Tag Archives: heirloom

Mrs. Beeton’ s Rice Cakes

 

Rice flour cookies

Gluten Free Rice cakes or biscuits or cookies.

When I offered a plate of these little cookies to a friend and assured her that Mrs. Beeton’s rice cakes are gluten free, she asked in surprise, “Mrs. Beeton had gluten-free recipes?”

Well, yes and no.  The recipe was certainly not labeled as gluten free, so it is almost an accident that it fits with one of the dietary concerns that people have in the 21st century. Do they look like sugar cookies? They also taste pretty much like sugar cookies, but that term was not in use yet, so they were called “cakes.” Or if you’re British and persist in calling cookies biscuits–that’s possible, too.

Isabella Beeton

Isabella Beeton (1836-65). Hand-tinted albumen print, Scanned from Colin Ford’s Julia Margaret Cameron: 19th Century Photographer of Genius, ISBN 1855145065. Originally from: National Portrait Gallery. Public Domain

The British wife of a publisher wrote Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. When the book packed with helpful hints and recipes was first published in 1861, it quickly achieved block-buster success. Isabel Mayton Beeton’s book sold two million copies in its first seven years in print.

Do you remember Hints From Heloise, newspaper column from the 50s and 60s?  Mrs. Beeton’s book combines practical hints worthy of Heloise, or a Family Circle magazine along with detailed recipes and small essays on food worth of today’s staple of the kitchen, Joy of Cooking. Like Heloise, Isabella Beeton’s book was first published as monthly installments in a magazine, and later compiled in a book.

The book was not necesssarily written with you in mind.  The full title is:

The Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress,Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler,Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work,Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort.

So while the Mistress of the house was included, it appears that Mrs. Beeton had in mind a book that would help the mistress (Upstairs) in the instruction of her many servants (Downstairs). It is ironic that this class-concious book was embraced by the do-it-yourself ground breaking women of America as well as the British aristocracy.

I hold Isabella Beeton in high regard. A person setting out to write a book this comprehensive today would have a staff of a dozen. And she incorporated so many innovations.  Just think what she might have accomplished, had she not died in 1865, when she was only twenty-eight years old. But her book goes on and on.

Although Mary Morgan would not have had the book in her kitchen in the 40’s and 50’s, it is appropriate because Mrs. Beeton would have been writing about tried and true techniques that had been around for a while. Cooking equipment had not changed much by the 1860s.

Mrs. Beeton’s Recipe

Her recipe for Rice Biscuits or Cakes is a typical example of the detail she goes into, even in a very simple recipe.  Each recipe is numbered, and they are arranged by category. This one comes in Chapter 35, Breads, Biscuits and Cakes, under the heading Baking: Recipes. (As opposed to Baking: General.)

Mrs. Beeton pioneered the now-familiar technique of separating the list of ingredients and the method of preparation.  She goes a step further and tells you how long it will take, what it will cost and how much it makes.  Thank goodness Bob’s Red Mill makes rice flour for me, so I don’t need to make my own. But if I did–Mrs. Beeton to the rescue.  She even is aware of her International audience–British and American. What a woman!

1746. INGREDIENTS – To every 1/2 lb. of rice-flour allow 1/4 lb. of pounded lump sugar, 1/4 lb. of butter, 2 eggs.

Mode.—Beat the butter to a cream, stir in the rice-flour and pounded sugar, and moisten the whole with the eggs, which should be previously well beaten. Roll out the paste, shape it with a round paste-cutter into small cakes, and bake them from 12 to 18 minutes in a very slow oven.

Time.—12 to 18 minutes. Average cost, 9d.

Sufficient to make about 18 cakes. Seasonable at any time.

GROUND RICE, or rice-flour, is used for making several kinds of cakes, also for thickening soups, and for mixing with wheaten flour in producing Manna Kroup. The Americans make rice-bread, and prepare the flour for it in the following manner:—When the rice is thoroughly cleansed, the water is drawn off, and the rice, while damp, bruised in a mortar: it is then dried, and passed through a hair sieve.

