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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How to Jelly Small Fruits

This is the second article in June of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on June 13, 1909, and is an article on the development of canning jellies and jams. Mrs. Harland also comments on the use of slang reguarding the shortening of words like ‘jelly.’

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

How to Jelly Small Fruits

IMPRIMIS, don’t sey “jell!”

Although the young housewife in Miss Alcott’s inimitable “Little Women” did bewail her evil case when her currants wouldn’t “jell,” take time to say “jelly.” At this point I digress from the main line to entreat correspondents to snatch, or make, time in writing to me to use the little personal pronoun “I.” Don’t say, “Would like to ask” or “Would say” in beginning a sentence. Write, “I should like to ask” and “I would say.” I have to supply the missing pronoun in putting MSS into printable shape. Say, likewise, in writing a recipe, “Let it stand,” instead of “Let stand.”

I believe “jell” to be a New England provincialism. Hence, “Meg’s” use of it. I have heard the shaking mold of translucent conserve offered to the guest in a Massachusetts farmhouse spoken of as “jell.” The monosyllable falls lawfully into line with other curtailed words under the new regime of orthography. When we cut off and drop into the waste basket the stately terminations of “prologue” and “catagloue” and make “thru” do service for “through,” we may be thankful to have the body of our “jelly” left to us.

A few prefatory words to the directions for putting up small fruits in this form may not be superfluous.

Not Overripe.

The berries must be fully ripe, but not what is called “dead ripe.” The old saying that currant jelly will not be firm unless put up before the Fourth of July has this proviso of perfect ripeness as a warrant. The housemother who understands her profession has learned that, in most instances there must be acid in the fruit she would jelly. Blackberries, strawberries and red raspberries, even the wild blackcap, if really ripe, do not jelly easily. The mixture of currants and raspberries, of which I shall speak presently, owes form, as well as flavor, to the red juice of the tart berry. Blackberry and strawberry jelly, if there be no addition of lemon juice or other acid, must be set in uncovered glasses in the hottest June sunshine or the vertical rays of the July sun for several days, hat evaporation may “boil down” the conserve to the right consistency. I have never been successful with peach jelly, except when lemon juice was added to the over-sweet syrup. This is the reason why the small fruits and before the sugared juice would be cooked into cloying sweetness.

Red Currant Jelly.

Gather the fruit on a sunny day. It is not necessary to strip it from the stems on which the cluster grow. In fact, the succulent stems contain an acid of their own that adds to the flavor of the jelly. Wash the fruit well, draining it in a colander, and pack into a stout stone or agate-iron jar. Put on a close cover and set the jar in a pot of cold water. The water should come more than two-thirds of the way to the top of the crock. Set the pot on the side of the range and go about your other duties for an hour or more. Then look into the jar, and crush down the heating berries with a wooden paddle. Move the kettle to a warmer place and close the jar again.

I usually heat the fruit all night, setting the pot over a very slow fire that will die down before morning. Before breakfast I visit the kitchen and examine the fruit. It is invariably broken all to pieces and, if not cold, quite cool enough to handle with comfort. It is then turned into a bag of doubled cheesecloth and suspended over a wide bowl to drip. A long-legged, backless chair is set, heels upward, on a table; the four corners of the bar are lashed to the inverted legs high enough up to allow the bowl to stand beneath. While we are at breakfast the juice drips steadily, and by the time the meal is over the pulp, or “pomace,” is almost dry. The residue of the juice is expressed by squeezing. If there be a pair of manly hands which are both willing and strong they are coaxed into service for this park of the work. A few dexterous twists of the crimsoned cloth and half a dozen mighty squeezes leave the pomace juiceless. The pulp is emptied into the garbage pail and the bag thrown into cold water to soak.

Measure the strained juice and put it over the fire in a preserving kettle. Weigh out as many pounds of sugar as you have pints of juice. Divide the sugar into three or four portions and spread each upon a platter or a shallow pan. Set these in the oven, leaving it open for the first 10 minutes and stirring several times. Close the oven when the juice in the kettle begins to simmer, but watch the contents of the platters, lest the hot sugar begin to melt. Stir often. When the juice boils hard skim off the scum, and when the boil has lasted 20 minutes dump in the hot sugar as fast as you can, stirring vigorously. After it has dissolved, which will be very soon, let the syrup boil exactly one minute.

