Another post in a series from the cataloger of the Anne M. Cranston cookbook collection, which consists of approximately 4,400 British and American cookbooks from the 19th and 20th centuries. In this series, Shelley shares fascinating recipes, quotes, kitchen solutions, and anecdotes she has uncovered in the collection.
The Cranston cookbook collection has taken a north-easterly turn. I know very little of New England style cookery, but after browsing a few recipes, I am certainly more than willing to give a few of these Vermont recipes a try. Fish and other seafood, milk, cream, potatoes, sweet puddings, and maple syrup figure prominently, as do home brewed beers and other beverages.
Almost every Vermont cookbook had a recipe for cod-fish balls. This one is from an early 20th-century church cookbook from New Haven, Vt.
Peel five medium-size potatoes, put on stove to boil, have a cup full of cod-fish* shredded and free from bones, lay on top of potatoes and boil, when done drain off water and mash fine, season with butter and salt if needed. Stir into this one egg beaten light and whip all very light with spoon, when cod form into balls, dipped into beaten egg and roll in cracker or shred wheat crumbs and fry a light brown, putting into wire basket and placed into hot lard or cottolene.** Prepared at night they can be fried in the morning for breakfast in a short time.
* Most likely salt cod. This is a salted and dried fish. To rehydrate for use it is soaked in water for a day, changing the water two or three times and then picking small pieces from the bones.
** Cottolene was a competitor of Crisco, a shortening made from beef tallow and cottonseed oil.
To badly paraphrase Will Rogers, I can truthfully say: “I have never met a ham I didn’t like.” The following recipe is no exception. A Vermont ham I am told is brined with maple sugar and spices and then smoked over corn cobs and maple wood. I’m sure there are plenty of other methods, but this one sounds delectable. After the smoking, the Green Mountain Cook Book by Aristene Pixley walks you through the final steps.
Ham Baked with Cider
Wash the ham in hot water. Soak over night in cold water. Rinse it off, then place in cold water and bring it slowly to the boiling point; add bay leaf, cloves and allspice and simmer till tender. Cool, remove skin, them soak over night in one and one-half quarts of cider. Dry and stick cloves over surface. Make a mixture of bread crumbs and a cup of maple sugar. Brush the ham with beaten egg, then cover it with the mixture. Place in a baking pan, pour the cider carefully over it, and baste. Bake till brown.
We cannot leave Vermont without a maple syrup dessert recipe. When I find some authentic Vermont maple syrup, I will immediately try this cake from the First Baptist Church of St. Albans, Vt.
Vermont Maple Syrup Nut Cake
2 ½ cups Gold Medal Flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening
2 eggs well beaten
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup milk
½ cup butternuts or pecan broken
Cream shortening, add sugar* gradually and cream until fluffy. Blend in eggs. Sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with maple syrup and milk. Add nut meats. Pour into well-buttered pan, 8 x 12 and bake about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and cover with maple syrup icing.
* Recipe does not list how much sugar to use, but a similar recipe suggests 1/2 cup as an appropriate amount. [Thank you to one of our readers for inquiring about this!]
I cited the following books in this post:
Congregational Church (Fair Haven, Vt.), compiler. The Green Mountain Cook Book. Castleton, Vt: Printed by Northrop Printer, [ca. 1910s].
First Baptist Church (Saint Albans, Vt.), compiler. Vermont Verified Recipes. Richford, Vt: Printed by Gilpin Printing Co., [1949?].
Aristene. The Green Mountain Cook Book. Battleboro, Vt: Stephen Daye Press, 1941.
Shelley Kresan is a rare book cataloger in The Huntington’s technical services department.