Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Remember Real Money?

I remember a time in my youth when money actually had some value left to it.  When I was hired for my first job my pay rate was $4.25 an hour which was a good starting rate in 1991.  I worked with a bunch of Polish nuns as a gardener at a retirement home and they treated me well, at least better than some of my bosses in later years.  Now I'm making more than double that and finding it hard to make ends meet.  Why?  Because over the last 22 years the value of the dollar has declined sharply.  In addition to this those of us left in the workforce find ourselves being taxed out of existence to support the mendacity of the welfare class, the so called "poor" of the nation who somehow seem to accrue more material goods than I can yet deign to call themselves poor.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Chicken/Turkey Croquettes

I have written about Chicken Croquettes before here but that recipe hailed from the 1930's.  I found another recipe for the same thing but this one dated from 1920 and the overall ingredients were different from the 1930's recipe.  The first time I made these I used leftover chicken, but I tried them again with turkey and the end result it the same.  You can make a simple white sauce as an accompaniment to these or just have them as is.  The vintage way to have these would have been as a luncheon with some Lettuce Salad w/ Piquant Dressing and some Banana Walnut Bread.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The French Sandwich or Monte Cristo

Whilst looking for new ways to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey I happened upon an old favorite of mine, the Monte Cristo.  This was a sandwich that I used to love ordering in Pargos a restaurant that we frequented when I was younger growing up in Baltimore.  Its been years since I had a Monte Cristo and I was interested to see that it is a not a modern invention as I had previously thought.

This sandwich combination originated in the 1930's and was probably used for the same thing I am using it for, ie to get rid of leftover meats from last nights dinner.  It is usually referred to as the "French Sandwich" and is erroneously attributed to being an American version of the Croque Monsieur a glorified French grilled cheese sandwich.  In actuality it's called the French Sandwich because it essentially a French Toast Sandwich.  This is a great sandwich for lunch or a late breakfast, but will work well any time of the day.

The French Sandwich (Monte Cristo)

For each sandwich you will need:
2 Slices Brioche or Egg Bread
1 Slice Ham
a few pieces of turkey battered flat with a knife
A few slices of cheese (Swiss, Gouda or Gruyere)
1 egg
3T Half and Half
Powdered Sugar
Jam, Cranberry Relish, etc

Build your sandwich with a slice of bread, then cheese, the ham, some cheese, then turkey, finish with cheese and top with the other slice of bread.  Mix Half and Half and egg in bowl well.  Melt some butter in a frying pan on med heat.  Dip sandwich in egg mix then flip and dip other side and fry in pan slowly, turning every so often.  When cheese melts and bread is browned serve on plate.  Dust sandwich with powdered sugar and serve jam on side.  I used some lingonberry jam with mine and it was amazing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lettuce Salad With Piquant Dressing

Salads as we know them today were not common back in the vintage era.  Most of the time you had to use what was on hand and for a large part of the year the only lettuce to be had was iceberg.  I rather like iceberg lettuce even though it has earned an undeserved maligned reputation in recent years when compared to the much vaunted Romaine Lettuce.  What is important to remember is that the water content of iceberg lettuce is much higher and when that is taken into account the nutritional comparison actually evens out between the 2 contenders. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Country Captain Southern Chicken Curry

I chose a rather laborious title for this post because most people don't know the Americanized version of chicken curry is rightfully called Country Captain Chicken.  Now the origins of this dish are veiled in the mists of time as it has been around since before the Civil War and quite a few towns make claim to Country Captain as being "their" dish.  After looking at literally dozens of recipes dating from now all the way back to 1822 I can say with a high amount of confidence that this dish is a New Orleans Creole recipe.  You can usually tell the background of a recipe by it's base ingredients and Creole cooking is one of the easier ones to spot as almost all dishes start with at least 2 of the "Trinity", bell peppers, onions and celery.  These ingredients showed up time and again in each recipe I looked at, albeit with some variations as time went forward.  I picked a recipe that was simple and stayed close to the original in terms of ingredients and flavor.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Maryland Zucchini Crabcakes

When times were tough and you couldn't afford to buy crab meat this neat little recipe stood in for the Authentic Crab Cake.  They are delicious in their own right and would probably fool someone who wasn't a native Marylander but since I'm from Baltimore I can say they don't fool me.  Don't let this dissuade you from trying them though as it's a great new way to use zucchini.  You will have to shred the zucchini and place in a towel 1 cup and time.  Fold the towel and make a ball squeezing very tightly to get out as much water as possible.  If you skimp in this step your crabcakes will come out too damp.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Holladaise Sauce and Her Daughters

