Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Peach Pudding

Aunt Babette's Cookbook: Foreign and domestic receipts for the household: A valuable collection of receipts and hints for the housewife, many of which are not to be found elsewhere, by "Aunt Babette" [1889]

LINE the bottom of a pudding dish with stale sponge or cup cake and shave enough peaches to cover thickly (you may use preserves orcompote instead). Sprinkle a cupful of pulverized sugar over the fruit.Now let a pint of milk get boiling hot by setting it in a pot of boiling water. Add the yelks of three eggs, well beaten, one tablespoonful ofcornstarch, made smooth with a little cold milk, and stir it all the time. As soon as thickened, pour over the fruit. Beat the whites to a stiff froth, adding a tablespoonful of sugar, and spread over the top for frosting. Set it in the oven for a few minutes to harden. Eat cold, with or without cream.

Verdict: I had a bunch of peaches from my mother's tree, a wedge of strawberry birthday cake my mother in law brought me, and some leftover key lime poke cake my mother made for a party.  These leftovers put it in the best tradition of trifles.  The lime and strawberry was a little weird, but whatever.  I thought the lack of sugar in the custard would be weird too, but there's so much nonsense going on here that it wasn't noticeable.  I thought it was very attractive and pretty tasty.  The kids picked at it and husband had one bite.  I recommend using one flavor of a plainly flavored cake.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Epsom Grand Stand Pigeon Pie

Things A Lady Would Like to Know Concerning Domestic Management and Expenditure, by Henry Southgate [1867]


Epsom Grand Stand Pigeon Pie.--Line the bottom of a pie-dish with 1 1/2 lbs. of rump-steak cut into pieces about 2 inches square, seasoning it well with pepper and salt.  Clean the pigeons, rubbing them with salt and pepper inside and out, putting rather more than 1/2 oz. of butter into the body of each bird; lay them on the steak, and put a slice of ham on each.

Add the yolks of 4 eggs, and half fill the dish with stock.  Put puff paste round the edge of the dish; put on the cover; and put three of the feet, cleaned, in a hole at top of the crust.  Brush it over with the yolk of an egg, and bake in about 1 1/4 hours in a well-heated oven.  Pounded mace may be added to the seasoning, if liked, and each pigeon covered with a piece of fat bacon to keep them moist.

I feel like the pie is giving me the bird.

Properly this should be served with grilled salmon cutlets, stewed cucumber, and curate pudding. 
Verdict: Well, this certainly is a pie crust filled with meats and gravy.  The taste is about what you would expect of meat chunks and soggy crust. As I do not have access to pigeons... I tell a lie, my neighbor's pine tree has a whole colony.  Anyway, I didn't use pigeons.  These are Cornish game hens.  They have a lot more fat on them than pigeons presumably do, so I didn't stuff them with butter or lay bacon on them.  Accordingly, I did not have pigeon feet to use as garnish, so I substituted with this offensive chicken foot which made the children scream a little.  And me.  I screamed a little.  It also made the house smell like burning fingernails when it was baking, which was pretty unsettling. All agreed that this was definitely a pie filled with meats and gravy.  No one agreed to eat the chicken foot, despite all my best arguments.

Tried to give it to the cat.

Cat said no.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Curried Chicken

Today I cooked chicken by leaving it on the counter for six hours.  And no puke resulted!  That is pretty well my only standard when it comes to historical recipes.  Actually, that rule is flexible*.

Thermal cooking is the historical equivalent of the electric slow cooker.  They were particularly in vogue during WWII, as a means to save fuel.  Simply heat a pot of food up to boiling, then insulate to keep the temperature stable to finish the cooking.

This model from 1926-1930

This hay-based model from the late 19th Century

My new toy has insulating foam instead of hay, but the principle is the same.  As a bonus, it actually stays a bit warmer than a slow cooker for up to eight hours.

