Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making Pies with Mom: 1955

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Life in the Willow Village, Ypsilanti, Michigan, 1955. [Shorpy.com]

Mmmmmm. Pie. This little girl seems like a big fan! Like all sensible people.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Molasses Posset

Guyyyyyyyys. My head is so buuuuuuurny! And my throat is huuuurty and I can't breeeeeeeaaathe! Nobody can tell how I suffer! But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied. *snivel/whine*

But I have not languished in vain. I have found many fine preparations for invalids like myself. I hope they will bring you all the joy that is denied me. :'(

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MOLASSES POSSET.--Put into a sauce-pan a pint of the best West India molasses; a tea-spoonful of powdered white ginger; and a quarter of a pound of fresh butter. Set it on hot coals, and simmer it slowly for half an hour; stirring it frequently. Do not let it come to a boil. Then stir in the juice of two lemons, or two table-spoonfuls of vinegar; cover the pan, and let it stand by the fire five minutes longer. This is good for a cold. Some of it may be taken warm at once, and the remainder kept at hand for occasional use.

It is the preparation absurdly called by the common people a stewed quaker.

Verdict: Quite nice! Soothing on the throat and pleasant to the taste! Much nicer than Robitussin. Yechhh. I used sorghum instead of West India molasses, as I couldn't find my regular molasses and sorghum is smoother anyway. Remember sorghum? Notice how it specifies. That is to differentiate between sugar cane molasses and sorghum molasses. I also scaled the recipe waaaaaay down and nuked it for 30 seconds in the microwave instead of simmering it half an hour. Forgive me, I am enfeebled.


RAW EGG. --Break a fresh egg into a saucer, and mix a little sugar with it; also, if approved, a small quantity of wine. Beat the whole to a strong froth. It is considered a restorative.

LEAD WATER. --Mix two table-spoonfuls of extract of lead with a bottle of rain or river water. Then add two table-spoonfuls of brandy, and shake it well.

Raw Beef Sandwich for Invalids. Scrape some raw beef fine, season with salt and pepper, and spread between two thin slices of slightly buttered bread; then cut in strips. ~S. Adelaide Hall, M.D.

Raw beef sandwiches from The Woman Suffrage Cookbook [1886], all others from Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches [1840].

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In which I try not to whine about my tiny apartment kitchen

Sometimes I get cranky about the size of my itty apartment kitchen, the teeny tiny stove, the lack of a pantry, the weird sliding particle board doors, etc.

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Then I look at pictures like this:

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July 1937. Washington, D.C. "Mrs. Claude Pepper, wife of the Senator from Florida." (Thanks Shorpy.com)

And this:
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Washington Times. Interior, Hamilton Street house, circa 1920

And even this:
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A 12-year-old girl in a family of nine cooks a meal in a rude, open lean-to hut in Tennessee. The family lives in an open field near the Tennessee River. (1936)

And I feel pretty darn lucky!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baked Bean Pie, Salad, Parsleyed Rye Bread, Lazy Day Grasshopper Pie

Common, vulgar readers! I realize I have been remiss about addressing you, instead only speaking to my gentle readers. Forgive me. This meal is for you! We have here SPAM, beans, and marshmallow fluff. Glorious.

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Do you remember Jiffy Cooking [1967]? Yes. It did not disappoint us last time, and it did not disappoint us this time!

Baked Bean Pie
Celery Sticks and Radish Roses OR Tossed Green Salad
Parsleyed Rye Bread
Peppermint Ice Cream (replaced with Lazy Day Grasshopper Pie, because it was more interesting)

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Baked Bean Pie
1 12 oz. can luncheon meat [SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM!]
2 tablespoons maple-flavored syrup
. . .
1 1-pound 5-ounce can pork and beans in tomato sauce, partially drained
2 tablespoons hot dog relish
1 teaspoon instant minced onion
1/4 cup shredded sharp process American cheese

Cut luncheon meat into 8 slices; brush each slice with syrup. Arrange meat slices around inner edge of 9-inch pie late. In saucepan, combine pork and beans, hot dog relish, and onion; bring to boiling. Pour bean mixture into pie plate; sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) 20 minutes or till meat is lightly browned. Serves 3 or 4.