I wrote about Mother Bechamel and her Daughters some time ago and promised to pass along a recipe for Hollandaise Sauce in due time as it is a mother sauce in and of itself.  I finally had the opportunity to make Hollandaise the other day when I made a rather rich dinner of Eggplant Creole topped with a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.  To tell you the truth I don't really recommend the combination as the relatively light flavor of the sauce was drowned out by the heavier flavor of the eggplant creole.  However if you get back to basics and use the Hollandaise for such things as dressing aspargus or steamed cauliflower or the legendary eggs benedict then you will see the flavor of the sauce shine through into the whole dish not dominating or being dominated in turn.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ad: Hires Root Beer

1931 Hires Root Beer

Does anyone else like Root Beer?  I know I do, along with it's distinguished brother Birch Beer and it's back of the woods cousin Sarsaparilla.  I suppose you could argue that Moxie is a part of the family, although Moxie's main taste is Gentian, the same herb they put into Peychauld's Bitters, used in the Sazerac Cocktail.  But all that is for another time as I'm going to concentrate on the Hires ad above.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vintage Cleaning

 How do you clean your home in a safe, effective and green way?  I found out long ago that buying all those expensive cleaning agents is a waste of time and money.  Besides being no more effective than what our parents used, they are harmful to your health and the environment.  For just a few dollars cost you can acquire some things that will make any cleanser you would ever wish for.  So here's what you need:

Baking Soda
Washing Soda
Fels Naptha Soap
Kosher Salt
White Vinegar

There, that's no so hard is it?  Chances are you have a few of the items around the house right now.  you can replace Windex, tile cleaner and counter top spray by mixing Vinegar 50-50 with water in a spray bottle.  Use it as you would and counter top cleaner or window cleaner.  It leaves mirrors sparkling especially when you use newspaper to wipe with instead of paper towels.  Tile can be cleaned with a paste made of baking soda and some water.  For general cleaning dissolve a couple tablespoons borax in 2 quarts hot water and wipe down the surfaces to be cleaned.  To sanitize and deodorize sink disposals pour in 1/2 cup borax and let sit an hour.  Turn on the disposal and rinse with hot water.  Add some borax and washing soda to laundry to make your detergent more effective or better yet make your own laundry detergent for just pennies per load (more on that in another article).  A mixture of salt and vinegar into a paste will shine most metals.  To clean drains of soap scum pour in some washing soda and little hot water.  Let sit for 15 mins then flush well with hot water.  Have a steam mop?  mix in some vinegar with the water at the ratio of 25:75 (vinegar:water) to get your floors sparkling clean.  Don't mind the vinegar smell as you're mopping, it quickly dissipates and deodorizes the air.

I've given you just a few of the ways I use these "Vintage" products around my home.  The total savings is around $200/yr in cleaning products, much more if you make your own laundry detergent.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

To Boil or Not To Boil

Back in the vintage era when they referred to ham it was what we call "Country Ham" or "Virginia Ham" today.  These hams are heavily salted before smoking and are not injected with any flavorants or water to make them juicy.  Sometime in the 30's though Swifts brought about the ham revolution with the more modern process of injecting their hams with flavors and pre-baking them.  It was a great time saver over the older method of cooking a ham which involved soaking and par boiling the ham to remove some of the salt before baking in the oven.  Swifts hams also were juicier than the old country hams because they were not smoked and dry cured.

All this convenience has a price though as the flavorings injected are quite artificial and over the years Americans have developed something of a sweet tooth when it comes to ham so increasingly large amounts of sugar have been added to hams with the sugar eventually being replaced by High Fructose Corn Syrup by some companies.  I remember when I was a kid and ham tasted like ham, a bit salty, maybe a slight bit sweet but not cloyingly so.  Today though everyone seems to want to copy Heavenly Hams and their overpriced sticky sweet monstrosities.

