Thursday, June 30, 2011
Simmonds numbers himself among the admirers of horse flesh. He finds the consumption of this purportedly tender, succulent meat quite sensible, even economical. "With the high ruling prices of butcher's meat, what think you, gentlemen and housekeepers, of horse-flesh as a substitute for beef and mutton?" Horse-bone soups provide more nutrition than their more humdrum bovine equivalent. And if nutritional value weren't persuasive enough, there's always monetary value. National consumption of horse flesh, Simmonds opines, would allow more materially-minded folk the chance to make a profit off of old, worn-out nags otherwise sold cheaply as material for glue and grease. He goes so far as to agree with an economically-minded Parisian correspondent who wrote that "8,000 horses die, it is said, in New York annually, or about 22 per day ... but instead of fetching 17 or 18 dollars to press the carcass for grease, and to feed the hogs on to make pork for export, the price will be greatly enhanced for meat for home consumption."
These unusual merits notwithstanding, peddling horse meat to the English housewife proves a tough sell. "These facts are at all events curious," Simmonds writes. "Think of the prejudices to be overcome, and think how unreasoning is the stomach!"
If the idea of noshing a tender bit of the old bob-tailed nag intrigues you, try this recipe for horse-meat sauerbraten from the 1906 Kochbuch für Haushaltungsschulen (Cookbook for Domestic Science Schools). It makes a main course that's sure to have you and your dinner guests chomping at the bit.
Sauerbraten von Pferdefleisch (Horse-Meat Sauerbraten)
1 kg horse meat
15 grams flour
40 grams onions, 1 bay leaf
80 grams fat
3/8 liter beer vinegar [can substitute wine vinegar]
3/8 liter water
Wash the meat and place in a heavy stoneware pot with the bay leaf and 8-10 peppercorns. In a seperate pot, heat the vinegar and water and, once hot, pour over the meat. Cover the pot with a towel and place in an airy, cool spot [or the refrigerator]. If the meat isn't covered by the vinegar water, you must turn the meat every day to ensure all surfaces remain moist. In summer the meat can stand for 3-4 days, in winter 7-8 days. When the meat is ready, heat the fat in a deep, cast iron pot; place the meat in it and brown on all sides. Then sprinkle the meat with flour, brown a little, add some salt and the chopped onion. Then add so much water so that the meat is half submerged and cover the pot, letting it stew for 2-3 hours. After half the time has passed, turn the meat and add more water if necessary. When the meat is ready, take out of the broth, add cold water in which flour has been dissolved to the broth and cook the sauce until thick. Serve it with the sliced meat.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
She omitted no detail when it came to ensuring her party would be a success. Cards were made upon which each guest's name was "printed across the center in gilt. A small branch representing a tomato plant with a ripe tomato upon it was painted in water colors across the top of the card. The printing and the painting were done by the skillful hand of the hostess." The day the hostess also selected with care, one "early in the summer ... when tomatoes were more of a rarity then they would have been later in the season."
And the menu? To begin the guests enjoyed a plate of raw tomatoes, followed by tomato soup. Tomato appetizers tuned tongues to taste boiled halibut with tomato sauce. The main course was a fillet of beef with escalloped tomatoes. Stuffed tomatoes were made available to those who wanted more ... er ... tomatoes. The dishes were savored, the five guests deeming them "a great success."
Now that summer has arrived, and with it bushels of tomatoes, you too can host such a dinner. Try this recipe for stuffed tomato salad from The New England Cookbook (1912). If you wish to outdo the tomato-loving hostess featured in The New England Kitchen Magazine, serve your tomato salad with tomato pudding and a generous ladleful of tomato soup, all from the 1867 edition of The New England Farmer.
Stuffed Tomato Salad
Choose firm ripe tomatoes. Cut off a piece from the top and remove the seed. Stuff with chopped cucumber, green pepper and minced onion thoroughly mixed with mayonnaise. Chill on ice and serve on delicate lettuce leaves.
