Veganizing a 300 year old Recipe! | 18th Century Cooking
One of our all-time favorite YouTube Channels (outside of the WFPB eating space) is the Townsends YouTube channel. Their channel is dedicated to showing viewers the lifestyle of people living in the 18th century, including how to make dishes of the time using period-appropriate outfits and cookware.
I have been in awe and fascination of this channel for years! I love that they do a great job of taking you on a journey from start to finish, especially with their cooking videos! During one of their live shows, I super-chatted them to ask why they didn’t make more vegan dishes. I could only imagine that poorer people in the time period cooked things that were mostly plant-based as root vegetables keep well and non-starchy veggies are easier to find. Jon Townsend himself pointed me in the direction of a cookbook of the time that is EXCLUSIVELY vegetarian! It’s called Primitive Cookery or the Kitchen Garden Display'd.
I perused the book and what I loved most of all were some of the quotes in the foreword of the book! It’s amazing to me that even so long ago, some people were already getting it right when it comes to health and nutrition. One passage said:
"I may here observe, that most diseases are contracted by excess of eating or drinking, and the neglect of sufficient exercise; whence arise various morbid qualities in the blood. It is very manifest, that those people are most healthy, strong, and active, who are most moderate in their diet."
Dillon and I are by no means historians or experts in any way. What we ARE however, is two goofballs who have a penchant for dressing up and playing make believe. Besides, I love any excuse to go thrifting and came home with great pride at the outfits I had found for us. I wasn’t exactly sure if they were period-appropriate, but I figured it was close enough.
The only item I ended up buying new was the bonnet. I couldn’t quite find something close enough at the thrift store, and still haven’t (re)learned how to use my old sewing machine so a new bonnet was a must.
We actually tried TWO recipes for the video, but one of the stews I cut out entirely. It had called for beets, and we overdid it on the beets, to the point where the whole stew just tasted like beets. None of the other flavors of the vegetables and seasonings we added came through. We decided to leave that one out. We stuck with what was called an “Onion Pye,” because the unique ingredients in the dish had me very curious. It was a mixture of apples, potatoes, and you guessed it.. Onions. The dish itself wasn’t vegan, it was vegetarian. I ended up just omitting the ingredients that weren’t plant-based so I could make it vegan.
We had a blast filming this video, and would love to do more in the future. Heck, we already have the outfits! I actually ended up LOVING the Onion Pye. Later on I talked to my German friend and she said those are usually the ingredients added to a sweet sauerkraut recipe. That’s the tang I was missing when I tried this dish and the flavors that were familiar to me. I tried it later with some sauerkraut and it hit the spot. I will definitely be making this dish again, even though it’s missing the crust.