Wartime Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

In a total coincidence, it is both jam month in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, and the Recipes Project Virtual Conversation month. If you haven’t been following along with the conversation, check it out because there are loads of really interesting things going on covering all types of recipes in all periods.

 

One of the projects that I’ve been really interested in is the series of videos by Simon Walker called “Feeding Under Fire”. In each video, Simon recreates a dish that soldiers would have eaten during World War 1, and contextualises it with information about nutrition, supply lines and what was happening on the home front.

 

The second video in the series (see it here) was all about the important role that jam played in soldiers’ diets. The recipe that he used was for plum and apple jam, which seems to have been the most common type of jam sent to the front lines. Even though Simon wasn’t very happy with how his jam turned out, it inspired me to make a WW1 era jam too.

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A recipe for the ubiquitous plum and apple jam, from the Southland Red Cross Cookery Book, 1916.  

In Australia during the First World War, there wasn’t rationing like there was in Britain. Food prices rose rapidly, and the State and Federal governments had only mixed success in setting prices for staple food. With complete control over the sugar industry, it was easier to restrain the market. When sugar prices rose overseas, the Australian government banned exports, in order to maintain sufficient supply at home.[1]

 

Because sugar was available in greater quantities, and generally for a lower price than in Europe, it was easier for Australian home cooks to keep making jam. Large quantities of jam were made to be sent to Australian soldiers overseas, often in packs of treats sent by the Red Cross or the Australian Comforts Fund.

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“Special Effort – 2 tons of jam made by the Cobar Ladies Jam Club”. World War I – Cobar, NSW. Courtesy of the State Library of NSW.

Commercially made jam was available too, and it featured prominently in the meals provided to Australian soldiers. A large surplus of tinned jam was also sold to the British and American armies. In total, the export of jam during the war was 40 times as large as in the pre-war years.[2] As in England, much of this jam seems to have been plum and apple, but sometimes more unusual varieties appeared too.[3] According to Barbara Santich, the Imperial forces bought nearly 2,000 tons of Queensland pineapple jam![4]

 

Strawberry jam doesn’t seem to have been very common, presumably because strawberries are expensive to buy and comparatively low yielding. Some newspapers published recipes for mock strawberry jam, made with rhubarb and raisins (I also like this recipe from the Second World War which uses tomatoes and strawberry flavouring).

 

Still, strawberry jam was clearly available. In 1940, Colonel J. Travers suggested that it should be given to all soldiers, because he recalled that “During the last war, we were usually issued with strawberry jam only before a fight … but there seems no reason why these men should not have strawberry jam at other times.”[5] It’s not hard to imagine the excitement that a jar of strawberry jam would have caused, nestled in a comfort box with warm socks and a bit of cake. It was a taste of home, and a welcome distraction from the monotony of bully beef and hard tack.

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

The Recipe

This recipe was published in The Farmer and Settler, a NSW newspaper in January 1915.

Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe

Personally I prefer this method of making, as it does not mash the fruit: – Strawberries that are to be used for the purpose of this jam must be gathered after two or three days of dry weather. The berries should not be over-ripe.

The usual method is to lay the fruit and the sugar in alternate layers in the preserving pan, and to boil the jam very gently over a medium heat until it jellies when tested in the usual way. Three-quarters of a pound of sugar per pound of strawberries is generally sufficient, but if the berries do not appear to be particularly sweet, five pounds of sugar to each six pounds of strawberries will be a better proportion.[6]

 

If you want a jam with large pieces of fruit in it, this method of layering the fruit and sugar works really well. However, the proportion of sugar to fruit is quite high, so the final result is very sweet. It is also a very soft set jam, almost a syrup, because strawberries are low in pectin and there is no pectin added to the recipe.

[1] Scott, Australia during the War, XI:646–48.

[2] Ibid., XI:544.

[3] “War With Jam On It: As It Seems to Veterans.”

[4] Santich, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage, 254.

[5] “Strawberry Jam for the Soldiers.”

[6] “Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe.”

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

The Redaction

Strawberry Jam No. 2

Strawberries

Sugar

 

  1. Hull your strawberries, and weigh them. Measure out 3/4 of that weight in sugar (so if you have 400g strawberries you need 300g sugar).
  2. Take a preserving pan large enough to fit all your strawberries and sugar. Place half the strawberries in the bottom of the pan and spread them out to make an even layer. Put half the sugar on top, followed by the remaining strawberries and the rest of the sugar. For large quantities you may want to increase the number of layers.
  3. Slowly heat the mixture, without stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. Then cook the jam over medium heat until it set using the wrinkle test (it will be about 105C). Pour the hot jam into sterilised jars and seal.

 

 

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe (available here)

The Date: 1915

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 45 mins.

How successful was it?: It’s very sweet, with a strong strawberry flavour. I really like the large pieces of strawberry, but I found the set too syrupy for my taste.

How accurate?: The main difference would probably be in the bottling process, although I suppose that there could also be differences in the type of strawberries and sugar. Overall, though, it’s a pretty good approximation.

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

References

Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage. South Australia: Wakefield

Press, 2012.

Scott, Ernest. Australia during the War. Vol. XI. The Official History of Australia in the War of

1914-1918. Sydney, Australia: Angus and Robertson Ltd., 1936.

“Strawberry Jam for the Soldiers.” Sydney Morning Herald. January 12, 1940.

“Strawberry Jam No. 2 Recipe.” Farmer and Settler. January 5, 1915.

“War With Jam On It: As It Seems to Veterans.” Worker. January 23, 1940.

