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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pearl Bailey's Chicken

I'll be Clucked! I thought for sure once I googled a recipe search for Pearl Bailey recipes, at least one chicken recipe would reveal itself. It didn't! Not One. Actually, to my utter surprise, very few attributed recipes "peeped" up at all. After all, she is the author of one of my very best favorite cookbooks, Pearl's Kitchen: An Extraordinary Cookbook published in 1973.

I think it's high time I change that and what better day than today. Why? Because, today is the day Pearl Mae Baily was born in Newport News, Virginia on March 29, 1918. Did you know Pearl Bailey was the youngest of four children, and that she originally wanted to be a teacher? That all changed when her older brother encouraged her to enter an amateur stage-singing contest at Philadelphia’s Pearl Theater. She would later make an appearance at The Howard Theater in 1941.

Pearl’s older brother, Bill Bailey, a dancing protégé of legendary hoofer Bill “Bojangles" Robinson, had already made a name for himself when Pearl decided to enter a talent contest at the aptly named Pearl Theater, where he was appearing. She won – $5 and a two-week engagement. (excellent source)

Pearl Bailey in “St. Louis Woman”, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, July 5, 1946. From the collection of the Library of Congress and in the public domain.

Soulful spirit that she was, Pearl Bailey's culinary autobiography, Pearl's Kitchen: An Extraordinary Cookbook gave us delightful insight to her home and family. "My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me" she wrote late one night at her kitchen table. "It is a place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odors carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future" she assured us. A deeply spiritual woman, she earned a degree in theology at the age of 67, America's "Ambassador of Love" was known affectionately to the world as Pearlie Mae. In her 72 years on this earth, Pearl Bailey sang, danced, performed on stage (In 1967, she won a Tony Award for heading the all-black cast of "Hello, Dolly"), acted in films (she was Maria in ''Porgy and Bess''), and tirelessly committed herself to the betterment of others. During WWII, she toured the country with the USO and performed for American troops. She later was the United States Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations. On March 11, 1989, the Women's International Center honored Pearl Bailey with The Living Legacy Award for her active support of human rights around the world.

Welcome to Pearl's Chicken

Pearl Bailey was very funny. A self proclaimed humorist she was known for her mix of charm and comedic timing. For a brief season in 1971, the Pearl Bailey Show made its debut on January 23. Some of the guests on her show included Louis Armstrong, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Liza Minnelli, B.B. King and Cab Calloway. Later in her career, Ms. Bailey was a spokesperson for Duncan Hines. Always "thinking of yesterday and cooking for tomorrow," she also shared a few of her "Pearlie Mae" recipes in an advertising booklet for Paramount chicken. I would like to share some of those recipes with you today.

The following recipe under the heading "Nobody could make fried chicken like my Mama" is dotted with personal side notes and is titled Mama's Fried Chicken.

Mustn't forget the Cornish Hens.

revised March 2013

Resources
1. Pearl Bailey (Bio)
2. Pearl Bailey @ The Old Foodie
3. Pearl Bailey @ Explore PA History (she grew up in Philadelphia)
4. Pearl Bailey @ The New York Times (obit)
5. Pearl Bailey's Macaroni & Cheese

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Delectable Past

Leafing through the brittle and grease-stained pages of cooking volumes is much like peering through a kitchen window: the recipe book alludes to meals and events, people and places, successes and failures, joys and sorrows, lives and deaths of those loved and known.
Janet Theophano, curator; Aresty Collection

Esther Bradford Aresty

Delectable PastMarch 26th (1908) is the birthday of Esther Bradford Aresty. I was first introduced to Esther Bradford Aresty when I stumbled upon her collection at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, here was a woman who moved to a small town in Iowa, enjoyed a suburban life and valued good food. She had a prominent career and, she was also a collector of rare books on etiquette and the culinary arts. Spanning five centuries, her books fill the Esther B. Aresty Collection on the Culinary Arts at the University..
The Esther B. Aresty Rare Book Collection on the Culinary Arts comprises cookery manuscripts and published books of recipes, etiquette and household advice. Spanning an historical period from the earliest printed folios of the fifteenth century to the more recent and familiar volumes of the twentieth century, the books represent cultural and geographical diversity ranging from Europe and the New World to the Far East. (source)

