Saturday, August 27, 2011

How to Preserve Children: Old Fashioned Advice Recipe

Morguefile - User: Bandini
Many older community cookbooks had advice recipes, like How to Preserve a Wife, and How to Preserve a Husband. This one is how to preserve children, or ways to keep them happy. The recipes change and evolve, and different 'ingredients' are added and subtracted, depending on where the readers of the poem or recipe lived. This one is geared toward children with areas to run around.

How to Preserve Children
  • 1 large grassy field
  • 1/2 dozen children, or more
  • 2 to 3 small, friendly dogs (if in season)
  • Deep, clear blue sky
  • A narrow strip or pinch of a running brook
  • Small pebbles for skipping on water
  • Sunshine for warmth
  • Trees, as needed for climbing
  • Flowers, optional, for picking
Mix the children with the dogs together, and put them in the field. Stir constantly, adding flowers and trees as necessary. Pour in the brook, and add pebbles for the bottom, and add more for skipping. Spread over this a clear, blue sky with lots of sunshine. Bake in a hot sun until thoroughly happy. When tanned and warmed through, remove and set in a cool bathtub with favorite toys. When dry, serve with a glass of cool milk and fresh baked cookies.
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How to Preserve a Wife: Old Fashioned Advice Recipe

A happy couple.
Morguefile - User: Jdurham
 This is another old-fashioned advice recipe, this time - how to preserve a wife, or ways to keep her happy and satisfied.

How to Preserve a Wife

Forget not to say, "I Love You." Even if love is constant, all wives yearn to hear the words.
Remember the approval of thy wife is more precious than admiring glances of strangers. Forsake all others.
Keep thy home in good repair; Out of it comes the joys of old age.
Forgive with grace, for who among us does not need to be forgiven.
Honor the Lord all the days of thy life, and thy children will rise and call thee blessed.
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How to Preserve a Husband: Old Fashioned Advice Recipe

Morguefile: User Jdurham
Old community cookbooks are fun to read. They were printed to share recipes of family favorites in order to support a charity, community project, church, or even a hospital. Some were also there to share helpful advice. Whether these advice recipes were actually 'tested' or written for actual use, many are entertaining to read in any case. Here is one such recipe: How to Preserve a Husband in a poem form. For some women domestic bliss was to keep husbands happy in the home, and this advice poem was written for women on how to keep a husband happy. There are many different versions out there.

How to Preserve a Husband

Be careful in your selection; Do not choose too young.
When once selected, give your entire thought to preparation for domestic use.

Some insist on keeping them in a pickle; others are constantly getting them into hot water.
This makes them sour, hard and sometimes bitter.

Even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender and good by garnishing them with patience,
well sweetened with love and seasoned with kisses and smiles.
The wrap them in a mantle of charity, keep warm with a steady fire of domestic
devotion and milk of human kindness.

Thus prepared, they will keep forever.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Foodie Friday: Oyster Shortcake

Another unusual recipe from A Modern Manual of Cooking by Marion Harris Neil. This recipe is for an oyster shortcake using a quart of oysters. It's really large shortcake biscuit served with an oyster and sauce filling. The recipe is as it was printed in 1921.
Oyster Shortcake
  • 2 cupfuls flour
  • 2 teaspoonfuls baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoonful salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 quart oysters
  • 1/2 cupful Crisco
  • 2 tablespoonfuls cornstarch
  • 1/4 cupful cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Mix flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoonful salt, then sift twice, work in Crisco with tips of fingers, add milk gradually. The dough should be just soft enough to handle. Toss on floured baking board, divid into two parts, pat lightly and roll out. Place in two shallow Criscoed cake tins and bake in quick oven fifteen minutes. Spread them with butter. Moisten cornstarch with cream, put into pan with oysters and seasonings and make very hot. Allow to cook a few minutes then pour half over one crust, place other crust on top and pour over rest of oysters. Serve at once. Sufficient for one large shortcake.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Apple Amber: More Delicate Than Applesauce

I've never heard of Apple Amber (the dish) until I flipped through older cookbooks. Apple amber is a pudding, or pudding-like baked dish using fresh, thinly sliced tart apples that are layered together with sugar, or other ingredients, and baked. At its most basic, and apple amber contains nothing but apples and sugar together, and baked slowly to resemble a sweetened baked applesauce. Apple ambers can also contain eggs to bake into a custard, and some recipes include a meringue topping.

