Friday, April 30, 2010

Treacle Beef.

A few days ago I marveled at the confusion created by the use of different words (shrimp and prawn) being used for essentially the same thing in America and Australia (and England). I am referring to ‘common usage’ of course – no doubt there is no doubt in the minds of zoologists – and I have to admit to having been mighty surprised at not being taken to task by one of those folk, in the wake of that post.

MY recent American visitor (blogger Kathryn McGowan) and I chatted at some length on this amusing issue of our two countries being divided by a common language. One topic of discussion was the difference (if any) between treacle and molasses. To my surprise, I find that I have covered the topic in a previous post. My memory must be failing me. The story also touched on ‘golden syrup’ – a great sugar substitute for the Brits during WW II, and absolutely essential in Australia for making Anzac biscuits and pouring over pikelets.

Treacle (see the previous post) really is a very marvelously versatile ingredient. It is used in many gingerbread recipes (below, in an earlier post this week, and in the Through the Ages with Gingerbread archive), and we have sampled it in treacle beer. It has popped up in many puddings, including the WW I ‘Peace Christmas Pudding’. Here it is in a recipe for preserved, smoked beef.

Dutch, or Hung Beef.
For fourteen pounds weight of the round, the rump, or the thick flank of beef, mix two ounces of saltpetre with the same quantity of coarse sugar; rub the meat with them in every part, and let it remain for two days, then add one pound of bay salt, four ounces of common salt, and one ounce of ground black pepper. Rub these ingredients thoroughly into the beef, and in four days pour over it a pound of treacle; rub and turn it daily for a fortnight; drain, and send it to be smoked. When wanted for table, lay it into plenty of cold water, boil it very slowly, and press it under a heavy weight while hot. A slice of this beef, from which the edges have been carefully trimmed, will serve to flavour soups or gravies as well as ham.
Beef, 14 lbs; saltpetre and coarse sugar, each 2 ozs.: 2 days
Bay salt, 1 lb.; common salt, 4ozs; pepper, 1 oz.: 4 days.
Treacle, 1 lb,: 14 days.
Obs. – Three quarters of a pound of coarse sugar may be rubbed into the meat at first, and the treacle may be altogether omitted: cloves and mace may be added in the same proportion for spiced beef.
Modern Cookery, Eliza Acton, 1845

Treacle has a long history of medicinal use too. I rather like the sound of this common cold remedy:

Treacle Posset
Boil a pint of milk, stir in two tablespoonfuls of treacle, let it boil up, and when the curds have well formed, strain the whey through a fine sieve into a basin, and serve hot at bedtime as a remedy for a cold.
Cookery for Invalids: Persons of Delicate Digestion, and for Children; Mary Hooper, 1876

And because we don’t make puddings nearly often enough these days, I give you for your winter delectation, an unashamedly very treacly treacle pudding from Queen Victoria’s chef.

A Treacle Pudding.
Ingredients: two pounds of flour, twelve ounces of treacle, six ounces of suet or dripping fat, a quarter of an ounce of baking powder, a pinch of allspice, a little salt, one pint of milk, or water. Mix the whole of the above-named ingredients in a pan, into a firm compact paste; tie it up in a well-greased and floured pudding cloth; boil the pudding for at least two hours and a half, and when done, cut it in slices, and pour a little sweetened melted butter over it.
Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, Charles Elmé Francatelli, 1861

Quotation for the Day.

A waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap.
Mitch Hedberg.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Tax-Eaters Banquet.

Once the Easter season is well and truly over here in Oz, our thoughts inevitably and frequently unhappily are forced to turn towards the End of Financial Year ‘stuff’ – the crucial final date being May 31st. I don’t know how this little Aussie factoid is related to today’s post, except that when I decided it was time to give you a historic menu, the one I chose was tax-related.

In 1891, on this very date of April 29, the American Protective Tariff League held their first annual banquet. The good men (they were all men – but the ladies were allowed to watch from the balcony) made some concessions to their principles when it came to the actual function, as can be seen from the following newspaper report.



There was not a vestige of homespun in the garments worn by the participants in the banquet of the American Protective Tariff League last night. The 500 good American protectionists who assembled in the banquet hall of the Madison Square Garden were shamelessly clad in imported broadcloth and fine linen. Their hearts were warmed and quickened by American wines, however, and, encircled by the smoke of domestic cigars, they listened contentedly to high-tariff speeches.

…. The dinner was served on crockery made in Trenton, N.J, with silver-plated ware and cutlery made in this country, and glassware also of American manufacture.

…. Most of the experienced banqueters, it was noticed, smoked cigars which they had brought with them.

… A few of the tables were spread, sad to relate, with English and German tablecloths on which a duty of 5 per cent was paid, that has since been increased by the McKinley bill to 50 per cent. But in the main, the tablecloths were of pure white “Georgia wool.” Linen napkins of German and English manufacture were neatly folded at each plate. Upon these a duty of 35 per cent, since increased to 50 per cent, was paid.

But it was upon the banquet itself rather than upon the apparel of the banqueters that the American Protective Tariff League and its supporting spellbinders and protected manufacturers expended their patriotic endeavors. All the furnishings of the hall, and all the wine and eatables were to be “the genuine American article” – and the cigars! The idea was grandly sentimental, but it involved sacrifices of which many of the pampered pets of protection were incapable. This accounts largely for the many conspicuous absentees. There was nothing threatening in the bill of fare (it was considered unpatriotic to call it a menu) as far as the food courses were concerned.
Oysters , (free;) green turtle soup (free;) mushroom patties (2 cents per pound;) salmon (¾ cents per pound;) tenderloin of beef (2 cents per pound;) chicken, (3 to 5 cents per pound;) asparagus (25 per cent if fresh, 45 per cent if canned;) snipe (10 per cent) on toast; frozen pudding (free;) cheese (6 cents per pound;) strawberries (free;) and coffee (if genuine, free,) had not terrors for them, although their palatability was imperiled by the exaction from Sherry, the caterer, that they must be prepared by American cooks and served by American waiters. Sherry is said to have filled this part of the contract and to have saved the dinner from complete disaster by seeing that his help was Americanized from the French, German, and Italian.

… Thus everything on the table, as well as every article of wearing apparel worn by the banqueters, was from a third to over twice as expensive as it would have been but for the McKinley tariff. Even the national emblem, the silken American flag, was protected from foreign cheap labor by a duty of 60 per cent.

Recipe for the Day.

From Charles Ranhofer’s The Epicurean (1894), I give you a classic, but labour-intensive chicken dish. For the subsidiary recipes, you must go yourself to the source, which you can find at the marvellous Historic American Cookbook Project.

