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February 2003

February Meeting Program:"The Tippler's Guide To Philadelphia"

Josh Silver will talk about the world of "tippling" and drinking culture in 18th-century Philadelphia. He is a historical tour guide in Philadelphia, holds a Master's degree in Historic Preservation, and recently served as the archivist for the Philadelphia Masonic Temple.

Future Meetings

Mar. 9: Warren Belasco - Three Perspectives on the Future of Food

Apr. 13: Susan McCreary - Strawberries

May 18: Anne Bower - Reading Community Cookbooks

Report: January 19 Meeting

Lady Baltimore Cake

Virginia Ham and Angel Biscuits

Italian Pastry

What a fine wide range of Chesapeake Bay region foods we were able to sample at our cooperative dinner: peanut soup, seafood chowder, stewed muskrat and beaten biscuits, ham and oyster pie, shrimp salad, pickled oysters, beaten biscuits with ham, angel biscuits with ham, smoked peppered bluefish, salmon filet, Virginia ham, crab salad, spinach and tomato casserole, cole slaw with carrots, raisins and buttermilk dressing, roasted onions with pecans, cranberry and pear chutney, Christiane Tavern sweet potato muffins and hot pepper jelly, sweet potatoes with pinon nuts, scalloped pineapple, spoonbread, Mrs. Kitching's corn pudding, white bread, black walnut cookies, pastries from Little Italy, two kinds of white potato pie, snickerdoodles, two Lady Baltimore Cakes, and Mrs. Kitching's sweet potato pie. What a feast, of both food and background information. Almost every contribution was accompanied by a bit of history, a personal anecdote, and/or information about the source of the recipe. Recipes supplied by CHoW members appear at the end of this issue.

Peanut Soup

Peppered Blue Fish

Stewed Muskrat

News Of Our Members

We now have 127 members and subscribers.
CiCi Williamson has spent the past two years writing The Best of Virginia Farms, Cookbook & Tour Book. It tells the fascinating 400-year history of Virginia agriculture through 260 Virginia recipes, farm and plantation tours, interviews, essays, maps, color photographs, and illustrations. With a light, often humorous tone, it entertains, enlightens, and educates readers about Virginia's food products, land, and people. Forewords were written by Virginia farmer Willard Scott, the former NBC-TV weatherman, and Governor Mark Warner. Included are interviews of the state viticulturist (Virginia has 80 wineries), the commissioner of agriculture, the father of the modern turkey industry, farmers, and a posthumous tongue-in-cheek "conversation" with Thomas Jefferson. Menasha Ridge Press, hardcover, 320 pages $24.95, available late February.

News From Other Organizations

February 16 and 23, 12 noon: "Brunch at Mama's Boarding House!" presented by Oye? Palaver Hut, the Culinary Griots & Magic Transformations, in celebration of Black History Month. CHoW member Vera Oye? Yaa-Anna reports that this traditional Southern meal will be served inside Mama's 1930s Boarding House. Like hundreds of thousands of African Americans who left the rural South between 1915 and 1940, Mama has arrived in Washington, DC, seeking a better life for herself, and she is running a boarding house in Georgetown. Guests will be served heaping helpings of delicious country-style favorites, along with delightful conversations full of wit, wisdom, and the day's current events. Eating at Mama's table will transform a meal into an unforgettable event. At Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I (Eye) Street, S.W. Limited seating; reservation required. $22.50/person; children 12 and uner/$12.50. Call Vera at (202) 773-5446; or oyepalaver@aol.com. Saturday, April 5 or Sunday, April 6, 10:30 am - 3:30 pm: Open Hearth Cooking Classes for Beginners. Spend a day in Gunston Hall's outbuilding kitchen with experienced hearth cooks as you learn the basics of cooking over an open fire. Experience the pleasure of consuming the 18th-century dishes you make in class. Pre-registration required; cost $89.00. For information, call (703) 550-9220. Wednesday, October 8, 10:30 am - 3:30 pm: Open Hearth Cooking Classes (Advanced). Join Gunston Hall's open-hearth cooks in the outbuilding kitchen for a day-long discovery of 18th-century cuisine. Prerequisites are the completion of the Beginners' class or permission from the instructor. Students will dine on the meal they prepare. Pre-registration required; cost $99.00. For information, call (703) 550-9229.

Call For Papers

Gina Jenkins has alerted us to a meeting on October 10-12, 2003, of the 6th Congress of the Americas: The International Colloquium for Vernacular, Hispanic, Historical, American and Folklore Studies. It will be held in Puebla, Mexico, and hosted by the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades of the Autonomous University of Puebla. Affiliated organizations include the Popular and American Culture Associations, Phi Beta Delta International, Blue Key International, the Mexican Caribbean Studies Association, and the Pan-American Vernacular Society. Papers are invited on a broad range of topics for panel sessions on Food and Culture. Send proposals of 150 words or less by March 1 to Virginia S. Jenkins, Ph.D., 315 Oakley Street, Cambridge, MD 21613; virginiajenkins@earthlink.net

The Book Forager

Two books have been contributed to the Culinary Collection by Josh Silver, our speaker this month: Northern Virginia Restaurants and Recipes by Andrea Lubershane and Erik Kanin, 1978 (paper); and Philadelphia Cream Cheese Finest Recipe Collection, published by Kraft General Foods, 1992 (hardcover).

