December 12, 2016

18th Century Syringe Biscuits

This is a great recipe to break your mom's ancient syringe cookie maker from the cabinet! The taste, and recipe is almost identical to modern Italian Almond Cookies or marzipan and would be a fun, historical recipe to add to the list of Christmas cookies this year.

This recipe is essentially marzipan and is very similar to one used today in Denmark for Marzipan ring cakes or kransekage. Kransekage are a traditional Danish New Year's and wedding treat. They make each ring slightly bigger than the one before and after they are baked, stack them to form a tree and drizzle icing on top. It's a wedding tradition to let the couple remove the top layer of the ring cake together. While no one knows the origin of marzipan almost every European country has a form of it and in many countries it has a romantic implication. In Italian, the word for marzipan itself has romantic connotations. It was even featured in Romeo and Juliet.

18th Century Syringe Biscuits


- 2 Cups pounded, blanched Almonds
- 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- Egg Whites
- Lemon Peel


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pound your blanched almonds until they are smooth, add the powdered sugar and the lemon peel. Mix in egg whites little by little until it forms a smooth, easily malleable paste. Put your paste into your syringe and squeeze one long line on a floured surface and cut it into 3 inch sections. Connect the ends of each section to form loops. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper place biscuits on the baking sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes. Watch closely as these don't brown like most baked goods. Let cool and enjoy!

*For this recipe you need a homemade syringe like the one pictured, a churro maker, or an old-fashioned cookie syringe that lets you choose the amount of dough on release. If none of these are available you can roll the dough "snake" style on a floured surface.

**To speed things up you can use store bought almond flour and powdered sugar. You can make period powdered sugar by pulverizing granulated sugar in a food processor. Period powdered sugar did not have cornstarch it in as most commercial powdered sugars have today.

Colonial marzipan almond paste cookie recipe

December 8, 2016

Tans'ur's Tune: An 18th Century Hymn

I'm starting this off with the disclaimer that I am NOT musical and this particular song did not fit the musical principals of the present day as my limited musical ability understands them. A more musical person could no doubt understand more and make more of the music than I ever could but I was interested in trying to get a little taste of this 18th century song written by William Tans'ur. Hope you enjoy!

This song was collected by John Wesley and reprinted in 1737 in the first Anglican hymnal published in the Colonies, The Collection of Psalms and Hymns.

If anyone is interested in recording this for real, let me know, I would love to post it!

November 9, 2016

Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party

I haven't written a Secret Life of Bloggers blog post in forever! I've been doing a lot, mostly working and enjoying whats left of fall. This season has been a roller coaster of highs and lows. Hot days, cold days, rainy days, hot days again. 

The Old Third Presbyterian Church, home of the first Vacation Bible School is still in dire need of repair. I've been spending a lot of time with the Chester Historical Preservation Committee in trying to preserve it.

This is my view on the way to work if I come at just the right time when the sun is rising.

Participated in some flax processing and weaving.
 I didn't get to go anywhere to watch the leave change so I did quite a bit of capturing the palette locally.

A sunset I happened to catch while not catching the dog I was trying to catch.

These are the biggest sunflowers I have ever seen! They had to have been a foot in diameter each.

Lovely day of archaeology at Newlin Grist Mill. A huge turnout of volunteers.

I love watching the sparks swirl around the forge on these cold days.

Even decided he was done being a steer and would rather be a chicken.

Forgive my tons of photos of the leaves but they were just so beautiful I couldn't help myself.

Nothing warms my heart more than to see 21st century children adopt the mindset of 18th century ones when presented with the same options. A bunch of kids crammed themselves on the "warm spot" in the cold room.

It's waaaaaaay to early in the season to have to scrape frost off my car!

"Is that a handful of grain in your pocket?"

I'm afraid the last of the fall days are behind us and winter is here.

Hope you enjoyed my photos and I would love to hear what has been keeping you all busy. I will be visiting Williamsburg soon, please send me an email or facebook message if you would like to meet up!