My Modern Adaptation

Although the cookies melt in your mouth and are satisfyingly sugary, I found them to be quite bland, and am looking forward to trying them again with a little more flavor–like lemon rind, cocoa or even cardamon.

But nothing could be simpler than these little cookies. Just four ingredients, stir, cut, bake, and eat.

Mrs. Beeton’s Rice Cakes

Serves 12
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Allergy Egg
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable
From book Mrs. Beeton's Household Management
Only four ingredients in this mid-19th century recipe for cookies made with rice flour. Yes, they are gluten free.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rice flour (white or brown rice flour)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4lb butter (salted)
  • 2 eggs (medium--not jumbo)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Beat butter until creamy.
3. Stir in 1 1/2 C rice flour and the sugar.
4. Beat eggs, and mix enough into flour mixture to make a soft, moist dough. Add more rice flour, a Tablespoon at a time, if necessary.
5. Chill dough briefly
6. Roll or pat out dough on floured (with rice flour) surface. Cut with round cookie cutter or glass.
7. Move cookies with spatula to lightly greased bakig pan. Sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon sugar if desired.
8. Bake 12-18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Note

If you use unsalted butter in the rice cakes, be sure to add a pinch of salt.

The dough for the rice cakes will be easier to handle if you chill it before patting or rolling. My dough was far too sticky to roll, so I just patted it out.

This dough is very delicate, so I do not recommend using fancy shapes--just round rice cakes.

This makes a rather small bunch of cookies.

If you wish, sprinkle sugar or cinnamon sugar on top before the cookies go in the oven.

Since the rice cakes are a little bland,you can experiment with other flavors, such as a little lemon rind, a few drops of peppermint extract or some cocoa powder, but don't tell Mrs. Beeton. That lady did not even use any vanilla for flavoring in these "cakes."

HEIRLOOM

The cookies are pictured on a delicate hand-crocheted doiley that I love.   Unfortunately, I do not know who made this doiley.  Best candidates are two aunts on my father’s side of the family--Irene Bucklew or Blanche Kaser.  Aren’t those pansies adorable? Every time I see this, I have a pang of regret that doileys have fallen out of favor in our no-nonsense age.

 

 

 

Letter from brother Alanson Platt

In June, 1933, Alanson Platt/Lanson visited his brother Asahel Platt in Killbuck, Ohio.  Alanson was a farmer who lived near Attica, New York at the time. In August, he wrote to Asahel worrying about the fact he had not heard from him. (See the story of Asahel Platt and his relationship to our family here.)  Asahel was the first husband of my 2x great-grandmother.

Platt letters

Asahel Platt’s brother Alanson Platt writes to him from Attica NY

Alanson Platt to Asahel 1833 pg 2

This letter was saved my my 2nd great grandmother Mary Platt Morgan and passed down to her daughter, her grand daughter, and her great grand daughter, my mother. I have a photo copy, and so this scan is not of the best quality.

Alanson had good handwriting, and was obviously educated, particularly in religion.  He spells well given that spelling was flexible to say the least in the era, and has the customary fancy handwriting.

Asahel might have been seriously ill. That is hinted at in the letter and in fact, he died in November, two months after the letter was written.

Alanson Platt wrote the letter September 13, 1833 and it was postmarked in Elyria, Ohio (near Cleveland) on September 16 to be directed to the post office in Millersburg, Ohio. Oxford/Killbuck did not yet have a post office.  From Elyria  it would have taken another three days or so to reach Millersburg, Ohio 14 miles from Killbuck.  I wonder if Asahel was well enough to read the letter, which was meant to solve perceived problems in his spiritual life. Presumably  Alanson feared Asahel would soon meet his Maker.

The letter comes in three main parts: Inquiring about the family and complaining about not getting mail; description of farm activities; concern for the soul of Asahel Platt.  In the following introduction, my  notes are in italics.

