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Entries in the Cooking Guild Blog are from Susie Worchester, unless otherwise noted.

Susie Worchester is a master chef on both open fire and fireplace cooking of the 18th Century.  The receipts (yes, that is how they spelled recipes in the 18th Century) are carefully researched and often come from 18th Century published sources.

This Blog has two parts, the first is articles of interest to the cooking community and the second is receipts.


So where do you find receipts from the backcountry? I asked the members and will post their favorites but I think Carolyn and Sharon offered great advice. It isn’t about the book but about the time, place, social status, seasonality, economic status, availability, weather and other circumstances, some out of the family’s control.

Area is very important. Things that grow in the North may not grow in the backcountry of North Carolina. Influenced by the length of the growing season, climate, rainfall, soil and terrain, crops planted here may not have been the same. Receipts from the New England area may include foods that were not found here. Cookbooks may have also traveled across the ocean with families coming to the Colonial states with receipts of foods not found here. It was also the same for foods grown here, they might not be found in European cookbooks.

Techniques in 18th century cooking were difference too. Terms such frying, baking, stewing, roasting all were used but maybe in a small different way than modern day techniques. Cast iron, tin and for those who could afford it, copper, were the cooking vessels most often used. Pottery, stoneware were also used but not directly over the fire. Boiling was often used to make puddings.

Research is a big part of searching for 18th century receipts. Digital and online sources make this so much easier today. I have found several handwritten Scottish manuscripts of receipts dating back to the 17th century on the National Library of Scotland’s website. Universities are a great source and many have digital collections. You never know where you may find a treasure!

I think the first book for most of the Cooking Guild would be “The Backcountry Housewife” by Kay Moss. It is an invaluable tool for foodways, receipts and life in the backcountry during the 18th century. For research, I frequently go to Kay Moss’ ‘Searching the Historical Cook” which is full of data about 18th century foodways.

Receipts from the 18th century are often similar to our modern receipts but I believe as far as ingredients go, much simpler. The usage of sugar was influenced by its availability and cost, so was generally used sparingly, as were many other ingredients.. Time also played a part in what receipts were prepared. The fire had to be hot and produce coals before any cooking could be done. Some methods would require steps taking several days or weeks. Soups and stews would be cooked all day and added to as needed. Bread was baked, toasted and crumbled to add substance to receipts.

I think the hardest part of using 18th century receipts is leaving out the 21st. Century. With so many foods available to us all year, keeping in mind what they had and when, can be a challenge.

Here is a list of books frequently used by members of the Cooking Guild.

Mary Randolph…. The Virginia Housewife
Polly Burling…a Book of Receipts 1770
Amelia Simmons.. American Cookery 1796
Hannah Glasse.. The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple 1747 and 1796 Susan Rutledge…The Carolina Housewife

Martha Washington….Booke of Cookery
Lettuce Bryan… The Kentucky Housewife
Eliza Smith… The Complete Housewife
Harriet Pickney Horry….The Receipt Book of 1770
Kay Moss and Katherine Hoffman…… Backcountry Housewife Kay Moss….. Seeking the Historical Cook

Pete Rose….The Sensible Cook, Matters of Taste

So if you are looking for something different for dinner, give one these books a try. Several can be found for free online. You may find a new favorite.



A journey into the past can consist of so many things, walking through historic sites, houses or trail. Looking through old photo albums or diaries along with the numerous outlets available through social media, digital collections and libraries. One of my favorite ways is through food and cooking.

Cliff Grmisley shared with me the book “Tis the season with Belle and Chuck” by Margaret “Chuck” Banks Basinger. While I haven’t read it yet, just the title spurs memories of my own family Christmas.

Family, food and Christmas just go together. Whether a favorite tradition, place, or story, to me what brings about the fondest memories is what was on the dinner table for Christmas day. My mother’s fruit salad, sweet potato casserole and the turkey, oh my!

What I find interesting about this book were the receipts that the author included. There are several in the book, some sound very familiar, others not so much. How far back can these recipes be traced back? The answers may be in the book, but since I haven’t read it yet, I will just do some research.

I decided to research the “Mary Martin’s Pimiento Cheese recipe” Ingredients include cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, onion, piminento, salt, pepper and mayonnaise. Most ingredients can be found in the average household today but what about in the 18th century?