CAPON à LA FINANCIèRE (Chapon à la Financière)
This relevé is dressed on an oval wooden bottom having in the center a four-sided tin support made hollow so that it be lighter. This wooden bottom and support must both be covered with a cooked paste or else of noodle paste (No. 142) dried in the air. Fasten a string of noodle paste of about three-eighths of an inch in diameter on the edge of the socle; this is intended for upholding the capons and garnishing. On the edge of the bowl of the plate, place a noodle paste border (No. 10). Prepare the capons as for an entrée (No. 178) having them stuffed with a stuffing made of cooked chicken livers, grated fresh lard, truffle parings, bread-crumbs, salt and cayenne pepper. Cover over with bards of fat pork placed in a narrow braziere (Fig. 134) moisten with sufficient stock (No. 194a) to cover the capons, add aromatic herbs and lemon pulp free of seeds and peel, then cook on a good fire, having the liquid reduce to one-third, at the last moment drain off the capons, untie and dress one on each side of the support inserting a garnished skewer on top; fill in the sides between the capons with a varied garnishing composed of mushrooms, cocks'-combs and quenelles; cover over either with a velouté sauce (No. 415) if needed for white or a financiére sauce (No. 464) if for brown; surround the base with a row of peeled truffles cooked in wine and glazed over with a brush, and serve apart a velouté sauce reduced with mushroom broth if for the white or else a brown financière sauce with Madeira.

Quotation for the Day.

Banquet: an affair where you eat a lot of food you don’t want before talking about something you don’t understand to a crowd of people who don’t want to hear.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shrimp or Prawns?

I had a pleasant weekend very recently with another food history nerd – Brooklyn inhabitant and food writer Kathryn McGowan. Kathryn was visiting Oz, and had the opportunity to come up to Brisbane for a couple of days. We decided to stop talking and poring over cookbooks (difficult, folks, very difficult) and actually do some cooking. For reasons explained by Kathryn in a post yesterday at her blog Comestibles, we decided on a recipe from the year of 1788.

A visit to the farmer’s market near my home was already in the plans, so we settled on our recipe and away we went. We had decided on a dish of prawns, for a number of very important reasons – I had been extolling the virtues of our local seafood, we could buy them from the fisherman himself at the market, I had all the other ingredients at hand, and it was a quick recipe and we had other things to fit in. Also because we both like prawns - in my case even if they are called ‘shrimp.’ Oh! The fun that ensues from the common language of our two countries!

I have no idea why ‘over there’ these delectable sea-beasties are called shrimp, and over here they are ‘prawns’. Both words have been used in England since medieval times. I understand the difference nowadays as referring to size – shrimp being smaller than prawns. Apparently the scarcity of the word ‘prawn’ does not limit those of you across the big water however, Kathryn tells me that you simply call the big ones ‘Jumbo Shrimp’. I did not pursue the question of why ‘shrimp’ also appears to apply to the plural, but one prawn becomes two prawns. I am going to take language lessons before I come to visit your land.

Anyway, I trotted over to the Oxford English Dictionary, to see what it had to say on the topic. No doubt, I thought, there will be a zoological distinction. For both words the etymology is apparently obscure, but the individual entries read as follows:

Shrimp: Any of the slender, long-tailed, long-legged (chiefly marine) crustaceans of the genus Crangon and allied genera, closely related to the prawns; esp. C. vulgaris, the common shrimp, which inhabits the sand on the coasts of Great Britain and is a common article of food.  Also, in a wider sense, applied to various similar crustaceans, as the families Mysidæ and Gammaridæ; see brine, fairy, opossum shrimp, etc.

Prawn: Any of various edible marine decapod crustaceans resembling shrimps but usually somewhat larger and with a prominent rostrum on the carapace. Also more widely: a large shrimp. The traditional edible prawns of the North Atlantic belong to the genus Leander (infraorder Caridea), while those of Indo-Pacific origin belong to the genus Penaeus (suborder Dendrobranchiata).

So, there you have it. Crystal clear now, isn’t it? The ones with the prominent rostrum on the carapace are prawns.

Our recipe was chosen from om The English Art of Cookery, by Richard Briggs, published, as I said, in 1788. I give you the original recipe below, and Kathryn has given our interpretation and a photo of the finished dish in her post of yesterday (linked above). The dish was delicious.

To stew Crawfish, Prawns, or Shrimps.
Take half a hundred crawfish, or one hundred prawns, or two quarts of shrimps, boil them in salt and water, pick out the tails and bruise the bodies, put the bodies on the fire with half a pint of water, a pint of white wine, a blade of mace, and a bit of horse-radish, and stew them a quarter of an hour; then strain the liquor off, wash out the stew-pan, and put the tails and liquor in, with a piece of butter mixed with flour, and a little grated nutmeg, stir them, and stew them till they are thick and smooth; cut a thin toast round a quatern loaf, toast it brown on both sides, cut it into six pieces, lay them close in a dish, and put the ingredients over; if it is crawfish, break some of the claws, take out the meat, and put them round the dish for garnish, and put the rest with the tails.

Quotation for the Day.

I'm horrified of lobsters. And shrimp and lobsters are the cockroaches of the ocean.
Brooke Burke.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Actionable Sauce.

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Norfolk, Virginia, were outraged and ‘congregations horrified’ when it was rumoured that the local Protestant pastors had rum sauce on their banana fritters at an annual dinner in December 1904. Rumour and accusation were quickly followed, as they almost inevitably are, by denial on the part of the perpetrators. The shocking story was seen to be worthy of reporting in no less than the New York Times a few days later.

Served with Banana Fritters and
Congregations are Horrified.

Norfolk, Va. Dec. 18 – “Banana fritters with rum sauce” served at the annual dinner of the Tide Water Ministerial Association, composed of the leading Protestant ministers of Southeast Virginia, has caused a sensation in church circles, and the revered gentlemen have been upbraided by the members of their congregations, especially the women. It is expected at the meeting tomorrow of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union that the matter will be brought up for action.
Some of the ministers, in defense, say they were not aware of the rum sauce being on the bill of fare, while one preacher declared that no rum sauce was on the table, because he would have been able to smell it.

Sadly, it appears that the New York Times did not see fit to follow up the story, so we are left with the issue unresolved. Whom do you believe? What action did the good ladies take against the naughty pastors?

There are many variations on a theme of rum sauce. I give you a selection, with varying amounts of alcohol, from which to make your choice.

Rum Sauce.
½ cup sugar, 1 cup boiling water, ¼ cup rum or wine.
Make a syrup by boiling sugar and water five minutes; add rum or wine.
Boston Cooking School Cook Book, Boston, 1896.

Rum Sauce.
Boil one cup of milk with one cup of sugar, and wet a teaspoonful of arrowroot or cornstarch with a little cold milk and add. Just before removing from the fire, add a teaspoonful of rum. Serve hot.
Aunt Babette’s Cook Book, Cincinatti, 1889.

Rum Sauce.
Beat yolks of two eggs with a tablespoon of sugar and a small cup of cold water, a wineglass of rum, and the juice of a lemon, and bring to boiling point, stirring all the time. The two whites of eggs may be whipped very firm and spread over the pudding just before serving.
The International Jewish Cook Book, New York, 1919

Quotation for the Day.

RUM, n. Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.
Ambrose Bierce, Devil’s Dictionary.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gingerbread Holiday.

