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Dec 5, 2013 07:05 PM

1887 tips and advice

I'm in the process of selling some cookbooks, and this one in particular is so much fun that I thought I'd share some excerpts. It's called "The White House Cookbook," first published in 1887, one of the co-authors being Hugo Ziemann, who was steward of the White House, apparently during the McKinley administration. It's a big book, over 500 pages, and mostly food recipes, but quite a bit of tips, remedies, advice, warnings.

Tobacco smoke, puffed into the ear, has oftentimes been effectual.

Put into a panful a spoonful of grated horseradish, it will keep it sweet for days.

If meat, poultry fish, vegetable, or nay other article of food, when found frozen, is thawed but putting it into warm water or placing it before the fire, it will most certainly spoil by that process, and be rendered unfit to eat. Then only way to thaw these things is by immersing them on sold water. [Note that they speak of things "found" frozen, presumably accidentally.)

Asparagus - which should be always served on bread or toast so as to absorb superfluous moisture - may be taken from the finger and thumb.

Green corn should be eaten from the cob; but it must be held with a single hand.

A family dinner, even with a few friends, can be made quite attractive and satisfactory without much display or expense; consisting first of good soup, then fish garnished with suitable additions, followed by a roast; then vegetables and some made dishes, a salad, crackers, cheese and olives, then dessert. This sensible meal, well cooked and neatly served, is pleasing to almost any one, and is within the means of any housekeeper in ordinary circumstances.

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  1. I have quite a few comments about this, but the glaringly obvious one is how the hell do you eat corn on the cob with one hand?

    Thanks for sharing these snippets!

    2 Replies
    1. re: nothingswrong

      Well, in Cyprus, you come across street vendors cooking corn on a BBQ. They serve it to you with a wooden skewer in one end, so you eat sort of one-handed - a corn lollipop if you like.

      1. re: Harters

        on this side of the pond....they use the husk over the stalk end

    2. My grandma used to blow smoke in our ears when we had earaches! She would mix poppyseeds in to her pipe tobacco first, light it and gently exhale into our ears. It worked!

      2 Replies
      1. re: tacosandbeer

        I think the poppy (opium) was the real remedy in this case, not the tobacco.

        1. re: melpy

          My thoughts exactly. Compounds contained in the humble poppy would have explained this.
          P.S. All Hounds...avoid eating poppy seed bagels or anything with poppy prior to a job interview involving a drug test. It could permanently rearrange your vocational direction.

      2. Might you share some unusual recipes? What was the weirdest thing served to the Prez in 1887?

        1. Was the recipient of the earache cure many times as a youngling.