Monday, April 20, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly #23

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #23: 

"Sweet Sips and Potent Potables"

The Challenge: Sweet Sips and Potent Potables

Whether it’s hard or soft, we all enjoy a refreshing beverage! Pick a historic beverage to recreate - remember to sip responsibly!

The Recipe: Albumen Beverages
This drink recipe was included in the section with Barley Water and Beef Tea so I assume it's a drink for a sick person. The egg whites provide protein. 

Beat 1 egg white to a froth. Add 1/3 cup orange or lemon juice. Sweeten to taste with a syrup made by boiling 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water 12 minutes. Albumen water is made by mixing beaten egg white with 1/2 cup milk

Lily Haxworth Wallace, The Lily Wallace New American Cookbook, Books Inc., New York, 1947

How Did You Make It: I used pasteurized egg white in a carton, beat that with an electric mixer until foamy and mixed with 1% milk. 

I then squeezed two naval oranges by hand (because of course I can't find the juicer I swear I saw lying around a couple days ago). I only managed about 1/6 c. juice. I strained it and put it in a bowl. I boiled 1/2 c. sugar in 1/2 c. water for 12 minutes. Then I beat another egg white and added it to the orange juice. Finally, I did a stupid thing and poured the entire syrup into the glass. It was way too sweet and I never say that. 

Time to Complete: About a half hour

Total Cost: I had all the ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?: Success... yet it was too sweet with all the syrup and the orange taste was overshadowed by the sugar.

How Accurate Is It?:  The recipe was 100% accurate. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Historical Food Fornightly #22

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #22: 

"Make It Do or Do Without"

The Challenge: Make it Do or Do Without

Working around food availability to gain a desired outcome has been a challenge throughout history. Whether supplementing seasonal produce, dealing with rationed or blockaded food in wartime, or re-imagining a dish without access to crucial ingredients, the cooks of the past had to get creative. Do homage to their ingenuity by interpreting historical substitutions.

This was super easy for me, being well versed in food rationing and food substitutions. For more on that see my online exhibit on food in the World Wars (
The real challenge was finding a recipe that didn't use the oven since ours is broken!

The Recipe: I chose to make Cornstarch Pudding from Bureau of Home Economics, United States Department of Agriculture and the Consumer Division Office of Price Administration, Recipes to Match Your Sugar Ration, May 1942.

Cornstarch Pudding
1/3 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 quart milk
1/2 c. sugar, honey, cane or maple sirup
2 tsp. vanilla or 1 square chocolate

Mix the cornstarch and salt with 1 cup of cold milk. 

Scald the remainder of the milk in the top of a double boiler. Add the cornstarch mixture to the milk. 

Let it boil until thick and smooth, stirring constantly. Just before taking from the [heat], add the sirup and vanilla flavoring. If chocolate is used, melt the chocolate and add some of the pudding to it, then mix with the rest of the pudding. pour into molds and allow to cool before unmolding. If vanilla flavoring is used, served with fresh fruit. Serve chocolate pudding with cream or custard sauce.

How Did You Make It: I cut the recipe in half, cooked it on a modern electric stove according to directions. I used maple syrup and vanilla flavoring and made one with a few semi-sweet chocolate chips mixed in. I used ramekins as pudding molds, placed the warm pudding in the refrigerator over night to set the pudding. I didn't have fresh fruit or cream and custard sauce has raw eggs so I ate the pudding as is.

Time to Complete: an hour to cook and cool overnight.

Total Cost: I had all the ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?: Success... yet it is really really gross. The texture and taste were OK but the cold pudding is not very appealing so I ended up throwing most of it out since no one else would eat it. It reminded my mom too much of stories about my cousin's mom growing up poor in rural West Virginia and only having cornstarch pudding for dessert.