The Delectable Past

For the past twenty years, it has been my rewarding hobby to collect old and rare cookbooks. This book is the result of my adventuring through their pages. The more I wandered around in those precious volumes, the more I wanted to share them with others, and so, The Delectable Past came about. (Esther B. Aresty)
A light went on in my head. I have a book by her in my library. I dug it out. As soon as I read the above lines, I knew I craved a way of sharing my cookbooks.  If only I could digest everything ever written on the culinary history of the world. If only I could express to someone who would listen. Much like Esther, my cookbooks are a rewarding part of my life. I have received unconditional comfort with them, in them and yes, by them. Sometimes, I suppose, I get "angry" at them. They take up so much room. I am forever reorganizing and resorting them. Collectively, they are very heavy and quite cumbersome. And quite frankly, they take up much of my free time. Like brothers and sisters, they share the same shelves. At times, I've had them sprawled all over tables and chairs and floors, but, they are always together.
It wouldn't be fair for me to attempt to digress The Delectable Past - The Joys of the Table - From Rome to the Renaissance, From Queen Elizabeth I to Mrs. Beeton, The Menus, The Manners - and the Most Delectable Recipes of the Past, Masterfully Re-created for Cooking and Enjoying Today, by Esther B. Aresty, (1964) when it is so eloquently served within the pages of the book itself.
Here, for perusing and cooking, are the lost joys of the table garnered by Esther Aresty from her collection of rare old cookbooks. Here is a 16th century version of Italian Green Sauce, and the original Pie That the Birds May Flie Out Of. Here is the banquet menu for a Renaissance Pope, and a Victorian clergyman's poetic Potato Salad. An Elizabethan cook sets down a recipe for a Tart to Provoke Courage Either in Man or Woman, while a housewife lists her dowry including "45 payer of sheets and one gray horse." We discover from the great La Varenne, chef in the time of Louis XIV how noblemen dined when they went to war; we learn why we owe French sauces to a Bavarian baron (Ed note: Count Rumford) from Massachusetts, and so says the 17th century Roti-Cochon that "Venison pate is too good for disobedient children."
Just as difficult, is selecting a recipe. I did a quick pop around the internet to see if I could find any recipes from the book. Although, I did find a few sites with "adapted" recipes, from her book, I was a bit disappointed not to find any verbatim. Perhaps, I didn't dig deep enough. I'm usually delighted when I don't find a recipe online. It affords me the opportunity to make a contribution but, in this case, it's a shame. What I'm trying to say, is find the book, buy it and enjoy it. You won't be disappointed. I promise:) I've chosen the Mustard Soup recipe to share because I am slightly crazed by mustard. I like it A LOT! Before I leave the recipe, let me give you a taste of Esther's introduction to the soup.
While Richard Plantagenet's cooks were smiting and hewing their way through royal menus, a move gently phrased cookery manuscript had been prepared in the kingdom across the Channel. Le Viander was compiled by Guillaume Tirel (Tailevent) about 1375 for the cooks of Charles V, also a monarch with a taste for the better things. A "viander" is a meat cook, and the manuscript had a special section on roasts which included along with mutton, kid and venison pigeons roasted with their heads intact...Among the potages (soups-stews), one recipe employed mustard as a seasoning for the broth. Using Taillevent's ingredients, a delicious soup emerges that may be served hot or cold. Either way, its lovely green color is as refreshing as its taste.
Mustard Soup
2 tbs. butter
3 tbs. prepared yellow mustard
2 tbs. flour
2-1/2 cups thoroughly skimmed chicken stock, heated
1-1/4 c. rich milk, heated
1/2 tsp. salt, dash white pepper
1/2 tsp. onion juice
2 egg yolks
2 to 3 tbs. sweet cream
Directions: Melt the butter, stir in the flour and blend smoothly. Add the hot chicken stock and milk, and whisk until smooth. Add salt, pepper and onion juice. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Combine egg yolks and cream and add to the soup, custard style that is, temper first with a few spoonfuls of the warm broth. Last, add the mustard. If served cold, garnish with a dab of whipped cream. If hot, garnish with pancake shreds or green peas.
I couldn't resist including this scanned recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms. The previous page has the introduction which goes like this:
La Verenne used mushrooms in many recipes, but none surpasses the stuffed mushrooms he introduced to French cookery (Champignons Farcis). He also devised the famous sauce of onions and mushrooms which now goes by the name of Duxelles, but which La Varenne called simply Champignons a l'Olivier. The custom of honoring a man's name in a recipe had not yet begun; at some later point the sauce was renamed for La Varenne's employer, the Marquis d'Uxelles. Just who selected the Marquis for immortality instead of La Verenne is not clear; at any rate it was an injustice.
FYI: Today also happens to be the birth date of Benjamin Thompson; Count von Rumford. (mentioned above) Count Rumford invented the percolator, a pressure cooker and a kitchen stove. He is frequently encased in the History of Baked Alaska.
Resources
1. Esther Bradford Aresty (bio)
2. To make Pies that the Birds may be alive in them...scroll down
3. New York Times (obit)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No Waffling-Waffle Day

