Sunday, 16 March 2014

More Pages From The Surprise Cookbook c. 1868

Here are more pictures of The Surprise Cookbook. I apologize for the poor quality of some of these photographs. Click for a larger view.
They specify what the other sauces are for, but how are we to know what to use the egg sauce on?

Boiled squash and pumpkin? Why? They taste SO much better if you bake them.
I have never heard of either of these things.
Potato snow does sound very pretty in appearance, but how would one eat it?
This is the second recipe for pumpkin, several pages after the first. This happens more than once in this book. Cookbooks should not be this disorganized.
At the end of the book there is a chapter called Additional Recipes, which seems like an afterthought. It has recipes that should be in the other sections, but they're just jumbled together in one, as if they were forgotten when the rest of the book was being written.
I have never tasted them together but I seriously doubt that lettuce and gravy are compatible.
 Yay, it's the bread and cake section!

Where do these names come from?
I love how unspecific these are. How much is "some"?

The way the cup cake recipes are presented is quite amusing.

Oh dear, I just realized that some of these recipes are only half here because they continue onto the next page and I didn't photograph all the pages, sorry! I do want to make the whole book available somehow, so that you can see all of the recipes.
A drachm. I haven't seen that measurement anywhere before.

I see a typo!
The pastry section has some very nice illustrations of fruit. Thankfully they have not been scribbled on with crayon like most of the meat diagrams.
Some of these sound quite good. I'd like to try a few.


  1. Interestingly, the "drachm" is in my computer's dictionary. I had never heard of it either, which is odd, considering my background. Here it is.

    drachm |dram| (abbr.: dr.)
    1 a unit of weight formerly used by apothecaries, equivalent to 60 grains or one eighth of an ounce.
    • (also fluid drachm) a liquid measure formerly used by apothecaries, equivalent to 60 minims or one eighth of a fluid ounce.
    2 (in numismatics) an ancient silver coin based on the Attic or Hellenistic drachma. See also drachma .
    ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting the ancient Greek drachma): from Old French dragme or late Latin dragma, via Latin from Greek drakhmē (see drachma ).

    1. It's also in my computers dictionary, as is gill (the measurement given for brandy in the nicer cup cake), which is another measurement I hadn't heard of.

      gill |jil|
      A unit of liquid measure, equal to a quarter of a pint.

      ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French (gille "measure or container for wine") from late Latin (gillo "water pot.")

      That sounds like a hell of a lot of brandy to put in anything, especially a cup cake.

  2. Also, a cup cake is exactly that: a cake that you would measure out it's ingredients in CUPS as opposed to weighing them (which was standard). It wasn't until somewhere around the 1920s that cupcakes became what we recognize today.

    And brandy evaporates when cooking, so it merely becomes flavor. It is probably the primary flavor component of that cake (which was incredibly common at this time, as spices are expensive to buy and ship -- think of all of the colonies and wars fought over spice rights!). It's also only 8oz of brandy -- that's a juice glass! Not too much for a full cake recipe. When I think of how much I use in fruitcake...

    1. Fascinating! I didn't know that about cupcakes. Does this mean they were just baked in a regular cake pan?
      I've never heard of brandy being used as the main flavouring in cake, but I guess it would be tasty once the alcohol had evaporated.

  3. I've heard of potato snow. During World War Two, it often featured in cookery books. All it is is mashed potato. My parents were both adults in WW2 and so I guess that some of these recipes and units of measurements (like gill) are not too uncommon for me. I might try some of the recipes you give! Great reading! Natalie.

    1. Just mashed potato makes so much more sense! I was really confused by the part that said to dry them out, and was imagining a dry, starchy fluff.