabub and Barbados lemon punch.
In all likelihood, modern food tastes differently from the way it
tasted in the past, as anyone familiar with heirloom breeds of anything
from vegetables to turkeys quickly discovers. Lemons are larger. Milk
is pasteurized and homogenized, so its structure is different. Even the
flour we use today is different from that of the past. Try as we might,
we can seldom replicate exactly a dish from the eighteenth and early
nineteenth centuries. But we can, with the help of this book, come very
Editor and Publisher
Food History News
Changing Attitudes toward Food History
Countless changes have taken place in food history and the food
world at large since Hearthside Cooking was first published in 1986.
Then, there were limited resources available. Finding foodstuffs that
are commonplace in today’s market—quince, salsify, ground meats
other than beef, Indian and Asian herbs and spices, as well as other
“exotic” seasonings come to mind—were all but impossible to find,
at least in my part of the country. Locating a butcher interested in old
ways of cutting meats and willing to advise on modern substitutes was
virtually impossible, as were farmers’ markets where one could find
locally grown foodstuffs and talk personally with the farmers who had
Those who were actually studying the importance of food in social history—pioneers such as the late Karen Hess, Barbara Wheaton,
Sandra Oliver, William Woys Weaver, the late Alice Arndt, and Alice
Ross—were few and far between, and those of us who found historic
foodways a topic worth pursuing because of what it could tell us about
the past met with resistance from so-called established historians. In
1988, for instance, I was part of a group that sought funding from a
Virginia foundation for a two-day symposium on historic foodways.
“We don’t fund home-economic projects” was the verbal response we
received when we presented the application for review.
And four years later, it wasn’t much better. I took part in a monthlong graduate program on material culture co-sponsored by a university and a museum in North Carolina. One of the requirements was a
final paper to be presented to our peers and the professors who had
taught the course. I wanted to compare cookbooks kept by two gentry
women, one from Virginia, the other a South Carolinian, only to be
informed by the course director that “foodways isn’t material culture,”
and that to do what I wished, I would have to get approval from one
of the women teaching the class. Fortunately, she agreed that my proposal was indeed material culture, and on the day of our presentations,
I closed mine with the following statement: “Recipes . . . are another
way of interpreting past human activity . . . ‘objects made or modified by humans,’ as Tom Schlereth states in his definition of material
Ah! How times have changed. Culinary history has become respectable. Degree programs in gastronomy and foodways are offered at universities that include Boston College and Old Miss. One doesn’t get a
blank stare or an asinine comment when food and history are used in
the same sentence.
When I undertook research for the first edition of Hearthside Cooking back in the mid-1980s, finding references to old recipes and other
food-related topics from kitchen activities to dinner parties was difficult at best. It meant sifting through collection after collection in
hopes of finding documentation to support and enhance the narrative of Virginia’s historic cuisine, from its development to its heyday.
While recipes could be found, the old card catalogs (remember those
now-obsolete reference tools?) didn’t list the topics that would enable
a researcher to trace the story.
The ensuing twenty-plus years have brought real changes in one’s
ability to research culinary history. The major difference, of course,
is the capacity to search online and to go to various repositories and
explore their finding aids. Having that information in hand when one
goes to the collections themselves makes the research much easier.
In this new, revised edition of Hearthside Cooking, I have drawn upon
current food-history scholarship. In particular, I have expanded my
remarks on the role of Native Americans and African Americans in
the development of Virginia’s cuisine, discussed the transition from
hearth to cookstove—much slower in the south—and the changes in
tools and techniques brought about by the Industrial Revolution. The
revolution in the kitchen when former slave owners had to take over
the tasks previously handled by African Americans is an important
facet of southern food history. While I have touched on all these topics, there is much more research to be done. Last of all, I have added a
few new recipes from different manuscripts I researched for this edition. My hope is that these changes in the new edition of Hearthside
Cooking bring it more up to date, making it even more useful to those,
who like me, have found Virginia’s culinary history a subject of continuing fascination.
NANCY CARTER CRUMP
October 18, 2007
There is danger that the composition of many an excellent
dish may become forgotten lore.