Quick, dig out that waffle iron. Today is International Waffle Day. Not to be confused with just plain 'ole Waffle Day which is August 24 (that's the day the first patent for a Waffle maker was issued to Cornelius Swartwout) or, International Chicken And Waffles Day which is October 3, 2008, International Waffle Day is a Swedish tradition which has been adopted world wide. No waffling for me, I'm going to drop these recipes and then, I'm going shopping! Enjoy International Waffle Day.

The scanned recipe pages below (click to enlarge) are from an Aunt Jemima leaflet titled Magical Recipes.

Waffles 'Round the Clock

Praline Sauce
Combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup water and 1/8 teaspoon salt in saucepan. Cook 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring and 1/2 cup chopped pecan meats. Serve warm or cold.

Resources
1. The Waffle Day Controversy
2. You've Got Waffles! (brief historical essay)
3. Chocolate Chipotle Waffles
4. Classic Waffle Recipes
5. List of Waffle Recipes
6. Yugoslavian Waffle Cookies

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fannie Farmer Tales

"Cookery is the art of preparing food for the nourishment of the body. Prehistoric man may have lived on uncooked foods, but there are no savage races today who do not practice cookery in some way, however crude. Progress in civilization has been accompanied by progress in cookery."
~Fannie Merritt Farmer, The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1896~

Often credited as "the mother of level measurements" or, "the pioneer of the modern recipe", Fannie Merritt Farmer was born on March 23, 1857 in Boston Massachusetts. As a young girl, Fannie Farmer's family moved to Medford, Massachusetts.

Fannie Merritt Farmer lived in a duplex house which stood on this site until destroyed by fire in 1979. The Farmer family owned the house throughout her lifetime. Fannie moved to Medford as a child and attended Medford Public Schools and the Unitarian Church. At the age of 13, the redheaded student became paralyzed from the waist down and dropped out of Medford High School. She eventually recovered but always retained a limp. Fannie Farmer always considered Medford her home. She graduated from the Boston Cooking School in 1889 and became its director in 1891. In 1896 she edited the world famous "Boston Cooking School Cookbook," also known as the "Bride’s Bible." In 1902 she opened "Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery." Called "the mother of level measurement," she was proud of her introduction into cooking of exact measurement. After her death her heirs allowed her name to be associated with the candies by the Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc. source

Fannie Farmer first became interested in cooking as a young child while confined to a wheel chair. Due to her illness, her education ended abrubtly and she recovered slowly. To occupy herself she read as many cookbooks as she possibly could find, including the greatest chefs before her time. Her adaptation for precise measurement was a result of much experimentation. No one before Fannie Farmer had explained accurate measurements in recipes. Measurment standards of the time were unspecified. Now, I find them charming:) a teacup full of sherry, enough water to float an egg, a nut of butter. It is often difficult to translate stirrings of the past. With these standardized measurements producing reliable results, even the inexperienced cook was able to create a masterpiece. It's no wonder that when she edited the edition of one of America's most popular cookbooks, The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1896) it also became known as "The Bride's Bible." It has also caused quite a bit of confusion.

