Saturday, October 5, 2013

Raspberry, Strawberry, Currant or Orange Effervescing Draughts

Things a Lady Would Like to Know [1876]




This is a third attempt at an effervescing drink, for teetotalers such as myself.  The first two were Effervescing Fruit Drinks and Effervescing Jelly Drinks, both from Mrs. Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book [1850], both absolutely wretched.  How will this new challenger from the world's most moralizing cookbook fare?  

A masculine woman must be naturally an unamiable creature. -Rev. James Fordyce, D.D.

Raspberry, Strawberry, Currant or Orange Effervescing Draughts.--
Take 1 quart of the juice of either of the above fruits; filter it, and boil it into a syrup with 1 lb. of powdered loaf sugar*.  To this add 1 1/2 oz. of tartaric acid**.  When cold, put it into a bottle, and keep it well corked.  When required for use, fill a half-pint tumbler three parts full of water, and add 2 table-spoonfuls of the syrup.  Then stir in briskly a small tea-spoonful of carbonate of soda***, and a very delicious drink will be formed.  The colour may be improved by adding a very small portion of cochineal**** to the syrup at the time of boiling.

*Regular, granular sugar.  The sugar it refers to is a solid brick or cone of sugar, that has to be smashed before use.  I prefer a hammer.  Or to buy it free-flowing.

**Tartaric acid may be found at specialty brewing stores.  Or might not.  In lieu of tartaric acid, the much more commonly available citric acid can be substituted.  Citric acid is 4x less acidic than tartaric acid, so you have to increase the amount by 4x.  Citric acid can be found by asking at a pharmacy, or by keeping your eyes open during canning season.  If you get it from the pharmacy, as I did, expect to pay through the nose.  $24 for the amount that I needed for this recipe.  RIDICULOUS.  All the recipes I've used citric acid for (one) call for just a little bit, so I thought it would last a while.  Nope.  Entire bottle.  Little did I know, two aisles over in the canning section of the exact same store was twice the amount for $3.  I found that out a couple days later by accident, and felt so very angry.

***baking soda

****Cochineal are wee little bugs that live on cacti, valued for their excellent red dye.  And yes, it is still used as a food dye.  People whined about it a lot less when they were literally smashing up bugs in the kitchen to dye confections than they do now where you never see any evidence, which I find strange.  Feel free to substitute pre-prepared food coloring, if you do not wish to mash up bugs.

Verdict:
Very, very nice!  The citric acid works a lot better here than vinegar.  I didn't strain my raspberries like the recipe says, because I am lazy.  I tell myself that the seeds make it look more rustic and homemade, and I think I have a good point.  And once again, it took until I dumped the baking soda in to go, "Oh RIGHT!  Citric acid is made of ACID!" and run breakneck to the sink while it threatened to explode over my hand due to the chemical reaction.

Husband enjoyed it, Toddler threw a tantrum when she finished hers because it was gone, and I thought it was delightful.  Very refreshing, tingly in your mouth like soda but not as sweet.  I think some cream stirred in would be fabulous.  As a bonus, it's just so darn pretty.  It looks like a drink from My Little Pony.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mock White Fish (Vegetarian Dish.)

Aaaaaand I'm back!  I'm going to go ahead and blame it on the fact that today's dish took six months to make.  Mainly in my backyard.  And why?  Because you can't buy salsify.

What is salsify?  Let us refer to the Horticultural Register and Gardener's Magazine [1836]

Left: the only attractive specimen obtained.  Right: what most of them looked like.  It isn't the salsify's fault.  My carrots are also pretty homely. 

Salsify is a native of England, and is universally esteemed there to be very wholesome and nutritious.  So much so, that there are but few families that have a garden, who are without a profusion of this delicious culinary vegetable.  The root, which resembles a parsnip in appearance, is white, long and tapering, and is the part most valued for culinary purposes.  It is boiled and eaten like a parsnip, or parboiled, cut into slices, and fried, and dished up for the table as a sauce for boiled fowls, turkeys, &c.  When sliced and fried in batter, it very much resembles in taste the oyster, whence its local name, Vegetable Oyster.  

