Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hail History!

I was going through my cookbooks to find some recipes for next week's menu. I have a book called A Matter of History from Living History Farms in Iowa. The book is comprised of recipes from 1700 to 1900, some taken from cookbooks of each particular time period. I was amazed at the way these recipes were written and wanted to share some of them with you. These are written exactly as they were in my book.

1850 Pioneer Site
Grandma's Salt-Raisin Bread

Early morning, as soon as the tea-kettle reaches a boil, take a quart earthen jug or milk pitcher, scald it, and fill one-third full of water hot enough that you can just bear to hold a finger in it. Add a pinch of brown sugar, a teaspoonful of salt, and enough flour to make a batter resembling the batter used for making griddle cakes. Leave the spoon in the batter, set the jug (or pitcher) into a container which is deeper than the pitcher. Pour into the container enought moderately-hot water (not scalding) to bring the water up around the jug one-half to two-thirds, to keep the temperature evenly warm, but not hot when kept on the back of the range. Allow to ferment, adding a teaspoonful of flour once or twice during the process of fermentation. In five hours, when the yeast has reached the top of the jug, pour the yeast into the center hole made in a pan of sifted flour. Have ready a pitcher of warm milk, salted, and pour into the yeast and flour mixture, enough of the warm milk to make a pulpy mass, stirring rapidly. Cover the sponge closely and keep warm for an hour, then knead into loaves, adding flour to make proper consistency. Bake in a steady oven; allow to cool, then wrap in damp towels and store in earthen jars. From the Dear Daughter Cookbook.

Early in the morning when the tea-kettle boils? Am I supposed to know what time that is? And what does batter for griddle cakes even look like? Salted, warm milk...eww. Too bad I don't have an earthen jar to store them in... and where are the raisins??

The Tangen House
Fricasseed Chicken, White

The chickens are cut to pieces, and covered with warm water to draw out the blood. Then put into a stewpan, with three-quarters of a pint of water or veal broth, salt, pepper, flour, butter, mace, sweet herbs pounded and sifted; boil it half an hour. If it is too fat, skim it a little. Just before it is done, mix the yolk of 2 eggs with a gill (1/2 cup) of cream; grate in a little nutmeg. Stir it up until it is thick and smooth; squeeze in half a lemon. If you like onions, stew some slices with the other ingredients. From The Frugal Housewife.

I don't know how to pronounce the name of this. Cut the chicken to pieces and draw out the blood??? Oh dear, I don't think I could do that. Three quarters of a pint... that is just too confusing. And a gill is another word for a 1/2 cup? It's amazing the things you can learn!

1850 Pioneer Site
Ginger-Bread Nuts

One pound of sifted flour, three-quarters of an ounce of finely-powdered ginger, the grated rind of a lemon, and five ounces of good butter. Rub the butter into the flour, then add the strained juice of the lemon, two ounces of honey, and half a pound of good treacle, slightly warmed; knead to firm paste and let it stand in a cool place for an hour or longer. Roll out a quarter of an inch thick and cut into small round cakes, either with a wine glass or dredger-lid (if proper cutters are not at hand), and bake in a quick oven until quite crisp, about 15 minutes. From The Young Housewives Daily Assistant, 1864.

Three-quarters of an ounce? Here we go again! Make sure you only use good butter lol. Treacle? There is a note at the bottom that says treacle is molasses. Good thing they offered substitutes to use as cutters... unfortunately I don't know what a dredger-lid is, much less own one. And what in the world is a quick oven? They cooked over the fire or on the hearth with hot coals, so I guess you would just have to know! As a young housewife myself, I am glad that this book was not my assistant, because I would be lost!

I hope I didn't bore you too much with old recipes written in paragraph form, but I found them so fascinating. I love all things old and I wanted to share some of the many interesting recipes from my book. If you ever have the chance, visit Living History Farms, it is such a cool place!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rootin' for Root Beer

Slow Cooker Root Beer Barbecue Beef Sandwiches. It's quite the name, and it caught my eye in a Betty Crocker magazine last week. I was at Borders browsing the cooking magazines and thought that this recipe sounded really good. I looked it up online later and decided to put it on the menu for this week. With only three ingredients in the Crock Pot: beef, root beer, and barbecue sauce, it had to be easy! And it had great reviews on the Betty Crocker website.

Slow Cooker Root Beer BBQ Beef
from Betty Crocker

1 boneless beef rump roast (4 lbs)
2 c barbecue sauce
1 c root beer
Salt and pepper to taste

Add beef, 1 1/2 c bbq sauce and root beer to slow cooker and cook on low for 10-12 hours. About 20 minutes before serving, pour juices into a skillet and cook on medium heat about 15 minutes until thickened and juice is reduced to about 3 cups. Meanwhile, shred beef with two forks. Add remaining bbq sauce to thickened juices and return juice to slow cooker. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on buns. Serves 16.

With my husband and I being the only eaters tonight, I didn't want to have 16 bbq beef sandwiches to consume for the next week. So I only bought a 2 lb roast and decided to do the recipe in half. I used KC Original BBQ sauce and Barg's Root Beer and served it with some Bush's baked beans.