Two Boston Cooking School Cookbooks!

An on going debate in the world of cookbooks seems to brew and simmer. There are those who accuse Fannie Farmer of downright plagiarism. There are those who do not. I can certainly understand the debate and quite frankly, my opinion doesn't really matter. I just would like to say, personally, I have more of a problem digesting the claim that Miss Farmer "invented" the use of level measurements" or is "the mother of level measurements." Perhaps, the notion of precise measurement was easier for the housewife to swallow coming from Farmer. 1896 was not the first time anyone had attempted to interpret pounds, gills, scruples, tea cupfuls etc. into household measurements. I recall reading, British writer Eliza Acton, had been publishing precise and tested recipes fifty years earlier. That's all I have to say on that subject.

The pre-Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking-School Cook Book is one of my most treasured cookbooks. It was published in 1883, and authored by Mrs. D. A. Lincoln. The book is subtitled "What To Do and What Not To Do in Cooking." Mrs. Lincoln was the founder of The Boston Cooking School. Fannie Merritt Farmer was a student at the school in 1887 and graduated in 1889. She eventually became principal of the school from 1891 until 1902 when she opened Miss Farmer's School of Cookery on August 23, 1902.

Both women had different approaches to domestic science which was reflected in their individual schools, as well as their Boston Cooking School Cookbooks. At Miss Farmer's School of Cookery, classes were designed for training housewives with emphasis on practical food preparation. Mrs. Lincoln's approach was aimed at professional cooks. As I browse through the pages of Mrs. Lincoln's cookbook, there doesn't seem to be any constant pattern used in the recipes themselves. Some of the recipes contain ingredients and directions in column form while others have the ingredients and directions in paragraph form but the ingredients are set apart in italics. There are those who believe Fannie Farmer's book by the same name is a re-working of the original book by Mrs. Lincoln. In her book Cookbooks Worth Collecting, Mary Barile states:

Even though she was director of the school, Farmer's The Boston Cooking School Cookbook (1896) was a personal gamble: according to her agreement with the original publishers, she paid for the book's publication while the company acted simply as the sales outlet. Farmer was also placed in the uncomfortable position of updating the school's text, which was originally written by Mrs. Lincoln, a formidable woman who was still alive and teaching and who still claimed many readers and fans. A general rewrite was performed, and the main difference between the two women and their styles is illustrated in the opening chapter. Mrs. Lincoln took the highhanded thought that "all civilized nations cook their food, to improve its taste and digestibility. The degree of civilization is often measured by the cuisine." Fannie was more down to earth, noting that "progress in civilization has been accompanied by progress in cookery."

Another rendition lies in the signatures of the book titled The Taste of America by John & Karen Hess.

While Mrs. Lincoln attributed many of her recipes to the donors, including Miss Parloa, "Mrs. Towne's Matilda," "an unknown friend," and so on, the only source credited in Miss Farmer is an unidentified "French Chef," to whom she assigns several exotic recipes such as mulligatawny soup. Clearly, she did not create hundreds of recipes out of the blue. She learned cooking from Mrs. Lincoln's book (the textbook at the Boston Cooking School at the time), but did not acknowledge it in any way. Now, recipes that have many sources need not be attributed; Miss Farmer, however, exaggerated in this regard. She was by no means the first to appropriate other people's recipes as her own, but as the patron saint of American housewives she put her seal of approval on it, and contributed to the moral climate of the cookbook world today, where plagiarism is the norm.
The Boston Cooking School Cookbook published January 7, 1896, by Fannie Merritt Farmer became widely known as "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook" long before its many editions. But, I don't think it was her first book. According to the reference book Vintage Cookbooks & Advertising Leaflets by Sandra J. Norman & Karrie K. Andes, Fannie Farmer also authored Selections from a New Cook Book introduced by Rumford Chemical Works in 1896. I suppose it's a matter of which came first. Fannie Farmer spent her later years lecturing and co-writing a monthly column for Woman's Home Companion along with Cora Dexter Farmer Perkins. If given a choice, it is often written that Miss Farmer wished to be remembered as a teacher who instilled in her students the proper diet and nutrition needed for the care of the ill. This was reflected in her book titled Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent. Fannie Farmer continued to lecture, write, and invent recipes until her death in 1915. I have an issue of American Cookery Magazine dated April 1915. It contains an obituary stating that Fannie Merritt Farmer died that year on January 14. Her school continued to flourish after her death, under the leadership of Alice Bradley, until it closed in 1944. When candymaker Frank O'Connor opened his first candy shop in New York in 1919, he named it after Fannie Merritt Farmer. source

