All-American Corn Soup from 19th U.S. President and “Lemonade Lucy”.via All-American Corn Soup from 19th U.S. President and “Lemonade Lucy”.


We on the distaff side always use our aprons for a variety of things. I am reposting a wonderful article from The Historic Foodie’s blog for your enjoyment.

Thehistoricfoodie's Blog

aprons rubens 1760s

David Allan Highlannd Dance 1780

Readers will recall a previous post on aprons, but today we will focus on brief descriptions and the apron’s use in carrying various items. Gathering these references reminded me of my youth when aprons were commonly worn whether fancy for show or utilitarian for gathering eggs, holding clothes-pins, picking vegetables, etc. The references are presented as they were found pre-1790 with no additional rhetoric on my part.

Thomas Sheridan defined an apron as, “A cloth hung before to keep the other dress clean, or for ornament”. (1790)

A novel described a utilitarian apron in 1797 as: “her old checked apron, which was very clean, and had been patched and darned from one end to the other…”. – The Universalist’s Miscellany.

Let’s look at the description of a fine apron. “…having an apron on, that was embroidered with silk of different colours…”. – Annual Register. Vol. I. (1758).

While being queried…

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Noodles and Broth served up!

Noodles and Broth served up!

This is something I really shouldn’t admit as a person raised in a rich Italian American tradition but my favorite food is German. When we have events, I love to do cooking demos and can make German recipes all day long because many of the early settlers to the region were Palatine German. For the May Seige, I wanted to make something hardy, few pots and yet something that would make a good show. I count as a friend a chef in Californina whose name is Stephen Block and he has a very fine website called GERMAN GOODIES RECIPES. He has also compiled an excellent book of his mother’s recipes which I have and has another site tracing the history of foods. His links are below.

I was skimming his recipes as I usually do and found one that was his mother’s favorite called GEFULTE NOODLES. At first I thought of gefilte fish and thought that was a non starter , but then I read on and oh boy, it fit the bill.

I made the beef broth at home using vegetables, bones and a nice roast which we had for dinner, but the rest I did at the fort. the result was SPECTACULAR so this is going be a staple and I’ve made it at home too . His recipe makes an enormous amount but can be halved and it works out just fine, just as Stephen said it would.

Gefulte Noodles

This is a hearty cold-weather dish, consisting of large squares or triangles of noodle dough, filled with a meat and parsley mixture, folded over and sealed, then boiled in beef broth.

1 or 2 bunches fresh parsley, washed, drained, and heavy stems removed. (Should have about 2 qts.)
1 large or 2 small onions
Chop parsley and onions (or put through a grinder or
food-processor.) Put into a large skillet with
2 Tbs. Oil
Simmer until heated through, stirring frequently. Remove into
a large bowl.
2 slices bread; put to soak in about ½ cup milk.
1 lb. lean ground beef ; Brown lightly in skillet.
Add to the green mixture in bowl; squeeze the milk out of the soaked bread, crumble bread up and add to the mixture. (May add a little salt.)
1 egg Break into mixture and mix all together. If filling seems too soft, add a few bread crumbs.

5 eggs, plus ½ shell of water for each egg used.
Beat lightly with a fork.
1 tsp. Salt (Optional)
Flour Add, a little at a time, enough to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out onto well-floured board. Knead, working more flour into dough, until it is smooth and elastic. (May use Kitchen-Aid mixer for this.) Allow dough to “rest” for 10-15 minutes, while preparing broth.
Fill a large pot—or two of them—about 2/3 full of water; bring to a boil. Add enough bouillon cubes or other beef base to make a good broth. Keep simmering while getting noodles filled.

Keeping board well floured, cut off, with metal spatula, a piece about the size of a large potato. Roll with floured rolling pin until about 1/8 in. thick. Cut into squares or rectangles about 3” or 4” on each side. Put a spoonful (about 1 TB) of filling in center of each; fold over and seal well. Drop a few at a time into boiling broth. Repeat until dough is used up. If there is extra filling, put it into the broth. Simmer at least an hour. (Two hours will be even better. If some of the noodles break up and spill their filling into the broth, it’s okay. These noodles are not things of beauty, but they are delicious!)
Grandma Block used to lift out a few nice filled noodles, dry them a bit, and then keep them in the refrigerator to fry in butter for the next day’s breakfast!

