Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category
1 qt sour or buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten light
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda dissolved in hot water
2 tbs. molasses
1 tbs. lard, melted
1/2 c. flour
Add [to other ingredients] meal to make a batter a trifle thicker than flannel cakes.
From Common Sense in the Household by Mrs. Marion Harland, 1871
Comment: Here again we see what constituted a “recipe” in the 19th century. You get a list of ingredients, and then the author trusts you with the experience, previous examples, and the brains God gave a goose, to know what to do with them. It is also assumed that you are familiar with the making of “flannel cakes” but unless you have worked at a county fair or traveling carnival this may not be the case. It needs to be thin enough to spread out when poured into a pan but thick enough to stay in a reasonably small, thick circular region. We trust this has clarified the matter somewhat.
1/2 c. chopped corned beef
2 c. chopped boiled potatoes
1 tbs. butter
4 tbs. water
Salt if needed
Pepper to taste
The best hash is made from boiled corned beef. It should be boiled very tender, and chopped fine when entirely cold. The potatoes for hash made of corned beef are the better for being boiled in the pot liquor [liquid the corned beef was boiled in.] When taken from the pot, remove the skins from the potatoes, and when entirely cold chop them fine. To a coffee-cup of chopped meat allow four of chopped potatoes, stir the potatoes gradually into the meat, until the whole is mixed. Do this at evening and, if warm, set the hash in a cool place. In the morning put the spider on the fire with a lump of butter as large as the bowl of a table-spoon, add a dust of pepper, and if not sufficiently salt, add a little; usually none is needed. When the butter has melted, put the hash in the spider, add four table-spoons of water, and stir the whole together. After it has become really hot, stir it from the bottom, cover a plate over it, and set the spider where it will merely stew. This is a moist hash, and preferred by some to a dry or browned hash.
From The Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia by Mrs. E.F. Haskell.
Comment: As is often the case the amounts given in the ingredients list at the top of this recipe–written by us to modern measurements–should be taken only as approximations. Cookbooks of the 19th century described quantities in terms either of weight–no kitchen was without a scale–or measures of volume which lacked the sort of consistency we expect today. Did a teacup hold more or less than a coffee cup? How did either compare to a modern standard eight-ounce measuring cup? How big was Mrs. Haskell’s tablespoon–would it hold “a piece of butter the size of a hen’s egg” or “a walnut”, to use two of her other favorite terms?
We are saved here because corned beef hash is a very forgiving item. Like most dishes which originated as “peasant food” it is expected that one will adapt any given making to what ingredients are on hand and how many people are to be fed.
Oh, and for anyone disconcerted by the direction to “put the spider on the fire” or feel that would be inhumane to arachnids….a spider is a cast-iron large frying pan or Dutch oven with three our four little legs on the bottom to hold it up out of direct contact with the fire. Users of modern cooking stoves are free to use regular frying pans and deal with spiders as your views on the sanctity of all life dictates.
Clean meat drippings, butter or grease
Put a bit of clean dripping into a frying-pan; when it is melted, slice in your potatoes with a little pepper and salt; put them on the fire; keep stirring them; when they are quite hot, they are ready.
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This is a classic method of using up leftover boiled potatoes from the previous night’s dinner. If cubed or grated they become hash browns, but when sliced apparently do not merit a name of their own.
While bacon drippings are still occasionally saved by frugal cooks today, mostly for use in flavoring boiled greens or other vegetables, it was in the past more common to save the fat which cooked off of any sort of roasted meat. It became “clean” after it was poured through a strainer or piece of cheesecloth to remove any bits of meat which might have fallen into it. Many books recommend it for use in making pie crusts or other rough pastry, as well as its use as a direct frying agent as in the recipe above.
Grate some rich old cheese, and having mixed the omelette as usual, stir in the cheese with a swift turn or two of the whisk, and at the same time some chopped parsley and thyme. If you beat long the cheese will separate the milk from the eggs. Cook at once.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: Blessed are the cheesemakers, as someone once observed, but not so blessed are those who seek out information as to how “rich old cheese” was made in 19th century America. It was a specialized trade requiring some unusual items not available to the average homeowner either rural or urban, such as for instance a handy cave in which to store the cheeses during the long ripening period required by the process. Then as now the best cheesemakers were often members of monastic religious orders, whose need for immediate cash flow was small and amount of time available to devote to ripening was great. If those cheesemakers were not themselves blessed, at least their cheeses were.
The only recipes printed in books of the time were for cottage or pot cheeses, intended for use after only a very brief storage or none at all. Like butter, they served in those days before mechanical refrigeration primarily as a storage medium for milk during those times of year when there was a surplus beyond what cows needed for their calves.
1 quart buckwheat flour
4 tbs. homemade yeast (1-2 packets or cakes commercial yeast)
1 tsp. salt
1 handful Indian [corn] meal
2 tbs. molasses-not syrup
[Add] warm water enough to make a thin batter. Beat very well and set to rise in a warm place. If the batter is in the least sour in the morning, stir in a very little soda dissolved in hot water.
Mix in an earthen crock, and leave some in the bottom each morning–a cupful or two–to serve as sponge for the next night, instead of getting fresh yeast. In cold weather this plan can be successfully pursued for a week or ten days without setting a new supply. Of course you add the usual quantity of flour, &c., every night, and beat up well.
Do not make your cakes too small. Buckwheats should be of generous size. Some put two-thirds buckwheat, one third oat-meal, omitting the Indian.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: Buckwheat has always been a sort of poor relation in the cooking world. It is not only no relation to a male deer but not any sort of kinfolk to wheat, either–and to go for a clean sweep it is not, botanically speaking, even a grain at all. Here the buckwheat is treated the same as, and probably stored in a crock next to, the home’s yeast supply. When prepared as directed it would be ready to go on the stove as soon as the cook was up, dressed, had the fire in the stove started and built up to the proper stage, had gone out to the smokehouse for meat and the chicken coop for eggs–and if you had to do all that every morning you would appreciate any slightest bit of time-saving convenience too.
1 teacup boiled rice (about 1/2 c.)
1 1/2 teacup corn meal (about 3/4 c.)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs. lard or butter
1/2 teacup sweet milk (about 1/4 c.)
One tea-cup of rice boiled nice and soft, to one and a half tea-cupful of corn meal. Mix together then stir the whole until light. One teaspoonful of salt, one tablespoonful of lard or butter, three eggs, half tea-cup of sweet milk. The rice must be mixed into the meal while hot; can be baked in either muffin cups or a pan.
From What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking by Mrs. Abby Fisher, pub. 1881
Comment: Abby Fisher was born a slave, and lived as one for the first 30-plus years of her life, making her cookbook a rare glimpse into the world of the plantation kitchen written by one who actually did the work. A native of South Carolina–which explains her use of boiled rice in bread products, as South Carolinians use rice in nearly everything– she moved to San Francisco with her husband and children after the war, and established a very successful business producing pickles and other food products.
Her cookbook was compiled by her friends who sat with her in her kitchen and wrote down the recipes and procedures as she worked, as Mrs. Fisher was entirely illiterate.