Pour the jelly into small tumblers which you have rolled over and over in hot water to prevent cracking as the jelly fills them. The glasses must be taken directly from the hot water and filled while wet. At this stage of the process an assistant is needed to fish out the glasses and pass them to the main worker. If these rules be followed, and the fruit be ripe and not overripe, the jelly will form by the time it is in the glasses. Let it get perfectly cold; pour melted paraffine on the top of each glass and fit on metal tops or, if you have none, paste paper covers on them.

In over 45 years of jelly-making I have never lost a glass put up according to this recipe. The flavor of the fruit is preserved far better than when juice and sugar are cooked together in the old way and boiled down thick. The jelly is clear and sparking.

Keep in a cool, dry place.

Black Currant Jelly.

Make as above. It is highly recommended for coughs and as a tonic. It is more palatable if the black are mixed with a third as many red, ripe currants.

Gooseberry Jelly and Jam.

Top and tall the berries and beat them as for other jelly. They are very juicy, and if all the liquor that will flow from them after adding sugar were put with the jam it would be too thin. Therefore, turn the berries when soft and broken into a colander; let them drain without pressing or shaking. When most of the juice has run into the bowl below, empty the colander into a preserving kettle after measuring the berries. Bring to a boil; add a pound and a quarter of sugar to each pint of berries; stir to dissolving and cook steadily half an hour. Put up in jam pots, covering with paraffine, then fitting on tops.

For the jelly, strain the juice through a cheesecloth bag to get rid of the seeds that have escaped through the colander; measure it and heat as for other jelly. When it has boiled for 20 minutes stir in the heated sugar, a generous pound to each pint of juice, gooseberries being very acid.

Currant and Raspberry Jelly.

Allow one part of red currants to two of the red raspberries; heat both kinds of fruit together and proceed as I have directed.

The flavour is exquisite. It is particularly nice for jelly roll or for layer cake.

Green Gooseberries.

These may be put up in like manner, making delicious jelly for meat. The jam made of the reserved and unpressed pulp, or “pomace,” needs nearly a pound and a quarter of sugar for each pint of berries.

Red Raspberry and Pineapple Jelly.

Wash a ripe pineapple and cut it small without paring, the skin holding a peculiarly fine flavor. Set it over the fire in a farina (double) boiler and cook very tender. At the same time heat red raspberries enough to give out twice as much juice as you get from the pineapple. When all are cooked to pieces, strain and press out the juice from berries and from pineapple; mix in the proportions I have indicated and boil 20 minutes before adding heated sugar, pint for pound.

The blended flavors and acids produce a delicious jelly.

Blackberry Jelly.

This is made in the same way and subject to the same infirmity as that which attends the strawberry. It is worth putting up in liberal quantities for family use. The flavor is fine and it is extremely wholesome, also curative in cases of summer complaints. As the contents of the glasses shrink in evaporating fill one from the other. Out of a dozen glasses you may get nine when they have been sunned into consistency.

Don’t try to boil it down. You will injure the taste, darken the color and, ten chances to one, succeed in producing syrup, not jelly.

Strawberry Jelly.

Make according to the rules given for currant jelly. It is but fair to warn you that you may have to set the glasses in the sun for two or three days before the jelly will form.

Marion Harland

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Some Old Southern Dishes (continued)

This is the final article in April of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on April 25, 1909, and is a continuation of the previous article on Southern recipes. I particularly like the mention of how peacocks were raised more to be eaten than for decoration!

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

Some Old Southern Dishes (continued)

I SPOKE last week of the prominence given to pork—fresh and corned and smoked—by the Southern cooks of ye olden time. Next to this staple stood poultry of all kinds. The reason for the extensive use of these two kinds of flesh-food is obvious, when we recall that there were no country markets in the South in the middle of the last century. Nor could what we style vaguely “butcher’s meat” be brought outside of the cities. Consequently, it was esteemed a luxury.

I well recollect that on the occasion of my first dinner part in my married home, which was in a country village, I sent 80 miles to Richmond to get a nice roast of beef to set forth the feast well and honorably. Poultry was a surfeit. Turkeys were raised upon every plantation, as were ducks, geese, chicken and pigeons, not to mention the guinea fowls, now sold at delicacies by fashionable market men and at exorbitant prices. Peacocks were likewise reared for eating, more than for ornament. A young peacock was tender and luscious, and often served at table in summer when turkey and geese were out of fashion.

