Friday, March 20, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #21 - Rare/Scarce Ingredients

21. Rare/Scarce Ingredients March 8 - March 21
Just where does one find some of the ingredients for these recipes? That’s your job for this challenge! Find a recipe that relies upon an ingredient that can’t be had from the corner store, locate the ingredient, and recreate the dish.

If you love this -
 - or this -
Then you'll want to read this -
Leafing through our CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes booklets from 1950 and 1951, we wondered how many rare/scarce ingredients there could possibly be in just 65 years.  Of course the increase in prepared/processed foods and fast food restaurants has changed our culture's eating habits tremendously.  Patrick remembers having his first pizza when he started college, and I first ate at a McDonald's fast food restaurant when I moved to Chicago at 40 years old.  Really!!  When I was a child we had two choices for a night out with children in our town in Wisconsin - the A&W, which my mom told me stood for 'amburgers and woot beer, and Dairy Queen for frozen desserts.  Now you can understand that growing up in the dairy state meant I had a very steady diet of milk, cheese, butter, and best of all - ice cream.  Root beer floats in frosty mugs, ice cream cones with little curls on top - what more could a child ask.  Heavenly!  Patrick's home state of North Carolina was also a top dairy state and as a teenager Patrick drove trucks for Biltmore Dairy.  Biltmore Dairy was operated by the Vanderbilt family at their estate in Asheville and has since been replaced by their winery operations.  As part of his benefit package Patrick was given milk, cheese, and - yes - ice cream!
So we were excited to find our April, May, June, 1950 booklet to have recipes for home-made ice cream.  Although I didn't intend to make those recipes for this Challenge, when I tried to find the ingredient Junket rennet in either powder or mix I was surprised that it or any substitute was not readily available in any of my local stores.
Rennet is a complex of enzymes produced and extracted from the stomach of certain animals.  It was primarily used in cheesemaking to separate the solid curd from the liquid whey.  The history of rennet use and the wonderful background of Junket Desserts since 1874 and the founder, Chr. Hansen, is best described on Junket's very fun and informative website.
If you have a child they might enjoy the illustrated story of Flibbity Jibbit and the Key Keeper and how they come to find the key to the King's rennet-custard cabinet.
Junket rennet products are ingredients in many of the recipes in the booklet we are using:

I had placed an order with Junket and received their chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream mixes and a package of rennet tablets to experiment with my own cheesemaking.
We first made the strawberry recipe:

Ingredients for Strawberry-Pineapple Parfait.
2 cups of light cream whipped for 2 minutes.

Ice cream mix added and whipped for a minute.

Placed in a freezer tray.

Frozen approximately 4 hours.

So creamy!!

Strawberries and pineapple on the left, strawberries only on the right.

Ice cream added and topped with a sliced strawberry.  Oh my!!!
Then the chocolate:

1 cup chilled evaporated milk whipped.
1/3 cup evaporated milk blended with water and then mixed with ice cream mix.

Whipped evaporated milk folded into ice cream mix combination.

Poured into a freezer tray.

Frozen for approximately 4 hours.

Marshmallows snipped into small pieces.

Frozen ice cream broken into chunks...

....and whipped until fluffy.

Marshmallows and nuts added and back into the freezer.

Ready to eat!

Oh my heavens and stars!  Topped with a mini Hershey bar!

We may never buy store bought ice cream again!  The recipes were so simple and the ice cream so glorious because of the fresh ingredients and the extraordinary flavors of the mixes.  Also gluten free for those who require that in their diet.  I would imagine every child and adult would have as much fun making these desserts as eating them.  We sure did!  The other great news is the cost.  A package of the ice cream mix is just $2.00.  The rennet tablets were $1.75 for a package of 8 and has recipes for ricotta, Neufchatel, feta, basic hard cheese and American mozzarella using whole or skimmed milk and buttermilk or yogurt for cultures.  There are also recipes for ice cream using milk and cream and your choice of flavorings - strawberry, peach, banana, maple walnut, chocolate chip, chocolate and coffee.  I see a whole new tangent of cheese and ice cream making in our kitchen!
February 29, 1992 - Our wedding day and intimate family celebration.  Everyone ate cake and ice cream including Bullette the kitty.

Patrick and Jeanette
P. S.  If Junket products are not carried in your local store, we purchased online here:

Friday, March 6, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #20 - Foods Served at Notable Events in History

20. Foods served at notable events in history Feb 22 - March 7
What kind of food was served at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth? What did Benjamin Franklin eat at the Constitutional Convention? Find a food item that was served at a notable event in history, research the recipe, and recreate the dish.
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States.  He had been Vice President serving with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Truman became President upon President Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945.   Having been Vice President for only 82 days, Truman said that at the moment he became President it "felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me".
World War II was still raging and as President, Harry Truman was faced with having to make some of the most crucial decisions in history.  Just months after he had taken office Truman made the decision to have atomic bombs dropped on cities devoted to war work and thereby ending the war.  He is credited with his support of the forming of the United Nations and his work in the United States still carries lasting positive effects.  A brief summary of President Truman's life is here:
In 1949 President Truman was re-elected to office.  As was customary, an Inaugural Luncheon was served and President Truman selected the menu.
From the website linked below:  "Harry S. Truman used two Bibles for his swearing-in on the East Portico of the Capitol Building, and his was the first televised inauguration. Truman also reinstated the inaugural ball, which cost $29,000. South Carolina turkey, Smithfield Ham, potato salad, and pumpkin pie were served at the luncheon in the Capitol reception room."

