Friday, June 28, 2013

Railway Sandwiches.

I am in England, still, and having fun. I am travelling between major locations by train, which I like, because I can enjoy the scenery and can’t get lost. Navigation is not one of my strong points. Most of the small number of journeys I am making this time last only a couple of hours, so provisioning is not a big deal. It would be a very big deal, if I was taking longer journeys however, as the little food I have purchased at stations and trains over the years does not leave me slobbering for more.

The novelist Anthony Trollope understood this, when he wrote:

The real disgrace of England is the railway sandwich - that whited sepulchre, fair enough outside, but so meagre, poor, and spiritless within, such a thing of shreds and parings, with a dab of food.

I know that many of you miss the daily quotation which used to be appended to the bottom of every post. I know because I still get emails of mild complaint. I may return to the habit, but it was taking longer to find an un-used quotation than it was to write a post, and something had to give. Railway food, and particularly railway sandwiches are, however, an irresistible subject for pithy quotes, so I give you a few choice examples below. They seem to indicate rather strongly that the American railway sandwich is also not prized by travelers, nor is the Canadian.

The apples of Sodom, which are generally understood to have been in reality railway sandwiches ... (Pearson’s Magazine, Britain, 1898)

At Springfield, yesterday, Representative Mitchell introduced a bill “defining sleeping cars as hotels.” He should introduce another “defining railway sandwiches as paving material.
Railroad Digest, Vol. 3 (U.S.A. 1893)

The Romans had not always been careful to remove the sandals from the feet of their captives, and these had been as hard for the dragon to digest as railway sandwiches are for us. (John L. Stoddard’s Lectures, 1899.)

The railway sandwich Mr. McGee said, could be used as an example of a plot to drive away rail passengers. “These sandwiches consist of two pieces of bread ingeniously designed to turn into lumps of lead after they have been swallowed, filled with a microscopic film of what appears to be lard, but what is probably uncolored margarine.” An example of the sandwich situation was “a piece of the most tired cheese it has ever been my misfortune to consume.” One could have ham instead, but these sandwiches were “about as pleasurable and delightful to eat as an old piece of shoe leather. (Ottawa, House of Commons, May 19, 1961)

I was inspired, if that is not too lofty a word, to make railway food a topic for today’s post by the following little recipe. I assume, because it is a small pudding, that it was not an item to be purchased at a railway station café, but was made at home in preparation for the journey, to enable that little ordeal to be avoided.

Railway Puddings (Ireland.)
Required, two ounces of butter beaten with a teacupful of flour; add a teacupful of castor sugar, a small tablespoonful of baking powder, half a teacupful of milk, and one egg. Bake fifteen to twenty minutes on two flat tins. Spread with jam and fold over.

Pot-luck, or The British home cookery book (1915.)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Substitute for Tea?

The phrase “Substitute for Tea” appears as a heading in Five Thousand Receipts: in all the Useful and Domestic Arts, by Colin MacKenzie, published in 1854.

Seriously?  So, someone thinks that there is a substitute for tea? Tea?  Of course, this particular edition of the book was published in America, which might explain the odd idea. Much as I love many of you, dear American readers, let us be honest – most of you are not tea aficionados. I have always suffered a brief sense of disconnect when, on ordering tea in America, I have been asked  if I want it “hot?” Well of course, hot. The brew gets very bitter if you let it get cold in the pot, and if you let it get cold in the cup, the milk goes all scummy on the top, doncha know?

I also have no argument with Mr. MacKenzie personally for his misleading use of the language, and his masquerading as a gastro-enterologist and neurologist with his comments on digestion and nerves. I am one-eighth MacKenzie myself, and feel kindly toward him on that account, and anyway, his recipes (yes, plural) are also quite interesting, if you don’t for one minute believe the beverages are the same as tea.
Seriously, again. I have no problems with the concept of alternatives for tea as a hot, soothing beverage. But substitutes, never.  Allow me to be pedantic for a moment. The beverages suggested below are tisanes.

Substitute for Tea.
In consequence of the injurious effects on the stomach and nervous system, produced by the leaves of the oriental an nib imported into this country, under the name of tea., mixtures of British herbs have been recommended as a substitute for tea and coffee for breakfast, and an evening repast. An infusion of the following composition, lately recommended by an eminent physician of Edinburgh, has since been found more pleasant to the palate, and more salubrious as an article of diet, than either of the compositions of herbs. It is an excellent nervous stomachic, and in cases of indigestion, or what is termed "bilious affections" arising either from debility or nervous irritability, it has proved highly beneficial after stomachic bitters had entirely tailed. It has, likewise, this important advantage over tonic medicines, and foreign tea and coffee, that its long continued use will not injure the stomach; but, on the contrary, by keeping up healthy digestion, and by quieting the nerves, is likely to prevent the organic diseases of the stomach, which of late years have apparently increased in Europe.

Take of the heels of unfolded petals of the red-rose, dried, 5 parts, rosemary leaves, ditto. 1 ditto balm leaves, ditto. 2 do. Mix.
A dessert spoonful of this composition is sufficient for half a pint of infusion. It is made in the same manner as tea, with sugar and cream, or milk. It is sold at 2s. and 9d. a pound,— one pound will go as far as two pounds of tea.