Today is a public holiday here in Australia – the one we are ‘owed’ because Anzac Day (yesterday, the 25th) fell on a Sunday. As (a) I plan to have fun for the day, away from the computer, and (b) I am all out of pre-prepared blog posts, this will be short – but very sweet.

I wanted to give you something relevant for Anzac Day, and have chosen a recipe from a World War II Australian cookery book. I have not added anything to the gingerbread archive for some time, so this just fits that bill too.

Feather-soft Gingerbread.
Cream two-thirds of a teacup of margarine with a teacup of sugar. Beat in one egg and add two thirds of a cup of golden syrup. Mix well. Then sift two breakfast cups of plain flour with a teaspoonful each of ginger and mixed spice (or any spices available) and one small teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Add the flour to the syrup mixture, moistening with a teacup of sour thick milk. Beat all thoroughly. Stand a few minutes before turning into a deep well-greased gingerbread tin. Have oven well heated. Put in cake. Lower heat to moderate. Bake about an hour. Don’t hurry it!
Leave in tin for a few minutes when it comes from the oven as it is very soft and easily broken.
Wartime Cookery, by Sarah Dunne of The Herald, Melbourne.

Quotation for the Day.

Yet the boy was patently fallacious; and for that matter a most unsympathetic urchin, raised apparently on gingerbread.
Robert Louis Stevenson, in The Silverado Squatters.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Portugal Cakes.

On this day in 1739, the celebrated “pastry-master”, cookery teacher and cookbook writer Edward Kidder died at the age of seventy-three. In spite of the centuries between us, I am quite fond of Edward. His book Receipts of Pastry for the Use of his Scholars published in London in about 1720) was one of the first historical cookery books that I looked at in any detail – indeed I laboriously transcribed the text from the scanned images of the pages of the version (apparently laboriously copied by a student) held at the University of Pennsylvania. You can still read my transcript here.

Kidder ran two schools in London, and he also gave private lessons in pastry-making and cookery to ladies in their own homes. It is said that over six thousand ladies benefitted from his instruction in cookery – which presumably meant that six thousand entire families were made happier.

If Mr. Kidder personally taught all lessons at his school, then he must have been a very busy man: the frontispiece of one edition of his book reads:

“To all young ladies, at Edward Kidder’s pastry-school in Little Lincoln’s Inn Fields, are taught all sorts of pastry and cookery, Dutch hollow-works, and butter-works, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, in the afternoon; and on the same days in the morning, at his school in Norris-Street, in St James’s Haymarket; and at his school in St. Martin’s le Grand, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, in the afternoon.”

I have no idea what “Dutch hollow-works” are – so methinks I have another topic for the near future.

For the recipe of the day, I give you Edward Kidder’s Portugall Cakes, from the transcription of the student copy. ‘Portugal’ (or portyngalle) was another term for oranges in England from at least the sixteenth century, so perhaps these cakes were so called because of their golden colour? They were also sometimes called Heart Cakes, which is why the instructions call for a ‘hart pan’ in the recipe below.

Portugall Cakes
Put a pd of fine sugar & a pd of fresh butter 5 eggs & a little beaten mace into a flatt pan beat it up wth yor hands till tis very leight & looks curdling yn put thereto a pd of flower ½ a pd of currants very clean pickt &dryd beat yn together fill yor hart pan & bake ym in a slack oven
You may make seed cakes ye same way only put carraway seeds instead of currants

Quotation for the Day.

Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past.
Old Dutch proverb

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Legal Feast.

Eleven ‘gentlemen of the law’ gave a five-day ‘grand entertainment’ at Ely House in Holborn, London in 1532. The event was a celebration of their ‘assuming the dignity of the serjeant’s coif’ – in other words, their swearing-in as serjeants of the law at the annual ceremony. It seems that the law was a lucrative profession back then, if the cost of the bill of fare for the feasting is any guide. I don’t know how many guests were invited to attend the feasting, but the quantity of meat purchased was enormous: [formatting options are not particularly flexible here, so in case of confusion - the figures listed are in ₤  s  d ]

                                                                 ₤  s  d
Twenty-four large oxen, each at                 1  6  8
The carcass if a large ox                            1  4  0
One hundred sheep, each                          0  2 10
Fifty-one calves, each at                            0  4  8
Thirty-four hogs, each at                            0  3  8
Ninety-one pigs, each at                            0  0  6
Ten dozen capons of Greece, each
dozen at                                                    0  1  8
Nine dozen and a half of Kentish
capons, each at                                         0  1  3
Nineteen dozen of common capons,
each at                                                      0  0  6
Seven dozen and nine of grouse or
heath cocks, each at                                  0  0  8
Fourteen dozen and eight common
cocks, each at                                           0  0  3
The best pullets at                                     0  0  2 ½
Common ditto, at                                      0  0  2
Thirty-seven dozen of pigeons, each
dozen at                                                   0  0  10
Three hundred and forty dozen of
larks, each dozen at                                  0  0  5

I am now unable to shake the mental image of the job of plucking and dressing of over four thousand larks.

From Epulario: or, The Italian Banquet (‘translated out of the Italian into English’, edition published in 1598), I give you the instructions for making any meat elegantly pale when cooked.

To make all kind of meat to rost fair and white.
To make all kind of foule, Capons, kid, or any other flesh to rost faire and white, specially Beefe, Mutton, Veale, or Lambe. First parboile it, and then larde it, if it be Capon, fesant, or any other foule: first wash it cleane, that done, dip it in hote water, but take it presently out againe, and laye it in cold water, and it will be the fairer and rost better: then lard it and sticke it with cloves, or other things as you think good, or as he that oweth it doth most fancy it: if you will you may stuffe them with sweet hearbes, dry proines, soure grapes, cherries, and such like things, and so spit it, and first make a soft fire that it may rost sokingly and not bee scorched or burnt, and when you think it almost rosted, grate white bread, and cast salt into it, where with you shall crumme it, then make a hot fire, and turne it round, so it will be faire and white, which done, send it presently to table.

Quotation for the Day.

I pray thee let me and my fellows have
A hair of the dog that bit us last night.
John Heywood (1497-1580)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More uses of the potato.

20Marshmallows made with tomato may be intriguing, but lets face it, the tomato is never going to be the number one confectionery ingredient of choice, is it? Potato might make it though.
I once, many years ago, held a dinner party in which all the dishes were based on potatoes – although I stopped short of potato alcohol, for obvious reasons. I remember that I served after-dinner mints made with potato fondant. I have no idea what happened to the recipe for those mints, but I found a substitute in the marvelous book that gave us the tomato marshmallows - Candy-Making Revolutionized: Confectionery from Vegetables (1912)

Mints can be made from the potato fondant recipe in the book – just add peppermint oil to taste, and green colouring, if you must.