 

Strawberry Jam, recipe from 1915

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FIJ Marmalade Mastery Challenge

Grapefruit marmalade, recipe c. 1905

Once again, it has been absolutely ages since I’ve posted anything. Unfortunately, the Historical Food Fortnightly isn’t happening this year but don’t worry. This year, Marisa McClellan over at Food in Jars is running a challenge encouraging people to master different types of preserving. Given that food preservation was so important for historical cooks, I thought I’d give it a go. The January challenge was to make marmalade and I’m too late to enter the official challenge (gee, what a surprise!) but my marmalade is done.

 

We’ve got some really lovely grapefruit available at the moment, they’re super sweet and juicy. Because I had all these grapefruits, I didn’t want a mixed fruit marmalade recipe, but pure grapefruit recipes were actually quite hard to find.

The Recipe

In the end, I stumbled across this recipe from the Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2 which was published around 1905.

 

No. 3 GRAPEFRUIT MARMALADE –

Take four large fruit, slice thin and remove seeds; for each pound of fruit add one pint of water. Let stand twenty-four hours; boil twenty minutes until tender; stand again twenty-four hours. For each pound of fruit add one pound of sugar and boil till jellied.[1]

 

The cookbook was one of a series published in the early 20th century by the LA Times Newspaper. They collated recipes from readers and entrants into their recipe competitions, and many are attributed to particular people.

 

This is a whole fruit marmalade, which means that it contains the whole fruit. On the upside, using the whole fruit means that you get more product and that there is very little waste. On the downside, it makes the marmalade very bitter. I quite like marmalade, but I’d have to say that this is really a bit too bitter for my taste. It makes for a bit of a conundrum because the marmalade smells so good that you want to eat more and more of it, but then you get hit by this medicinal aftertaste that makes you regret the decision.

 

Luckily, the marmalade is going to be great as a glaze for roast meat so it will get used eventually. I’ve also used it to make this ricotta tart, which isn’t historical but does have a very medieval flavour profile with the ricotta, pine nuts and orange water (rosewater makes a good substitute too).

[1] The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2, 74.

Grapefruit marmalade, recipe c. 1905

The Redaction

Grapefruit Marmalade

4 grapefruits, ripe

Water

Granulated sugar

 

  1. Scrub the outside of your grapefruit well to remove any wax. Slice them as thinly as possible, removing the ends with no flesh and any seeds. Weight them and place them in a large bowl with 475ml of water for each 450g of fruit. Cover and place in refrigerator for 24 hours.
  2. The next day, transfer the fruit and water to a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil for 20 minutes or until the grapefruit rind is soft. Allow to cool, then cover and place in the refrigerator for another 24 hours.
  3. The following day, weigh the fruit mixture. Place it in a large saucepan with an equal weight of sugar. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook until it is jellied. You can test for set by putting a small spoonful on a cold saucer. If you push it with your finger and the top of the jelly wrinkles, then it is ready (for full instructions see Food in Jars).
  4. Spoon into sterilised jars and cover.

 

 

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Grapefruit Marmalade from the Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2 

The Date: c. 1905

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?:3 days

How successful was it?: I had a lot of difficulty getting it to set, even when the temperature was at 105˚C. In the end, it didn’t set the first time that I bottled it. I boiled it up again the next day and it eventually set very nicely. I’ve had this problem with marmalade before, more so than with other jams. Apparently I’ve still got a while to go before I can claim to have mastered marmalades!

How accurate?: Given that the recipe is so simple, I’d say it’s pretty accurate. The biggest difference is probably to do with the variety of grapefruits which would have been used in California in the early 1900s. Presumably grapefruits have been bred to be sweeter over time, and they certainly have been bred to have less seeds. I also wasn’t sure if the slices where the right shape, or thin enough. Perhaps they should have been semi-circles instead, and that might have allowed for thinner slices.

Grapefruit marmalade, recipe c. 1905

References

The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2. Los Angeles, California: The Times-Mirror Company, 1905.

 

 

 

A Happy Idea for a Picnic Dish

 

Two men carrying a box or picnic hamper to the delight of children, Sam Hood, State Library NSW

Two men carrying a box or picnic hamper to the delight of children, Sam Hood c. 1934, courtesy of the State Library of NSW.

 

“How we all love a picnic! Wrapped up in that one delightful word is the call of the bush, the call of the surf, fresh air and sunshine, happiness and lots of nice things to eat!”[1] Australia doesn’t have a monopoly on picnics by any means, but the great weather and natural beauty makes picnicking a popular pastime, and that’s nothing new.

 

Barbara Santich dedicates a whole chapter to picnics in her history of Australian food Bold Palates, and she makes the point that while early picnics were utilitarian (quick meals to break up journeys or roadside stops where there was no inn to be found), they were also a way to celebrate special occasions and even official functions. One of their great attractions was surely that they cut across social and class lines, helped along by guild picnics and cheap public transport. Santich also notes the popularity of ‘mystery hikes’ in the 1930s where bushwalkers took a train to an undisclosed location for a hike and a picnic; one of these in 1932 catered to 8000 people![2]

 

The recipe that I chose for this HFF challenge is from December 1933 and it’s nice to think that these picnic patties might have been taken along on a mystery hike or two. We’ve talked before about the advantages of pies, they’re easily stored, portable and great for eating on the go. These mini pies have exactly the same benefits, and can be eaten hot or cold.

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The recipe was submitted as part of a competition to find recipes for picnic foods. Although the contributor, Mrs E.E. Wain of Campsie, only got a consolation prize of 2/6 the patties are probably easier to eat than the jellied rabbit which took out first prize!

[1] “Happy Ideas for Picnic Dishes.”

[2] Santich, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage, 88.

