Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hard Times in the Kitchen.

We are assailed with the terrors of the recession, the impending depression, the ‘credit crunch’, the evaporation of our superannuation and savings every time we turn on the news these days. If it was a beat-up at the beginning (as some experts say), it is now a reality – perhaps (as some experts are saying) by virtue of the old truth that if you repeat anything often enough, people will start to believe it (especially if it is of the anxiety-producing kind of ‘truth’).

So, what’s a household cook to do? Return to what household cooks always used to do as a matter of course, that’s what. Back in the days (not so far away) when it was a household sin to waste food, a good cook found a way to re-cycle it. It used to be considered not just a virtue, but a positive act of creativity to use up leftovers in such a way that the family did not recognise their reappearance.

I like this idea from the 1920’s. It uses up stale gingerbread (and could no doubt be adapted to any cake) in a sort of hot trifle. And it makes a nice contribution to the Through the Ages with Gingerbread archive too.
From Good Housekeeping’s book of menus, recipes, and household discoveries, published about 1922

Gingerbread Custard.
1 cupful stale gingerbread, broken in pieces
¼ cupful sugar
2 eggs
1 pint milk.
Scald the milk; beat the egg-yolks and sugar together. Add the scalded milk gradually to the egg mixture. Pour this over the gingerbread which has been placed in a buttered baking dish. Place in a pan of hot water and bake in a 3500 F oven for about thirty minutes or until set. Cover with a meringue made from egg whites, six tablespoonfuls of granulated sugar, and one-fourth teaspoonful of vanilla, and brown in a 3000 F oven, about fifteen minutes.

Quotation for the Day …
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas."
Peg Bracken.

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