/51 Jan 18 Saturday I was very lazy this morning as usual after
being in Boston. We tried out the suet & salted the
quarter of beef & boiled the tripe Jane has been
busy all day but I have not done much. Have mended
the stockings painted Susans wooden dolls head & arms
Mr Robinson has at last finished painting our chimney
pieces. it is 5 weeks since he commenced them & I could
not nail down the carpet Mr Ames has been to Boston. Pleasant.
It was back to domestic life today after an enjoyable trip to the city. No more dining on oysters. The kitchen was humming with more familiar fare as Jane McHanna processed a huge gift of meat that Old Oliver had sent a few days back. She may have kept it cold in the snow or in an ice house until today when they had time and table top to deal with it.
“Ox beef is considered the best,” noted Sarah Josepha Hale in her 1841 guide, The Good Housekeeper. Lucky for Evelina’s family that Old Oliver raised his own oxen. Jane salted it, salting or “corning” being a time-honored way to preserve it. Typically, the beef was placed in a container – likely a barrel – and covered with a brine solution. One recipe for brine in an 1858 cookbook* called for four gallons of water, two pounds of brown sugar and six pounds of salt. Beef stored this way could keep for months.
The suet, which, strictly defined, is the fat from around the kidneys, was “tried,” meaning that it was boiled and rendered into lard. The tripe, from the stomach, was boiled as well. The odor from both these boilings was strong and would have been noticed throughout the house.
By her own confession, Evelina didn’t get too involved with anything going on in the kitchen today, leaving it to Jane’s good offices. Instead, she puttered here and there, unpacking, doing a little mending, painting her daughter’s wooden doll and standing over Mr. Robinson’s shoulder as he finally completed painting the mantels. We might describe her day as “re-entry.” Oakes, meanwhile, was in Boston on shovel business.
* Mary Peabody Mann, Christianity in the Kitchen