On The Reading Table

Newsletter, The Culinary Historians of Boston, Vol. XXIII, No. 3, January 2003.
Meeting notices, Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin, February 2003.

Chesapeake Bay Region Recipes

Ham and Oyster Pie, brought by Colleen Patton, is from John Shields' The Chesapeake Bay Cookbook. "Here's a signature dish of Chesapeake regional cuisine: succulent, creamy oysters are steamed beneath a flaky pastry crust in an unsurpassed partnering of ham and bivalve."

Pastry Dough for double-crust 9-inch pie, bottom shell partially baked
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 pint shucked oysters, drained and liquor reserved
Heavy cream, as needed
salt and ground pepper to taste
Pinch ground mace
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups minced country ham
1 egg beaten
1 tablespoon water

Prepare pastry dough. Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of the dough and partially bake crust. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In an enamel or other heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Measure oyster liquor and add cream to make 2 1/4 cups. Whisk cream misture into the butter-flour mixture. Return pan to the heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Season well with salt, pepper, and mace. Stir in cheese to melt. Arrange the oysters and ham in partially baked crust. Pour in the cream sauce and gently blend with the oysters and ham. Roll out the remaining pastry on a lightly floured board and fit it over the pie, crimping edges. Make 2 or 3 slits in the top crust for vents. Mix together the egg and water and brush on top of pie. Bake about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Katherine Livingston's contribution was from A Culinary View of the Commonwealth by Virginia Fose (Junior League of Richmond, 1994). An article on Chesapeake oyster history can be found at bayjournal.com/97-12/past.htm. In the 1830s oysters were "standard roadhouse fare"; George Washington thanked a friend for some in 1786; Amelia Simmons included a recipe in her 1796 cookbook.

Pickled Oysters
"A recipe that is perhaps as old as Virginia, if not older."
1 quart fresh oysters
1/2 T. salt
1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 T. allspice
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
Red pepper to taste

Cook oysters in their own liquid and salt until edges curl. Do not overcook. Remove oysters with a strainer and lay on a sheet of ice. When thoroughly cold, place oysters in a jar. To the oyster liquid left in the cooking pan, add the vinegar and allspice. Simmer for a short time. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over oysters in jar. Add lemon slices and red pepper. Cover and refrigerate. Let oysters marinate at least overnight before serving as a finger food. No added condiment is necessary.

Gina Jenkins supplied this information on the White Potato Pies she brought: The earliest recipe I have found for white potato pie is from The Housekeeper's Companion, compiled by Bessie Gunter and first published on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1889 to raise money for a new building for the Drummondtown Baptist Church. The recipe for "Irish Potato Pudding" calls for mashed potato, butter, sugar, cream, and eggs beaten separately, to be baked on puff paste. It was submitted by Mrs. Virginia Pitts of Baltimore, MD.

Potato Pie

One of the pies Gina brought was from a recipe in Maryland's Way: The Hammond-Harwood House Cook Book (1966). This one is very rich with heavy cream, 2/3 cup butter, 5 eggs, the juice and zest of a lemon, nutmeg, and sherry. A note states that the pie has been a favorite for many years at the Thanksgiving Dinner at All Hallows Church (south of Annapolis). An article on Delmarva Cuisine in the Winter 2002 edition of the Delmarva Quarterly features white potato pie but the author was unable to find anything about its origin.

The recipe for the second pie cam from a community cookbook from Maryland's Eastern Shore. It calls for 3 eggs, 1 tsp. lemon extract, mashed potatoes, sugar, milk and 1/4 cup butter. The egg whites are beaten stiff and folded into the rest of the ingredients.

Debbie Warner chose recipes from Mrs. Kitching's Smith Island Cookbook by Frances Kitching (a famous Smith Island innkeeper and restauranteur) and Susan Stiles Dowell:

Corn Pudding
1 15 1/2-ounce can cream style corn
1 13-ounce can evaporated milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
Sugar to taste, about 2 tablespoons
Butter for pan, about 1 tablespoon

Mis the corn, evaporated milk, cornstarch, salt, eggs, and milk in a large mixing bowl and sweeten to taste with sugar. Place butter in a baking dish, 8 x 4 x 1 1/2 inches. Spread the butter thickly so that it will rise to the top during baking. pour in the corn mixture and place the pan in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes or until firm when the pan is shaken.

Sweet Potato Pie

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
Pinch salt
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whole milk

Sweet Potato Pie

Boil sweet potatoes in skins until cooked to seal in sweetness. Remove the skins and mash to eliminate lumps. Cream together butter and sugar. Add sweet potatoes, salt, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Slowly add evaporated milk and vanilla. In separate bowl beat egg whites until stiff and fold into sweet potato mixture. Stir in whole milk. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.

Felice Caspar's recipe is from Favorite Breakfast & Brunch Recipes II from Virginia Bed & Breakfast Inns. (Virginia Egg Council) From the York River Inn in Yorktown, VA, "This recipe is so curious, it must be tried to be believed. It's the perfect side dish for roasted meats or on a breakfast buffet. Creamy and sweet, it'll make your reputation."

Scalloped Pineapple

3 eggs beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 20-oz. can pineapple chunks and juice
3 cups (soft) bread crumbs

Scalloped pineapple


Mix eggs with everything except bread crumbs. When mixture is smooth, fold in bread. Pour into a greased 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serves 8.