Economy of Materials and Cooking

This is the fourth article in October of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on October 24, 1909, and is a continuation of Marion’s series on economy.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Economy of Materials and Cooking

This is the third of a series of articles written by Marion Harland with a view to helping the housewife at a time when the practice of economy may mean the keeping of a home.

The two articles preceding this were “A Stubborn Fact,” dealing with the question of necessary economics and “Economy in Buying.” Next Sunday’s article will be entitled “Economy in Hired Labor.” The writer of the articles will welcome letters and suggestions from readers.

THE admirable editorial which is the keynote of the present economy series supplies us with another and a pregnant text:

“Our garbage barrels are filled with material upon which European families would grow fat. Meat that here upon the average table would be a tough and tasteless mess, if properly treated, would set forth a feast of soup, finely seasoned, a garnished stew and, for the breakfast following, a hash which, with the cheap vegetables boiled with the meat and some little additions of salad and cheese and coffee rightly made, would tempt the palate of the patron of the most expensive restaurant. And all at less than the cost of a tough hunk of indigestible and flavorless stuff set upon tens of thousands of American tables to deaden, not gratify, appetite and to breed dyspepsia.”

Plain, strong language this, but not a whit plainer and stronger than is demanded by the facts in the case before us. We provide more lavishly for our tables than any other people on the globe. The householder who rises early and sits up late and eats the bitter bread of carelessness, in order to join the ends of expense and income on the first day of the year, will state as a self-evident fact that “the nest is always the cheapest.” Furthermore, with the honest (?) pride of the freeborn American citizen, that “the best is none too good for him.”

A year ago I awaited my turn in a butcher’s shop, and as my wont is—

Whene’er I take my walks abroad,

I kept an eye upon my fellow-customers. A neatly dressed woman said something in a low voice to the man behind the counter, who walked to the corner of the shop and uncovered a pile of what looked like odds and ends of meat. She made her selection and purchase and went her way. In reply to the query I presently put him, the man smiled indulgently and let me have a closer view of the reserved fragments. That was what they were—the ends of steaks and chops and roasts pared away in trimming, and laid aside, not as offal, but as salable stock. All were clean and there was nothing unpleasing about the pile.

“They are never bought by Americans,” the man explained, “except now and then by a ‘cute’ boarding-house keeper. The French and Germans get them whenever they can. How do I happen to have so many? You see, not one lady in ten who trades with me gives orders to have the trimmings of roast or steak sent home. Yet she knows that they are trimmed into shape after she buys them. Unless we have orders to that effect, we never send the trimmings. Most cooks don’t like to be bothered with them.”

I learned, too, that the odd bits—for which our American housewife pays and which she does not get—are bought by the canny foreigner for 6 and 8 cents per pound. I did not remind the civil dealer that we pay for the steak and roast and chop before it is trimmed into shape. Hence, that he pockets a tidy profit upon each sale, even when he charges at the second one-third as much as the easy-going native housemother paid at the first.

Since it is my invariable practice to order the “trimmings” sent home with the bulk of the meat, it was none of my business to disturb his complacent computation of the petty gains that are beneath the average customer’s thoughts.

As surely as Michelangelo discerned the embryo angel in the shapeless block of marble, the clever economist sees in the collection of odds and ends at the far end of the marble counter the possibilities of soups, ragouts, hashes, cannelons, meat pies, curries—and an infinite series of other savories. The trimmings of her neighbors’ tables would set forth hers for a week, and her family be well fed.

Our editorial has a smart slap at this form of improvidence:

“We sit and growl at the impossible prices of meat, and all the while we insist upon having nothing set before us but prime ribs, porterhouses or sirloin steak, leg of lamb or round roast.”

A sharper thrust at the native housemother comes in the next paragraph:

“Because there is practically no proper cooking of cuck, flank, rump, neck or shin parts of mutton or beef.”

I subjoin to the justly severe comment upon our national cuisine the assertion that our housemother looks down disdainfully upon what a very “uppish” cook of mine once stigmatized as “innards.” I have had queens of the kitchen of the same feather and lineage who objected to cooking the giblets of poultry, as “ongentale.” If the old saw respecting the behavior of a beggar on horseback applies to them, it cannot be fitted to our well-to-do American matron. The best is none too good for her John and the children. Her wiser compatriot, who has made economy a study, buys a lamb’s liver at 10 or 12 cents and orders it to be left at her door, and this without a blush of shame. She has taught her boys and girls to like it when ‘mother’ cooks it.

It is washed and wiped; a few slices of fat salt pork are put into a frying pan, and when they are crisp are taken out. Into the fat goes a sliced onion, and when this is slightly browned the sliced liver is laid in the same hissing fat. It is left there just long enough to scar both sides of each piece. Then pork, onion, liver and fat are turned into a casserole. A half cupful of stock from the stockpot is added, and half a dozen button onions that have been parboiled. This is seasoned to taste with salt and pepper, covered and set in the oven for an hour. It should be done tender by then. Next, the gravy is drained off and the covered casserole is kept hot over boiling water. The gravy is thickened with browned flour and seasoned with a dash of kitchen bouquet and a teaspoonful of chopped parsley. After boiling, it is poured back into the casserole. It is served in the same when it has stood, covered, for five minutes in an open oven that the gravy may soak into the liver.

Calf’s liver cooked in like manner is excellent. Or, if you wish to serve it whole, lard it with strips of fat salt pork, treat it as directed just now, and lay in the casserole. A spoonful of tomato catsup added to the seasoning improves the dish. Lay it upon a platter when done, pour the thickened gravy about it and garnish with the button onions. Half a can of French mushrooms (champignons) make of the baked liver a really elegant family dinner. The mushrooms are cooked in the gravy when it is strained off for thickening.

Cut it horizontally. What is left shrould be put under a weight. If properly seasoned and cooked, it is a fair imitation, when cold, of the famous (and costly) pate de foie gras. And this at an outlay of less than 70 cents, even if the champignons be added. Meat for two meals for four people for 35 cents a meal may be had by following the recipe I outline. I engage, also, that those who have never liked liver before will “Take to it” in this guise.

Beef’s Tongue.

A beef’s tongue retails in city markets for $1. Wash and wipe it and parboil for half an hour after the boil is fairly on. Take it up (saving the liquor in which it was boiled), rub all over with butter and put into a covered roaster when you have poured a cupful of the pot liquor about it. Roast until a fork pierces it easily. Turn the gravy into a saucepan and thicken with browned flour, two tablespoonfuls of stewed and strained tomato, a tablespoonful of onion juice, paprika and salt to taste.

Simmer gently at the side of the range while you wash the tongue with the yolk of an egg (beaten) and coat thickly with browned and crusted crumbs. Set in the oven, uncovered, for five minutes, or until smoking hot and slightly incrusted. Butter again and serve. Send in the gravy in a boat.

Carve perpendicularly. This tongue is delicious cold.

A “Left-Over” Soup.

A good soup may be made by adding minced vegetables to the stock in which the tongue was boiled. Simmer until the vegetable dice are tender; season with celery salt, color with caramel and drop tiny cubes of fried bread on the top.

Calf’s Head.