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Parsleyed Rye Bread
Spread 4 slices dark rye bread with about 2 tablespoons softened butter or margarine. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons snipped parsley. Place on baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) about 15 minutes, or till toasted. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

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Lazy Day Grasshopper Pie
A dessert that can be made the night before and forgotten till serving time--

Chocolate wafer cookies
1 1-pint jar marshmallow creme
1/4 cup milk
4 drops peppermint extract
6-7 drops green food coloring
. . .
1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Line bottom of 9-inch pie plate with chocolate wafer cookies, filling in spaces between with pieces of cookie. Line sides of the pie plate with half-cookies.
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In mixing bowl, combine marshmallow creme, milk, peppermint extract, and food coloring, whip till fluffy. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon filling into cookie crust. Freeze till firm, 8 hours or overnight. Garnish with dollops of additional whipped cream, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Baked Bean Pie: Surprisingly good! Husband said he wouldn't mind if it came back again, even. Would I buy the ingredients just to make this again? Probably not. But if these were the things I had on hand, I absolutely would. This might be a good meal for food storage night. I have noticed that in the 50's and 60's cookbooks, there is a lot of emphasis on making food symmetrical, and out of ingredients that are familiar and canned. In that respect, this is absolutely typical of the time.

Parsleyed Rye Bread: It was fine. But I will tell you a thing I learned when buying this bread! Regular American rye bread contains almost no rye. Coloring is added to make it appear darker, healthier, and more rustic, while still tasting almost identical to the ordinary squishy bread you are used to. A triumph of modern science! Hooray!

Lazy Day Grasshopper Pie: Guys. Guys. This pie. It is awesome. I interpreted "chocolate wafer cookies" to mean "Girl Scout Thin Mints." I used an entire box. Guys? In short, this pie contains cookies, marshmallow fluff, and heavy cream. Frozen. How can you go wrong? Answer: you can't. It is great. The unsweetened whipped cream that is folded in cuts the sweetness of the marshmallow cream, as does the freezing, as things taste less sweet when they are frozen. Not hugely though, so don't get silly. I would advise tasting the filling to see if you need to add more peppermint flavoring, though.


Notice the recipe. It says "1-pint jar marshmallow cream." Let us look at the package.

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1 pint is 16 ounces. This, the largest container, is 13 ounces. This is something I have noticed a lot using old recipes. Most cans and packages contain sliiiiiiightly less than they did years ago, from Jello to canned vegetables. Do you think they lowered the price when they lowered the amount? You take a guess. ;) And notice, this jar is super pleased that it is still 13 ounces.

Uh huh. And according to Cadbury, "Our eggs haven't gotten smaller, you've just gotten bigger!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Home Cooking: 1910

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Gorgeous! Look at Shorpy's label, though: "
Circa 1910. Mixing up a big batch of 'Salmonella Surprise.'" Oh my golly gosh, this nice looking lady has a raw fowl (duck?) on her table! How dirty and ignorant she must be. She will surely kill everyone in her household with diseases.

Geez. She probably just got through de-feathering the thing. Cut her a break!

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Depression Meal

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My favorite local museum hosted a lecture on the Depression era, and asked me, culinary chronaviatrix extraordinaire, to provide a Depressive repast. Here is the menu I came up with. It is a combination of foods you'd find in soup lines and rural areas.

