In the 21st century millions of homes equipped with high-end ovens and stoves along with our restaurants that have high tech appliances for the chefs to create their masterpieces. During Alexander Hamilton’s day kitchens were either in a basement or more commonly separate from the homes. These “out buildings” were separate to keep the smells and hustle away from the houses. It is fortunate for modern times that advancements were made so kitchens could be built inside the homes. The smells and hustle of cooking is for many of us a huge part of our childhood. The tantalizing smells of your mother’s pies or pot roasts filling the house like a warm hug.
Local author, Laura Kumin’s latest cookbook, The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, is an-depth look into the life and times of Alexander Hamilton. You will also learn how meals were prepared by the people during the time of our founding fathers. The men did not cook nor did they take care of the housekeeping. This time in history was considered the “woman’s” place in society.
Laura does a fantastic job of retelling Alexander Hamilton’s life. History has been an interest of hers since she was a child and found a brilliant way to cross historical facts with culinary history. She did the bulk of her research at the Library of Congress. You will learn about the bond and respect that Alexander and Georgetown Washington had for one another. The love story between Alexander and his wife Elizabeth as well as the multitude of issues Hamilton experienced throughout his life starting from when he was a child.
She provides a timeline within the book that shows events that occurred at the same time. The historical facts such as when colleges were established and the events that were happening in Hamilton’s life. One example is when Hamilton was 14 years old in 1769 the first modern recipe for Macaroni and Cheese was published in Elizabeth Raffald’s The Experienced French Housekeeper cookbook.
Culinary history fascinates me which is why I could not wait to read her book. I loved to see how the copies of the original recipes were written. On one side is the original recipe and on the other Laura typed it more clearly.
I made the Baked Whole Whitefish which was well-seasoned with parsley, nutmeg, pepper and sea salt. The nutmeg added a savory touch to this dish. In those days they did not have refrigerators or freezers to store freshly caught fish. The fish needed to be consumed the day they were caught.
The hearty Split Pea Soup was filling and like taking a bite of history. I imagined this soup being prepared and the smell wafting into the homes and set before children. The steam rising from each bowl in front of their sweet faces. Mace is one of my favorite secret ingredients and was surprised to see it listed on this centuries-old recipe. The original recipe called for two sprigs of mace which in these days you tend to see the dried spice more often listed.
My sweet tooth eyed the Chocolate Puffs. There were only four ingredients: sugar, unsweetened cocoa, 1 egg white and a pinch of cream of tartar. Next time I intend to spray the parchment paper so these puffs will more easily come off but they were delicious!
The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World is ideal for anyone who loves both history and cooking. This is a must-have among your other cookbooks and would make a beautiful addition to your coffee table.