In a story depicting the trials and training of a young and ambitious housekeeper, who “thought she knew it all.” I have narrated, among the other “Distractions of Martha,” her struggles to prove the manifold capabilities of a calf’s head. I repeat now what was said there is serio-comic fashion: that a calf’s head may be wrought into more savory and popular forms than any other bit of meat known to the ingenious cook. It costs from 50 to 60 cents to begin with. The stock in which it is boiled makes delicious soup; the boned head, after it is boiled, may be breaded and baked, or made into that joy of the epicure, “tete de veau a la vinaigrette,” or into imitation terrapin almost as good as the genuine delicacy, for which we pay a dollar a plate at restaurants. The tongue is nice eaten cold or pickled; the brains may be fashioned into toothsome croquettes or fried in batter.

In skillful hands the calf’s head may be counted upon for four meals, and when all the seasoning ingredients that help to make these are considered from a financial standpoint the entire outlay should no exceed $1.

Sheep’s Head.

Who but a Scotch housemother ever thinks of cooking a sheep’s head?

I put the question to a notable housewife the other day, and she thought I meant the fish of the same name. She had “never imagined that anybody would eat a real sheep’s head!” Then she said, “Ugh!”

I stood up stoutly for my “head.” It yields the most palatable Scotch broth I have ever tasted. And there is no better in the world than that family soup one has in perfection in the Highlands. I have a recipe which was given to me in rhyme by the president of the University of Glasgow.

Nor is a boiled sheep’s head, served with caper sauce and accompanied by creamed turnips, a contemptible dinner for the American who arrogates as his the right to have the best things going. You may buy the cleaned head in a city market for 40 cents. In the country the butcher will toss it over to you with a laugh as a gift—with the wool on!

Take it home, scald and rub powdered resin into the fleece down to the roots, strip, and you have the foundation for enough nourishing broth to last a moderate-sized family for two days.

Scotch “Brose.”

Speaking of Scottish fare reminds one inevitably of the natinal dish of that hardy and frugal race.

“What did you have for breakfast?” asked a tourist of a bare-egged muscular Highland laddle.

“Brose,” was the answer.

“And what for dinner?”

“Brose,” still cheerfully.

“And what will you have for supper?”

“Why—brose!” surprised at the stranger’s inquisitiveness.

“And do you not get tired of eating the same thing all the time?”

“An’ wha’ for suld a mon weary o’ his meat?”

“Meat” with him stood for his daily food.

“Brose,” alias oatmeal porridge, has nutritive qualities to which the brawn and endurance of the Scottish peasantry bear triumphant testimony.

With us these would be better understood if oatmeal were properly cooked. The mother who would have her children strong in muscle and bone and generally hardy throughout their systems should learn the values of this cereal in the course of her economical studies. Soak it for hours. Distrust the plausible advertisements that commend this or that brand requiring no soaking and but 20 minutes’ cooking. That is a concession to the American habit of living fast and hard. Soak the Irish or Scotch meal long, and boil it longer. The fireless cooker cooks it to perfection without waste of fuel. Bring the sodden meal to a boil on the range, then shut it up in the heart of the cooker and leave it there for eight, ten, or twenty-four hours. It is then digestible and full of properties that foster wholesome growth in the young and keep adults vigorous.

Economical Pastry.

Butter is a grievously heavy item in the expense book of our frugal housemother, and one to which Bridget-Thekla-Dinah lends the full weight of her hand—one, too, that must know no degree. “Cooking butter” is not admitted to the economical calculations of sensible home caterers. Better buy and use half as much than purchase the second best. For table use, to spread on bread and eat out of hand, have fresh and sweet butter. And when you cannot afford to use the same for cake and pastry, go without them. Make plainer cakes and cookies, using half butter and half lard. Very fair “family pastry” may be made with the cheaper shortening alone.

Never waste a teaspoonful of good shortening, be it lard or dripping. Try out the dripping from roasts and set aside for frying.

You know, I suppose, that it may be used over and over, unless when you have fried fish in it? Strain what is left in the frying pan into a bowl half filled with hot water in which you have dissolved a bit of soda no bigger than a pea. When it is dead cold you will have a cake of clean, odorless fat on the top of the water, and all impurities will have sunk to the bottom. Take off the cake and keep it in a cold place.

Lemons may be kept soft and sound by leaving them in cold water in the refrigerator. You may get them by the dozen cheaper than by the single lemon.

Apples for apple sauce, and for pies for which they are cooked and strained should not be pared. Core them and cut into quarter or eights; then cook without sugar to a soft mass that may run through a fine colander or vegetable press. The peel gives a goodly flavor and plenty color to the sauce, and not an eatable bit of the king of fruit is lost. Sweeten to taste while hot and you have the veritable “bouquet” of the apple, instead of a taste and smell like preserves.

Chicken Broth.

Another small (which is not a “petty”) economy is to order your butcher or provision merchant to send home the heads, necks and feet of the fowls you buy from him. They make rich, good broth. Scald and scrape the legs, and scald the feathers from the heads. Then cook slowly until all the gelatinous strength is extracted. Let them get cold in the water, take off the fat, strip the meat from the bones and squeeze out all the moisture. Then throw the bones away. By adding rice to the liquor, seasoning with onion juice, pepper and salt, with a dash of minced parsley, and, just before serving, stirring in a cupful of milk thickened a little with a roux of butter and flour cooked together, you have a nourishing, savory broth.

I might draw out this talk indefinitely without exhausting the now-more-than-ever-before vital subject of the utilization of materials we are in the habit of underrating as foods for human beings. The list of palatable “left-overs” alone would fill many pages like this.

And this I must leave untouched.

Marion Harland

OTHER ARTICLES ALSO PUBLISHED…
Family Meals for a Week
The Housemothers’ Exchange

The Sunday Night Tea

This is the first article in October of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on October 3, 1909, and is an article on Sunday night dinner and families having to do without their maid-of-all-work.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

The Sunday Night Tea

THE Sunday night tea is a memorial feast.

I have said that in effect before, and I repeat it now with emphasis. It is a standing and visible token of the respect paid by the great middle class of America to the wishes and privileges of the hired girl. That is what we called her in the day when the Sunday night supper was instituted for her express benefit. She is a “maid” now, and there are three where there was then one. But the institution stand sure and fast.

Let me guard that phrase—“the great middle class.” It has not the invidious meaning on this side of the water attached to it as in England. It signifies the backbone, the thews and red blood of the nation. The men who are hewing out their own fortunes; the women who are building and keeping homes; the architects of the best future of our land—make up the ranks. To come to practical details, I include in the term families of moderate means, in which regard for education of children is a duty; in which the expediency of laying aside a “Rainy day fund” for those who have no inherited wealth is a judicious economy. These are the households where the maid-of-all-work (a species that is growing rarer and dearer with every passing year) represents hired labor, the rest of the work falling upon the mother and her daughters; or, where the family is larger and the income justifies, there may be two maids.

Her Own Way.

Be her nationality what it may, the maid must have her Sunday afternoon or evening “out” or “off.” I append that last monosyllable advisedly. I know of more than one household in which the “hired help” sometimes elects to remain within-doors on Sunday evening or afternoon, when the weather is bad—or she is not feeling “quite fit.” She takes her half day off, all the same. Sometimes she retires to her bedroom and sleeps or lazes away the rest hours. I have seen one, at least, who dressed in her Sunday best and sat with a book in the orderly kitchen while her reputed mistress got up the evening meal, the maid never lifting her eyes from the book or paper on the table before her. When the china and glass were out of the way—washed and wiped by the employer—the real sovereign of the small realm was ready to receive “company.” If the fragrance of tea and toast ascended to the drawing rom later, blended with the cackle of Milesian mirth, the (alleged) mistress was conveniently deaf. “Norah is a treasure—neat, industrious, a good cook, honest and willing. And it is not easy to get a really general housemaid nowadays.”

