Henry Livingston, Jr.
drinking Santa

Completion of above recipes for frustrated cooks

Cooking in Henry's Time
A Farmer's Nature
Sugar Plum Recipes
Crops and Animals


Athough we have no idea what recipe books Henry's wives, Sarah and Jane, would have used to load up the Livingston table, we can be sure there was one in the kitchen. Transplanted English and Dutch immigrants had had to modify their Old World tastes to what was available where they now lived. Dishes that relied on wheat and rye were modified to take advantage of the easier growing Indian corn. Game and fish, berries, squash and pumpkin became staples of their diet.

Living on the Hudson, Henry's family would have put fish on the menu frequently.

Snowing began between Christmas & New year. Notwithstanding the snow, the ground is quite dry: Many wells fail in water & the lesser mills are shut up -- The Hudson is frozen down to the bay. Thousands of small fish are taken by gilling in small square nets: Charlie knows how.
Henry to grandson Sidney, 27 Jan 1820

Because of Henry's Dutch heritage, he was especially close to the land. In a letter to his son, Henry reminds the boy of the connection between the fishing time and the weather.

Tell our boys, that as it is now herring time, they must frequently look at the woods for fear of fire getting in the leaves, especially as the weather is uncommonly dry at this time.
Henry to son Henry, 2 May 1802


Insatiably curious, and a farmer down to his bones, Henry bombarded his descendants with questions.

In your next please to give me a little statistical sketch of Kaskaskia-- number of dwellings, houses of worship & of what persuasians-- schools-- stores, & prices of dry & wet goods-- soil in the vicinity, & the time of year when certain herbs & fruits ripen or come to maturity
Please to tell me what number of bushels of wheat, rye, barley, indian corn & potatoes your farmers ordinarily get from an acre. Whether you ever saw the wild aquatic rice that is found in some of your northwestern waters? If it is procurable, some how or other send me a half a gill of it -- to be deposited in some of our shallow ponds.

Do small fountain brooks abound as in Dutchess & Putnam counties? When wells are dug at what depth is water found? When procured is it cold & pure, brackish or otherwise. Are field enclosures of wood, hedge, stone, or earth. Is winter wheat & rye grown-- if so, how many bushels to the acre. The month & day of the month when Indian corn ought to be planted. The number of bushels (shelled) to the acre? Can the stock swine get their livings in Winter without being fed from the grainery? Are cows & horses cheaply wintered?

I go on to torment you. ...

Ought a new settler at all to depend on his gun, his xx, or his need for a supply of provisions in any part of your region? Can salted beef or pork be purchased all the year round? Is the winter severe there or not so? Do your people so much expect snow as to provide themselves with sleighs? Is the Mississippi where you are, or even the Kaskaskia ever frozen over? What was the highest show of the thermometer? Do your farmers at all plough in March?

You are fatigued with the endless string of interrogations & so am I-- I fear you or Charles will not reply to half of them.
Henry to grandson Sidney, 13 Jun 1819

DIALOGUE Between Madame J. L.
& her Children

Pray dearest mother if you please
Cut up your double-curded cheese
The oldest of the brotherhood
It's ripe no doubt & nicely good
Your reputation will rise treble
As we the lucious morsel nibble
Praise will flow from each partaker
Both on the morsel and the maker.

Your suit is vain, - upon my word
You taste not yet my double-curd:
I know the hour - the very minute
In which I'll plunge my cutteau in it;
Am I to learn of witless bairns
How I must manage my concerns?
As yet the fervid dog-star reigns
And gloomy Virgo holds the reigns
Be quiet chicks - sedate & sober
And house your stomachs till October,
Then for a feast! Upon my word
I'll really cut my double-curd.


Apple Tansy

Take three pippins, slice them round in thin slices, and fry them with butter; then beat four eggs, with six spoonfuls of cream, a little rosewater, nutmeg, and sugar; stir them together, and pour it over the apples; let it fry a little, and turn it with a pye-plate. Garnish with lemon and sugar strew'd over it.
Colonial Williamsburg

Apple Tansy

The Compleat Housewife, by E. Smith, published in London, 1754

Clear Candy

Take six Ounces of Water and four Ounces of fine Sugar, searc'd, set it on a slow Fire to melt without stirring, let it boil till it comes to a strong Candy; then have ready your Peel or Fruit scalded hot in the Syrup they were kept in, drain them very well from it, and put them into your Candy, which you must rub on the sides of your Bason with the back of your Spoon till you see the Candy pretty white; take out the Fruit with a Fork, touch it not with your Fingers: If right, the Candy will shine on your Fruit, and dry in three or four Hours in an indifferent hot Stove: Lay your Fruit on Sieves.
The Compleat Housewife, by E. Smith, published in London, 1754, p.122