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-Milk or Water
-Cornbread with Apricot Jam and Butter
-Fresh Cucumber Pickles
-Garden Tomatoes
-Hoover Stew
-Baked Bean Sandwiches
-Cottage Cheese and Prune Sandwiches
-Tootsie Pops
-Whitman's Chocolate Sampler
-Crazy Cake


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Homesteader Cornbread (via allrecipes.com)
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk; let stand for 5 minutes. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs and oil until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

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Fresh Cucumber Pickles
I made them here, as well. It is a useful recipe.
sliced cucumber
sliced onion
white vinegar

Make a solution of one part vinegar, one part water. Add a couple teaspoons of sugar and one of salt. Do not worry. More or less will be fine. Put in the cucumbers and onions and refrigerate for an hour or two. Or 15 minutes. I don't care. Eat them.

If you want to be fancy, score the sides of the cucumber with a fork before you cut it. Then when you slice it, the slices will have an attractive edge like these ones. If you use red onions, after a couple days the solution will turn an attractive pink. You can also reuse the vinegar/water stuff, just throw in more cucumbers. In the above cucumbers, I put the red onions in a day before, so the water/vinegar solution would be attractive.

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Hoover Stew

1 box of macaroni
1 or 2 cans of whole tomatoes, spanish style (I used Rotel)
1 package of hot dogs
1 can of corn or beans (I used black-eyed peas)


1. Cook macaroni according to the instructions on the box.

2. While it cooks, slice the hot dogs into very thin "coins."

3. Open cans, but do not drain.

4. Combine the contents of the cans and the hot dog slices in a large pot, and bring to a simmer.

5. Break up the tomatoes into small chunks as the mixture heats.

6. Drain the macaroni when it is barely Al Dente. Reserve the cooking water to add to the pot, if needed.

7. Add the macaroni, and continue simmering until all of the ingredients are thoroughly heated and the hot dogs are cooked.

There are substitutes for all quantities and ingredients as necessary for the budget and to suit your tastes. If using another style of canned whole tomatoes, add finely minced green pepper and onion to the ingredients; they can be cooked with the macaroni as it boils.

Mrs. Dunn says: This recipe dates from the depression years and on through WWII; and was then a luxury or celebration meal, since it included meat. We kids loved it, and it was a stand-alone meal needing nothing else – though we usually had it served with carrot and celery sticks when available (if Papa, the cook in our family, hadn't already added them to the pot of macaroni as it cooked). The macaroni usually was technically overcooked in the end, but Papa had us convinced that that was how it was supposed to be for this dish (calling it macaroni rags), and we thought it was delicious. The Hoover in the name refers to President Herbert Hoover, who was popularly blamed for the depression years at that time.

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Baked Bean Sandwiches
1 can baked beans, drained
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 C. chopped celery
2 t. onion, minced
1/4 t. salt
1 t. chopped pickle
2 t. ketchup

Mix all the ingredients together and put on buttered bread.

Prune-Cheese Sandwiches
I cobbled this one together based on some modern recipes and 1930's restaurant menus.

9 oz. box prunes
24 oz. small-curd cottage cheese

Put prunes in pan. Pour just enough water in to barely cover prunes. Add in abooooout 2 T. sugar. Simmer until prunes are soft and most of the water is absorbed. Puree or finely chop prunes and mix with cottage cheese.

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Crazy Cake
This cake has no eggs, butter, or milk in it. Woo!
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cold water

Sift flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together into a 9 x 13" pan. Make three wells in the dry ingredients. Pour oil into one well, vinegar into second, and vanilla into third well. Pour cold water over all, and stir well with fork. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean.


That is my favorite cornbread recipe. It is delicious. Especially with real butter and apricot freezer jam.

Hoover Stew:
Luckily for me, the guests were primarily poor college students. ;D Many of them enjoyed it. The only problem was that it was very very bland. My friend, who asked me to do this in the first place, later reported it was better with Tabasco sauce the next day. I feel it would be entirely acceptable, and even delicious, with some broth or bouillon instead of water. This makes a ton of cheap, filling food that contains complete proteins, so if you are hurting for cash, this may well be a recipe for you!

