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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #12 - If They'd Had It...

Challenge # 12 - If They’d Had It… November 2 - November 15
Have you ever looked through a cookbook from another era and been surprised at the modern dishes you find? Have you ever been surprised at just how much they differ from their modern counterparts? Recreate a dish which is still around today, even if it may look a little - or a lot - different!

"The gallant Welsh, of all degrees,
Have one delightful habit;
They smother toast in melted cheese,
And call the thing a Rabbit."
What an odd (and therefore appealing to us!) little recipe!  I'm from Wisconsin and absolutely love anything cheese.  As a teenager Patrick worked for the Biltmore Dairy and came to love all things dairy as well, although the free and never-ending ice cream bar was his favorite.  I remember seeing the Welsh Rarebit recipe many times in many cookbooks but although I'm a child of the 1950s I had never tried one.  Now is the time!
Internet research tells us that Welsh Rarebit is in fact a famous Welsh dish.  No surprise there!  It originated in the 18th century and was originally called Welsh Rabbit.  There are suggestions that it was a dish prepared by households who ate cheese for protein rather than meat either by choice or because meat was too expensive or not available.  It is also suggested that the poorer households who might have eaten rabbit would prepare this dish when even the lowly rabbit was not at hand.  Whatever the reason, Welsh Rabbit was called Welsh Rarebit by Francis Grose in his slang dictionary in 1785.  And there you have it!  No one knows what a rarebit is!  What we do know is that the preparation of this continued so someone liked the taste no matter the name.
Other research calls this dish "a kind of posh cheese on toast".  I like that.  The ingredients vary but mostly include a Welsh cheese, ale, and mustard, mixed and served on toast.  Cheese and beer.  Yum!  Remember, I'm from Wisconsin.
Quite some time ago I found an interesting book in an antique shop.  Twenty Lessons in Domestic Science by Marian Cole Fisher.  The book was compiled and printed by the Calumet Baking Powder Company and provided as a home study course.
Copyright 1916

$2.00 which in 2014 dollars would be $45.25.

One of my favorite parts of the book is this summary of "composition of food materials".  Protein, fat, carbohydrates, ash (meaning minerals), water, and calories per pound.  I admit I had no idea that this much information was available almost 100 years ago.
In this 1916 domestic science and recipe book are two Welsh Rarebit recipes.  One recipe made with ale and wine, the second made with beer.  Look closely.  It is in the protein section of this book.
I have to share this with you.  This postcard was in the book when I bought it.  Maybe someone will read this and smile because they know Mrs. E. Roitman from Chicago who received this postcard around October 11, 1942.  Maybe they will also smile at the well worded "request" from the Choir Director to be at rehearsal Friday evening with willing friend in tow.  I smiled.

If Mrs. Roitman was using her 1916 cookbook in 1942, what older cookbooks do I have that I still use?  One of my favorites is my Pillsbury Cookbook from 1989.

What do I fine?  A recipe for Welsh Rarebit and a Garden Welsh Rarebit.  Beer?  Check.  And in true 1980s fashion the Garden Welsh Rarebit has veggies, 2 types of cheese, and alfalfa sprouts.  Keepin' it healthy!
A recipe that has survived from 1785 through 1916 through 1989 must certainly have been made in the mid century and, sure enough, there it is in our CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes April, May, June 1950.

Hmmmm, no beer.  Well, it was a family show and aired when children were home from school.  But it was a popular cocktail food in the 1950s and everyone probably had an ale, beer, or wine in hand anyway.
So we made our recipe.

Sharp cheddar cheese melted.

Remaining ingredients added..

Stirred until thickened.

Toast toasted.

Spooned over toast.

Paprika for pretty color.

