Monday, December 05, 2016

Innovative Ideas for Christmas Pudding (1863)

For a brief while in the mid-nineteenth century, the London Lady’s Newspaper and Pictorial Times carried a series of “Culinary Monographs” by a Maître Jacques in its section on “Household Economy and Domestic Science.” The monograph in the edition of January 10, 1863 was on “Christmas Fare,” so is very pertinent to the encroaching season. Maître Jacques included his instructions for cooking the turkey, but I have not included this today.


Upon reflection I withdraw the Monograph upon Plumb Puddings. Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle, and the single item of plum-pudding is scarcely important enough to have an entire paper devoted to it. A few notes may, however, be acceptable, and I may contrive to eke them out possibly with something about other Christmas fare.

In the first place, it is a misnomer to speak of plum-pudding as an “old English dish,” or as in any way belonging to “Old English fare.” None of the olden books contain any mention of it: indeed, I very much doubt whether plum-pudding,” in any thing like its present form, can claim a greater antiquity than a hundred years. Our forefathers of old had, indeed “plum-porridge” and “furmenty,” with plums and spices put into them: but these did not bear so close a resemblance to the genuine article as did the mixture of the Chinese cook, who made the pudding strictly according to the recipe, but omitted the cloth, and served up the well-boiled mess, like thin mash, in a tureen.

The following recipe for “plumb porridge” may serve to give the reader an idea of what our ancestors delighted in. It is extracted from “A Collection of Receipts in Cookery,” published at the King’s Head, in St. Paul’s Church-yard, in 1746.

“Boil a large leg of beef to rags, and make as much broth as will jelly when cold; when ‘tis enough, strain it: let it stand to be cold, that you may take off all the fat, then put it over the fire again; and to every gallon of broth put near a pound of currants, and half-a-pound of raisins, clean wash’d and pick’d: stew also two pounds of prunes, and when they are plump’d, take out the fairest to put in whole, and pulp the rest thro’ a cullender, an wash the stone and skins clean with some of the broth: take also the crumbs of a penny white loaf grated, to every gallon: and to four gallons you may put about two nutmegs, the weight of that in cloves and mace, and the weight of all in cinnamon: let all the spice be finely beat and grated: add salt and sugar to your taste: when the fruit is plump ‘tis enough; but just before you take it from the fire, squeeze in the juice of four or five lemons, and throw in the peel of two: four gallons will require a quart of claret, and a pint of sack, which must be put in with the fruit.”

It must, indeed, be obvious to anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the schools of cookery, that plum-pudding is not even purely an English dish; but that it is one of the results of that system of mixing a large number of ingredients which our cooks have taken from foreign parts. Beauvilliers, and more recently, “le grand Carème,” give recipes which, if not exactly plum-pudding, bear a very strong genetic likeness to it. Carème gives what looks like a capital recipe of this kind, in which he includes apricot jam: and I am not prepared to say that this is not a wrinkle worth having.

I have seen perhaps hundreds of recipes for plum puddings, varying from the shouting puddings of the workhouses (so called from the fact that the plums are so far apart that they have to shout at each other to be heard) up to the “very rich plum-pudding” of Miss Acton and “Meg Dodds,” and I have experimented a little in this way myself, introducing innovations which are not, as far as I am aware, to be found anywhere in print: some at the suggestion of experienced and inquiring friends, and others at my own suggestion.

One of these is the introduction of vanilla into the pudding. This was hinted at to me by a friend, an eminent chemist. It is a real discovery, and cannot, of course, be found in any of the old books: for the delicious flavour of the capsule of the vanilla orchid, has not been long known to cooks. My chemical friend extracted the flavour by steeping the pod in pure alcohol, and he found the extract very useful in flavouring creams, chocolate, &c; but he confessed to me that when he tried it in plum-pudding, the flavour, somehow or other, nearly, if not quite, disappeared. I went another way about this year (as will be seen by the subjoined recipe) and I am happy to say I succeeded perfectly. My chemical friend happened to be present at the eating of the pudding and his strictly logical mind accepting that event as proof of the fact, he roared out, after the first mouthful, “Why, you have managed to keep the vanilla in!”

Another novelty (as I take it to be) was an adaptation of a suggestion by Carème. I refer to the substitution of biscuit-powder for bread-crumbs.


