I thought you might enjoy reading these vintage recipes from the early 1800's.
The best way to cook Irish potatoes, is to pare and put them in a pot, with just boiling water enough to prevent their burning, and a little salt. Cover them tight, and let them stew till you can stick a fork through them easily. If any water remains in the pot, turn it off, put the pot where it will keep moderately warm, and let the potatoes steam a few moments longer. The easiest way to cook them, is to put them in boiling water, with the skins on, and boiled constantly till done. They will not be mealy if they lie soaking in the water without boiling. They are more mealy to peel them as soon as tender, and then put back in the pot without any water, and set in a warm place where they will steam, with the lid of the pot off. Old and poor potatoes are best boiled till soft, then peeled and mashed fine, with a little salt, butter, and very little milk put in—then put into a dish, smoothed over with a knife, a little flour sprinkled over it, and put where it will brown. Cold mashed, or whole boiled potatoes, are nice cut in slices, and fried with just butter or lard enough to prevent their burning. When brown on both sides, take them up, salt and butter them. Most potatoes will boil in the course of half an hour—new ones will boil in less time. Sweet potatoes are better baked than boiled.
97. Potato Snow Balls.
Take the white mealy kind of potatoes—pare them, and put them into just boiling water enough to cover them—add a little salt. When boiled tender, drain off the water, and let them steam till they break to pieces—take them up, put two or three at a time compactly together in a strong cloth, and press them tight, in the form of a ball—then lay them in your potatoe dish carefully, so as not to fall apart.
White turnips require about as much boiling as potatoes. When tender, take them up, peel and mash them—season them with a little salt and butter. Yellow turnips require about two hours boiling—if very large, split them in two. The tops of white turnips make a good salad.
Beets should not be cut or scraped before they are boiled, or the juice will run out, and make them insipid. In summer, they will boil in an hour—in winter, it takes three hours to boil them tender. The tops in summer are good boiled for greens. Boiled beets cut in slices, and put in cold spiced vinegar for several days, are very nice.
100. Parsnips and Carrots.
Wash them, and split them in two—lay them in a stew pan, with the flat side down, turn on boiling water enough to cover them—boil them till tender, then take them up, and take off the skin, and butter them. Many cooks boil them whole, but it is not a good plan, as the outside gets done too much, before the inside is cooked sufficiently. Cold boiled parsnips are good cut in slices, and fried brown.
Peel and put them in boiling milk, (water will do, but it is not as good.) When boiled tender, take them up, salt them, and turn a little melted butter over them.
Scrape and put them in boiling water, with a table spoonful of salt to a couple of dozen. When boiled tender, (which will be in about two hours,) take them up, salt and butter each one.
Summer squashes, if very young, may be boiled whole—if not, they should be pared, quartered, and the seeds taken out. When boiled very tender, take them up, put them in a strong cloth, and press out all the water—mash them, salt and butter them to your taste. The neck part of the winter squash is the best. Cut it in narrow strips, take off the rind, and boil the squash in salt and water till tender—then drain off the water, and let the pumpkin steam over a moderate fire for ten or twelve minutes. It is good not mashed—if mashed, add a little butter.
104. Cabbage and Cauliflowers.
Trim off the loose leaves of the cabbage, cut the stalky in quarters, to the heart of the cabbage—boil it an hour. If not boiled with corned beef, put a little salt in the water in which they are boiled. White cauliflowers are the best. Take off the outside leaves, cut the stalk close to the leaves, let them lie in salt and cold water for half an hour before boiling them—boil them fifteen or twenty minutes, according to their size. Milk and water is the best to boil them in, but clear water does very well. Put a little salt in the pot in which they are boiled.
Cut the white part of the stalks off, and throw it away—cut the lower part of the stalks in thin slices if tough, and boil them eight or ten minutes before the upper part is put in. Lay the remainder compactly together, tie it carefully in small bundles, and boil it from fifteen to twenty minutes, according to its age. Boil a little salt with them, and a quarter of a tea spoonful of saleratus, to two or three quarts of water, to preserve their fresh green color. Just before your asparagus is done, toast a slice of bread, moisten it with a little of the asparagus liquor, lay it in your asparagus dish, and butter it—then take up the asparagus carefully with a skimmer, and lay it on the toast, take off the string, salt it, and turn a little melted butter over the whole.
Peas should be put into boiling water, with salt and saleratus, in the proportion of a quarter of a tea spoonful of saleratus to half a peck of peas. Boil them from fifteen to thirty minutes, according to their age and kind. When boiled tender, take them out of the water with a skimmer, salt and butter them to the taste. Peas to be good should be fresh gathered, and not shelled till just before they are cooked.
107. Sweet Corn.
Corn is much sweeter to be boiled on the cob. If made into sucatosh, cut it from the cobs, and boil it with Lima beans, and a few slices of salt pork. It requires boiling from fifteen to thirty minutes, according to its age.