For its maiden voyage, I chose a recipe from Margaret Mitchell's classic work that so perfectly and nostalgically captures a bygone era of grace, abundance, and perserverence: The Fireless Cookbook.  She also wrote some book about the American Civil War that did quite well, I believe.

Stewed Chicken 
Draw and cut up a fowl. Put it, with the 
giblets, in enough boiling salted water (one 
teaspoonful of salt to each quart of water) to 
cover it. Let it boil for ten minutes and put 
it into a cooker for ten hours or more. If not 
quite tender, bring it again to a boil and cook 
it for from six to eight hours, depending upon 
its toughness. Skim off as much as possible of 
the fat from the liquor, pour off some of the 
liquor and save it to use as soup or stock, and 
thicken the remainder with two tablespoonfuls 
of flour for each cup of liquid, mixed to a paste 
with an equal quantity of water. A beaten 
egg or two, stirred into the gravy just before 
serving, improves it. Add pepper and salt 
to, taste, and serve the chicken on a hot platter 
with the gravy poured around it. The platter 
may be garnished with boiled rice piled about 
the chicken. 

Curried Chicken 

Prepare and cook one fowl as for stewed chick- 
en, adding two onions, pared and cut into slices. 
Add one tablespoonful of curry powder to the flour 
when thickening the gravy. Or the chicken may 
be rolled in flour and browned in butter, and the 
curry powder added before putting it into the 
cooker. It is served with a border of boiled rice. 

Verdict: Not terribly photogenic.  I did try.  Chicken is kind of tricky to get just right; it is tricky to hit that sweet spot between chewy and dropping off the bones so you look like an idiot when you eat it.  This had the most perfect, tender texture.  The seasoning was reminiscent of the hospital, but what do you expect for 1909?  I ended up dumping a... generous amount of extra curry powder in after tasting, and it was much improved.  

I love my new toy forever and ever and next time we go camping it will be my bosom friend.  But probably with a different recipe.  

*There is a rule about mayonnaise not being used with Jello, though.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Duck Stewed With Green Peas and Marmalade Pudding

Things A Lady Would Like To Know  [1867]

The thought for today's menu from the above cookbook is: 
 Education is not that which smothers woman with accomplishments, but that which tends to consolidate firm and regular system of characterthat which tends to form friend, companion, and wife.'—HANNAH MORE.

Very true. Which is why I am am just literate enough to puzzle out a cookbook. Without that skill, I wouldn't be able to provide my husband with horrifyingly overcooked peas. 

 Duck Stewed with Green Peas
Prepare a duck as for roasting, but do not stuff it. Put a small piece of butter in a stewpan, and nicely brown the duck, take it out, and brown a table-spoonful of flour in the remaining butter, and add to it half a pint of beef stock; let it boil, return the duck, put in also 1 quart of peas, with a bunch of sweet herbs, including a little mint and sage, cover close, and stew till done; remove the herbs, dish the duck, cover, and surround with the peas.

Marmalade Pudding
—Mix 1/4 lb. suet, finely chopped, with do. bread-crumbs in a basin, 1/4 lb. marmalade, and do. sugar; stir well together; beat 4 eggs to a froth, and gradually mix well with the ingredients; put in a mould or buttered basin; tie down with floured cloth, and boil for two hours. When turned out, strew fine sifted sugar over the top. This pudding will look very pretty if stoned raisins are tastefully arranged before the mixture is poured in.


Duck: It is the first time the mister or myself has had duck. I've been keeping my eye out for one for years, and finally a deeply discounted one turned up in my grocer's freezer.  Browning it was a challenge, because it was slightly to big for the pot. After slopping raw duck juice on myself and my stove a few times, I got angry and broke its tail bone with a mallet. Which sprayed more raw duck juice. For all that, the taste was totally unexceptional and bland. The peas were a touch away from dissolving into baby food. Consequently, the baby adored them. The rest of us did not. 