Another.—In Germany the leaves of strawberry flowers are substituted for green tea. The following are the directions for preparing them. The leaves with the flowers are to be gathered in the spring, while they are young, and only the smoothest and cleanest leaves selected, as they are not to be washed. They must be dried in the air, but not in the sun, as drying them in the sun would lessen their flavour. To these leaves the Germans give the appearance of China tea, by first pinching their stalks clean off, then warming the leaves over the fire, rolling them up in the hand while they remain flexible, and drying them thus rolled. When the leaves are thoroughly dried, the tea is fit for use, and on being made exactly in the same manner as China green tea, it is hardly possible to discover the difference. The young and tender leaves of the sloe tree or black thorn, when dried, afford a good substitute for foreign tea.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hospital Food, 1785.

Before I put it temporarily aside, I want to give you a little more from Food in Health and Disease , published in London in 1785 by Isaac Burney Yeo (Professor of Clinical Therapeutics in King’s College, London, and Physician to King’s College Hospital.)  For those of you who have ever experienced hospital food, or are involved in its preparation- this post is especially for you.

Yeo gave the dietary tables and recipes for a number of British hospitals: I give you his record for the London Hospital.

Admission Diet. (For all patients on admission, unless otherwise ordered) – Bread, 12 oz.; milk, 2 pints;  beef-tea, 1 pint.
For Children. – Bread, 8 oz; milk, 1 pint; beef-tea, ½ pint.
Full Diet. – Bread, 12oz; potatoes, 8 oz.; meat, 6 oz.; porter or milk, 1 pint.
Middle Diet. - Bread, 12oz; potatoes, 8 oz.; meat, 4 oz.; porter or milk, ½ pint.
Fever Diet. – Milk, 2 pints; beef-tea, 1 pint.
Children’s Diet. – Bread, 8 oz; potatoes, 6 oz.; meat, 2 oz.; milk, 1 pint.
Hydro-carbon Diet. - Bread, 12oz.; fat bacon, 4 oz.; milk, 1 pint; pudding (arrowroot, 1 oz; yolks of 2 eggs, milk, 1pint.)
Diabetic Diet. – Gluten bread, 6 oz.; meat, 6 oz.; watercress; gluten bread pudding (soak 1 oz. gluten bread in ½ pint milk for an hour, beat it up with an egg, and 1 oz. gluten flour, then put mixture into a mould, and bake it.)
Special Diet. – Mutton chop, or beef steak (8 oz. uncooked); or fish (10 oz. uncooked,) with, in each case, bread, 12 oz.; potatoes, 8 oz.; and milk or porter, 1 pint, as ordered.
Ordinary beef-tea is made with 8 oz. meat to the pint.

Elsewhere in the text, Yeo gives a recipe for almond cakes as a substitute for ordinary bread for diabetics (acknowledging that these were not popular with French medical authorities, who preferred a small quantity of ordinary bread to be used.)

Take of blanched sweet almonds ¼ lb., beat them as fine as possible in a stone mortar; remove the sugar contained in this meal by putting it into a linen bag and steeping it for a quarter of an hour in boiling water acidulated with vinegar; mix this paste thoroughly with 3 oz. of butter and 2 eggs. Next add the yolks of 3 eggs and a little salt, and stir well for some time. Whip up the whites of these eggs and stir in. Put the dough thus obtained into greased moulds, and dry by a slow fire.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bread for Labourers.

It constantly amazes me that ideas about health and nutrition are considered ‘modern’ have, in fact, been around for a long while – perhaps not with the validation of science, but certainly as a fine testament to the powers of observation of medical men of older times. I have been browsing the pages of Food in Health and Disease Isaac Burney Yeo, published in 1785. Here is what he says of wholemeal bread.

A great deal has been written, without very much reflection and without any very great regard to accuracy, about the evils attending the separation of the "bran," or outer coat of wheat, from the flour of which bread is made. It has been urged that not only is this practice very wasteful, but that it leads to the loss in the bread made from such flour of much of the most important nutritive constituents of the grain; and, indeed, it is admitted that the bran is rich in nitrogenous (15 per cent.), fatty (3-5 per cent.), and mineral substances (6'7 per cent., chiefly phosphates). But, as has been pointed out by Parkes and others, if the "bran " is used, much of it is probably entirely undigested, and it can therefore yield but little nutriment, and that, unless ground very fine, the outer envelopes of the grain are very irritating, and especially unsuited to sick persons with any tendency to intestinal irritation; indeed, according to Parkes, "dysenteries have been found most intractable merely from attention not being directed to this simple point." The method, now extensively adopted, of decorticating the grain — that is, of removing the two or three outer highly silicious envelopes and leaving the fourth or inner envelope—has certainly more to recommend it, and it no doubt yields a meal very suitable for bread-making, especially for young and growing persons with sound and active digestions; but we have seen some—-otherwise very pleasant—bread made from such decorticated whole-wheat meal prove very indigestible to adults leading sedentary lives. It makes a bread which is usually heavier, moister, and of closer texture than that made from the finest white flour. Pavy also urges, with much cogency, that "if bread were our sole article of sustenance, the rejection of the principles contained in the outer part of the grain would be a serious error in dietetics; but if other food be taken which furnishes a free supply of them, as is actually the case with a mixed diet, there is nothing to condemn as erroneous. It must not be considered, because we do not consume the bran and the pollard of the meal ourselves, that their constituents are thereby wasted or lost to us. Employed, as such articles are, as food for other animals, we may, in reality, although indirectly, get their elements in association with other matter. Looked at in this way, it being granted that animal food is taken, we are at liberty, if our inclination so dispose us, without incurring any charge of wastefulness, to select one part of the grain for ourselves, and allow the other to pass to the lower animals."

