Saturday, August 23, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #6 - Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

The end of August in the piedmont of North Carolina is hot, humid, and hot.  The vegetable gardens may still have a burst of tomatoes but with sudden thundershowers they are also likely to burst before they ripen.  In the mountains the blueberries are thriving, and the apples are not yet ready, but there is one item you can find an abundance of at the local farmer's markets - sweet potatoes.

Highly nutritious and versatile, the sweet potato has been cultivated for over 5,000 years possibly originating in central and south America.  It is a tuberous root vegetable only distantly related to other potatoes.  It is also distinct from a yam and even related to the morning glory and its skin and flesh come in a multitude of colors.

The CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes has 2 wonderful-sounding recipes and 1 recipe that sounds so strange we have to try it.  Here is the pictorial story of The Sweet Potato Parade.

1.  Baked Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
The Recipe Book:  Jan/Feb/Mar 1951

The Recipe

The Ingredients

Baked, Scooped, and Ready for Filling

Filled and Ready for Second Bake

Baked Again

Served With Fennel and Rosemary Marinated and Grilled Pork Chop
2.  Oven Browned Sweet Potatoes
The Recipe Book Jul/Aug/Sep 1951
The Recipe
The Ingredients

Peeled Sweet Potatoes, Graham Cracker Crumbs, Melted Butter

Ready for Baking

Baked and What a Wonderful Aroma!

And now for the recipe that we had to make but agreed we would try but might not eat.  Haha!
3.  Escalloped Sweet Potatoes and Prunes
The Recipe Book Jan/Feb/Mar 1950
The Recipe
The Ingredients

Ready for Baking

When does a prune taste like a sweet candy?  When it's baked in this recipe!
The results of The Sweet Potato Parade Taste Testing is................4 thumbs up for all 3!

Patrick's mom, Bernice, would be so proud of us.  This is Bernice is 1946 when she married Patrick's dad, Arthur.

She was an independent woman, born and raised in North Carolina, and knew more about food preparation than anyone I had ever met.
But then Patrick should tell you the story...................

      "From the mid 1960's into the late 1990's, Bernice Murray, my Mom, was a well known Southern-style caterer in South Central North Carolina.  While most of her catering events were in and around Anson County, it was not unusual to find her turning fried chicken and stirring cream style corn in banquet halls from Charlotte to Raleigh.
Now being a growing high school boy of sound mind and appetite, I knew where to find a good meal when there was catering going on.  My Mom and Dad had the Friday/Saturday night dinner concession at our local Country Club and Bernice's staff was always preparing things for the upcoming catering events that weekend.  Knowing better than to ask Bernice for a mere taste of whatever was on the stove, I would go directly to Laura-Ann, her head cook, and with a little sweet talking I usually walked out of the there with a plate full of supper. 
But not this Friday night!  Bernice intercepted me at the back door of the Country Club and told me that she was cooking for 500, not 501, and there was a pound of hamburger in the refrigerator at home. Fix yourself a burger and fries. Leave!  So hungry and mad I drove back to our house, got out the hamburger, poured oil in the pot for french fries, turned on the burner, and for some unknown reason, decided I had time to do one math problem in my room while the oil heated up.  Being math challenged, that problem took more time than I had figured on and I was suddenly interrupted from my calculations by a loud WHUMPH that came from the kitchen.  I found the pot of french fry oil looking more like the tail end of a rocket with the flames reaching the underside of the wooden cabinet above the stove and curling around and up to the white ceiling.  The stove top was completely engulfed in flames and dark, oily smoke filled the kitchen.  Being a quick thinker and action oriented I ripped off my T-shirt and threw it over the flaming pot which smothered the flames for approximately .01 seconds but long enough for me to grab a gallon pitcher of sweet tea from the counter and doused the pot and the stove top in one desperate attempt at firefighting.  Blazing oil and water...right...BUT IT WORKED!!!   Hot, smoking oil was splashed everywhere in that kitchen. The stove was history. The cabinet was heavily charred and there was a black hole in the ceiling tiles above the stove.  The smoke damaged five other rooms in the house.  But worst of all...I had to call Bernice.
Being of sound mind and a big chicken, I called my Dad instead.  Told him I had burned up the stove and some of the kitchen, don't tell Mama but come home...NOW!  He made the five minute drive in under two.  I am sure he asked me if I was all right in there somewhere but all I could think about was Bernice, who by now had figured something was up and was on her way home. With no chance to break the news to her in a controlled way, she walked right into a smoke filled, burned out kitchen and gave me the surprise of my life.  She grabbed my shirtless self and gave me the biggest hug ever.  She then looked me over to see if I was all right and found several small blisters coming up on my face and chest which I had not even felt.  She told me she was thankful that I was all right and that insurance would cover most of the damage she was sure but now she had to figure out how to cook for all those people at the events that weekend.  And so it goes.
News spreads fast in a small little town and people were calling before the smoke cleared.  How can I help?  By noon the next day, Bernice had friends and neighbors cooking stuff all over the county.  I'm sure everyone at the events got fed because I put several hundred miles on the company station wagon picking up string beans in Ansonville or apple pies in Morven.   One thing for sure though...french fries have never tasted the same."
So whether sweet twice baked, with graham crackers or prunes,  
or even French fries, think of us when you next enjoy a potato!
Patrick and Jeanette
Historical Food Fortnightly
What It Is:  The Sweet Potato Parade
The Challenge:  #6 Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
The Recipe:   Baked Stuffed, Oven Browned, Escalloped with Prunes
The Date/Year and Region:  1950 and 1951, United States
How Did You Make It?  Followed recipes closely
Time to Complete?  2 hours 30 minutes
Total Cost:  $.99 per pound for sweet potatoes, $2.39 for package of prunes, $.67 for an orange
How Successful Was It?  4 thumbs up!
How Accurate Is It?  Rated by a North Carolina native (Patrick) it is completely spot on.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #5 - Pies

