Archive for the ‘reference books’ Category

You can now visit A Sweet Remembrance on facebook and Pinterest!

Pinterest boards.  I think you will especially like the one I have set up that shows images of antique clothing, as well as my Dream Home, garden, 18th century kitchen and portrait boards.


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Cookbooks sitting on a 19th century Texas table in original black paint, made by my great great grandfather.

Today is the 202nd anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.  One of my favorite stories about Abraham Lincoln is one that he often told about his extreme fondness for gingerbread.

Once in a while my mother used to get some sorghum and some ginger and mix us up a batch of gingerbread.  It wasn’t often and it was our biggest treat.  One day I smelled it and came into the house to get my share while it was hot.  I found she had baked me three gingerbread men, and I took them out under a hickory tree to eat them.

There was family near us, who were a little poorer than we were, and their boy came along as I sat down.  “Abe,” he said, edging close, “gimme a man.”      I gave him one.  He crammed it into his mouth at two bites and looked at me while I bit the legs from my first one.  “Abe,” he said, “gimme that other’n.”  I wanted it, but I gave it to him, and as it followed the first one I said, “You seem to like gingerbread.”  “Abe,” he said earnestly, “I don’t s’pose there’s anybody on this earth likes gingerbread as well as I do,” – and drawing a sigh that brought up crumbs – “an’ I don’t s’pose there’s anybody gets less of it.”

You can read about this encounter and many other fascinating Lincoln food facts along with period recipes in Lincoln’s Table A president’s Culinary Journey from Cabin to Cosmopolitan by Donna D. McCreary, ISBN 978-0-9795383-1-5.  For even more Lincoln recipes, turn to Miss Leslie’s Directions for Cookery by Eliza Leslie ISBN 0-486-40614-8.  Mary Todd Lincoln is known to have purchased a copy of this receipt book when the Lincoln’s were residing in Illinois.

These are two receipts that I enjoy, in case you would like to bake some gingerbread to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday.

Eli Whitney’s Grandmother’s Chewy Ginger Cookies

Eli Whitney (1765-1825) dearly loved these cookies that his grandmother made.

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon each of cinnamon & ginger

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses

1/4 cup sour milk

4 cups flour

Blend butter, soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.  Add sugar and beat until smooth.  Add the egg, molasses and sour milk.  Gradually stir in the flour.  Drop from the tip of a teaspoon on to greased baking sheets.  Let stand for 10 minutes, then flatten cookies with a glass covered with a damp cloth.  Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for 12 to 15 minutes.

Rum Gingerbread

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

2- 1/2 cups flour

1- 3/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup molasses

3/4 cup hot water

1/4 cup rum

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Combine butter, sugar and egg.  Stir in dry ingredients alternately with the molasses, water and rum.  Pour into a buttered 9 x 12- inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  You may substitute buttermilk for the water and rum.

Sorghum Gingerbread

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

12 teaspoon cloves

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup lard

1 cup sorghum

1 cup hot water

Stir the dry ingredients together.  Mix the lard, butter and hot water together and when melted,pour into the flour mixture.  Stir well, then add the eggs and sorghum and stir again.  Spoon the batter into a buttered and floured baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

If you share Mr. Lincoln’s love of gingerbread you may also want to find these books:

Gingerbread 99 Delicious Recipes from Sweet to Savory by Linda Merinoff.

Gingerbread Timeless Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Desserts, Ice Cream and Candy by Jennifer Lindner McGlinn.

The Gingerbread Book by Allen Bragdon.

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If you have been looking for a Valentine’s Day project, let me suggest two heart-shaped pincushions from the Amusing Work section of  The American Girl’s Book; or, Occupation for Play Hours by Miss Eliza Leslie, Boston: Munroe and Francis; New York: C.S. Francis, 1831.












The American Girl’s Book, or Girl’s Own Book as is printed on the spine and cover title, contains games, plays, riddles and sewing projects for young girls.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book, it became a childhood standard whose immense popularity resulted in 16 editions in its first 23 years alone. The final paragraph of the introduction to the book states, “The author of this little book has not aimed at compiling a juvenile encyclopedia. – It is simply an unpretending manual of light and exhilarating amusements; most of which will be found on trial to answer the purpose of unbending the mind or exercising the body, and at the same time interesting the attention.”

Miss Leslie, author of The American Girl’s Book, was an amazingly prolific writer and editor, all the more astonishing for a woman during the time in which she lived. Eliza Leslie was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Robert Leslie and Lydia Baker Leslie on November 15, 1787 and died at the age of 70 in Gloucester, New Jersey on January 1, 1858.

When her first cookbook, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, was published in 1828, it was credited as being written by “a Lady of Philadelphia”.  By 1831, Miss Leslie felt confident enough to publish The American Girl’s Book under her own name. Her written works for children and adults include a novel, short stories, magazine articles, cookbooks, and manuals on housekeeping and etiquette.