IMG_4358

The Redaction

Picnic Patties

 

For the Pastry:

230g flour

3 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp lemon juice

120g cold butter, diced

Cold water, as needed

 

For the filling:

 

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup stock (I used the water that I cooked the chicken in)

1/2 cup cream

Salt (and pepper)

1 cup chopped, cooked chicken (about 1 large chicken breast)

1/2 stick of celery, finely sliced

 

A little milk or egg wash.

 

  1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and the butter. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add cold water a tablespoon at a time and mix gently until the pastry comes together. Be careful not to knead the pastry. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.
  2. To make the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour. Cook for a minute and stir to remove any lumps. Add half of the stock and stir to combine, then add the other half of the stock. The mixture should be quite thick. Stir in the cream, seasonings, celery and chicken and turn off the heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease a cupcake pan. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry on a floured board. Cut circles from the pastry to fit the cupcake pan. Fill with the chicken mixture, then roll out the remaining pastry to cut lids. Place the lids onto the pies and press down around the edges to seal. Brush with a little milk or egg wash and use the tip of a sharp knife to make a small slit in the top of each pie.
  4. Bake the pies in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden on top.

 

IMG_4369The Round-Up

The Recipe: Picnic Patties (available here)

The Date: 30 December 1933

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: An hour.

How successful was it?: These were very nice, if a little bland. I would have liked them with some carrots and/or peas and a bit more aggressive seasoning. I also found the pastry a bit too thick, so that the proportion of pastry to filling wasn’t quite right, but that is easily fixed.

How accurate?: The recipe doesn’t specify how to make the pastry, so I used this recipe from 1934 for Creamed Chicken Turnovers. Overall I think that these were very accurate, the only major change that I made was to use butter in the pastry instead of lard or dripping, either of which would also make a very good pastry.

 

References

“Happy Ideas for Picnic Dishes.” The Australian Women’s Weekly, December 30, 1933. Trove.

Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage. South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2012.

IMG_4360

Mock Crab aka Cheesy Scrambled Eggs

IMG_4103This is just a quick post to get me back on track with the Historical Food Fortnightly. The next challenge is Mock Foods and this is such a cool challenge I would have loved to do something a little more difficult. Still, I think it’s hard to find an era which is more known for mock foods than the early 20th century, and in fact I still have my grandmother’s recipe for mock cream.

 

Between the Depression and two world wars, thrifty housewives everywhere swapped recipes for dishes that were either too expensive, or which used ingredients which simply couldn’t be found. A quick search of the digitised newspapers on Trove brings up hundreds of results from the 1930s to the 1950s, ranging from mock whitebait to mock brains, even mock potatoes!

Recipe

1935 ‘Prize Recipe – Mock Crab’, Daily Standard, 14 September p.8 

Although I was tempted by a recipe for mock ham (made from a corned leg of lamb), I ended up going with a recipe for mock crab. Although it didn’t look like much, it was easy, fast and dare I say it, quite tasty on toast. It’s really an amazingly comforting dish, like a cross between scrambled eggs and a cheese toastie. The only thing is, I don’t think it really tastes or looks like crab!

 

The recipe is so simple that it’s not really worth writing a redaction. You cover the tomatoes (I used three) with boiling water and after a minute or so, scoop them out and peel them. Dice the tomatoes and cook over medium heat with some salt and pepper until soft. This produces a lot of juice, so you pour that off, then stir in an egg and a cup of grated cheese. Cook until it thickens to your liking (mine looked a bit like scrambled eggs in the end). Serve hot on toast, or cold on sandwiches.

IMG_4100

The Recipe: Mock Crab (available here).

The Date: 14 September 1935

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 20 mins.

How successful was it?:  It looked pretty awful, but I ate it hot on toast for dinner and it was very good. Cheesy and very comforting.

How accurate?: I wasn’t sure whether to chop the tomatoes or not because there is no instruction, but that seems to be what is done in other recipes and I don’t see how else you could do it.

 

1935 ‘PRIZE RECIPE.’, Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936), 14 September, p. 8., viewed 05 May 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article186190462

 

Parkin: Attempt No. 2

Parkin, recipe from 1926

Having struggled with the last parkin recipe that I tried, but with most of a jar of treacle still to use up I have had another go. Parkin No. 2 was more successful, in that it was at least edible, but still a far cry from the pictures of soft, moist, cake-y parkin that accompany modern recipes.

What is interesting is the way that parkin has evolved in the nearly 100 years between the recipe from 1830 (the earliest one that has been found so far, and very similar to the one from 1867 that I made last week) and this recipe from 1926.

“Parkin. Half a pound of fine oatmeal, half a pound of flour, 6oz. of butter or dripping, quarter of a pound of brown sugar, half a pound of treacle, half an ounce of ground ginger, the grated rind of a lemon, a quarter of a teaspoonful of powdered cloves, one teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda, one teaspoonful of alt. Mix together the oatmeal, flour, salt, ginger, cloves, lemon rind and soda. Melt the treacle, butter, and sugar together in a saucepan until thoroughly dissolved. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and into this pour the hot liquid. Beat the whole together well. Turn the mixture into a shallow baking tin, and bake in a slow oven for one hour.”[1]

By Spider.Dog (http://www.flickr.com/photos/spiderdog/2484274442/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Spider.Dog [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. See the lovely, soft, cake-like texture of modern parkin? 

The mixture is now a bit more like a cake, with the addition of flour and bicarbonate of soda, and it is less bitter thanks to the brown sugar. The shift towards a sweeter, less bitter, product would continue. A quick look at recipes for parkin in Australian newspapers shows that golden syrup was suggested as an alternative to treacle from 1912. In the mid-1920s it was common to combine treacle and golden syrup and by the 1940s many recipes just use golden syrup. Of course, many people would object that it isn’t really parkin if it doesn’t use treacle!

