Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rhubarb, or Pie-Plant Pudding

The White House Cookbook: A Selection of Choice Recipes Original and Selected, During a Period of Forty Years' Practical Housekeeping, by Fanny Lamira Gillette, [1887]

IN presenting this book of recipes to the public, I do so at the urgent request of friends and relatives. During forty years of practical housekeeping, it has been my custom, after trying and testing a recipe, and finding it invariably a success, and also one of the best of its kind, to copy it in a book, thereby accumulating a considerable amount of reliable and useful information in the culinary line.

Rhubarb, or Pie-Plant Pudding
Chop rhubarb pretty fine, put in a pudding-dish, and sprinkle sugar over it; make a batter of one cupful of sour milk*, two eggs, a piece of butter the size of an egg, half a teaspoonful of soda, and enough flour to make batter about as thick as for cake. Spread it over the rhubarb, and bake till done. Turn out on a platter upside down, so that the rhubarb will be on top. Serve with sugar and cream.


Another name for rhubarb is "pie-plant", because of rhubarb's excellence in pie making. I think this is outstanding. Any produce so intimately connected with the manufacture of pie can only be a source of good in the world.

This was quite tasty! Kind of like a rhubarb upside-down cake, except that the cakey bit wasn't sweetened. That was all right, because the sweetened rhubarb made it just sweet enough. That, and the cream and sugar on top. I would have just drizzled the cream on, but I've got all this unsweetened whipped cream in my fridge from a failed butter-making attempt.** Besides being tasty, it was also quick and easy to make. Consequently, I'll probably be making it again some time. Next time, though, I shall add a little bit of sugar to the batter, some vanilla, and some nutmeg. Mmm. Delightful.

This is a great recipe to practice on if imprecise recipes make you nervous.

*For every cup of milk, add about 1 tsp. of lemon juice or vinegar and stir it around. If you lived in the days before pasteurization, you'd be drinking milk that gradually soured due to bacterial formation. Pasteurized milk does not do this. It just goes nasty. The reason for using sour milk instead of fresh milk is not economy; it is cleverness! You need some acidity to react with the baking soda to leaven the batter, making your end result light and fluffy instead of dense and brick-like. This is why you must add acid in the form of lemon juice or vinegar to achieve the same result.

**Remember this post on butter-making? It is much easier with a stand mixer in a room-temperature house than on a chilly day in 1917 with a hand-cranked churn.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Square Dance Special: Pizza Doggies, Raw Vegetable Tray, Doughnuts, Cream Soda Shake

A Campbell Cookbook: Cooking With Soup [1960's-1970's]

Everyone has this cookbook. If you don't, your mother does. If she doesn't, your grandma does. Look in your local thrift store. At least one of these will be there, if not more. The same book, with the same dubious looking dish on the front. They will find you. But enough. Let us see what delights await us therein!


This is a menu from the section "Teen Soups and Snacks", and is perfect for extremely busy parents of teenagers who would love nothing more than to throw a square dance themed party for their tons of square dance enthusiast friends. Who among us, as a teenager, has not felt that urge?

Pizza Doggies
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4-1/2 teaspoon leaf oregano, crushed
8 frankfurters, slit lengthwise
8 frankfurter bugs, slit
6 ounces sliced Mozzarella cheese

Cook garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. Add soup, water, parsley, and oregano; cook over low heat 15 minutes. Stir often. Place frankfurters on buns in large shallow baking pan. Fill franks with sauce; top with cheese. Place under broiler about 1 minute or until cheese melts. 8 servings.

Raw Vegetable Tray
I used cucumber, jicama, cantaloupe, and pineapple. Yes. I know two of those are not vegetables.

Bavarian cream-filled. Awesome.

Cream Soda Shake


Pizza Doggies: The two tablespoons of oil floated on top of the soup like a glistening film until 15 minutes of simmering and stirring finally helped it to absorb. I guess the pizza-ness is supposed to come from the minute amount of oregano to the soup, much as the "Sloppy Josés" on the facing page are sloppy joes made Mexican by the addition of a light dusting of chili powder. Hold on now, Campbell's soup! Don't get too crazy!

Despite my best efforts at filling, the slit-open hot dogs insisted on snapping shut whenever I took my hands away, spewing forth tomato soup. The small quantity that remained inside shot out over my hands in a cascade upon the first bite. Luckily it was just lukewarm, as was the hot dog. I assume the Campbell's test kitchen found some magical window of time in which the hot dog can get properly warm before the bun blackens, but I did not.