This recipe is from The Royal Baker and Pastry Cook, from 1911, and is the simpler version. Serve warm or cold with a creme anglaise or sweetened whipped cream.

Apple Amber Recipe
Cover bottom of baking dish with water about 1/4 inch deep; pare and slice rather tart apples quite thin, lay slices in dish with sugar sprinkled between layers, filling dish to within an inch of top, finishing by a sprinkling of sugar and bits of butter dotted over. Bake in a moderate oven till apples can be pierced with broom straw. Leave in dish and serve cold with whipped cream or boiled custard. This is much more delicate than the usual apple sauce.
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Foodie Friday: Gateau of Fish

Perfect for Old School Pastry on a Foodie Friday: make a gateau of fish! This recipe comes from A Modern Manual of Cooking by Marion Harris Neil, published in 1921. The original recipe for the oyster sauce called for chopped eggs but none were included in the ingredients, so I omitted them.
Gateau of Fish

For Fish:
  • 1 1/2 lbs. cooked white fish
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon slices [for garnish]
  • Oyster Sauce (recipe below)
Oyster Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oyster liquor
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste
  • 1 dozen small oysters
For the Fish: Cook the fish; remove skin and bone, chop it, then put it in a basin, add breadcrumbs, parsley, seasonings, milk, eggs well beaten, and melted shortening. Mix well, turn into a buttered mold, cover with a greased paper and steam one hour. Serve with sauce poured over, and dish garnished with lemon slices.

For the Sauce: Blend shortening and flour in a saucepan; cook one minute. Stir in milk, oyster liquor, stir till it boils for eight minutes, then add seasonings. Boil one minute, add oysters. Mix, until the oysters cook, and serve.
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Monday, August 15, 2011

War Cakes & Depression Cakes, and Wartime Cookery

Many old cookbooks have one or more different versions of a 'war cake' or depression cake'. These cakes were specially created to bake without eggs, butter, milk, and sometimes even sugar, as all these ingredients were saved for the soldiers during the war. It may seem like such a sacrifice now (image us now going without any of these items), but very patriotic all the same.

In my trusty The American Woman's Cook Book from 1938, there is even an entire section on Wartime Cookery. In that chapter, the book details why certain things were left out of recipes or from kitchens (or about to be left out in the future during imminent wartime):
  • Metal shortages make it so products cannot be shipped or packaged in tins.
  • Fats and oil rationing was so there would be enough for use in soaps and gunpowder.
  • Manufacture and shipping of goods was disrupted due to shortages in manpower.
During the wartime era, cooking was still in force, obviously for feeding the family, but creative cooking was also big to utilize what you had in ways to make the situation less dire. Most recipes and menus in this time period used fish, eggs, poultry, and soft cheeses. Variety meats (organ meats like liver, sweetbreads, kidneys, tripe & heart) were used at home since the larger cuts of meat were used for the troops. Vegetables and salads were extended with any leftovers from meats. Honey, maple or brown sugar, molasses, and sorghum were all used in place of refined white sugar in breads and pastry. Most often, women tended their own gardens for fresh vegetables, and raised poultry for meat and eggs.

Every time I read a wartime recipe, I'm ever thankful I don't have to cook these recipes for my children for the reasons other mothers did during that time period.

Here is a version of a War Cake: Canada War Cake. This one comes from E. Haldeman-Julius' Little Blue Book No. 1179 "How to Make Desserts, Pies and Pastries." I like this one, as it gives a good explanation of the necessity of the baking soda to the molasses, and why baking powder may be better with certain molasses types.
Canada War Cake (Without Butter, Eggs or Milk)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove
  • 2 cups seeded raisins
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour

    Mix sugar, shortening, water, raisins, and salt; boil five minutes; cool, and add spices, soda, and flour sifted together, beat well; pour into a greased, paper-lined pan, and bake in a slow oven one hour.

