Monday, August 30, 2010

In the Kitchen: 1910

19631upreview.jpg picture by seshet27

Have you guys checked out Shorpy? It is a great site with neato old pictures. Like this one!

Home economics in public schools. Kitchen in housekeeping flat, New York," circa 1910. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

I love the clothes, I love the hair, I love the glass jars, and I love that these little girls are learning how to cook real food. People, there are college students that do not know how to scramble an egg. This is a horrifying. If you are one of those people, it is never too late! Do not be afraid to mess up. The more spectacularly you mess up, the more interesting the story you'll have to tell and the more you will learn. And you know what? Most of the time, even if you mess it up, it'll still taste fine. You can do it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Picnic! Deviled eggs, ham and pickle sandwiches, cream puffs, Saratoga potatoes, Fruit

Pack provision basket as full as the law allows, or as the nature of the occasion and the elasticity of the appetites demand. One piece of good advice to picnickers is to try to get under the wing of some good farm-house, where coffee may be boiled, and nice rich cream, green corn, good water, etc., may be readily foraged; and for a Fourth of July picnic, nothing will taste better than a dish of new potatoes, nicely prepared at the farm-house. -Buckeye Cookery

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Since it was a fine day, it seemed like an appropriate occasion for a picnic! There's no place for a picnic like the past, as you may guess from the quote above. I gathered my menu from The Los Angeles Times Cookbook--No. 2: One Thousand Toothsome Cooking and Other Recipes Including Seventy-Nine Old-Time California, Spanish and Mexican Dishes Recipes of Famous Pioneer Spanish Settlers [1906] and made and packed the food carefully, as per instructions: "The basket must be packed very carefully, especially the cream puffs."

Then off we went to Los Angeles in 1906. Unfortunately, I misjudged the calibrations and we ended up in the Utah Territory in 1862. Whoops. Time travel can be tricky. Good thing we invested in the automatic wardrobe adjustment circuit.

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Still! The 1860's are also fine. We just hoped our anachronistic food would not cause trouble.

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Deviled Eggs
Boil 6 eggs hard, drop them into cold water for a minute, and then carefully remove the shells; cut them in half with a sharp knife, and gently remove the yolks; mash and mix them with a dash of pepper salt, a tablespoonful of olive oil, a teaspoonful of vinegar and a little chopped pickle or parsley. Mold this mixture into balls and replace in the whites. Put the two halves of the egg together and tie with baby ribbon.

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Ham and Pickle Sandwiches
Chop cold, boiled ham quite fine, mix with a little melted butter and made mustard, add some finely-chopped cucumber pickles and spread between thin slices of bread and butter.

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Cream Puffs
Boil 1 cupful hot water and 1/2 cupful of butter together, and while boiling stir in 1 cup of dry sifted flour. Take from the fire and stir to a thin paste, and after this cools stir in 3 eggs. Stir 5 minutes. Drop in tablespoonfuls on a buttered tin, and bake in a quick oven 25 minutes.
CREAM FOR ABOVE. One cup milk, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 3 tablespoonfuls flour, vanilla to flavor; stir the flour in a little of the milk; boil the rest; stir this in, and stir until the whole thickens; when both this and the puffs are cool, open the puffs with a sharp knife, and fill them with the cream.

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Saratoga Potatoes
Slice the potatoes very thin into cold water, drain them thoroughly. Drop into boiling lard and fry a few at a time. Drop into boiling lard and fry a few at a time. Drain, salt and put them in a dry place.

Fruit: Mangoes.

Just as we were finishing, we were spotted by the locals. Luckily, they were easily bribed with cream puffs. Sugar is scarce and expensive in their time and place.

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We noticed they had a tiny kitten.

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In gratitude for the precious cream puffs, they let us hold it. Hooray! A day well spent.

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Deviled eggs: A bit different from your regular mayo/Miracle Whip variety, but tasty. These would be good for people with milk allergies or intolerances. I also like the idea of sandwiching two halves together and tying them with cute ribbon. This keeps the tops from getting all crusty, makes it cute, and encourages people to take one bundle instead of just-one-more-half until they have eaten a ton and a half of deviled eggs. I have to restrain myself from doing just that.