Who doesn't love love love pies?  Even the leftover pastry sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and baked in the oven is a treat for everyone in our house.  Our 1950/1951 CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes had the most delicious-sounding recipes, but we stopped suddenly on page 24 of the January/February/March 1951 issue to read about Soda Cracker Pie.  Soda Cracker Pie?  You already know we love trying something new and here was our chance.

As we're learning, the ingredients in these mid-century recipes are usually simple.  The combinations are what make them so tasty and in this pie, even with a base of soda crackers, there is a wonderful combination of nuts, lemon, cinnamon, and almond.  We gather everything together...
Combine ingredients for the base pie except for the beaten egg whites...
Separate the eggs....
Beat the egg whites...
Fold the beaten egg whites into the other combined ingredients and place in a greased pie pan.  The recipe called for an 8" but since I only had a 9" I expected some change to the look of the pie as well as a change in baking time.
After 20 minutes the pie is raised and golden.
After the pie is cool (during which time we are both ready to eat eat eat!) we whip the whipping cream and drain and fold in the fruit cocktail.  The pie cuts nicely and smells wonderful, but doesn't come out of the pie plate in a nice wedge.  No matter, we are ready to eat!
Here are our finished Soda Cracker Pie slices with toppings.  Since we love cinnamon we sprinkle a bit over the topping and around the plate just for a pretty presentation and that lovely cinnamon aroma.

Seriously, you have to try this!  It is sweet and the crunch of the nuts is heavenly!  The soda crackers must be there just to hold everything together because we don't taste them at all.  Four thumbs up!

And who doesn't love whipped cream?  We agree that at every age  it was one of our favorite foods.  It is a food group of it's own, isn't it?




Jeanette and little sisters


Patrick and Jeanette

Enjoy the whipped cream!
       Patrick and Jeanette

Historical Food Fortnightly
What It Is:  Soda Cracker Pie
The Challenge:  #5 Pies
The Recipe:  CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes  Jan/Feb/Mar 1951
The Date/Year and Region:  Jan/Feb/Mar 1951, United States
How Did You Make It?  Closely followed recipe.
Time to Complete:  1 hour including cooling time
Total Cost:  $3.35 for 6 servings
How Successful Was It?  4 thumbs up!
How Accurate Is It?  Used Original Nabisco soda crackers and Classic Del Monte fruit cocktail