How Accurate Is It?:  The recipe was 100% accurate. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly #21

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #21: 

"Rare/Scarce Ingredients"

The Challenge: Rare/Scarce Ingredients
The rare ingredient I chose was Maple Sugar. Maple sap flows from trees in late winter and the early spring as the days start to warm up, usually February and March but this year in mid-late March. The sap flows clear and barely sweet. After the sap is collected from maple trees in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Quebec, Canada; the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire (and to a lesser degree, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, Canada; the states of New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan), it is boiled and filtered to make syrup. [1] See the process at Parker's Maple Barn in Mason, New Hampshire. Maple sugar is made by boiling the sap longer than needed to make syrup. Native Americans discovered the process and placed a high value on maple sugar. Maple sugar was known as ziinzibaakwad or Sinibuckwud in the Algonquin language. [2]

European colonists called this type of sugar "Indian Sugar." They copied the techniques and began exporting maple sugar in the 17th century. [3] In the 18th century, as cane sugar became a valuable, expensive commodity and a hot political topic (Revolutionary War, slavery), maple sugar was a happy alternative.  However, by the early 19th century, white sugar became favored by Europeans and Americans of European descent, though maple sugar was still cheaper.[4] In 1890, U.S. President William McKinley imposed a tariff on high quality white sugar, in hope of stimulating the production of local sugar. Despite the attempt, white sugar remained the favorite of the American public. [5] During the World Wars, when sugar was rationed, maple syrup and maple sugar replaced cane sugar as a sweetener. Today maple sugar is rare and can usually be found at New England farms and probably at winter farmer's markets and farm stands.  (Please note that the stuff in the plastic jug by well-known brands is not true maple syrup).

[1]Helen and Scott Nearing, The Maple Sugar Book, New York, 1950.
[2]"maple sugar," Wikipedia; Nearing, 23.
[3] Wikipedia.
[4] Nearing, 42, 63.
[5]Nearing, 64.

The Recipe: 
Maple Nuggets
Nearing, 249
1950, America

Boil 1 c. maple syrup or 1 c. maple sugar with a few tablespoons of water until 325 degrees. Remove from fire and add 2 T. butter and beat until begins to thicken. Add 3 cups puffed rice or wheat which have been crisped over heat. Mix thoroughly. Drop on wax paper. Needs no cooking.

How Did You Make It:
Unfortunately I lost my photos.
I measured out 1/4 c. of maple sugar and a Tablespoon of water and boiled. My mixture was too watery so I added some maple syrup and boiled longer. My candy thermometer wouldn't work in my small pan so I had to guess. When the mixture boiled and thickened a bit, I poured in some Rice Krispies and made into lumps. I don't think I did it right and I only had about 3 pieces of candy.

I then tried Maple Creams from Aunt Babette's Cookbook published in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1889.
I boiled about 1/4 cup sugar with a little water until the soft ball stage. I managed one ball before my sugar hardened. 

Time to Complete: A couple hours probably. I wasn't very patient and didn't see how long it took.

Total Cost:
Maple sugar cost $3.99 for 3 oz. at the maple barn

How Successful Was It?: Failure!

How Accurate Is It?:  The recipe was accurate but my chemistry was all wrong!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly: Challenge #20

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #20: 

"Descriptive Foods"

The ChallengeFoods served at notable events in history 
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.

The event I initially chose was Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. Marking 50 years on the throne, the empire-wide celebration lasted all day on June 20, 1887. It began with an outdoor breakfast at Frogmore where Prince Albert was buried and ended with an elegant banquet for foreign kings and princes, along with the governing heads of Britain's overseas colonies and dominions. (Wikipedia)

Regular people celebrated with recipes they could make at home. Recipes like Jubilee Cakes, Jubilee Tea Cakes, Jubilee Buns, and Jubilee puddings appeared in cookbooks. 
Ivan Day, "Jubilee Food Revisited", Food History Jottings

Ivan Day found this recipe for Jubilee Cakes
Robert Wells, The Bread & Biscuit Baker's and Sugar Boiler's Assistant. 2nd Edition (London: 1890).

