The Ladies' Tea Guild

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's dinner ca. January 1860, plus roast goose and apple sauce

"NEW YEAR’S DINNER.—A roast goose with apple-sauce, a boiled turkey with oyster-sauce, smoked tongue, turnips, cold-slaw [sic], winter-squash; plum pudding."

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, during the 19th century, seemed to be the favored days for social gatherings, as opposed to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which were generally kept for private family and religious gatherings. Having a New Year's dinner party sounds like a good idea, though! My family usually doesn't do anything special, but it would be really fun to have people over and serve the menu above, from Godey's Lady's Book. Here are a few antique recipes -- from Sarah Josepha Hale, ca. 1841 -- that can help if you decide to serve your friends a real Victorian holiday dinner:

"To Roast a Goose.-- Geese seem to bear the same relation to poultry that pork does to the flesh of other domestic quadrupeds; that is, the flesh of the 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! Take a young goose, pick, singe, and clean well. Make the stuffing with two ounces of onions, (about four common sized,) and one ounce of green sage chopped very fine; then add a large coffee cup of stale bread crumbs and the same of mashed potatoes; a little pepper and salt, a bit of butter as big as a walnut, the yolk of an egg or two; mix these well together, and stuff the goose; do not fill it entirely -- the stuffing requires room to swell. Spit it; tie the spit at both ends, to prevent its swinging round, and to keep the stuffing from coming out. The fire must be brisk. Baste it with salt and water at first -- then with its own dripping. It will take two hours or more to roast it thoroughly."

"Apple Sauce.-- In the country it is thought almost as indispensable to provide the stock of apple sauce for winter use as the pork; and there is no doubt of the healthiness as well as the pleasantness of fruit taken in this way as food. To eat with meat, it is best made of sour apples, not too mellow, but pleasant flavored. Boil down new sweet cider till it is nearly as thick, when cold, as molasses; strain it through a sieve; wash the kettle, (it must be brass, or iron tinned;) put in the syrup, and as soon as it boils, put in the apples, which must have been previously pared, quartered, and cored. Stew over a slow fire of coals till very tender."

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)