The New-York Historical Society Is Sharing Historical Recipes From Its Archives

Knud Winckelmann, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Knud Winckelmann, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

With stay-at-home orders in effect across the country, many people are cooking now more than ever. If you've already exhausted your favorite cookbooks and recipe websites in quarantine, you can now get culinary inspiration from an unlikely source. As The New York Times reports, the New-York Historical Society has started sharing recipes dating back to the 19th century.

On Tuesday, April 14, the first recipe of the new initiative was sent to subscribers of the historical society's email list. Transcribed from a handwritten cookbook, the lemon cake recipe calls for the juice and peel of one lemon and 2 1/2 tumblers of powdered sugar. (In the 1800s, a tumbler was roughly equivalent to a cup.)

By sharing a new recipe from its archives every week, the N-YHS aims to tap into the home cooking boom that's developed during the COVID-19 crisis. Every piece that's spotlighted comes from the Duane Family Cookbooks, which feature recipes handwritten by Eliza Duane, Mary Wells, and Fanny T. Wells between 1840 and 1874. The "manuscript cookbooks" were used as guides for private chefs, and they better reflected the diets of upper-class households than those of middle-class families. In addition to baked goods like lemon cake and fruit cake, the collection also includes medicinal remedies like a "cholera mixture"—a reminder that our current experience with a pandemic isn't unprecedented.

Navigating a recipe with antiquated or missing conventions isn't as easy as looking one up on a food blog, but it can be a rewarding opportunity to connect with the past. And if the final product doesn't turn out quite as promised, it's still an entertaining way to spend time at home. If you're curious to see what people ate during another time of national hardship, here are some historical recipes from the Great Depression.

[h/t The New York Times]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Florence’s Plague-Era Wine Windows Are Back in Business

A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.
A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.

Many bars and restaurants have started selling takeout cocktails and other alcoholic beverages to stay in business—and keep customers safe—during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, 17th-century Florentines are surely applauding from their front-row seats in the afterlife.

As Insider reports, a number of buildings in Florence had been constructed with small “wine windows,” or buchette del vino, through which vendors sold wine directly to less affluent customers. When the city suffered an outbreak of plague in the 1630s, business owners recognized the value of these windows as a way to serve people without spreading germs. They even exchanged money on a metal tray that was sanitized with vinegar.

Wine not?sailko, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Things eventually went back to normal, and the windows slowly fell out of fashion altogether as commerce laws evolved. This year, however, they’ve made a comeback. According to Food & Wine, there are currently at least four in operation around Florence. Osteria delle Brache in Piazza Peruzzi is using its window to deliver wine and cocktails, for example, and the Vivoli ice cream shop, a go-to dessert spot since 1929, is handing out sweet scoops and coffee through its formerly dormant aperture.

Apart from the recent resurgence of interest, the wine windows often go unnoticed by tourists drawn to the grandeur of attractions like the Uffizi Gallery and the Florence Cathedral. So in 2015, locals Matteo Faglia, Diletta Corsini, and Mary Christine Forrest established the Wine Window Association to generate some buzz. In addition to researching the history of the windows, they also keep a running list of all the ones they know of. Florence has roughly 150, and there are another 100 or so in other parts of Tuscany.

They’re hoping to affix a plaque near each window to promote their stories and discourage people from defacing them. And if you want to support their work, you can even become a member of the organization for €25 (about $29).

[h/t Insider]