Not having a kitchen scale or possessing math skills, I opted for the easier to make Queen Elizabeth II's Homemade Drop Scones recipe sent to President Dwight Eisenhower after his informal visit to Balmoral in 1959. President Eisenhower was greeted with enthusiasm by the British people for his heroics during the war. The President traveled around Europe to before his visit to Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev. Eisenhower met with a pregnant Queen Elizabeth, despite her plan to avoid public appearances until the birth of her child, and spent a night at Balmoral.
Life Magazine, Vol. 40, no. 7, Sept. 7, 1959.
Reading Eagle, August 28, 1959

The Recipe: 
Apparently, Eisenhower was so taken with the drop scones served for tea, he request the recipe. On January 24, 1960, the Queen sent a handwritten reply to his request along with the recipe.

Click Americana Queen Elizabeth II, via the National Archives American Bicentennial exhibit, 200 Years of Collections at the National Archives

How Did You Make It:
First I made my own castor sugar by grinding granulated sugar in my Rocket Blender. 

I halved the recipe and then stupidly blindly followed directions, forgetting to proof the baking soda in milk and cream of tartar.

The mixture did bubble and start to rise. I had to add more flour because the dough was very very wet.

I scooped out the batter onto greased baking sheets.

 The recipe did not include baking temperature/time so I consulted Mary Berry's scone recipe and baked my scones at 425 for 13 minutes.

Time to Complete: Half an hour.

Total Cost:
I don't know. We had all the ingredients on hand. 

How Successful Was It?:

So-so. Not something I'd serve to Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry on the Great British Bake Off/British Baking Show but decent. The bottoms came out a bit too brown. They taste like biscuits rather than the Scottish scones I'm used to. I'm still waiting for my clotted cream to come in the mail so I made do with margarine and blueberry preserves. 

How Accurate Is It?: 
100% for Queen Elizabeth II, moderately for Queen Victoria.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly #18

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #18: 

"Descriptive Foods"

The Challenge: Descriptive Foods

The Recipe: Snippy Doodle Cake
One cup granulated sugar, one cup flour, one half cup milk, two eggs beaten light, one tablespoonful butter, one tablespoonful cinnamon, one and one half teaspoonfuls baking powder. Cream butter and sugar add eggs beaten all together and light then the flour and milk stirring briskly. Mix cinnamon and baking powder together with the flour. Bake in a sheet and sprinkle granulated sugar on top when nearly done 
Elizabeth Lohman Gibraltar Island Ohio 

The Book of Priceless Recipes, George F. Lasher, printer, 1907  p. 125

I think this is a misprint or a corruption of Snickerdoodle. I found the recipe in the same cookbook as the Moravian Sugar Cake and it also contains a recipe for German Sand Tarts (Christmas cookies) which my Pennsylvania grandmother always made for Christmastime. I infer from all those German recipes and the fact that the book was published in Philadelphia, that Snickerdoodle might be a Pennsylvania Dutch cookie. The Food Timeline has various theories ranging from ancient European to Dutch to colonial New England and my personal theory, German/Pennsylvania Dutch. According to Wikipedia: The Joy of Cooking claims that snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word Schneckennudel ("snail noodles"), a kind of pastry.[1] It is also possible that the name is simply a nonsense word with no particular meaning, originating from a New England tradition of whimsical cookie names.[2][3] "Snicker" may be a word of German origin and derived from the word "schnecken", i.e. sticky buns."
---Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia, Craig Claiborne [Times Books:New York] 1985 (p. 412) 

Snickerdoodle cookies first appeared in American cookbooks in the early 20th century. The modern type of Snickerdoodle does not contain nuts or fruit and this recipe apparently dates to 1958. Where Snippy came from, I don't know but it could be a typo. I just liked the name. 

How Did You Make It:

I followed the recipe. It didn't make enough to cover a baking sheet so I whipped up a double batch and baked it in muffin/cupcake tins. That made 2 1/2 dozen large cupcake/muffins.

Time to Complete: The key it to let the butter warm up so it creams with the sugar. That took awhile the first time as the house was cold. The second time I made sure to warm the butter first. The total time would probably be about 40 minutes or so.

