RETHINKING HISTORIC CUISINE: a brief introduction to Four Pounds Flour

“I don’t know why old recipes are so evocative, since many of the ingredients are unknown to me or difficult to get, the processes laborious beyond belief, and the results, quite honestly, often nothing I’d want to eat. But they read like a poetry of lost specifics, in which you learn old words and ways to boil, bone, braise, devil, hash, jelly, pot, roast, sauce, steam, stew, and stuff…” (The Education of Oronte Churm)

Why bother deciphering a recipe over 150 years old?

You can take a collection of words and measurements written long ago, and turn it into a physical object. You can create something that looks, smells, and tastes just like it did hundreds of years in the past. And that’s the next best thing to time travel: it lets you understand a little bit about another way of life. When I recreate an historic recipe, I not only establish a connection to the past, but I rediscover long-forgotten flavors that inspire my contemporary cooking.

This blog will focus on, but not be limited to, 18th and 19th century American cuisine. It’s a lost world of rich foods, of mace and marjoram, of butter and cream. I first learned how to cook these recipes over a wood stove at my first job in high school. Later, they inspired my thesis, a restaurant reinterpreting historic cuisine for a contemporary audience. Now, I do it for the daily adventure.

Sometimes delicious, occasionally disastrous, this is a non-scholarly look at the history of food. Expect 2-3 posts a week of recipes, demos, photos and more.

Blog design by Bin Kinsley.  Illustrations by Peter Van Hyning.


sarah_lohman_photo1Sarah Lohman is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, where she began working in a museum at the age of 16, cooking historic food over a wood-burning stove.  She graduated with a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2005 and for her undergraduate thesis, she opened a temporary restaurant/installation that reinterpreted food of the Colonial era for a modern audience.

Lohman moved to New York in 2006 to work as Video Producer for New York Magazine’s food blog, Grub Street.  Currently, she works with museums and galleries around the country to create public programs focused on food, including institutions such as apexart gallery,  Ward III, The American Museum of Natural History, The New York Public Library, The Brooklyn Brainery, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, The Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Institute for Culinary Education, Preacher Gallery (Austin), and the Museum of Science (Boston).

Dubbed an “historic gastronomist,” Lohman recreates historic recipes as a way to make a personal connection with the past. She chronicles her explorations in culinary history on her blog, FourPoundsFlour.com, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and NPR.  She appeared in NYC-TV’s mini-series Appetite City cooking culinary treats from New York’s past and is featured in The Cooking Channel’s Food: Fact or Fiction.

Lohman’s first book, Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, is due out with Simon & Schuster December 6, 2016. Pre-order it here!

Contact her: sarah@fourpoundsflour.com

4 Responses to “About”

  • This looks wonderful!!

  • Very interesting read. Look forward to reading more soon..

  • Hello,

    I am looking for some information on what a home vegetable garden would look like in 1848. My town is doing a an 1848 era vegetable garden for historical purposes. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


    • Hi Jani,
      I am with a living history museum in Pennsylvania that interprets the PA German culture from 1740-1940. We have a raised bed garden that represents roughly the time period that you mention. If you would like to learn more about it please feel free to contact me. If you visit our website, http://www.landisvalleymuseum.org, go to the contact page and then click on Development and email me through there.

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