Thursday, December 18, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly #15 - Sacred or Profane

15. Sacred or Profane December 14 - December 27
In this challenge, be as divine or as devious as you like! It could be a food with connections to a religion, a dish served for sacred celebrations, or a concoction with a not-so-polite name. Whatever your choice, show us how naughty and/or nice you can be!
The CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes that Patrick and I are using for the Historical Food Fortnightly Challenges have no shortage of recipes in the naughty category:  Deviled Egg and Tomato Wedge Salad, Creamed Eggs on Deviled Ham Toast, Deviled Crabmeat in Shells, Deviled Beets, Nut Deviled Eggs, Deviled Brussels Sprouts (yes, really!), and Deviled Crab Meat.  But with the Christmas celebration just one week away, it seems more fitting to think about angels. 
We find our angel in the July, August, September, 1951 volume:
Lemon Angel Pie with a drawing of the 1951's homemaker happily preparing her pie:

The ingredients are simple and the preparation is simple as well.  I remember learning that a good meringue is made with eggs that are "old and cold" and that memory drops me down the rabbit hole of internet research.  This link has the scientific properties to explain why old or fresh eggs, and cold or room temperature eggs, will give you the results you want for your specific meringue need.

We don our aprons and prepare our pie.

Simple ingredients.  Hey, what happened to the Cream of Tartar?  Okay, not shown:  Cream of Tartar.

Eggs are separated and the whites are beaten with sugar and cream of tartar added.

Meringue ready for baking.

Out of the oven and the meringue has risen above the pie pan.

Slightly cracked and beautifully browned.

While the meringue cools we prepare the lemon spread.
Egg yokes beaten with sugar added.

Ready for the lemon juice.

Lemon juice added and ready for cooking over low heat.

The mixture thickens while being stirred constantly.

Adding the grated lemon rind.
Time for the lemon spread to cool.

Meanwhile, we discover that our meringue has seriously deflated!  We don't really know if that is supposed to happen!  I've made meringue dessert shells that baked until completely firm but remember that took an overnight in the oven after a slow bake.  So we'll just see how this turns out and try baking a little longer in the re-do.
The deflated meringue.
Everything is cool and it's now time to spread the lemon and finish our Lemon Angel Pie.
Lemon spread....well....spread.

A dusting of confectioner's sugar.

A little more confectioner's sugar for presentation.

Dressed up!
The results?  Fantastically delicious!  The meringue is almost the same consistency as the spread and it cuts easily with a fork or spoon.  The meringue is sweet, the topping sweet but very very lemony and just wonderful!  We dare not make this desert often, because we were naughty and ate the whole thing!

We want to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone and a wonderful beginning to the New Year!  Wishing you a home full of love and light and good food!
Christmas 1997

Patrick and Jeanette

Friday, December 12, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #14 - Fear Factor