Marmalade Pudding: I cheated and got pre-shredded vegetable suet at a British import store. And it was lovely!  Still very solid. And still a bit of "mouth-hug" (thanks to a British reader for that word), but nice. Better warm, as when it got cold the fat got all gritty.  Having the quantities by weight is a great help, because most similar recipes call for things like "a pennysworth of bread."  This is extremely unhelpful.  

*"do."= "ditto"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Woolton Pie with Potato Pastry

We'll Eat Again: A collection of recipes from the war years selected by Marguerite Patten

Woolton pie was named after the Minister of Food in WWII, Lord Woolton.  It is designed to work with severe rationing, with vast amounts of vegetables, no meat, and very little wheat flour.

Woolton Pie
Cooking time: about 1 hour    Quantity: 4 helpings

Dice and cook about 1 lb of each of the following in salted water: potatoes (you could use parsnips if topping the pie with mashed potatoes), cauliflower, swedes, carrots--you could add turnips too.  [I used turnip instead of swede/rutabaga.]  Strain but keep 3/4 pint of the vegetable water.

I halved the recipe.  This is 1/2 lb. of each.

Arrange the vegetables in a large pie dish or casserole.  Add a little vegetable extract and about 1 oz rolled oats or oatmeal to the vegetable liquid.  Cook until thickened and pour over the vegetables; add 3-4 chopped spring onions [I used a lot of chives.]

Top with Potato Pastry or with mashed potatoes and a very little grated cheese [I used two adult people's cheese ration for the week- 4 oz. total.  I'm American, so it should be allowed under cultural exceptions] and heat in the centre of a moderately hot oven [375 F.] until golden brown. [half an hour-ish.  Depends on how thick the pastry is.]  Serve with brown gravy.

This is at its best with tender young vegetables. [Nope.  Turnips and parsnips are so unpopular, the only ones around look pretty beat-up. Oh well.  There's a war on.]

Potato Pastry
This is a pastry that should be used a great deal as it helps to lighten the flour and makes our rations of fat go much further.
Sift 6 oz. self raising flour with a pinch of salt.  Rub in 2-3 oz cooking fat, add 2 oz grated raw potato.  Mix well and bind with water.  Roll out on a floured board and use as ordinary shortcrust pastry.


Well that isn't the wartime spirit I was looking for.  Husband and I thought it was actually pretty darn good.  Especially with the aid of a large amount of vegetable flavored "Better Than Bouillon" to serve as the vegetable extract.  Mmmm.  Husband even said he'd like to see it again!  It could use some more color, though.  Parsnips, rutabagas, potatoes, cauliflower and turnips do not have very striking contrast.

2-year-old, who had just been woken up from a sorely needed nap prematurely, was so offended that she wouldn't touch it and instead tried to knock over the precious ration of orange juice to which she, as a child, is entitled. Upon failing, she flowed off her chair and onto the floor like syrup and assumed the position shown in picture 2, to prevent me holding a carrot near her face on a fork.  An hour later, she ate half her serving and liked it.

A Fine Venison Pie and Rhubarb Cups

The Lady's Receipt-book, Eliza Leslie, 1847

--Cut steaks from a loin, or haunch of venison, which should be as freshly killed as you can get it.  The strange prejudice in favour of hard, black-looking venison, that has been kept till the juices are all dried up, is fast subsiding; the preference is now given to that which has been newly killed, whenever it can be obtained.  Those who have eaten venison fresh from the woods, will never again be able to relish it in the state in which it is brought to the Atlantic cities.

