Sunday, May 24, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #26 - Working-Class Dinner

26. Working-Class Dinner May 15 - May 28
We all like making beautifully molded aspics, delicate cakes and pastries, and airy creams, but the vast majority of the world has dined on much simpler fare throughout history. For this challenge, give your best interpretation of the food eaten by the nameless rabble. Be sure to document what makes it “working-class”!
$14,500 for a house?!  $3,216 for a car?!  37 cents for a pound of coffee?!  Absolutely!  In 1950 that is.  This website has some interesting facts about the prices in Dunklin County, Missouri, United States in the year 1950.
One of the staples in both Patrick's and my childhood kitchens was hamburger and potatoes.  We both remember many meals with those ingredients and when you view the Dunklin County website it is easy to see why.  Potatoes might have been a 5-pound bag for 35 cents or a 10-pound bag for 35 cents depending on the season and type of potato.  Hamburger was 89 cents for 3 pounds.  So our working-class families would have been inventive of those ingredients which might have shown up on our working-class dinner tables at least several times a week.
The CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes has a recipe that both of us believe was in both of our mothers' recipe boxes; Meat Crust Casserole.
As with most of the recipes from this period, the ingredients are simple.
Where our 1950 pricing might have been 89 cents for 3 pounds of hamburger or 33 cents per pound, our pricing today was $4.18 per pound.
Potatoes costing 35 cents for a 5 pound bag in 1950 or 7 cents per pound are $1.97 for a 3-pound bag or 65 cents per pound.
Considering that the basic price of this meal for potatoes and meat is only $6.15 and will feed 6 people, the price is still very affordable for a working-class family.
The preparation is fast making this a quick meal even for today's working family.
Potatoes are peeled, cut, salted, covered, and boiled until soft.
Butter is melted, and diced onion, celery, and green pepper are added.

Salt, pepper, and French's mustard season the hamburger.

The seasoned hamburger ready to become a crust.

The hamburger formed into a crust so that every slice will have all ingredients.

Onion, celery, and green pepper cooked until tender.

An egg is added to the cooked potatoes.

Egg and potatoes beat until fluffy.

Cooked onion, celery, and green pepper added to potato mixture.

The ingredients combined.

Potato mixture placed in hamburger crust and baked at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Oooooo, that's looking and smelling nice!

A cup of peas added to the top of the casserole.

Baked at 350 degrees for another 10 minutes.

Patrick is thrilled!  He said it reminds him of the country-fried steak with mashed potatoes and peas he ate as a child.  Oooookkkkayyyy.  Me?  I'm not really excited by the looks, but the smell is great and actually I'm really hungry.


The final vote?  Four thumbs up!  While it could have done with a little more color it was a very delicious meal!  The mustard added a nice tang to the hamburger and it must have been the egg that added some great texture to the potatoes.  Very hearty and filling.  You can see I'm working on a tomato aspic recipe and had a little left over so I made a side presentation of tomato aspic and Granny Smith apples.  It was a nice addition.
I think our mothers, Mary Ellen and Bernice, would have enjoyed today's working-class dinner.  We sure did!
                                                                                     Patrick and Jeanette

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #25 - Orange You Glad

25. Orange You Glad May 3 - May 14
It can be orange-flavored, orange-colored, or just plain oranges - but the challenge is “orange”!
Sunday, May 10th was Mother's Day.  A wonderful day to honor those who have cared for us and loved us.  It was also Patrick's birthday!  So in double celebration I wanted to bake a cake.  Not that I need a reason to bake a cake, but as I get older and more prone to gaining weight, I need a very good excuse to have an entire cake in the house just begging to be eaten!
The CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes from 1950 and 1951, the years Patrick and I were born, are still our resource for all the Historical Food Fortnightly Challenges.  We find our inspiration in the January, February, March 1951 booklet for an Orange Chiffon Cake.  Oh, yum!