If you hunt around you can still find country ham, usually in slices but if you're lucky you may stumble upon a whole one.  These hams need to be parboiled 5 minutes a pound then let to sit several hours before removing and rinsing.  Score the fat and then cook in a moderate oven for about half an hour before serving.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hungarian Pork With Sauerkraut

Eastern European countries have many ways to cook cabbage and pork.  My Polish/Russian grandparents cooked a dish called Kapusta that was a mixture of pork, cabbage and sauerkraut.  This dish being the Hungarian equivalent, it has some differences though.  The addition of tomatoes gives it a sweet kick to counter the vinegar taste of the sauerkraut and all is brought together with the ever present sour cream at the end.  This dish is more of a stew than a main dish and is best served in a nice wide bowl.  Leftovers can be frozen.  For the pork, get a cheap cut of meat like a picnic ham.  Use only the meaty part reserving the fat for use in another recipe.  Properly speaking, this dish is a Szekler recipe which originated with the Szekely people who live in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania.  My family descends from this group with Tamasi's being mentioned in various codexes from the 1300's as "Counts of the Szeklers" and having fought hard against the constant Turkish invasions.  The origins of the Szeklers are unclear and it is thought they are descendants of the Avars who settled in that area in late Roman times and were used as a border control by the later Byzantine Empire.  When the Magyars came later and settled Hungary the Szeklers continued their border control responsibilities. This recipe is from the New Brunswick Orthodox Church Cookbook printed in 1958.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Yeast Eaters

Yes, you will know the people who eat yeast by their rosy complexions and giant bows they wear.  After the demise of the quack medical tonics we had to start promoting something else that would be a panacea of health and vitality, why not yeast?  I see these ads pop up with some regularity so there must have been a popular movement for consuming yeast, something akin to the cayenne pepper movement of the 1850's I shouldn't wonder.  As for the yeast it's just normal bread yeast or in this case compressed yeast cakes as instant rise type yeasts we use today weren't available. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Liptauer Cheese Spread

This is another one of those Hungarian dishes I found in my old Hungarian cookbook from New Brunswick, NJ printed in the 50's.  Lipto cheese is a sheep's milk cheese similar to feta but soft like cream cheese.  It's nigh on impossible to find here where I live but not to worry, Neufchatel cheese is a great substitute.  I used the Fresh Market brand of Neufchatel in making this recipe.  Traditionally Liptauer is a snack consumed while drinking beer.  It's served on toast points usually with thin sliced of Kolbas.  I used a Genoa salami instead but any kind of preserved stick pepperoni or summer sausage will work.  It's best to make this a day ahead and let the flavors meld in the refrigerator.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Save Me a Booth

1963 Booth's High & Dry Gin
1963, the age of "Mad Men" and last bastion of male the male controlled world... at least that's what we like to believe but those of us in the historical "know" realize that women have controlled the world from behind the scenes for thousands of years.  A fight over just one woman's affections led to the Trojan War, and later the fight over the love of Cleopatra was legendary to this day.  So don't tell me that women didn't have the power of life and death in the past.  Cut to the present and it's all about equality... unequal equality and fuzzy math.  I see it in Alaska where I work in the summertime.  See, women work up there which is fine, I'm all about equal opportunity, however don't demand a different set of job requirements "just because you're a woman".  This is neither fair nor equal.  Either you can do the job or you can't, but bending the rules doesn't apply.

I know I'll be lambasted about this in the comments... or maybe not.  I haven't written on the blog in so long I don't think anyone actually reads it anymore.  It doesn't matter, it's Friday and later today I'll be enjoying a Gin Martini on the porch whilst continuing a lecture series on World War I that I've been listening to in my spare time. Enjoy the day and don't take life too seriously, remember "There are many here among us that feel life is but a joke."

Searching For Perfection

Wow, this ad looks safe... where's Social Services? Oh yeah, it's 1920 and they don't exist yet. I love the disinterested look on the mother's face as little Suzy reaches frighteningly close to a pot of boiling oil in which mom is cooking doughnuts, presumably for breakfast the following morning. Indeed the stove seems to be a bunch of contradictions since it's 4 o'clock in the afternoon according to the clock on the wall and mother is cooking a roast in the oven, doughnuts in the pot and on the simmer is a pot of cereal (presumably some form of oats). All this actually makes sense when taken in through the eyes of early 20th century cooking styles. While quick oats were introduced in 1920, it would take some time before the market accepted them. So these were regular oats or more likely steel cut oats (ala Johnny McAnn's) which were cooked over a double boiler for many hours until done. In this time period, in order to save time at breakfast, mother would cook the oats the night before and reheat them for breakfast.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Penn Maryland Whiskey

It's kind of a whiskey night tonight well... just because.  I suppose it's because I want to celebrate my promotion at work to Asst. Department Manager but not an over the top celebration.  One whiskey I won't be drinking is the one in the ad above.  Penn Maryland whiskey was one of over 20 different rye whiskeys distilled in Baltimore, Maryland before prohibition.  After prohibition the brand returned but was snatched up by National Brands and disappeared altogether sometime in the 1960's when the taste for rye whiskey was being replaced with bourbon and the vodka crowd.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Working In Alaska