Miss Leslie edited an annual book entitled The Gift that included such illustrious contributors as Edgar Allan Poe. In 1843, she edited Miss Leslie’s Magazine, which contained the writings of Lydia Huntley Sigourney, Park Benjamin, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow among others. The magazine underwent two name changes before eventually merging with Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1846.

By the end of her life, Miss Leslie was a well-established celebrity in Philadelphia and known for her work throughout the United States. In fact, Mary Todd Lincoln is known to have purchased one of Miss Leslie’s cookbooks while the Lincolns were living in Illinois.

Many of Miss Leslie’s receipts, games and projects, like these pincushions, are as delightful now as they were 180 years ago. Intended as a sewing project for a beginning seamstress, the pincushions are  a wonderful parent and child project or a charming Valentine’s gift for any of your dear friends that sew.  I think that Miss Leslie would be pleased that her “amusing work” is still “interesting the attention” of people today.

Project Instructions

A Heart Pincushion

Cut two pieces of linen into the shape of a half-handkerchief.  Sew them  together, leaving a small open space at the top, and stuff them very hard with bran, or wool.  When sufficiently stuffed, sew up the opening and cover the pincushion with silk, sewed very neatly over the edge.  Then make two upper corners of the pincushion meet, and fasten them well together.  This will bring the pincushion into the shape of a heart.  Put a string to the top.  Emery bags are frequently made in this manner.  Pincushions should always be stuffed with bran, wool, or flannel.  Cotton will not do.

1. I started this project by cutting out a 7 inch square of linen and of red polished cotton for the pincushion and a 2-1/4 inch square of canvas (I picked canvas over linen to keep the emery from seeping through the weave)  and a 2-1/4 inch square of red polished cotton for the emery.  I didn’t have any red or pink silk on hand, but I did have some lovely vintage scarlet polished cotton.  You may certainly cut to triangles like the original instructions advise, or you may decide to simple fold a square, like I did and skip sewing one seam. 🙂   You may also change the size of the triangles/squares until they meet your preference.

2.  I folded my squares into a triangle and sewed along the edges of the linen, leaving an opening for stuffing, then turned them right side out.  I repeated this step with the polished cotton, leaving quite a large opening in one side so that I could insert the linen triangles after they were stuffed.





3.  Stuff your pincushion firmly with wool.  I find bran very difficult to come by, and Miss Leslie was absolutely correct in stating that cotton will not do, because it is quite difficult to stick pins into something that is firmly stuffed with cotton.  If you are making an emery, it is easiest to pour the emery into the opening using a small baby’s spoon.   Sew the openings closed after stuffing.

4. Slip the stuffed triangles into the decorative outer covers and sew the opening in the seam closed with matching thread.

5. Stitch two points of your triangle firmly together and put a string or ribbon through the top.  I chose to use silk ribbon that I dyed to match my scarlet fabric.

A Bunch of Hearts

Cut out ten or twelve hearts of double paste board; that is two pieces of pasteboard for each heart.  Cover them with different shades of red silk, crimson, scarlet and pink, sewing them very neatly at the edges.  Sew a string of narrow ribbon to the top of each, and tie the ends of all the strings together.  Stick pins round the edge of each pincushion where the two sides unite.  These  bunches of hearts look very pretty when hung on a toilet-glass.

1. To start this project I cut out several paper hearts and chose the one I liked best.  Then I traced the shape of the paper heart on to lightweight card board.  You will need two pieces of cardboard for each heart you make.  Next I cut out the cardboard hearts.

2.  I used my paper heart to trace the same shape onto red polished cotton, adding 3/8th of an inch for a seam allowance all the way around. Then I cut out the fabric hearts.

3. I stitched the two fabric heart together, making sure that the right sides of the fabric were turned to the inside.   Make a 1/4 inch seam, you need that extra 1/8 inch for the thickness of the cardboard. Leave a large opening in one side so that you can insert the cardboard.

4. Turn the heart right side out, tuck two cardboard hearts into the fabric heart.  Sew the opening closed and sew a matching ribbon to the top of the heart.

5.  Add pins around the edges, I used vintage brass pins.  Repeat to your heart’s content. 🙂  Then dangle them from the mirror of your dressing table (aka toilet-glass).

One Additional Heart

Since I already had all of the right fabric and notions out, I did make one more heart.  I was inspired by a photograph of a lovely heart that  Christine Crocker posted on her blog last February.

I chose one of my cutout paper hearts and traced it onto the front side of my red polished cotton with a pencil, next I added a 1/2 inch seam allowance and cut the heart out of a double thickness of fabric.