There is not much to argue about that argument, written over two hundred years ago, is there?
The following selection from the book, which follows on directly from the above piece, is perhaps a little politically incorrect by today’s standards, but by culinary standards, it seems like fine general advice about bread-baking to me. As a bonus, it gives us a recipe for bread, and one for baking powder – then a relatively new concept, bread and cakes previously being risen by some sort of yeast.

Sir Henry Thompson advocates strongly that the bread of the labourer should be made from entire wheat meal; "but it should not be so coarsely ground as that commonly sold in London as ' whole meal.' This coarse meal does not readily produce light, agreeable bread when made in the form of ordinary loaves: a solid mass of this meal, being a bad conductor of heat, will have a hard, flinty crust if baked sufficiently to cook the interior; or it will have a soft, dough-like interior if the baking is checked when the crust is properly done. Consequently the form of a flat cake, resembling that of the ordinary tea-cake, is preferable, since it admits of the right amount of heat operating equally throughout the mass. The following recipe will be found successful, probably after a trial or two, in producing excellent, light, friable, and most palatable bread :—To 2 lb. of coarsely-ground or crushed whole wheat-meal, add half-a-pound of fine flour and a sufficient quantity of baking powder and salt; when these are well mixed, rub in about 2 oz. of butter, and make into dough with half milk and water, with skimmed milk (warm), or with all milk, if preferred. Make into flat cakes like 'tea-cakes,' and bake without delay in a quick oven, leaving them afterwards to finish thoroughly at a lower temperature. The butter and milk supply fatty matter, in which the wheat is somewhat deficient. A palatable addition is made, in my opinion, by exchanging the half-apound of flour ordered in the foregoing recipe for the same quantity of medium-fine Scotch oatmeal . The change adds to the brittleness and lightness of the product."
The baking powder is made by mixing well together—Tartaric acid, 2 oz.; bicarbonate of soda, 3 oz.; common arrowroot, 3 oz. Keep perfectly dry in a wide-mouthed bottle.

These instructions for baking powder would work just as well today, and almost made it into my file of Not-so Extreme Kitchen DIY. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cooking with Heart.

It is a long time since I saw heart in the ordinary butcher’s shop. It is even longer since I saw it on a restaurant menu. Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever seeing heart on a restaurant menu. I am certain, however, that much heart is eaten, the eater being unaware because it is hidden in sausages, burgers, pies, meatloaves, and other useful aids to devious manufacturers and cooks.

No so long ago, in times when waste was abhorred and folk less squeamish, there was no sense of any need to disguise this admirable meat. I give you a fine selection of recipes for heart from
The family save-all, a system of secondary cookery (1861) by Robert Kemp Philp. The author does refer to heart as “unmanageable,” this seems to be because it requires some effort in trimming and preparing for cooking. I would be interested to know if any of you are tempted to source and try any of these dishes.

Various ways of Cooking and re-Cooking that unmanageable dish, Ox-heart.
181. Trim and clean the Heart, and wipe it dry; fill the cavities with a stuffing made thus:— Crumbs of bread (the quantity must depend upon the size of the heart), chopped suet or butter, say about two ounces, parsley and sweet marjoram, chopped lemon-peel grated, pepper, salt, and nutmeg, with the yolk of an egg; mix, and fill the cavities of the heart. Serve it with gravy, melted butter, and currant jelly. Prepared in this way, it may be either baked or roasted, and will require a quarter of an hour for each pound weight.

182. Or, clean and cut the Heart in large pieces lengthwise. Put these into a stew-pot with cold water and salt, and carefully skim away the blood, which will rise in large quantities; parboil; take up the parboiled pieces, and carve them into mouthsful; strain the liquor, and return the cut meat, with plenty of shred onion, a shred head or two of celery, pepper, and allspice, and a dozen or more peeled potatoes, or some sliced carrots, This is a nourishing and economical Stew-soup, and half a full-sized bullock's heart will be sufficient to make it.

183. Or, cut into pieces lengthwise, the pieces not being thicker than half an inch; Broil, with a piece of fat or bacon, for ten minutes; serve with a little currant jelly and butter, under the slices.

