June 11, 1851


June [11]  Wednesday  Mended

Oakes Angiers coat put on new

buttons  Then made the button holes in 

the waist of Mrs Sarah Ames dress. Cooked

a calfs head for dinner  This afternoon

about three Mrs Witherell, Mitchell & Miss

Eaton & self went to call on Mrs Whitwell.

Called at Mr Wm Reeds  Mrs Reed was from

home.  Called at Dr Swans.  Bridget here.

A[u]ugustus gone to Boston.


Evelina’s activities today were quintessentially nineteenth-century.  She mended her son’s coat, made button holes for her sister-in-law, rode out in the carriage with her other sisters-in-law to call on the parson’s wife, and served a calf’s head for dinner.

Perhaps there is a reader out there who has been served calf’s head, or cooked it.  Most 19th century cook books carried a “receipt” for it, right next to recipes for calf’s feet, sheep’s head, and roasted sweetbreads.  Calf’s head could be roasted or boiled; the recipe below from Mary Peabody Mann’s 1858 Christianity in the Kitchen opts for the latter.  What follows is not for the squeamish:

To Dress a Calf’s Head

Soak the head for ten minutes in lukewarm water, powder it well with rosin, dip it into a large quantity of scalding water, and holding it by the ear, scrape off the hair with the back of a knife.  When clean, take out the eyes, cut out the tongue, remove the jawbone with teeth, saw lengthwise through the skull without injuring the brains, which must be carefully taken out, and put for a few hours into lukewarm water, to disgorge, [that is, to rinse out the blood.]

Make a stock by putting into the brazing pan two or three carrots and onions, six cloves, a pint of cream, a bouquet of parsley, thyme, and bay-leaves, and after stirring this together for twenty minutes over the fire, add a pint of water.  When this is warm, mix a quarter of a pound of flour with a gallon of water, slice a lemon, add a quarter of a pound of salt, and lay the calf’s head into the stock.  Let it be entirely covered, else the uncovered part will have a dark look, and simmer it gently till it is tender.




3 thoughts on “June 11, 1851

  1. Do the brains get re-introduced after they have been taken out and rinsed to wash out the blood? Or are they eaten in a future meal? Just imagine how this dainty dish would tweak our 21st Century sensibilities. 😉

    • Brains were cooked separately, usually boiled and chopped. Lydia Maria Child, in her 1844 The American Frugal Housewife recommended the following: “The brains, after being thoroughly washed, should be put in a little bag; with one pounded cracker, or as much crumbled bread, seasoned with sifted sage, and tied up and boiled one hour. After the brains are boiled. they should be well broken up with a knife, and peppered, salted, and buttered.”

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