The tales of Fannie Farmer and The Boston Cooking School Cookbook vibrate across most culinary websites on the internet. I have provided only a handful to begin your journey. The last edition which held the copyright of Fannie Merritt Farmer was in 1914. The following recipe is from The Boston Cooking School Cook Book published in 1924 with a copyright by Cora D. Perkins. I thought it appropriate to include an Easter Salad a la Fannie Farmer since today is also Easter Sunday. Enjoy!

Easter Salad
Put eggs in saucepan, cover with boiling water, and let boil fifteen minutes. Remove shells and while hot hold between thumb and finger while pressing into apple shapes keeping under a stream of cold water. Mix a bit of Fruit Red with cold water and apply to eggs, using a brush.  Insert a clove to represent blossom end, and a stem and leaves to represent stem end (hot house lilac leaves answer the purpose), and arrange on lettuce leaves. Serve with Mayonnaise Piquante
Mayonnaise Piquante To one cup Mayonnaise dressing add 2 tablespoons each, olives and pickles, finely chopped.

Easter Salad
This pictured Easter Salad recipe is from The Presto Book of Menus & Recipes by Della Thompson Lutes (undated). It is a beautifully illustrated promotional book for Presto canning products published by a distributor named the Cupples Company in St. Louis, Missouri.

Resources
1. Fannie Farmer Biography @ Notable Biographies
2. Fannie Farmer @ Feeding America
3. The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1918)
4. A letter from Alice Bradely principal Miss Farmer's School of Cookery
5. Miss Farmer's School of Cookery Boston Recipe Book
6. Apple Pie by the Book: Fannie Farmer vs. Catherine Beecher with recipes from both
7. Surprise Chicken Soup
8. Raised Waffles
9. Sunshine Cake

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Lily Canapes

Like most Italian American families, our house at Easter time was a house of rejoicing! When I was very young, the menu at Easter always included Lamb's Head. I'm not sure what the Italian word for it was but I think my grandmother called it capuzzella. It saddens me to realize,that I never learned how to speak Italian. I understand Sicilian when it is spoken to me but I can't reply in Italian. Quite, honestly, I don't remember anything else about Easter dinner except for the capuzzella, asparagus and an Italian cheesecake made with I believe farina and hard boiled eggs. We never had anything "exotic" for everyday dinners and on most holidays, pasta in some form was usually the main dish. Whether it was lasagna, stuffed shells or gnocchi, we always prepared home made pasta for the holidays except, for Easter. As the oldest daughter in the family, the tradition of Easter dinner eventually stepped down to me. Trying to conserve the tradition, I taught both my son and daughter how to prepare home made pasta. I parted ways with the Lambs head in place of leg of lamb. But, lamb, in my humble opinion, doesn't agree with everyone. I sometimes think that the only reason it agrees with me is because, I was introduced to some unusual tastes when I was younger. 

This year, my younger sister will be hosting Easter dinner. I'm responsible for the rice balls. Now, Italian rice balls are not a traditional dish for our family on Easter. My sister has been asking me to make rice balls since Christmas and for some reason, I just haven't gotten around to it. I suppose she feels if she makes it a mandatory bring your own dish for Easter, she will finally get them. Maybe, maybe not.  I found this recipe for Easter Lily Canapes a few years ago in American Cookery Magazine. I have prepared these myself as a prelude to Easter dinner and they were quite successful. They also "plate up" quite nicely.