Salsify is one of the many root vegetables that have fallen out of favor with the advent of mass produce transport, along with Jerusalem artichokes, rutabagas, and turnips.  It was very popular in the 1800's, mainly as a fish and oyster substitute.  I suspect its popularity was also due to its color.  Victorians were huge fans of any white- or cream-colored food, to the point of engineering ordinarily colorful vegetables to be pale and anemic looking.

I have wondered for a long time, however, how well this hideous vegetable actually works as a substitute for fish.  And today, my dream has come true.


Mock White Fish (Vegetarian Dish.)
Mrs. Beeton's Everyday Cookery (1861)

Ingredients. --Salsify, milk, butter, flour, lemon-juice, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.  
Method.--Scrape the salsify, cut the roots into 1-inch lengths, cover them with lemon-juice, or white vinegar, and water, and let them remain 1 hour.  Drain well, barely cover with boiling salted water, cook gently until tender, then strain and preserve the liquor.  Take equal parts of liquor and milk; to 1 pint allow 2 oz. of butter and 1 1/2 ozs. of flour.  Heat the butter, add the flour, stir and cook for a few minutes without browning, and put in the mixed liquor and milk.  Stir until boiling, season to taste, and add a little lemon-juice.  Place the salsify in coquilles, cover with sauce, sprinkle thickly with breadcrumbs, and add 2 or 3 small pieces of butter.  Bake until the surface is nicely browned, then serve. 
Time.--To cook the salsify, from 25 to 30 minutes.  Average cost, 2d. to 3d. each.  Allow 1 to each person.  

Verdict:  Danged if when I was peeling and grating, it didn't smell vaguely of fish.  Not... not food fish, but more like that smell when you walk past the fish department at the grocery store.  Sort of like raw fish and a little like cleaning solution.  Most salsify recipes tell you to drop the pieces into water while you are working, and this is a good idea.  On exposure to air, they start turning black.  They also leak white milky sap onto your hands, which make you smell slightly like a fish counter.  

But does it taste like fish?  Yes.  It actually does.  In a mushy, squishy way, similar to cod.  The lemon juice in particular makes it taste very close.  I should mention that cod is my least favorite fish.  I ate two pieces of mine, Husband ate most of his, and 2-year-old ate the rest of mine, cramming pieces in her cheeks like a hamster, chanting "Salsa-feeeeeee!  Salsa...FEEEEEEEEE!", and ignoring her spaghetti.  I suspect she liked the mushiness and the sound of the word "salsify."

This would be a good dish to make if you had time to spend, space in your garden, and a serious and worrying grudge against a vegetarian frenemy who hated fish.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Safeway's Fourth of July Patio Picnic Menu

Welcome to 1962!  This menu comes from the Safeway's Meal Planner cookbook, a gift from a reader.

SAFEWAY'S Fourth of July Patio Picnic Menu
Just For YOU...

Golden Barbecued Chick-a-Dee
Tropical Sweet Potatoes
Chili-ghetti
Pineapple Cole Slaw
Peaches and Cream Pie
Cool Lemon Tea
Suggested Bread Type: Grilled Roma Torpedo Rolls with Lawry's Garlic Spread wrapped in foil.  

To my sorrow, and I assume to yours, I was not able to make everything on the menu.  Forgive me.  Like myself, you must be contented with the bolded dishes.  Besides which, chicken AND a meat casserole?  What?  I thought this was 1962, not 1862.  D'oh ho ho!

For those who take offense to the fact that it is not July 4, I refer you to the title of the blog.  



Tropical Sweet Potatoes (Serves 6)
1 can, No. 3 squat, TOWN HOUSE sweet potatoes, drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon CROWN COLONY pure rum flavoring
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Place each sweet potato on a double thickness of heavy duty aluminum foil.  Brush with combined lemon juice and rum flavoring.  Sprinkle generously with brown sugar and cinnamon; dot with butter.  Wrap the foil securely around the sweet potatoes, twisting ends.  Barbecue on grill 7 to 9 minutes or on briquets 4 to 5 minutes.