184. Or, wash in several waters, cut it into pieces lengthwise; take a baking dish, and lay some slices of potatoes at the bottom, then a few slices of bacon, then the pieces of heart, another layer of bacon; season each layer to liking, and fill up the spaces with veal stuffing made into balls; add water, and Bake about an hour.

185. Kidney and Heart may be mixed, or the flesh of Cow-heel be mixed with either heart or kidney.

186. Calf’s Heart may be dressed in the same way, or be stuffed with veal stuffing, and Baked upon potatoes.

187. Or, Bullock's Heart, stuffed as for baking, may be Boiled. Small hearts, as of Sheep, Lambs, &c., may be stuffed, enclosed in paste, with a bit of fat bacon wrapped round them, and Baked, like Savoury Dumplings.

188. Cold Heart may be Hashed the same as Beef or Hare, the stuffing being mixed with the gravy, and accompanied by Currant Jelly.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Butter and Honey.

One very Bad Thing about the Good Old Days was the constant problem of keeping foods in an edible state without the Good Modern Day benefits of refrigeration and canning. Keeping butter from spoiling is not something we give any thought to today, is it?

Several ideas for preserving butter were suggested in a long article in an English agricultural journal in 1790. One of the “recipes” is eminently adaptable for use as a breakfast spread today.  The journal is Letters and Papers on Agriculture, Planting, &c: Selected from the Correspondence of the Society Instituted at Bath, for the Encouragement of Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, Within the Counties of Somerset, Wilts, Gloucester, and Dorset, and the City and County of Bristol..., 1790, and a section of the article is below.

Common salt is almost the only substance that has been hitherto employed for the purpose of preserving butter; but I have found, by experience, that the following composition is, in many respects, preferable to it, as it not only preserves the butter more effectually from any taint of rancidity, but makes it also look better, and taste sweeter, richer and more marrowy, than if the same butter had been cured with common salt alone. I have frequently made comparative trials with the fame butter, and always found the difference much greater than could well be conceived. The composition is as follows:
Take of sugar one part, of nitre one part, and of the best Spanish great salt, (or of Doctor Swediaur's best salt, which is still better than the former, being cleaner) two parts. Beat the whole into a fine powder, mix them well together, and put them by for use.
Of this composition one ounce should be put to every sixteen ounces of butter; mix this salt thoroughly with the butter as soon as it has been freed from the milk, and put it without loss of time into the vessel prepared to receive it, pressing it so close as to leave no air-holes, or any kind of cavities within it. Smooth the surface, and if you expect that it will be above a day or two before you can add more, cover it close up with a piece of clean linen, and above that a piece of wetted parchment, or for want of then, fine linen that has been dipped in melted butter, that is exactly fitted to the vessel all round, so as to exclude the air as much as possible, without the assistance of any watery brine; when more butter is to be added, these coverings are to be taken off, and the butter applied close above the former, pressing it down and smoothing as before, and so on till the vessel be full. When it is quite full, let the two covers be spread over it with the greatest care, and let a little melted butter be poured around the edges, so as to fill up every cranny, and effectually exclude the air. A little salt may then be strewed over the whole, and the cover be firmly fixed down to remain close till it be opened for use. If all this be carefully done, the butter may be kept perfectly sound in this climate for many years. How many years I cannot tell, but I have seen it two years old, and in every respect as sweet and sound as when it was only a month old.
It deserves to be remarked, that butter cured in this manner does not taste Well till it has stood at least a fortnight after being salted; but after that period is elapsed, it eats with a rich marrowy taste that no other butter ever acquires; and it tastes so little salt, that a person who had been accustomed to eat butter cured with common salt only, would
not imagine it had got one fourth part of the salt that would be necessary to preserve it.
Butter thus cured would bear to be carried to the East or the West-Indies, and would keep sweet during the longest voyages, if it were so packed as not to allow the butter to be so far melted as to occasion the salts to separate from it. But as none of these salts admit of any chemical union with the butter, it must happen that if ever the butter be so far melted as to become of a fluid consistence,
…  Butter, in its natural state, contains a considerable proportion of mucous matter, which is more highly putrescible than the pure oily parts of the butter, Where it is, therefore, intended that butter should be exposed to the heat of warm climates, it ought to be freed from that mucilage before it be cured and packed up for keeping. To prepare butter for a distant voyage, therefore, in warm climates, let it be put into a vessel of a proper shape, which should be immersed into another containing water. Let the water be gradually heated till the butter be thoroughly melted ; let it continue in that state for some time, and allow it to settle; the mucous part will fall entirely to the bottom, and the pure oil will swim at top, perfectly transparent while hot, but when it cools it becomes opaque, assumes a colour somewhat paler than the original butter before it was melted, and a firmer consistence more more nearly resembling that of tallow, and consequently it will better resist the heat of a warm climate than butter itself. When this refined butter is become a little stiff, and while it still is somewhat soft, the pure part should be separated from the dregs, and then salted, and packed up in the same way as is directed for butter" This would retain the salt longer and keep much longer sweet, in hot climates, than if it had been cured in its original state.
This refined butter may be preserved in yet another way, which I have sometimes seen practised here by way of medical bonne bouche (comfit.) After the butter is purified, add to it a certain proportion of firm honey, mix it well, it will incorporate thoroughly with the butter, and when cold it eats very pleasantly spread on bread like butter; and may be given to old people, if they relish it, instead of marrow, and to others as being useful for coughs and colds. These were the uses to which I have seen this substance applied, and on these occasions the proportion of honey employed was considerable, I have seen it kept for years, without manifesting the smallest tendency to rancidity, so that there can be no doubt but that butter might thus be preserved in long voyages without spoiling. The only point that remains to be ascertained is, what is the smallest proportion of honey
that would be sufficient to preserve the butter. Sugar is known to be a much more powerful antiseptic than common salt, and probably honey may be in that respect nearly on a par with sugar. If so, it would be reasonable to suppose that one ounce of honey might be sufficient to preserve sixteen ounces of butter. In that cafe the taste of the honey would not be extremely perceptible, so that the butter, even to those who might not relish the sweet composition above-mentioned, might prove very agreeable, especially if a little salt were mixed with it when about to be used. A few experiments would be sufficient to ascertain this particular.
From the circumstance of the honey incorporating with the butter, and not separating from it while in a fluid state, it would promise nearly to accomplish the purpose wanted above. Whether, when it became very fluid, and was long continued in that state, any separation would take place; or whether the honey in these circumstances would be in danger of fermenting, are questions that experience alone can determine. Sugar, tho' it would preserve the butter equally well while it continued in a solid state, would doubtless separate from it when it became fluid. Whether melasses would do so, or what effects they would in this case produce, I cannot tell; but a few experiments would ascertain these points. Should any method of preserving butter in warm climates be discovered, it would be productive of so many benefits to individuals, and to the nation at large, by giving an opening for a new branch of commerce and manufacture, that it is much to be wished the few experiments wanted to ascertain these points were made, with such care, under the direction of persons who would faithfully report the result to the public, as should be sufficient to remove all doubts upon this head.