Starting with Cheddar Cheese, it can be found in several cookbooks published during the 18th century or earlier. I have also found it mentioned in receipts found in the digital collection of the National Library of Scotland. Swiss cheese goes back to 1300 but I haven’t found it used in many receipts from the 18th century. Of course onion is very plentiful in 18th century cookbooks. I will skip the salt and pepper. On to pimimento, which is where we can date this concoction. Possible credit for Pimento cheese is from 1870’s made in New York. Pimimento or Jamacian pepper or allspice (it appears to have several names) has been around for centuries and became very popular in Spanish speaking countries. I have found receipts in several cookbooks that use Jamaican pepper. Could this be the little red bit of pepper? I have also found a couple of recipes that have something similar but the recipes I found that had cheese as an ingredient, were either something to serve with bread or as a cheesecake – like dish. There may be something out there, I just haven’t found it yet. On to the last would be the mayo which can be found as far back as mid 1760’s.

So, would this recipe have been made served as an appetizer for a Christmas dinner during the 18th century? Probably not in this form but most ingredients were available and used by families in some form or another.


FAQs of Cooking

What are the most frequently asked questions we get when we are cooking? I would have to say that it is how they cooked their food and what method they used.

Basic 18th century cooking can be divided into five methods: bake, boil, fry, roast and steam. One or more of these methods are mentioned in just about every 18th century cookbook that I have found and while some vary a bit in methodology, the end results are generally the same.

First, you will need a fire. Whether in a fireplace or outside, you begin with fire. Clearing the land was generally the first thing that a family did when they moved or acquired a new home place. The wood was used to build homes and buildings but also to maintain the fire for warmth and cooking. Downed trees were also used.

The method that gets the most attention is baking. With no oven, how is it possible to bake something such as a cake or pie? The answer is a cast iron pot with a lid which will tolerate extreme heat. Some may call them a “dutch oven” but after researching the topic, I have concluded that the legless ones were “dutch ovens” and those with legs were called “bake kettles or bake ovens.” The 3 legs at the bottom allow the kettle to be raised enough for ashes to be placed under it as a heat source. Some lids were flat and coals could be placed on top, giving you a kettle that will heat from bottom and top, cooking what is inside of it. This method does take a bit of practice as the lids are tricky to lift off with ashes on them and the kettles should be turned for even heating. They make excellent pies and about any baked good you can imagine. As a space saver, they can be stacked on top of each other, up to three high.


                           The next method is frying, though there may be a few different meanings. Generally, frying is taking some type of fat, heating it up and cooking something in it. Since the fat is flammable, it was generally placed in a cast iron pan, skillet or a “spider” which is a metal skillet with 3 attached legs. Coals would be placed under the skillet or pan and the heat under the pan would cook the food. If there was no spider, then a grid iron could be used or simply place the skillet or pan on bricks or stones with the fire underneath it. The fat used may have been bear fat, suet, lard, butter or any number of animal fats. A sweet oil is sometimes called olive oil.

                                        Roasting is a popular way to cook meat and vegetables. In some cases, such as with eggs, potatoes, sweet potatoes or onions, the items were placed in the hot coals of the fire and allowed to cook. This generally resulted in a blackened, or burnt food but was edible. Roasting of meat could be done with skewers or sticks that were placed close to the fire. Another method used string and the meat or fowl was tied up and hung close to the fire where the heat would cook it. This is a favorite way to demo cooking a chicken but a roast also works well, too. Tin reflection ovens or tin ovens were also a source for roasting meat but they were more expensive and quite the luxury items. Keeping a steady fire is best when roasting.

Steaming food wasn’t used as much during the 18th century but can occasionally be found in cookbooks of the time. It generally involves more than one pot and that one of the pots has holes in the bottom to allow the steam to rise up to the food.

Using these methods over an open fire often takes practice and a willingness to eat a few ashes but the food always seems to taste better when cooked over an open fire.







From Susie Worcester  


Cut off the wings of four middling chickens and flatten them with the handle of a knife.

Marinate them with pepper and salt, chopped parsley, green shallots, mushrooms and a little good oil.

Then put them into a stew pan, separately with the marinate, on a good brisk fire, and turn them soon.

They will be done in about a quarter of an hour.

Take the wings out and lay them on a dish you intend for the table.

Add two spoonfuls of cullis to the sauce and skim it well.