1 lb. best muscatel raisins carefully stoned and chopped a little on the board; 1 lb. currants washed and picked; ¼ lb. candied lemon-peel: ¼ lb. candied citron; ¼ lb. sweet almonds blanched and chopped fine; 1 lb. suet, picked and chopped fine; ½ lb. biscuit powder; 1 ¼ lb. of sugar; nutmeg and mixed spices to taste; half a teaspoonful of carbonate of soda; 8 eggs well beaten; a gill of old ale. Then take a little milk in a saucepan and put into it half a pod of vanille [sic]. Let it simmer on the hob with the lid closed until the pod is quite soft. Take out the pod and mince it small with a sharp knife, and put it into a mortar with a little of the milk and bray it until reduced to a paste, which return to the milk and pour into the pudding. Just before putting the pudding on, give it a good stir and mix in a full quartern of  good brandy. Boil if for eight hours.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Saving Day Hints, and Hints for Fussy Eaters, 1932.

Today I bring you another story from one of my favourite sources – the scripts of the United States Department of Agriculture Radio Service program ‘Housekeepers’ Chat.’  

Here is the script, (‘For Broadcast Use Only,) – including recipes of course - of the program of September 26, 1932:

Subject: “Saving Day Hints.” Information approved by the 
Bureau of Home Economics, U.S.D.A.


The lady around the corner made a call on Uncle Ebenezer and me yesterday afternoon, and she confessed the food sins of her family.

"My husband has a prejudice against most vegetables. He just doesn't like them. My brother lives with us, and he is a vegetarian and won't touch meat. The two children are just as bad. One of them won't drink milk, and the other dislikes eggs. With a family like mine, food bills certainly are high. No matter how hard I try to economize and plan simple and sensible meals, my husband complains that our food costs too much."

Uncle Ebenezer looked very serious and shook his head as he listened to our caller.

"Prejudices about food certainly are expensive," he agreed. "Pampered tastes and finicky ways need a good fat purse."

The food experts and nutritionists, who are helping out these days in our problem of household economy, agree with Uncle Ebenezer. Whims and fancies about food, refusing this and disliking that, they say, are some of the ways to make the food bills go sailing up into the stratosphere.

Of course, if you have all the money you want to spend on food, or if you don't care how much you spend, these prejudices aren't so serious. If you understand food values and have the money, you can humor prejudices and indulge preferences and still feed the family a well-balanced diet. But trouble sets in when you need to be thrifty, when you want to keep your family well, yet must feed them at small expense. Then you can't afford food prejudices.

One good way to overcome food dislikes is to get all members of the family to take an interest in the facts about food. Facts often drive out prejudices. You remember that the time was when many people scorned cabbage and prunes, called them "boarding house food" and felt that their families deserved better fare. And the time was when liver was a very humble food. A friend of nine used to say that liver was only fit for feeding cats. But times changed when the nutritionists began to experiment and discover the facts about food values. We housewives began to hear how rich cabbage was in vitamins — especially raw cabbage. And we began to hear that oven, the humble prune had great virtues. Liver became a food celebrity overnight when we learned its value for treating anemic people and for supplying us all with good red blood.

So if you want to feed your family well at low cost, banish prejudices from the house. To save yourself trouble and expense, let the youngsters learn early to eat every food you serve them.

All during the past week, I've "been collecting ideas for economy Monday, jotting down little notes so I could remember helpful things my friends have been telling me. And I'm ready today to exhibit my collection to you.

To begin with, I have some vegetable saving ideas. Some people waste vegetables without even knowing it. Take celery. That's one of our good fall vegetables.

"If you're really thrifty," says my Next-Door Neighbor, "you never throw away a bit of celery. You use both the tender stalks and the large outside stalks, you use the heart and use the leaves. Hot a bit of the whole bunch goes to waste."

Of course, the tender hearts and the white root never go to waste. They're the delicate part of the bunch, and you eat them “as is” But what about the rest of the bunch that isn't so good for eating out of hand?

The tough outside stalks you can use for soup or you can cut them up, boil them and serve them in cream sauce. Or stew the celery up with tomatoes and serve it as a combination dish. Carrots and celery diced and cooked together make another good combination.

Celery leaves are excellent for seasoning soups, stews and sauces. So don't throw the leaves away. If you can't use them all at the time, just dry them and put them away in a jar. They'll be ready then for seasoning any time during the winter.