A version of this recipe, which solves the question of quantities of honey required for a given quantity of “refined” (clarified) butter, appears in Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery (c.1870.)

Butter, Preserved with Honey.
Wash and press the butter until it is quite free from milk. Put it in a jar, and place it in a pan of boiling water. When clarified, and just before boiling, remove it from the water to a cool place; take off the scum, and work it up in the proportion of two ounces of honey to every two pounds of butter. This mode of preparation will be found very convenient where butter is eaten with sweet dishes. It will keep as long as salted butter if the air be excluded from it.

Hmmm … Buttered Honey, or is that Honeyed Butter?  Either way, it sounds delicious, and makes me think of Honey Cakes as the recipe for the day.

Honey Cakes (A German Recipe.)
Put two ounces of butter into a saucepan, and when melted, stir in half a pound of honey. Let it boil, stirring briskly all the time. Take it from the fire, and when slightly cool, mix it with the finely-minced rind of half a lemon, two ounces of sweet almonds, blanched and coarsely pounded, the eighth of a nutmeg, grated, and half a pound of flour, and last of all, half an ounce of carbonate of soda dissolved in a small quantity of warm water. Leave the mixture in a cool place twelve or fourteen hours. Roll it out half an inch thick, cut it into small square cakes, put a thin slice of blanched almond in the four corners. Bake in a moderate oven for twenty-five minutes.

Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery (c.1870.)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Nice Mock Menu.

As you know, one of my favourite themes is that of Mock Food – the art of making one food look (and hopefully taste like) something entirely different, and perhaps, or perhaps not, to deliberately deceive your guest in the process.

Today I have prepared for you a complete menu of mock foods, with recipes from several sources. I hope you enjoy.

It would seem most appropriate to start with Mock-Mock Turtle Soup (the double ‘mock’ is not a typo!), but I have given this recipe previously (here,) so rather than commit the sin of repetition, how about the double deceit of a light, vegetarian ‘mutton’ broth?

Mock Mutton Broth, without Meat, in Five Minutes.
Boil a few leaves of Parsley with two teaspoonsful of Mushroom Catsup, in three quarters of a pint of very thin Gruel (No.572), season with a little salt.
Obs. - This is improved by a few drops of Shallot Wine (No. 402,) and the same of Essence of Sweet Herbs (No. 419.) See also Portable Soup (no. 252.)
The Cook’s Oracle (1817) by William Kitchiner.

As our fish course, how about sturgeon, medieval-style? The real thing is too protected and anyway, is probably still legally a Royal Fish in the UK, so instead you can make it with veal.

To Make Sturgyn
Take the houghys of vele and caluys fete and sethe hem in hony. And whan thous hast soden hem all to poudre, take the bonys oute. In case that the flesshe be longe, take it a stroke or ii and put it in a fayre cannevasse and press it welle. Than take it and lese it fayne in thynnee leches and not to brode. Take onyons, vynegre, and percelly and ley theron, and so serue it forthe.
Cury on Inglysch.

For our main course, let us have a mockery of a dish hardly anyone makes anymore – sweetbreads.