Ham and pickle sandwiches: Hammy! And pickley. It tastes just like what it sounds like. This would be good for leftover ham. If you're not going to eat the sandwich right away, I'd actually recommend filling the sandwich before refrigeration, rather than refrigerating the filling. The hardened butter makes it sort of crumbly on the bread.

Cream Puffs: For other time travelers, these are excellent for getting in with the locals. They were really good. Baking them in muffin tins made them super tall and puffy, which is nice. The filling could use about half the amount of sugar called for. It's good as is, just too sweet for my tastes.

Saratoga Potatoes: I imagined these would be like potato chips, but they were not thin enough. Still tasty though. I recommend eating these right after you make them, though. After chilling overnight, they weren't nearly as good as when they were hot and sizzling.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wisconsin Dutch

Once again, The Prudence Penny Regional Cookbook [1954]. Yup, one of the major ethnic groups of this here United States is the... Wisconsin Dutch. We want ethnic groups, not ethnic groups. ;) Still, what a lovely lady! I want her apron.

Mmmmmm. Lake of dairy. I want a dairy lake.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hasty Pudding

Hasty pudding is not hasty. Perhaps the name is ironical.

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Put two quarts of water into a clean dinner-pot or stew-pan, cover it, and let it become boiling hot over the fire; then add a tablespoonful of salt, take off the light scum from the top, have sweet, fresh yellow or white corn-meal; take a handful of the meal with the left hand, and a pudding-stick* in the right, then with the stick, stir the water around, and by degrees let fall the meal; when one handful is exhausted, refill it; continue to stir and add meal until it is as thick as you can stir easily, or until the stick will stand in it; stir it a while longer, let the fire be gentle; when it is sufficiently cooked, which will be in half an hour, it will bubble or puff up; turn it into a deep basin. This is eaten cold or hot, with milk or with butter, and syrup or sugar, or with meat and gravy, the same as potatoes or rice.
~WHITE HOUSE COOK BOOK: A SELECTION OF CHOICE RECIPES Original and Selected, During a period of FORTY YEARS' Practical Housekeeping [1887]

Verdict: This was really difficult to make without lumps. You really do have to put it in a pinch at a time. It was kind of glutinous, but it tasted fine. I also took it off the heat just a few minutes after I had put the last few pinches of cornmeal in. It is just like cream of wheat or oatmeal, only corn flavored. I topped it with butter and plum jam. If you are in need of a hot, filling breakfast, and are a fan of cream of wheat, this may just be the recipe for you to try.

*Probably a spurtle.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Meat and Potato Pie, Spiced Peach, Buttered Broccoli Spears, Cheese-topped Lettuce, Banana Cream Pudding

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Today's menu comes from Better Homes and Gardens' Jiffy Cooking [1967]. After various menus from the 1800's that take a lot of time, this book was a refreshing change! Some of the recipes are just cheating, though. The recipe for pea soup? Heat up a can of pea soup. Still, I won't complain!

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Meat and Potato Pie
2 sticks pie crust mix [I made my own]
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup milk
1/2 envelope (1/4 cup) dry onion soup mix
Dash pepper
Dash allspice
1 12-ounce package loose-pack frozen hash-brown potatoes, thawed

Prepare pie crust mix according to package directions; roll out for 2-crust 9-inch pie. Line 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Combine meat, milk, soup mix, pepper, and allspice; mix gently. Lightly pat into pastry lined pie late. Top with potatoes. Adjust top crust; seal and flute edge. Cut design in top pastry. Bake at 350 about 1 hour, or till browned. Serve with warmed catsup. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Cheese-topped Lettuce
Blue cheese (1 ounce per serving)
Lettuce, cut in crosswise slices
Oil and vinegar salad dressing

Thoroughly chill blue cheese in freezer for 20 minutes. Place lettuce slices on salad plates; spoon vinegar and oil dressing over each slice. Shred a generous fluff of cheese over each lettuce slice. Serve immediately.