Having removed the bones [I didn't.  I cut around them after the steaks were cooked.], and seasoned it with a little salt and pepper; put the venison into a pot [A slow cooker, in this case], with barely as much water as will cover it, and let it stew till perfectly tender, skimming it occasionally.  Then take it out, and set it to cool, saving the gravy in a bowl.  Make a light paste, in the proportion of three quarters of a pound of fresh butter to a pound and a half of flour.  Divide the paste into two portions, and roll it out rather thick.  Butter a deep dish, and line it with one of the sheets of paste.  Then put in the venison.  Season the gravy with a glass of very good wine, either red or white, a few blades of mace, and a powdered nutmeg [I did not use an entire nutmeg, because I am not an insane person].  Stir into it the crumbled yolks of some hard-boiled eggs. [I used six] Pour the gravy over the meat, and put on the other sheet of paste as the lid of the pie.  Notch it handsomely round the edges, and bake it well. If a steady heat is kept up, it will be done in an hour.  Send it to table hot.

Instead of wine, you may put into the gravy a glass of currant-jelly. [I did.]

Any sort of game may be made into a pie, in the above manner.

--Take twenty stalks of green rhubarb; cut them, and boil them in a quart of water.  When it comes to a hard boil, take it from the fire; strain off the water, drain the rhubarb as dry as possible, and then mash it, and make it very sweet with brown sugar.  Have ready half a pint of rice, that has been boiled in a quart of water, till soft and dry. [No.  Victorian people were very bad at cooking rice.] Mix the rhubarb and the rice well together; beating them hard.  Then mould it in cups slightly buttered, and set them on ice, or in a very cold place.  Just before dinner, turn them out on a large dish.  Serve up with them, in a bowl, cream and sugar, into which a nutmeg has been grated; [again, not an entire nutmeg.] or else a sauce made of equal portions of fresh butter and powdered white sugar, beaten together until very light, and flavoured with powdered cinnamon, or nutmeg, and oil of lemon or lemon-juice.


A Fine Venison Pie:  Fabulous.  I over did it on the currant jelly, adding half a jar.  Two or three tablespoons would have done better.  The mace and nutmeg were delicious.  People who say that people in the past only put nutmeg, cinnamon, fruit, sugar, etc. on meats because they wanted to show off because it is awful are terribly misinformed, because it was super great. I was inspired to up my game (ha) by Food History Jottings, which is jaw-droppingly incredible and that you should read right now.  After finishing here.

Rhubarb Cups:  I chose this recipe because I have been canning rhubarb juice!  The byproduct of this was a gallon-size bag of sweetened, drained rhubarb pulp (plus the lemon and orange peels it was cooked with). Perfect!  Rhubarb doesn't seem to be very popular, which is a shame.  If it does appear, it is usually adulterated with strawberries.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, just... let rhubarb be rhubarb sometimes.

Notice that the recipe calls for green rhubarb stalks.  I'm not actually sure why.  Color is not an indicator of how ripe the rhubarb is.  Some varieties are completely red, some are completely green, and most exist on a spectrum between the two, with shades of both on the same plant.  They taste identical, one is just prettier.

I thought it was delicious.  Although, to be honest, I'd probably eat a wooden plank if it came with cream poured over it.  The orange peel mashed up with the rhubarb made it above average, so although it is not in the original recipe, I recommend if you are going to try this.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Moorish cubbub, barley water, and carrot pudding

The Cook Not Mad, or Rational Cookery; Being A Collection of Original and Selected Receipts, Embracing Not Only the Art of Curing Various Kinds of Meats and Vegetables for Future Use, but of Cooking in its General Acceptation, to the Taste, Habits, and Degrees of Luxury, Prevalent with the American Publick, in Town and Country. To Which are Added, Directions for Preparing Comforts for the SICKROOM; Together with Sundry Miscellaneous Kinds of Information, of Importance to Housekeepers in General, Nearly All Tested by Experience. 
By Anonymous. 
Watertown, NY: Knowlton & Rice, 1831.

This is apparently one of the very first American cookbooks.  A year after its publication, it became Canada's very first cookbook*, but with "Canadian" instead of "American" in the title.  No other changes.  And a lot of it is plagiarized from other cookbooks.  Anonymous apparently did not meet the industrious American ideal.  