Mock Sweetbreads (Cheshire)
Take three-quarters of a pound of veal, pass it through a mincer two or three times till it is practically a pulp: add a little suet or bacon very finely shredded or minced, the yolks of two eggs to bind, and a few fine breadcrumbs to give it consistency. Season with a little mace, pepper, and salt: add a little cream or milk to moisten. Make up into the shape of sweetbreads, and brown in good (but not fierce) oven. Serve with gravy.
Pot-luck , or, The British home cookery book; over a thousand recipes
from old family ms. books. (1915)

For dessert, it is hard to go past Mock Apple Pie, but if your tastes go to a cooler sweet, here is an interesting idea (although I am not sure about eating isinglass?)

Mock Ice (Middlesex)
You can make a sort of mock ice, by mixing half a pint of water, in which rather more than a quarter of an ounce of isinglass has been boiled, with a pint of cream and a sufficient quantity of sugar, and the juice of any fruit ; the mixture must be made before the solution of isinglass is quite cold. If you have any ice at hand, this mixture can be set in a mould in some vessel, and surrounded with ice; or if there be none, put it in the coldest situation possible.
The solid appearance given to the mixture, when cold, by the isinglass, causes this to be a pretty good imitation of an ice, if it can be made quite cold.
Pot-luck , or, The British home cookery book; over a thousand recipes
from old family ms. books. (1915)

And finally, a small savoury dish to finish the meal in the traditional Old English manner.
Mock Crab Toast (Derbyshire)
Pound two ounces of cheese with a dessertspoonful of anchovy sauce, the same of made mustard, the same of vinegar, a pinch of Nepaul pepper, and a little salt, the yolk of an egg, and a tablespoonful of butter. Mix thoroughly in a basin and then spread on buttered toast; put it in the oven and bake for about ten minutes. Serve piping hot.
Pot-luck , or, The British home cookery book; over a thousand recipes

from old family ms. books. (1915)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

And after the Frost, Pudding.

After the previous two days on Polar food, I think we need something comforting, don’t you?
Some long time ago I came across a reference to “Golden Pudding” but at the time could not find any specific recipes. I have just revisited the concept, and thanks to progress in cyber-space, I can now report that there are several variations on the theme of Golden Pudding, and none of them sound bad.

Golden Pudding.
Ingredients.— ¼ lb. of bread-crumbs, ¼ lb. of suet, ¼ lb. of marmalade, ¼ lb. of sugar, 4 eggs. Mode.—Put the breadcrumbs into a basin; mix with them the suet, which should be finely minced, the marmalade, and the sugar; stir all these ingredients well together, beat the eggs to a froth, moisten the pudding with these, and when well mixed put it into a mould or buttered basin ; tie down with a floured cloth, and boil for 2 hours. When turned out, strew a little finesifted sugar over the top, and serve. '
Time.—2 hours. Average, cost, IId. Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons. Seasonable at any time.
Note.—The mould may be ornamented with stoned raisins, arranged in any fanciful pattern, before the mixture is poured in, which would add very much to the appearance of the pudding. For a plainer pudding, double the quantities of the bread-crumbs; and if the eggs do not moisten it sufficiently, use a little milk.
Mrs. Beeton's Dictionary of Every-day Cookery, 1865

Phyllis Browne’s A Year’s Cookery, published in 1879, gives a similar recipe to Mrs. Beeton’s, but adds “a little sherry is a very agreeable accompaniment,” which sounds like a good suggestion to me.

Golden Pudding.
Line and ornament small pudding dish with puff pastry.  Beat 2 tablespoons Crisco with 4 
tablespoons sugar till creamy, add 4 tablespoons cakecrumbs, yolks 3 eggs beaten with ½  cup milk, ½ teaspoon salt, grated rind and strained juice 2 oranges. Pour into pudding dish, and bake 40 minutes. Whip up egg whites to stiff froth, stir in 3 tablespoons sugar, few drops yellow color, 1 teaspoon orange extract, and pile on top of pudding. Put back in oven to brown.

The Story of Crisco, (Cincinnati, 1914) Marion Harris Neil

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Living Off The Land.

Yesterday’s post on the provisioning of the Australasian Antarctic expedition of 1911 set me to thinking of the extreme difficulty of living off the land in the Polar regions of the world, and staying healthy. As Douglas Mawson pointed out in his narrative, one of the scourges of the early expeditions to the Poles was scurvy, which, as we all know, is due to Vitamin C deficiency from insufficient vegetable matter in the diet.
How to avoid scurvy at the Poles? Well, one could take tons of canned and dried fruit and vegetables as Mawson did, but this was not always possible in the past – and anyway, these could be lost, or could run out if the expedition took longer than expected.
Almost a century earlier than Mawson, Sir William Edward Parry led an expedition to the northern reaches of the globe – the Arctic. The first signs of scurvy had appeared in January 1820. By the middle of summer (June, 1820) he was able to report from Melville Island:

Having observed that the sorrel was now so far advanced in foliage as to be easily gathered in sufficient quantity for eating, I gave orders that two afternoons in each week should be occupied by all hands in collecting the leaves of this plant; each man being required to bring in, for the present, one ounce, to be served in lieu of lemon-juice, pickles, and dried herbs, which had been hitherto issued. The growth of the sorrel was from this time so quick, and the quantity of it so great on every part of the ground about the harbour, that we shortly after sent the men out every afternoon for an hour or two; in which time, besides the advantage of a healthy walk, they could, without difficulty, pick nearly a pound each of this valuable antiscorbutic, of which they were all extremely fond. Of the good effects produced upon our health by the unlimited use of fresh vegetable substances, thus bountifully supplied by the hand of Nature, even where least to be expected, little doubt can be entertained, as it is well known to be a never-failing specific for scorbutic affections, to which all persons deprived of it for a length of time are probably more or less predisposed.