Let your table setting be in the spirit of the occasion by having the theme colors of red, white, and blue.  Start with a white paper tablecloth, blue napkins, and red and white insect repellent candles that may be found in your Safeway hardware section.  Spread the theme throughout your entire patio with pale blue candy dishes filled with Roxbury mint straws and balls.  



Chili-ghetti (Serves 10)
In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter; brown 1 clove garlic, minced, 3/4 cup chopped onion, and 1 pound ground shoulder.  Drain off excess fat, then add 1 can, No. 303, TOWN HOUSE solid pack tomatoes with 2 15-oz. cans chili con carne with beans; simmer for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook 3/4 of one 12-oz. package CHIEF brand spaghetti according to package directions; drain.  Remove skillet from heat and stir in 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese until melted; then fold in 1/2 pint LUCERNE sour cream.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine chili mixture and spaghetti, mixing well; turn into a 2-quart casserole.  Top with 1/4 cup SAFEWAY grated Parmesan cheese and bake 45 minutes.

Chili-Ghetti may be prepared ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake.  It may also be frozen after baking.*



Peaches and Cream Pie
Arrange 4 cups sliced fresh peaches, one layer deep in an unbaked 9-inch pastry shell.  Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/2 cup sweet or sour cream, pour over peaches.  Bake 450 degrees F. for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes.  Bake until filling is set.  Cool and serve.


Verdict:

Tropical Sweet Potatoes: Wow, these are... rummy.  Please note, you don't sprinkle rum on, you sprinkle rum flavoring.  It is VERY STRONG.  This is also maddening to make.  You have to double wrap every tiny nubbin of sweet potato.  INDIVIDUALLY.  Grahhhhhhhh!  And what do you end up with?  Little wrapped nuggets of soggy brown moosh that make you smell like a bum in the gutter. 

Chili-Ghetti: This is the culinary equivalent of a warm, fuzzy blanket.  Eating it on a cool day is like snuggling up in front of the fire with hot chocolate and a purring tabby, while fat flakes of snow drift gently down upon the land.  I did freeze half of it, and it was even better the second time.  Yes, it is terrible for you.  But let us not speak of that.  It is your grandmother's kugel.  It is the love of a child.  It is the Moonlight Sonata. It is cookies fresh out of the oven.  It is a hammock on a perfect summmer's day.  You shall not say a word against it, for I will defend its perfection to my last breath.**

Peaches and Cream Pie: An uglier pie I have rarely seen, especially the next day.  Brrrrr.  The sugar in the sour cream sauce draws out the juice in the peaches, leaving wells and rivulets of juice cracking the surface.  Not bad in taste, but not terribly inspiring either. 



*Chili-Ghetti may cause shortness of breath, rash, fertility, hipsterism, lollygagging, aphasia, balding, tomfoolery, and shenanigans.  Time Travel Kitchen cannot be held liable.  

**Probably of heart attack. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WWII: Mock Fried Egg and Wheatmealies

Eating For Victory: Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations [reprinted WWII instruction leaflets, 2007]

Husband has become leery of "mock" anything.  It is almost never good.  If it's "Mock Something" in recipes from the last few decades, it is usually because it contains some weird processed food that is taking the place of a real food.  For instance, crackers instead of apples in apple pie.  In quite old recipes, like Victorian and Regency, it is because a cheap food is being disguised as a fancypants rich person food.  A calf's head instead of a turtle, for instance.



The Second World War is my favorite era of mock foods, however.  This is because of the imagination and nerve it takes to disguise vast quantities of vegetables as totally preposterous and laughable things, like geese.  I admire the sort of mindset it takes to say, "No fried eggs?  The hell you say!  I will have a fried egg if I have to construct it of twine and sticks."  

As substitutions go, this one seems... a little bit genius.