I made the decision this year to stop working in Alaska.  This comes as a result of much thinking on my part because it is quite a bit of money to be saying goodbye to but I have come to the realization that my time up there is over.  Thanks to the US Government's change in visa policy the former J-1 College Students from foreign countries that made up the bulk of our workforce are now gone and they have been replaced by US college students.  I saw the beginnings of this last year and knew it was heading for disaster with more fights, more drunken boobery and just a basketful of problems for me as night watchman to deal with.  No thank you.  I'd rather be an OFW in Kuwait or some other Muslim country, at least I'd know what I was in for.

Speaking of Kuwait, back when I lived in the Philippines I was still working in Alaska.  Twice a year I would have to fly to the US and then back to the Philippines.  It was fun at first and I loved getting flights on various airlines so I could at least say I set foot in various countries even if just for a layover.  One time I was even looking at a kuwait airways booking but that would have involved a rather long trek to the east as opposed to the (sort of) shorter trip to the west when going back to the Philippines. 

In the end I wound up going with Cathay Pacific and transiting through Vancouver and Hong Kong.  As for Alaska... well I thank you for the years of work up there it was fun and I had dreamed of going to Alaska since I was in High School but I have a new job now that I just got promoted in and maybe finally I can have hope for a career.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ad: Hires Root Beer

1931 Hires Root Beer

Does anyone else like Root Beer?  I know I do, along with it's distinguished brother Birch Beer and it's back of the woods cousin Sarsaparilla.  I suppose you could argue that Moxie is a part of the family, although Moxie's main taste is Gentian, the same herb they put into Peychauld's Bitters, used in the Sazerac Cocktail.  But all that is for another time as I'm going to concentrate on the Hires ad above.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Camping, the Outdoors Adventure

When I was a kid I was always in love with camping.  My Grandfather gave me my first Boy Scout tent when I was 5 and I remember having so much fun in the backyard with it.  Later on I was able to go away each Summer to one of the top sleepaway camps in Western Maryland where we had fun doing all the things you expect when you're a kid at Summer Camp.  I remember I was best at Archery and Boating but never a dab hand at Arts & Crafts.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

1930's Hard Times Green Beans

The other day I talked about what people ate from day to day during the Great Depression and this is one of the recipes that I have been able to uncover.  I love green beans and they're really a cheap side dish whether you cook them frozen or canned and they are easily grown fresh in a garden (they're quite prolific actually).  Right now we're in the midst of green bean season in Florida so we're getting some great beans out of Boynton Beach so I decided to give this recipe a try during Easter.  I don't think my wife was too fond of them but I made a huge batch and ate them as lunch a number of days until they were gone.  During the Depression this dish would have been a main meal using only a little bacon for the meat but yet turning out quite filling and not too bad nutritionally either.  They benefit from sitting in the fridge for a day to mellow out the flavor a bit but are still good they day they are cooked.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Word About Eating Vintage...

When I first started eating what I termed "The Vintage Diet" I didn't really know what to expect.  I was 360lbs at the time, a smoker albeit only 1/2 a pack a day and I had borderline high blood pressure at 155/85-90.  Here I was in an unhealthy state about to embark eating what we have been lead to believe is the unhealthiest food ever, full of fat, butter and salt.  But here I am over a year later, my weight has dropped to 318lbs and my blood pressure is 120/80 not bad for an almost 40 year old.  I could stand to lose more weight but 318 seems to be a major resistance point for me and I'm having trouble getting past it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Eggplant Creole

Note: This recipe has been edited 12/18/14 from the original as I finally got it to come together the way the original was supposed to look like when finished.

This recipe is from a Crisco sponsored cookbook printed in the early 1920's.  When I first saw it I expected something spicy, after all it's Creole and Louisiana is known for it's fiery foods but in this case Creole seems to be mean cooked with tomatoes.  I made this recipe the way the original was laid out but immediately saw the need for some changes as the cooking directions are rather vague as vintage recipes are wont to be and it also calls for the boiling of the eggplant which was something of a disaster (We now boil the eggplant, see below).  Keep this in mind when you make it that this is the modified, kitchen tested recipe which is what sets this blog apart from other vintage recipe sites.  This recipe was a side dish in it's original form but by the 1930's the Great Depression had turned it into a main dish.  I ate it with a poached egg on top and it is both a nutritious and filling meal that doesn't cost that much.  This recipe lived on into the 1960's where it appears again in another of my cookbooks returning to it's roots as a side dish.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Welches Grapelade