—Mary Stuart Smith, author of Virginia CookeryBook (1885)
The Pleasures of Hearthside Cooking
Hearthside cooking is not for the faint-hearted. And if you dislike
getting your hands dirty, forget it. If you are a museum interpreter
interested in using the old kitchen at your historic site as a means of
recreating early foodways, this book can be of help, for open-hearth
cooking brings the past alive in a very fulfilling manner. And if you
have a sense of adventure and are looking for an innovative way to
entertain friends while preparing an elegant meal, then hearthside
cooking may be for you.
I have experienced the richness that hearthside cooking can bring
to historic sites. I have seen the positive reaction from visitors who,
through the sights and fragrances they witness during cooking demonstrations, can relate to their forebears in a new and unique way. And
in my own home I have prepared open-hearth meals that have been
greeted with enthusiasm by family and friends.
My interest in cooking the foods of the past stems from childhood
summers spent on a family farm in the Northern Neck of Virginia,
where the joys of good food prepared in old-fashioned ways left an
indelible memory; from a catering business that specialized in historical parties; and from a love of history and research, a fascination
with the past, and a desire to teach it in a way that would bridge the
gap between “them and us.” All this ultimately led to employment as
an educational programmer at Colonial Williamsburg. Because of my
background, I was immediately involved with open-hearth cooking,
then in its infancy at that historic site. Those cooking programs led to
The Pleasures of Hearthside Cooking
the realization that all my interests could be brought into play. Two
very different, very intense experiences completed my commitment
to the interpretation of foodways and dining customs of the past.
Christmas at Williamsburg centers around recreating the season
as it might have been celebrated in Colonial Virginia. My department
was involved with a Williamsburg family’s holiday hearthside activities. Lacing up my rust-colored bodice, I left the twentieth century
behind as I put on eighteenth-century garb for the very first time. My
fantasy life took over, and I was beside myself with excitement. I had
risen at 5 A.M., in good pre-industrial fashion, to help start the fire and
begin other preparations for the sumptuous meal to follow later that
By early afternoon, when visitors began to arrive, a stew was simmering in a large iron pot hung on the fireplace’s massive crane, while
sassafras tea steeped nearby in a bright copper kettle. Trussed on a spit
in front of the flames, rabbits were roasting, their juices sizzling into
the dripping pan beneath. A huge sea trout, seasoned with herbs and
wrapped securely in fresh cabbage leaves, would soon be put in a bed
of ashes, where it would bake, protected by the natural insulation of
the cabbage leaves. Sliced apples, redolent of butter and spices, simmered in a spider (a long-handled frying pan with legs; see page 15)
placed on live coals we had shoveled onto the hearth. Freshly baked
bread sat on a nearby table, surrounded by baskets of bright orange
carrots, shiny yellow onions, new red potatoes, dried green beans, and
a variety of fresh and dried herbs. We were wrapping a pudding in
cloth to be boiled in a pot suspended over the fire, and an alreadybaked pound cake cooled on a shelf, its delicate aroma blending with
the other delightful fragrances. The menu was not only authentic and
appealing; it also had been designed to show a wide variety of early
cooking utensils in action.
Cheerful music and the excited chatter of visitors filled the air. They
crowded into the kitchen, curious about the ongoing meal, asking
questions that gave us ample opportunity to explain and interpret.
Transfixed by the scene, our twentieth-century visitors didn’t want to
That was a day of firsts for me, from putting on a Colonial costume to the realization of my eighteen-year dream of interpreting for
the public at Colonial Williamsburg. I have cooked many a hearthside
meal since that day. Each time is magic, each provides a kinship with
the past that can only happen when one experiences the past first-
The Pleasures of Hearthside Cooking
hand. But that holiday in old Williamsburg holds a special place in my
My next revelation came a few weeks later, when the worst snowstorm in 100 years engulfed eastern Virginia, knocking out electrical
and telephone wires for thirty-six hours. In my all-electric home, we
were faced with going hungry or with hamburgers at the local fastfood place, powered by its own generator.
As I sat woefully in my family room, the cheery fire burning away
on the hearth came into sudden, sharp focus. “Why not?” I thought.
“If I can cook on the fire at Colonial Williamsburg, I can cook on the
fire at home.” And so I did. With only my old cast-iron skillet, a tin
coffee pot for boiling water, and plenty of well-seasoned firewood, I
fed my children for the next thirty-six hours. The menus were simple:
eggs and bacon, French toast, sautéed meats and vegetables. It was all
delicious. I must confess to a certain smugness as we snuggled close
to the fire, sipping hot chocolate. We had defied the elements, and my
epiphany was complete.