The flavouring has also changed, with less of the fiery ginger and no caraway, but a little clove and lemon instead. For me, it was this change in the flavour profile that really made the difference, even though the texture still left something to be desired.

The process however remains much the same. The butter, treacle (and sugar) are melted together and added to the dried ingredients before being pressed into a tin and baked at a low heat (although there are exceptions, see for example this recipe in which the fat is rubbed into the dry ingredients).

If you’ve ever made Anzac biscuits this might sound familiar, and as The Colonial Gastronomer brought up in the comments on the last post, it has been suggested that parkin was the origin for Anzacs. Culinary historian Allison Reynolds makes a brief mention of the connection in this radio interview. The real difference that strikes me is the process of adding the raising agent which, in Anzac biscuits, is normally added to the hot liquids. Does anyone know of any parkin recipes which do that too?

[1] “PARKIN.,” Examiner, April 6, 1926.

Parkin, recipe from 1926

The Redaction

115g oatmeal

115g flour

8g ginger

A sprinkle of clove

1/2 lemon rind

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

120g treacle

85g butter

60g brown sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Grease a loaf tin.
  2. Mix the oatmeal, flour, ginger, clove, lemon rind, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Create a well in the centre.
  3. Gently heat the treacle, butter and brown sugar in a saucepan until melted and well combined. Pour the liquid into the well in the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Press the mixture into the base of the greased loaf tin and bake for an hour or until firm and lightly browned.

The Round-Up

The Recipe: Parkin from The Examiner (available here)

The Date: 1926

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 1 hr 30 mins

How successful was it?: It tasted much better than the previous recipe but was very dry and hard. It still had a bit of a tendency to crumble. The hardness may be typical though, this recipe suggests that freshly baked parkin is always too hard to eat but that it softens over time. Mine is about 24 hours old, so maybe it will improve yet.

How accurate?: The oatmeal wasn’t really fine enough which may be why it is crumbling.

Bibliography

“PARKIN.” Examiner. April 6, 1926. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91626220.

Puftaloons

Puftaloons, recipe from 1904

This fortnight for the Historical Food Fortnightly it’s Make Do or Do Without. Nowadays most ingredients are available year round, and even the more obscure ones are available online, but for historical cooks the options were much more limited. If tomatoes were out of season, too bad. If you lived in Australia and couldn’t get goose, well then you would use parrot instead. And what if you didn’t have the equipment or ingredients to make bread? Then you get inventive.

Whilst not a problem limited to countries of the New World, see for example my post on soda bread, settlers in colonial countries were particularly vulnerable to this problem. The lack of ovens, problems keeping yeast viable in hot weather and the transient lifestyles of stockmen, trappers etc meant that they had to come up with some creative solutions to meet their cravings for bread.

View of a Bush Kitchen, c. 1896. Image courtesy of the State Library of NSW.

View of a Bush Kitchen, c. 1896. Image courtesy of the State Library of NSW. As you can see, conditions were basic, but this kitchen is actually a step up from the temporary bush camps. Under the window you can see the Dutch ovens used for, among other things, baking damper. 

In Australia the quintessential answer was damper, a basic bread made from flour, baking powder, salt and water which is then shaped into a round and baked in the ashes, on a hot stone or in a Dutch oven. Francis Lancelott, a mineralogical surveyor, visited Australia in the mid 1800s and described the weekly menu of a shepherd:

You may talk of the dishes of Paris renown,

Or for plenty through London may range,

If variety’s pleasing, oh, leave either town,

And come to the bush for a change.

On Monday we’ve mutton, with damper and tea;

On Tuesday, tea, damper and mutton,

Such dishes I’m certain all men must agree

Are fit for peer, peasant, or glutton.

On Wednesday we’ve damper, with mutton and tea;

On Thursday tea, mutton and damper,

On Friday we’ve mutton, tea, damper while we

With our flocks over hill and dale scamper.

Our Saturday feast may seem rather strange,

‘Tis of damper with tea and fine mutton;

Now surely I’ve shown you that plenty of change

In the bush, is the friendly board put on.

But no, rest assured that another fine treat

Is ready for all men on one day,

For every bushman is sure that he’ll meet

With the whole of the dishes on Sunday.[1]

But although damper is the best known of the quickbreads that Australian settlers made and ate, it is not the only one. One of the downsides of the damper was that, at nearly a foot in diameter and several inches thick, it took up to an hour to cook. For hungry shepherds, that was a long time to wait and so a series of faster options developed. Johnny cakes, small rounds of dough fried in a dry pan, were based on the American corn breads of the same name, whilst puftaloons were a kind of scone cooked in fat. Other variations included fat cakes, normally containing fat but sometimes cooked in fat, and leather-jackets which seem to be nearly identical to the wheat based Johnny cakes.[2]

Tea and Damper, 1883, J.D; Troedel & Co. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

Tea and Damper, 1883, J.D; Troedel & Co. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

I have to admit I was quite intrigued by what I read about puftaloons, also known as puftalooners and puftaloonies. They seemed to be a favourite amongst children and stockmen alike but I’d never heard of them before doing this research. Still, the thought of a scone fried in lard was a bit off-putting.

Would they be soggy, greasy or, even worse, meaty? In fact they were delicious. Soft and scone-like inside but with a harder crust than your average scone. They were perfect for breakfast with some jam but would make an equally nice addition to bacon, eggs and some grilled tomatoes for a lazy brunch or with honey for an afternoon snack. Not only were they very tasty, but they were amazingly fast to make, the whole process took less than 20 minutes. I’m definitely a convert!