When ready, add a good lemon squeeze, and serve upon the meat.


From “The Professed Cook” by Claremont, 1769, pg. 208-209. Please notice the cullis that is added to the sauce. This is a thick gravy like broth. I just added a bit of mushroom ketchup.


The uniqueness of this receipt is that they use just the wings. Generally, the whole chicken is cooked. Hope you enjoy!



From Susie Worcester  

Take half a pound of sausage and six apples.

Slice four about as thick as a crown (ed. Old English coin).

Cut the other two in quarters.

Fry them with the sausages of a fine light brown.

Lay the sausage in the middle of the dish and the apples round.

Garnished with the quarter apples.

From “The Backcountry Housewife” by Kay Moss, page 52.F
For this receipt, you can use either link-type sausage or ground sausage. Either will work. I like using MacIntosh apples for this receipt, if I can find them.



One quart of corn meal, a little salt, and water enough to make the batter just stiff enough to make the mixture into cakes, with the hands. Bake in a Dutch oven, on tin sheets.

The receipt consists of the basics but by adding some type of sweetener, milk instead of water or an egg, the outcome of this receipt changes the taste and texture.



In a saucepan add 1⁄4 cup butter, melted then stir in 1⁄4 cup flour and whisk until smooth, Add 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, 1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder and garlic powder, 1⁄4 teaspoon paprika, salt and paprika.

Add 1 1⁄2 cup chicken broth and 1⁄2 cup milk, whisking while pouring in liquids to keep mixture smooth. Lower heat and stir until thickens.

This receipt is a modern one as you can see by the measurements but I have seen similar receipts in several cookbooks so I took a bit of liberty with it. I made this with turkey broth instead of chicken and added cut up cooked turkey


LEMON BISCUITS From Susie Worcester  

Take six yellow rinds, well beat, with a pound of double refined sugar, and whites of four eggs, till it come to a paste ; lay them on wafer papers, and so bake them.

This light biscuit is from a handwritten manuscript found at The National Library of Scotland’s digital collection. Inscribed are the words “Given to Lady Mary Murray, September 5, 1787.” One could ask who gave it to her? Was it a gift? Was it a blank book which she filled with receipts? There are several different handwriting found throughout the book.



From Susie Worcester  

Take small thin green beans, clean them and slice them through length wise, parboil in salt and water then drain them. Put the beans in a large bowl, add whole peppercorns, a few bay leaves, and pour vinegar over the top. Cover and store in a very cold place. When one wants to serve them, remove as many as needed and treat them with sliced onions, vinegar, oil and salt and serve as a salad. These can also be used as a vegetable in a butter sauce over potatoes, noodles or rice.

These beans are well preserved for winter when there are no fresh vegetables available. They must be put in stoneware and stored in a very cold place.

From “The Raised Hearth” Old Salem translation of two German Cookbooks


CLOUTED CREAM From Susie Worcester  

Turn a quart of cream with a tea = spoonful of rennet, break it gently, lay it upon sieve ; put it into a plate, pour over it some sweetened cream.

From “The Lady’s Assistant” by Charlotte Mason, 1787 page 445


CHICKEN CURRY From Susie Worcester  

Take the skin off, cut up the chicken, and roll each piece in curry – powder and flour (mixed together a spoonful of flour to half an ounce of curry) Fry two or three onions in butter ; when of a little brown, put in the meat and fry them up together till the meat turns brown. ; then stew them together with a little water for 2-3 hours. More water may be added if too thick.

From “The Cook’s own book” Boston Housekeeper, 1832, page 49



First take some chestnuts, roast them very carefully, so as not to burn them ; take off the skin and peel them, take about a dozen of them cut small, and bruise them in a mortar ; parboil the liver of the fowl, bruise it, cut about a quarter of a pound of ham or bacon, and pound it ; then mix them all together, with a good deal of parsley chopped small, a little sweet herbs, some mace, pepper, salt, and nutmeg ; mix these together and put into your fowl.

From “The Backcountry Housewife” by Kay Moss, page 42



Take a pint of thick cream and three quarters of a pound of sugar and half a pint of mountain wine with the juice of two lemons and the peel of one, grated in mix them together and beat it one way till the whisk will stand upright they will keep a fortnight in a cool place from flies.

From “Seeking the historical cook” by Kay Moss, page 209