Peas are another good vegetable sometimes wasted. I don't mean the young and tender green peas. I mean the peas in your garden that have grown middle-aged or somewhat elderly so that they are too hard and tough for serving just cooked and buttered. What do you do with them? My neighbor cooks hers until tender, presses them through a sieve and then uses the pulp for cream of pea soup.

As for beets, haven't we mentioned before that the thrifty housewife makes her beets go double whenever she can? If you have young beets with fresh unbroken leaves, serve the beet tops for one meal as greens and on another day serve the beet roots.

Here is a point about buying potatoes for economy. Buy smooth potatoes and you'll avoid the waste of catting out eyes, specks and imperfections such as are often found in knobby potatoes. If you want potatoes for baking, choose a kind that is dry and mealy. Waxy potatoes hold their shape well for salad and for frying.

Keep some small onions on hand to use for seasoning. Oftentimes when a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons or so of chopped onion, you don't need to bother to measure. You can just cut up one of these small onions and let it go at that.

Now here are five little helpful odds and ends of information. I'll just have time to give them to you before the menu.

Idea No. 1. To prevent your rug from curling and slipping, sew a triangular piece of corrugated rubber under each corner, pieces of rubber left from an old inner tube might do for this purpose.

Idea no. 2. If you have a new wooden drainboard in your kitchen, apply waterproof varnish to keep the wood from becoming water soaked and dark in color.

Idea no. 3. Oilcloth wears much longer if you first pad your table smoothly with newspapers.

Idea no. 4. Rubber aprons help save laundry work.

Idea no. 5. A rubber plate-scraper, sometimes called a “squee-gee”, is very helpful to the thrifty housekeeper. It makes its way around any mixing bowl much more closely than a spoon, so removes the last bits of cake batter, whipped cream, salad dressing or melted chocolate.

Now for the menu, another economy menu. The main dish is baked tomato with shrimp. Something new for the family. Then, fluffy boiled rice buttered; Panned cabbage; whole wheat bread and butter; and for dessert, Stewed fresh pears with lemon. Hot tea for grown ups.

Here’s the recipe for baked tomato with shrimp. Eight ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 cup fine bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
6 firm, ripe tomatoes
1 cup shrimp (canned)

I'll repeat that list of eight. (Repeat.)

Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the pepper and onion for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in the bread crumbs and the salt and pepper. Cut a slice from the stem end of the tomatoes and very carefully remove the pulp so the skin is not broken, and drain the pulp. Combine the seasoned crumbs, the tomato pulp, and the shrimp which has been rinsed in cold water and cut into even pieces. Add more seasoning if necessary and mix well. Fill the tomato cups with the mixture and sprinkle a few buttered crumbs over the top. Bake in a moderate oven until the tomatoes are tender and the crumbs are brown. Serve from the dish in which cooked.

Tuesday: “Hints for the Home Decorator.”

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving, Pearl Harbour, 1945.

Thanksgiving, Pearl Harbour, 1945.

Today, in honour of the brave men and women in the military who put their lives on the line for us, I give you the Thanksgiving menu from a WW II US Navy submarine chaser.

U.S.S. PC-1138
22 November, 1945

Celery and Ripe Olives
Cream of Tomato Soup
Vegetable Dressing
Giblet Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Fruit Cocktail
Pie        Plum Pudding
Nuts     Candy
Cigars and Cigarettes.

The recipe I have chosen for you today comes from the General mess manual and cookbook for use on board vessels of the United States Navy (1904.) Plum pudding has remained essentially unchanged since medieval times, so I feel confident that the version made by the cooks of the U.S.S. PC-1138 during WW II would have been very similar to that prepared for the military men of the previous ‘War to End All Wars.’

The manual notes that:

The following recipes have been deduced from a series of experiments made with articles of the Navy ration. Only such as can be easily followed with the usual facilities found on board ship are given. Where time and space will permit more elaborate dishes may be prepared, but it is here the aim to aid inexperienced cooks in the proper preparation of the stores supplied by the Government.
The quantities of the ingredients given in all recipes are those required for one hundred men.

Plum Duff

Soak 25 pounds of stale bread in cold water and drain dry. Add 25 pounds of sifted flour, 5 pounds of suet chopped fine, 3 pounds of raisins, 5 pounds of sugar, 4 pounds of currants, 2 pounds of prunes, 3 tablespoonfuls of salt, 1 teaspoonful of ground cloves, 1 tablespoonful of ground cinnamon, and 1 wineglassful of vinegar, and mix all thoroughly with cold water. Turn the bags inside out, drop them into boiling water, render out slightly, and drop into dry flour, dredging them thoroughly. Turn the bags flour side in and fill them with the pudding, securing the opening firmly, drop into the copper in which water is boiling and cook for at least two hours. If there is sufficient time, the pudding will be improved by boiling three or four hours.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Posts: a retrospective.