The sorrel to which Parry refers is Oxyria digyna, commonly called Arctic, Alpine, Mountain, Sheep’s or Wood sorrel, and a relative of Common Sorrel, Rumex acetosa. Sorrel leaves can be eaten raw, as in salads, or added to sauces, soups and stews.

From The Master Book of Soups () by Henry Smith, I give you the author’s general comments on sorrel, and one of the many recipes containing it:

Sorrel is no longer used in much quantity, but can be used in all clear soups garnished with root vegetables, including the ever popular Julienne. Julienne at one time was chiefly garnished with wood sorrel, but with modern trends one usually finds this soup garnished with a mixture of any finely cut vegetables. Julienne should not be confused with other soups garnished with vegetables, such as Paysanne (country style), Chiffonade (literally, vegetables in rags).

Purée of Sorrel

3 lbs. sorrel, 3 ozs. Butter, 2 ½ pints seasoned stock, 3 ozs. flour , seasoning to taste

Cook sorrel in a little salt water, strain and press through a sieve. Combine sorrel with boiling stock, add creamed butter and flour and stir constantly till creamy. Taste for seasoning and serve. Cream or evaporated milk may be added if desired. (Yield: 8 portions). 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Extreme Travel Food.

Tomorrow I set off on a three-week holiday to the country of my birth, Good Old England. It will be a comfortable journey, I am sure, with many fantastic food experiences, not the least of which will be provided at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery.

My travel will be, in every respect imaginable, a far more comfortable journey, with far more tasty, nutritious, and varied food, than that taken by the English-Australian, Douglas Mawson and twenty-nine other men in 1911. The members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition arrived at their destination in December 1911, and returned home in February 1914. It goes without saying that such a venture to such an inhospitable land required careful provisioning. Mawson recorded some details of the food taken along in his later narrative of the two-year expedition, The Home of the Blizzard.

The food-stuffs were selected with at least as much consideration as was given to any of the other requisites. The successful work of an expedition depends on the health of the men who form its members, and good and suitable food reduces to a minimum the danger of scurvy; a scourge which has marred many polar enterprises. Thus our provisioning was arranged with care and as a result of my previous experience in the Antarctic with Sir Ernest Shackleton's Expedition.

A summary which may be of possible use to future expeditions is appended below:

In the matter of canned meats we had some six tons of the excellent Australian article supplied by the Sydney Meat Preserving Company, Ramornie Meat Company (N.S.W.), Baynes Brothers (Brisbane), and the Border (rabbit) Preserving Company of South Australia. For use on the Ship three tons of salt beef and pork served to replenish the ``harness cask,'' largely obtained in Melbourne from Cook and Sons.

For a ton of sauces and pickles we were indebted to Brand and Company (London) and to Mason and Company (London).

Of course fresh meat was consumed as far as possible; a number of live sheep being taken by the `Aurora' on each cruise. Some of these were killed and dressed after reaching 60 degrees south latitude and supplied our two Antarctic Bases with the luxury of fresh mutton about once a week throughout a year.

One ton of preserved suet came from the firms of Hugon (Manchester) and Conrad (Adelaide).

Almost all our bacon and ham, amounting to well over one ton, was of the Pineapple Brand (Sydney), and to the firm which supplied them we are indebted alike for the quality of its goods and for its generosity.

Soups in endless variety, totalling two tons, came chiefly from the Flemington Meat Preserving Company (Melbourne).

Fours tons of canned fish were supplied by C. & E. Morton (London).

Variety in vegetables was considered important. We decided to reduce the amount of dried vegetables in favour of canned vegetables. About six and a half tons of the latter in addition to one ton of canned potatoes were consumed; from Laver Brothers (Melbourne) and Heinz (Pittsburgh). There were one and a half tons of dried vegetables. In addition, large quantities of fresh potatoes and other vegetables were regularly carried by the `Aurora', and many bags of new and old potatoes were landed at the Main Base. In the frozen condition, the former kept satisfactorily, though they were somewhat sodden when thawed. The old potatoes, on the other hand, became black and useless, partly owing to the comparatively high temperature of the ship's hold, and in part to the warmth of the sun during the first few weeks in Adelie Land.

Canned fruits, to the extent of five tons, were supplied by Jones Brothers (Hobart) and Laver Brothers (Melbourne). This stock was eked out by some two and a half tons of dried fruits, chiefly from South Australia.

