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Mastering The Art Of 1860's Cooking

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - When you think about the heyday of home cooking, maybe the 1950's come to mind: June Cleaver and all. But how about the 1850's? The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is out with a cookbook that dates from Civil war times.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania presents The Cookbook of Ellen M. Emlen is the unwieldy title of this compendium of more than 200 recipes from a Philadelphia woman who lived in the mid-19th century.

Conservator Tara O'Brien says the original book was found in the Society's collection, dilapidated yet tempting, so she and a Civil War re-enactor volunteer began making the dishes, even when the instructions caused concern, like with meatballs. "In addition to the regular ground meat, parsley, onions, salt and pepper, she also calls for the peel and juice of a whole lemon.  We thought that just can't be right, but we tried it and, sure enough, they are, and have been declared, the best meatballs in the world."

One complication is that, when the book was written, cooking measurements hadn't been invented, "So there are no standard size measurements in this book and that's kind of what makes it fun to cook from here, because in her recipes she says use a piece of butter the size of an egg and a half, so you have to get out your eggs and line them up and your butter, something like that."

The Society is selling the book and serving up its recipes at an event Wednesday evening.

Click here for tickets.

Reported by John Ostapkovich, KYW Newsradio 1060

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