The ingredients  are very basic and usually on hand in our house.
The cake flour is sifted and then sifted again with the sugar, salt, and baking powder.   A well is created in the center of the dry ingredients and the orange rind, orange juice, vegetable oil, and egg yokes are ready.
The wet ingredients are added and stirred together until smooth.
Seven egg whites beaten until stiff with the cream of tartar added during beating.
Now we're ready to add the egg yoke mixture to the egg whites.
Gradually adding the egg yoke mixture to the egg whites and folding gently.
Ready for the pan.
The only tube pan I have is a Bundt pan and while I'm a bit worried about the cake releasing since there is no pan preparation, I go for it.
Baked for 55 minutes and the cake springs back so I shortcut the instructions and don't increase the temperature and time.
But I do follow the instructions about cooling the cake in the inverted position.
With a little loosening with a spatula and a few knocks against the table (per instructions) the cake loosens and sits prettily on the cake stand.
Since it's already cool, the cake can be cut immediately and served and that is exactly what we do!
Don't you just love that beautiful plate?!  It's part of a tea service that was given to me by the wonderful attendees at the Party Like A Vanderbilt weekend I organized at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The service is a reproduction of the circa 1888 dark turquoise porcelain used by the Vanderbilt family. I will treasure this gift forever!! To celebrate the birthday/holiday I pour Mimosas, plate our Orange Chiffon Cake, and we enjoy the treat!  Patrick called it "incredible".  Yay!
Happy Birthday, Patrick!  Happy Mother's Day, everyone!
Jeanette with Mom, Mary Ellen

Patrick, 3 days' old, with his Mom, Bernice, on Mother's Day, May 13, 1951.
Patrick and Jeanette

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #24 - Snacky Snackables

24. Snacky Snackables April 19 - May 2
Who doesn’t love a snack? Make something meant to be consumed in between meals, on the go, or late at night when you’re scrounging for munchies!
Snacks!!!  One of the basic food groups!!!  Right up there with chocolate and coffee!  No?  Well, probably not, but we all love those little special treats.  Eating between meals and keeping our internal motors fueled is also healthy for us, I'm told, rather than eating large meals during the day.  Patrick and I eat a large breakfast and a large mid-day meal, snack throughout the day, but keep the evening meals light.  Light, that is, unless we are dining with friends.  I truly believe there are no calories in food you share with friends or between November 20th and January 1st.  Agree?
For this Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #24 (can you believe we are almost at the end of the year of Challenges), we found a fun recipe in the January, February, March, 1951 CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes booklet.
The recipe is for Fried Potato Logs which sounds very close to one of our favorite snacks, French fries. There is nothing like a large sweet tea and a large French fries from McDonald's to make a road trip happier!
 The fun part of this recipe is a slip of paper that was inside the booklet.  It reads "Tried pot. logs Mon., July 28th  Very gd. accord. to harry!  Chill before frying"  Monday, July 28th did not occur in the year of our recipe booklet.  It did occur in 1952, again in 1958, in 1969, and 1975. With that kind of endorsement, we had to give them a try and see if Harry had the same taste as we do in whatever year he ate them!
Our process:
Ingredients gathered.
Potatoes cut and boiled.  I like to leave the skins on for nutritional value and color and also because today I'm feeling a bit lazy. 

Cooled potatoes ready for mashing and the ingredients.

Potatoes mashed, butter and salt and pepper added.

Egg yoke and grated onion added and logs rolled.  You can see that as the potatoes warm they are more difficult to handle.  I think that is why our mystery note writer suggested chilling the potatoes before frying.

Potato logs ready to be floured, dipped in egg/water, and rolled in bread crumbs.

The frying begins!

The frying continues until golden brown.
Plated and served with a side of catsup and Ranch dressing.
Heavenly!  Mild onion flavor, crunchy outside, soft inside, and wonderful!
We're late with this Challenge for a very good reason.  We had a glorious time at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina with 28 of the most incredible people!  I had arranged a costumer's dream weekend filled with events and some amazing food!  We started with an Historic Trolley ride with snacks prepared by the Biltmore Chef:
We toured the Biltmore House in costume.
L-R:  Terry, Jeanette, Patrick, Randi.
We dined in the Champagne Cellar at The Winery on Saturday evening.
L-R:  Randi, Allison, Kathy.
And on Sunday morning we flung arrows!
Patrick and Jeanette.
We snacked on High Tea.
And then we partied like the 1920s and snacked some more.
L-R:  Jeanette, Sandy, Patrick, Cyndi
Now we are home, back to everyday life, and enjoying our Fried Potato Logs!
Patrick and Jeanette