Total Cost:
I don't know. We had all the ingredients on hand. There are very few ingredients. I imagine the cinnamon would be expensive if one used real cinnamon. I used grocery store brand.

How Successful Was It?:
100%. It felt like cheating this was so easy and soooo delicious! My dad and I almost ate the whole pan all at once. (Picture us going yuuummm soooo goood... break off another piece and repeat)

How Accurate Is It?: 
100% except I used store brand cheap cinnamon and not real Ceylon cinnamon. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly #17

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #17: 

"Revolutionary Foods"

The Challenge: Revolutionary Foods
The theme is revolution, and it’s all about ch-ch-ch-changes. Food can be inspired by revolution, can showcase a revolutionary technique, or come from a revolutionary time. Give us your best documented interpretation of revolution.

The Recipe: 

Rumford Peanut Biscuit Flakes

Why is it revolutionary?
First, baking powder, invented around 1850, replaced pot ash and saleratus, making it possible to bake bread quickly and easily. The Rumford Company was founded by Eben Horsford and George F. Wilson in 1854 (incorporated in 1859)  in what is now the Rumford section of East Providence, Rhode Island. They produced and shipped baking powder all over the country until 1968. Rumford Baking Powder was revolutionary during World War II. I'll let the original pamphlet explain:

A basic biscuit dough recipe can be made up quickly and easily for the busy mother/homemaker/working woman. This recipe follows the war time maxims:
War-time baking must be thrifty
-with Rumford's even, gentle action you don't have to rely on eggs to accomplishing your leavening.

War-time baking must use less sugar:
-Sugar tends to mask flavors . . . so when you use less sugar in a recipe you must be careful of your other ingredients. Rumford is an all-phosphate powder. It contains no alum, so it will never leave a bitter taste to spoil the flavor of sugar-shy foods.

War-time baking should contribute to good nutrition:
-Rumford contains valuable amounts of calcium and phosphorus .  . . those important minerals that help build and maintain strong bones and sound teeth.

War-time baking should waste nothing:
-Rely on Rumford's double-action to give you good leavening every time. 

Rumford Time-Saver Baking Plan saves time. Each of the eight recipes in the pamphlet will bake at the same temperature as the other seven recipes. Two, three, four or more of these good things can be baked at one time . . . using the same oven-heat (a time saving in itself!). You simply remove some of the dishes from the oven ahead of the others. Each of these baked things will keep well , properly stored. Just select a day and mix and bake your breads, cookies and cakes at once. Serve during the week as needed. What a thrill to be able to bring out some different homemade delight every day or so . . . to have something always on hand.

Takes Rumford to Make it Work

It's a Rumford idea . . . and it takes Rumford all-phosphate Baking Powder to make it work. When you open the oven door during the baking process, the gentle, even leavening action of Rumford protects you against baking failures.You want all your baked goods  . . . whether bread or cookies . . . to rise evenly, perfectly . . . and things raised just right are achieved with Rumford's controlled double-action. Baked goods to be kept for a week must stay fresh and moist. Actual laboratory testes prove that things made with Rumford keep fresh longer. 

Nutrition Dividends From Rumford
Rumford contains valuable amounts of calcium and phosphorus . . . those important minerals that help build strong bones and sound teeth. Every time you serve Rumford-baked things to your family, you're helping to fill a vital part of their daily diet needs.
   Remember, too, that because Rumford is an all-phosphate powder, it contains no alum, will never leave a bitter taste. All your baked goods will taste good down to the last tender crumb. 

from Rumford Quick Breads leaflet, Rumford Chemical Works, Rumford, Rhode Island
Johnson & Wales University Library collection 2011.164.0012

How Did You Make It:

Peanut Biscuit Flakes
2 c. home-made Rumford Biscuit Mix*
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. peanut butter
honey or corn syrup

Measure mix. Add milk. Wrap dough in waxed paper; chill. Blend peanut butter and honey or corn syrup until spreadable consistency. Divide dough into 4 pieces; roll each piece into an oblong 6 1/2" X 3". [I did mine about 5 X7"]. Spread each piece of dough with peanut butter mixture; place piece of dough on top of one another in layers. Roll up jelly-roll fashion; cut in 1/2" slices. Place each slice cut side up in greased muffin pans. Bake in very hot (450 degree F) oven 10-15 minutes.