So much for the reasons that have bound the Sunday night tea upon us as irrevocably as custom and tradition have decreed the Fourth-of-July fireworks.

Some blessedly optimistic housemothers assure us that they “rather like it. It is a relief from the hot dinner or supper to which we must sit down six evenings in the week.” Now and then one adds that “John and the boys enjoy it. It is fun to have me cook for them. And they like the unceremoniousness of it all.”

Personally (and I suspect if others were as frank I should hear many an “Amen!”) I look forward to the cold or semi-cold supper of the first day of the week with decided disfavor. It is right and humane and Christian that it should hold a place among our national institutions, and I make the best of it. That “best” is contriving that some especial delicacy shall invariably grace the board, and that there shall as invariably be one hot dish. The English call it a “cover,” signifying that there is heat to be kept in.

For a term of years, thanks to my self-freezing process, ice cream was the children’s Sunday night treat. We still have it in hot weather when the grandchildren visit us. Salads are the regulation dish, and of these there is endless variety. If the piece de resistance be cold meat, it is made as unlike as possible to the pallid chips and chunks and slabs that usually pass under that name. Pressed or moulded or jellied into comeliness, and garnished tastefully, it graces the foot of the board appetizingly to eye as to palate. Baked cream toast is a frequent and welcome visitor; likewise baked Welsh rabbit. “The boys” like both.

The chafing dish in the hands of an expert does wonders to alleviate the chill and cheerlessness of our First-day night supper. Among the almost countless delicacies the elder daughter or the mother may prepare before the gloating eyes of those who are as hungry on Sunday evening as one weekdays, I name as popular and “comforting” to the inner man Spanish eggs, olla podrida omelet, creamed oysters, shrimps and eggs, panned oysters, broiled mushrooms, cream cheese, golden buck, corm omelet and creamed fish.

I could fill the page with the titles of other dishes suitable for the memorial feast. Recipes for a few of these I have named will be found below. Tea and coffee *hot) are made on the table; likewise cocoa, iced tea and coffee are kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.

A Sunday Night Frolic.

If there be but one maid in the household, and she be “off,” the waiting is done by members of the family. One wise mother has trained her boys, lads of 10 and 12, to wait quickly and dexterously on Sunday night.

They make a genuine frolic of it, and vie with one another in the display of their skill. The plates are changed noiselessly by the little mock footmen, each girded with a white napkin while on duty. They are as grave as the primmest of English butlers, and play the part to perfection. The smallest children may be taught.

Another mother has three young daughters, who take turns in serving and waiting, while even the smaller children help. The office may be made graceful. Perfect breeding preserves the most lowly service from any touch of vulgarity. No household duty is in itself menial.

Spanish Eggs.

Heat a great spoonful of butter in the blazer of the chafing dish or in the frying pan. Have at hand a cupful of tomatoes, peeled and cut up small, or a can of tomatoes, drained from the liquor; four green sweet peppers that have been seeded, parboiled, cooled and minced fine, and eight eggs. When the butter hisses put in the tomatoes and stir briskly together with the minced peppers. When they have cooked three or four minutes break in the eggs, stirring all the time. Season to taste, adding a teaspoonful of onion juice, and as soon as the eggs are done serve.

Olla Podrida Omelet, Another Spanish Dish.

Make a roux of a great spoonful of butter and the same of browned flour by stirring them together in a frying pan. When the mixture bubbles add a cupful of tomatoes, peeled and cut small; a half cupful of mushrooms cut fine, three tablespoonfuls of minced tongue or chicken or veal (cooked and cold) and a teaspoonful of finely chopped red onion. Sit to a smoking mass—about six minutes will do—and break in six eggs. Stir constantly, tossing up the “podrida” to incorporate the ingredients well, seasoning with kitchen bouquet, white pepper and salt to taste. When the eggs thicken serve upon rounds of toast.

Shrimps and Eggs.

Prepare a roux as in the last recipe. When it hisses and heaves all over the surface stir in three sweet green peppers, seeded, parboiled and minced fine, together with a teaspoonful of onion juice. Cook three minutes before stirring in a can of shrimps from which you have drained all the liquor. Wash the shrimps and cut each in half before cooking. Simmer four or five minutes and break into the pan six eggs. Sit until the eggs thicken to your liking and serve.

Cheese Golden Buck.

Rub a cream cheese to a soft paste with warmed butter; season with salt, a little French mustard and a dash of cayenne. Set over the fire in a double boiler and stir until hot all through. Beat three eggs without separating yolks and whites, and stir and toss into the cheese. Have at hand rounds of buttered toast and spread the “buck” upon them.

Green Corn Omelet.

Grate or shave the grains from six ears of cold boiled corn. Have in a saucepan a tablespoonful of butter, heated. Put the corn into this and set in boiling water, tossing it until very hot. Leave the saucepan in the water while you make an omelet of six eggs and three tablespoonfuls of cream. Dish; season the corn with salt and pepper, and when the omelet is dished lay the corn upon it and fold the omelet over the inclosed vegetable.

Marion Harland

OTHER ARTICLES ALSO PUBLISHED…
Family Meals for a Week
The Housemothers’ Exchange

Afternoon Tea on the Veranda

This is the third article in August of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on August 15, 1909, and is an article on how to have afternoon tea on the veranda. This is one of the few articles also printed in the Dauphin Herald which got me interested in Marion Harland’s serial work.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Afternoon Tea on the Veranda

I LIKE that word—“veranda”—better than “piazza,” and it expresses something that “porch” does not cover. The latter word is synonymous with the old Knickerbocker “stoop.” Both imply roominess and cozy comfort, a secluded corner in which mynheer and his hausfrau cold take their ease, with pipe and mending basket, when the hard work of the day was done. The neighbors gathered there on summer evenings, and the air was thick with tobacco smoke and gossip. As a rule, the mistress of the house discouraged the growth of vines about the square stoop. They were harbors for mosquitos and slugs, and dry leaves and dropping flowers littered the floor.

Our veranda would not deserve the three-syllabled word were it bared of the draping vines. We got it from the orientals, with whom it signifies seclusion gained by lattices and shutters and vines. An English lexicographer appends to this definition the gratuitous observation that “The veranda is erroneously called a ‘piazza’ in the United States.”

Afternoon tea and the rechristening of porch, stoop and piazza have come to us simultaneously, and they have come to stay. It may be long before, from mansion to hovel, tea will be made and served at 5 o’clock throughout the length and breadth of our land, as in England, Scotland and Ireland. Were the vapor of the tilted teakettle visible, it would obscure the face of the sun between 4:30 and 5 in the British isles. Queen and washerwoman drink together then, and the clink of china marks the hour as faithfully as the town clock.

When Shadows Lengthen.

With us the pretty custom gained favor so fast within a quarter of a century that it is an exception when the cup that cheers but not inebriates is not offered to the afternoon guest. In thousands of homes it is as truly a family meal as breakfast.

I have called the custom “pretty.” It is never a more graceful function than when carried out upon the veranda. The simplest country cottage where the habit prevails is furnished with a wicker table, or one of “mission” manufacture, than stands on the veranda all the time. It has a modest corner for its own and keeps in the background until the “bewitching hour” of afternoon tea approaches. The aproned maid then sets it in the foreground, spreads the teacloth and brings out the tray upon which is arranged the tea equipage.