The Letter Transcript

Notes

Alanson Platt writes from Attica New York to his brother Asahel who is in Killbuck, Ohio. They were both born in Connecticut, but Alanson has lived in Attica for a year. He will later move to Ohio and is buried in Oberlin. Alanson is at least one year younger than Asahel. Asahel died in Killbuck in November 1833 at the age of 42, approximately 2 months after this letter was written.

I have inserted periods at the end of sentences and a few commas, as Alanson used no capitalization at the beginning of sentences, and no punctuation. He does capitalize words randomly (or if considered important) as they did in early 19th century.

Postal Rates

What is all this about sending as far as Cleveland by private conveyance, and filling up the paper? Until 1846, postal rates were based on sheets of paper rather than ounces, so a frugal person would fill up both sides of one sheet of paper for a bargain, which is what Alanson did. In addition to sheets of paper there were zones–so many miles meant so much postage.  Attica to Milersburg would have been 18 1/2 cents, whereas Cleveland to Millersburg would only be 10 cents–half as much!

Attica Sept 16th 1833

we feel very anxious to hear and hope if you have not already written that some one will write immediately

Dear Brother, having an opportunity to send as far as Cleavland (sic) by private conveyance, I take this opportunity to write a few lines in great haste. [We] have been looking for a letter from you for some time past and have sent to the office often for I long to hear from you not having heard anything since I left your house in June last And we have not heard anything from Lester [Alanson’s son] since he started for your house on the 3rd of July last and we feel very anxious to hear and hope if you have not already written that some one will write immediately And let us know if he has arrived. And let us know how your health is and all our friends there in Ohio.

Temperance and religion continued to flourish and increase
 

I have not received a letter from Csn [cousin] since I returned from Ohio but I have from brother Isaac several. [I]n his last report they were all in good health and he wrote that Temperance and religion continued to flourish and increase in that region of Country.

A Farmer’s Lament About Weather

[O]ur family are enjoying good health at present and have through the summer. I have been very busily employed since I returned from your house. the crop of grass has come in very abundant. I have but 50 tons of hay and between 20/30 loads of oats although they were not more than half a crop in consequence of the rains Mowing them on the flat ground, but the frost has cut short the corn here. [T]here has been 3 frosts in succession three nights past. we hope it has not entirely finished corn.

I feel that from a Child you have known too well the Holy Scriptures to be led away by the errorists that are around you

I want you to write me respecting the exercises(?) of your mind and whether you have a Comfortable hope that you do truly love the Lord Jesus and confide in him as your Saviour & Redeemer from sin & hell. I know that we are so inclined to look on ourselves with Complacency, that it is hard for us to come out of ourselves entirely and trust wholly in the merits of Christ for Salvation. But when we look at the Glorious plan of salvation provided in the Gospel we must admire it as the infinite wisdom of God whereby the Chief of sinners may be saved from eternal misery and make(?) him of everlasting Glory and hapiness (sic) through the atonement of Christ. I feel that from a Child you have known too well the Holy Scriptures to be led away by the errorists that are around you and I earnestly and affectionately intreat (sic) you to study the word of God with Serious & Prayerfull (sic) attention looking into and trusting in God for direction(?) and no doubt your faith will be like that of the just that shineth more and more unto that Happiest Day.

(page two)

I want to fill the sheet but have not time at present But I would commend you to God and the word(?) of his Grace, Praying that you may be led in the path of Duty by the power of the Holy Ghost through faith unto salvation. Give my ____to Mrs. Platt for I hope these few lines will find her enjoying the Comforts of a Good hope through Grace. But if they should not, tell her to continue in the exercise of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and hope will follow sooner or later as the jenuine (sic) fruit & love of faith.

Give my love to her two sisters that I saw at home and tell them that I have not forgotten to pray for them and I hope that they have not forgotten to pray for themselves if they have for me. I hope they will not forget the Lord Jesus Christ and his counsel to them in the Gospel if they should mine. O that they would be sure to ____the Saviour now in their youth for he will deliver them from the snare of the Devil.