I find that I haven't written in a few moons about old ads, which used to provide much fill material back when I started this blog and I didn't have as many recipes to write about.  Also I used to have time to write every day back then but with a full time job now my time is limited and tend to concentrate on the recipes, saving the ads for the Facebook Page devoted to this blog.  This ad just piqued my interest though as I knew there was a story behind it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Depression Era Diet

Finding good information and recipes from the Depression Era is a rather unforgiving task.  Most recipes that have survived are more of the "Good Times" recipes that were made for Sunday dinner or special occasions.  What I would like to focus on though is what people ate day to day.  The information is out there especially from the people who are still around that grew up during those times but the more I unearth on this matter, the more I have to wonder, would people today live on a diet of what they ate.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A New Term...

I've decided to coin a new term...

Commercialized Organic - Products with Organic Labeling that use questionable ingredients or processes that although allowed by the FDA don't exactly make for a properly organic product.

Just remember you heard it here first.

Cooked Salad Dressing & Old Fashioned Potato Salad

     I love it when a vintage recipe just clicks together with a minimum of effort on my part.  This recipe is one of those chosen few that need no real tweaks on my part to work well.  With this dressing you can make either old fashioned potato salad or coleslaw but I think to my taste it works best in potato salad.  The original recipe says it can be served either hot or cold but I did mine cold for use with Easter dinner.  Give the sauce time to cool down before adding to your potatoes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sour Cream Cornmeal Muffins

Many nights I end up doing fly by the seat of my pants meals.  I know what the main dish will be but the sides are always a mystery until I start diving into my vintage cookbooks and coming up with a plan.  This is one of those recipes that comes by way of the "Rumford Dainties and Household Helps" cookbook from 1922.  It needed some tweaking as Sour Cream was different back then from the thick stuff we use on our potatoes now so we have to add a little milk or risk a dry muffin at the end.  They went well with our dinner that night and I think you'll like them too.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mother Bechamel And Her Daughters

Back in the vintage era the home cook always knew how to make a sauce that would be the perfect accent to any meal.  This has becomes something of a lost art in the modern world as we have been indoctrinated over the years by the wood be health gurus that sauces are bad for us because of their richness and fat content.  Poppycock!  A well chosen sauce is perfect for making a dull uninteresting piece of meat sing with renewed vigor.  You may think that making sauces at home is time consuming but I assure you it will become second nature with practice.  Indeed, sauce making from scratch is rather easy once one knows the tricks of the trade and after a few times of doing it yourself you will wonder why you ever used a shortcut sauce like the disgusting concoction above.  To learn the whole array of sauces available to chefs would be a lifetime of work and take up volumes on the bookshelf but the vast majority of sauces available are really only attainable by professional chefs.  So for the purposes of this article we will be dealing with 1 mother sauce and it's daughter sauces.  With these you will be able to put the topping on any meat desired.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mushroom Gravy

It may seem silly to post something as trivial as a mushroom gravy on here given all the more complicated recipes that I have talked about over the years, but you would be surprised how many cooks cannot make a simple sauce without resorting to something in a jar or worse, an envelope.  It's really not that hard and this makes the perfect accompaniment to the Bacon Meat Roll With Olive Stuffing I wrote about the other day.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Recipe: Bacon Meat Roll With Olive Stuffing

I found this ad online and I immediately became intrigued because we seem to think that wrapping everything in bacon before cooking it is a modern invention.  That point of view couldn't be any more misguided as this 1936 ad for Armour Bacon shows.  Unfortunately the recipe was not included in the ad, just a note to "Ask your grocer for the recipe folder".  Hmm, another thing we still do to this day, grocer inspired recipes.  I posted this ad to my blog's Facebook page and immediately started getting requests for the recipe, I suppose the siren call of crisp bacon is too much to ignore so I set about searching for the lost recipe.  Now this is where I truly shine when it comes to vintage cooking because I am the Jedi Master of the search.  It didn't take long to hunt down the recipe on an old edition of the Deseret News thanks to Google and the Gutenberg Project.  While the ad may claim this is a frugal recipe, that is not the case today as it calls for 1/2lb of ground veal and veal is very dear right now.  I replaced the veal with ground chuck and the recipe came out fine.  The article claims you get "10 generous servings per roll" and they are quite right.  We ate it for dinner 2 times and I had enough for lunch for a couple of days.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Heinz Ketchup, Portrait of a Corporate Sell Out

