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Jefferson-era Recipe: Cabbage a-la-Creme


Over on Facebook, we've been running a series of monthly notes in which we post a recipe from The Virginia House-wife, the recipe book published in 1824 by Thomas Jefferson's kinswoman, Mary Randolph. Now that we have a shiny new blog, we'll start posting them here instead and link to them from Facebook. These are recipes that Jefferson certainly would have known. We hope you enjoy them!

Leni Sorensen, culinary historian (and Monticello's African American Research Historian), makes the recipes and provides her notes and pictures.

January 2011

First, the recipe from Mary Randoph:

Take two good heads of cabbage, cut out the stalks, boil it tender with a little salt in the water, have ready one large spoonful of butter and a small one of flour rubbed into it, half a pint of milk, with pepper and salt, make it hot, put the cabbage in after pressing out the water, and stew it till quite tender.  (Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, 1824, pg. 105)

And Leni's notes:

NOTE: The milk she calls for would have been much more like our half and half.  Randolph’s book has four recipes for cabbage.  It was a vegetable that could be harvested and stored for winter use and from the records of the Jefferson family food purchases must have been a favorite at the table at Monticello.

I have chosen the simplest cabbage dish but for a really fancy presentation MR tells how to prepare a Cabbage Pudding which is a whole cabbage stuffed with seasoned chopped meat and served in beautiful slices!  It was called a pudding because the whole stuffed cabbage was tied tightly into a cloth, lowered into simmering water and cooked till done.  When drained and plattered it kept its shape. 

Cabbage in the kitchen

Legacy NID: 


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