15 October 2014

Fifteen New Ways for Oysters

Sarah Tyson Rorer, known in her books as Mrs. Rorer, was a prolific writer of cookery books in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  Over 50 books and countless articles bear her byline. 

Born in 1849, she spent a great deal of time with her father, Charles Tyson Heston, who was a pharmacist. In her father's laboratory she learned about chemistry and laboratory work methodology. She would use this interest in science in her writing on food. In 1871 Sarah married to William Albert Rorer and had three children, only two survived. Her curiosity never waned and in 1879 she enrolled in a cooking course at Philadelphia's New Century Club and soon she was teaching the classes.  She was so successful that she started her own cooking school in 1882.  The Philadelphia Cooking School not only offered cooking classes, it offered chemistry classes and classes on diets for both the healthy and infirmed.

Her fame spread as she began writing a column in Philadelphia's Table Talk magazine and in the national Ladies Home Journal.  He first cookbook, Mrs. Rorer's Philadelphia Cook Book was published in 1886. She was a direct and pithy writer.  She debunked popular thoughts on fish with this statement:

"Fish is not brain food, because no fishermen of my acquaintance are overly brilliant."
She advocated no activity after a large meal, no fried foods, no food in the morning, and lots of fresh air.

Along with her full length manuscripts, she published a series of small, pamphlet-like books, among them, Fifteen New Ways for Oysters, published in 1894.  It was just that -- 15 recipes for oysters.  This is one of them:

Baked Mushrooms

Peel and cut short the stems from a pound of good sized mushrooms;put them in a baking pan, gills up; put a tiny bit of butter on each; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Run them in a hot oven for fifteen minutes; then pour in the pan about a gill of cream and one gill of oyster liquor that has been boiled  and strained; bring to boiling point. Dish the mushrooms, cover them over with the oysters, add two tablespoons of sherry to sauce.  Make it very hot and pour it over.

Mrs. Rorer was quite the writer and really needs a biography!  There are a lot of Mrs. Rorer's books out there, so keep an eye out in dusty old bookstore!

1 comment:

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