October 23, 2016

Hannah Glasse's Revolutionary War Era Lip Salve Recipe

Mr. Fribble: I’ll endeavour to muster up what little spirits I have, and tell you the whole affair. Hem ! But; first, you must give me leave to make you a present of a small pot of my lip-salve. My servant made it this morning: the ingredients are innocent, I assure you; nothing but the best virgin-wax, conserve of roses, and lily-of-the-valley water. 

Biddy: I thank you, Sir, but my lips are generally red; and when they an’t, I bite ’em. 

Mr. Fribble: I bite my own sometimes, to pout ’em a little; but this will give them a softness, colour, and an agreeable moister. Thus let me make an humble offering at that shrine, where I have already sacrificed my heart. 

Miss in Her Teens; or The Medley of Lovers 1747

Colonial Lip Balm Recipe

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy was a best seller 100 years after it was first published and was a huge success in the American Colonies before and after the American Revolution. It's the go-to book on English cooking in the 1700s but Hannah Glasse also included this lovely gem of a recipe for how to make lip salve. It's great protection for lips in the chilly months.

The book went through numerous editions, and while most recipes stayed the same, the lip salve recipe changed between printings. The salve recipe given in the 1774 edition is much more resource intensive and intricate, by the 1778 printing the recipe was pared down to a few ingredients. Whether this change was caused by the rising prices in Britain due to the high cost of war in the colonies which raised taxes in England is speculative but not implausible. The 1774 recipe called for pricey ingredients such as sugar, spermaceti, and Balsam of Peru but only 4 years later a simple mixture of beeswax and lard.

I am excited to share this recipe because it is so quick and easy. Also the base recipe is so basic, it can be used for almost any time period by varying the pigments and scents. It's important to note that men and women alike used lip salve, with tint or without tint despite the changing makeup trends for men throughout the century.

18th Century Cosmetic Makeup Recipe

Hannah Glasse's 18th Revolutionary War Era Lip Salve


- 8 ounces Hog's Lard
- 4 Tablespoons Beeswax, shaved to tiny pieces
- Alkanet Root, soaked to release the pigment (or food coloring)
- Lemon Oil

Equipment: For home use (not over a fire, in period basins) I found the following equipment helpful.

- Glass measuring cup
- Empty tin cans with a spout made by using pliers.
- Tins/containers to hold your salve. I find it helps to have an Altoids tin or something similar in case there is any extra salve. 1/2 the recipe makes 125 grams.


Open your tins. Heat the lard and wax in a dish with a spout or measuring cup. If using a microwave, just heat the mixture in 30 second increments until it is fully melted. If using the stove top, you may want to create a double boiler by half submerging your measuring cup in water. Once combined, let cool for a minute or two until the measuring cup is safe to handle. Add scent, and coloring if desired and stir in with a skewer. Pour into your tins, being careful not to spill the hot liquid on yourself. Let cool until the liquid solidifies. Put the lids on the tins and use.

**If you are making more than one variety, divide the mixture into your cans. Add the scents and coloring as you please and pour a small amount into your tins. Let sit until cool enough to handle but still liquid. Scents of the time period include: Rose, jasmine, violet, nutmeg, orange flower water.1

*** You can also substitute ethically sourced palm oil as a vegetarian alternative to the lard as it has the same density.

18th century Colonial Lip Balm Chapped Lips Remedy

1 Buc'hoz, Pierre-Joseph. The Toilet of Flora. London: Printed for W. Nicoll, 1772.

October 2, 2016

WARNING Photo Heavy Post! 18th Century Trades at Newlin Grist Mill

I don't even know where to start with the Fall Harvest Festival at Newlin Grist Mill in Glenn Mills, PA. So much was going on my head is still spinning! There were so many interesting an unique displays, and I didn't even get to see them all.    

If you've never been to Newlin, the site has a many historical buildings: houses, a mill with working water wheel, blacksmith shop, and log cabin. I stayed mostly in the mill today. We were lucky the rain held off until the event finished and there was quite a decent turn out. 