Pour boiling water on tomatoes; remove the skins. Put in the bottom of the pudding-dish some bread-crumbs, then slice the tomatoes on them, season with sugar, butter, pepper and salt, add some more bread-crumbs, then the sliced tomatoes and seasoning; and if the tomato does not wet the bread-crumbs, add a little water. Then for a small pudding beat up two eggs and pour over the top. Bake about twenty minutes.
Wash, scrape, and cut small the red part of three large carrots, three heads of celery, four large onions, two large turnips: put them into a saucepan, with a teaspoonful of butter, half a pound of lean, new ham; let them stew very gently for an hour; then add three quarts of brown gravy soup and some whole black pepper, with eight or ten ripe tomatoes; let it boil an hour and a half, and pulp it through a sieve; serve it with fried bread cut in dice.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
According to the Secretary of Agriculture, the studies were intended to improve the diet of inmates, while at the same time discovering more cost-effective ways of feeding them. The inmates received three meals a day -- at seven, twelve, and five o'clock. Hot bread was served with breakfast. Dinner (lunch) featured hearty fare and supper lighter. These meals were closely monitored, for the investigation of the Office of Experiment Stations wished to determine the nutritional value of the asylum's food, the amount of food actually consumed, and the success of different methods of handling, cooking and serving it.
The studies differed by ward. The study conducted on the residents of the "Beech" ward, which consisted mainly of "young men who were quiet and orderly" and who "would probably recover," was one of the more successful. Most of the men on the Beech ward worked in the laundry room, tailor shop, mattress shop, and other areas of industry within the asylum. Their relatively cooperativeness made them an ideal population for such an experiment.
The Beech ward study began on March 30, 1903 with a hearty breakfast of fried sausage and hominy "and continued for 7 days, with 21 meals. The total number of meals taken was 615."
The meals were varied and nutritious. On the Friday following the study's inception, the inmates of the Beech ward enjoyed a hearty supper of "beef stew, prune sauce, bread, butter, tea." The stew was likely similar to this recipe for "a nice beef stew" from the 1901 The "Home Queen" Cook Book. Serve it with prune sauce or boiled potatoes for an economical yet hearty dinner.
A Nice Beef Stew
Take the lean of the top of the round, or of the ribs, and cut into cubes about 2 inches square, cover the meat with a coating of flour and season with pepper and salt. Slice 1 or 2 small onions and fry in the kettle in which you make your stew, with some beef fat or drippings until quite brown, then put in the meat, cover closely and place on back of stove and cook for 6 or 7 hours slowly. When ready to serve, if gravy is not thick enough, add a little flour into which a small piece of butter has been blended. Boil some carrots cut in slices lengthwise and serve with this dish, also baked potatoes -- Irish or sweet -- and served in their jackets. A comfortable family dinner for a cold or rainy day. Be careful to keep your stew pan covered and cook slowly.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Masculine display, bravery and foolhardiness greeted the carnival's patrons. Along with the typical hog-tying and bronco-busting contests the cowboy carnival featured "fancy rifle and revolver shooting," riding barrels down a giant pipe, ring spearing, and milking wild cows in order to demonstrate "how the cowboy on the round-up" tempered his morning coffee.
Even livestock had to prove their mettle. A contest among horses involved pulling wagons uphill, and these wagons would be loaded with up to a dozen cowboys apiece.
The carnival wasn't all manly or creaturely prowess, however. A fair share of valiant cowgirls performed stunts, and young boys mounted miniature steeds in "Crow Pony Races." One of the most popular features of the carnival was the cowboy parade "in which over three hundred men and women participated." The spectacle of such Western sartorial splendor was truly something to behold.