Dear Friends - especially those of you from the USA - may I give you the links to my previous posts on Thanksgiving? Tomorrow there will be a new menu and recipe to add to this collection. 

Thanksgiving Menus (over a dozen historic menus over four posts)

More Menus:
Americans in England, Thanksgiving Dinner 1863.
Thanksgiving breakfast
Thanksgiving Day Banquet of the American Society in London (1896)
Thanksgiving Dinner at the Chinese Embassy (Washington, 1908), Part II.
Thanksgiving in the Military (1943)

Thanksgiving pies:
Sweet Potato
Vegetarian ‘Mock Turkey’
Cranberry Sauce
Turkey Dressing
Escalloped [Mock] Oysters, Lemon Gelee Sherbert, Fruit  Mince Pies
Pineapple and Cheese Salad (six versions)

Other Thanksgiving Posts:
Thanksgiving Ideas for the Bride Housewife

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ways of Making Your Fat Ration Go Further

The British Wartime Ministry of Food’s Food Facts leaflets are one of my favourite things, as regular readers would be aware. Today I want to give you another example: Food Facts No. 258 was published in June 1945.

Ways of making your FAT ration go further.

While there is a world shortage of fats, these simple suggestions for extending the fat ration will be helpful to every housewife.

Before you cook your meat, trim off any spare fat and set it aside. If any of the family don’t like fat, cut off some before serving.
To render down the fat, cut the scraps up small and put in a tin in a slow or moderate oven. Don’t let them burn. When melted, strain off the fat into a bowl. This makes splendid fat for all cooking purposes.
Dripping or fat which has been saved from roasting, tops  of stews, gravy, and so on can be used for cakes, pastry and frying, after it has been clarified, or cleaned. Fat tasting of onion is only suitable for frying, or savoury pastry,
Put the fat into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring it slowly to boil, pour into a basin, and leave it to cool. The fat will set on the top in a hard white lid. Scrape away any scraps from the underside, then melt again in a saucepan – without any water – and heat until it stops bubbling.
Clarified fat can be used for cakes and pastry, and for sandwich spreads.

FAT-SAVING recipes.
Dripping Spread: Use dripping from the joint alone, or mixed with any of the following: salt and pepper, chopped pickle, meat extract, chopped onion or leek, bottle sauce or chutney, herbs, vinegar, grated cheese.
Savoury Spread: 2 oz. dripping; 1 or 2 spring onions, finely chopped: 1 teaspoon of vegetable or meat extract; 3 teaspoons Worcester sauce; pepper and salt. Slightly melt the dripping and beat well. Add the othe ingredients and beat again. Both of these spreads make delicious sandwiches.
Steamed Chocolate Pudding (without fat): 6 oz. plain flour; 1 level tablespoon cocoa; 4 level teaspoons baking powder; 2 oz. sugar; 1 level tablespoon dried egg; pinch of salt; milk (or milk and water) to mix. Sift all dry ingredients together, beat to a thick batter with milk. Pour into greased basin, cover, and steam 1 ¼ hours.

It will be a great help to your shopkeeper if you get your ration of cooking fat

once a fortnight instead of every week.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

17th C Russian Bread: a traveller’s view.

John Tradescant (the Elder) was a seventeenth century English horticulturalist and avid collector of anything and everything from the natural world. He travelled extensively in pursuit of his horticultural interests and his collections of curiosities. In 1618 he travelled to Russia, and on his visit to the Nikolo-Korelsky Monastery in the Artic city of Severodvinsk he was clearly intrigued by the predominance and ‘foolish fashions’ of the local rye bread.

For ther meat and bread, it is reasonable go[o]d; they have bothe wheat and rie bread, and is full as good os most places of Ingland dooe afford, only they never bake it well, and have many foolish fatyons for ther form of ther loafe, sum littil ons so littill as on may well eat a loaf a two mouthe full, other great onse but much shaped like a horse shooe, but that they be round, and a horse shoe is open in the on end; also they have a broune kind of rye bread, whiche is both fine and good. I have seen at the Inglishe house, and also in the Duche houses, Leeflanders so good bread as I have yet never seen the like in this contrie.