FOR SMALLER BATCH: Use 2 jumbo eggs + 2 half-shells of water. Add 1 ½ to 2 Cups flour; this will make about 12 noodles. Cut filling recipe and broth about in half.

Making the noodles. They were perfect. I bet I could add sugar and fry those babies too!

Making the noodles. They were perfect. I bet I could add sugar and fry those babies too!

half the recipe made 13, plus the left over stuffing I put in the pot.

half the recipe made 13, plus the left over stuffing I put in the pot.

Simmering nicely over the fire.

Simmering nicely over the fire.

I had left over so I dried them and fried them up for breakfast on Sunday. Oh yeah, with a nice fresh egg!


Not your Mamma’s Cream of Mushroom soup!

This weekend, I’m going to participate in a cooking demo at the Amis House in Rogersville, TN.

Constructed by Thomas Amis in 1780, the house and mill were at the edge of civilization, north west of the Watauga . Jake and Wendy Jacobs (who is a descendent of Thomas Amis) bought and restored the property and it’s now a fabulous eatery. There is a church nearby at the Ebb and Flowing Springs that is almost as old as the site and it’s being rededicated this weekend. As part of the festivities, Doug and Donna Ledbetter, Artie and Diane O’Neill and myself were asked to do a cooking demo to add a little 18th century flavor. That was a poor pun. Anyway, I thought and thought about what I could make and as it’s mushroom time in the mountains, I thought a variation of the Shirley Plantation Mushroom soup would be the very thing!

The original recipe is very simple:

  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups cream
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • Rinse, trim and chop mushrooms.

While mushrooms are being prepared, place butter in pan on trivet on the hearth, near to but not in the fire. Allow butter to melt slowly.

Stir in mushrooms. Cover pan and shovel a few coals under the trivet. Allow mushrooms to simmer slowly, stirring occasionally until done, about 15 minutes.

Stir in flour and continue cooking mushroom mixture. Stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed and flour is cooked.

Combine cream and milk in a separate pan and heat over flames until scalded (almost boiling).

When mushroom mixture is ready, slowly add hot liquid, salt and cayenne, stirring occasionally.

Continue to let soup cook a few minutes, stirring until slightly thickened. Correct seasoning and serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

— Shirley Plantation, via The Old Stone House

I played with this recipe tonight and sweetened the deal and oh my, it was unreal!

For one thing, I used button mushrooms and Shitake and upped the quantity to 2 pounds. I also added green onions to the mushrooms including the tops and besides a pinch of cayenne, I added pepper, fresh thyme, majoram and a spring of fresh rosemary. For a garnish tomorrow, I have some fresh watercress and sherry and i think it will be wonderful. Maybe it’s not the orginial soup but dolled up, it’s really excellent!

Everybody I know is tired of winter and in this season of renewal, there is a German soup recipe that my friend, Stephen Block posted on his website, THE KITCHEN PROJECT.

It is served on Holy Thursday and is a reminder of new life. I bet it must be wonderful with greens foraged from the garden or fields like creesy greens, dandelion and maybe a ramp or wild garlic thrown in. I’m making it tomorrow and will let you know what I think.

4 servings

1 cup diced onion
6 cloves minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
2 medium potatoes diced
a good hand full of 7-9 different herbs
1 / 2 cup milk or cream
Sour cream for garnish.
Salt and pepper

Here are the 9 herbs I used;

1 leek sliced (separate white and green into two piles)
handful Celery tops
Basil, Curly Parsley, Arugula,
Watercress, Dill Weed, Spinach, Cauliflower Greens

Excellent served with potato pancakes or crusty bread.

One of his friends sent him her favorite Potato Pancake recipe . This is how I make it and oh boy, GOOD!

(Potato Pancakes)

This is Barb Rokitka’s favorite style of doing potato pancakes. She recommends using a solid shortening like Crisco.