They were okay, though. There were two apiece; I ate both of mine and Husband made it through one. I picked the melted cheese off the last one (it's melted cheese!) and chucked the rest. In the garbage, not... you know.

Raw Vegetable Tray: Hey teens! Your choices are melted cheese on meat, doughnuts, soda and ice cream, or raw vegetables!

Doughnuts: I love that this menu has doughnuts on it! It is a strange and somehow liberating experience writing "doughnuts" on one's weekly shopping list. "Yes, let's see... bread, eggs, milk... doughnuts."

Cream Soda Shake: I put mango gelato in cream soda. It was weird. Don't do it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bean Croquettes, Pickles, and A Dainty Dessert

Armour's Monthly Cookbook [1913]

Baked Beans- A National Dish

To many people baked beans means just one thing—baked beans, served hot or cold. To the woman, however, who is really interested in furnishing variety in diet, and this in a very economical way, baked beans offers boundless possibilities. First of all, she lays in a stock of Veribest Baked Beans—Veribest, because she knows that in this particular brand the beans are even more thoroughly cooked than she herself could do them. There are two kinds of Veribest Baked Beans, plain, and with tomato sauce, and with both the mellow richness of the bean is preserved with all its natural flavor, making it a most toothsome dish as well as nutritious and economical. Having a good stock to draw from the economical housewife proceeds to serve baked beans to her family every day for a week, varying the dish each day.

Following this paragraph is a helpful guide for serving beans once a day for a week. Hoorayyy!

Monday: "New England Supper", beans and brown bread.
Tuesday: bean croquettes
Wednesday: mashed bean sandwiches
Thursday: bean, celery, and mayonnaise salad
Friday: beans in beet shells
Saturday: some kind of soup made by mixing pureed beans with milk. And a couple spices.
Sunday: bean loaf

That is variety in diet indeed. Since I am not totally lacking in compassion, I did not subject Husband to the entire week. Instead, you only get one. As you will see, this was entirely for the best given the tragic results that followed.

Tuesday, for lunch.—Bean Croquettes. Drain Veribest Pork and Beans (without tomato sauce), and pass them through a colander. Measure and allow one teaspoon of dry bread crumbs to each cup of beans. Season with cayenne pepper and a little minced parsley. For a pint of the mixture, beat one egg. Save enough of the egg to dip the croquettes in, and add the remainder to the beans. Mix and form into small croquettes, or balls, then roll in fine bread crumbs. Dip them in egg and again in the crumbs, and fry in deep boiling Simon Pure Leaf Lard. Border with slices of dill pickles or sweet green peppers.

Although a meal satisfies your hunger you should have dessert, because the educated palate craves that particular spice as a proper finish. Scientists tell us that a dinner digests better because of a tasty dessert, which, they say, gives the final stimulus necessary to dispose of the food previously received.

A Dainty Dessert
Lemon and grape juice frappé is another cool dessert that is also light. To make it, boil a pint of water with two cupfuls of granulated sugar for ten minutes and cool it. Then add a little cinnamon and half a cupful of lemon juice, and lastly a quart of Armour's grape juice. Freeze and serve in cups, with a little of the grape juice.


Bean Croquettes: These were so frustrating to make! I must not have drained the beans very well, because they were still pretty liquid. I tried making a patty and dipping it out of the dribbly mixture, but it did not work well. I added a ton more bread crumbs, and then it worked better, but it was still annoyingly messy. I will confess I used olive oil instead of lard. I ended up with ten or twelve.

I ate a couple. They were fine, just kind of bland. The pickle is absolutely necessary, though. It complements the bean croquettes to an extent I did not think possible. Husband thought they were reasonably tasty with ketchup, mustard, and pickles, and ate the rest of the batch like they were chicken nuggets.

Ten minutes after dinner, he threw them up. He did say that they were just as good coming up as going down though so... no. No. That... does not make it any better. On the plus side, this is a landmark first in Time Travel Kitchen history! Hooray! I guess!

A Dainty Dessert: Tasty! We both liked it very much, but felt it would be better and easier in a popsicle application. The cinnamon was quite nice.

Rejected: Many people find it difficult to take raw eggs when recommended by their doctor. This difficulty is removed by breaking the egg into a glass of Armour's Grape Juice. The egg is swallowed easily and in addition to the nourishment obtained there is the tonic value of the rich fruit from which the grape juice is taken.