Uncooked Fondant. — Potato fondant is another base — even more useful than potato paste — upon which many confections may be built. There are two kinds — cooked and uncooked. To make the uncooked, boil or steam Irish potatoes, drain, and force them through a fine sieve. In all
candy-making with potatoes, these directions are of the utmost importance. Unless the potato is carefully forced through a fine sieve, the candy made from it will have hard and gluey spots after it has dried out. Mix one-half cupful of the potato so prepared with the unbeaten white of one
egg. Add gradually confectioner's sugar until the whole mass assumes the consistency of bon-bon cream. Several uses for potato fondant will be described below, but it may be substituted for French fondant in any of the confections of which that is a part.

Cooked Potato Fondant.— With one-half cupful of potato, prepared as for the uncooked fondant, very thoroughly mix two cupsful of sugar and thin with two-thirds of a cupful of milk. Place the mixture on an asbestos mat over the fire and cook until thick — to the sticking point. Pour the mass on a cold, damp marble and “cut in” like plain fondant. Knead small quantities at a time until the whole batch is smooth. Pack in tins lined with wax paper.

The fondant can be used without additional sugar and does not stick to the hands. It is particularly useful as a covering.

Potato fondant shows particular superiority over the almond paste in the making of small objects and all fine and thin work. The results are as attractive to the palate as to the eye, although candy modeled from potato fondant does not have the peculiar oily richness of the products fashioned from almond paste.

New Potato. — A particularly appropriate form in which to model the potato fondant is that of the new potato. Work the proper sized piece of fondant into as close an imitation as possible of the new potato. As this new potato has perhaps more of the fondant than many people will wish to eat at one time, several partial substitutions are possible. That statement, by the way, is no reflection upon the fondant, for any piece of candy, no matter how good, of the size of this is likely to be rather too much to be eaten at one time if of one flavor. Marshmallows, pitted dates with nut meats, pulled figs closely rolled, or English walnut meats are some of the things that may well be used as centers. Whatever is used should be rolled in enough of the fondant to make pieces of the desired size and form and then immediately rolled in dry cocoa. The result will be strikingly convincing — and good to eat.

Quotation for the Day.

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
Erma Bombeck

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Edinburgh Rock.

After yesterday’s post I got to thinking about other ‘eponymous’ and attributed candies. I have covered many forms of candy (sweets, lollies) during the lifetime of this blog – including one for Tomato Marshmallow (links to the stories are below). The only specifically ‘named’ one that I can remember so far is Everton Toffee. The only other one that sprang to mind was Edinburgh Rock.

Edinburgh Rock is quite different from the ‘rock’ associated with English seaside towns, which is a long cylinder of violently coloured hard-boiled, teeth-shatteringly hard sugar candy with the name of the town ingeniously ‘written’ throughout its length. Edinburgh of course is neither English nor a ‘seaside’ town. Edinburgh’s candy rock has quite a different texture – not soft, but definitely more crumbly and powdery – the result, they say, of a mistake. The instructions in the recipe below are quite clear – you need to forget about it. Leave it naked and unwrapped at room temperature and go away for a day or so. I love successes that start out as mistakes – quite a lot of well-loved dishes began as memory lapses or undercooking or some other disaster. The idea might make a good series of blog posts one day, perhaps?

The famous candy was supposedly ‘discovered’ by a young scion of the Ferguson family in Glasgow. If you believe the stories, his father wanted him to be a carpenter, but the young fella wanted to make sweeties. He moved to Edinburgh to realise his dream. The dream came true when a batch of boiled sugar candy was forgotten for several days/weeks/months – the genius stroke being that it was not thrown out immediately on discovery, but was tasted firs, and Voila! the difference was immediately assigned a marketing edge. I assume the young man named it in honour of the rock upon which Edinburgh castle stands?

Edinburgh Rock.
1 lb. sugar.
Pinch cream of tartar.
½ pint water.
Color to taste.
Flavor to taste.
Dissolve the sugar in the water, stirring all the time; then add the cream of tartar and boil without stirring to 262 deg, or until it forms a hard ball when tried in cold water. Add the flavor and color if desired, and pour out on a buttered marble slab, between buttered candy bars.
As soon as it cools a little turn the corners and sides into the middle with a buttered knife, to insure regular pulling. When cool enough to handle, dust the fingers with sugar or rub them with oil and pull the candy until it turns dull. Pull it into strips and cut the required length with buttered scissors. Place on waxed paper and lay aside in a warm room for a day or two until it becomes powdery and granulated.
Keep in airtight tins.
Candies and Bonbons and how to Make Them, by Marion Harris Neil (Philadelphia, 1913)

If your town or state has its own named candy, I’d love to hear about it!
- A story called ‘Candy for health’, and a recipe for liquorish cakes

- A story about nougat and a recipe for sugared fruits (the original sweetmeats)

- A story about Kendal Mint Cake story with a recipe for ‘Sugar of Roses’
- A story about the Maquis de Sade, and a recipe for Caraway comfits
- A story about Lammas, and Yellowman (honeycomb toffee)
- Dulcia Domestica (Ancient Roman sweets made from dates)
- Candy in Cakes,
- Jelly Babies, Jujubes, and Dr.Who
- Barley sugar

Quotation for the Day.

I think most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare.
Movie: 'So I Married and Axe Murderer'.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Turkish Delight.

I am particulary fond of “Turkish delight”, especially (maybe exclusively) the rose-scented version. Maybe also the pistachio version. In Turkey itself, I understand, this delicacy is called lokum. I came across an interesting reference to it the other day, in an early nineteenth century travelogue:

“We were also favoured with morsels of confectionery, in which, it is supposed, the Turks are unrivalled, but with a single exception, the great family of candies, including the species rock lemon and hoarhound, with the minor varieties of plum, comfit, &c., are in nowise different, but if anything rather inferior to our own. The exception to which we allude is a delicious pasty mass which melts away in the mouth and leaves a fragrant flavour behind. It is, as we are informed, made by mixing honey with the inspissated juice of the fresh grape, and the Turks, who esteem it highly, call it rahat locoom, or ‘repose to the throat’ - a picturesque name to which it seems fairly entitled.”
[Sketches of Turkey in 1831 and 1832. By an American (James Ellsworth De Kay)]

No rosewater or nuts there. Hmmmm. In search of an early recipe I went. My first find confused the issue further.

Put three quarters of a pound of fresh butter in a saucepan, and set it on the fire. When hot, add one pound and six ounces of the best flour and keep stirring till it becomes a light brown; then pour three quarters of a pint of water over, and continue stirring until it becomes like a paste; then take it off and let it remain till cold; then add about ten eggs, and work it with your hands to form a softish paste; then divide it in round pieces the size of small peaches, hollow the centre of each with the point of your finger, lay them in a buttered baking tin and bake them a nice delicate colour. When done fill them with the jam, clotted cream, or minced meat previously stewed brown in fresh butter. Dish them up tastefully on a white napkin and serve.
[The Turkish Cookery Book, by Turabi Efendi, 1865]

This buttery choux-pastry with sweet or savoury filling would certainly give comfort to the throat, but it is a long way from the Western/European idea of ‘Turkish delight’, which, as the Oxford English Dictionary tell us is ‘a sweetmeat consisting of gelatine boiled, cubed, and dusted with sugar.’ I am utterly delighted that the first mention given in the OED is from Charles Dickens:

‘I want to go to the Lumps-of-Delight shop.’ ‘To the .. ?’ ‘A Turkish sweetmeat, sir.’
[Edwin Drood, 1870]

The Western history of the concept of Turkish Delight would surely make a most wonderful story, would it not?