4 Servings

2 1/2 cups potatoes,(2 large) *
3 cups ,water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

12 Tablespoons grated onion
1 potato,boiled, mashed
1 egg,large 2 med. , beaten
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 vegetable oil,as needed
1 stick butter or Crisco is optional for extra crispiness.
Sour cream and applesauce (for garnish)

20140121-chicken-mull-shutterstock-2.jpgWhen I went to Fort Yargo in Georgia last year, I was fed like I hadn’t been fed before and this year was no exception. As the militia boys up here said, those folks in Georgia really know how to cook! Yep and double yep. What I found interesting and totally delicious was something I never heard of before. Susie Brooks Fouts called it Chicken Stew and she said it has another name, chicken mull,  but it was not like anything I ever had before. I can’t say it was the prettiest stew I’ve ever seen but boy oh boy, it had a taste that was rich and wonderful. She said it’s a local dish whose epicenter is in the Athens area and maybe made in South Carolina as well.

I was determined to look it up and in fact, not too much is known about it. From what I can see, it was traced to Greenville County where the men would make TONS of the stuff to raise money for charity. It may have started as a fish muddle somewhere near the coast in Virginia and moved down as people migrated southward, . They also put turtle meat in with the chicken and boiled hell out of it . Anyway you look at it,  the north Georgians put their unique stamp on it to be sure, and it’s down right lip smacking good.   If you want to know the documented history of Mull or Muddle as it’s know, check out this link- most interesting .

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Susie described how she made it and the lady who writes the  Boonie Foodie blog has a similar recipe. Where Susie differed is that she used whole milk instead of chicken stock and a load of butter, my guess is 3 tbs  based on what I saw floating. She used Club Crackers to thicken it and I think that’s what I would used rather than Saltines. Stewing the chicken in the pot would be good but hers was liquified so I would think crock potting it or using an immersion blender would achieve the results wanted for a pulverized chicken stew. She also used Texas Pete for heat….just right!!! I guess a person could fancy it up with fresh corn, an onion, and celery  which would be unreal good and notch it up another level but it wouldn’t be tradition. Anyway you go,though, this is one heck of a true comfort soup.

boonie foodie

Chicken Mull
A Family Recipe

One whole roasting chicken (4-5 lbs)
2-3 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cans of evaporated milk or 3 1/2 cups milk or cream
2-3 sleeves of Ritz (or crackers of choice)
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil chicken in deep stockpot or crockpot, with enough water to cover, until meat is done and tender. Remove chicken from stock, let cool enough to handle, and shred meat from the bone. Strain stock back into cooking pot, add shredded meat, milk and additional broth. Let cook to a simmer, add crushed crackers and salt and pepper, and cook to desired thickness. Add more crackers if needed. Serve with hot sauce and extra crackers if desired.

It really is as simple as that. More crackers means a thicker mull; using milk or cream means a richer mull than using evaporated milk. It’s extremely forgiving, and very tasty.

Out of curiosity, I looked at 18th century cookbooks as well as Kay Moss’s ” Back Country Housewife” and “Seeking the Historical Cook”, Marty Davidson’s “Grandma Grace’s Southern Favorites” and Joseph Dabney’s “Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread and Scuppernog Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking”, and other than Hannah Glasse’s milk soup and soup made the Dutch way and Hodge Podge which was a pre 1744 southern recipe with variations, , nothing comes remotely close.

Chocolate Stout Cake

Chocolate Stout Cake

I love King Arthur flour and subscribe to their website for recipes. Back a few months ago, there was a recipe for CHOCOLATE STOUT CAKE and I made it with the American heritage chocolate that is sold at the Visitor’s Center. I made it as a bundt cake and small cake as there was LOT of batter and covered it over with a chocolate ganache glaze that I made on site. The recipe actually makes enough for two to three layers but as this was part of my cooking demo for Trade Days back in sub- zero February, I made a cake I could manage inside the cabin. A few days before the muster, I had told Doug Ledbetter about this recipe and he made it as a Black Forest Cake with strawberry and homemade whipped cream filling and we swapped samples. He didn’t use the Heritage chocolate and while there was a slight difference in flavor, it wasn’t so much that a person would know one from the other.