Puftaloons, recipe from 1904

The Recipe

The recipe for this comes from a 1904 edition of the Liverpool Herald, an Australian newspaper, but there are dozens of all but identical recipes. A variation for Pineapple Puftaloons is available here (apparently to shred pineapple you use the tines of a fork on a very ripe pineapple, but if anyone has actually done this please let me know if it works!).

“PUFTALOONS.” Liverpool Herald. October 15, 1904.

“PUFTALOONS.” Liverpool Herald. October 15, 1904, 12.

The Redaction

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour (I use Australian/UK cup sizes which are slightly different from US sizes)

1 1/2 cups of milk

A pinch of salt

Lard for frying (about 40g)

  1. Mix the flour and the salt together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the milk. Mix the two together to form a slightly sticky dough.
  2. Lightly flour a flat surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead it just until all the ingredients are incorporated. Use a rolling pin to roll it out half an inch thick. Cut out circles using a cutter or the floured mouth of a glass.
  3. Heat the lard in a frying pan over moderate heat until it’s melted and warm. Add the puftaloons and fry until golden, then turn them over to cook the other side. Keep the heat moderate because the dough needs time to cook all the way through. When golden on both sides drain them on kitchen towel and serve hot with your favourite spreads.

Puftaloons, recipe from 1904

The Round Up

The Recipe: From the Liverpool Herald (available here)

The Date: 1904

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 20 mins.

How successful was it?:  Soft and light inside, with a nice crust. They went well with both sweet and savoury toppings and were still good when reheated.

How accurate?: Pretty good I think, although they were done in a kitchen rather than at a bush camp which would make it significantly more difficult.

[1] Lancelott in Barbara Santich, Bold Palates (Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2012), 156.

[2] Ibid., 215–220.

 Bibliography

“PUFTALOONS.” Liverpool Herald. October 15, 1904.

Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates. Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2012.

Last Lunch on the Titanic

Last year whilst in Belfast I visited the Titanic Quarter. Not many people realise it but Belfast claims the honour of having built the Titanic, and at the heart of the recently rejuvenated docks like Titanic Belfast. Part museum, part artwork, part monument to Belfast’s working class history, it’s a great way to pass a few drizzly hours in the city.

Titanic Luncheon Menu

Included in the exhibition is a remarkable object, a menu from the last lunch served on the Titanic. The 1st Class menu was taken from the sinking ship in the handbag of one Mrs. Dodge who escaped in a lifeboat with her son. Her husband also found a spot in a lifeboat, thanks to the steward Frederic Ray whose compliments can be found on the back of the menu.

 

The luncheon menu contains some 40 dishes for diners to choose from, and unfortunately making all of them was a bit beyond my budget. Instead I made a small selection which you can see in my own menu below.

 IMG_3875Titanic Luncheon Menu by Turnspit and Table

 

The Recipes

 

All the recipes are from American cookbooks and I tried to keep them as close chronologically as I could.

 

Cockie Leekie from ‘Mrs Rorer’s New Cook Book’ 1902

 

“1 fowl

2 quarts of water

1/2 pound of prunes

Yolks of two eggs

1 pound of beef marrow bones

2 dozen leeks

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoonful of salt

1 saltspoonful of pepper

 

Purchase the marrow bone from the round; have the butcher saw it into two-inch lengths, making four bones. Draw and truss the fowl; put it into a soup kettle; cover with cold water, bring to boiling point and skim. Add the marrow bones, the bay leaf and pepper;simmer gently for one hour. Add the leeks, neatly trimmed; simmer one hour longer. Add the prunes which have been soaked in water over night, and the salt; bring again to boiling point, and it is ready to serve. Remove the strings from the chicken, dish it in the centre of a large platter, put the prunes around, garnish the edge of the dish with carefully boiled rice, the marrow bones, and the leeks. Strain the soup into a tureen over the well beaten yolks of the eggs, and serve with squares of toasted bread. Serve egg sauce with the chicken. This dish takes the place of both meat and soup.”

 

Notes – I used a lot more water than the two quarts called for, I basically covered the chicken. I also used a lot fewer leeks, only 2 instead of the 2 dozen called for in the recipe. 10 mins before serving I spooned in the dumpling mixture and put the lid on to let them cook. To serve you pour the hot soup over the beaten eggs, forming strings of egg in the soup. I cut pieces of toast into small squares and floated them in the soup. I then served the chicken itself with the second course.

Cockie Leekie Soup

Dumplings from ‘Mrs Rorer’s New Cook Book’ 1902

“Put into a bowl one pint of flour with which you have sifted a rounding teaspoonful of baking powder and a half teaspoonful of salt; add about two-thirds of a cup of milk. Take the bowl and a teaspoon to the side of the fire and drop the mixture all over the top of the stew by teaspoonfuls. Cover the saucepan and cook slowly for ten minutes without lifting the lid. Dish by putting the dumplings around the edge of the platter; the stew in the centre, straining over the sauce; dust with a little chopped parsley, and send at once to the table.

Notes – I dropped large teaspoonfuls into the soup about 10 mins before serving and then served them with the boiled chicken. To be honest I didn’t like the mushy texture and lack of flavour.”

Cockie Leekie Chicken

Chicken à la Maryland from ‘The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book’ 1896

 

Maryland Chicken

“Dress, clean, and cut up two chickens. Sprinkle with salt and pepper,dip in flour, egg, and crumbs, place in a well-greased dripping-pan, and bake twenty minutes in a hot oven, basting after first five minutes of cooking with one-third cup melted butter. Arrange on platter and pour over two cups Cream Sauce.”

