Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Libations of the 1840s

Now that summer is here I have been going to our weekly farmer's market and enjoying the bounty of the season: peaches, plums, cherries, squash, strawberries, blackberries, etc., etc.

I made a batch of Brandy Peaches and Cherry Brandy this weekend and will be sharing my culinary adventures with you over the next few weeks / months.  
California Brandy from Korbel.  I used two of these!
 I followed the recipe below from Mrs. Ellis's Housekeeping Made Easy, Or Complete Instructor in All Branches of Cookery and Domestic Economy (1843)
Brandy Peaches (1843)
Eight whole peaches.  I added a vanilla bean for extra flavor.
The Cherry Brandy (New Method) recipe from French Domestic Cookery (1846) was much more time consuming to prepare to stone all the fruit, boil it down with sugar until is reduced, etc., especially compared with the recipe I used last year, which was merely throwing in the cherries, some sugar, and some spices into a jar with brandy and letting them mingle for awhile! 
Reduced cherries and their juice in the bottle and crock behind. 
I won't be able to follow the recipe exactly, since I was supposed to start the cherries weeks ago when the first batch came into season, and then strain them out and add another later season variety of cherries.  I'll probably strain out the cherries after three weeks and check the flavor.  If it could stand a few more weeks to age with the cherries I'll go for it.  And not wanting anything to go to waste, I'll cook the strained cherries in some sugar and reduce them down farther to make a nice ice cream topping.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Housewife from The Workwoman's Guide (1838)

p. 212-213
Figures 19, 20, 21
Straight out of the pages of the Workwoman's Guide, this is the perfect project to use up scrap material.  The main outer fabric is from a vest I made Ian, the pink is from a hand-quilted bonnet my sister made, the scissor area fabric is from a v-neck fan front, and the wool for the needles is from one of Ian's Civil War projects. The pink center has three rows of stitching to keep lengths of different thread separated, as illustrated in the plate above. There is a nice large pocket under the wool flap for buttons, wax, and other small odds and ends.
At 28 inches long, this housewife is a lot longer that the Civil War-era housewife's that soldiers carried. This example measures 11 inches long.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

1840s Skirt Variations

I have never attempted to play around with different skirt designs in my 1840s wardrobe, but after finding this image I am seriously thinking about it for my next project.
"The Hypnotist"
I bought this fabric from Mill Ends in Reno a few years ago and know I wanted to really play up the stripes, so I think I will pieces the skirt with the wavy stripes going horizontal at the bottom and the rest vertical. 

Another skirt variation

Friday, July 13, 2012

1845-1848 Dress

I love this dress beyond words. The little V-neck with lace insert, the lovely draped bodice, the tight sleeves with wrist trim.  SIGH.  This is what I love about the 1840s: Loud and fitted!
American Textile History Museum

Sunday, July 8, 2012

1849 Niantic Storeship

The San Francisco shoreline has dozens of Gold Rush-era ships underneath its buildings and skyscrapers. The Niantic storeship burned in one of six major fires that swept through the city.  The ashes and charred remains of ships and buildings were dumped into the bay and used as fill.  Gold Rush Port: The Maritime Archæology of San Francisco's Waterfront is a great book on the subject.

The San Francisco Maritime Museum, operated by National Parks, has some items that have been retrieved on digs that were usually found by construction crews uncovering ship hulls!  My senior paper in college was about mid-nineteenth century material culture, specifically on Gold Rush era California items.  The museum and library were closed for renovation when I was writing my paper back in 2006, so it was fun to see items that I had read about and seen sketches of, like the duck head paper holder below!
Niantic items
ID chart to items in display
Dug relics from various storeships