Friday, April 27, 2012

Extreme Kitchen DIY.

It is time to move from the Anzac theme, although, as promised, we will stay in Australia this week. Today’s post is in honour of the intrepid home cooks of the past, who faced problems such  as shortage of butter with great calm and great creativity, and came up with ideas from which we can still learn.

Mrs. Floate’s Secret of Success Cookery Book (1950’s.) Mrs. D Floate was a self-taught cook who won many prizes at agricultural and other regional shows in Australia in the 1930’s- 50’s, and topped off her career by writing numerous cookery books.

Here is Mrs. Floate’s method of making margarine at home. Note that this is about as far as it is possible to be from modern commercial margarine, being made completely from animal fat. On the other hand, neither does it have artificial butter flavour or colour. I think it probably did make good pastry because of the higher melting point of the lard and dripping.

Home-made Margarine.
1lb. clarified beef dripping
¾ lb lard
1 lb butter
2 dessertspoons lemon juice
1 slice stale bread.
If you happen to have walnuts or almonds growing, add 1 cup of crushed nuts to boiling fat. The nut oil is an improvement, but margarine is quite satisfactory without the nuts.
Method: this margarine is excellent for making puff or flaky pastry and all other varieties of pastry/ It may be used as a substitute for butter in all classes of cookery, including large and small cakes, biscuits,and buns, etc. I would recommend butter for expensive cakes. Put dripping on; when melted, add to it butter and lard. Bring slowly to the boil. Add lemon juice. Drop in slice of stale bread that has been cut about 1 in. thick. The bread will absorb any scum as it rises. Boil briskly 5 mins. Remove from heat. Remove bread that will still be in one piece. Pour margarine into an oblong tin and allow to set.

The following idea is also intended to make the butter go further, but without any nasty additives. It would certainly not make good pastry, but would indeed facilitate the efficient and economical preparation of a large number of sandwiches.

Magic Butter.
Magic butter is excellent for sandwiches as it lessens the cost, keeps them deliciously fresh, and makes spreading a pleasure.
One pound butter, 1 cup hot (not boiling) water, 1 cup cold water, 1 good teaspoon salt.
Place butter in mixing bowl, break up well, add salt, and gradually add first a little hot water then a little cold until all the water is used up. Beat well. This is very important.
Australian Women’s Weekly, July 6, 1940.

And a variation of the same idea:
Butter Economy.
Take ½ pint rich milk and ½ lb. butter. Soak ½ teaspoon gelatine in 1 tablespoon milk, then place the bowl in hot water until the gelatine is thoroughly dissolved. Now put the butter in a basin, and place in hot water till it softens. The add the dissolved gelatine, ½ teaspoon salt, and milk gradually. Beat all together, continuing until the milk is quite taken up, and place it aside to harden. If a yellow colour is desired, use a little butter coloring.
This butter will do the work of ordinary butter for table use, baking cakes, etc – in fact for every use except frying. Double amount if larger quantities are required.
‘Truth’ and ‘Daily Mirror’ Cookery Book, (c 1943) by Ruth Cilento.

Quotation for the Day.

If you're afraid of butter, as many people are nowadays, just put in cream!
Julia Child

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