The Challenge:  #14 Fear Factor November 30 - December 13
What foods have you always wanted to attempt, but were afraid to attempt to make - or afraid to eat? Choose a dish that is either tricky to create or nerve-wracking to eat, and get adventurous! It’s historical Fear Factor!
Do you believe that we are born disliking something we have never tasted?  Ask any mother who has tried to get her two-year-old to eat broccoli and the answer is Yes!  There is even a phobia for the fear of food - cibophobia.  You might remember that Patrick's mother was a caterer.  She catered for Steven Spielberg when he filmed The Color Purple in North Carolina.  She had to keep it a secret until it was over and his thank you letter to her was a cherished piece of her history.  She enjoyed meeting Mr. Spielberg but was totally overjoyed with meeting Oprah Winfrey!
So with a mother who was all about food, you would think that Patrick would be a bit adventurous in the kitchen.  Not!  When I met him he ate chicken, rice, corn, and sometimes a potato.  Really!  Gradually he came to trust what I was placing before him and as he started his own cooking he has become more willing to try new things.
Until today.
When I told him what I was making.
He left the room.
So, to prevent you doing the same, here is the final result.
A luscious portion of tender meat drizzled with a raisin, mustard, and brown sugar sauce.  Delicious?  Absolutely!
But if you are a bit squeamish about your food you might want to stop here and just go into your own kitchen and have a dish of ice cream.  Because in my kitchen we are getting as adventurous as I could find in our mid-century recipe booklets.
Last chance!
You're still here?  Well then be prepared to be as surprised as I was (and ultimately as Patrick was) over the ease of preparation and the heavenly flavor of........
Beef Tongue -
- the tongue of a cow sold as meat for human consumption.  Chances are many of you have had beef tongue.  Eating the beef tongue, along with other types of offal or organ meats, reflects the need or desire to consume as much of a butchered animal as possible rather than wasting perfectly edible meat.  Several ethnic cuisines, including those of Mexico and Germany as well as traditional Jewish cookery, make liberal use of tongue in various traditional dishes and recipes.  Beef tongue and ox tongue are also part of other cuisines including Bulgarian, Turkish, French, Romanian, Spanish, Brazilian, Persian, Indonesian, Nicaraguan, Philippine, Albanian, English, Russian, Korean, Mongolian, Japanese, and Italian.  But never in recorded history has it been part of the cuisine of The Murray Household.
I'm pleasantly surprised to find beef tongue readily available at my usual market although I am surprised at the price.  $5.48 per pound.  When I consider that this is almost pure meat and no bone, I feel a little better about the expense of my 3.50# beef tongue.

I'm using the recipe from the April/May/June 1950 CBS Homemaker's Exchange Recipes.

The ingredients:
The water is boiling and it is time to combine everything and settle all into a slow simmer for 4 hours.
While the tongue is cooking I think about the difference between Patrick and I when it comes to food choices.  Patrick's grandfather was a butcher and Patrick spent some time visiting friends at nearby farms, but mostly he was a city kid.  My life has been very rural.
My father is a wonderful man and was diagnosed with epilepsy.  At the time I was born in Wisconsin epileptics were not allowed to marry.  The state annulled his marriage to my mother  shortly after I was born and I moved in with grandma and grandpa while my mother went to work.  Fortunately, the laws were changed in the early 1950s but by then my mother had remarried.  When my mother and stepfather divorced in the 1960s, joint custody of children and no-fault divorce were not the norm as they are today.  My stepfather wanted custody of the four children and won that legal battle.  The fallout, however, was me.  Since he had never legally adopted me, I became a ward of the state and on my last day of school of the 8th grade I was moved to a foster home.
Children are so amazingly resilient.  They often live life being accepting that what is is what is supposed to be.  And so did I.  It was a wonderful home on a beautiful farm.  We had a huge garden, chickens, pigs, dairy and beef cattle.  I played in the field with Charlie, my calf, who was born on the day I arrived.  I watched him grow, watched him die and was helped to understand and accept the circle of life that puts food on our table.  That understanding is missing in some ways today as we see our food packaged and labeled and placed neatly in rows at the market.  Times change.  Epileptics can marry and raise families.  Children of divorced homes can continue to be with and love both parents.  Good change.
Back to the kitchen and the wonderful aroma of cooking! 
Now that our beef tongue has cooked and is cooling in the pot of juices, it is time to make the raisin sauce.
Raisin Sauce ingredients.

Blended dry ingredients.

Dry ingredients mixed with vinegar.

Simmered raisins.

Finished raisin sauce.
It is important that the outside of the beef tongue be removed while the meat is still hot.  It's an easy slice and peel.

At this point Patrick walks into the kitchen.  Why?  Because the aroma is really heavenly!  I've already tasted a piece and remember that I have eaten beef tongue before.  It is sweet, tender, and a knife goes through it like butter.  Patrick can't resist.  He takes a small piece and puts it in his mouth but then puts a finger to his temple and shakes his head.  He can't NOT think about what this meat is and he walks away.
Me, on the other hand, plate up a serving with the raisin sauce and enjoy a wonderful meal.  But then, I'm a country girl!

Enjoy, if you aren't afraid!
Just Jeanette here this time!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #13 - Ethnic Foodways

The Challenge:  Foodways and cuisine are at the heart of every ethnic group around the world and throughout time.  Choose one ethnic group, research their traditional dishes or food, and prepare one as it is traditionally made.

