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retrostoveIt’s hard to know just how much cooking Lizzie was compelled to do in her lifetime what with Bridget Sullivan and Abby Borden manning the old black stove on Second Street and servants being at hand at Maplecroft.  Apparently Lizzie did don an apron from time to time and a few of her favorites have filtered down via word of mouth or the odd reference by friends. 

Recently a lady who stayed at the Second Street house commented that her father, when he was a little boy, recalled Miss Lizzie keeping a dish of chocolate covered peppermints in a dish in the front hall so as to be handy for youngsters who passed by- these were of the peppermint patty type, wrapped in foil.

Mrs. Florence Brigham, the curator of the Fall River Historical Society for many years, had in her possession handwritten  3 x 5 recipe cards in a box of her late mother-in-law Mary Ella (Sheen) Brigham. Lizzie’s favorite meatloaf recipe was among the gems in the box. Mrs. Mary Brigham gave testimony at the trial and was a good friend of Lizzie and Emma Borden, and a frequent caller at Maplecroft, her home being very nearby on Belmont St.  After Emma and Lizzie parted ways around 1905, Mrs. Mary Brigham stopped dropping by at Maplecroft.  This recipe was given to the Fall River Historical Society some years ago by the son of Mrs. Florence Brigham and has been published in the society newsletter.

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Here is the recipe as written, and the modern day trial adaptation which works very nicely. Recipes were frequently written with little direction as it was assumed a lady ought to know how to put the basics together without being told as she would have been taught by her mother from an early age.

Lizzie’s Version

1 pound steak, 1/2 pound pork steak, 1 egg, 1 small onion, 3 soda crackers, herbs, salt, pepper.  Grease tin, cover loaf well with hot water and bake about one hour.

A modern approach: One pound ground sirloin (15-20% fat for flavor), 1/2 pound ground pork, one large egg for a binder, one small onion (red or vidalia), 3 Uneeda brand soda crackers pulverized into crumbs (or soup/chowder crackers will work), 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. dry mustard, 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan or spray with PAM, mound thoroughly mixed ingredients into the pan, cover with aluminum foil and bake one hour.  Good served with a little ketchup on top, or catsup as it was spelled years ago.  November is a good month for comfort food.  If this recipe is too much trouble- Almac’s Diner on President’s Avenue in Fall River has superb meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, luscious enough even for The Hill clientele of the 1920’s!