If the beverage is to be brewed by the mistress or by a daughter of the house, the teakettle and a spirit lamp form part of the pleasing array upon the tray. Or a 5-o’clock-tea stand precedes the appearance of the tray and is set beside the table. A silver or copper kettle swings over an alcohol lamp. Boiling water was poured into the kettle before it left the kitchen. The spirit lamp makes sure the actual boil before it goes into the teapot which must be hot from a recent scalding.

After the English.

The cozy, another English importation, is almost an essential when tea is served upon the veranda. If there be any breeze in the long summer day, it may be depended upon to spring up as the sun nears the western horizon. Moreover, the canny housemother sets the table in the coolest corner of the shaded veranda. She slips the cozy over the pot after the latter is filled, and leaves it there for the two minutes that are requisite to draw out the flavor and tonic properties of the Celestial herb without poisoning the infusion with tannic acid. The hot-water pot flanks the teapot, in case it should be needed to weaken the beverage for a “nervous” drinker. An alcohol flame burns under it while the function goes on.

Don’t cumber the simple and elegant ceremonial of afternoon tea by numerous and various appointments that make it heavy and expensive. I have in mind one city of fair size and abounding hospitality where the custom degenerated into “receptions” demanding salads, ices and a dozen et ceteras, entailing an expenditure of labor and money that made this form of entertainment impracticable for the woman of limited means.

Ask half a dozen of the nicest neighbors you have to take a cup of tea with you on the veranda on a given afternoon when you have a choice fiend staying with you. Group easy chairs and wicker rockers invitingly in the corner sacred to the tea hour, and assemble your guests there as they arrive. Your prettiest tea cloth should drape the table, and all the features of the “equipage” must be the best you can bring to the front. A single vase of flowers not a mixed bouquet should grace the center of the table. As you make and pour the tea, see to it that the talk flows on smoothly. There should be no break in the thread of anecdote and chat. Silence is always formality under these circumstances.

Have a plate or basket of thin bread and butter. Some tea-lovers prefer this accompaniment to sandwich or cake. If you or your cook can make good Scotch scones, for which you shall have a recipe presently, they will be received gratefully by those who have eaten them “on the other side.”

Another pleasant accompaniment of tea is the toasted sandwich. That, too, we will have by and by. Sandwiches of tongue and ham and chicken are popular at all times. In hot weather I refer the lighter varieties of tomato, cress nasturtium and lettuce sandwiches. On very warm afternoons you may substitute iced for hot tea. Yet, since this cooling drink disagrees seriously with many persons, it is best to have hot tea for such as prefer it.

A basket of light cake or cookies is passed after the bread and sandwiches. For those who take no sugar in their tea, cake is not amiss. It vitiates the taste of the drink for such as qualify it with cream and sugar. In addition to cream jug and sugar bowl have a plate of sliced lemon if you serve cold tea, a bowl of cracked ice.

Stop there! Bonbons, fruit and “Frappes” are foreign to the genuine, quietly refined function. You vulgarize it by introducing any of them.

Afternoon Tea Scones.

Sift a quart of flour three times with two teaspoonfuls of baking powder and one of salt. Chop into this a tablespoonful of butter and one of lard for shortening. Mix in a bowl with a wooden spoon into a dough by adding three cupfuls of sweet milk, or enough to make a soft dough. Do not touch with your hands. Lay the dough upon your kneading board and roll into a sheet half an inch thick. Cut into round cakes with your biscuit cutter and bake upon a soapstone griddle to a light brown. Split and butter while hot.

Toasted Sandwiches.

Cut slices of white or of graham bread thin, butter lightly, and spread one with cream cheese. Press the two slices firmly together and toast the outside of each before a quick fire. Send to table wrapped in a napkin.

Cream Cheese and Sweet Pepper Sandwiches.

Scald the peppers to take off the biting taste, and drain them. Lay on the ice for some hours. Wipe and mince. Mix two-thirds cream cheese and one-third peppers into a smooth paste. Spread upon lightly buttered bread and put together in sandwich form.

Tomato Sandwiches.

Butter thin slices of bread and lay between them slices of fresh ripe tomatoes from which the skin has been pared. Spread each slice of tomato with mayonnaise or a good French dressing.

Lettuce Sandwiches.

Butter thin slices of bread and lay between them in sandwich form crisp leaves of heart lettuce which have been dipped in mayonnaise dressing. One leaf of lettuce suffices for each sandwich.

Nasturtium Sandwiches.

Substitute for the lettuce leaves petals of nasturtium flowers dipped in French dressing. This is a piquant and appetizing sandwich.

Marion Harland

OTHER ARTICLES ALSO PUBLISHED…
Family Meals for a Week
The Housemothers’ Exchange

The Tomato as Fruit and Vegetable

This is the first article in August of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on August 1, 1909, and is an article on the tomato which includes some recipes.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

The Tomato as Fruit and Vegetable

READERS who are familiar with the charming play, “The Old Homestead” (and few are not), will recall the dialogue between Aunt Tildy and her mature admirer, in which the small talk turns upon the tomato.

“We never use’ to thin of eatin’ them,” says the bashful suitor. And the housewife reminds him and herself how they were called “love-apples” when they two were boy and girl.

Two encyclopedias agree that the tomato was brought to the United States from tropical South America; that it was known in Southern Europe early in the sixteenth century—in France as “pomme d’amour” (love-apple.)

Some curiosity hunters claim for the vegetable an Egyptian ancestry. For all we can prove to the contrary, it may have been one of the cool, and hence “kindly fruits of the earth,” for which the Israelites pined vainly in the desert along with leeks, onions and melons.

The encyclopedias go on to assert that “the tomato was known only as a curiosity in the United States until about 1830.” Acting upon this assertion, a critic took me sharply to task for naming it as an ingredient in a “Brunswick stew,” described in my “Judith’s Chronicle of Old Virginia,” the date of which story is given as 1833-35.

In verification of my chronology, and in respectful demur to the learned compiler of dates and facts, I submit recipes from “The Virginia Housewife,” by Marcia Randolph, published in 1828. Said recipes called for “tomatas” (sic) and append no explanation of the word. It is evident that the estimable fruit-vegetable was in common use upon the table of the notable Virginia housemother of that generation. I may add that I made sure of this before writing that particular chapter of my “Chronicle.” Old housekeepers told me of having cooked and eaten stewed tomatoes before 1828, and one diligent Bible reader advances the theory that this was the “red pottage” for which Esau sold his birthright!

Not that the subject of our talk needs the stamp of age to establish its right to a distinguished place in our dietary.

“It is nutritious and wholesome, with laxative and antiscorbutic properties,” writes one authority upon horticulture and pomology. Doctors “away down South in Dixie” prescribed it fifty-odd years ago as a mild substitute for the calomel which was then administered in what seems to us murderous quantities. I recollect picking the yellow and red egg and plum tomatoes in my father’s garden and eating them out of hand in years when late frosts had cut short the fruit crop and the system carved the grateful anti-febrile acid. And that I was encouraged by our family physician to partake freely of the “substitute.”