 

Cream sauce recipe is available here.

 

Notes- This was one of the lovely surprises of the evening. Juicy chicken with a crispy shell it was easy to make and really delicious. I also really liked it served with the cream sauce.

Chicken a la Maryland

Custard Pudding from ‘The Washington Women’s Cookbook’ 1909 (pg 66)

“One pint sweet milk, one cup sifted flour, stir together and cook until thick. When it is cool stir in flour, beaten eggs, two cups sugar and one cup chopped citron. Bake until it sets; serve cold with or without sauce.”

 

Notes – This was another surprise. When I was making it I was very concerned because it’s not a normal custard recipe and the cooked milk and flour was basically glue. I seived it to get rid of the lumps and continued with the recipe (except I replaced the chopped citron with some grated lemon peel) before baking it in a water bath for about 45 mins and it actually turned out very well. Probably better served hot.

Custard Pudding

Apple Meringue from ‘The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book’ 1896

Apple Meringue.

Use Meringue I. and pile lightly on baked apples, brown in oven, cool, and serve with Boiled Custard.
Canned peaches, drained from their liquor, may be prepared in the same way; it is then called Peach Meringue.

Baked Apples.
Wipe and core sour apples. Put in a baking-dish, and fill cavities withsugar and spice. Allow one-half cup sugar and one-fourth teaspooncinnamon or nutmeg to eight apples. If nutmeg is used, a few dropslemon juice and few gratings from rind of lemon to each apple is an improvement. Cover bottom of dish with boiling water, and bake in a hot oven until soft, basting often with syrup in dish. Serve hot or cold with cream. Many prefer to pare apples before baking. When this is done, core before paring, that fruit may keep in shape. In the fall, when apples are at their best, do not add spices to apples, as their flavor cannot be improved; but towards spring they become somewhat tasteless, and spice is an improvement.

Meringue I.

Whites 2 eggs.
2 tablespoons powdered sugar.
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or
1/4 teaspoon vanilla.
Beat whites until stiff, add sugar gradually and continue beating, then add flavoring.

Notes – This was a bit of a multi-step recipe. You bake the apples first, then make the meringue before scooping the meringue onto the apples and baking again. It was very nice but very, very sweet. I think you could probably refrain from putting sugar on the apples at all, just a little spice.
Apple Meringue

Other Elements

– There were nuts and olives on the table for snacking

– I served baked potatoes, sliced tomato and beetroot with the chicken as per the menu. They also suggested lettuce but I just didn’t have any.

– Small bread rolls can be placed inside the folded napkins.

– Cheese is served with salad, bread or crackers before the dessert (but possibly between the pastry and dessert).

Stilton

Resources

  • ‘Last Dinner on the Titanic’ by Rich Archbold and Dana McCauley
  • For how to set a table I suggest ‘The Butler’s Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces’ by Stanely Auger and Fiona St. Aubyn, although my own table setting was limited by what I had on hand. For more about table settings and serving dinner you can try ‘Dinner is Served’ by Arthur Inch and Arlene Hirst.
  • For table etiquette see ‘The Etiquette of Today’ by Edith B. Ordway (although it is a little late).
  • I folded the napkins into a Bishop’s Hat using these instructions

Northern Irish Kitchens

For some reason the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum was never really on my radar while I was living in Belfast, and it wasn’t until this years flying visit that I managed a trip out to Cultra, on the outskirts of Belfast. All I can I say is that if you ever get the chance don’t make my mistake by putting it off! It is a fascinating museum for anyone interested in social history, and particularly special because of its working class focus. You won’t find any grand houses or fancy kitchens here (for that I recommend Castle Coole in Fermanagh) but you will get an unparalleled look at the everyday life of the lower classes in Ireland.

The museum has more than 45 buildings which have been transported to the site on 170 acres of land, to be explored at your leisure. There are costumed guides and interpreters demonstrating traditional crafts and techniques (printing, farming, baking, weaving etc) in some of the buildings, whilst others offer details of daily life, evocative in their banality: a patched quilt, a tiny doll, the smell of a peat fire.

Click on the photos to see larger pictures.

The Old Rectory

Originally built in 1717 in the English Plantation style, the house has been set up as a clergyman’s residence between 1790 and 1810.

Ballyveagh House

Built in the 1840’s this tiny farm house has only two rooms, a kitchen and a bedroom but was home to four successive generations of the Baird family. William and Margaret who were married in 1875 raised 10 children in this house!

Ballyvollen Houses

Dating to the late 17th century this row of houses has been set up to represent the life of fisherman Hugh McGarry and his wife c. 1905. Next door is the basket makers workshop with examples of the type of hand-made lobster pots which fishermen would have used.

Bank Manager’s House

A 1920’s family home.

Next up, kitchens in France!

Foods Named After People

Lamingtons

When I’m travelling I love tasting the regional specialities and I try to make a point of asking the locals which foods represent their country or area, but when people ask me about Australian food I find it hard to know what to say. Sure, we have some iconic brands like Vegemite, Tim Tams or Milo and there is a range of native foods for the curious to try – lilly pilly, finger limes, kangaroo, emu, crocodile and witchetty grubs – but none of these really represents Australian cuisine.

 

In 2010 a discussion of the Australian national dish came up with “barbecue, meat pie, sausage sandwich, roast lamb, Vegemite on toast, pavlova, spag bol, lamingtons, chicken parmigiana … and ‘surf and turf’.”[1] Of these dishes, very few are Australian inventions (although the origins of some, like pavlova, are hotly debated). The exception is the lamington, which generally consists of two layers of plain sponge cake sandwiched together with jam and/or cream, rolled in a chocolate icing and desiccated coconut.