Quotation for the Day.

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.
Alice May Brock

Friday, April 16, 2010

Notable Salad Ideas.

Today I give you some final gleanings from our source of the week. I have decided to give you salad ideas today. The particular copy of A Thousand Notable Things that I am using was published in 1815, but the original version dates to the second half of the sixteenth century. There have been many editions over the centuries, but much of the original remained in the 1815 edition, including today’s first recipe.

Linseed, a rare salad.
Linseed put into the Roots of Radish, and by and by put fat or dunged earth, it will bring forth and herb like Dragons, whose taste will seem like Vinegar and Salt: therefore it is marvelously desired in sauces, for having this you need neither Vinegar nor Salt, as one that is chief of the King’s garden told me, saith Mizaldus.

To make Vinegar presently.
Take White or Rhenish Wine, and steep the slices of Beet Roots in it; suffer it to simmer over a gentle fire a little, then set it to cool, and in three hours it will be tolerable vinegar for use; and by soaking Beaten Grass in Strong White Wine Vinegar for twenty-four hours, then rolling it up in pellets, and drying them, you may have Vinegar at all times, for having these about you, dissolve one of them in a little Wine or Cyder, and it will become Vinegar.

To make a Salad grow up in two or three hours.
Take Lettuce and Spinage Seed, and soak them in Warm Oil the space of half an hour, then have Fat Earth in a Hot Bed to sow them in, covering them very lightly over with Mould, and they will spring up to admiration, and presently leaf.

Quotation for the Day.

Salad bars are like a restaurant's lungs. They soak up the impurities and bacteria in the environment, leaving you with much cleaner air to enjoy.
Doug Copland.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Notable Eating Habits.

This week’s source is a book called A Thousand Notable Things, published in 1815, but based on an original from the late sixteenth century. There have been many editions of the book over the centuries, with some of the ‘notable things’ in the 1579 edition still appearing in the nineteenth century version – unchanged apart from the language being modernised. It would be the work of several long days to compare the 1579 and 1815 versions and note the points at which significant changes were made, and I admit have not done this - yet!

I do not know at which point the topic I am giving you today was included, but whenever it was it demonstrates that advice about sensible eating is surprisingly enduring. Note that ‘meat’ in this context at this time referred to food in general, not specifically to animal flesh.

Rules to find out a fit measure of Meat and Drink.

1. If thou eat so much as makes thee unfit for study or other business, thou exceedest the due measure.
2. If thou art dull and heavy after meat, it is a sign that thou has exceeded the due measure, for meat and drink ought to refresh.
3. If thou findest these ill symptoms, consider whether too much Meat or too much Drink occasions it, or both; and abate by little and little, till thou findest the inconvenience removed.
4. Pass not immediately from a disordered life to a strict and precise life, but abate by little and little the excess; for ill custom comes on by degrees, and so by degrees must be left off.
5. As to the quality of Food, if the body be of a healthful constitution, and the meat does thee no harm, it matters little what it is; but all sorts must be avoided that prejudiceth thee, though it please the taste ever so much.
6. Let Students eat a good quality of Bread with their Meat, though they ought to avoid all meats that offend, yet, now and then, they may eat a little of any meat that they desire.
7. After Diet is exactly obtained, the appetite will require only what Nature hath need of, it will desire as Nature desires.
8. Let ancient people eat Panado, made with Bread and Flesh, Broth, which is of light digestion, and an Egg now and then will do well.
9. Beware of Variety of Meats, and such as are curiously and daintily dressed, which destroys a multitude of people; they prolong the appetite four times beyond what Nature requires, and different meats are of different natures; some are sooner digested than others, whence crudities proceed, and whole digestion depraved.
10. Keep out of sight of Feasts and Banquets as much as may be, for it is more difficult to refrain from good cheer when it is present, than from the desire of it when it is away; the like you may observe in the objects of all the other senses.
11. Fancy that Gluttony is not good and pleasant, but filthy, evil, and detestable, as indeed it really is.
12. The richest compounds, when concocted, yield the most noisome smells, and he that works hard, and fares hard, hath a sweeter and pleasanter body than the other.

In case you are actually ‘ancient’, or merely feel a little old and indisposed today, here is a nice recipe for ‘panado’(or ‘panada’) – essentially a broth thickened with bread (with other optional ingredients) used as a thickener or binder in other recipes such as forcemeat, or taken in the form of soup, as it is to this day in many parts of Italy. This particular recipe is quite rich, and perhaps not the style that the author of our book had in mind for ancient folk? It is certainly adaptable and can be made in the form of a savoury custard, or a sweet fruity dessert.

To make PANADA.
Grate the crumb of a penny loaf, and boil it in a pint of water, with one onion and a few peppercorns, till quite thick and soft, then put in two ounces of butter, a little salt, and half a pint of thick cream, keep stirring it till it is like a fine custard, pour it into a soup plate, and serve it up.
N.B you may use sugar and currants, instead of onions and peppercorns, if you please.
The Experienced English Housekeeper; Elizabeth Raffald, 1786.

Quotation for the Day.

The flesh endures the storms of the present alone; the mind, those of the past and future as well as the present. Gluttony is a lust of the mind.
Thomas Hobbes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Notable Things about Fowl.

Yesterday we received some interesting insight into historical methods of prolonging the life of fresh food from the book of the week (A Thousand Notable Things, 1815, original version late sixteenth century). One of those methods was for keeping fowl meat fresher for longer, in the time well before refrigeration. The threat of salmonella and other unpleasant bugs springs to the forefront of the mind today, but in 1815 the public (and the scientific community) lived in blissful ignorance of microbes, as it was still several decades away from Louis Pasteur’s seminal work, and the development of Germ Theory.

I wondered what else the book had to say about the preparation of fowl for the table.

Out of the Fig Tree there comes such a sharp Vapour, that if a Hen be hanged thereon, it will so prepare her that she will be soon and easily roasted. Plut. And the like will be if the feathers be plucked off from the Fowls, and then laid or covered a day or two in a heap of Wheat. - It is confirmed by experience, saith Mizatdus

How to tell if it is boiled enough:

If the bottom of a Seething Pot, with Meat, newly taken from the fire, may be touched or felt without harm or danger of burning, then certainly the same Meat is boiled enough; but if it be hot, and not sufferable, then it is not sufficiently sod. This I know to be true, for I have seen the trial thereof.

Quotation for the Day.

As for those grapefruit and buttermilk diets, I'll take roast chicken and dumplings.
Hattie McDaniel

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Notable Food Things.

