January 27, 1852

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1852

Jan 27  Tuesday.  Mrs S Ames & Frederick were to dinner  had a roast

goose.  This afternoon Mr & Mrs Whitwell, Mr & Mrs

John Howard & Miss Jarvis    Mrs Witherell Augustus

& Hannah came this evening    Frederick went after the

ladies. Oliver & George carried them all home this

evening.  Baked some tarts in the other house stove

Have sewed but very little  Mr Wm Brown was also here.

Quite a sociable day for the Ameses, full of company.  Midday dinner was attended by Sarah Lothrop Ames and her son Frederick. (The absence of Oliver Jr. and Helen Angier Ames suggests that the former might have been away on business while the latter had returned to school.) Fred, like Oliver (3), was home from the Ivy League; their conversation at the dinner table probably provided some fresh subject matter. Perhaps they entertained family members with a modified description of life on campus.

Evelina served a roast goose (that Jane McHanna had cooked), a dish that normally denoted a special occasion such as Christmas or New Year’s. Were they serving it in anticipation of Oliver (3)’s 21st birthday, or was it just a whim? Either way, serving roast goose on an odd weekday signified wealth behind the larder.

Sarah Josepha Hale offered a recipe for roast goose in her popular household guide, The Good Housekeeper, suggesting that it be stuffed and roasted on a spit over a “brisk” fire for at least two hours. Otherwise, she had a qualified opinion of the dish:

“Geese seem to bear the same relationship to poultry that pork does to the flesh of other domestic quadrupeds; that is, the flesh of goose is not suitable for, or agreeable to, the very delicate in constitution. One reason doubtless is, that it is the fashion to bring it to table very rare done; a detestable mode!”*

Mrs. Hale would likely have approved of the baked tarts, however, that Evelina served for tea later in the day to the Whitwells and others.  It’s a happy note that Sarah Witherell ventured over at the very end of the day; she must have been feeling better after the extraction of her teeth some days back.  She was comfortable enough to let Evelina’s nephew Augustus and his wife Hannah see her face, which had been swollen for days.

 

*Sarah Josepha Hale, The Housekeeper’s Guide, 1841, p. 52

 

 

 

January 18, 1851

Lid

/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