 

This rather unassuming cake has become an Australian favourite and is available in just about every bakery and meat pie shop in the country, but where did it come from? The stories about the invention of the lamington have entered our national myth and every schoolchild has heard that whilst preparing for an important dinner the cook accidentally dropped a sponge cake into a bowl of chocolate. Looking for a way to fix the situation he covered it in coconut and served it forth. Lord Lamington was duly impressed by the cake and when he asked what it was called, the cook replied that it would be named in his honour. The truth of the matter? This is only one of the many alternative stories which explain the lamington. The cakes could also have been named for Lady Lamington, which might make more sense if Lord Lamington really did refer to them as “bloody poofy woolly biscuits”, a statement that is widely quoted e.g. here, here and here, but never referenced.

 

Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington, 1899. Image from the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image no. 184102, public domain.

Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington, 1899. Image from the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image no. 184102, public domain.

The Recipe

 

What we know for sure is that Lord Lamington served as the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901 and that the first published lamington recipe dates from this period in Queensland. Taken from the Queensland Country Life in 1900 the recipe is as follows:

 

“Lamington Cakes – 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 4 tablespoons milk. Beat butter and sugar; add eggs well beaten with the milk, sift in flour and baking powder; flavour with vanilla or lemon to taste. Bake in sandwich tins, Cut in squares next day.

Icing- 3oz. icing sugar, 1oz. butter. Beat these to a cream and spread between the layers, as jam would be used. For the outside icing – 3oz. icing sugar, 1oz. butter, 3 teaspoons or more of cocoa; vanilla to flavour. The square of cake, when doubled, are in the shape of a cube. Ice all over the cube with the cocoa icing, spreading it with a knife, then dip and roll in desiccated coconut.”[2]

 

The main difference between this recipe and modern lamington recipes is the icing. In the recipe from 1900 the icing is a basic butter-cream, flavoured with cocoa, whilst modern recipes either dissolve the butter-cream with boiling water (e.g. this recipe) or omit the butter altogether (e.g. this recipe), giving a much wetter icing which is absorbed by the cake. In many ways I think that the modern method is preferable, it is both easier to apply to the cubes of cake and much less rich. I found that the icing from the original recipe overwhelmed the cake and was almost unpleasantly buttery. Nonetheless, I have provided the recipe below if you would like to try it in the original manner.

Lamingtons

The Redaction

 

                                    Lamington Cakes

For the cake:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup plain flour

3 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp milk

Vanilla essence or grated lemon peel to taste

 

For the filling:

85g icing sugar, sifted

30g butter, softened

 

For the icing:

85g icing sugar, sifted

30g butter, softened

3 tsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Desiccated coconut

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line two sandwich tins, running the baking paper across the bottom and up both long sides of the tin and leaving a 2cm overhang on each side.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar for the cake until light and creamy. Whisk together the eggs and milk and gradually mix them into the butter mixture. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold them in before adding the vanilla or lemon.
  3. Divide the batter between the two tins and bake for 20 mins or until risen and golden brown. Leave to cool slightly then, using the overhanging paper, lift the slabs of cake onto wire racks to cool. When cool, cover the cakes and leave overnight.
  4. The next morning cut the cakes into squares 3-4cm long. Beat together the ingredients for the filling until light and creamy. Use the filling to join two squares of cake, one on top of the other, to make cubes.
  5. Beat together the icing ingredients, except the coconut. Place the coconut into a bowl. Spread the icing all over the cubes of cake then roll the cube in the coconut to cover each side. Serve for morning or afternoon tea.

Lamingtons

The Recipe: Lamington Cakes from Queensland Country Life (available here)

The Date: 1900

How did you make it?: See above.

Time to complete?: About two and a half hours, plus cooling time, spread over two days.

Total cost: I already has all the ingredients.

How successful was it?: I found them just too buttery and creamy, and the ones I made were quite large but you could only eat half a cake at a time because they were so rich.

How accurate?: Pretty good I think, the ingredients and methods haven’t changed very much so it’s quite easy to recreate.

 

[1] Barbara Santich, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage (South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2012), 25.

[2] “Useful Recipes.,” Queensland Country Life, December 17, 1900.

 

Bibliography

Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage. South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2012.

“Useful Recipes.” Queensland Country Life. December 17, 1900.

Pumpkins and Pompions

Its winter in Australia, and that means one thing. Pumpkin! I have to admit that pumpkin is one of my favourite ingredients because it is just so versatile. It can be used in sweet or savoury dishes, from curry to cake and let’s face it, at less than $1 per kilo during the season its great value too. This week for the Seasonal Fruit and Vegetable challenge (you can read more about the Historical Food Fortnightly challenges here) I’m offering a selection of pumpkin recipes for your delectation.

 

Pumpkins at Bathurst. Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Pumpkins at Bathurst. Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

But first, a quick history of the pumpkin. Native to the Americas they had been a staple food for centuries before the arrival of the colonists (who called them ‘pompions’). Thanks to the ease of cultivation and high yields they quickly became an essential part of the colonists’ diet in a variety of guises: stewed, baked, turned into soups, added to stews or baked into pies. Nonetheless, in spite of its role in early American myth, pumpkin remained a food primarily for the poor, celebrated in times of dearth[1].

 

Pumpkins were also stigmatised in Europe where they were grown primarily as animal fodder or food for the impoverished. The pumpkin seeds transported on the First Fleet in 1788 may have simply been intended as animal feed, or perhaps cheap, abundant food. Nonetheless, the plants thrived in the Australian climate and Marine officer Watkin Tench described them growing “with unbounded luxuriancy”[2] even in Sydney where the soil had generally proved a disappointment. Once again, a variety of dishes were made, even baked whole in the fire as depicted in Richard Wingfield Stuart’s paintings of bush camps which you can see here and here.