First I made my biscuit mix:
Home-Made Rumford Mix
4 c. flour
6 tsp. Rumford Baking Powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening with two knives or pastry blender. Store in tightly covered glass or china container in the refrigerator. [I stored it in a zip lock bag for a few hours].

Then I followed the recipe. I ended up with 4 large biscuits and placed them on a cookie sheet, cut sides together, with toothpicks to hold the rolled shape.

 I baked for 15 minutes and they were perfectly done. 

Time to Complete: Not counting chilling, 20 minutes

Total Cost:
I don't know. We had all the ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?:
Mostly. I had a hard time rolling the dough to the recommended size which made it hard to roll. The taste is fine though. It's not very sweet but not bad. 

How Accurate Is It?: 
100% down to the Rumford Baking Powder. (I grew up in the shadow of the old factory and always use Rumford Baking Powder).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #16

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #16: 

"Celebratory Foods"

The Challenge: Celebratory Foods
It’s the end of the year, a time for celebration! Pick a celebratory food (either inspired by the season or not, it’s your call). Make it up and share it with loved ones!

The Recipe: 

I turned again to my family history for inspiration. I decided to make
Moravian Sugar Cake

About the Moravians
The Moravian Church started in present-day Czech Republic in the 14th century. By that time most of what is now eastern Europe had converted t0 coptic Christianity, however Bohemia and Moravia fell under the jurisdiction of Rome. Some of the inhabitants of the area protested. John Hus (1369-1415),a  professor of philosophy and rector of the University in Prague, became the leader of the religious protest and was burned at the stake for his criticism of the hierarchy and practices of the Church of Rome. By 1457, supporters of Hus gathered in the village of Kunvald, about 100 miles east of Prague, in eastern Bohemia, and organized the Moravian Church, 

Over the next 100 years, the Moravians emphasized reading the Bible in the vernacular and spread word of the Scriptures to the people of Bohemia, Moravia and later Poland, where they forced to relocate after persecution. 

The 18th century saw a revival of the Moravian Church through the patronage of Count Nicholas  Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a pietist nobleman in Saxony. He encouraged the Moravians to take the word of the Gospel to other countries. 

The first Moravians to set up a permanent settlement in America settled in Pennsylvania in 1741. The newly arrived Moravians settled on the estate of George Whitefield at first and then purchased 500 acres to establish the settlement of Bethlehem in 1741. Bethlehem became the center of Moravian activity in North America. 

Bethlehem 1754

A Brief History of the Moravian Church, Moravian Church of North America,

The modern Unitas Fratrum (or Moravian Church) continues to draw on traditions established during the 18th-century renewal. In many places it observes the convention of the lovefeast, originally started in 1727. It uses older and traditional music in worship. Brass music, congregational singing and choral music continue to be very important in Moravian congregations. 
Moravian Church, wikipedia

My grandmother lives in Bethlehem and my mother grew up in the Moravian Church. My mom remembers the lovefeasts, services dedicated to Christian love. Traditionally during Lovefeasts, a sweetened bun and coffee is served to the congregation in the pews. The foods and drinks consumed from congregation may vary tremendously at the Lovefeast and are usually adapted from what the congregations have available. Services in some Colonial-era Lovefeasts, for example, used plain bread and water. A Lovefeast may be held on any special occasion, typically on certain established dates including Good Friday, the Festival of August 13th (the 1727 date on which the Moravian Church was renewed or reborn), and Christmas Eve, where each member of the congregation receives a lighted candle at the end of the service in addition to the bun and coffee.
Lovefeasts, Wikipedia