Mock Fried Egg
1 egg (reconstituted from powder);
2 slices wheatmeal bread;
Salt and pepper.

Method.--Beat the egg.  Cut holes from the centre of each slice of bread with a small scone cutter.  Dip the slices quickly in water and then try on one side until golden brown.  Turn on to the the other side, pour half the egg into the hole in each slice of bread, cook till the bread is brown on the underneath side.  The bread cut from the centres can be fried and served with the slices.



Wheatmealies
Half-dozen slices stale bread, 1/4 inch thick. 
Cut into 1/4-in. squares.  Put on a baking sheet and bake in a slow oven till brown and crisp.  Store in a tin.  Serve with milk and sugar to taste.  


Verdict:

Mock Fried Egg:  It does seem genius, doesn't it?  I mean, if a person wants a dang fried egg, and all there is is powdered egg, egg-in-a-basket is a pretty neat solution!  Unfortunately, there were... other factors.

Yes... I am afraid this picture was the result of following the directions.  All the moisture in the reconstituted egg was either sucked into the bread or vaporized on the pan, leaving a thin membrane of leathery egg.  Which then stuck to the pan and had to be chipped off.  What worked much better was to put the equivalent of about three eggs in the middle.  Which kind of defeats the purpose.  It tasted fine, though.  And were I set on a fried egg and had nothing but my number 10 can of dry egg... I might consider it.  And then I'd make scrambled eggs, because this is ridiculous.

If there are any dried egg experts out there, please lend your expertise. Where did I go wrong?  Is this feasible?



Wheatmealies:  As a homemade cereal, this actually wasn't bad.  You have to eat it at lightning pace, of course, or it will turn to goo.  Like Cap'n Crunch.  Sugar and cream also help a great deal.  Husband didn't like it, but I would not complain about eating it again.  The addition of some fresh berries would be lovely.

For a beverage, I served this with some black currant juice.  It is the best way to get vitamin C if your orange juice supply is blockaded, or indeed.... if it isn't.  Black currants have four times as much vitamin C as oranges.  During WWII, the British stepped up their black currant production for this very reason. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pear Flip

Yet another delight from The Better Homes and Gardens Blender Cook Book [1971].  I... I am still working myself up to the drink with sauerkraut and tomato soup. 



Pear Flip
1 12-ounce can pineapple juice
1 8-ounce can pear halves, undrained
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Few drops peppermint extract
Mint leaves

Blend first 4 ingredients in blender container till pears are pureed.  Serve mixture over ice cubes; garnish with mint leaves.  Serves 4 to 5.

Verdict:  Lovely.  A proto-smoothie.  I think this would be better with the ice cubes blended up right along with it, but still nice and refreshing.  In case you can't tell, the stuff floating on the top is mint.

My mint plant is a little under the weather. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

WWII: Pigs in Clover and Honey Oatmeal Buns

Usually, the WWII rationing recipes are horrid.  It is to the point where the mention of WWII food brings a certain terrified glint to Husband's eye.  He is really a terribly good sport.  Besides, after the aspic, any comparison is bound to be advantageous.



Pigs in Clover
For this wholesome and economical dish you will need 6 medium, well-scrubbed potatoes, 6 skinned sausages and some cabbage.  With an apple corer, remove a center core lengthways from each potato and stuff the cavity with sausage meat.  Bake the potatoes in the usual way and serve on a bed of lightly chopped, cooked cabbage.

...

Try These For a Change
CABBAGE.  All sorts of additions may be made to steam-boiled cabbage.  A few bacon rinds chopped small; or a few teaspoons of vinegar and a sprinkle of nutmeg or a shake of caraway seeds, and you have something novel and nice.
TOPS. Broccoli tops, turnip tops, and beetroot tops are all excellent if cooked as described above.



Honey Oatmeal Buns
These nourishing buns are extremely popular in most homes.  Try them on your family.  This recipe makes 18 medium-sized or 12 larger buns.