Another early explorer of Russia was the Patriarch of Antioch (Macarius III), who journeyed to Istanbul, Wallachia, Moldavia, Ukraine, and Muscovy in 1652-60 on a fund-raising mission. Their impressions and experiences were recorded by his attendant archdeacon (and son,) Paul of Aleppo. Paul makes a comment about the religious symbolic significance of rye bread in Russia, as well as the massive size in which loaves were sometimes made. The following paragraph is from the English translation of the text prepared by the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland in 1836.

It is the custom for the great and celebrated monasteries in this country, such as that of the Holy Trinity and others, to send to the Emperor, by the Archons of the monastery, who reside in their palaces of the city, as a blessing from them: first, a large black loaf of rye-bread, of the kind they use in the monastery, carried in the hands of four or five men, and looking like a large mill-stone; (this is considered a particular blessing, being of the very bread which the Fathers eat): ….

What was the English view of rye bread at the time? It was considered coarse fodder indeed, far inferior to fine wheat bread, and suitable only for those who worked at hard physical labour. The following comments are from Via recta ad vitam longam, by Tobias Venner, Doctor of Physicke (1628)

Bread made of Rie is in wholesomnes much inferiour to that which is made of Wheat: it is cold, heauy, and hard to digest, and by reason of the massiuenes [massiveness] thereof, very burdensome to the stomacke. It breedeth a clammie, tough, and melancholicke iuyce; it is most meete for rusticke labourers, for such by reason of their great trauaile, haue commonly very strong stomacks. Rie in diuers places is mixed with wheat, and a kinde of bread made of them, called Messeling-bread, which is wholesomer then that which is made of Rie, for it is lesse obstructiue, nourisheth better, and lesse filleth the bodie with excrements.

I thought that perhaps an even stronger opinion could be inferred from an entry in the Copious Dictionary in three parts, Francis Gouldman (London, 1664) which has “rie bread - panis fecalicius” but according to the Oxford English Dictionary an earlier use of the word faeces in English is “sediment; dregs, lees, subsidence, refuse.” Some more research is needed on the story of panis fecalicius (surely it should be panis fecaliceus, if anything?) – but it does appear to support the rather negative view of rye bread in England at the time, does it not?

The recipe for the day is from a century later than my story of today, but brings another perspective to the art and history of bread-making. From The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (1778):

The manner of making the Russian rye bread. —In the morning they mix as much rye flour with warm milk, water, and a bason full of grounds of quass, or leaven, as will make a thin dough, and beat it up for half an hour with the chocolate staff before described; this they set in a warm place till night, when they add more meal by degrees, working it up at the same time with the staff, till the dough becomes stiff. They then return it to its warm situation till morning, at which time they throw in a proper quantity of salt, and work it with the hand into a proper consistence for bread, the longer this last operation is continued the better; they then place it before the fire till it rises, when it is cut into loaves, and returned once more into the warm place where it before stood, and kept there for an hour before the last part of the process, the baking, which completes it.*
*This is the very same process as is used in the north of England, for the like purpose, and probably in all other countries where rye-bread is used.

The “chocolate staff,” according to the paragraph previous to the above is “a machine resembling the staff of a chocolate pot, but larger” used in the preparation of the all-purpose fermented beverage quass.

Monday, October 31, 2016


After a long break, The Old Foodie is back. I wont promise at this stage that I will return to five posts a week as I did without fail for ten years, but will begin with one only - a single little story for your delectation – each week. How is that for starters?

Thanks to all of you for your messages of love and your many requests for my return.

As it is Halloween, I thought I would begin with a few recipes from old Aussie newspapers, to make the spooky scary night even more fun. I have chosen a couple of apple-centric bakery-type dishes, because everyone likes bakery goods, and because apples are associated with autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, here in the Southern half of the globe, spring has truly sprung and apples are well past their peak and already being usurped by mangoes and stone-fruit - but as a population we have not as yet managed to disentangle ourselves from the handicap of seasonally inappropriate  wrong-hemisphere ingredients when it comes to ‘traditional’ celebrations.

I have also included a Hallowe’en beverage in the style of liquid fruit salad, or the alternative style of a couple of bottles of ruined cider, and leave you to make up your own minds about its potential deliciousness.  I dedicate this recipe to all who still think of England as “The Motherland.”

