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.