“Ram, Lamb, Sheep and Mutton.”

Chickens never “Went out” from Christmas to Christmas. They were fabulously cheap. The negroes raised them in and about their own quarters, and were allowed to peddle them and eggs in the neighborhood on Saturday nights. They brought them into the village at all seasons, and in all weathers, on that, their holiday night.

I bought as many as I wanted for 25 cents a piece; eggs for 10 cents a dozen, and full-grown turkeys at 75 cents for gobblers, 50 cents for hens.

Amid all this abundance we longed for the flesh-pots of the shambles—veal, lamb and beef. The contemptuous summary of boarding-school fare familiar to every boy and girl, “ram, lamb, sheep and mutton,” would have been meaningless to us. When a sheep, a lamb, a calf or beef was slaughtered upon a plantation, portions were freely distributed as neighborly gifts within an area of ten miles, as we, the donor’s descendants, would send choice fruit and flowers. Otherwise it would have been impossible to get rid of it before it spoiled in a climate where the contents of the icehouse seldom lasted later than the middle of July, and it was not unusual for the winter to be so “open” that the icehouses were filled with snow, or perhaps went empty for the year.

The Oily Possum.

I digress slightly at this point to enter a housewifely protest, upon the authority of one who was born and brought up in the old South, against the prevalent belief, now raging into an absurd fad, that “possum” was ever a favorite dish with the whites of a former generation. In my own experience it appeared but once upon any table at which the “white folks” sat down to eat. That was when I, a petted child of ten, strolled into the kitchen in quest of chance tidbits, espied a possum cooked for the servants’ dinner and begged what I called “a ham” of the unctuous animal for myself. This I bore in triumph to the dining room upon a china dish from my doll’s tea set, and placed by my plate. The shout of derision from brothers and sisters and the fine disdain of my mother’s face fixed the scene in my memory. To this day I feel the mental and physical nausea that filled my small being as my father said quietly: “If you are going to eat that, my child, you must take it out upon the back porch.”

Where the dogs were fed! I eyed the greasy, rank, steaming and streaming morsel with loathing appreciation of the fact that it was part of an unclean beast. Nothing I ever heard or saw in Southern homes tended to alter the impression. The creature was no more the white man’s food than a muskrat would have been. The negroes caught and caged them for their private delectation, fattening them upon offal, such as the entrails of poultry, which the possum devoured by night. The flesh was pulpy, oily and redolent of the odor peculiar to the nocturnal prowler when alive. That I should live to see the day when it would bear a distinguished part in civic banquets held in honor of the chief magistrate-elect would have been an impossible imagination.

It is a curious characteristic of the lower classes in every country that they especially gloat upon fats and sweets. With the “colored people” of those bygone days (we were never allowed to call them “negroes”), the taste went with a barbaric love of bright colors and highly emotional religion. I do not pretend to explain the peculiarity. I state it as a fact and an idiosyncrasy in dismissing the unsavory “possum.”

Fried Chicken.

Fried chicken stook high and constantly upon the Southern housemother’s bill-of-fare.

Cut a pound of fat salt pork into small piece and fry until the grease is extracted, but not until to browns. Strain out the pork and set the frying pan with the fat in it on the fire. Have ready a young “broiler” which has been soaked for half an hour in salted water, then dried between two towels, seasoned with pepper and dredged with flour. Fry these pieces of chicken in the hot fat until brown on both sides. Turn twice. Take up the chicken, rain free of fat and set aside to keep hot in a covered dish over hot water. Pour into the gravy left in the frying pan a cup of rich milk (half cream, if you can get it ) into which you have stirred a pinch of baking soda; as it heats, stir in a tablespoonful of butter roiled in one of flour; cook to thickening, stirring all the time, add a tablespoonful of minced parsley, cook for one minute longer and pour over the dished chicken.

This is the genuine ancient and honorable recipe for “Virginia Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy,” popular upon hotel and restaurant menus as “Maryland Fried Chicken,” a palpable misnomer. The dish is delicious under either name.

The cream gravy is sometimes omitted and the chicken, prepared as above directed, is served up dry, with bunches of parsley dropped upon it and garnished with slices of fried bacon.

Chicken Batter Pudding.