 

It wasn’t really until the 19th century though that cooks popularised some of the more iconic pumpkin recipes including pumpkin scones, pumpkin jam and boiled pumpkin fruit cake (the mashed pumpkin adds tenderness and moisture)[3].

 

So next time you see pumpkin on sale, why not try one of these three Australian historical recipes? I haven’t provided redactions because once again they seem very straight forward.

 

Recipes

Stewed Pumpkin Dark Corners

 

To Cook Pumpkin – Cut a pumpkin into several pieces, pare it, and take out the seed: cut it equally into small squares one inch in size, blanch them in boiling water, drain, put into a stew-pan with enough butter, parsley, sliced onions, pepper and salt to taste. Toss it over the fire till tender, then serve with rich melted butter, or a thick brown gravy.[4]

 

This recipe made a nice side dish, very simple and tasty!

 

A recipe for pumpkin scones:- One cup of boiled pumpkin (any left over from the day previous can be used), two cups of flour, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder, a little salt and sugar, and a piece of butter the size of a walnut. Rub the butter and pumpkin into the flour, and add the other ingredients: then mix with milk, and bake in a quick oven.[5]

 

Pumpkin Scones

These made lovely, airy scones with a delicate orange blush. Perfect with butter, or pumpkin jam (see below)! In terms of proportions I used 1 cup of mashed pumpkin, 2 cups of flour, 30g butter, about 1/2 cup of milk, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt. I rubbed the butter into the flour, then mixed in the pumpkin followed by the remaining dry ingredients. I then added enough milk to make a soft, pliable dough. I rolled it out quite thick, cut into circles, brushed with milk and baked at 180˚C for about 15 mins.

 

The final recipe for this fortnight is a rather unusual one. It is a recipe for pumpkin jam, but instead of being slowly cooked on the stove the ingredients are put in a casserole dish and baked in the oven. This is a technique that I have only seen a couple of times (as a non-historical side note, this technique is used in this recipe for the most amazing plum butter you have ever tasted) and never for pumpkin. The inclusion of vinegar is also a bit odd, so I just had to try it.

Pumpkin Jam

A Pumpkin “Jam” – Just Pumpkin, Vinegar and Sugar

A country woman wrote me the other day that she was almost ashamed to contribute her pet recipe to our columns, but it is so good that if my friends will but make some, they will bless the contributor, who says :- “We call it pumpkin butter, and the sweet or pie pumpkins are the best for it, although almost any pumpkin will do. Stew it, and when it is tender, add to each gallon of pulp a cupful of vinegar and six cupfuls of sugar. Instead of baking your face stirring this over a fire, put it in a stone crock, or if that is too small a granite iron dishpan, and let it cook in the oven, while you are washing or ironing, or otherwise using the fire. It will save an extra fire and the flavour of the pumpkin butter will be better. It should cook till thick enough to stand in a saucer without being juicy, and then it is good enough to make any time. The baking gives it a distinctive flavour, and if you will recall the difference between stewed and baked apples you will be more ready to try this labour and fire-saving way of making pumpkin butter.[6]

 

The country contributor was right, this is definitely a very easy way of making pumpkin butter, although it is perhaps a bit plain for modern tastes. I would have like to have added something to spice it up a little: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and maybe even a little lime juice. Nonetheless, I was surprised at how successful it was, I have to admit that I wasn’t sure it would work at all. Again, for the proportions I used about a kilo of pumpkin which gave me 2 cups of pulp. I mixed that with 1/6 cup of plain, white vinegar and 1 cup of sugar and baked at 180˚C for about an hour. You need to keep an eye on it to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn, and you know that it is ready when a little spoonful on a plate doesn’t seep water. Serve hot or cold with scones or fruit bread.

The Recipe: Stewed Pumpkin (available here); Pumpkin Scones (available here); Pumpkin Jam (available here)

The Date: 1907; 1902; 1912

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: 30 mins; 30 mins; 1 1/2 hrs

How successful was it?: All three were very tasty. The stewed pumpkin looked somewhat unappetizing but tasted very good while the pumpkin jam could have used some spices. The scones, however, were pretty much perfect.

How accurate?: I think they were pretty accurate, it’s certainly a lot easier using more modern recipes!

 

Pumpkin Scones

 

[1] Cindy Ott, Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon (University of Washington Press, 2012), 6.

[2] Watkin Tench, A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in New South Wales (London: G. Nicol and J. Sewell, 1793), chap. XVII.

[3] Barbara Santich, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage (South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2012), 10–11.

[4] “SELECTED RECIPES.,” The Corowa Chronicle, July 6, 1907.

[5] “MORE USES FOR PUMPKIN.,” The Sydney Morning Herald, June 15, 1920.

[6] “A PUMPKIN ‘JAM.’ Just Pumpkin, Vinegar and Sugar.,” The Farmer and Settler, July 9, 1912.

 

Bibliography

“A PUMPKIN ‘JAM.’ Just Pumpkin, Vinegar and Sugar.” The Farmer and Settler. July 9, 1912.

“MORE USES FOR PUMPKIN.” The Sydney Morning Herald. June 15, 1920.

Ott, Cindy. Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon. University of Washington Press, 2012.

Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage. South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2012.

“SELECTED RECIPES.” The Corowa Chronicle. July 6, 1907.

Tench, Watkin. A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in New South Wales. London: G. Nicol and J. Sewell, 1793.