Sift 4 oz white flour, 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder and some salt.  Then rub in 2 1/2 oz margarine or clarified cooking fat.  When evenly mixed, add 4 oz fine oatmeal and a level teaspoon ground ginger.  Mix a little beaten-up egg with 3 dessertspoons honey (loosened by slight warming if necessary) and mix to a stiff consistency with a fork.  You may need a little milk here.  Divide the mixture into roughly piled heaps.  Bake in a hot oven for quick rising, then reduce the heat slightly for crisp, even browning.  The whole baking should take about 20 minutes. 


Verdict:

Pigs in Clover: In the absence of an apple corer, I bored a hole through the middle of each potato with a paring knife and stuffed with bulk sausage.  I should really get an apple corer.  Extremely useful for baked apples, which are delicious.  Anyway, this was... good!  Basically a baked potato with a vein of sausage in it.  The sausage lends some flavor to the potato around it, and baked potatoes are nice anyway.  The taste was improved further with some ketchup.  This is an excellent way to stretch a small amount of meat a looooooooong way, and might well be a good freezer meal for lunches.  Additionally, it is sort of cute.  At least if you squint and use some imagination.  Or Photoshop.


Look how winsome!

In place of cabbage, I used swiss chard (otherwise known as silverbeet).  Swiss chard and beets are actually pretty much the same plant; chard is just bred for the tops where beets are bred for the roots.  I put some nutmeg on top, as recommended, but it just made it taste weird.  I don't know why I planted it, because I hate chard.  I think I was lured by the pretty colors.  It was in hopes that it would finally die that I harvested such a huge pile of it, but to no avail.  (Oops!  Aw, I guess I accidentally hacked so much off, it just couldn't carry on!  Alas, now we won't be able to eat even one more single meal with it.  Shucks! Oh I could just kick myself.)  It continues lush and verdant... even perky.  Husband offered to make an assassination attempt of his own, with guaranteed results.

I feel Baby most appropriately expressed her feelings towards the "clover":



Honey Oatmeal Buns:  If you think of these as a dessert, they are not very good.  If you think of them as a biscuit (the American kind, o confused Brits), they are just fine.  Little bit crumbly.  Not bad though.  Benefits from some jam.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tomato Aspic, with Starbursts

















Something glorious happened in 1978.  Something... obscenely wonderful.  The M&M/Mars company put out a cookbook.  A cookbook filled with strange and exotic uses for their products, uses hitherto undreamed of.



My favorite chapter is called "Conversation Starters."  This is the main dish section.  Yes.  The main dish section... of the cookbook dedicated to candy.  It is aptly named, but I think a better title would be "Where Angels Fear to Tread."



Tomato Aspic
Try this shimmering tomato mold with tuna or chicken salad.

2 tablespoons (2 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
4 cups tomato juice
2 (1-11/16 oz.) pkgs. STARBURST Fruit Chews (22 candies)
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 drops hot pepper sauce
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1/3 cup sliced green onion
Salad greens
Mayonnaise

Combine gelatin and water.  Let stand 3 to 4 minutes.  In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup tomato juice and candies.  Melt over low heat, stirring until smooth.  Add celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and gelatin mixture.  Stir until gelatin melts.  Blend in remaining tomato juice, green pepper and green onions.  Pour into an oiled 6-cup mold.  Chill until firm, 4 to 5 hours.  Serve on salad greens with mayonnaise dressing.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.  



Verdict:  This is awful.  Just awful.  It is like cold wobbly tomato soup... with Starbursts.  You may think, optimistically, that the two might somehow meld together.  No.  Not at all.  It is much like maple syrup on spaghetti, or frosting on broccoli.  

This is a landmark occasion in Time Travel Kitchen history, because husband was unable to eat even one bite.  He ran full tilt for the sink and spat again and again to remove the taste from his mouth.  I ate a bite, but it was not easy. 

Baby ate a bite without even pulling a face, but I have also found her eating her own poop.

I am excited to try the beef stew recipe from this book!