Today I am going to share with you some ideas on keeping food “fresh” for longer, from our source for the week - A Thousand Notable Things. The edition I am using is from 1815, but the original version was written in the late sixteenth century. Some of these techniques sound very scary today, when we are obsessed with staleness, germs and disease. The fact that so many survived such undoubtedly contaminated food should perhaps give us pause to give credit to the human gastro-intestinal and immune systems. (But I don’t recommend that you test your own out with the following ideas for meat and fish preservation!)

Easy Method of preserving Animal Food sweet for several days in the heat of Summer.
Veal, mutton, beef, or venison may be kept for nine or ten days perfectly sweet and good in the heat of summer, by lightly covering the same with bran, and hanging it in a high and windy room; therefore a cupboard full of small holes, or a wire safe, so as the wind has passage through, is recommended to be placed in such a room, to keep away the flies.

The method was apparently also used to preserve fish.

To keep Dead Fish long.
Roll them in Wheat Bran, and lay them on a stone pavement in a cool cellar, or underground kitchen, cover them lightly with flags, grass, or rushes, and they will keep sweet a week, evne in the summer season.

Another suggested method of preserving (and tenderizing) fowl flesh is:

To keep Fowls long, and make them tender.
Have a White Wine or Rhenish Cask set up on end in a cool cellar, cut it so that the Fowl may be hanged up in it, and they will keep many days longer than otherwise.

And as for fruit and nuts, the following ideas might still work today.

Whosoever will preserve Chestnuts, and keep them safe and sound, let them lay and mix them with Walnuts; for they will drink up and consume such humours whereby they corrupt; and they will not suffer them to wax mouldy. Mizuldus.

To Preserve Apples or Pears from specking or rotting.
Dip their stalks in melted Pitch, and rub the fruit over with the Juice of Spearming, and hang them up by their stalks, that they touch not each other, and so that he air may freely come at them, but no rain or damp mists, and so they will keep very long.

Quotation for the Day.

The difference of a single day is perceptible. Vegetables can only be tasted in perfection, gathered the same day.”
John Pintard (1759-1844)

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Thousand Notable Things.

This week, just for fun, I thought I would see what was considered ‘notable’ in food ideas in a pompously charming book called A Thousand Notable Things. The edition I have used is that published in London in 1815, but the original work was by Thomas Lupton, Earl of Worcester, and was published in the late sixteenth century.

The book is dedicated to The King’s Most Excellent Majesty, and in his lengthy introduction the author briefly explains his motive:

“I confess I made it but for the superficial satisfaction of a friend’s curiosity, according as it is set down; and if it might now serve to give aim to your Majesty how to make use of my poor endeavours, it would crown my thoughts, who am neither covetous nor ambitious … ”

The book certainly covers a wide range of topics including animal husbandry, the domestic arts and crafts (including beauty therapy), and home remedies for a variety of terrifying conditions such as apoplexy, canker, carbuncles, cholic, dropsy, felons, fistulas, stinking breath and stinking feet, the griefs and pains of the bladder, and “the fundament that goeth forth”. If you want to know how many children (if any) you will have, and “if they shall live or die, [or] if they will die in Prison”, how to dye bones red, make shoes that will never wear out, catch weasels, interpret dreams, or determine when there will be wars, famine or plague – then this is the book for you. Another interesting aspect of this book is that, unusually for his time, the author takes pains to credit his sources.

I have chosen an alcohol theme for today’s selection from this lovely book.

Cure for Inebriation: Dr Petier, a German physician, states that he has found the spirit of hartshorn (in the dose of a small teaspoonful in a glass of water) to counteract the inebriating effects of strongly fermented liquors and spirits, and to recover a person from an apparently lifeless state, from an excess of wine, in an hour or two.

Prevention of course is always better than cure, so here is some rather double-handed advice:

Drunkenness, to prevent: A large draught of Salad Oil drunk first, will prevent Drunkenness, and so will New Milk, but it will make you sick, and I think it best not to try the experiment. Plat’s Jewel House, p. 59

Drunkenness is sometimes useful however:

If you will make Birds drunk, that you may catch them with your hands, take such meat as they love, as Wheat or Beans, or such like, and lay them to steep in the Lees of Wine, or the in the Juice of Hemlock, and sprinkle them in the place where the Birds use to haunt; and if they do eat the thereof, straightways they will be so giddy, that you may take them with your hands. I wrote this out of an old written book, wherein I know many true things were written.

And an appropriate recipe from the book, which makes the piece of lime wedged in the neck of the beer bottle look a bit lame is this:

How To Make Forty Sorts Of Changes Of Ale Drawn Out Of One Barrel.
Take Ale of a good body, and when it has worked well, bottle it off, but fill not the bottle within three spoonfuls, and being ripe, as you use it fill it up with the syrup of any fruit, root, flower, or herb you have by you, for that purpose; or drop in chemical oils or waters of them, or spices, and with a little shaking the whole mass will be tinctured, and taste pleasantly of what you put in; and so you may make all sorts of physical Ales with little trouble, and no incumbrance, morehealthful and proper than if herbs were soaked in it, or drugs, which in the pleasant entertainment, will make your friends wonder how you came by such variety on a sudden.

Quotation for the Day.

The best cure for drunkenness is whilst sober, observe a drunken person.
Chinese proverb.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Emergency Food, Part 3.

In mid-July 1939, the British Medical Association published a twelve-page booklet entitled “How to Stock your A.R.P Larder.” With World War II imminent, the aim was “to translate into practical terms the advice given by the Government that persons in a position to do so should now provide a reserve of non-perishable foods in addition to the stores they usually keep.

The suggestions were “based on scientific standards and stated to be sufficient for the needs of a household of a man, wife, and three children, or of four adults for one week.”

“The list given consists mostly of tinned and dried foods, and is as follows:
TINNED FOODS: Corned beef, 8 lb; salmon, 4 lb; sardines (or herrings) 4 lb; milk, whole condensed, sweetened, 2 lb; milk, whole dried, 3 lb; or evaporated, 7 ½ lb; black treacle 1 lb; golden syrup, 1 lb; tomatoes, 6 lb; tomato puree, 2 lb; carrots, 3 lb.
OTHER FOODS: Sugar, 4lb; plain eating chocolate, 1 lb; cocoa, loose, 1 lb; prunes, 1 lb; dried apricots, 1 lb; raisins, ½ lb; rice, 2 lb; cornflour ½ lb; haricot beans, 1lb; dried green peas, 1 lb; lentils, ½ lb; white flour, 10lb; bacon, 1 lb; eggs, 1 doz; tea, ½ lb; salt, 1 lb; cream of tartar, 1 pb; baking soda, ½ lb; and dried onions, 1 cellophane packet.
ALTERNATIVE ITEMS: Lamb’s tongues, 12 oz tin; blackcurrants 2 lb tin; spinach, 15 ¼ oz tin. Tinned lamb tongues can be substituted for some of the corned beef – 2 lb of tongue equaling 1¼ lb of beef.”

The booklet notes that in the event of prolonged strife, bakers’ yeast may not be available, in which case soda bread would be a good substitute (hence the inclusion of the soda and cream of tartar in the supplies. A recipe for soda bread was included – but unfortunately I do not have that particular piece of the booklet. Soda bread of course was not possible before the development of baking soda and baking powder, which became established in the first few decades of the nineteenth century. Here is an early American version made with buttermilk.