*Edit: this is apparently quite wrong.  The first Canadian cookbook is La Cuisinere Bourgeoisie by Menon.  Thanks to Anje of Kitchen Historic and Early Canadian Cookbooks, who should know.  

A Moorish method of cooking beef, as described by Captain Riley, the ship-wrecked mariner.  
"Mr. Willshire's cook had by this time prepared a repast, which consisted of beef cut into square pieces, just large enough for a mouthful before it was cooked; these were then rolled in onions, cut up fine, and mixed with salt and pepper; they were in the next place put on iron skewers and laid horizontally across a pot of burning charcoal, and turned over occasionally, until perfectly roasted:" [Query: --Does he mean that the skewers be run through the pieces of meat? we think he must, as it would be difficult to make such small pieces lie on the skewers, without falling through into the fire; especially when the meat came to be turned.]  "This dish," continues Captain Riley, "is called cubbub, and in my opinion far surpasses in flavour the so much admired beef steak; as it is eaten hot from the skewers, and is indeed an excellent mode of cooking beef."
Remark.--How would it do to cut up flakes here and there on our common steak pieces, and put under pieces of raw onion, pepper and salt, and fasten the flap down by means of little wooden pins or pegs, to be pulled out after cooking?

Barley Water
Upon one ounce of pearl barley, after it has been well washed in cold water, pour half a pint of boiling water, and then boil it a few minutes; the water must then be strained off and thrown away; afterwards a quart of boiling water must be poured over the barley, and which should then be boiled down to one pint and a quarter, and strained off.  The barley water thus made is clear and mucilaginous; and when mixed with an equal quantity of good milk and a small portion of sugar, is an excellent substitute for a mother's milk, when infants are, unfortunately, to be brought up by hand.  Without milk, it is one of the best beverages for all acute diseases, and may have lemon juice, raspberry vinegar, apple tea, infusion of tamarinds, or any other acidulous substance that is agreeable to the palate of the patient, mixed with it.  

Carrot Pudding
A coffee cup full of boiled and strained carrots, five eggs, sugar and butter of each two ounces, cinnamon and rose water to your taste, bake in a deep dish without paste, one hour.  


Moorish cubbubs: Isn't the recipe wonderful?  I love how the author is utterly baffled by the idea of kebabs (which is, of course, what this is).  I feel a kinship, I think.  An author shamelessly plagiarizing the recipes of others, while at the same time being totally flummoxed at times at what the heck is going on and what the recipe wants you to do because whoever wrote it took for granted you'd know how it should work. If anyone can figure out what they're trying to do with the wooden pins, let me know.  Anyway, it wasn't very flavorful.  Just... beef chunks.  Eh.  But that isn't the point.  

Barley water:  This is of particular interest to me, because I am Mormon.  In 1833, approximately contemporaneous with this cookbook, the Word of Wisdom was introduced.  The Word of Wisdom is a list of health suggestions, later amended to commandments.  Among them, "strong drink" was prohibited.  

That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

This section, a while later, has been the source of a lot of argument and speculation:

 16 All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—
 17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
Some people have made the argument that what that last bit means is beer, because that is the only drink they know of that they feel fits the description.  "Mild", because beer is less alcoholic than many other forms of alcohol.  

Because of barley water's great popularity in so many cookbooks before and after this time period, especially listed as a drink for invalids, I'd put my money on that.  If I were allowed to gamble.  

It didn't taste like very much of anything.  Possibly a little dusty.  

Carrot Pudding: This was actually really nice.  It is very much like pumpkin pie filling (as those who have had pumpkin pie made of pureed carrots will be totally unsurprised to hear), but with rosewater.  And it goes really well, too.  I added a capful, which is probably between 1/4-1/2 teaspoon.  I have designs on it for breakfast tomorrow.  I'd think about adding rosewater to a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, if I didn't think total outrage would result.