Nineteenth-Century Creole Snacks & Jennie Carter

The first public screening of a local historical short documentary was an occasion to serve Creole finger foods from a cookbook published in 1885.

Actress Katrina Thompson who portrays Jennie in the film read a book excerpt and spoke about the timeliness of the reappearance of Carters’work.

Jennie Carter was a free black woman who moved to Nevada County, California from New Orleans at the outbreak of the American Civil War.  Her essays, published in the book Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West, edited by Eric Gardner, were the basis for a seventeen-minute video shown to Nevada County neighbors.

To add to the learning experience, recipes were chosen from a cookbook that originated in New Orleans, La Cuisine Creole. It was food Jennie Carter may have prepared or eaten. While some of the recipes (squirrel or pigeon pie, or suet pudding) were not ones we were willing to attempt, many sound delicious!

For this setting, we chose simple, finger fare and modified ingredients as necessary. (See notes below.)

pickled scallops

*Frozen scallops were substituted for oysters. Ground mace was used instead of ‘blades.’ Scallops were sliced thin and placed on slices of buttered baguette, topped with a very small amount of ground mace.

*To French’s mustard, salt, garlic granules, tarragon leaves, and white wine vinegar were added – to taste.

*A specialty squash from one of the neighborhood gardens was substituted for pumpkin. Stop cooking soon after a fork or knife is easily inserted. Let cool overnight. Eat at room temperature.


Published in 1885. Click on the book cover for a PDF of the entire cookbook. Courtesy of Michigan State University | Feeding America: Historic American cookbook collection

Click here to watch the video and read related articles.

Additional Jennie Carter Articles

Jennie Carter’s Nevada County Setting 1860s, 2nd Marriage & Obituary
Jennie Carter’s Pre-Civil War, Civil War & Reconstruction-era 1846-1870
Jennie Carter Book Review
Jennie Carter – Filming Behind-the-Scenes & Creative Partners

Pickle Soup

picke-soup-photoWeird but good.  When I first read this recipe, I thought, Pickles? That’s sounds yucky.

‘Kitchen therapy’ and weird were just what was needed one morning when I had emotional child-rearing issues weighing on my mind.


Items marked with a * are my additions to the original recipe.


5 dill pickles, grated

4 tsp. butter (1 tsp. for saute pan & the remainder for the soup pot)

4 cups water

1 large carrot, chopped (* 6 small carrots)

2 celery stalks (* 3 stalks)

1 parsley root (* 2 parsnips substituted ), chopped

1 leek, chopped (* skipped)

1 potato, peeled & chopped

*1 tblsp. salt



sour cream

fresh, chopped dill


Over low heat, saute grated dill pickles in 1 tblsp. butter for 20 minutes. (This removes some of the ‘bite’ from the pickle giving it more of a mild vinegar flavor that adds interest to the soup.)

In a soup pot, combine water, remaining butter and chopped vegetables. Over medium heat, simmer till tender.

Add grated dill pickles, bring to boil & remove from heat.


Grandpa’s Pickled Fish

3 cups of water to 1 cup of white vinegarharry and big fish
3/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. sugar
4 whole allspice
1 bay leaf
1 onion (diced)

(Make enough liquid to cover fish)

Boil liquid a few minutes till onions look transparent.  Add fish.   Bring to boil again, then boil all about 3 minutes.  Must watch this carefully, as fish can overcook rapidly.  Be careful not to stir, or fish will break up.  Set aside to cool for a few hours.

When transferring fish to refrig. container, each piece must be handled carefully with a fork & spoon (do not pierce).
After fish transferred, pour juice over.  Refrig. for 3 days.

grandma handwriting from ray-1

from ray 81

Grandpa’s Pickled Pigs Feet

4 feet, approx 4#IMG_0556 IMG_0566

Wash, cover with water – cook about 3 hrs. till tender.

Separate meat from juice.  Put meat back in kettle, put in
sliced large onion, 3 tsp. salt, 3 tsp. sugar, some pepper, bay leaves, and allspice kernels – about 7 or 8, bay leaves are different sizes so one has to guess.  Then measure 1 cup white vinegar, put in kettle, 3 cups meat juice or water, continue measuring till meat is covered. (1 cup vinegar to 3 cups juice).  Bring to a boil, about 5 min.  Let cool & refrigerate.  Let stand about 3 days to blend flavors.

(I believe 10 minutes in the pressure cooker is the equivalent of 1 hr. of regular boiling.)


Dianne (eldest daughter) – Dad and I used to sit together and eat this stuff – I remember it being sooo good!