Cut up a fat fowl as for fricassee, severing every joint; season well with salt and pepper and a tablespoonful of butter for each chicken, adding a teaspoonful of onion juice when the fowl is half done. Stew very slowly in just enough water to keep them from scorching before the juices of the fowl begin to make their own gravy. When tender, strain off the gravy and keep it hot.

Lay the pieces of chicken in a deep bakedish, arranging neatly in layers; thicken the gravy with browned flour and minced parsley and pour over the chicken.

Have the batter ready, but do not make it too long before the chicken is in the dish. Sift a pint of flour with a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, half as much soda and a saltspoonful of salt. Beat two eggs very light, yolks and whites together, stir into a large coffee cupful of milk, add two tablespoonfuls of melted butter; make a hole in the middle of the sifted flour and mix quickly to a rather stiff batter.

Pour this upon the hot chicken and gravy, and make in a steady, yet brisk, oven. The batter fills the interstices of the meat and absorbs the gravy in cooking.

If you have plenty of gravy, add to what is left the minced liver of the fowl, a dash of onion juice and chopped parsley, and send around with the pudding in a boat.

The left-over of fricasseed chicken may be utilized in this way, and most satisfactorily to the eaters thereof. I often do this, filling up the dish, with stewed fresh mushrooms, which I have never before known to be so plentiful and cheap as they are just now.

Smothered Chicken.

Split a pair of broilers—or tender fullgrown fowls—down the back, as for broiling. Lay them flat in the dripping pan, skin side up, and cover the pan with another of the same size, if you have not a covered roaster. (I hope you have!) Set in a hot oven, and at the end of five minutes baste with melted butter. Turn the chicken in half an hour, having basted them twice meanwhile with the butter. In ten minutes more they should be ready for the dredging. Sift heated flour over them on both sides, and wash once more with butter. Brown the flour. Test the joints with a fork, and if they are tender and no red juice flows out, take them up. Keep hot in a heated dish set over boiling water; thicken the gravy in the pan with browned flour, adding boiling water if there is not enough liquid; boil up once and pour into a gravy boat.

If the chickens be very large, gash each joint before putting down to cook. The “smothering” consists in keeping the fowls closely covered while in the oven, and imparts a pleasant flavor to the meat, besides retaining all the juices far better than in broiling.

Barbequed Chicken.

Broil the chickens in the usual way, and when they are dished pour over them this sauce:

Met two tablespoonfuls of butter in a saucepan, add the same quantity of vinegar, a teaspoonful of made mustard, a teaspoonful of sugar, a saltspoonful of salt and half as much pepper. Heat to a boil, mixing with a very little hot water should the ingredients not blend well, and pour over the chickens. Cover and leave over boiling water for five minutes before serving.

A most appetizing dish, and particularly welcome in the spring.

Barbecued “Old Hare.”

We call them “Rabbits” in the Northern and Middle States, in Virginia they were “old hares,” from their birth to their appearance upon the breakfast table as “barbecued.” They were usually steamed tender, then broiled and treated just as I have described the process of barbequing chicken. Barbequed ham was also in frequent request as a breakfast dish.

Transparent Pudding.

We called it a “pudding.” In reality it was a pie, being invariably baked in an open crust of fine pastry. It was often baked in small pastry shells. Then it was “transparent puddings.” It—or they—were ever delicious and were reckoned by unhappy dyspeptics as indigestible. Popular they were, and they will always be.

Cream half a pound of butter light, beat into the creamy mixture the yolks of six eggs, the juice of a lemon (strained), the grated rind of a lemon, a grated nutmeg and half a glass of good French brandy. Beat for three minutes—hard! and whip in the whites of six eggs.

Sometimes we reserved the whites of three eggs in the general mixing, and when the pies (or puddings) were “Set” in the baking, spread the meringue of the whipped whites, beaten up with three tablespoonfuls of powdered sugar and a little lemon juice, over the hot pies while in the oven. Then they were shut up again in the oven to brown the meringue slightly.

The pastry shells in which the transparent mixture was baked were the best the old-fashioned housemother could make. The puddings were eaten cold, by which time the puff-paste was almost translucent.

Yet the martyrs to a love of “good eating” were fewer then than now! Dyspeptics were few and far between, and the form of the unpleasant visitation diagnosed by twentieth century doctors as “nervous dyspepsia” was utterly unknown.

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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