I have yet to see the man, woman or child with whom the tomato disagrees. Eaten raw, with a French or mayonnaise dressing, or cooked in some one of the ways commended by our best cook books, it should form a part of summer and of winter family fare. In further recommendation of the valuable and amiable esculent, let me refer to a test of “canned goods” made at my instance five years ago by members of our scientific staff, chief among these standing one who, early in the history of our department won for himself the honorary title of “Our Courteous Consulting Chemist.” I recall, as one item in the analysis made by this colaborer, that he detected in three spoonfuls of preserved (canned) pears enough salicylic acid to dose an adult, I recall, more gratefully, that not one of our expects reported the presence of “preservative” drugs in canned tomatoes. They may be found in some brands, but not in any of those that have been tested and reported upon to us.

The tomato is so easily cultivated—sustaining its reputation for amiability here, likewise—that one wonders not to see it more frequently in the small patches that pass for city gardens. Given a trellis or a wire netting against a brick or stone wall or a board fence, and good soil, with a fair allowance of water and sunshine, and the vines clamber fast and lushly. One good woman I know starts her tomato vines in a box set in her laundry window early in January. They are sturdy plants by the May day, when she considers it safe to transfer them to her back yard; after which she has delicious tomatoes in abundance for her family until the frost cuts them down in late October.

Hardly a week passes in which I do not learn of some new and attractive way of preparing our vegetable for the table. One was brought to me last week from a “swell” luncheon party by a woman who is as keen as myself in the quest for new and better ways of doing old things.

It was served as the initiatory “appetizer” of the feast.

Tomatoes Stuffed With Sardines.

Select large ripe tomatoes of uniform size and pare them carefully with a sharp knife. Set on the ice to harden, and cut out the hearts neatly, leaving the walls whole. Prepare the filling by skinning boneless sardines and laying them upon tissue paper to absorb the oil. Then scrape as you would pick codfish for “balls,” and work in a little lemon juice and a dash of white pepper. Toss and work with a silver fork until smooth, and fill the cavities left in the tomatoes with the mixture.

The combination of flavors is very pleasant.

Tomato and Shrimp Salad.

This dish I believe to have been original with me. I had never heard of it until I prepared and set it before wondering eyes that were glad after the salad was tasted—then devoured.

Prepare the tomatoes as directed in the preceding recipe. Set the hollowed tomatoes in the ice after filling them with canned of fresh (cooked) shrimps. Arrange the shrimps neatly, the backs upward, and pack closely. Just before serving put a spoonful of mayonnaise dressing upon the top of each.

Tomatoes With Whipped Cream Dressing.

This too, I might have held, even to this day, to be an original device of my own, had I not chanced, awhile ago, to meet with it in Elizabeth Fennell’s delightful melange of culinary more and poetic fantasies, “The Feasts of Lucullus.” It was, then, coincidence and not plagiarism, when I evolved the combination from my brain.

Pare the tomatoes, halve each and set it in the ice until chilled to the heart. When you are ready to serve, heap whipped cream—chipped—upon each half, having first sprinkled it with salt and yet more lightly with white or with sweet pepper.

You may doubt my word that you will find it delicious. Try it, and complain if you do not like it.

Tomatoes with Mayonnaise.

Pare and cut out the hearts. Set on ice until they are very cold. Serve with mayonnaise filling the cavities. Pass heated crackers and cream cheese with it as a salad course at luncheon or supper.

Tomatoes Stuff With Green Corn.

This is also a salad. Pare as above, and extract the hearts. Fil with green corn that has been boiled on the cob, then cut off ad left to get perfectly cold. In serving, cover with mayonnaise or with a simpler French dressing.

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes.

Select large, fair tomatoes and, without peeling, cut a piece from the top and excavate from the center. Mix with the pulp thus extracted one-third as much fine, dry breadcrumbs; season with melted butter, a few drops of onion juice and pepper and salt. Stuff the hollowed tomatoes full with this, fit the tops on and arrange in a bakedish, pouring about them the juice that escaped from the tomatoes when you dug out the pulp. Put a tiny bit of butter upon each and bake covered. Serve in the dish in which they were cooked.

You may, if you like, substitute boiled green corn for the crumbs. This is a nice accompaniment to roast meat or fish.

Marion Harland

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Fruit for All the Year ‘round

This is the second article in July of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on July 11, 1909, and is an article on the benefits of fruit which can be eaten all throughout the year. Marion Harland spends quite a bit of time talking about the apple and the pineapple.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Fruit for All the Year ‘round

DIETITIANS of every school, whether it be vegetarian or flesh-eating, agree in banishing rich pastries and hot puddings from the family bills of fare during the dog-days. A most elastic term that in our country! If calendar and zodiac are to be believed, the malign region of Sirius is limited to July. Then, we are told, the sun has most power and the air least vitality. In real life, as we perspiring natives of the so-called temperate zone know summer existence, sultry noons and suffocating midnights have all weeks for their own and regulate the thermometer at their will from the middle of May to the middle of September. The longest day in the year, June 21, is oftenest the hottest of the summer.

By the middle of May we begin to talk of lighter underwear and cold dishes. The bon vivant’s pat order at hotel and restaurant of “a hot bid and a cold bottle” is modified to exclude caloric in the game. Steaming roasts are tabooed with potpie and pork. Beginning with strawberries, ripened, by courtesy, in Florida, we run the gamut of fruits desserts through May, June, July, August and September, winding up as a grand flourish with the purpling wine skies of the October harvest moon.

Housemother and cook rejoice in the lightened cares and work brought when the relief is most opportune. A sapient youth once remarked to me how “lucky it is, don’t you know, that dish are in season in Lent.” The caterer and the cook regard as a special mercy the conjunction of hot weather and plenty of fruit.

The truth being that the human race would be healthier and longer-lived if we served desserts that require no cooking all the year through. No, dear reader! you would regard the flesh-pot as an essential to the diet of creatures who are stamped by nature as both carnivorous and graminivorous, I am not hammering in the dogma of raw foods! I but plead for moderation in all things, and that we admit to our daily fare things that draw nutriment and sweetness directly from the bosom of Mother Earth.

Their Especial Use.

Currants, berries, rhubarb, peaches, apples and pears, melons and grapes bring to jaded appetites and bile-laden systems each its own message. It is so plain that they were intended for our good that the pastry-loving man, though a fool, may not err in interpreting the lesson. A too-common blunder is in overlooking the benefits we might get from carrying the habit learned and practiced when the mercury is up to blood heat on into the winter solstice. For bile gathers as surely if more slowly then, and the digestive organs are sluggish to congestion.

True, we need carbon in cold weather, and meat and oils engender carbon. Hence the Eskimo’s and Laplander’s dietary of train oil and seal blubber. Does it occur to the advocate of heat-making foods that neither Eskimo nor Laplander is a model of athletic comeliness?

Beginning with the earliest spring berries, we note their beautiful adaptation to the condition of the winter-taxed body. The acids of berry and of cheery act directly upon the blood and biliary secretions. I have heard young women congratulate themselves upon the effect of strawberries, raspberries and cherries eaten in abundance, upon the complexion. Not one in a hundred stops to trace the clearing and coloring of the sensitive cuticle to the inward cause of the change. Nor are our girls singular in the failure to look below the surface of things everybody is supposed to know.

Peaches are yet more catholic in principle and benignant in action. They may be indexed as a capital all-around fruit. They correct constipation, yet have a decided tendency to brace the intestines. Prussic acid, in minute quantities, is secreted in the fragrant cells of the luscious peach, and as a heat, not a destroying principle.

“Fruits”—to quote from other published deliverances of mine upon this matter—“contain predigested food elements which do not clog the system and which are valuable in sustaining strength. Fruit acids cleanse the stomach and bowels, and at the same time are nutritive elements of diet. They are foods and medicines, or rather foods which avert the necessity of medicine.”