Altogether, this cake was a winner no matter how you make it. The stout comes through when you eat it warm but once cool, it’s a moist, rich cake with chocolatey goodness and a little bit of “What else do I taste?” I would absolutely make this again with an Irish Cream Frosting.

Here’s the recipe.

Stout and other dark beers are often described as having chocolatey overtones, so this combination might not be as far-fetched as one might initially think. The flavor of this cake is multi-dimensional: the presence of the stout gives it a much more interesting finish; the hops from the beer act as a counterpoint to the sugar in the cake. It’s an incredibly moist cake, too, and its rich, dark color comes mostly from the beer. This recipe makes two tall, imposing layers; be sure your 9″ cake pans are at least 2″ tall, or use 10″ pans if you have them. For a smaller dessert, see the bottom tip, at right.

Hands-on time: 25 mins. to 35 mins.
Baking time: 45 mins. to 50 mins.
Total time: 1 hrs 10 mins. to 1 hrs 25 mins.
Yield: 1 large cake, 16 servings


2 cups stout or dark beer, such as Guinness (ED NOTE: I made sure it was flat and room temperature before I used it.)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
frosting ED NOTE: delicious for St Patrick Day but I also included frosting made with Bailey’s Irish Cream as well.

1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
tips from our bakers
If you’re using salted butter, decrease the salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon.
If you’re buying Guinness in cans (they list 14.9 ounces on the label), use 1 can and make up the difference in volume with water.
If you’re making 2 layers, be sure your 9″ cake pans are at least 2″ deep. If they aren’t that tall, use three 8″ layers instead
The batter for this cake weighs 5 pounds, 15 ounces or 95 ounces. If you have a scale, a two layer cake should have 2 pounds, 15 1/2 ounces of batter in each pan. For a 3 layer cake, each layer should weigh 1 pound, 15 1/2 ounces.
If you have access to chocolate disks or chips that are pure chocolate, they’ll melt more quickly when making the frosting. We used a bit of leftover tempered chocolate in the photos for this recipe. (Ed. Note: You can temper chocolate to make it shiny by adding a small amount – 1/4 block of paraffin. I use beeswax, myself)
For a somewhat less imposing (smaller) cake, downsize the ingredients as follows: 1 1/2 cups each beer and butter; 1 cup cocoa; 3 cups each flour and sugar; 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder; 1 teaspoon salt; 3 large eggs; 2/3 cup sour cream. Bake in two 9″ round pans, at 350°F, for 35 minutes. Frost with Super-Simple Chocolate Frosting, with the optional espresso powder added. This downsized version also makes 30 standard-size cupcakes; bake them for 18 to 22 minutes, then remove from the oven, cool, and frost.


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8″ or two 9″ cake pans, and line them with parchment paper circles. Be sure your 9″ pans are at least 2″ deep.

2. For the cake: Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan, and heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder.

3. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

4. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

5. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream.

6. Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine.

7. Add the flour mixture and mix together at slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.

8. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. (See tips section for hints on weighing out the batter if you have a kitchen scale.)

9. Bake the layers for 35 minutes for 8″ pans, or 45 to 50 minutes for 9″ pans, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.

10. For the frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan.

11. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is completely smooth.

12. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until the icing is spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.

13. To assemble: Trim one cake layer to have a flat top, if necessary (otherwise the layer will crack when you place it upside down on your cake plate).

14. Line the edges of a serving plate with parchment or waxed paper to keep it clean, and then place the layer upside down on top. Spread 2/3 cup of the icing over just the top of the layer.

15. Top with another cake layer, top side down, and repeat the process. If you baked three layers, add that one also.

16. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Remove the parchment or waxed paper. Sprinkle with shamrock sugar decorations, if you have them.

If you want to see pictures, check out their website:


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 -4 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl, blend together cream cheese, butter, and Bailey’s. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing well until it’s all incorporated. Use immediately. The frosting will harden in the fridge, so plan on bring it back to room temperature if you must refrigerate it before frosting