Archive for the nineteenth century Category

Stewed Seitan and Turnips

Posted in nineteenth century with tags , , , , on August 27, 2008 by hoveringdog

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, first published in 1861, is probably the most famous volume of English cookery, though it is valued more today for its quaint evocations of what was then the disappearing (and now, largely, the disappeared) rural British life than for its recipes themselves.

Stewed Seitan with Turnips

I admit I find her lengthy descriptions of animals entertaining in a perverse way, alternating between clinical descriptions of their biology, antiquated teleological assertions about the “end and design of nature,” and a frankly disturbing disregard for the possibility that animals might have interests and purposes of their own that don’t involve being boiled, roasted, or fricasseed. Reading her description of domestic fowl, however, I had hoped for a moment of conscience:

Brillat Savarin, pre-eminent in gastronomic taste, says that he believes the whole gallinaceous family was made to enrich our larders and furnish our tables; for, from the quail to the turkey, he avers their flesh is a light aliment, full of flavour, and fitted equally well for the invalid as for the man of robust health. The fine flavour, however, which Nature has given to all birds coming under the definition of poultry, man has not been satisfied with, and has used many means–such as keeping them in solitude and darkness, and forcing them to eat–to give them an unnatural state of fatness or fat.

But just when one anticipates a remonstration against fois gras…

This fat, thus artificially produced, is doubtless delicious, and the taste and succulence of the boiled and roasted bird draw forth the praise of the guests around the table. Well-fattened and tender, a fowl is to the cook what the canvas is to the painter; for do we not see it served boiled, roasted, fried, fricasseed, hashed, hot, cold, whole, dismembered, boned, broiled, stuffed, on dishes, and in pies,–always handy and ever acceptable?

Oh, Mrs. Beeton, the things you say. Anyway, I decided her recipes needed some radical veganizing, and decided to have a go at her recipe for “stewed duck and turnips.” I was making this up as I went along, taking liberties with Mrs. Beeton’s original, and likely made the whole thing far more complicated than it needed to be. But here’s what I did, with what are likely unnecessary steps still left in. Feel free to revise as necessary: Continue reading


Mr. Shaw’s Vegetable Goose

Posted in nineteenth century with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2008 by hoveringdog

Famous playwright, vegetarian, and cantankerous old bastard George Bernard Shaw was a critic of a great many things, not the most trivial of which, for my purposes here at least, was his disdain for vegetarian faux-meats, “such weak concessions to the enemy as ‘vegetable rabbit,’ ‘vegetable sausage,’ and the like.”

Mr Shaw's Vegetable Goose

Nonetheless, there was one vegetable beast of which he approved: “‘Vegetable goose’ is, however, to be commended when in season. It is simply a vegetable marrow with sage stuffing and apple sauce.” So, as a particular fan of cantankerous old bastards, I offer my attempt at vegetable goose with a caramelized onion, pecan, and sage stuffing. I made this with two massive zucchinis picked from our garden, but any squash ought to do, though you may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly: Continue reading


Posted in nineteenth century with tags , , , , , on June 19, 2008 by hoveringdog

So I was looking through a few British and American cookery books from the early years of the modern vegetarian movement, and good lord were their recipes bland. A recipe for pureed lentils in E.E. Kellogg’s Science in the Kitchen, for example, is exactly that: lentils, pureed, without the slightest bit of seasoning (which Mrs. Kellogg deemed too “stimulating,” a reflection of the Kelloggs’ shared terror for the evils of sexual desires they thought stoked by the consumption of anything remotely savory). So I’ve decided to pull instead from my own archives a favorite recipe of my own devising along with a bit of tenuously related history from further afield geographically.

H-Dog's Special Borscht

After a few typically tortured years of experimentation with various diets, the Russian author Tolstoy in the latter decades of the nineteenth century began to advocate for ethical vegetarianism. By chance, Tolstoy’s writings ended up in the hands of one Peter Verigen, the leader of the Doukhobors, a minority religious sect that rejected the organizational church, the inspiration of the Bible, and the divinity of Christ, preaching instead a direct, unmediated relationship with the divine. Continue reading