The management of Hartley (London) presented us with two tons of jam, and James Keiller and Son (London) with one ton of marmalade.

Of the twelve tons of sugar and half a ton of syrup consumed, all were generously donated by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (Sydney).

For milk we were provided with two tons of Glaxo (a dry powder) which was used at the land bases, and a ton and a half of Nestle's condensed variety for use on the ship.

Three tons of cereal meals, largely from Parsons (Sydney), were consumed.

As one might have expected, the amount of flour used was enormous. In the thirteen tons of this commodity from Colman (London) there were three varieties, self-rising, plain, and wheatmeal flour, encased in stout metal linings within strong, well-finished cases of a convenient size. Until required, the cases of flour were used to solidify the break-wind on the southern side of the Hut.

Bird and Company (Birmingham) more than satisfied our needs in the matter of baking powder, custard powder, jelly crystals, and the like.

There was over half a ton of fancy biscuits of excellent quality and great variety, for which we were indebted to Jacob and Company (Dublin), Arnott Brothers (Sydney), and Patria Biscuit Fabriek (Amsterdam). ``Hardtack,'' the name by which a plain wholemeal biscuit of good quality, made by Swallow and Ariell (Melbourne) was known, constituted the greater part of the remaining two and a half tons of ordinary biscuits. ``Hardtack'' was much appreciated as a change from the usual ``staff of life''--soda bread.

For sledging we had secured one ton of biscuits specially prepared by the Plasmon Company (London) containing 30 per cent. of plasmon. These, together with one ton of pemmican and half a ton of emergency ration prepared by the Bovril Company (London), are specially referred to in the chapter on sledging equipment.

Butter was an important item; the large stock of two and a half tons coming from the Colac Dairying Company (Melbourne). The butter was taken fresh in fifty-six lb. blocks, packed in the usual export cases. On the `Aurora' it was carried as deck-cargo, and at the Main Base was stacked in the open air on the southern side of the Hut. At the end of the second year (1913) it was still quite good; a fact which speaks well for the climate as a refrigerator. Of Australian cheese we used half a ton, and this was supplied in forty-pound blocks.

The firm of Messrs. Cadbury, well known for their cocoa and eating chocolate, supplied us with these commodities, and receive our unqualified praise for the standard of the articles and the way in which they were packed. The total consumption was one ton of cocoa and half a ton of chocolate.

The three-quarters of a ton of tea was donated by “Te Sol”' (Guernsey) and Griffiths Brothers (Melbourne). In both cases the articles were well packed and much appreciated. Half a ton of coffee was used, partly supplied from London and partly donated by Griffiths Brothers.

Rose's (London) lime juice, as an antiscorbutic, was mainly reserved for consumption on the Ship. This lime juice was much in favour as a beverage.

Other supplies, taken in bulk, and for which we are indebted to the manufacturers, are: one ton of Cerebos Salt, half a ton of Castle salt, one ton of Sunlight Soap, our complete requirements in toilet soap from Pears, candles from Price, matches from Bryant and May including special sledging vestas, and dried milk from the Trufood Company.

Sweets, which were used for dessert and on special occasions, were presented by the firms of Fuller and Batger of London, and by Farrah of Harrogate, &c. There were also small quantities of aerated waters, ales, wines, and whisky for each Base.** At the Main Base, at least, there was no demand for whisky until penguin omelettes became fashionable.

** Donated by Schweppes, Kopke, Burgoyne, and others.

The smokers were well provided for by a generous donation of Capstan tobaccos, cigarettes and cigars from the British American Tobacco Company in London. At a later date, when our Macquarie Island party was formed, the Sydney branch of the same firm met our added needs with the same generosity.

There are many other items which have not yet found a place in this summary which cannot be acknowledged severally, but for which we are none the less grateful. Mention is made of the following: Horlick's Malted Milk, Neave's Health Diet, Brown and Polson's Cornflour, International Plasmon Company's Plasmon chocolate and Plasmon powder, Bovril and lime juice nodules manufactured by Bovril Limited, Colman's Mustard and Groats, Flemington Meat Company's desiccated soups, Seager's meats, Nestle's nut-milk chocolate, Escoffier's soups, &c.

The cooking range which served us well for two years in the Hut at Adelie Land was from J. Smith and Wellstood (London); others were presented by Metters (Adelaide).

The total supply of foods purchased and donated aggregated quite one hundred tons, exclusive of packing. Much of this was assembled in London. In Australia the Government Produce Department of Adelaide rendered valuable assistance.

As the recipe for the day, in honour of all intrepid explorers of frozen places, I give you a rather interesting and very minimalist recipe for Snow Cake, from Dr. John Kellogg, of cornflakes fame.

Snow Cake.
Take one part of corn meal and two parts dry snow, if the snow is moist, use less. Mix well in a cold room. Bake in gem pans, filling the pans round full. Place quickly in a very hot oven. If the cakes are raw, or too dry, more snow was required. If they are heavy, too much snow was used.

The Hygienic Cook Book (1876) by John Kellogg.