108. To cook various kinds of Beans.
French beans should have the strings taken off—if old, the edges should be cut off, and the beans cut through the middle. Boil them with a little salt, from twenty-five to forty minutes, according to their age. A little saleratus boiled with them preserves their green color, and makes them more healthy. Salt and butter them when taken up. Lima beans can be kept the year round, by being perfectly dried when fresh gathered in the pods, or being put without drying into a keg, with a layer of salt to each layer of beans, having a layer of salt at the bottom of the keg. Cover them tight, and keep them in a cool place. Whenever you wish to cook them, soak them over night, in cold water—shell and boil them, with a little saleratus. White beans for baking, should be picked over carefully to get out the colored and bad ones. Wash and soak them over night in a pot, set where they will keep lukewarm. There should be about three quarts of water to three pints of the beans. The next morning set them where they will boil, with a tea spoonful of saleratus. When they have boiled four or five minutes, take them up with a skimmer. Put them in a baking pot. Gash a pound of pork, and put it down in the pot, so as to have the beans cover all but the upper surface—turn in cold water till you can just see it at the top. They will bake in a hot oven, in the course of three hours—but they are better to remain in it five or six hours. Beans are good prepared in the same manner as for baking, and stewed several hours without baking.
White mustard, spinach, water cresses, dandelions, and the leaves and roots of very small beets, are the best greens. Boil them with a little salt and saleratus in the water. If not fresh and plump, soak them in salt and water half an hour before cooking them. When they are boiled enough, they will sink to the bottom of the pot.
To be in perfection, salads should be fresh gathered, and kept in cold water for an hour before they are put on the table. The water should be drained from them, and if you have not any salad oil, melt a little butter and put it in a separate dish—if turned over the salad, it will not be crispy.
To be healthy they should not be picked longer than a day before they are to be eaten. They should be kept in cold water, and fifteen or twenty minutes before they are to be eaten, pare and slice them into fresh cold water, to take out the slimy matter. Just before they are put on the table, drain off the water. Put them in a deep dish; sprinkle on a good deal of salt and pepper—cover them with vinegar. Cucumbers are thought by many people to be very unhealthy, but if properly prepared, they will not be found to be any more unwholesome than most other summer vegetables.
112. To stew Mushrooms.
Cut off the lower part of the stem, as it is apt to have an earthy taste. Peel and put them in a saucepan, with just water enough at the bottom, to prevent their burning to the pan. Put in a little salt, and shake them occasionally while stewing, to prevent their burning. When they have stewed quite tender, put in a little butter and pepper—add spices and wine if you like. They should stew very slowly till tender, and not be seasoned till just before they are taken up. Serve them up on buttered toast.
113. Egg Plant.
Boil them a few moments to extract the bitter taste—then cut them in thick slices; sprinkle a little salt between each slice. Let them lie half an hour—then fry them till brown in lard.
This is an excellent vegetable, but is little known. The stalks of it can hardly be distinguished from celery, and it is much easier cultivated. The roots are nice boiled tender, cut in thin slices, and put in soup or meat pies; or cooked in the following manner, and eaten with meat. Scrape and cut them in slices. Boil them till very tender—then drain off the water. Sprinkle a little salt over them—turn in milk enough to cover them. When they have stewed about four or five minutes, turn them into a dish, and add a little butter.
115. Salsify or Vegetable Oyster.
The best way to cook it is to parboil it, (after scraping off the outside,) then cut it in slices, dip it into a beaten egg, and fine bread crumbs, and fry it in lard. It is very good boiled, then stewed a few minutes in milk, with a little butter and salt. Another way which is very good, is to make a batter of wheat flour, milk and eggs; cut the Salsify in thin slices, (after having been boiled tender,) put them into the batter with a little salt; drop this mixture into hot fat, by the large spoonful. When a light brown, they are cooked sufficiently.
If very ripe will skin easily; if not, pour scalding water on them, and let them remain in it four or five minutes. Peel and put them in a stew pan, with a table spoonful of water, if not very juicy; if so, no water will be required. Put in a little salt, and stew them for half an hour; then turn them into a deep dish with buttered toast. Another way of cooking them, which is considered very nice by epicures, is to put them in a deep dish, with fine bread crumbs, crackers pounded fine, a layer of each alternately; put small bits of butter, a little salt, and pepper on each layer—some cooks add a little nutmeg and sugar. Have a layer of bread crumbs on the top. Bake it three quarters of an hour.
Take an equal quantity of young tender ocra chopped fine, and ripe tomatoes skinned, an onion cut into slices, a small lump of butter, a little salt and pepper. Put the whole in a stew pan, with a table spoonful of water, and stew it till tender.
118. Southern manner of Boiling Rice.
Pick over the rice, rinse it in cold water a number of times, to get it perfectly clean; drain off the water, then put it in a pot of boiling water, with a little salt. Allow as much as a quart of water to a tea-cup of rice, as it absorbs the water very much while boiling. Boil it seventeen minutes; then turn the water off very close; set the pot over a few coals, and let it steam fifteen minutes with the lid of the pot off. The beauty of rice boiled in this way, is, that each kernel stands out by itself, while it is quite tender. Great care is necessary to be used in the time of boiling and steaming it, as a few moments variation in the time, makes a great deal of difference in the looks of it. The water should boil hard when the rice is put in, and not suffered to stop boiling, till turned off to have the rice steamed. The water that the rice is boiled in, makes good starch for muslin, if boiled a few minutes by itself.