Carpentry. Rich Schuman of For Woodness Sake using a spring pole lathe to make wooden spoons and bowls.

Silhouettes by Brian S. Miller of Historic Odessa Foundation. Parents and kids took turns posing and drawing silhouettes.

Beer Brewing. I unfortunately/fortunately was stationed right above the beer brewing and it took me a while to realize what the odd steam coming through the floor was. Now I'm beer flavored.

Paper marbling with Danielle of Colonial Bookbindery.

Green sand pewter casting. Sorry for the multiple images here but I found this to be really fascinating.

Brickmaking. This was a fun display that demonstrated a trade that most people would think is boring if they didn't know all of what went into it.

18th century Horticulturist display.

Scherenschnitte. I only had a chance to pop my head in here but the papercuttings were very finely detailed and beautiful.

Flintknapping. A fascinating display on flintknapping and the making of stone and bone tools. In the barn was a concert of 18th century performers.

Blacksmithing. This is the shop that I learned to blacksmith in during college. I was never very good at it. :)

Lye and potash boiling for soap making and quick rise baking. I am currently very interested in this as I've been meaning to make soap.

Archaeology. Normally at Newlin, I am with the archaeology program. Today they found something interesting at the 18th century level. A floor or a wall that no one knew was there, next to the covered millrace (the arch shaped stonework). You can see it under the wood board in the second photo.

Hope you enjoyed the images! It was a fun event, I'm sorry I didn't get to walk around more. 

September 22, 2016

Pasta con Fagioli (Pasta "Fazool") Pasta with Beans Recipe

"Don't be a fool, eat Pasta Fazool"- Gus Van & Joe Schenck (1927)

"Pasta Fazool Recipe" | -1 Box Ditalini Pasta - Olive Oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) - 3 1/2 cups/28 ounces of Tomato Sauce of choice* - 1 15.5 ounce can of Navy Beans or Northern Beans  - 1 Small Onion - Salt and Pepper to taste - Grated Parmesan

This recipe was cooked for the Historical Food Fortnightly. A yearly challenge that encourages bloggers to cook a historical food every two weeks. The challenge this time was Ethnic Dishes and I chose to recreate the "Pasta Fazool" of my childhood. This dish was like a warm hug in your belly on chilly nights. My grandmother claimed my mother and her brothers didn't like it as kids but she made it on Fridays because it was cheap, easy and did not have meat in it.

Pasta con Fagioli (Pasta with Beans) has been popular since at least, the 1870s. There are many different recipes for it, some on the soupy side and some on the thicker side. The only real requirement is that the recipe contains both pasta and beans. The term "Pasta Fazool", which is what we always called it in my house, is a relaxed pronunciation of the Neapolitan and Sicilian pronunciation of beans.       

I was torn on this recipe. I wanted to make it the way my grandmother used to when I was a kid. She told me she made it the way that her mother-in-law did but that she had the recipe in a book her mother gave her called The Italian Cookbook (1955.) This book is something special, I've never actually seen it before but it's the kind of cookbook I like to see: brimming with character and frequent use. Some people like their cookbooks squeaky clean with tight spines, but not me. The more newspaper clippings, tears, stains, written annotations, the better. 

However the two recipes didn't match up the way I had hoped. The recipe in the cookbook specified soaking dry beans and making sauce and as much as I wanted to do it that way, it stated in the recipe, I did want to make the equally as authentic Pasta Fazool my grandma made with the time saving elements. 

I stuck with the recipe I had to weasel out of my grandma. (You know how hard it is to get recipes from people who cook, right?) But I will add the ingredients list from the book at the bottom in case anyone wants to try.  

"Pasta Fazool" Recipe | -1 Box Ditalini Pasta - Olive Oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) - 3 1/2 cups/28 ounces of Tomato Sauce of choice* - 1 15.5 ounce can of Navy Beans or Northern Beans  - 1 Small Onion - Salt and Pepper to taste - Grated Parmesan

The Challenge: Ethnic Foods (September 9 - September 22) Foodways and cuisine are at the heart of every ethnic group around the world and throughout time. Choose one ethnic group, research their traditional dishes or food, and prepare one as it is traditionally made.