     This ad is from 1926 when Heinz was celebrating it's 57th anniversary.  The message is that Heinz spends time and money to select the best ingredients for it's products including apparently a supply of pith helmets for Indian safari's.  The real question I ask is where did it all go wrong?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe

Mixing rhubarb with strawberries is an old tradition probably dating back to the 1800's.  Rhubarb was easy to grow in the garden although it likes cooler weather so thrives best in the spring and fall.  The sweetness of good ripe strawberries is balanced with the slightly tart flavor of the rhubarb to make for an excellent combination.  As with all vintage pie recipes, getting the amount of thickening agent (flour in this case) just right is a bit of a pain.  Too little and pie is juicy and doesn't set right, too much and the pie filling is gummy.  I think in the old days cooks were able to eyeball the juiciness of the fruit in the recipe and their intuition told them how much thickening agent to use.  I highly recommend making your own crust for this or any pie.  There is just no comparison between homemade crust and store bought crust.  Also if you make your own crust you can add the true secret ingredient of this recipe, orange juice.  Just replace the water in the crust recipe with orange juice, in mine I used Indian River Valencia.  I was going to shoot a video of how to do a proper and easy lattice crust top but my camera broke so it's going to have to wait until I get a new one capable of shooting video.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Classic French Quarter Beignets

I lived in New Orleans for 6 months way back in the 90's, sharing an apartment with a friend who lived there full time in the French Quarter.  I developed a love for the city of New Orleans but none so much as my love of chicory coffee and beignets.  Now I've been drinking chicory coffee for some time now but never gave much thought to the little square doughnuts of Jackson Square until my wife and I went into a small deli/diner one morning in search of breakfast.  It was there I rekindled my passion for beignets and inflamed a new one in my wife.  The diner had 2 drawbacks though, they were using boxed Cafe du Monde Beignet Mix and they were expensive, charging $5.99 for an order of 3.  Well, I can do anything I put my mind to and that goes for making my own beignets as well.  For a real beignet experience you need cottonseed oil for frying as it has the most neutral flavor and you need powdered sugar for dusting.  Unfortunately these 2 items are the most compromised ingredients these days as all cottonseed oil is GMO and powdered sugar has a disgustingly off taste from the ever increasing amount of cornstarch (from GMO corn) that they add to prevent caking.  Fortunately I was able to get around both issues.  First the oil needs to be changed to peanut oil and not just any peanut oil but Planters peanut oil.  Their oil has an almost cottonseed oil quality about it in that the flavor is not peanutty or worse an insipid taste of rancid peanuts.  Next, and I don't know if this is distributed everywhere but I can get it here in Florida, for the powdered sugar use Florida Crystals Organic.  Still has cornstarch (organic corn), but it's so small a touch that it doesn't impact the flavor at all.  Speaking of flavor, this powdered sugar is less sweet than what you're used to but has an incredible depth of flavor to it not to be found anywhere else (that I've seen).  So without further fanfare, on to the recipe.  This recipe is cut in half from normal recipes but still yields around 10 servings of 3 beignets each.

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Topo Pino" Currant Muffins

This recipe comes by way of a cookbook from the 1920's titled "Rumford Dainties and Household Helps" that I picked up on Ebay.  The recipe itself is called Topo Pino Blueberry Muffins but I lacked in Blueberries so used currants instead.  If using blueberries use 1 cup fresh but I advise against using any from Chile as foreign produce is so suspect in the chemicals it may contain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Italian-American Meatballs, From a 1940's Recipe

There are as many "authentic" Italian meatball recipes on the web as there are stars in the sky with each chef making slight changes to their recipe to differentiate it from the others.  Of course my recipe dips back into the hallowed mists of antiquity to come up with something that an Italian would be proud to claim as their own.  Italian food was introduced into the US during the 1890's during the great wave of immigration from Europe.  It really didn't come into it's own though until the depression era when "Italian" food usually meant spaghetti with ketchup or some thin sauce and meat when it was affordable.  This recipe is adapted from "The St. Mary's Square Cookbook", St. Michaels, Maryland.  It was printed in 1966 but the recipes are older having been treasured family heirlooms shared with the museum to help in the restoration of the little old house built c.1700.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Summer Breeze Makes Me Feel Fine...