The carnival was also known for its savory, down-home grub. At dinnertime, cowboys and visitors alike would gather around tables of pine lumber for a "chuck" dinner in a "regular round-up style" complete with "tinware for dishes." A cow was killed each day for the meal, and the tables were heaped high with beef, "bacon and eggs, potatoes, canned corn, tomatoes, peas, coffee and dried fruits." After this belly-busting feast, the cattlemen then spent the evening "walking back and forth with their great jingling spurs, greeting old friends, forming new acquaintances, telling jokes and occasionally breaking into snatches of song." Mild-mannered visitors didn't need to fear for their safety; "there was no disorder nor lawlessness," and a town could not boast a "more orderly and congenial crowd." More refined evening activities were also available. For those fond of dancing, there was a ball at the Opera House featuring "exceptionally good" music, "such as one would expect to meet in any well conducted ballroom."
Though the people of the Nebraska countryside were a taciturn bunch, "to see them and talk with them one would know that they lived where they have plenty of room, for they are large in every respect, physically, mentally and socially." The wondrous and raucous events of the cowboy carnival are testament to that strength and breadth of body and mind. Indeed, the article concludes, the hospitality of Hyannis "knows no limits."
Perhaps this renowned Hyannis hospitality manifested itself in plates of caramel fudge prepared after a version of this recipe found in a small booklet published by the Homemaking Class of Hyannis High School, 1950-51.
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup white corn sirup
2/3 cup cream or evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Caramelize 1/2 cup additional sirup in heavy skillet until it forms light brown sirup. In another pan combine sugar, sirup, cream and bring to a boil. Add hot caramelized sirup slowly, stirring constantly. Continue boiling until a small amount forms a soft ball in cold water, or 240 degrees F. Add butter and vanilla. Cool, beat until creamy. Pour in buttered pan, cut into squares while warm.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Williams was as industrious as it was beautiful. A great lumber-making town, it supplied trainloads of logs daily for sawmills that turned out over 30 million feet of lumber a year. It was the terminus of the Grand Canyon Railroad and a commercial point on the A. T. & S. F. Railway. A plant west of town processed the virgin wood, making it fit for the largest Southwestern box factory, which operated nearby. Fragrant pines were then transformed into "dry goods, shoe and other packing boxes" that went east, and boxes for the "great meat and fruit packers," some of which journeyed as far away as South Africa.
Not all of Williams' pine timber ended up as boxes. Many thousands of feet were sent to "the great mines of Arizona," and other carloads went to "the Great Lakes States, to be converted into doors and windows, and other factory uses."
The lumber industry, along with copper mining and ranching, supported many of Williams' families in modest comfort. The town boasted the "most modern school buildings in the Territory, and an efficient corps of teachers." Residents enjoyed "most of the modern conveniences, electric lights, water works, and a sewer system." The telephone service was said to be eminently superior. But in 1911 the bustling town of 2,500 was missing one important amenity: a public library.
The Williams Public Library Association sought to remedy this lack. It published The Arizona Cookbook, the proceeds from which were to go to constructing and maintaining a public library. Town residents and other supporters of the initiative contributed hundreds of tasty, economical recipes. With the help of The Arizona Cookbook one can whip up a "sheep or cow camp menu," "a lunch basket for the Arizona cowboy," or something more simple like this recipe, submitted by a sympathetic Coloradan, for "Rinktum Ditty." Serve it over French bread or, as the contributor suggests, salted crackers.
Two tablespoons butter (melt in pan), one cup tomato soup (add to butter), one-fourth teaspoon soda, one cup cream, one-half pound American cheese. Have cheese well melted with other mixture, add three well beaten eggs, season with pepper, salt and paprika. Serve on salt crackers. -- Miss Leatto Thompson, Los Annmas, Colo.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Orache wasn't called the poor man's pot herb merely for its ability to cure jaundice. It makes for a tasty addition to many a meal. The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads, and the older leaves can be cooked and used as a substitute for spinach or other leafy vegetables.
Green thumbs can grow this prolific plant without much trouble. Orache loves moist soil rich in well-rotted manure. It flourishes in containers and is generally a hardy annual.