    The amount of soda in these recipes is based upon the use of old-fashioned jug molasses; canned molasses varies greatly in acidity and, especially when freshly opened, requires little or no soda. If canned molasses is used, therefore, baking powder should wholly or partly take the place of soda.
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    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Perfect Pie Crust or "The New Crisco Pastry"

    My perfect pie crust recipe is one I use most frequently for pies. It makes a big batch, rolls out easily, and is practically foolproof. There are lots of different versions out there for a 'perfect pie crust'. Most generally have the same ingredients: a pie dough recipe with an egg, an acid, and a bit of sugar. It has a lot of fat in it, and it produces a tender crust that's flaky. The one that's in my recipe box is well-stained from constant use, and while I do use other pie crust recipes for different occasions, this is the stand-by one for both sweet or savory tarts in our house. In other words, no matter who makes it, it comes out great.

    I've often wondered where the origins of the recipe came from, or if someone just thought about putting an egg and vinegar in a pie crust recipe to see how it would perform. When I was flipping through A Modern Manual of Cooking by Marion Harris Neil, published in 1921, I noticed a pastry crust recipe that was similar - it had an acid and an egg, and seemed to be made in the same manner using ingredients with the same end purpose in mind. Could this be the precursor to the hundreds of variations of similar 'perfect pie crust' recipes out there? Not sure, but here is the original version, and the one that I use today.
    The New Crisco Pastry (Neil's Original Version)
    • 2 cupfuls flour
    • 3/4 cupful Crisco
    • 1 egg
    • 3/4 teaspoonful salt
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • Sufficient cold water to hold mixture together
    Sift flour, and salt into basin. Flour blade of knife, and chop Crisco into flour, being careful to keep flour between blade of knife and shortening. When mixture looks like meal, add gradually, egg well beaten and mixed with lemon juice. [Renee's Note: The recipe doesn't state this, but add enough water to hold the mixture together at this stage.] Roll pastry into ball with knife. May be used at once, but will be improved if allowed to stand in cool place for one hour. Should be rolled out once and handled as lightly as possible. May be used for sweet or savory dishes. Bake in hot oven. The purpose of the addition of lemon is to render gluten of flour more ductile, so that it will stretch rather than break as paste is rolled out, or as it rises in oven. Sufficient for two pies.
    Here is a version of the recipe above that I use now. Feel free to substitute the granulated white sugar for another type of sweetener. Other recipes out there use brown sugar, pure maple syrup, or even honey. If you use a liquid sweetener like honey, maple syrup or even molasses, add it to the liquid ingredients then to the flour and shortening mixture.

    Modern Perfect Pie Crust Recipe
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 3/4 cup shortening
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
    • 1 egg
    Stir the dry ingredients together. Cut in the shortening until the mixture is worked well together. In a small bowl, beat the egg, water, and white vinegar together. Add this to the shortening/flour mixture, and form into a ball. Divide into 3-5 patons, wrap, and chill about an hour before using. This is a large batch, and will make from three to five pie crusts, depending on the size of the pie pan or tart mold.
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    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Old Time Tips for Fruit Pies

    Miss Leslie, in her book Seventy-Five Receipts, gives great tips for fruit pies still applicable today. Her book's fourth edition (printed in 1832) has these tips:
    • Stone peaches and plums by cutting in half first, not cutting around the pit. Same with cherries. (Although modern kitchens will use a cherry pitter.)
    • Use the reddest and ripest of cherries in pies.
    • Cut apples in thin slices. Apple pies are improved by the addition of lemon peel. Use sweet-tart apples for pies, not solely sweet apples.
    • If you are stewing apples for a pie, don’t cook until they are mushy, but only until they are tender.
    • Stewed or simmered fruits, such as dried cherries, dried apples, or dried cranberries, should be done so with very little liquid, and always use the mixture cool when filling pie shells to prevent a soggy or wet crust.
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    July List for Most Expensive Rare Books Sold On AbeBooks

    AbeBooks is an awesome place to come hang out. I've found both rare ichthyology books and collective old cookbooks. While none of these top last month's list, the top 10 include works of Paris, from Picasso, and about the body, the ubiquitous medical book Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical by Henry Gray, or 'Gray's Anatomy'.

    July 2011 List of Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks is fun reading all around whether you're into old books or not.
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