The specific effect of the fruit which precedes thee heavier business of the first meal of the day is the “cleansing” spoken of in the preceding paragraph. After the sleep of the night and the inaction of the digestive organs a sort of mucous film forms upon the coat of the stomach, indisposing it to do its proper work. The gentle acids remove this and awaken the organ to a sense of what is expected of it. In passing, I may say that this preliminary operation removes the stigma from the cereal succeeding the acid. One writer upon gastronomy asserts in round terms that he would “as soon cover the coat of his stomach with a viscid poultice as compel it to take care of a bowl of oatmeal or hominy early in the morning.”

Oranges have an advantage above the great majority of other fruits of being obtainable all the year. They are anti-bilions. So are lemons. The orange is agreeable to the taste and has nutritious qualities not shared by the more tart cousin.

Right Royal.

Of the king of fruits—the apple—I have written so often and at such length that I approach the subject warily. There is not a month of the 12 in which it is not at least partially in season. It is scarce in late August and early September, unless one counts as one of the royal lines the thin-blooded faintly acid and altogether unworthy specimens yclept “summer apples.” Certain varieties are acerb to a proverb, others are as insipid as cotton wool, and as indigestible.

But the apple proper, tender of flesh yet firm to the touch, rich in coloring and fragrant as Araby the blest, cannot be over-praised.

“Eat an apple daily, and live forever!” says an old proverb. And an English pundit who has made fruit values a life-long study:

“The apple is rich in phosphoric acid. This last contains the least amount of earth-salts, and for that reason is probably the nearest approach to the Elixir of Life known to the scientific world.”

The pineapple is getting its innings in the twentieth century. “One of the best of fruits,” declares one standard encyclopedia.

An eminent botanist goes a step further:

“The pineapple is universally acknowledged to be one of the most delicious fruits in existence.”

The exquisite flavor and the refreshing properties of the juice have long entitled it to a more than respectable rank as a dessert fruit. Within the last dozen years medical science has raised it to the dignity of an acknowledged curative and digestive agent. For long there was a popular impression that it is indigestible to tender stomachs and unfit for young children. The prejudice was not groundless so far as the average pineapple of commerce is concerned. It is plucked before it is ripe, packed before it has “sweated” off the rind moisture and transported to market a thousand and more miles away. What marvel if the fiber is though as hickory splints and the juices tart to acridity?

With the practical annihilation of long distances by the miracles of rapid transit that take our breath away, literally and figuratively, the real pineapple is brought to our knowledge. Stripped of the skin and rid of the core, both of which have an astringency that bites the tongue and scalds the throat, it fully justifies the definition of the cyclopedist. The juice is prescribed by our ablest physicians as a remedial agent in cases of diphtheria and other forms of sore throat. It has been known to relieve croup when medicines have failed. Strangest of all, it is recommended, and with reason, for dyspepsia. The expressed juice, administered by the wineglassful, is a tonic and a corrective of heartburn and general weakness of the alimentary organs.

An enthusiastic “fruitarian” assures us that, “in addition to nutritive properties hardly inferior to those of lean beef, the juice is a wonderful digester and the basis of an extract of marvelous efficacy in reliving stubborn cases of dyspepsia.”

Time was and within the memory of the reader of middle age, when olives, English walnuts and “Malaga” grapes, figs, boxed raisins and pineapples were delicacies imported from beyond seas for rich men’s tables. California and Hawaii have brought them all within the reach of households of moderate means. Nobody wants Seville and Sicilian oranges who has known the luxury of the Florida fruit. Ripe olives from California have a tender richness the orchards of Italy never provide for us. And the Hawaiian pineapple yield promises to drive out of the market the tough-fibered, comparatively sour fruit we have, up to now, known under that name. Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad that the “most delicious of fruits” is decreasing in cost and increasing in goodness, while meat and cereals are on the steady (and sinful) rise.

If I linger on this section of our subject it is because I have but lately learned the excellence and comparative cheapness of this variety of what we may proudly claim as a native fruit. It has the signal advantage of suffering less from cooking and canning than a majority of fruits. Apples, peaches, pears and berries undergo a chemical, and not a pleasant, change of taste and texture when subjected to heat. The home variety of pineapple we have referred to retains delicacy of tissues and exquisite aroma when canned.

This matter of fruit desserts that we may have all the year round is fraught with such lively interest to me personally that I grow garrulous. It is not practicable in the compass of one article to do even partial justice to the immense variety of native products which justify the declaration of a distinguished editor and lecturer that “the finest fruit market in the world is to be found in New York city.” And this upon the morrow of his return from a journey around the globe and visits to most of the principal cities of the world.

Grapes deserve more room than our bounds will allow today.

“I write it down as an indubitable fact that it is a physical impossibility for a healthy man or woman to eat enough ripe grapes to hurt him or her,” is a familiar quotation from writings of a renowned authority upon health and diet.

He said it over 50 years ago. In that time I have kept a sharp lookout upon the grape market and grape consumers, and I believe he spoke the truth in soberness, if not in love for his race.

To borrow again from my own library. “The large amount of water, sugar, salts and organic acids they contain purifies the blood and acts favorably upon the secretions of the body.”

And a final and significant hint to the women of all ages, especially to the young:

“Fruit eaten before breakfast and at meals tends to reduce the redness of the nose and otherwise improves the complexion.”

N.B. and P.S.—Pastries and hot doughs have a tendency to thicken the blood and muddy the skin. This is emphatically true in hot weather.

Marion Harland

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Some Old Southern Dishes

This is the third article in April of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on April 18, 1909, and is an article on Southern cooking, specifically cooking the hog.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Some Old Southern Dishes

I HAVE heard that you are a Virginian by birth. So was my grandmother, who used to entertain us by the hour with tales of the ‘way people lived then,’ and especially what royal ‘tables they set.’ That was her phrased. ‘He sets a good table,’ was her idea of hospitality, and ‘She does not set a good table,’ her way of condemning a poor housekeeper. I learned from her to hold a high opinion of the old school of housewives. Their families must have fared sumptuously every day, if half of what she said was true. If we have poultry once a week I consider that John and the boys have no right to complain of their table fare. Grandmother talked of mountains of fried chicken every other day, and the turkey that graced the foot of the table as regularly as Sunday came around, as long as the bird of plenty was in season, as matters of course.

“Her tales made our mouths water. Now, won’t you give up one of the days devoted to your cozy chats in the Exchange page to descriptions of some of the dishes we have heard so much of that we are disposed to look down upon our daily menus as less than mediocre? Did the tables groan literally, as well as figuratively, under the loads of good things, or does distance magnify, while it lends enchantment to the dear old lady’s views.”

“Miriam S.D. (Utica, N.Y.)”

As to the groan of the stout mahogany under which our forefather stretched their legs with great content, we must bear in mind that the said tables were spread before the introduction of what one of the markers of the big fortunes that swell the tax bills of our land called in my hearing the other day, “a dinnay ah lah Roose.” We set fewer dishes upon the board with each course as we advance in the minor refinements of civilization. Our grandmothers held that a table was ill-furnished that did not have a roast or boiled joint, or round, or fowl at each end, and a double line of side dishes making close connections with these. Down the center of the cloth were ranged pickles, jellies and relishes, meeting about the tall silver caster in the middle of the table. There was no room for flowers and mere decorations.

Abundant Sweets.

