Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category
Within a few years canned fruits have, in a great measure, superceded preserves. They are cheaper, more wholesome, and far less difficult to prepare. Attention to a few general rules will insure success to every housekeeper who sensibly prefers to put up her own season’s supply of these to purchasing those for double the cost, which are not nearly so good.
First, examine cans and elastics narrowly before you begin operations. See that the screw is in order, the can without crack or nick, the elastic firm and closely fitting.
Secondly, have the fruit boiling hot when sealed. Have upon the range or stove a pan in which each empty can is set to be filled after it is rolled in hot water. Lay elastic and top close to your hand, fill the can to overflowing, remembering that the fruit will shrink as it cools, and that a vacuum invites the air to enter; clap on the top without the loss of a second, screw as tightly as you can, and as the contents and the can cool, screw again and again to fit the contractions of metal and glass.
Thirdly, if you use glass cans (and they are cheapest in the end, for you can use them year after year, getting new elastics when you need them) keep them in a cool, dark place, and dry as well as cool. The light will cause them to ferment, and also change the color.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: We see here one of the earliest references to the great Food Preservation Revolution of the 19th century–the advent of home canning. Food had of course been “put up,” preserved by one technique or other to last the family through the seasons in which food could not be grown. Items in season were packed away in jars, bottles, jugs, kegs, demijohns, firkins and similar containers, but something else was always needed to keep away spoilage. One technique was moisture removal by methods like smoking or drying. Another was blocking the food from contact with air, which requiring sealing the containers with corks, tied-on animal skins such as bladders, wrapping in paper that had been coated with brandy or other liquids. Some foods could be preserved by packing in salt, others by being stored under layers of sand or dirt. Pickling battled spoilage with the acids of vinegar. Fruit was preserved with sugar, making jellies and marmalades.
Now at last came an entirely new method, made possible by technology which lowered the prices of wide-mouthed glass bottles, thin metal clamp- or screw-on lids, and semi-disposable rubber or elastic strips to unite the two. The technique Mrs. Harland describes above is today known as the hot-water-bath method of canning. Modern food scientists boo and hiss and would like to see the method outlawed in favor of pressure-cooker canning (since the higher heat does a better job of killing the germs which produce food poisoning) but given what was known and the tools she had to work with at the time, Mrs. Harland did a fine job here.
1 head of cabbage
Stuffing or dressing
Get a fine head of cabbage, not too large; pour boiling water on [it], and cover it till you can turn the leaves back, which you must do carefully; take some of those in the middle of the head off, chop them fine, and mix them with rich forcemeat; put this in, and replace the leaves to confine the stuffing; tie it in a cloth, and boil it. Serve it up whole, with a little melted butter in the dish.
From The Virginia Housewife, or Methodical Cook, by Mary Randolph, 1824.
Comment: It is a testimony to the scientific notion of “convergent evolution” that we find nearly identical recipes to this one in the ethnic traditions of nearly every part of the world in which cabbage is grown. The only variants are the specifics of the stuffing–and recipes can be found for forcemeats based on everything from ham to veal to rabbit and beyond–and what if any sauce or liquid is used to surround the dish at serving. The act of wrapping this item in a cloth and boiling it is what conveys the status of “pudding,” a word whose meaning has clearly evolved from that time to this.
1 calf’s brain
Vinegar or lemon juice, about 1 pint
After removing all the large fibers and skin, soak [the brains] for four or five hours in water. Lay them in boiling water with a little salt and vinegar in it, then put them in a strong white vinegar, solution of citric acid, or lemon-juice. Dry them well, dip them in nice butter, and fry slowly in butter until done and nicely browned. Serve with drawn butter, or a sour sauce.
From The Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia by Mrs. E. F. Haskell (1861).
Comment: This may be our favorite recipe out of the hundreds that we have read and posted here over the years. Because we are fond of eating brains?
Heck no. We just enjoy the thought of our readers walking into supermarkets across the land and asking the meat managers if they sell brains, as food products. And we are sick people with disgusting senses of humor, that too.
Sadly, in these days of Mad Cow and similar prion diseases we can no longer recommend actually eating the brains of any creature, and certainly no mammal. The disorder has turned up in sheep (where it probably originated) as well as deer, elk and even squirrels. So we must consign this one to the dustheap of history, alas.
1 c. cold boiled small hominy
2 c. milk
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. white sugar
To a cupful of cold boiled hominy (small kind) allow two cups of milk, a heaping teaspoonful of butter, a teaspoonful of white sugar, a little salt, and three eggs. Beat the eggs very light, yolks and whites separately. Work the yolks first into the hominy, alternately with the melted butter. When thoroughly mixed, put in sugar and salt, and go on beating while you soften the batter gradually with the milk. Be careful to leave no lumps in the hominy. Lastly stir in the whites, and bake in a buttered pudding-dish until light, firm and delicately browned.
This can be eaten as a dessert, but it is a delightful vegetable, and the best substitute that can be devised for green corn pudding.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: While grits are making something of a resurgence (or at least expanding their range from their native habitat in the South where they never went away) hominy continues its slow sleepy slide into obscurity. Grits are ground corn, while hominy is more often whole, or at most cracked, kernels. The process of hominy-making is complicated and somewhat nasty (soaking in lye is involved) and corn is easy enough to preserve by simple drying that the latter is more commonly practiced. Mrs. Harland makes a lengthy note about the differences between “small” and “large” hominy, but we find no indication that this distinction is still made today. Use what you can find.
Hominy can occasionally be found in canned form in supermarkets, which would probably be the easiest way to make this recipe. It is a form of simple soufflé, as you might have guessed from the folded-in egg whites. While it is unlikely to rise nearly as much as a “regular” soufflé, this also eliminates concerns about the delicate version’s tendency to collapse upon removal from the oven.
3/4 c. raw rice
yolk of raw egg, beaten
Boil two teacups of rice half an hour, and season it with a little butter and salt; form the rice round the dish about three or four inches high, rub it over with the yolk of an egg, and set it in the oven to brown. When it is done, turn the hash into the middle of the dish. This makes a very handsome finish to a dish.
Rice prepared in this way, spread over a pie made of cold meat, for the crust, an inch thick, and browned, is nice.
From Mrs. Putnam’s Receipt Book and Young Housekeeper’s Assistant by Elizabeth Putnam, New York, 1860
Comment: The “teacup” is one of those “measurements” that make working with 19th century cookery books such a source of delight, since to think of it otherwise will lead to frustration, headache and depression. Most references give the teacup a modern equivalency of around a half a standard cup, or four ounces, but some say more and some less.
In this case it does not matter a great deal since we trust most cooks know how much rice their particular family or dinner guests are likely to consume, or how much they need to surround the amount of “hash” they plan to prepare. A variant on this form of decorative presentation is to encircle the central preparation with a wall of mashed potatoes, either spooned into place or piped on with a pastry bag.
Mrs. Putnam give no indication at all of how long the rice is supposed to sit in the oven after receiving its egg coating, nor at what temperature. Be advised that the longer it sits there the more it will dry out and become unpleasantly tough, so shorter and hotter is better than longer and cooler.