The Recipe:

The Date/Year and Region: 1920s-1950s

-1 Box Ditalini Pasta
- Olive Oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
- 3 1/2 cups/28 ounces of Tomato Sauce of choice*
- 1 15.5 ounce can of Navy Beans or Northern Beans 
- 1 Small Onion
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan

* Alternatively you can make your own sauce with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, pepper.

How Did You Make It: 

Coat the bottom of a medium size sauce pan, cooking on medium heat. Peel and add the whole onion, cover your pan. Stir the onion around occasionally until the outside of the onion starts to brown. Add the tomato sauce and the beans. Let cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook and drain the ditalini and return to pot. Stir in the sauce and beans. Remove the onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. If too thick, add water. Top with grated Parmesan.    

Time to Complete:
About 20 minutes.

Total Cost: $7.00

How Successful Was It?: Surprised myself. It didn't look like it should have until everything was combined. Tasted delicious.

How Accurate Is It?: Pretty close to grandma's. I did not eat the onion after I removed it although my grandma said that it was the best part. 

Pasta con Fagioli | -1 Box Ditalini Pasta - Olive Oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) - 3 1/2 cups/28 ounces of Tomato Sauce of choice* - 1 15.5 ounce can of Navy Beans or Northern Beans  - 1 Small Onion - Salt and Pepper to taste - Grated Parmesan

Ingredients from The Italian Cookbook

-3 Cups Water
-1 1/4 Cups Navy Beans
-1/2 Teaspoon Salt
-2 Quarts Water
-1 Teaspoon Salt
-2 Cups Ditalini Pasta
-1/4 Cup Sieved Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Oregano
- Grated Parmesan Cheese

September 5, 2016

Civil War Stationary and Envelope Templates

"Good bye my sweet little wife -- write to me often"

-Jedediah Hotchkiss to Sara A. Hotchkiss, August 4, 1861

Some of the most prolific cries in Civil War soldier's letters is "Why don't you write me more?" and "Tell everyone to write me!" Mail delivery was highly anticipated by soldiers who felt left out of the events on the home front. Letters were a huge source of information and the main source of communication back home to the common soldier. It was reported that some regiments were sending out around 600 letters per day.   

I've been meaning to get some reproduction Civil War stationary and envelope templates on here forever and my friend Austin Landis was nice enough to lend me these letters for this post. The letters are from a collection of letters written by a Pennsylvania family writing to each other during the war.

Stationary and envelopes during the Civil War period were beautiful. They typically featured patriotic messages, imagery and political cartoons. It was not uncommon for envelopes to be as decorative as the stationary. Soldiers had the option to write "Soldier's Letter" on the front of their envelope to have the recipient pay for the postage due to the trouble of tracking down stamps and keeping stamps usable in the field. In 1861, the cost of mailing a typical letter was 3 cents if it was travelling under 3,000 miles. In the Confederacy in June 1861, it was 5 cents to mail a letter that was traveling under 500 miles.     

Civil War Era Letter and Envelope Templates for Reenacting | World Turn'd Upside Down
From the private collection of Austin D. Landis

Civil War Era Letter and Envelope Templates for Reenacting | World Turn'd Upside Down
From the private collection of Austin D. Landis

Civil War Era Letter and Envelope Templates for Reenacting | World Turn'd Upside Down
From the private collection of Austin D. Landis

From the Library of Congress

Civil War Letter Templates to Print:

A common size of stationary during the Civil War was 8. 5 x 11 inches folded in half width way. 

Back of the stationery page.

Civil War Era Letter and Envelope Templates for Reenacting | World Turn'd Upside Down

3 x 5.5 inches was a common envelope size. Print this out on heavy paper and use it as a template for tracing out envelopes. Fold along the dotted line. Each envelope fits on an 8.5 x 11 page.

If you right click on the images and "open in a new tab" If you print the images at 100%, they should be the correct size to use.

Click here to see more Civil War Envelopes!

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