My mom remembers eating Moravian Sugar Cake on Christmas Eve and I remember my grandparents bringing it for Christmas morning breakfast, though they no longer attended the Moravian Church. I found an account of Moravian Sugar Cake being eaten on New Year's Eve:
"On New Year's Eve it was customary to hold three services in the church with an intermission namely preaching at 8 o clock reading of the memorabilia and statistics an elaborate review of the year's work at I0 o clock and the closing services at 11.30 o clock Some of the members served sugar cake a raised cake often called Moravian cake made according to a special recipe and coffee at their homes during the first intermission."
Weitzel, Louisa, "How the  New Year is Celebrated by the Moravians," The Penn Germania, vol. 10, 1909 

According to, the first recipe for Moravian Sugar Cake was included in In Eliza Leslie's cookbook, Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches by Miss Leslie, in the 1837 edition, though references go back to the early settlers. The original Leslie recipe is as follows:
Moravian Sugar Cake
Cut a quarter of a pound of butter into a pint of rich milk, and warm it till the butter becomes soft; then stir it about in the milk so as to mix them well. Sift three quarters of a pound of flour (or a pint and a half) into a deep pan, and making a ole in the middle of it, stir in a large table-spoonful of the best brewer's yeast in which a salt-spoonful of salt has been dissolved; and then thin it with the milk and butter. Cover it, and set it near the fire to rise. If the yeast is sufficiently strong, it will most probably be in two hours. When it is quite light, mix with the dough a well-beaten egg and three quarters of a pound more of sifted flour; adding a tea-spoonful of oil of cinnamon, and stirring it very hard. Butter a deep square baking pan, and put the mixture into it. Set it to rise again, as before. Mix together five ounces or a large coffee-cup of fine brown sugar; two ounces of butter; and two table-spoonfuls of powdered cinnamon. When the dough is thoroughly light, make deep incisions all over it, at equal distances, and fill them with the mixture of butter, sugar and cinnamon; pressing it hard down into the bottom of the holes, and closing the dough a little at the top to prevent the seasoning from running out.. Strew some sugar over the top of the cake; set it immediately into the oven, and bake it from twenty minutes to half an hour, or more, in a brisk oven in proportion to its thickness. When cool, cut it into squares. This is a very good plain cake; but do not attempt it unless you have excellent yeast."
 Several other recipes and a more detailed description can be found on

How Did You Make It:
I found several more modern recipes for Moravian Sugar Cake and of course, the definitive modern recipe which comes from the Waconia Moravian Church. The recipe I used as a guideline comes from
The Book of Priceless Recipes, 
George F. Lasher, printer, 1907, p. 118 (no. 2)

One pint yeast one pint sweet milk lukewarm one cup butter and lard mixed; one cup sugar one half teaspoonful salt. In the evening mix these well together adding flour until in kneading the sponge no longer adheres to the hand. The next morning knead and spread dough one half inch thick on cake tins. Let it rise until light. Spread with butter make holes here and there and fill with lumps of butte.r Strew the whole richly with brown sugar and bake. After removing from the oven dress with nutmeg and cinnamon.
 Elizabeth Comfort Gerhart 118 

I used half butter and half shortening instead of lard. I melted that on the stove, added the milk and then the yeast. While letting that sit a few minutes, I put the sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Then I added the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mixed in about 4-5 cups of flour to make a yeast dough. 

I let the dough rise (unsuccessfully) for several hours before kneading and  spreading it in a 9X13" cake pan. I let it stand for a few more hours to see if it would rise. 

For the topping I used the modern recipe as a guideline since nutmeg is not traditional.  I then mixed the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon into a syrup and poked holes into the dough.

Next I poured the syrup into the holes and pinched them closed.

I baked it at 375 for 30 minutes. 

Time to Complete: several hours

Total Cost:
I don't know. We had all the ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?:
Not very. My dough wouldn't rise at all and the inside of the cake didn't really cook all the way through. It tastes OK thanks to the cinnamon and sugar.

How Accurate Is It?: 
Mostly accurate from the 1907 recipe.