Seething!

A stewpan. Detail from Francatelli's cooks guide and advertiser, page 5. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection

When you read 19th century cookbooks the terminology can be unfamiliar. Take this definition of stewing: “the act or operation of seething, or boiling slowly.” [1] Boiling sure, but ‘seething’?

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Under pressure

Sheep or pig bones excavated at the Mint. Sydney Living Museums. Photo (c) Jamie North

Eagle-eyed reader Ariela asked about an usual item listed in the ‘third drawer down’ – Slacks patent digester! So chop up your turnips and gather those leftover bones – this week we’re in for for some thrifty high pressure cooking.

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Spring Harvest at Elizabeth Farm

Spring Harvest Festival at Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

“It is now Spring, & the Eye is delighted with a most beautiful variegated Landscape – Almonds – Apricots, Pear and Apple Trees are in full bloom. The native shrubs are also in flower, & the whole Country gives a grateful perfume.”
Elizabeth Macarthur to her friend Miss Kingdon, Parramatta, 1798  Continue reading

The third drawer down

Spoons and ladles from Francatelli's Cook's Guide and Advertiser. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection

While we’re mainly looking at the pots and pans in this series on the colonial batterie de cuisine, it’s a good time for a diversion into all the miscellaneous bits and pieces in a kitchen – all those things we keep in the ‘third drawer down’.

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Under the hammer

The kitchen at Vaucluse House. Detail of photo (c) Jamie North for Sydney Living Museums

One of the best documentary sources for kitchens and dining rooms in the colonial period isn’t actually family archives – but newspaper and auction advertisements. Individuals leaving the colony after a few years – or facing ‘pecuniary embarrassment’ – would typically sell up, so lists of household effects are fairly common. Larger sales warranted their own catalogues, which could be broken down room by room; for a curator these are a goldmine of information as to furnishings and paraphernalia, artworks and even what books were in personal libraries.

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Bullseye! In search of Sydney’s first colonial kitchen

Recreated 1780s military field kitchen built at the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown, Virginia, USA. Photo © Jacqui Newling, Sydney Living Museums,.

While the Curator rattles the pots and pans, I’m looking at the cooking ‘apparatus’ upon which they were used at various points in time. We’ve recently looked at domestic hearth cookery from the early 1800’s, but today I’m taking us to the First Fleet encampment at Sydney Cove in 1788.

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Polly put the kettle on, and let’s have… fish?

Poached snapper in the kitchen at Vaucluse House._Detail of photograph (c) Cath Muscat for Sydney Living Museums

 

Last year we talked about those confusing and interchangeable words baking and roasting, and got to grip with table- and soup spoons. They’re far from the only confusing words used in the historic kitchen and household, so today I’m starting a series of posts looking at the vast range of pots and pans you can see in a historic kitchen – and what exactly they were called and used for. Continue reading

Facing reality

Homemade brawn. Photo © Jacqui Newling.

Some recipes are a joy to follow, others can be quite challenging. For me, brawn is in the latter category. And a cautionary warning – some images in this article may be confronting or disturbing. No offence is intended in showing these images.

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A Birthday Feast

Students from Fort Street Public School sit down to a 'convicts' mess' of boiled beef, cabbage and potatoes, bread and plum pudding. Photo Andrew James (James Horan) for Sydney Living Museums

This week marks the 200th anniversary of the Hyde Park convict barracks, and local ‘convict’ students joined the Governor of New South Wales, the Honourable Margaret Beazley to celebrate.

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Previously on the menu