I recall, as an illustration if this prodigality, and what we would ban as unseemly and deappetizing crowding of dishes, that I had the curiosity, as a girl of 14, who had been trained to keep silence while her elders talked, to count the dishes brought in for dessert after the load of meats and vegetables was removed to make way for the next course. There were 20 kinds of sweets, including two varieties of ice cream, three pies, two puddings and two kinds of jelly. Preserves, cakes, great and small, and fruits made up the count. This was at a quiet dinner party at which two families from adjoining plantations, and nobody else, were present.

In your grandmother’s list of Southern dishes I assume that ham and other parts of the inevitable pig had a conspicuous place. Large herds of these were raised on every plantation, numbering hundreds to each owner. Yet they were insufficient to supply the demand in town and country. Immense droves were brought into the States of Maryland and Virginia from Kentucky and Ohio and slaughtered yearly to fill smokehouses and meat cellars. Therefore, in my enumeration of what went to make up the “good living” eulogized by your venerable and truthful relative, bacon and its congeners must take the lead. No dinner was round and perfect whole that did not have a boiled or baked ham or shoulder at the top or bottom of the board.

Steamed Ham.

Soak in cold water for 12 hours after it has been well washed with warm water and a stuff brush. Then steam over boiling water for at least 25 minutes to the pound, keeping the water at a fierce boil all the time.

Skin when cold and dab with dots of black pepper.

Baked and Glazed Ham.

Scrub hard to get off all the rusty and smoke-dried crust. Then soak for 12 hours. Change the water for lukewarm and soak all day in this changing four times for warmer water. The last water should be hot enough to soften the skin, allowing you to pull it off carefully, not to tear it. Trim off the rusty, ragged portions on the underside of the skinned ham; lay it, thus prepared, in a dish and wash with a cloth dipped in a mixture of a half a cup of vinegar, a glass of sherry or Madeira, a teaspoonful of made mustard, a tablespoonful of brown sugar, stirred together. Repeat the washing hourly all day; cover the ham to keep in the flavor of the sauce and leave it thus all night. Next day wash hourly four times. Finally, lay the ham in a dripping pan, pour a cupful of hot water about it to prevent burning, and cover while it bakes slowly. Add to a fresh supply of the mixture I have indicated a cupful of boiling water, and get this where it will keep hot, basting freely with it (every 10 minutes) until the liquor flows from the ham into the dripping pan. Then haste with that.

Bake 25 minutes to the pound after the ham begins to exude juices. When a flesh fork pierces readily to the bone it is done. Remove to a large dish and cover with a paste half an inch thick made of cracker crumbs, milk and melted butter, with a beaten egg worked in at the last to bind the paste. Set in the oven to brown.

To make a sauce for this “royal” dish, strain and skim the gravy, add a glass of wine, a tablespoonful of catsup, the juice of a lemon and a dash of sugar. Boil up and send to the table in a boat.

The baked ham was eaten hot by our ancestors, carved in thin slices always. A “hunk” of bacon was a solecism. It was especially delicious when cold. Then the slices were of wafer-like thinness, curling like pink and white shavings over the carver.

Other by-products of the invaluable porker known to our forebears and lost to the denizens of northern climes, were chine and sparerib. They were as unlike the bony sections vended under those names in New Pork, Chicago and Philadelphia as a tender fillet of beef to a firstly shinbone.

A New York butcher to whom I made this plaint let me into part of the secret of the unlikeness:

“You see, ma’am, we in this part of the world aim to get all the meat off the sparerib and backbone, and don’t care what becomes of the rest. In Virginia they leave all the meat that can be left, without skimping some other piece—bacon sides, and the like.”

Another reason for the difference in the quality of the tidbits, and indeed, in the flavor of the “whole hog,” is that the Southern breed is fed upon corn in winter, and mast-fed all summer and autumn long. Moreover, to slaughter and put upon the market an animal that has passed the bloom of early maturity would be a barbarity to the eating public. A stringy, tough ham would be scorned by a beggar.

After this manner, then, did your granddame and mine prepare this choice viand for the delectation of those for whom they catered.

Roast Chine.

Score the skin on the ridge heavily. Put the chine down in the dripping pan with a half cup of hot water to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Cover with thick greased paper for the first half hour to retain the juices. Remove the paper at the end of that time and dredge the chine with flour. As soon as the grease shows through the flour, baste well with butter, and every ten minutes afterward plentifully with its own gravy. Season with salt and pepper and cook 20 minutes to the pound. Just before taking it up strew thickly with fine breadcrumbs, seasoned with powdered sage, pepper, salt and a small onion minced very fine. Cook five minutes after this crust goes on, basting it with butter. Dish the chine and keep hot while you skim the gravy of all the fat that will come off, putting it back over the fire, adding a half cupful of hot water, the juice of a lemon and enough browned flour to thicken the gravy. Boil up once, strain and pour over the mat. Serve tomato catsup with it.

This dish is nice when hot, and yet better when it is cold. My mother’s recipe from which the foregoing recipe is abridged, asserts that “the meat next the ribs is delicious when scraped off and made into sandwiches or laid upon buttered toast.”

To which I enjoin a fervid assent in memory of school day luncheons and picnics.

Roast Sparerib.

It is cooked just as chine is prepared for eating, only there is no dorsal strip of skin to be scored. It is as good hot as when cold, and there was seldom enough left for a left-over.

Time and space would fail me were I to attempt to speak of sausage, the savoriness of which one never knows in this degenerate day—real young pork sausage, with not an ambiguous ingredient in it; or of roast pig! Charles Lamb has been there before me. Or of pork steaks, chops and tenderloins; of pork potpie, as dear to every Englishman’s hear as the reminiscence is to the hoary-haired Virginian. They treat pork in Great Britain as our ancestors handled it, and value it accordingly.

Next week we shall talk of Southern poultry and sweets as our grandmothers cooked and our grandfathers ate them.

Marion Harland

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With a Chafing Dish

This is the second article in March of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on March 14, 1909, and is an article on the chafing dish for Lenten cooking.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

With a Chafing Dish

“DO NOT leave Paris without visiting M. Frederic Delair. To watch him as he prepares, on half a dozen chafing dishes, the pressed duck to which he has given an international reputation, is an experience you cannot afford to miss. And to eat it after he has cooked it is a gastronomic event.”

With the admonition in our minds, we left our hotel one August evening after a wearying round of last sightseeing that disposed us for rest rather than for new “experiences” of any kind. Had we not been hungry as well as tired, I doubt if even the fear of losing the spectacle of M. Frederic and the international gastronomic exploit would have tempted us forth.

We took a couple of motor cars for the party. The absurdly low rates at which the tourist may ride through foreign city and country are a lure to the expenditure of all one’s loose cash in riotous motoring; one is ashamed to recall after one returns to his native land and home cab and hack fares. In ten minutes after leaving the Normandie we alighted, cooled by the rapid spin through street and boulevard, at a modest restaurant in a quiet corner that did not look “fashionable.”

“Frederic Delair, Sr.,” was on the sign above the door. Generations of seniors and juniors may have served the public and filled their own pockets at the same “old stand.” The sensible Parisian does not move uptown as soon as he has made his fortune in a particular locality.

The interior of the famous eating house was no more pretentious than the façade. Several long, low-browed rooms opening out of one another were neatly furnished with tables set with the exquisite taste that belongs to the humblest French café. The linen was glossy, the silver shone and the glass sparkled. Flowers graced every broad and filled jardinieres were set in the windows. Early as it was, but one table capable of accommodating our company of five was unoccupied. Groups of well-dressed, well-mannered guests had taken possession of every room, and we were at once struck by the general air of expectancy that pervaded the assembly. It was no ordinary and conventional bite and sup that had drawn us hither.