1lb. flour, ¼ lb. golden syrup,6oz. moist sugar, 2oz. citron peel or crystallised ginger, 1lb. apples (stewed, but not watery), 2 eggs,1 teaspoon each ground ginger and mixed spice, cinnamon, grated rind of 1 lemon, I gill sour milk, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda.
Sift flour and spice, and rub in the butter. Add the sugar, chopped peel, and lemon rind. Stew the apples to a pulp in a very little water. When they are soft, stir in the golden syrup, milk, and bicarbonate of soda, use for mixing the cake. Add the eggs, and beat the mixture for a few minutes before pouring into a greased tin and baking for about 1 ¼ hours.
When the cake is cold spread with coffee butter icing, then stand it on a sheet of paper containing 2oz. hundreds and thousands. By lifting the sides of the paper they can be made to stick to the cake.
Stick coarsely chopped walnuts round the edge, and decorate the top with crystallised fruits.
Queensland Times (Ipswich) 26 October, 1936

One pound of cooking apples, 2 oz. breadcrumbs, 1 ½ oz. ground almonds, ¼ lb. sugar, 3 dessertspoons butter, 1 egg, a few almonds. Peel and core apples, cut into quarters and cook in a little water till tender. Mix crumbs with the apples, and put into a greased pudding dish. Mix sugar, butter, ground almonds, and beaten eggs, put on top of apple mixture, decorate top with almonds and bake 40 minutes. Serve cold.
Chronicle (Adelaide) 12 October, 1944

To-morrow is Hallowe’en – party time for those in whom English sentiment stirs deeply.
This recipe is for Hallowe’en Cup, with which to toast distant friends in the Motherland.
Into a glass jug place a cup of castor sugar and the strained juice of six lemons and an orange. Leave until dissolved, stirring occasionally.
Add a cup of pineapple cubes, a cup of unpeeled apple cubes, a peeled sliced banana, six maraschino cherries or whole strawberries, with two cups of crushed ice.
Leave for five minutes, and then add two large bottles of ginger ale and two bottles of cider.
The Sun (Sydney) 30 October, 1941

Here are the links to previous Halloween blog posts:

Two Excuses to Celebrate.

Fourth Blogoversary

A Mysterious Stew for Halloween [FOR 3 MEALS]. 1906

Theme it Orange: A Halloween Menu and Recipes, 1928.

Queen Victoria’s Hallowe’en, 1879

Pumpkin Wine, Grown on the Vine.

Witch Cakes and Goblin Sandwiches.

Recipes for Goblin Sandwiches, Witch Cakes, Witches Brew.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Taking a Break.

My Dear and Loyal Readers,

After over ten years of five-times a week posting to this blog, this Old Foodie has decided to take a break.

I will be back .....

Friday, April 01, 2016

Things to do with Grapes.

As I mentioned yesterday, the part of south-east Queensland where I am spending a couple of days is an increasingly important wine-producing region. Not all of the grapes grown are for wine however, the table grapes are very fine too. I thought that today I would see what uses I could find for this fruit in Queensland newspapers of a certain age.

Grape Catsup.
Wash and stem the grapes, and stew them slowly, with a little water if necessary, until they are soft enough to rub through a colander. Measure the pulp, and return it to the preserving pan, allowing to three quarts of it 2 lb. of brown sugar,
a pint of vinegar (white wine or cider), an ounce each of ground cloves, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper, and a saltspoonful of cayenne. Boil all together
until the quantity is reduced to about one half, and is very thick. Skim, take from the fire, and when cold bottle and seal with wax.
The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld.)  12 November 1898

Grape Jam.
When grapes are plentiful, use them for making grape jam.
Choose, grapes that are not quite ripe for making jam, pick them over; removing any unsound fruit and wash carefully.
To 3 lb. of, grapes allow1 ½ lb. of sugar and put fruit and sugar in alternate layers in the preserving pan. Bring to the boil and continue boiling steadily for about three-quarters of an hour. Stir frequently and test for setting in the usual way.
Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW) 23 January 1940

Pickled Grapes.
Mrs. E. Crook, of Prospect Terrace, Highgate Hill, wins the "Brisbane Telegraph"
competition prize today with her suggestion for pickled grapes.
To 3 lb. grapes (ripe, but firm) allow 1 quart vinegar, 1 lb. sugar, ½ cup treacle, 2 oz. cloves and 3 chillies.
Put grapes into jars. Boil all other ingredients for ¼ hour, and pour boiling hot over the grapes. Cover at once and allow to stand at least 1 week before using.
Brisbane Telegraph (Qld.) 19 January, 1949