Use forks to shred beef
Simmer juices until thickened
Served with baked beans

My Review (Scale 1-5)
  • Preparation: 5
    • So easy, literally dump it in and let it cook. The thickening process at the end was a cinch too.
  • Taste: 4.5
    • Meat was fall-apart tender, flavor perfectly smoky and sweet. Half a point docked because my husband would prefer a different bbq sauce.
  • Cost: 5
    • Beef $7.94, bbq sauce $2.00, root beer $1.00, buns $1.00. Add that all together and divide by 8 servings, comes to about $1.49 per serving!
  • Clean-up: 4
    • Despite the ominous ring of bbq sauce in the slow cooker, it was easy to clean. A point docked because of my excessive mess/clumsiness, which I will explain below.
  • My Changes
    • Next time I will try a different bbq sauce. I would have liked to have used Cookies or Famous Dave's, but apparently they don't sell that here.
    • I only cooked it for 8.5 hours. Partially because it was a smaller roast, and partially because I needed it to be done at 5:30.
    • Even though I had half the beef, I used the same amount of bbq sauce, and even extra root beer so that my crock pot would be half full.
    • I actually forgot to add salt and pepper to taste, but I don't think I would have wanted it.
    • Don't use a baster to take the liquid out, or at least figure out how to use it first. I thought this would be a brilliant idea because then I wouldn't have to handle the hot stoneware. But beware! Don't hold a baster on its side AT ALL or it will spray out all over your kitchen and slow cooker! Thus my point deduction for clean-up!
    • Don't use a ladle to take the juice out of the skillet and pour it into a narrow measuring cup, or at least be more careful than I was. I wasn't too careful and, subsequently over-shot the narrow cup and spilled hot liquid on my poor thumb and the stovetop. I seem to be accident prone...
  • Summary
    • Great recipe overall. It is something that I would make again in the future. Enjoy!
Photographs courtesy of my husband, who is a much better photographer than myself!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pot Pie Perfection

For a little over a month, my husband and I didn't have jobs, so things were a little tight. One day I was hunting through my kitchen to find something to make for dinner. After doing some searching and deciding that cereal wasn't gonna cut it, I had 2 chicken breasts, some frozen mixed vegetables, and bisquick in my hands, ready to make something like a pot pie.

So I began searching through my recipe books for inspiration. I found one recipe that required boiling onions, celery, carrots and other vegetables with the chicken to make a broth. I had some garlic and baby carrots, so that would have to do. Then I ran into a problem, all the recipes I had (I ended looking at about 4 different chicken pot pie recipes while I made mine) said to use a whole chicken to make the broth, then take out the bones and all that. I only had chicken breasts. So I did some internet searching and decided I could still make the broth with the chicken breasts.

I set about making my broth. Simmer water, chicken, carrots, garlic, half a buillon cube, pepper and some rosemary for an hour and voila! Broth! After about 20 minutes, I took the chicken out and cut it into pieces so that it wouldn't get too dry. This was my mom's advice. I called her to ask about making the broth and she said that she always cuts up her chicken because it absorbs more moisure that way.

When the broth was done, I added the frozen vegetables and mixed in flour and water to thicken it. One of my recipe books called for sour cream, so I threw in a dollop of that for added creaminess. Here is a picture of the filling:

Now for the topping. 3 of my recipe books called for a pie crust topping. That would be easy, except I didn't have any shortening or butter to make the crust, so scratch that. And here's where the bisquick came in. With the inspiration of my husband, I decided to make the roll-out biscuits on the box and use those as the topping. We were having fun and decided to cut the biscuits with a flower cookie cutter, here's how that turned out:

Not quite as pretty as we imagined lol but it worked. Then we had some leftover dough, so we made some pumpkin-shaped biscuits to go with our theme:

I only had to bake the pot pie for about 8 minutes and it was golden brown and ready to eat! And I am happy to say that it was delicious! Here is the finished product:

We made the pot pie another time and decided to do a lattice top with the bisquick, it turned out pretty nice:

The second time I made the chicken broth I cut up the chicken before putting it in the water. I was quite surprised when I opened up the lid and found that there was hardly any liquid left! I guess my mom was right, when you cut the chicken, it absorbs more moisture. The difference was that the first time I cut it up about 20 minutes into the simmering process, instead of right away. Needless to say, I added some water and a buillon cube to save my pot pie and it turned out just fine!

I have to say that it was pretty fun to mix several recipes together to accomodate the ingredients that I had. I made my first broth/stock and boy did it smell delicious!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Love Cookbooks

There are hundreds of cookbooks out there, how can I ever choose just one? Well, I haven't been able to that, which is why I have many cookbooks. But I value and use them all quite frequently. Among my favorites are Taste of Home, Farmer's Almanac Everyday Cookbook, Fast-fix One Dish Meals, Pampered Chef All the Best, and Crock Pot Best-Loved Slow Cooker Recipes.

Recently, I have become a huge fan of Taste of Home. I received their Cooks Who Care edition cookbook as a wedding gift and have quickly fallen in love with it. It really is an all-in-one cookbook, with recipes for every occassion, budget, skill, and time frame. It is full of cooking techniques, tips, food storage information, and photographs. One of the best things about Taste of Home is that they have recipes from people all around the country. I love to read the little stories about the recipes and their family traditions. I have the Taste of Home Baking cookbook on my Christmas wishlist.

I must admit that I have a slight obsession with cookbooks and recipes. With the Taste of Home cookbook, there was a free year-long subscription that I just mailed today. I was so excited when I saw that! Their magazine is great too. Take me to a bookstore and I will be content in the cookbook section for hours. I'll just sit on the floor and try to remember as many recipes as I can so that I can make them later. I love to cook and I love to collect as many recipes as possible! I have to practice self-restraint when browsing the cookbook section, I would love to buy many of them!