Keeping Fruit in Syrup to Candy

If you candy Orange or Lemon-peels, you must first rub them with Salt; then cut in what Fashion you please, and keep them in water two Days; then boil them tender, shifting the Water you boil them in two or three Times; you must have a Syrup ready, a Pint of Water to a Pound of Sugar, scald your Peels in it till they look clear. Fruit is done the same way, but not boil'd till you put them in your Syrup; you must heat your Syrup once a Week, taking out your Fruit, and put them in again while the Syrup is hot; they will keep all the Year.
The Compleat Housewife, by E. Smith, published in London, 1754, p.122

Orange Marmalade

Take the best Sevil Oranges and weigh a Pound of them, then pare off all the Yellow Rind very thin, quarter the Peel and put 'em in Water; cover 'em down close, and shift the Water six or seven Times as it boils to take the Bitterness out, and that they may look clear, and be tender; then take them out, dry them in a Cloth, take out all the Strings, and cut 'em thin as Pallets; then take a Pound of double-refin'd Sugar beaten, and boil it with a little Water to a candy-height, scum it clean and put in your Peels; let them boil near half an Hour; have in readiness your Orange-meat all pick'd from the Skins and Seeds, and the Juice of two large Lemons, and put it into the Peels, and boil all together a quarter of an Hour longer; so glass it up, and paper it when cold.
The Compleat Housewife, by E. Smith, published in London, 1754, p.121

Orange Cakes

Cut your Oranges, pick out all your Meat and Juice free from the Strings and Seeds, and set it by; then boil it and shift the Water till your Peels are tender, dry them in a Cloth and mince them small, and put them to the Juice; to a Pound of that weigh a Pound and half of double refin'd Sugar; dip your Lumbs of Sugar in Water and boil it to a candy-height; take it off the Fire adn put in your Juice and Peel, stir it well, and when xx almost cold put it in a Bason and set it in a Stove; then lay it thin on earthen Plates to dry, and as it candies fashion it with your Knife; and as they dry lay them on Glass; when your Plate is empty, put more out of your Bason.
The Compleat Housewife, by E. Smith, published in London, 1754, p.121

Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream

Library of Congress

Martha Jefferson's Cream Cheese, from Mrs. Adams

Library of Congress


Combine in a crockpot 1 gallon apple cider, 1 large can pineapple juice (unsweetened), and 3/4 cup tea (can use herb tea).

Place in a cheesecloth sack, tie, and put into crockpot: 1 Tablespoon whole cloves, 1 Tablespoon whole allspice, and 2 sticks cinnamon. Simmer very slowly for 4 to 6 hours. You may add water if it evaporates too much.

Colonial Williamsburg

Dried Apples

Peel the apples. To remove the cores and seeds, use a corer or sharp knife to cut a cylinder out of the center of the apple from the stem end to the bottom. Slice the apples into rings 1/4 inch thick. Run an 18" string through the rings. Leave space between the slices so that all surfaces of each ring are exposed to the air. Hang the apples in a cool dry place. Once the apples have become wrinkled and dried, usually in a few weeks, you can take them down and eat them! Store extras in a covered container out of direct sunlight.
Paul Revere House

Martha Washington's Great Cake

Take 40 eggs and divide the whites from the yolks and beat them to a froth. Then work 4 pounds of butter to a cream and put the whites of eggs to it a Spoon full at a time till it is well work'd. Then put 4 pounds of sugar finely powdered to it in the same manner then put in the Yolks of eggs and 5 pounds of flour and 5 pounds of fruit. 2 hours will bake it. Add to it half an ounce of mace and nutmeg half a pint of wine and some fresh brandy.

In making the great cake, Mount Vernon's curatorial staff followed Mrs. Washington's recipe almost exactly. Where the recipe called for 5 pounds of fruit, without specifying which ones, 2 pounds of raisins, 1 pound of currants, and 2 pounds of apples were used. The wine used was cream sherry. Since no pan large enough was available to hold all the batter, two 14" layers were made and stacked (note: the original was one single tall layer). The layers were baked in a 350 degree oven for 1.5 hours. Should be iced with a very stiff egg-white based icing, flavored with rosewater or orange-flower water.
Mount Vernon

Colonial Hot Buttered Rum

Combine in a crockpot 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 1 pinch salt, 3 sticks cinnamon, 6 whole cloves and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Add 2 quarts hot water. Stir well. Cover pot and cook on LOW for 5 hours.

