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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Mary Randolph’s Recipe for Roast Turkey, 1828

Move over, Paula Deen!  Generations before the Food Network, the leading lady of Southern cookery was Mary Randolph.  Her book,  The Virginia Housewife, is considered the first American regional cookbook. The Virginia Housewife was very influential, with multiple editions printed during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Randolph aimed to streamline processes in the kitchen, noting “method is the soul of management.”  For all you busy Thanksgiving cooks out there, here’s her methodical approach to roast turkey:

TO ROAST A TURKEY.
Make the forcemeat thus: take the crumb of a loaf of bread, a quarter of a pound of beef suet shred fine, a little sausage meat or veal scraped and pounded very fine, nutmeg, pepper, and salt to your taste; mix it lightly with three eggs, stuff the craw with it, spit it, and lay it down a good distance from the fire, which should be clear and brisk; dust and baste it several times with cold lard; it makes the froth stronger than basting it with the hot out of the dripping pan, and makes the turkey rise better; when it is enough, froth it up as before, dish it, and pour on the same gravy as for the boiled turkey, or bread sauce; garnish with lemon and pickles, and serve it up; if it be of a middle size, it will require one hour and a quarter to roast.

View the full text at the Hathi Trust or Find the original in Special Collections

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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Remember, remember the fifth of November…

Today is Guy Fawkes Day. This day commemorates the foiled Gunpowder Plot, a plan to assassinate King James I by blowing up the House of Lords during the king’s opening address on November 5, 1605.

The Protestant James I was less favorable to religious freedom than many of his subjects had hoped he would be.  Led by Richard Catesby, a small group of English Catholics planned to kill the king, place his Catholic daughter on the throne, and start a popular revolt in order to restore the country to Catholic rule.  They rented a storage area under the chamber of the House of Lords and packed it with gunpowder, intending to ignite it when the king visited to open the session.

An anonymous tip in the early hours of November 5 led to the arrest of Guy Fawkes, who had been guarding the explosives, and who confessed the details of the plot under torture.  Several other conspirators were captured and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, a fate Fawkes avoided by jumping off the scaffold to his death.

James allowed his subjects to celebrate his survival with bonfires, and the observance became mandatory the next year with the passage of the Thanksgiving Act. Early celebrations involved artillery salutes, bell-ringing, sermons, and fireworks.

Special Collections has a few dozen pamphlets related to Guy Fawkes Night celebrations, from King James’ speech in 1605 to Victorian tracts and sermons. Find a full list of holdings in the MERLIN library catalog.

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