Civil War Blog

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Autumn Family Dinner, 1860s

Posted By on November 19, 2012

Cooking even a “simple family dinner” in the 1860s was a very heavy duty process. Factory produced canned goods and prepared ingredients were not widely available or of reliable quality until the end of the century, and the typical working conditions in the 1860s kitchen were quite basic, even in affluent homes. Families tended to be larger as well, so larger meals were more common.


Without refrigeration, cooks planning meals in the nineteenth century had to rely on foods that were in season, or items that they had preserved themselves during another part of the year. Since it is November, let’s look at the the list of foods Mrs. Isabella Beeton describes as “in season” in November, 1861:

Fish: Brill, carp, cod, crabs,eels, gudgeons, haddock, oysters, pike, sole, trench, turbot, whiting

Meat: Beef, mutton, veal, doe venison

Poultry: Chicken, fowl, geese, lark, pigeon, pullet, rabbit, teal, turkey, widegon, wild duck

Game: Hare, partridge, pheasant, snipe, woodcock

Vegetables: Beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, lettuce. late cucumber, onion, potatoes, salad greens, spinach, sprouts, various herbs (p.114, vol 1)

Fruit: Apples, bullaces, chestnuts, filberts, grapes, pears, walnuts

Mrs Beeton also lists 14 menus for simple family dinners for November (vol. 3, pp.266-267), three of which are listed below:

  •  Monday. (2101)
    • 1. Stewed eels
    • 2. Veal cutlets garnished with rolled bacon; cold mutton and winter salad.
    • 3. Baked Rice Pudding
  • Tuesday. (2109)
    • 1.Pea soup, made from liquor in which beef was boiled
    • 2.Cold beef, mashed potatoes; mutton cutlets and tomato sauce
    • 3. Carrot pudding
  • Wednesday (2110)
    • 1. Fried soles and melted butter
    • 2. Roast leg of pork, apple sauce, vegetables
    • 3. Macaroni with Parmesan cheese




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