Monday, November 14, 2011

Culinary Heresies

I have a gem to share with you today. It is worth sharing for the title alone: Quick Cooking: A Book of Culinary Heresies for the Busy Wives and Mothers of the Land: by one of the heretics. The heretic is Flora Haines Loughead, and the book of six hundred and thirty recipes was published in New York in 1888.

Even if the title had been uninspiring, the shareworthiness would have accrued from the preface. I give you an extract from Ms Loughead’s somewhat rebellious introductory words:

“The editor is aware that this cook-book is a revolutionary production. It flies in the face of the accepted tradition that the woman who stands most faithfully over the cook-stove is best deserving of canonization. It lays the axe to old superstitions, which would have us believe that certain elaborate ceremonies and rights are essential to the successful evolution of certain dishes. It throws down the gauntlet to the leaders of modern cooking-schools, who claim to elevate the character of the humblest homes and advance the interests of economy, by the elaboration of simple materials and cheap articles of food into numerous fancy dishes, prepared with infinite labor. "Quick Cooking" declares that there is no waste in the kitchen so much to be deplored as wasted time. Unlike any other cook-book, its leading principle is to economize labor and time, at the same time securing to its disciples a wide choice of appetizing fare.
Whether the hours thus saved to the busy housewife shall be devoted to rest, self-improvement, to out-door recreation, to the training of her children, or to the discharge of other and more pressing cares, is left to her own decision.
The editor assumes that "Quick Cooking" will be consulted chiefly by tired and over-worked wives and mothers, who constitute by far the larger number of the housekeepers of the land. But even where There is a servant or two in the household, the book should be a welcome acquisition, for time saved to the servant is help gained to the mistress. The girl who discharges her kitchen duties quickly and methodically can help to clear the mending basket, tend the baby, look after the older children, and make herself useful in a variety of ways.”

“Hallelujah Sister!” I can here the cry across the land. This is timeless and timely advice indeed.

Are you ready, Ms Loughead’s new disciples, to secure your choice of appetizing fare?

First of all, the heretic is exhorted to Be Systematic, Learn to be Versatile in Action, Always use the Best Materials, and Provide Yourself with Handy Utensils. Tips on how to achieve these preparatory goals are freely given in each paragraph. Then come Part I (Five to Fifteen-Minute Dishes), and Part II (Twenty Minutes and More.)

From Part I, I give you a useful side dish, that only requires you to Be Versatile in Action and remember to cook extra cabbage the day before.

Baked Cabbage.
Cold boiled cabbage, chopped fine, stir in a little cream, and bake for eight minutes in a hot oven.

And from Part II, a useful addition to any heretic’s culinary portfolio – a nice quick cake. An organised heretic will of course have something in mind for the remaining 10 egg yolks.

Delicate Cake.
3 cupfuls flour
1 heaping teaspoonful baking powder
10 whites of eggs, beaten stiff
1 scant cupful melted butter
1 cupful milk
1 cupful cornstarch moistened with a little of the milk.
3 cupfuls of powdered sugar.
Put all ingredients into the mixing dish, beat together, flavor with lemon or vanilla, and bake in a moderate oven.

Quotation for the Day.

.. it is left to the decision of all intelligent people whether any article of dessert, which will be eaten in ten minutes by an ordinary family, justifies half a day’s hard toil.
Flora Haines Loughead, in Quick Cooking: A Book of Culinary Heresies... 1888


carolina said...

Simply LOVE the line, "there is no waste in the kitchen so much to be deplored than wasted time"! It's why I rarely cook from scratch! (unless I'm at the hearth of an 18th or early 19th C historic house, that is) I imagine it's the reason (tho perhaps unacknowledged) that many women chucked such cooking for boxed mixes, carry out, fast food, etc. Notice, too, all the relatively "new" ingredients she employs in her cake: baking powder and cornstarch. Woo-Hoo!

omaeve said...

This was my Grandmother b. 1795 Talitha Teel Spain's recipe, passed on by her Grandaughter Talitha Spain Haddock to her Grandaughter Talitha Barbour Skinner Passed on to her daughter Evelyn Talitha Skinner Bowers Passed on to her Grandaughter Jasmine Brook Bowers .


10 egg yolks
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. butter
2 - 3 tsp. lemon juice
3 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder

Cream sugar with butter. Add slightly beaten egg yolks. Sift dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture. Add flavoring. Roll in balls then in sugar and flatten out. Bake 7 to 10 minutes in medium oven at 350 degrees .

My Grandmother said if you can hold your hand in the oven for 4 seconds you can be sure the oven is hot enough to bake bread..for me this is 400 degrees..try differnt degrees and see how many seconds it takes for what you are baking..P.S my themostat was broken in my gas oven.

Ferdzy said...

That cake looks extremely interesting, and it would be good, I am sure, with custard or lemon curd... goodbye, egg yolks.

And the book as a whole looks like a riot. It isn't available on-line, is it? I'd love to read it.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks for sharing this precious family recipe, omaeve! It is really marvellouus.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Ferdzy. The book is online at the Internet Archive. It is fun. There is a 'Blacklist' chapter which i have yet yo explore!