Soda Bread.
A correspondent of the Newry Telegraph gives the following receipt for making soda bread, stating that there is no bread to be had equal to it for invigorating the bod,y promoting digestion, strengthening the stomach, and improving the state of the bowels. He says put a pound and a half of good wheaten meal into a large bowl, mix with it two teaspoonfuls of finely powdered salt, then take a large teaspoonful of super-carbonate of soda, dissolve it in half a teacupful of cold water, and add it to the meal; rub up all intimately together then pour into the bowl as much very sour buttermilk as will make the whole into soft dough; it should be as soft as could possibly be handled, and the softer the better; form it into a cake of about an inch thickness, and put it into a flat Dutch oven or frying pan with some metallic cover such as an oven lid or griddle; apply a moderate heat underneath for twenty minutes, then lay some clear live coals upon the lid and keep it so for half an hour longer, the under heat being allowed to fall off gradually for the last fifteen minutes, taking off the cover occasionally to see that it does not burn. This he concludes when somewhat cooled and moderately buttered is as wholesome as ever entered man's stomach
Journal of the Franklin Institute, 1837.

Quotation for the Day.

As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.
Buddy Hackett

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Emergency Food, Part 2.

Food emergencies, which we considered yesterday, are not always due to large-scale meteorological, geological, or military events. A less newsworthy but far more common - and possibly even greater panic-inducing set of circumstances - is caused by unexpected visitors.

Unexpected visitors always arrive around mealtime, with the clear and present expectation of being fed pretty soon. The timing is always at the end of the shopping week, when supplies are low - and it has usually been a particularly bad week for a multitude of reasons. Maybe the kids all had the flu, or the man of the house got fired, or the dog ate the laundry? The fridge (well-overdue for a clean-out) is spectacularly empty of anything edible-looking, never mind appetizing.

What is the housewife to do? (it is always the ‘housewife’ in these stories.) A good and clever housewife would be prepared better than the best boy scout. She would have a secret stash of canned food and a canny knowledge of how to disguise their origins and dress them up in a style fit for company, that’s what. She would have learned how from her good and clever mother, or from a book such as the Arizona Cook Book, by the Williams Public Library Association (1911.)

This nice book contains many meal ideas, including several ‘emergency menus’ prepared from canned food. Here is my pick of the menus, followed by a recipe for an ‘economical and good emergency soup’, also from the book. The Arizona ladies who contributed the ideas are credited in each instance. Perhaps readers in Arizona might know some of the families? Wouldn’t that be fun?

Emergency Menu of Canned Foods.
Puree of Peas.
Creamed Lobster in Patty Cases.
Lamb’s Tongue stewed with
Boiled Rice and Pimentos.
Buttered Mushrooms.
Vienna Rolls.
Asparagus Salad.
Melted Cheese on Wafers.
Pineapple or Canned Peach Whips.
Mrs. T.S. Maddock,
Williams, Ariz.

Italian Tomato Soup.
This is one of the most delicious soups I have ever eaten, and I have never seen this recipe in print. It is a very economical and good emergency soup, as it can be prepared in half an hour. One onion fried in butter (do not let it brown), two cans of tomatoes and one quart of water. Add the onion to the tomatoes and let it boil twenty minutes. Strain through a colander, set back on stove, and add one heaping tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in hot water, one dozen cloves, salt and sugar to taste. Let boil five minutes, then add one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
Mrs. McLarty, Manistee, Mich.

Quotation for the Day.

"'Canned food is a perversion,' Ignatius said. 'I suspect that it is ultimately very damaging to the soul.'"
John Kennedy Toole (‘A Confederacy of Dunces’)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Chocolate Emergency.

When you think of emergency food – food for real emergencies, that is – do you think of canned soups or bags of rice or military-style ration packs or something else altogether? I understand that military rations often include chocolate, which would therefore make them my choice. I am sure the military version is not your single-plantation, chilli and vanilla infused gourmet version of course, but it is chocolate nevertheless, and there is a strong argument for the case that there is no such thing as bad chocolate.

I don’t know of any modern manufacturers using the emergency-value of chocolate for marketing purposes, but it would seem to me to be a marvelous guilt-reducing approach. The makers of the famous Fry’s chocolate used the idea in a series of advertisements in the classified section of the newspapers in the 1920’s.

contains the maximum of full cream milk, pure sugar and choicest cocoa beans making a delicious sweetmeat of the greatest food value, much appreciated by outdoor people, for whom a slice of bread and a piece of Fry’s Milk Chocolate make a delightful emergency meal.
The Times, Friday, Jun 10, 1921.

Perhaps the idea of chocolate biscuits is extending the ‘emergency food’ concept a little too far? Not in WW II it wasn’t – at least, according to the Cake and Biscuit Manufacturer’s Alliance. Their advertisements made a case for the nutritional value too. Now there is a great campaign!

Here they are – joining forces.
Its all done by uncannily clever machinery – although supplies are reduced, Chocolate Biscuits are to be had for the searching. So don’t forget them when you are spending your points.
And remember that with the Biscuit containing the most nourishing constituents of wheat and the chocolate its sugar, fat, and vitalizing iron-ration values, Chocolate Biscuits provide you with the sustenance of the perfect emergency meal.

Here is a lovely recipe for chocolate biscuits that has surely stood the test of time. It is from Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper (London, England) of Sunday, June 9, 1895

Chocolate biscuits.
Beat together for fifteen minutes the yolks of four eggs, one ounce of good grated chocolate flavoured with vanilla, and four ounces of castor sugar. Then whisk to a stiff froth the whites of four eggs, and mix with the other ingredients. Lastly add four ounces of finely-sifted flour, whihch must be stirred very slowly till thoroughly mixed; on no account may the mixture be rapidly beaten after the flour is in. With the aid of a spoon drop equal quantities of the pste into a biscuit-tin lined with well-greased paper, and bake in a very slack oven or 25 or 30 minutes.

Quotation for the Day.
Never mind about 1066 William the Conqueror, 1087 William the Second. Such things are not going to affect one's life...but 1932 the Mars Bar and 1936 Maltesers and 1937 the Kit Kat - these dates are milestones in history and should be seared into the memory of every child in the country.
Roald Dahl

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Cooking with PB.

Some time ago I gave you the menu for a ‘curious all-peanut dinner’, and I was reminded of it when I came across the following interesting (but surely too-sweet) recipe for a ham dish made with peanut butter.

Nut Crust Ham Slice.
(Serves 4)
1 slice ham 1-inch thick.
½ cup peanut butter.
1 cup soft breadcrumbs.
¼ cup melted butter.
1 cup milk.
Place ham in greased baking dish, cover with peanut butter, sugar, bread crumbs, melted butter, and cover with the milk. Bake in a moderate oven about one hour, being careful not to let the ham get too brown.
[The Washington Post, Nov 18, 1936]

Surely there are other interesting ways to use peanut butter, apart from in cookies and cakes? Here are a few you might like, from The Use of Peanuts on the Home Table, a bulletin from the University of Texas in 1917.