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Banana Cream Pudding
2 3-3/4 or 3-5/8 ounce packages instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups cold milk
1 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash ground nutmeg
2 medium bananas, sliced
Flaked coconut

Combine pudding mix, milk, sour cream, and spices in bowl. Beat till ingredients are well blended. Fold in sliced bananas. Spoon into sherbet glasses; chill till served. Top with coconut before serving. Serves 8.


Meat and Potato Pie: I have seen many menus for "Man-Pleasing" meals. This most definitely fits into that category. Beef, potatoes, pie. Yum. Seriously, this one was really good. It is probably going to come back. The onion soup mix totally made the ground beef layer. I will confess, I did not thaw the hash browns, nor did I warm the catsup. Neither made a difference. I had some for breakfast today, and it was still delicious. Next time I make this, I will add a layer of cheese. It practically cries out for a nice sharp cheddar.

Spiced Peach/Buttered Broccoli Spears: These did not have recipes. There is some sort of spiced peach recipe that involves vinegar and canning, but since it didn't specify, I just sprinkled some cinnamon in canned peaches. I was appreciative of this meal including multiple fruits and vegetables, unlike some of the other ones I've done!

Cheese-topped Lettuce: I am not a fan of blue cheese. I used parmesan cheese instead. The salad dressing was 1 part lime vinegar, 3 parts olive oil, and a sprinkle each of salt, pepper, and sugar. I recommend, it was citrusy and refreshing. I am pretty sure you are supposed to use iceberg lettuce (it is the 60's, after all) to get those nice neat slices. The romaine I used fell apart. For a party or holiday when you want to serve a fancy looking salad but have very little time, this is an excellent option!

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Duo-dressed Cheese-topped Lettuce is easy and unique. For a fluffy topper, chill the blue cheese well before shredding it.

Banana Cream Pudding: Whoaaa. This was super rich. Husband downed his pudding, but it was a little too much for me. It was really good though. The sour cream added a tangy richness that was just too much for me to handle. The milk is cut in half as well, which might add to the problem. In the future, I might try this using all of the milk, and folding in 1/4 as much sour cream as milk.

Cosmopolitan America Cook Book

Again we have a picture from The Prudence Penny Regional Cookbook [1954]. Just look at all the ethnicities represented in this picture! We've got Russian, um... Russian...? East European? Polish? Irish? I notice there isn't anyone who requires facial shading...

Ideas, anyone?

Friday, August 13, 2010


Butter is important. And delicious. As you may have noticed from reading this blog, it showed up fairly frequently in historical recipes, before the Butter Police came to town.

There are lots of instructions on how to make butter on the internet, but only rarely do they tell how to properly wash the butter. Slackers! Butter takes a few weeks to spoil, but buttermilk only takes days. This is why after pouring off the buttermilk, you must rid the butter of all traces of it lest your butter be Spoiled Milk flavor.

To make butter, you must find some heavy cream, whipping cream, or heavy whipping cream. The differences between these creams is not worth knowing. Whip the cream as if you were making whipped cream (but without sugar and vanilla, please!) and just keep going until you have chunks of butter floating in buttermilk. You can use a KitchenAid with a whisk attachment, shake it in a jar, or buy a butter churn. Or, you can put it in your wagon and drive it cross-country all day. Whichever suits your fancy.

Butter is fat. Water does not mix with fat. Ergo, you must pour in cold water and squish the butter around. The buttermilk will leach from the butter and into the water, which you must then pour off and dispose of. Keep doing that until the water is clear, like this:

Yum. Buttery. When you pour off the last of the water, you can either leave it unsalted for cooking (which in my opinion would be a waste, considering all that work you just did!) or put in about 1 t. salt for every lb. of butter.

Oh yes, and here is a handy tip: When measuring butter when it is not conveniently in stick form, use displacement instead of trying to pack ice-cold butter into a measuring cup. For instance, if you need 1/2 C. butter, fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/2 C. cold water and add globs of butter until it reaches 1 C. Pour off the water and you are ready to go! Easy squeezy!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Answer these poll questions, please!