Baked Bean Sandwiches:
I really liked these, actually! It reminds me of putting baked beans on hot dogs. I even plan to make it again some time, but with the addition of some nice sharp cheddar. Yum.

Cottage Cheese and Prune Sandwiches:
They were fine. Not as bad as you are thinking, just kind of fine.

Tootsie Pops:
Tootsie Pops went on the market in 1931.

Crazy Cake:
Crazy cake is delicious. I've had this recipe for a long time, and make it fairly frequently. It is nice to have only one dish to wash. One of the guests was pleased that it happened to be vegan, as well. I sifted powdered sugar generously on the top at home before I left, but the cake melted and ate it before I got there. Sigh.

Whitman's Sampler: The morning I made the food, nothing seemed to go my way! The toddler I babysit kept screaming and sobbing, and until finally she went to sleep. Then I made the crazy cake. I accidentally doubled the recipe but did not double the pan size, which meant it was powdery on the bottom and liquid around the sides. I then stubbed my toe. After that, I discovered I was out of cocoa powder. Darling Husband volunteered to run to the store for some more. When he returned, he returned with not only the cocoa powder, but a box of chocolate, which he felt that I deserved. Serendipitously, he got the very type of chocolate that was available during the Depression! I considered whether to take it along. Then I thought, nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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"Whitman's chocolate sampler was popular during the Depression. Among people who could afford it.

You can't.


The toddler then woke up just as I was about to remake the cake, very very grumpy.

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Husband is a GOOD husband!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Fruits of Victory


I canned some peaches! Hooray!


Glorious. As you know, there is a war on, and every quart of produce canned from one's Victory Garden is one in the eye for Kaiser Bill! The extra sugar ration is also pretty super.

Wait, where am I again? Oh geez. Sorry. Sometimes I get confused.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Madonna of the Spuds

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December 1943. "Lynn Massman, wife of a second-class petty officer who is studying in Washington, preparing dinner." Photograph by Esther Bubley for the Office of War Information.

Another gem from Shorpy. How absorbed she looks! She's probably thinking about all the other things she has to do to get dinner ready, when hubby is going to get home, when she should start the other dishes, how she can use those leftovers in the fridge... I know that look. Do you have that look sometimes?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Currie of dressed Meat in Casserole of Rice, Carrot Soup, Young Greens, Orange Pudding, Turnips

Lately, I read part of Pride and Prejudice. This particular passage inspired me to take a trip back to Regency times:

The dinner was as well dressed as any I ever saw. The venison was roasted to a turn--and everybody said they never saw so fat a haunch. The soup was fifty times better than what we had at the Lucases' last week; and even Mr Darcy acknowledged, that the partridges were remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French cooks at least. And, my dear Jane, I never saw you look in greater beauty. Mrs Long said so too, for I asked her whether you did not. -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Mmmmmm. Can you see why I wanted to go? The trip was a success, and went mainly without incident. We gate-crashed a large dinner party, as money can be tricky to manage when time traveling. This did not go successfully, and we were thrown out. There was an incident involving a fruit display. We then promised the cook our labor in exchange for recipes. Victory!

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She was glad of the help, and even lent me her copy of A NEW SYSTEM OF DOMESTIC COOKERY; FORMED UPON PRINCIPLES OF ECONOMY, and Adapted to the Use of PRIVATE FAMILIES. [1807].

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Thanks to that book, we were able to make this menu when we got home.

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Currie of dressed Meat in Casserole of Rice
Cut up a chicken or young rabbit; if chicken take off the skin. Roll each piece in a mixture of a large spoonful of flour, and half an ounce of currie-powder. Slice two or three onions; and fry them in butter, of a light brown: then add the meat, and fry all together till the meat begins to brown. Put it all into a stew-pan, and pour boiling water enough just to cover it. Simmer very gently two or three hours. If too thick, put more water half an hour before serving. If the meat has been dressed before, a little broth will be better than water: but the currie is richer when made of fresh meat.