Dennis Vineyards, North Carolina, 2007 Noble wine to complete.
And there you have it!
Historical Food Fortnightly
The Challenge:  #12 If They'd Had It...
The Recipe:  Welsh Rarebit
The Date/Year/Region:  April/May/June 1940 United States
How Did You Make It:  We had to interpret a bit as to the kind of cheese, but our research led us to Ree Drummond in a 2009 blog and she used sharp cheddar.  That's good for us!
Time to Complete:  10 minutes
Total Cost:  $1.50
How successful was it?  We can see why these recipes have been around so long.  It's delicious!
How accurate is it?  Still not sure about the cheese.  We would like to find a "Welsh farmhouse cheese" and taste the difference.
Friends tell us that Welsh Rarebit is served in Colonial Williamsburg even today.  Erin is a young friend and she had a recipe and makes it for her family.  She shared her recipe with me and I'm going to try her recipe next. It's made with beer.
Patrick and Jeanette

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #11 - Foods Named After People

The Challenge:    Beef Wellington? Charlotte Russe? Choose a dish named after a person, either fictional or real, to create. Bonus points if you tell us about the link between the person and the dish!

It's always such fun to see the next Challenge for the Historical Food Fortnightly and then to find a recipe in our CBS Homemaker's Exchange Recipes from 1950 and 1951.  So far we've met each Challenge but we were not quite so optimistic about Challenge #11.  But we needn't have feared!  The recipe booklets gave us a lot of options:  Sherlock Turnips, Bumsteds, Oysters Rockefeller, Aunt Ester's Cream Pie, Tillie's Scrapple, just to name a few.  We had a lot of fun planning the blog around Humpty Dumpty Salad and Jack Horner Rolls.  My grandmother was English and I was fed a constant diet of nursery rhymes as a child.  We would sit for hours reciting who fell off the wall and who was sitting in the corner.  Great memories!

As we were writing the recipe possibilities one name kept occurring, Sally Lunn. 
July/August/September 1951 Page 4 Sally Lunn Bread

October/November/December 1950 Page 1 Raisin Sally Lunn

July/August/September 1950 Page 2 Blueberry Sally Lunn
Who was Sally Lunn?  Was she a real person?  Was she the baker that homemakers in the mid-century were copying?  The mystery had to be solved!

The link:    
Our research first introduces us to a tea-house in Bath, England.  The Sally Lunn Eating House is on the site of what was originally the Bath Abbey.  The lowest floor level dates to the reconstruction of the Abbey after a great fire in 1137.  The current building was constructed in the 1600s.  In the 1930s it was acquired by Marie Byng-Johnson who opened it as a tea room selling Sally Lunn buns.  Marie claims that she discovered an ancient document in a secret panel above the fireplace explaining that Sally Lunn (then called Solange Luyon), a young French Hugenot refugee, brought her recipe to Bath around 1680.

There is other mention of the elusive Sally Lunn in our research.  In 1798 The Gentlemen's Magazine uses Sally Lunn as an example during a discussion of foods named after people.  In 1827 it was noted by correspondent William Hone that an historical person sold buns on the street "about 30 years ago".  The story is that a baker bought her business, composed a song for the vendors, and sold the buns in mobile carts.  There is evidence of an 1819 advert for Sally Lunn cakes sold by W. Needes of Bath, bread and biscuit maker to the Prince Regent.  A simpler interpretation is that the name comes from French Sol et lune, or sun and moon, representing the golden crust and light interior.

So is Sally Lunn real?  Or fictional?  In all these centuries leading up to 1950/1951 we still don't know, but we can bake Sally Lunn bread and consider the thought of a recipe that has survived those many years.

While the typical Sally Lunn made and sold at the tea house in Bath, England and the sister tea houses in Chester and Chatham,New Jersey, United States are a large bun or teacake made with a yeast dough and served warm with butter, the name is also applied to various unrelated breads in the US since the early 20th century.  The latter would be the recipes we discovered in our booklets and we have decided to bake the Sally Lunn Bread recipe.

Here is what we did:
The ingredients.

The ingredients prepared.

An almost dough-like consistency means the batter has to be spread in the pan.

Batter sprinkled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter mixture.


Cut while still warm.  A beautifully baked exterior and white interior.  A texture almost like a muffin or cake.
Tea Time!!

Earl Grey for Patrick.

Lady Grey for Jeanette. 
We can't say enough good things about the flavor and texture of this bread!  Of course we love it because of the cinnamon and brown sugar - a favorite combination in our family - but the bread recipe itself is sweet and satisfying.  No doubt we'll be making this one for many years to come!

Can you tell who had two pieces?
Patrick and Jeanette