I've got some poll questions for you to answer on the right, the better to entertain you! Please answer, and if you like, please tell me what things you especially like to see.

***Poll Closed!***

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Rice... Pudding?

It must ever remain a check upon the poor solitary orphan, that while those females who have parents, or brothers, or riches, to defend their indiscretions, that the orphan must depend solely upon character. How immensely important, therefore, that every action, every word, every thought, be regulated by the strictest purity, and that every movement meet the approbation of the good and wise. -American Cookery, or The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and All Kinds of CAKES from the IMPERIAL PLUMB TO PLAIN CAKE. Adapted to the Country, and All Grades of Life, by Amelia Simmons, an American Orphan [1798].

This cookbook was mainly written for poor sad lonely orphan girls who have to work in the kitchens of rich people, with only the quality of their cooking to attest to their worth. *sniff* Do not mind me. I have allergies. I... I am allergic to feeling sad.

So, what sort of recipes can a friendless orphan girl hope to prove herself and keep her from the life of a lady of negotiable affection?

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Oh, golly.

A Rice Pudding.

One quarter of a pound rice, a stick of cinnamon, to a quart of milk
(stirred often to keep from burning) and boil quick, cool and add half
a nutmeg, 4 spoons rose-water, 8 eggs; butter or puff paste a dish and
pour the above composition into it, and bake one and half hour.

IMG_3095-1.jpg picture by seshet27

If you are thinking that the first picture looks burned, you are right. The oven was at 325, and I snatched this out a half hour early because I smelled the scorching. Weirdly, the outside burned skin peeled right off like the skin of a ripe peach.

If you are thinking that the second picture looks like scrambled eggs, you are right. This recipe is mainly eggs. Lots of eggs. Really, LOTS of eggs, with a little milk to thin them out and some bits of rice for texture.

You may not have noticed that this recipe does not include sugar. So basically what we are looking at here is bone-dry rose-flavored scrambled eggs with rice in them. Yum? I was not impressed with this recipe. After I dumped brown sugar, some milk, and drizzled some heavy cream on, it was not half-bad. The rosewater was really nice, and I may add it to rice puddings in the future. Really, you've got to try rosewater some time. It is growing on me.

Under a bridge, 1798:

A flock of orphan girls huddles together, shivering. They pick at the soup they fashioned from found table scraps. A newcomer timidly creeps forward, proffering a bowl of Amelia Simmon's rice pudding to add to the pot, thus buying her a dry place for the night. After she was thrown out of the house, the pudding that brought about her disgrace was cast after her
. It is not much, but it is all she has. The other girls halt her; they snatch the bowl and drop-kick it into the canal before she can protest. The newcomer stands shocked, her mouth agape, still cupping the air as if she held the shame of her cookery. One of the girls steps forward, and the newcomer cowers back.

"American Cookery, yes?" The girl folds a gentle, if ragged arm around the newcomer's shoulder. Hot tears flicker down the newcomer's smudged cheeks, revealing lines of skin flushed and scorched from long hours in front of cooking fires. "It was the same with all of us. For some of us, it was dressed calves head. For some of us, roasted goslings stuffed with their own chopped innards. For me, it was the Foot Pie. It isn't fair. But that is the life of an orphan."

The other girls come forward and comfort the drippy girl. They will take care of her now. For she is one of them.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Creole Coloring Book

Click to embiggen

Wow, that is some epic line drawing! It's got cross-hatching and everything! This is part of the same book that this meal came from. I will admit that I am severely tempted to print this off and have at it with crayons. Especially the fluffy dress lady.

More importantly, this picture is cool because it has time travel! One of these people is Victorian, the other is Georgian, and neither of them is a particularly good example of either. Perhaps it is a time travelers convention? Or just for funsies?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fruit, Escaloped meat, Dropped eggs, Raised muffins

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Ah, my lovelies! As you may know, husband is out of town and I felt disinclined to cook. However, three of my nieces were in town for me to inflict dinner on. Well, breakfast in this case.