The August Chef.

Down the middle of each room was a row of service tables, presided over by “garcons,” spick and span in attire, irreproachable in clean-shaven faces and in coiffure. We had hardly settled ourselves to our satisfaction when a man walked slowly down the length of the suite of rooms in the aisle next the service tables. His movements were so deliberate that we had time to comment in idle amusement upon the incongruity of his appearance with the smartly dressed officials before we noted that he addressed some remark in passing to the occupants of the various tables. He may have been 55 years of age; a full beard, which left his upper lip bare, was lightly grizzled; he wore a long frock coat, sagging open from eh waist down; a wisp of cravat was white; his build was stocky, and he stooped very slightly in walking. He might have posed as Edward Eggleston’s Hoosier Schoolmaster, or he might have been the Parson Poundtext of 50 years agone, just off the circuit of a dozen Tennessee counties. Not until he halted at our corner table and “hoped that mesdames and messieurs would enjoy the dinner that would presently be served to them,” enunciating the formula in gentle, persuasive tones in French that had a plaintive cadence, did it down upon us that he was connected with the café. A major-domo, perhaps, or a superannuated head butler, kept for form’s sake, we concluded among ourselves.

Amused curiosity gave way to amazement, as, with the mien of a master, he took his stand by the central service table and accepted the glittering carver handed to him by an obsequious waiter. At the same instant six men appeared in the kitchen door, bearing as many lordly platters, each containing a pair of roast ducks, plump, smoking hot and savory. In a trice these were set beside six chafing dishes we had not observed before. Each chafing dish was flanked by an odd construction of bright metal surmounted by a wheel. Five assistants seized carvers, and with the precision of machines, the ducks were stripped down to the carcasses. I never saw such swift carvers elsewhere. The sliced breasts and the disjointed wings and legs were laid upon hot dishes; all that remained—bones and stuffing—went into the hoppers of the queer machines, and the shining wheels revolved as if moved by one man’s hand and will. From the tunnels at the bottom of the presses began to flow into vessels set to receive it a rich, ruddy liquid—the very essence of the juicy, flavorous meat. This was turned into the deep “blazers” of the chafing dishes, seasoned, and thickened with the same marvelous speed and dexterity that had characterized the preceding maneuvers, and the double burners below the dishes were lighted. Between the lazing lamps and the door were glass screens hinged to protect the flame from chance draughts. When the bubble began, the sliced meat was laid in the unctuous gravy; a few minutes sufficed to heat it through, and pressed duck was served and distributed to the waiting and watching crowd.

As soon as the ceremony began, every man and woman there had turned about to face the high priest and his satellites. It fell out that the portion assigned to us in the corner was that prepared by the hands of the august chef. To say that e partook of it reverently would hardly be an exaggeration. Not a word had been spoken by him or his lieutenants while the swift work went forward to complete perfection.

Anywhere else the performance might have been ridiculous. Scene, actors and accessories made it almost solemn.

The French cook is an artist born. To Frederic Delair, Sr., the task laid to his skilled hands was as important as the rendition of a great musical opus to the maestro who plays upon men’s heart-strings as upon a well-tuned harp. If I had never comprehended until that night what has made his nation the banner cooks of the world, I would have learned the secret through the pantomime enacted in our sight.

The Lenten Chafing Dish.

As I have written once and again, we take cookery too lightly. If we do what is set before us, with our might, it is muscle and not spirit that performs the work. One and all, we might become humble learners in the Academy of the Fine Arts presided over by the grey-bearded genius who looked like a frontier circuit-rider, and felt himself to be a king among men.

An American author who has gained for herself an enviable reputation as a past-mistress in the manipulation of the utensils she praises, writes of the chafing dish:

“There are still a few people who have so little appreciation of cookery as a fine art that they are bored by the sight of the workings of this utensil. These persons are, happily, in a small minority. Nearly every one feels a keen interest in watching the preparation of the dish that is soon to gratify his palate, and the hostess who presides over the chafing dish is usually flattered (or fluttered) by finding herself the center of observation.”

In another chapter of the valuable little handbook of the chafing dish from which I take these hints she goes on to say:

“The housekeeper of either sex who cooks on a chafing dish should be careful to have all the ingredients at hand before beginning operations. Many a good dish has been injured, if not actually spoiled, because the cook has had to wait at the last moment while some one hunted for the pepper, or measured the milk, or rushed for the lemon squeezer. Most of the measuring should be done in advance, and each ingredient should be put in place by the hand of the one who is to do the cooking.”

I congratulate the members of the Exchange in advance upon the fact that the few recipes, which are all I have room for here, are extracted by special permission of the author from the dainty and practical handbook to which I have referred just now. I purposely select dishes suitable for Lenten luncheons and suppers.

Fresh Cod with Anchovy.

Flake cold boiled cod, and to two cups of this allow two hard-boiled eggs, minced fine, a tablespoonful of anchovy paste and a cupful of white sauce. When this last is cooked smooth and thick stir in the anchovy and the eggs, and then the fish. Toss up from the bottom, that the taste of the anchovy may get all through the fish.

Shad Roes, Sautes.

Prepare the roes by boiling ten minutes in salted water to which has been added a teaspoonful of vinegar. This may be done in the lower compartment of the chafing dish. When the roes are done lay them in cold water for five or ten minutes to blanch them; then dip them in flour. Put two tablespoonfuls of butter into the blazer and lay in the roes. They will cook more evenly and quickly if you will cut each into two or three pieces.

When they are done, take them out, melt a little more butter in the blazer, and serve this with each portion of the roes. Pass sliced lemon with this dish.

Panned Oysters.

Melt two tablespoonfuls of butter in the blazer, and when it hisses lay in it twenty good-sized oysters which have been drained and dried between two towels. As soon as the edges curl, dust with pepper and salt and serve at once on toast.

Oysters a la Poulette.

Thirty oysters, one pint of cream, one tablespoonful of butter, one tablespoonful of flour, one-half teaspoonful of salt, saltspoonful of white pepper, three grates of nutmeg.

Put in the butter, and when it simmers, add the four; stir smooth, and mix in the cream, stirring constantly. Boil up once and put in the oysters. Cook about four minutes. Hen they plump nicely, season and serve on buttered toast or on toasted and buttered crackers.

Panned Oysters a la Newburg.

Cook the oysters as directed in the last recipe, and when they “ruffle” or “curl” stir in two tablespoonfuls of sherry in two tablespoonfuls of sherry or madeira. Cook one minute longer and serve on toast.

Little Pigs in Blankets.

Drain large, plump oysters and wrap about each a very thin slice of corned pork or fat bacon, skewering them together with a stout straw or a wooden toothpick. Lay in the heated blazer and cook until the pork heated blazer and cook until the pork or bacon is clear and crisped.

Eggs with Black Butter.

Three tablespoonfuls of butter, half a teaspoonful of vinegar, salt and pepper to taste; three or four eggs as you have room for them in the blazer.

Cook the butter in the blazer until it is a dark brown—almost black. Break in the eggs then, one at a time, and carefully, lest they should run. Baste with the butter until they are done, adding the vinegar just before you take them up, and sprinkle with pepper and salt.

Marion Harland

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