September 6, 1852

 

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Floating Island

 

Monday Sept 6th  Hannah & Catharine washed

and I had to be about house most of the 

forenoon  made floating island &c &c Mr

Plymton & another man here from Walpole

to dine  Sewed some on shirts  Called

with Mrs S Ames & Mrs Stevens on Abby &

Hannah.  Called on Mrs Wales Sampson Holmes &c

 

“Oeufs a la Neige” is the French name for this lovely dessert, but Americans took their floating island from its Italian name, “Ile flottante.” Whatever one might call it, the basic recipe for the soft custard filled with floating ovals of poached meringue requires milk or cream and eggs.  It would have been a special occasion for Evelina to serve it, which suggests that she wanted to impress the gentlemen from Walpole who came to dinner. It also tells us that she had eggs to spare in her kitchen, which was unusual.

Recipes for this dish are varied, as one might expect. One 19th century “receipt,” printed in the 1870’s in Godey’s Lady’s Book of Receipts and Household Hints*,  tells us that making the dish was quite time consuming, especially when we remember that all that beating, stirring and frothing was done by hand.

Take six eggs, separate them; beat the yolks, and stir into a quart of milk; sweeten to taste; flavor with lemon or nutmeg. Put this mixture in a pan. Put some water in a saucepan, and set it on fire. When boiling, put in your pan, which ought to be half immersed. Keep stirring it until the custard gets thick, which will be in about thirty minutes. Whip the whites of the eggs to a strong froth. When the custard is done, put into a deep dish, and heap the frothed eggs upon it. Serve cold.*

No doubt Evelina’s dessert was a success at the dinner table. She could spend the afternoon in peace of mind, sewing and socializing. She, her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, and her guest, Mrs. Stevens, made a number of calls.

* Godey’s Lady’s Book of Receipts and Household Hints, 1870s, Recorded by Sarah Annie Frost, p. 237

 

April 22, 1852

Cobbler

1852

Thursday April 22  Worked a very little in the garden

not very pleasant but looks more like fair weather

Sewed a little on my black silk dress

Called with Augusta on Hannah & her sister

Sarah, Abby and at Willard Lothrop, Sampsons

A Pratts Holmes and at the store.  afterwards at

Olivers & Edwins carried a pr shoes to mend

A little sewing, a little gardening, and a great deal of socializing filled the hours of Evelina’s day today. After being pretty well pent up by several days of stormy weather, Evelina was ready to go out.

With her niece-in-law, Augusta Pool Gilmore, she called on another niece-in-law, Hannah Williams Gilmore. There they met Hannah’s sister, Sarah Lincoln, who was visiting from Hingham. They went on to see yet another niece, Abby Torrey, then to the homes of Willard Lothrop (one of Easton’s most active spiritualists), Joel and Martha Sampson, and others.

The Sampsons were a younger couple from Maine with five little children aged eight and under, including three-year-old twins. Joel Sampson worked at the shovel shop and was evidently devoted to Oakes Ames. Twenty years later, on hearing of Oakes’ death, “Joel Sampson, teamster and farmer of the company came home when he heard the sad news, threw himself upon his sofa and announced to his wife that the head and soul of the business was dead, that every thing would go to smash now, and told her to make ready to go back to their old farm and home in Maine, as it was no use to live here any more.”**

Throughout her travels today, Evelina carried a pair of shoes to be mended. In an area of the country well known for its shoe manufacturing, there must have been a good cobbler somewhere in town.

 

* Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

**William Chaffin, “Oakes Ames,” p. 2