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They ate pretty good breakfasts in Ye Oldeny Tymes, yes? Miss Parloa is the author of the cookbook from which this meal comes, entitled Miss Parloa's New Cook Book [1890's at best guess]. This meal is supposed to have corn cakes with it as well, as there is no such thing in the 1800's as too much bread. Unfortunately that recipe takes overnight, and I did not plan ahead. Maybe some other time.

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Escaloped Meat
Chop the meat rather coarse. Season with salt and pepper. For one pint
of meat use half a cupful of gravy and a heaping cupful of bread
crumbs. Put a layer of the meat in an escalop dish, then gravy, then a
thin layer of crumbs; and continue this until the dish is full. The
last layer should be a thick one of crumbs. Cook in a hot oven from
fifteen to twenty minutes. All kinds of cold meat can be escaloped,
but beef is so dry that it is not so good as mutton, veal, etc,

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Dropped Eggs
Have one quart of boiling water and one table-spoonful of salt in a
frying-pan. Break the eggs, one by one, into a saucer, and slide
carefully into the salted water. Cook until the white is firm, and
lift out with a griddle-cake turner and place on toasted bread. Serve

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Raised Muffins.

One pint of warm milk, half a cake [I used abt. 1.5 t.] of compressed yeast, or half a
cupful of liquid yeast [sourdough starter]; one quart of flour, one table-spoonful of
butter. Beat two eggs well, and add them and the salt, butter and
yeast to the milk. Stir gradually into the flour. Beat until the
batter is light and smooth. Let it rise four hours in a warm place.
Fill buttered muffin pans two-thirds to the top with the batter, and
let them stand until the batter has risen to the brim. Bake half an


Watermelon. Mmmmmm. Nice change of color from brown and white.

Escaloped meat: Really good! I plan on making it again. I used discount $.59/lb pork chops for the meat and used the drippings for gravy. I didn't actually measure the bread crumbs and gravy. I think it was about 2 cups of meat and a cup of gravy, then Italian bread crumbs on the top until it looked good. This was everyone's favorite. My mom had second helpings, and the kids finished it off piece by piece after they finished their ice cream. They deserved a reward for putting up with their aunt's abnormal hobbies. ;)

Dropped eggs: The picture above was an egg made by my mother. This is mine.

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I maintain it is the direction's fault. I did not look up modern directions for poached eggs beforehand, and apparently the water is supposed to be at a gentle bare simmer, not a full rolling boil. This will tear the egg white to shreds, as you see. I fished out the shreds with a slotted spoon and said, "The heck with it. It will taste the same anyway."

Those who liked eggs liked this. I prefer my eggs with crispy edges from frying in butter, but I don't think you can justly compare these. They are just different. This is a smooth, silky egg that is also tasty.

For those who do not like eggs, I can see how this would be an application that would be near the bottom of their list of egg dishes to try. One niece is such a person.

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This is her caught in the moment of being nice and polite, but filled with inner turmoil at the thought of having to either gag the egg down or hurt my feelings. Upon being told that time travel dinners are free game not to like because sometimes people in Ye Oldeny Tymes were nuts, she gamely tried a bite just to say she'd done it. What a good sport!

She is still not a fan. ;)

Raised muffins: They were okay. A little heavy, but that may have been my fault. I didn't let them rise for 4 hours, just half an hour. I bet they'd be really good with sourdough starter. They were an excellent conveyance for peach nutmeg freezer jam. One of the nieces helped me, and she did a great job. They were really easy and quick to make, as the dough is thin enough not to require kneading. I think this one is worth trying if you are in need of yeast rolls but do not want to mess up many dishes or spend a lot of time on them.

And a good time was had by all. They knew it was so, for Jana's blog said so.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Bachelors and postmen love Spry.

Husband is out of town for a while, and consequently I am unmotivated to make full meals. Or food. Food that isn't sandwiches and ice cream. As an apology, here are two Spry pictures!