I love Florida.  While the rest of the country is stuck in freezing temperatures, the first indications of spring are here in Jacksonville.  The robins have returned along with other migratory birds and the lawn needs mowing for the first time this year.  On the other hand it's a harbinger of things to come, sweltering in the heat when it's 90+ degrees outside and dripping with humidity.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Manila Bell Telephone

Bell Telephone Manila c.1940

I'm not really sure about the time period of this ad, but I'm guessing 1940 from the hat she's wearing and the cut of his double breasted suit.  Ugh!  Double Breasted in the heat of Manila?  Even if it's made of linen (highly likely back then) it would still be unbearable in the heat and humidity.  Honestly, I don't think her outfit is any cooler wearing either.  I simply love 40's fashions (and 30's and 20's) but I am glad some things have changed over the years.  The same outfits they are wearing would have been worn in Miami... in the Summertime.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Glazed Pork Chops and Onions

This is a nifty little recipe that comes by way of an obscure cookbook printed by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in the 60's.  It was put together from submissions by Marylanders who sent in their cherished family recipes which have to date back farther than the 1960's.  This recipe serves as a reminder that there are more ways to cook onions than mere frying.  It was often popular in the vintage era to pre-boil onions then roast them in the oven.  This serves to bring out the sweetness of the onion especially with Bermuda Onions.  I've learned a couple of things from this recipe especially the nature of Bermuda Onions which are extremely hard to find in the States these days having been displaced by Granax variety onions grown in Vidalia, Ga., Walla-walla, Wa., Maui, etc.  Organic red (Spanish) onions are the same thing as the old Bermuda onions and readily substitute in any recipe calling for Bermuda Onions.  Another thing I learned was about onion sizes.  Onions as sold in stores currently are super jumbo sized compared to what was available in the vintage era.  It is best summed up this way: Small onion - 2oz, medium onion - 4oz, large onion - 8oz.  Most of the onions I test weighed at work today ran from 3/4 to a whole pound which is great if a recipe calls for 2 large onions diced, sliced, julienned or what have you but not so great when you need them whole.  I did manage to find 2, 1/2 pound organic red onions that worked perfectly in this recipe.  The sauce is interesting but mixes with the onion juice to taste oh so divine in the end.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Business Cards For the Blog

A short time ago... well not that short, it was December, I took a chance and bought some business cards for the blog from a website that specializes in online business card printing.  I did this because since I started working full time, I have been finding it increasingly hard to find time to cook vintage meals and even worse to write on the blog.  I went the month of January with getting 1 day off a week and that one day soon becomes errand day as all the chores you couldn't get done whilst working pile up to bite you on the bippy on your day off.  Back to the matter at hand, the business cards.  I work at an upscale grocer in the produce department and since we sell a large number of organic items I always get questions from customers about organic.  Also we are encouraged to share recipes with our customers so what better way to do both than through handing out business cards.  Most days I get the chance to hand out 1 or 2 and I can never know if anyone I gave a card to actually visits the blog, but maybe, just maybe, it will help to get the word out and slowly increase my pageviews per day to that 340 a day you need to be considered desirable by advertisers.  Yes, I do this because I love it, but if I make some money off of it that helps to offset the cost of supplies for the vintage recipes.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sunday Stealing - The Star Blazers MEME

Welcome back to Sunday Stealing which originated on WTIT: The Blog authored by Bud Weiser. Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes. You may have heard of the expression, “honor amongst thieves”. In that age-old tradition, we also have our rules. First, we always credit the blog that we stole it from and we will “fess up” to the blog owner where we stole the meme. We also provide a link to the victim's post. (It's our way of saying "Thanks!") We do sometimes edit the original meme, usually to make it more relevant to our global players, to challenge our players, sometimes to select that meme's best questions, or simply to make it less repetitive from either this new meme or recently asked questions from a prior featured meme. Note: this week we notified or victim of the theft via private message within zetaboards. Let's go!!!

Today we ripped off a writer named
martin hanaka from the group zetaboards. It is 50 questions we will do it in 2.5 parts,  She does not say who she got it fromBut, it was probably stolen there as well. So, of course, that will be as far as we go. Tracing back our theft's thieves might take some time. Take the time to comment on other player's posts. It's a great way to make new friends! Link back to us at Sunday 

Sunday Stealing: The Basically Obscure Meme-Part 2

21: Would you swear in front of your parents
22: Which continents have you been on?
       North America, Asia, Europe
23: Do you get motion sickness? Any horror stories?
24: Why did you name your blog whatever you named your blog?
       It came to me in a dream I tells ya!
25: Would you wear a rainbow jacket? A neon yellow sweater? Checkered pants?
       Is this 1982?