Those lucky enough to have ready access to a few bunches of this herb should try this recipe for red orache soup from Jekka McVicar's The Complete Herb Book.
Red Orache Soup
1 lb potatoes
1 cup young red orache leaves
1/4 cup butter
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and black pepper
4 tablespoons sour cream
Peel the potatoes and cut them into thick slices. Wash the orache and cut up coarsely. Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes in salted water, drain. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the crushed garlic and slowly sweeten; add the red orache leaves and gently simmer for 5-10 minutes until soft (if the leaves are truly young then 5 minutes will be sufficient).
Pour in the stock, add the parboiled potatoes and bring to the boil; simmer for a further 10 minutes. When all is soft, cool slightly then purée in a blender or food processor.
After blending, return the soup t o a clean pan, add salt and pepper to taste and heat slowly (not to boiling). Stir in the sour cream, and serve.
Monday, June 6, 2011
As midsummer gives way to the dog days of August, Swedes opt for a more peculiar delectation -- surströmming, or soured Baltic herring, which they eat during August parties known as surströmmingsskiva. The fermented fish comes in cans bulging with trapped gases that when opened release an overwhelming odor of piscine rot. Needless to say, surströmmingsskiva often take place outdoors.
Legend has it that the tradition of eating this surströmming began as a joke. Some time in the sixteenth century Swedish sailors en route to one exotic locale or another had only half the amount of salt needed to keep their cargo of fish fresh. The cargo naturally began to decompose. Luckily for the sailors, they came across a group of gullible Finnish islanders, on whom they unloaded the rotten cargo, saying it was a delicious delicacy. The waggish Swedes then sailed away. A year later they returned to the Finns' island. Almost immediately upon dropping anchor the islanders begged them to part with more of the delicacy. Thinking their foul load might indeed have concealed untold gustatory pleasure, the Swedish sailors tasted the rotten fish. The rest, as they say, is culinary history.
The preparation of surströmming is something of an art. The herring are caught in spring and then fermented in barrels for one to two months. Then they are tinned. They are considered edible once enough gases have built up inside the tin to make the edges bulge into a rounded shape. The smell produced upon opening the can is described as resembling rancid butter, rotten eggs or vinegar.
Surströmming is often eaten with tunnbröd, or thin bread which comes in big square sheets. Northern Swedes favor a sandwich made using tunnbröd, butter, boiled and sliced potatoes, and, of course, a few generous slices of fermented fish. Southerners prefer their surströmming layered with diced onion, sour cream, chives, and sometimes a bit of tomato and dill. Connoisseurs debate over what is the proper drink for surströmming; beer, Schnapps, and milk are most frequently paired with it.
Should you wish to contribute a dish of herring (not necessarily of the fermented variety) to a Swedish summer festival, try this recipe for herring salad from the 1875 cookbook Things a Lady Would Like to Know Concerning Domestic Management and Expenditure. It's economical, tasty and you need not eat it outdoors.
An Excellent Herring Salad (Swedish Recipe). -- Soak, skin, split, and bone a large Norway herring; lay the two sides along a dish, and slice them slopingly (or substitute for this one or two fine Dutch herrings). Arrange in symmetrical order over the fish slices of cooked beetroot, cold boiled potatoes, and pickled gherkins; then add 1 or 2 sharp apples chopped small, and the yolks and whites, separately minced, of some hard-boiled eggs, with anything else which may be at hand, and may serve to vary tastefully the decoration of the dish. Place these ingredients in small heaps of well-contrasting colours on the surface of the salad, and lay a border of curled celery leaves or parsley round the bowl.
For sauce, rub the yolk of one hard-boiled egg quite smooth with some salt; to this add oil and vinegar as for an ordinary salad, and dilute the whole with some thick, sour cream.
About 1/2 lb. of cold beef cut into small thin shavings or collops is often added to a herring salad abroad: it may be either of simply roasted or boiled, or of salted and smoked meat.