Grape Bread.
Now that grapes are in season the clever housewife uses the delectable fruit in a variety of ways. The following recipe is one that has proved very popular.
Butter several slices of bread and place layers of grapes upon them, then arrange in a stack in a piedish. Make a custard of a quart of milk and two eggs, a cup of sugar, and a pinch of soda in the milk to keep it from curdling. Pour over the bread and allow to soak for half an hour. Then place the dish in a moderate oven until nicely browned. The baking usually requires about an hour.
Evening News (Sydney, NSW) 28 January 1929

Grape Chutney.
Six pounds grape pulp. Prepare this by stemming the grapes, putting them over the fire with a little water, and cooking them until so tender that the pulp may be rubbed through a sieve, leaving the seeds and skins behind. To the pulp thus obtained add 2 lb. of brown sugar, one pint of vinegar, one tablespoonful each of ground cinnamon, mace, cloves, allspice, and white pepper, and a teaspoonful of salt. Put all together over the fire, stew until thick, stirring constantly to prevent burning, and bottle.
The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld.)  24 November 1894

To Make Grape Salad.
Choose good grapes, remove them from the stems, open them at the side,
remove the seeds carefully and fill the space with tiny balls of cream cheese, which has been mixed with a small amount of dressing. Arrange the grapes on lettuce leaves and pour over them a mayonnaise. At the side of each plate place a bunch of grapes.

The Daily News (Perth, WA) 12 November 1910

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Things to do with Apples.

I am spending a couple of days in a lovely little cabin in the bush just outside Stanthorpe, in south-east Queensland. The region is known as the Granite Belt, from its spectacular rocky outcrops, and it is an important region for the growing of cool-climate fruits and vegetables. It is especially well-known for its grapes (and wine) and apples. I intend therefore to feature the apple today, and grapes tomorrow.

I will start with the opinion of the author of yesterday’s featured book Prophylactic Feeding and Therapeutic Feeding (1909) - George Julius Drews.

Fruits are Nature's predigested foods. The APPLE is the king of fruits, because it is the most durably valuable and the most practical although it is not the most luxurious or luscious for the moment. Its special value lies in the fact that its better varieties, under, favorable conditions, can be kept all around the year. It has harmless stimulating properties. It is more nutritious than the potato and it is an excellent brainfood because of its large endowment of phosphorus. Let the children of all ages eat all the apples they crave. Those who eat apples freely are almost protected against all diseases, and especially jaundice, indigestion and torpidity of the liver, because it is very rich in sodium.

Apples were mentioned multiple times in the book, mostly as an ingredient in fruit salad, although there is also the following very minimalist idea:

Sandwiched Apples or Pears
2 or 3 oz. Apple or Pear slices sandwiched with, or only spread with,
1 ½ oz. Lemon Cheese, or Mock Cottage Cheese.

Next, a war-time hint from The Times (London) of December 2, 1940:

Never waste the peel and cores of your apples. Boil them in a little water, and you’ll have a delicious and very health-giving drink.

In the past, local ladies of Stanthorpe could have been expected to have a good apple-cookery repertoire - and it appears that they did.

From the Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Queensland) of 21 February, 1937:

The prize this week has been awarded to MRS. J. WILLMOT, of Dalvecn, Stanthorpe District, for instructions for making apple puffs flavoured with spice. This is a very economical recipe, but a delicious and tasty one.
Spiced Cider Puffs
Sift together ¾ lb self-raising flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a saltspoon each of cinnamon and spice. Peel, but do not core, a large cooking apple, and grate with a coarse grater into the dry ingredients till a paste can be formed (no other liquid is required). Drop in a frying pan in spoonfuls in hot fat; fry until a golden brown. Drain and roll in sugar, to which a little cinnamon has been added.

From the Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Queensland) of 23 February, 1930:

CHUTNEY.— One and a half pound apples, 1 lb. ripe tomatoes, 1 lb. raisins, 1 lb. brown sugar, 1 oz. mustard, 1 oz. pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 quart wine gar. Peel and. quarter the apples, and tomatoes, chop raisins (seedless) finely, boil all together, stirring well, for 2 hours over a slow fire or gas. — Mrs. S. (Stanthorpe).