26: What was your favorite cartoon growing up? Post a picture if you can.
       Star Blazers
27: In a past life I must have been a...
      A Gangster
28: If you had to look at one city skyline for the rest of your life, which would it be?
      Jacksonville, Fl
29: Longest plane ride you've ever been on?
      Vancouver, BC to Hong Kong
30: The longest you've ever slept?
      8 hours?
31: Would you buy a sweater covered in kitten pictures? Would you wear it if someone gave it you for free?
       No and only as a last resort
32: Do you pluck your eyebrows?
       No I'm genetically advanced from cavemen
33: Favorite kind of bean? Kidney? Black? Pinto?
       Garbanzo Beans actually
34: How far can you throw a baseball?
       Not far enough...
35: If you had to move to another country, where would you move?
       The Philippines, I lived there for 3 years, at least I know what I'm getting myself into...
36: Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? Vietnamese? Korean? Nepalese? How was it?
      Do Ethiopians have food?  I thought they were perpetually starving.  Yes, yes, no on the other 3.  All were good, I'm rather adventurous when it comes to food, ever eaten balut?  I have.
37: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
      None, because your argument is invalid a woodchuck can't chuck wood...

The Myth of the GMO PLU Code

Remember this picture?  There are others like it but they all stay the same thing, that you can walk into a grocery store and pick out GMO produce by the 5 digit PLU code beginning with an 8.  I fell for it myself but after working in the produce department of an upscale grocery chain I've learned alot of things I didn't know before and squashed some things I thought I knew as fact.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ukrainian Borscht (or Borshch)

This recipe comes by way of much historical and ethnic research and putting together a recipe.  Much like General Tso's Chicken is indicative of Hunan Cuisine, this recipe is meant to savor the multitudinous flavors of the many ways of making Ukrainian Borscht.  In essence, borscht served hot is a winter dish made primarily of root vegetables that would have kept over a long winter.  The soup itself is amazingly healthy as it is full of many immune system vitamins and minerals that the body needs to fight off infection (move over chicken soup, I have something better).  This is not a slapdash, quick and easy recipe, it's a labor of love taking time to be made right, but the end result is well worth the effort spent making it.  Your yield will be about 8qts of soup.  I froze half of mine for later and ate the other half now (and shared with friends).  Get organic ingredients as much as you can as the taste is well worth it.  I've tailored this ingredients list for shopping at The Fresh Market.

Ukrainian Borscht

2lbs Beef Short Ribs
3L Water
2tsp Real Salt (Redmond's)
1 Bunch Organic Carrots w/ tops
1 Celery Root
1 Small onion and 2 large onions
8-10 Whole Allspice berries
8 Whole Cloves
3lbs whole organic beets
2T unsalted Kerrygold Butter
1lb Organic Turnips
1 1/2lbs Organic Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes
1tsp pepper
2T Tomato Paste
8 Cloves Organic Garlic
1T Lemon Juice
Sour Cream
Organic Fresh Dill

Prepare your celery root by washing it then peeling off the skin.  Cut off a 1/2" thick round and set aside.  Wrap remaining root and place in fridge for later. Remove tops from carrots and set aside along with one whole carrot, scraped clean. Take your small onion, unpeeled and stud it with 8 whole cloves.  In 8qt Stockpot bring water, salt and beef to a simmering boil.  Strain off foam until it stops rising to the surface. Add your piece of celery root, clove onion, carrot, allspice berries and carrot tops to pot and simmer 2 hours until meat is very tender.  Remove meat taking out bones and chopping beef fine, strain broth (it will have reduced by 1/3) and set aside.  While meat is simmering, take your beets, scrub them and wrap individually in Aluminum Foil.  Place in 400 deg oven and roast 1 hour until beets are slightly tender.  Remove and let cool. To prep the rest of the ingredients, peel your turnip and 2-3 carrots, the rest of the celery root and dice.  Peel your cooled beets and grate on the large side of a box grater and set aside.  Take the pot the meat was cooked in rinse out and set back on med-high stove until dry then add butter.  Chop your 2 large onions into rough pieces and cook in pot 5 mins stirring often.  Add in diced turnip, carrots and celery root and cook 3 mins until soft.  Add reserved stock, shredded beets, beef, pepper, potatoes, garlic cloves and tomato paste and simmer on low heat until potatoes are cooked through.  Add lemon juice and taste, you want a balance of sweet and sour so add more lemon juice if necessary.  Turn off heat and serve with sour cream garnished with finely chopped dill.

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