President Truman was from Missouri which makes his choice of South Carolina turkey and Smithfield Ham, headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia, a mysterious selection and one that I have been unable to solve.  But to two people who were born during President Truman's time in office, and now living in North Carolina sandwiched between South Carolina and Virginia, the menu sounds perfect for us.

As always, our recipes come from the CBS Homemaker's Exchange Recipe booklets from 1950 and 1951, the years we were born.  With this full menu, we have decided to spread our selections over two days and on this first day we will prepare a ham with potato salad.

Both recipes are in our January, February, March, 1951 booklet:
First we'll make the Company Ham.
As we shop for ingredients we are pleased to find a Smithfield Ham - precisely the kind of ham President Truman selected.  All of our choices are smoked and fully cooked but even warming a 10 pound ham will take over two hours and we will make the glaze from our recipe.

Our ingredients including our Smithfield ham and French's mustard, both still available today:

While researching our cooking method we discover some history about Smithfield.  The company was founded in 1936 in Smithfield, Virginia which is today known as the "Ham Capital of the World".  The company employs 48,000 people in 12 countries.  According to their corporate mission they have "developed an industry-leading sustainability program focused on the environment, animal care, employees, food safety, communities and value creation."  Sounds like a company that President Truman would have believed in - perhaps that is why he chose their hams for his luncheon.

The ham is placed in a roasting pan with a cup of water, sealed with foil, and warmed for two hours at 325 degrees F.

While the ham is warming we'll make the potato salad.  The recipe calls for ham and is the only potato salad recipe in our booklets, so we'll adjust - which actually means we'll do it our way.
Our ingredients.  Yes, more mustard.  I wonder if French's was a sponsor when these recipes were being aired on television?
Diced and cooked red potatoes, diced celery, boiled and chopped eggs, mayo and mustard mixture:
The salad is blended and ready for the refrigerator to blend the flavors until the ham is finished.
Time to remove the foil from the pan, remove the skin from the ham, score the fat, brush the ham with mustard, sprinkle the brown sugar and flour mixture over the mustard, and stud the ham with cloves.  Back into a 400 degree F oven for 15 minutes.
Finally!  Our ham is finished!  We plate up and enjoy our lunch and one-half of our Inaugural Luncheon menu.

Although there is a lot of mustard in both the ham glaze and potato salad recipes, when the two foods are eaten together the outcome is wonderful!  Patrick and I agreed this was probably the best ham we've had ever!
Day 2
Today we will make the other half of President Truman's Inaugural Luncheon with turkey and pumpkin pie.  Both recipes are in our October, November, December, 1950 CBS Homemaker's Exchange Recipes booklet.

Unable to find a 1/2 turkey, we purchase a 7 pound turkey breast.
The pan is lined with foil and the breast is brushed with vegetable oil and goes into a preheated 300 degree F oven for 1-1/2 hours.
Our recipe includes an oyster dressing and although President Truman didn't have that at his Luncheon, Patrick recalls trying it once and I don't remember ever trying it, so now is a good time for something adventurous. 
Our ingredients.
The onions are chopped and browned in melted butter.  Are your eyes watering too?

Oysters ready to be chopped.
Celery chopped, butter melted, bread crumbs with salt and pepper all ready for mixing with the chopped oysters and browned onions.
The dressing is added to the pan with the turkey and the baking continues until the meat thermometer registers the correct temperature.
When the turkey finished baking I removed it from the pan to settle the juices and put the dressing back into the oven to continue baking.  The turkey breast looks golden and smells wonderful!
Time to make the pumpkin pie.  This is the CBS Homemaker's Exchange Recipes booklet recipe we will use.
Our ingredients.
Everything prepared and ready for mixing.
Pie filling poured into the prepared crust and ready to bake.
Thirty-five minutes later, a baked pumpkin pie.
Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and allow to cool.
Time for our Tribute to President Truman Inaugural Luncheon lunch.  Turkey and Smithfield ham, potato salad and pumpkin pie.

 And a bonus from us - oyster dressing.

The total bill for the ingredients for this meal was $52.00.  It would have been a wonderful meal for 6 people with some leftovers for sandwiches.  Although the dressing could have used more butter to bind the bread crumbs, the taste was heavenly.  There is really something to be said for slow cooked food made from scratch and simple ingredients.  President Truman would have enjoyed sharing our lunches these past two days and I believe he would have asked for another slice of pie!
Enjoying another slice of pie,
Patrick and Jeanette