[Mary Bassett had four sisters. The two he saw in Ohio were probably Martha Bassett Smith and Eliza Bassett Emerson, both of whom continued to live in Keene, Ohio. I have a portrait of Eliza]

Give my Love to Sister Phebe, [Their sister who lived in Mill Creek Township, Coshocton County, Ohio] and our friends and relatives there in Ohio. Likewise to Eldon Pendee(?) and all those around you that Love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

[O]ur family all send their Love to you and your and all inquiring Friends.

I ever remain your affectionate brother,

Lanson Platt

A Platt

P.S. I wish Lester Would be sure to write us soon and let us know his designs and wishes.

Note: Alanson had good reason to be concerned about Lester. He seemed to be quite the adventurer. He went from New York to Ohio and then struck out for Nebraska Territory where he was a farmer and an Indian Agent and started a school for his and his brother-in-law’s children as well as Pawnee children. The story I read covers the 40s into the early 60s of their lives. The two families lived in a Pawnee Village that was frequently raided by Sioux. After about twenty years, and being replaced by an Indian Agent who was an alcoholic (the Platts were Temperance and anti-Slavery advocates), Lester and his wife finally gave up and moved into a small town in Iowa.

 

Apple Pie Flavored Applesauce in Herloom Glass Bowl

Apples are such a mainstay of American cooking, that I have written about several ways to prepare them, but I have not talked about the simplest thing to do with a surplus of apples–make homemade applesauce. My grandmother (Vera Stout Anderson) cooked apples frequently. So it is only fitting that I follow the #52 Ancestors theme of the week, and serve the applesauce in Grandma’s pressed glass bowl.

Grandma had an old apple tree on the back of her Killbuck Ohio property and the apples were tiny but tasty, so although I don’t recall seeing her pick them, I suspect that some of those delicious stewed apples she made came from that tree. (I tinkered with that recipe, too, adding molasses instead of sugar.)

A Basket of Apples

I found a way to give my applesauce a little twist in flavor that makes it taste just like apple pie. Yum! Warning: This is a recipe where you have to trust your taste buds. Every variety of apple has a different amount of sugar, and even within varieties the sugar level will vary from month to month, so there is no way to get it properly seasoned except to taste, add, taste again. Only four ingredients here, with one more optional.

Apple Pie Applesauce

To make one quart plus a bit:

Wash, core, and cut in quarters or eighths about ten to twelve apples. (No need to peel).

Put them in a large saucepan and add water up to about half the height of the apples. If you cover them with water, you’ll just have to boil it away later, losing valuable nutrients.

Heat to a simmer, and simmer until you can easily puncture through the skin with a fork.

Let cool slightly and put in blender, or better yet, use a blender wand to mash them fine. (Poor Grandma, she had to use a potato masher.)

applesauce

A new twist on a vintage recipe served in an heirloom bowl.

Taste for sweetness and add a little sugar if you think it needs it.  Go slowly. You won’t need much sugar, if you want to keep the apple taste.  I added NO sugar to the batch I made with Liberty apples.

Sprinkle some nutmeg over. Taste. Again, this amount needs to be increased very slowly, with lots of tasting to be sure you don’t overdo it.

Finally, the secret ingredient that makes it taste like apple pie–add 1/2 teaspoon or so of vanilla extract.

Should fill a quart jar with maybe some left over.  Chill.

If you want it to taste even more like apple pie, heat the applesauce and add a pat of butter and serve it warm. (I’m making me hungry).

Grandma’s Glass Bowl

Heirloom glass bowl

Side view of Grandma’s glass bowl with scalloped edge

This is definitely not the fanciest antique that I have in my collection, but I love it because I remember it always being used on my Grandma Vera’s table.  It no doubt belonged to her mother, and so I speculate it dates from the late 1800’s. I tried doing a Google Image Search to find out something about this bowl, and while that has worked for other of the artifacts I inherited, I failed to find anything.

Heirloom Glass Bowl

Top down view of grandma’s glass blowl showing the distinctive leaf/petal pattern.

I would welcome any information anyone might have on this type of bowl. There is no hallmark on the bottom.

Heirloom glass bowl

Upside-down view of Grandma Vera’s Glass Bowl