I pinned the two fabric hearts together and handstiched along the pencil line, leaving an opening along one side of the heart.  Next, without tying off my thread, I stuffed the heart firmly with cotton, then finished sewing along my pencil guideline.

Finally I hand pinked the edges using a sharp pair of embroidery scissors.  Pinking sheers will not work for this, you must hand pink.

While I don’t love my heart quite as much as I do Christine’s, I am quite pleased with the results.  I think it would be fun to make up one to hang in every window (in my case that means I need to get busy and make 42 more!)

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One of my chief passions in life is reading.  There is something wonderful about books.  They can entertain you by transporting you to other times and places, or they can educate you on any subject that you desire.  They are the perfect companion for almost any occasion, but especially on a cold winter’s day.

There is nothing better than curling up in a high backed wing chair, beside a roaring fire with a hot cup of tea and a good book.

These are some of the books that I love and would recommend.

My list of perennial favorites includes all of Jane Austin’s books, any Mary Poppins book by P.L.Travers and the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis.  I re-read these books every year or two, always with a great deal of pleasure, and in fact they are the only books that I can bear to read over and over again.

If you wish to travel back in time, any of these books would be a good choice.

Blindspot by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore

A Wicked Way to Burn, A Mischief in the Snow, and No Rest for the Dove by Margaret Miles

The Tale of Hill Top Farm, The Tale of Holly How, The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood, The Tale of Hawthorn House , The Tale of Briar Bank, The Tale of Applebeck Orchard, and The Tale of Oat Cake Crag by Susan Wittig Albert.

The Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries by C.S. Harris, What Angels Fear, When God’s Die,  Why Mermaids Sing, Where Serpents Sleep, What Remains of Heaven, and coming out in March Where Shadows Dance.

Death on a Silver Tray, The Tainted Snuff Box, The Bloodied Cravat and Murder in the Pleasure Gardens by Rosemary Stevens.

If you are a Jane Austin fan try any or all of Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austin mystery series, or The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austin by Syrie James.

I’m currently reading A Marked Man by Barbara Hamilton which is a mystery about Abigale Adams.   I’m on page 88 and so far I really like it.  There is another book in this series called The Ninth Daughter, which I haven’t read, but I plan to.

When you are in the mood for a beautifully written faerie tale I would suggest any book written by Patricia A. McKillip.

Excellent non fiction choices are:

Woman’s Painted Furniture 1790 – 1830 by Betsy Krieg Salm.

Connecticut Needlework Women, Art and Family 1740-1840 by Susan P. Schoelwer.

American Folk by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

American Folk Dolls by Wendy Lavitt.

Labors of Love America’s Textiles and Needlework 1650-1930 by Judith Reiter Weissman and Wendy Lavitt.

The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks by Carolyb J. Weekly.

Those are probably enough recommendations for now.  If I went through all of my bookshelves, this post would be never ending.:)

Do you have a favorite book that you would like to suggest as a good read in winter? 

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This is an ongoing list of  Open Hearth Cookbooks and magazines that I particularly like.  Please feel free to comment if you have a great resource to add to the list.  I just love “new” (to me) cookbooks! 🙂

The Williamsburg Art of Cookery or Accomplish’d Gentlewoman’s Companion: Being a Collection of upwards of Five Hundred of the most Ancient & Approv’d Recipes in Virginia Cookery, published by Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The Early American Cookbook – Authentic Favorites for the Modern Kitchen by Dr. Kristie Lynn and Robert W. Pelton.

The Virginia Housewife Or, Methodical Cook – A Facsimile of an Authentic Early American Cookbook by Mary Randolph.

Miss Leslie’s Directions for Cookery – An Unabridged Reprint of the 1851 Classic by Eliza Leslie.

The Kentucky Housewife by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, originally published in 1839.

Boston Cooking School Cook Book a Reprint of the 1884 Classic by Mrs. D. A. Lincoln.

Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book by Catharine E. Beecher.

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One of my favorite cookbooks is The Williamsburg Art of Cookery or Accomplish’d Gentlewoman’s Companion: Being a Collection of upwards of Five Hundred of the most Ancient & Approv’d Recipes in Virginia Cookery, published by Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia.  The book is filled with a wonderful collection of receipts, and out of all of them the one that’s  been the overwhelming favorite of everyone that I’ve served it to is Tea Punch.

Tea Punch

To three cups of strong green Tea put the Rind of six Lemons, pared very thin, one and one half Pounds of Sugar, Juice of six Lemons.  Stir together a few Minutes, then strain, and lastly add one Quart of good Rum.  Fill the Glasses with crushed Ice when used.  It will keep bottled.  Old Williamsburg Recipe

Make sure to serve this punch in very small glasses!  It is very smooth and quite deceptively potent.

If you would like to order a copy of this cookbook, you can shop online at Colonial Williamsburg’s  website.

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