When you hear the name Patrick Murray do shamrocks come to mind?  Most likely!  The Scots-Irish (Scotch-Irish) Migration brought many families to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries and Patrick's ancestors settled in the Carolinas.  In 1982 Patrick's career transferred him from North Carolina to Chicago, Illinois.  In 1990 I was accepted into the University of Chicago graduate program and took a position in the same company where Patrick was employed.  We met and married in Chicago in 1992.   The City of Chicago boasts a large Irish population.  Chicago celebrates St. Patrick's Day as fully as it can possibly be celebrated.  Even the river is dyed green!
One block from where Jeanette lived and a block from where Patrick and Jeanette met.
As you've probably already guessed, we're going to share with you some Irish recipes.  If you were here we would make you a green beer, Chicago style!
Like all traditional cultural cuisines, Irish cuisine if influenced by the crops grown and animals farmed in that climate.  In the second half of the 16th century the potato was introduced which heavily influenced Ireland's cuisine thereafter.  Traditional Irish recipes tend to be simple and hearty, and nothing is wasted.  As the saying goes, every part of the pig is eaten except the oink!  Traditional recipes would include Bacon and Cabbage, Irish Stew, Leek and Potato Soup, Nettle Soup, Irish Soda Bread, Irish Brown Bread, Spotted Dog, Colcannon, and Champ.  A great website for these recipes and some fun history is here:
Today is the last Saturday of November and Patrick is hunting deer.  He has already harvested one which has been processed and is in the freezer for the winter.  The deer population is quite heavy in our area and the hunting season extends from early September until late December and sometimes even January.  Patrick hunts with bow and muzzleloader.  The temperatures have dropped and he will be chilled when he comes home for a mid-day meal.  I'm going to make something from our CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes booklets - Irish Stew and Irish Soda Bread.
January, February, March 1951

The ingredients for Irish Stew - lamb, onion, carrots, turnips, potatoes, and peas for garnish.
I really don't remember ever having eaten a turnip and I certainly don't remember how to prepare one!  Some internet research gives me the tip of cutting off the ends to create a flat surface and then peeling from the top down, flipping the turnip over, and peeling the remainder.  A great tip to prevent peeling too much flesh off the turnip, or peeling any flesh off my fingers!

A turnip successfully and painlessly peeled.

The lamb is cut and browned in oil.

Onion is sliced and cooked until tender.

A bay leaf added, covered with water, and all allowed to simmer for 1-1/2 hours.  Yes, the aroma is wonderful!

The carrots are sliced, potatoes and turnips peeled and diced, and all simmered for 30 minutes.  (Tummy tells me I'm getting hungry!)
While the vegetables are simmering it's time to make the Irish Soda Bread.
January, February, March 1950

Ingredients for Irish Soda Bread.

Dry ingredients are mixed, then shortening is cut in with pastry blender.

Raisins and caraway seeds added.

Buttermilk and vinegar mixed, added to dry ingredients, and blended with a fork.

Batter is transferred to a greased pan and patted flat.

Baked until golden.  (Now I'm really, really hungry!)
Not quite so hungry now. I had to try it, didn't I?  *grin*
It's 12:30 PM and a very cold Patrick has come home to a wonderful hot traditional Irish meal.
There should be a way to add an aroma button to this one!

Another helping?  Yes, please!
Historical Food Fortnightly

The Challenge:  #13 - Ethnic Foodways
The Recipe:  Irish Stew and Irish Soda Bread
The Date/Year and Region:  1950 and 1951
How Did You Make It:  CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes
Time to Complete:  3 hours
Total Cost:  $38.50
How Successful Was It?  Patrick was not entirely sure he would like the lamb or the turnips, but he ate 2 helpings and we both loved it!
How Accurate Is It?  Similar to many other historical recipes for the same dishes however, it may be that we have actually made a traditional Spotted Dog rather than an Irish Soda Bread.

Patrick and Jeanette