Add 2 cups rum; stir to blend. Serve from pot in warm mugs with a scoop of whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg.
Recipe Network Website

plum was used to mean dried fruit

Simple Sugar Plums

1 cup water
1 plum, sliced
3 tbsp. sugar

Fill a medium saucepan with 1 cup of water and add sliced plum; leave it to boil on medium heat for 1 1/2 minutes or until soft. Then drain the water from the plum slices and put them into a small frying pan. Pour sugar over them until sugar becomes a soft syrup.
Family Fun

Sweet Sugar Plums

1 cup blanched almonds
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup dried apricots
3/4 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup orange juice

Pulse the dried ingredients in a food processor until you have a fine meal. Add the orange juice, and pulse until the mixture sticks together. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, then roll the balls in sugar, if you like. Set the sugarplums in candy paper liners and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (24 to 30)
Family Fun

More Complicated Sugar Plums

Thin syrup
1 pound plums
1/2 pound granulated sugar
1 pint water
Thick syrup
2 pound granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water

Make a thin syrup of half a pound of sugar and a pint of water. Slit a pound of plums down the seam and put them into the syrup. Poach gently until only just tender, taking care that they remain covered with the syrup, or they will lose their color. Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The following day make a thick syrup of two pounds of sugar and two tablespoons of water. Boil until a little dropped in a bowl of cold water makes a thick but soft ball.

Remove from heat and allow to become cold. Then carefully drain the plums as completely as possible from the first syrup and place them gently in the second thick syrup.

Reheat and scald only until the plums look clear, taking care that they are completely covered in the syrup. Allow to cool again. Then empty them into a shallow ceramic or glass bowl, cover tightly and allow them to develop flavor in the refrigerator for a week.

Take them out and spread them apart on dishes or plates. Cover loosely with baking paper, put them in a warm, dry place and turn them every day until dry. If you put them in a very low warming oven, turning them every half hour, at first, then every hour, etc., they can be dried much more quickly. At this stage a home fruit dryer can also be used if desired.

Do not discard the thin syrup. It makes a delicious sauce on ice cream, either by itself or accompanied by finely chopped Sugarplums. You can freeze it until your Sugarplums are ready.
Recipe Goldmine

Cranberry Sugar Plums

1 cup raisins
1 cup bite-size pitted prunes
1 cup dates
1 cup currants
1 cup candied cherries, dried cherries, or dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts
1/2 to 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
granulated sugar

Using a meat grinder or a food processor, grind the fruit and nuts and mix well. Work into the mixture as much confectioners' sugar as it takes to form 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar, then place on a rack to dry for 24 hours. (4 1/2 doz)
Old Farmer's Almanac

Tipsy Sugar Plums

1/2 C. dried apricots
1/4 C. dried figs or dates
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1/4 C. golden raisins
1/4 C. flaked coconut
3 T. orange liqueur or orange juice
1/4 t. almond extract
1/4 C. granulated sugar

In a food processor, finely chop apricots, figs or dates, pecans, raisins and coconut. Add liqueur or orange juice and almond flavoring. Stir until well blended. Roll into 36 balls, about 1 inch in diameter, using the palms of your hands. Roll each ball in the granulated sugar. Layer in an airtight container, placing wax paper between each layer to prevent sticking. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. (3 doz)
Razzle Dazzle Recipes

Brandied Sugar Plums

1/2 cup finely chopped pitted dates 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts 1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots 1/4 cup finely chopped dried figs 1/4 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts 2 Tbs. brandy 1 Tbs. apricot preserves 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/8 tsp. ground cloves 1/3 cup sugar (Apples, pears and pecans are alternatives)

Line a small baking sheet with waxed paper. In a food processor, combine the dates, walnuts, apricots, figs, pistachios, brandy, apricot preserves, cinnamon and cloves. Pulse until the mixture begins to clump together.

Using a teaspoon, scoop up a rounded spoonful of the mixture, press together, and roll between your palms into a compact ball. Roll the round in the sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fruit-and-nut mixture and sugar.

Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (18)
Diana's Desserts

Spiced Sugar Plums

1/4 cup honey
2 tsp grated orange peel
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 sp nutmeg
2 cups finely chopped toasted almonds
1 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup finely chopped dates

Mix well honey, orange peel, cinamon, allspice and nutmeg. Stir in almonds, apricots and dates. Roll into tablespoon size balls, roll in sugar or powdered sugar to coat. Store airtight.
Recipe Cottage

To Drie Apricocks, Peaches, Pippins or Pearplums

Take your apricocks or pearplums, & let them boile one walme in as much clarified sugar as will cover them, so let them lie infused in an earthen pan three days, then take out your fruits, & boile your syrupe againe, when you have thus used them three times then put half a pound of drie sugar into your syrupe, & so let it boile till it comes to a very thick syrup, wherein let your fruits boile leysurelie 3 or 4 walmes, then take them foorth of the syrup, then plant them on a lettice of rods or wyer, & so put them into yor stewe, & every second day turne them & when they be through dry you may box them & keep them all the year; before you set them to drying you must wash them in a litlle warme water, when they are half drie you must dust a little sugar upon them throw a fine Lawne.
Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book, 1604

Now Sharon Cohen's modern take on an old favorite!

Visions of Sugarplums

Receipts of Pastry and Cookery For the Use of his Scholars. By Ed. Kidder (1720-1740)

Crops Animals

EXTRACT (selected)
wheat Mar 11 '72 Sent down the last of the wheat, in all 144 1/2 bus, besides what was thresh'd out before Christmas for bread & seed ?herexeu? Day Book NYHS
cherries Apr 3 '72 Gilbert fetch'd 11 bottles of his cherry wine away being all he had Day Book NYHS
apple and locust trees Apr 14 '72 Planted Out 34 Apples & 5 Locust Trees Day Book NYHS
rye and Indian corn Jun 17 '72 Welles Dt to 2 Bus. Rye & 1 of Indian Corn from Dadys Day Book NYHS
wheat and limes Dec 29 '72 Robert North Credt by L24-19-4 He carrying down for me 62 bushels of wheat, got 9sh per bushell after deducting for freight 10s4 for measuring 1s3 1/2 -- pd him 4sh for 50 Limes Day Book NYHS
buckwheat Jun 29 '73 John Freer Crdt by 3 pecks buckwheat Day Book NYHS
sugar Jul 2 '73 John Davis Crdt by 6 lbs loaf sugar Day Book NYHS
molasses Jul 28 '73 Elderkin Credt by a gallon mollasses 0-2-2 Day Book NYHS
eggs Feb 17 '75 John Davis Dr to 64 eggs Day Book NYHS
white oak tree Mar 11 '76 The United Colonies Dr to a large white oak tree which made 3 keels for 1 of their ships Day Book NYHS
butter Feb 18 '79 Borrow'd of my Mother 5 lb butter; (Mar 12 '79 returned my Mother all the butter borrowed) Day Book NYHS
honey Nov 8 '82 Brother John to 28 lbs honey at 9 Last summer my wife made for him Day Book NYHS
peach trees, wheat, rye & grass May 27 '21 Our spring has been rather backward but verdure, bloom and aerial song now pervade every thing. The severity of the past winter has destroyed most of our large peach trees. Other fruits will probably abound & wheat, rye & grass promise well. Letter to Sidney Breese IL State Achives
corn, clover, flax, oats, wheat, potatoes May 27 '21 Our spring drought was severe. with difficulty our corn ground was plowed & we planted. The dryness continued & at length we abandoned all hope of a corn crop. At length, however, the rain descended in copious showers and every green thing felt its genial influence. Indian corn particularly showed its influence. In two words, our corn is called one of the best in the vicinity & bids fair to shoot up above mediocrity. The clover field (opposite Mr. Allen) was much parched; we mowed it early & had not more than 6 or 7 indifferent loads of hay. We immediately replaster'd it & in about a fortnight shall try it a second time. The 2d culling promises to be far superior to the first. Our flax is pull'd and houses: -- crop, so so. The oats in the meadow will be, say, 40 bushels. Wheat, ab't 130 bushels. Low meadows rather better than usual. Potatoes everywhere promise well. Garden does well. Letter to Charles Livingston Thomas Collection
rhubarb, licorice, senna, castor bean Jan 13 '22 Is there a place for a commodious garden? If there is I beg you will have the best horticultural spot in the village: The doctor will crowd in a mass of medicinal vegetables of course: Rhubarb & licorice in your climate will flourish-- Senna also would do well-- It grows even here wild, & of good quality. The castor bean would grow well with you. Letter to Sidney Breese Thomas Collection
EXTRACT (selected)
bees Mar 6 '72 Gilbert fetch'd away 2 beehives with the bees Day Book NYHS
piglets Mar 12 '72 The Old Sow got 8 pigs Day Book NYHS
bull Jun 19 '72 Bought of John Freer the Bull that was Gilberts 5-3-0 Day Book NYHS
dog Dec 7 '73 Paid a Boatman for a dog 0-8-0 Day Book NYHS
sheep Dec 14 '73 Gave J.N. Bunschoten a calf for a sheep Day Book NYHS



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