This book is a response to those friends and colleagues who for
years have urged me to impart my culinary enthusiasms to paper. Its
purpose is twofold: to initiate fireplace owners into the joys and mysteries of cooking on their own hearths, and to show them that, with a
modest outlay, they can discover a whole new way of entertaining and
preparing a special cuisine. My second objective is to provide house
museums with authentic recipes and some guidelines for using them
in their old kitchens.
The recipes themselves, taken from a variety of primary eighteenthand nineteenth-century sources, were searched out in archives,
libraries, and private collections throughout Virginia and North Carolina. Opening old, handwritten books of receipts (the early word for
recipe) was a step back in time for me, as well as a chance to get acquainted with the women who had compiled them and shared their
knowledge. The leaves of yellowed, crumbling manuscripts, often
scorched from fire or marked by the ravages of time, revealed that
those women had an awareness of proper culinary techniques equal to
any modern chef ’s.
My research netted literally hundreds of delicious-sounding receipts, and, ultimately, I was faced with the dilemma of deciding
which ones to use. The receipts I finally chose as representative of the
foods being consumed in early Virginia were based on descriptions
and other records left by the Virginia gentry and their guests.
The Pleasures of Hearthside Cooking
Recipes written in the past were far different from those we record
today. Ingredients were generally given in avoirdupois weight (see the
chart on page ii from Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book), and a set of scales
was an essential part of old kitchens. It was not until the end of the
nineteenth century that U.S. cup measurements were standardized by
Fannie Farmer. Working with older receipts thus requires a sense of
adventure, as well as a firm understanding of culinary methods. Consider this example, taken from Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife, first published in 1824:
Take six spoonsful of flour and three of corn meal, with a little
salt; sift them and make a thin batter with flour, eggs, and a sufficient quantity of rich milk; bake it in little tin moulds in a quick
What were six “spoonsful”? How much was “a little salt”? Determining the answers to these and other questions was challenging and
sometimes baffling, but the original sources provided valuable clues.
Mary Randolph, for instance, informed her readers that “a quart of
flour should weigh just one pound and a quarter.”² Weighing with
my modern kitchen scales, I found that one quart of the soft, stoneground flour found in Virginia and North Carolina is still approximately the same weight indicated by Mrs. Randolph.
Many nineteenth-century cookbooks contained tables of weights
and measurements such as the one provided by Miss Leslie. Using
them as a guide, I weighed ingredients on my scales as cooks had done
in the early days. I then converted them to standard cup measurements
in order to modernize the old receipts.
Estimating the less-specific amounts of ingredients called for, such
as “all the crumb of a stale penny-loaf,” had to be largely guess-work
on my part. Experience, research, tracing the receipts as they evolved
from the eighteenth century to modern times, and, finally, informed
judgment, all helped.
The old receipts revealed astonishing sophistication about seasoning with herbs and spices. I was surprised, for instance, to find curry
recipes in use, and much earlier than I had realized. Hannah Glasse,
Mary Randolph, and William Kitchener are three of the well-known
cookbook writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries whose
receipts for curry lend themselves to today’s palate. Until the end of the
The Pleasures of Hearthside Cooking
nineteenth century, when convenience had taken over and cookery as
an art was lost, cookbooks suggested an array of seasonings that gave
food a zest that has only been rediscovered in recent times. Chervil,
fennel, coriander, shallots, and pennyroyal were among the herbs in
The term “herbs” had a broader meaning than we give it today; they
included greens and flowers that were used for food or medicine or in
some way for their scent or flavor. In his 1699 book, Aceteria, which was
devoted to salads, the Englishman John Evelyn recommended many
ingredients because of their healthful qualities. Fennel, he wrote, “expels Wind, sharpens the sight, and recreates the Brain.”³ Sage was a
favorite, having so many wonderful properties that “the assiduous use
of it is said to render Man Immortal.”⁴ Evelyn was only one of many
herbalists and gardeners of the day who looked to herbs for a variety
For convenience, the modern recipes given in this book call for dried
herbs, unless otherwise stated within the recipe. However, I heartily
recommend growing your own. Even in small apartments, you can
grow herbs in pots. Once you are accustomed to growing them, you
will wonder how you ever managed without. If you opt for fresh herbs,
use three times the amount specified. For example, one teaspoon dried
herbs equals three teaspoons (one tablespoon) fresh.