Peanut Turnips.
Slice turnips in rounds, throw into rapidly boiling water or meat stock and cook until tender. Place layer of turnips in bottom of buttered baking dish, sprinkle over these chopped roasted peanuts, and pour over this peanut butter thinned with warm water to consistency of cream. Repeat until dish is filled. Cover with bread crumbs. Season each layer with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about fifteen minutes, basting every little while with peanut butter thinned with a little hot water.

Potato and Peanuts.
6 medium sized cold boiled potatoes.
2 cups white sauce.
1 cup chopped roasted peanuts, or ½ cup peanut butter may be used.

White Sauce.
4 tablespoons butter.
4 tablespoons flour.
2 cups milk.

Cut cold potatoes into cubes and mix with white sauce, to which the peanuts have been added. Put in a buttered baking dish, cover with bread crumbs, heat in oven until crumbs are light brown. Serve in baking dish.

Peanut Butter Dressing.
2 eggs, beaten.
4 tablespoons vinegar.
2 tablespoons peanut butter.
4 tablespoons sugar.
1 teaspoon salt.
1 cup cream, whipped.
Cook together the vinegar, eggs, sugar, salt and peanut butter: cool. Add cream and serve on head of lettuce.

Quotation for the Day.

Avoid fruit and nuts. You are what you eat.
Jim Davis.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Boating for Bacon.

I was most intrigued by the following article, from The Times of August 17, 1830.

Yesterday the following singular rowing match took place above Westminster-bridge. The prizes were given by Mr. Pay, the landlord of The Ship, at Lambeth; and the unique nature of these prizes will be best explained by the following copy of the bill of fare.

First boat ................. A noble Flitch of Bacon.
Second ditto ............ Four Pigs’ Heads.
Third ditto ............... Three ditto.
Fourth ditto ............. Two ditto.
Fifth & Sixth ditto ... One each.

To be rowed on Monday, the 16th of August, in two heats, the first heat at three o’clock, and the second at six. To start from buoys moored off the Ship-wharf, round Carey’s Bath, up the Surrey shore, through Vauxhall-bridge, down round Mr. Barchard’s road, up to the wharf.
[There followed a list of boats with ‘colours’ of cabbage, beans, carrots, cucumbers, and onions.]
The flitch of bacon was large enough to make a covering for a city alderman. The nature of this match was such that it attracted many more thousands on the river and its banks than if the premiums amounted to 100 l.

I wonder how that idea originated! A wager by some well-oiled aldermen late one night, most likely. The winning bacon was probably simply sliced and fried, although there were other bacon recipe alternatives in 1830. I give you a delicious cabbage soup flavoured with bacon.

Cabbage Soup.
Boil some rasher of streaked bacon about two hours, in the quantity of water you require for soup; then add some cabbages previously blanched, and if you like, some sausages; pepper and salt the soup, but take care to put very little salt, on account of the bacon. Skim well before you put in the cabbages. This receipt is the same in most of the French cookery books, except that some tell you , that when the cabbage and bacon are done, you should soak a few slices of bread in some of the broth, and then mix them with the whole soup.

Quotation for the Day.

Friends are the bacon bits in the salad bowl of life.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Easter Baking, Part 2.

Good Friday.

Tradition is all very well, but variety is good too. Today I give you a couple of nice Easter baking alternatives, in case you want a change from Hot Cross buns.

Easter Biscuits.
Ingredients: 6 oz.plain flour, pinch salt, 1 level tablespoon dried egg, DRY, 1 ½ level teaspoons mixed spice, 2 oz. margarine and lard, mixed, 2 level tablespoons sugar, cold water to mix.
Method: Mix flour, salt, egg, and spice. Rub in fat and add sugar. Mix to a stiff dough with cold water and roll out thinly. Cut into shapes and bake in a moderate oven until crisp and golden brown. If liked a little chopped dried fruit may be added to this mixture.
[Easter ‘Food Facts leaflet’ from Britain’s wartime Ministry of Food, 1945]

Bunny Rolls.
Roll small pieces of [bread] dough with palms of hands to form ropes ⅓ inch thick and 10 to 12 inches long.To shape bunnies, tie ropes in loose knots, bringing ends up straight to form ears. Press in raisins for eyes. Brush bunnies with melted margarine or butter. Cover and let rise until double in bulk. Bake at 425 degrees [F] (hot oven) 12 to 15 minutes or until brown. Frost ears with white or pink confectioner’s sugar frosting. If you want an even more realistic bunny, dab on a bit of frosting for his nose and add shreds of coconut for whiskers.
[Washington Post, April 11, 1952]

Quotation for the Day.

The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water is indescribable in its evocations of innocence and delight.
M.F.K. Fisher.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Easter Cakes.

It is holiday time for me for the next nine days, and very glad I am of it too. Stories will still magically pop up at the appointed time however, thanks to a mad rush of writing before departure and especially to modern technology, which allows them to be pre-posted.

Many things go by the name of ‘Easter Cake’, and today I give you a small sample and wish you bon choix!

Easter Cake.
Take 1 lb butter to 2 lbs of fine flour, and mix thoroughly well together. Add 1 lb of sifted sugar, 1 lb of currants, and beat in a separate basic eight eggs to a froth. Strain some saffron (about four pennyworth) – two or three times into the basin, and add one shilling’s worth of brandy. Beat all well together, and pour into the other basin containing the flour. If it is too moist, add a little more flour; if the effect is contrary, put either another egg or a little more brandy. The dough is then set out in any sized cakes required on a baking sheet, but they should be about a couple of inches thick, and when baked present a light brown appearance. The quantity of saffron can be varied according to taste, some people liking the cakes more highly flavoured than others.
[The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (Portsmouth, England), March 7, 1891]

Easter Cakes.
Scotch shortbread is frequently substituted for Easter cake. I give a recipe for one kind of Easter Cake.
1 ½ lb flour, ½ lb sugar, ⅓ lb butter, ½ lb currants, 1 ½ oz candied peel sliced, powdered cinnamon to taste, the yolks of four and whites of three eggs, a glass of brandy, and half a teaspoon of sal volatile. Mix the dry ingredients first, well beat the eggs, add them, and thoroughly mix. Roll out to any thickness, make into round cakes, and bake in a quick oven.
[Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), Saturday, April 17, 1897]

Child’s Easter Cake.
2 cups sugar.
1 cup butter.
3 cups flour.
2 teaspoons baking powder.
Whites of seven eggs beaten to a stiff froth with a pinch of salt.
Cream butter and sugar. Add flour and baking powder, then milk. Flavor with extract of almond. Fold in eggs last. Slow oven for one hour. When cool, cover with white icing. Ornament center with candy rabbit and row of pink, blue, and brown sugar eggs around edge.
[Washington Post, Jan. 13, 1929]

Quotation for the Day.

If you are ever at a loss to support a flagging conversation, introduce the subject of eating.
Leigh Hunt