Casserol, or Rice Edging, for a Currie, or Fricassee.
After soaking and picking fine Carolina rice, boil it in water, and a little salt, until tender, but not to a mash; drain, and put it round the inner edge of the dish, to the height of two inches; smooth it with the back of a spoon, and wash it over with yolk of egg, and put it into the oven for three or four minutes, then serve the meat in the middle.

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Carrot Soup
Put some beef-bones, with four quarts of the liquor in which a leg of mutton or beef has been boiled, two large onions, a turnip, pepper, and salt, into a sauce-pan, and stew for three hours.
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Have ready six large carrots scraped and cut thin; strain the soup on them, and stew them till soft enough to pulp through a hair sieve or coarse cloth: then boil the pulp with the soup, which is to be as thick as peas-soup. Use two wooden spoons to rub the carrots through. Make the soup the day before it is to be used. Add Cayenne. Pulp only the red part of the carrot, and not the yellow. Borrow the attractive soup tureen while the cook isn't looking. Make a note to give it back later, earlier.

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Orange Pudding
Grate the rind of a Seville orange; put to it six ounces of fresh butter, six or eight ounces of lump sugar pounded: beat them all in a marble mortar,
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and add as you do it the whole of eight eggs well beaten and strained; scrape a raw apple, and mix with the rest; put a paste at the bottom and sides of the dish, and over the orange mixture put cross bars of paste. Half an hour will bake it.

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Boil the potatoes [turnips], peel them, and break them to paste; then to two pounds of them, add a quarter of a pint of milk, a little salt, and two ounces of butter, and stir it all well over the fire. Either serve them in this manner; or place them on the dish in a form, and then brown the top with a salamander: or in scallops.


Currie of dressed Meat in Casserole of Rice: Sooooooooo good. I am making this one again. The chicken was meltingly tender and seasoned all the way through. That trade route to India is really paying off! For your convenience, here's a modernized version:

Currie of dressed Meat in Casserole of Rice [modernized]
chicken pieces (no skin)
curry powder or garam masala (I used the latter, highly recommend)
2-3 onions, sliced
2-3 T. butter
chicken broth

Put chicken pieces on a plate and sprinkle first with a healthy amount of curry or garam masala, then with flour. Rub it in a little so it is coated all over. Melt the butter in a pot, and dump the onions in. Put a couple tablespoons of flour in at the same time if you want the sauce to be thick. Cook the onions until translucent, then dump the chicken in. Do not stir the chicken around. Leave it alone so it can get nice and brown on the bottom. After you have done this, add enough chicken broth to barely cover the chicken, or even less than that if you remember to flip over the chicken pieces sometimes. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat so it is barely simmering, and cook for 2-3 hours. This might be a good recipe for the crock pot as well.

Carrot soup: Meh. It was fine. It was just like blended up beef stew without the beef. I used beef broth instead of using a beef bone.

Young greens: I used lettuce. They probably mean a sauteed green.

Orange Pudding: Do not judge this one by appearance. It was really good. Orange-y, refreshing, fabulous, and fairly cheap. Pie filling can get expensive! I also added a small shot of orange blossom water. It was fab. Husband and I ate the whole pie in one day. It is fine warm, but better chilled. I am 95% sure that you could replace the butter with milk or cream, so I'm going to give you a modernized recipe with that in mind. I might monkey around with it later and use fewer eggs, too. For health reasons, not because it was bad. Try it out!

Orange Custard Pie
Zest of 1-2 oranges
3/4 C. milk or cream
1 C. sugar
8 eggs, beaten
1 huge or 2 small apples, grated
1 t. vanilla
pie crust

Mix the first 6 ingredients together. Pour into pie crust, cover (or don't), and bake at 350 F. 30-40 minutes.

Turnips: I don't think I like turnips. Husband thought they were fine. People in the 1800's actually preferred turnips over potatoes, so I suppose it is probably cultural.