Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Broiled salmon, potatoes, breakfast johnny cake, stewed cherries

This breakfast bill of fare is from Jennie June's American Cookery Book, Containing Upwards of Twelve Hundred Choice and Carefully Tested Receipts; Embracing All the Popular Dishes, and the Best Results of Modern Science, Reduced to a Simple and Practical Form. Also, a Chapter for Invalids, for Infants, One on Jewish Cookery; and a Variety of Miscellaneous Receipts of Special Value to Housekeepers Generally [1870].


Jennie June, no less generous with her quotes than with her titles, chooses this to begin with:

"What does cookery mean?"

"It means the knowledge of Medea, and of Circe, and of Calypso, and of Helen, and of Rebekah, and of the Queen of Sheba. It means the knowledge of all fruits, and herbs, and balms, and spices--and of all that is healing, and sweet in fields, and groves, and savory in meats--it means carefulness, and inventiveness, and watchfulness, and willingness, and readiness of appliance. It means the economy of your great-grandmothers, and the science of modern chemists--it means much tasting, and no wasting--it means English thoroughness, and French art, and Arabian hospitality, and it means in fine, that you are to be perfectly, and always 'ladies,'--'loaf givers,' and as you are to see imperatively that everybody has something pretty to put on,--so you are to see, even yet more imperatively, that everybody has something nice to eat."--RUSKIN.

I think that is rather nice.

IMG_2750.jpg picture by seshet27

Broiled Salmon
About an inch, is the proper thickness to cut the slices; dry them with a cloth, put salt on them, and lay them skin side down, on a gridiron over hot coals. Before laying on the fish, rub the bars with lard, to prevent them sticking. When broiled sufficiently on one side, turn the fish, by laying a plate upon it and turning the gridiron over; then slip the salmon from the plate on to the gridiron. This prevents its breaking.

I just pan-fried these, seeing as I am short on gridirons over hot coals.

Fried Potatoes
Peel half a dozen medium potatoes, cut them up small, and put them into cold water for about half an hour; take them out, dry with a towel, and put them in a frying-pan, with two ounces of butter and a little salt; cover down, and every little while, shake and turn them; when they are tender, and of a clear, light, rich brown, they are done; the grease should be drained off from them, and they are ready to send to table.

IMG_2748.jpg picture by seshet27

Breakfast Johnny Cake
Mix over night six or eight table-spoonsful of fine yellow Indian meal, with two of wheat flour, one of corn starch, a tea-spoonful of salt, and water enough to wet thoroughly--milk is better, but is not essential.
IMG_2741.jpg picture by seshet27
In the morning add one egg, a tea-spoonful of soda, a table-spoonful of brown sugar, and another of melted butter; beat up well, and bake immediately. This is good enough for "company."

IMG_2745.jpg picture by seshet27

The original menu, instead of johnny cake, had "baker's twists". Unfortunately, I have no idea what those are, and Jennie June did not provide a recipe. This right here is as close as Google took me, and I just don't think that's what Jennie June was thinking of. I hope. What Jennie June does say is this:

"In some families, warm soda biscuit for breakfast, is the regular thing; this is very hurtful. Good home-made bread, not quite fresh, is best. French bread, baked the day before, next best; good baker's twist, third best. For a change, warm corn bread, or johnny cake may be made for breakfast, rice cakes, or waffles, and if biscuits, make them from the light dough mixed over night, shortened with a little butter.

So there.

Stewed Cherries
No recipe given. I used canned, you could simmer fresh sweet cherries in sugar water. But don't.

IMG_2746.jpg picture by seshet27

There is a very important point however, to which little attention is paid, and that is fruit. "Fruit," saith the old proverb, "is golden in the morning, silver at noon, and lead at night," yet it is only at night, that in this country, we eat it at all, as part of a meal. This is wrong, fruit is a most valuable part of food, it cannot be too highly estimated; more fruit, with less saleratus, and rich greasy compounds, such as butter with meats, gravies, and the like, would take away the occupation of half the doctors, and reduce wonderfully the sum total of dyspepsia and liver complaints.


Salmon: Mmmmmm. Salmon. Salmon is delicious, and how can you go wrong with a simple pan-fry and salt?

Potatoes: Also pretty simple. I prefer Jennie June's simplistic attitude towards fish and vegetables to Fannie Farmer's love of egg sauced fish or Aunt Babette's horrible library paste peas.

Breakfast Johnny Cake: Okay, so this was not good. The invalid muffins and Graham gems, they didn't taste like anything. But this tasted like baking soda, acrid and chemically salty. We got together with friends this evening to play games, and brought the leftover johnny cake along, since Jennie June swears it is good enough for company. Or we wanted to get rid of it. You can decide that about us. One of our friends said it tasted just like licking a dryer sheet. Friend, why were you licking dryer sheets?

Stewed Cherries: Canned cherries are not my favorite canned fruit. And if you have lovely fresh cherries, why would you cook them up? That would be a travesty. However, all credit to Jennie June, I am dyspepsia and liver-complaint free!


In Oz said...

Mmmmm salmon! I should never read these things late at night (er, early in the morning, and on a stomach that seemed content until I saw this. Shame on you!). However, I couldn't resist. I must say that I commend your valiant endeavors to share the bounty and rid yourself of unwanted victual at the same time. Next time, feel free to feed them to our geese. They need to pack on the pounds so when mating season is over and they SHUT UP so I can sleep, they'll be nice and plump just in time for vengean-er....Thanksgiving :-).

Bethany said...

I think Jennie June might be my favorite yet! I'm disappointed that the Johnny Cake was not good. I was sure since the pioneers ate it all the time, that it would tasty. Of course they also boiled their shoe leather - so there you go I guess.

Jana said...

Dorathe- Great minds think alike! We plan to feed the remainder to the ducks and geese at the pond. Also, goose for Thanksgiving! Swanky.

Bethany- I feel certain there are acceptable johnny cake recipes. This just isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

I brought up your blog in a book group the other day, we were eating blancmange and it made me think of your blog. The ladies were interested in reading your blog, if you don't mind I will share it with them.


Jana said...

I'd be delighted! I need to make blancmange one of these days...