The following chapter, “Fires, Tools, and Techniques,” provides
technical guidelines on everything from preparation and fire safety to
necessary equipment. Possible sources for that equipment and hardto-find products are given in the Sources section at the back of this
The third chapter, “Traditional Virginia Cuisine,” deals with the
development of Virginia cuisine, dining customs, and the changes in
cooking that took place over time. Fourteen bills of fare based on early
sources are in the fourth chapter. The original receipts and their updated versions follow, with instructions for the hearth as well as the
I love to cook on the fire. It can be messy, time-consuming, and
challenging. But the pleasure of explaining hearthside cooking to
those who visit the sites where I cook, the joy I experience in sharing
it with friends in my home, and the connection it gives me to those
who lived in an earlier time make it all immeasurably worthwhile.
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You must put your saucepan on a clear quick fire.
—Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain
and Easy . . . (1796)
Fires, Tools, & Techniques
Today we see a fireplace as a charming optional feature for a home.
In yesterday’s world, a fireplace was essential to living and the very
center of family life. It supplied heat, was a major source of light, and
provided the means by which all food was prepared. This importance
is recorded in the journal of Philip Fithian, who tutored at one of Virginia’s largest eighteenth-century plantations, Nomini Hall. Fithian
described life at the magnificent Westmoreland County home where
winters were harsh. “Mr. Carter has a Cart & three pair of Oxen which
every Day bring in four Loads of Wood, Sundays excepted,” Fithian
wrote, “& yet these very severe Days we have none to spare: and indeed
I do not wonder, for in the Great House, School House, Kitchen, &c.
there are twenty Eight steady fires! & most of these are Very Large!”¹
Modern fire building is relatively easy, merely a matter of crumpling newspaper, laying on wood, and then striking a match. Before
the convenience of phosphorous matches, coals were carefully banked
at night to ensure a ready fire for the next day’s meal. A “cold fire”
meant a frustrating struggle with flint and tinder in hopes of striking
sparks to restart the fire.
Our present-day screened fireplaces, coupled with normal precautions, diminish fire hazards. In the past, however, the fear of fire
prompted constant vigilance. In January 1774, Fithian noted in his
journal that on returning to his room in the schoolhouse after dinner,
he found “a Coal of Fire had by accident (as the Hearth is very narrow)
fall’n on the floor, it took fire, and when I entered it was burning
rapidly . . . & most certainly in a short time would have been inextin-
Author Nancy Carter Crump Isbn 9780807832462 File size 3.4MB Year 2008 Pages 352 Language English File format PDF Category Cookbooks Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare For cooks who want to experience a link to culinary history, Hearthside Cooking is a treasure trove of early American delights. First published in 1986, it has become a standard guide for museum interpreters and guides, culinary historians, historical re-enactors, campers, scouts, and home cooks interested in foodways and experimenting with new recipes and techniques. Hearthside Cooking contains recipes for more than 250 historic dishes, including breads, soups, entrees, cakes, custards, sauces, and more. For each dish, Nancy Carter Crump provides two sets of instructions, so dishes can be prepared over the open fire or using modern kitchen appliances. For novice hearthside cooks, Crump offers specific tips for proper hearth cooking, including fire construction, safety, tools, utensils, and methods. More than just a cookbook, Hearthside Cooking also includes information about the men and women who wrote the original recipes, which Crump discovered by scouring old Virginia cookbooks, hand-written receipt books, and other primary sources in archival collections. With this new edition, Crump includes additional information on African American foodways, how the Civil War affected traditional southern food customs, and the late-nineteenth-century transition from hearth to stove cooking. Hearthside Cooking offers twenty-first-century cooks an enjoyable, informative resource for traditional cooking. Download (3.4MB) Good Eatings Classic Home Recipes International Cuisine: China Cooking in Europe, 1250-1650 DASH Done Slow: The DASH Diet Slow Cooker Cookbook Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen Load more posts