It must ever remain a check upon the poor solitary orphan, that while those females who have parents, or brothers, or riches, to defend their indiscretions, that the orphan must depend solely upon character. How immensely important, therefore, that every action, every word, every thought, be regulated by the strictest purity, and that every movement meet the approbation of the good and wise. -American Cookery, or The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and All Kinds of CAKES from the IMPERIAL PLUMB TO PLAIN CAKE. Adapted to the Country, and All Grades of Life, by Amelia Simmons, an American Orphan .
This cookbook was mainly written for poor sad lonely orphan girls who have to work in the kitchens of rich people, with only the quality of their cooking to attest to their worth. *sniff* Do not mind me. I have allergies. I... I am allergic to feeling sad.
So, what sort of recipes can a friendless orphan girl hope to prove herself and keep her from the life of a lady of negotiable affection?
A Rice Pudding.
One quarter of a pound rice, a stick of cinnamon, to a quart of milk
(stirred often to keep from burning) and boil quick, cool and add half
a nutmeg, 4 spoons rose-water, 8 eggs; butter or puff paste a dish and
pour the above composition into it, and bake one and half hour.
If you are thinking that the first picture looks burned, you are right. The oven was at 325, and I snatched this out a half hour early because I smelled the scorching. Weirdly, the outside burned skin peeled right off like the skin of a ripe peach.
If you are thinking that the second picture looks like scrambled eggs, you are right. This recipe is mainly eggs. Lots of eggs. Really, LOTS of eggs, with a little milk to thin them out and some bits of rice for texture.
You may not have noticed that this recipe does not include sugar. So basically what we are looking at here is bone-dry rose-flavored scrambled eggs with rice in them. Yum? I was not impressed with this recipe. After I dumped brown sugar, some milk, and drizzled some heavy cream on, it was not half-bad. The rosewater was really nice, and I may add it to rice puddings in the future. Really, you've got to try rosewater some time. It is growing on me.
Under a bridge, 1798:
A flock of orphan girls huddles together, shivering. They pick at the soup they fashioned from found table scraps. A newcomer timidly creeps forward, proffering a bowl of Amelia Simmon's rice pudding to add to the pot, thus buying her a dry place for the night. After she was thrown out of the house, the pudding that brought about her disgrace was cast after her. It is not much, but it is all she has. The other girls halt her; they snatch the bowl and drop-kick it into the canal before she can protest. The newcomer stands shocked, her mouth agape, still cupping the air as if she held the shame of her cookery. One of the girls steps forward, and the newcomer cowers back.
"American Cookery, yes?" The girl folds a gentle, if ragged arm around the newcomer's shoulder. Hot tears flicker down the newcomer's smudged cheeks, revealing lines of skin flushed and scorched from long hours in front of cooking fires. "It was the same with all of us. For some of us, it was dressed calves head. For some of us, roasted goslings stuffed with their own chopped innards. For me, it was the Foot Pie. It isn't fair. But that is the life of an orphan."
The other girls come forward and comfort the drippy girl. They will take care of her now. For she is one of them.