Easter Lily Canapes
2 oz. salmon paste
2 eggs, hard-boiled
3/4 tbs. butter
1/8 tsp. salt
pinch pepper
12-1/2" squares of bread
12-2" strips green pepper cut 1/8" long
1-3 1/2 oz. bottle cocktail onions
1-5 3/4 oz jar cocktail shrimp
Watercress garnish
1/2 cup butter melted
1 tsp. lime juice
Mince egg whites, mash yolks of eggs and mix to paste with butter, salt and pepper. Slice day old bread, remove crusts and spread with salmon paste. Shape like cone or lily. Use hors d' oeuvre sticks to hold shape until used. Fill partly with minced egg-white. Make small balls of the egg yolk mixture and place one ball in each cone. Use strips of green pepper for stems of lillies.

Make a nest of watercress in one corner of a tray and fill with cocktail onions. Make another nest of watercress in opposite corner of tray and fill with shrimps. Arrange croquette stars around outside edge of nests.

Serve a dish of hot sauce of melted butter, lime juice and peper in which to dip the shrimp. Arrange the lily canapes along the side of the tray and garnish with watercress. American Cookery Magazine April, 1939

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gathering Thoughts & Groceries

by Elizabeth Coatsworth.
To think I once saw grocery shops
With but a casual eye
And fingered figs and apricots
As one who came to buy.

To think I never dreamed of how
Bananas sway in rain,
And often looked at oranges
But never thought of Spain.

And in those wasted days I saw
No sails above the tea,
For grocery shops were grocery shops–
Not hemispheres to me.

No Cart Please

On March 14, 1938, Sylvan Nathan Goldman applied for the patent titled, Folding Basket Carriage for Self Service Stores. He was issued patent number 2,196,914 on April 9, 1940. Why does this matter? Well, with the assistance of a mechanic named Fred Young, Sylvan Goldman constructed the first grocery shopping cart. It seems that Goldman and his brother were originally in the wholesale produce business. They had a few financial set backs before they became half owners of the Standard/Piggly-Wiggly chain. Now, I happen to be one of those people that goes into the grocery store with the mind set of only picking up a few things. It doesn't usually happen that way and by the time I get up to the check-out, my basket over "floweth" and my aching hands are trying to hold everything in place while I'm bending down picking up the trail of groceries that have "somehow" gotten away. It's quite comical actually. But, I do it every time! I suppose, I have an aversion to shopping carts. Gee, Goldman wouldn't have liked that. You see, he was trying to come up with a way to keep his shoppers comfortably shopping in his grocery store so they would buy more groceries. His basket was built with a metal frame, two wire baskets, and wheels which could be rolled around the store. Since they were inspired by a folding chair, Goldman called his carts "folding basket carriers". He advertised his new invention as the "No Basket Carrying Plan."Below is an excerpt I gathered at American Heritage.com

According to the definitive biography of Goldman The Cart That Changed the World, by Terry P. Wilson—inspiration struck as he worked late in his office one evening in 1936. He looked at a folding chair and had the idea of replacing the seat with two shelves, one higher and one lower than the seat’s usual position, and outfitting the legs with wheels. The shelves would hold shopping baskets, which could be removed and stacked when not in use, and the carts could be folded up for compact storage.

There was a bit of a resistance from shoppers at first. The ladies felt the carts weren't fashionable enough, men didn't find their look masculine enough and "senior citizens" didn't want to appear weak. After hiring several male and female models to push his new invention around his store and demonstrate their utility, as well as greeters to explain their use, shopping carts became extremely popular and Goldman became a multimillionaire by collecting a royalty on every shopping cart in the United States until his patents ran out. source

The chief object of the invention is to provide the trade with a novel lightweight easy to handle multiple rack equipped roller supported carriage, the preferred embodiment being characterized by a dependable structural assemblage which is rigid and reliable when erected for use, and compact and convenient when folded for storage in an out-of-the-way location in the establishment.

Although Sylvan Goldman's original patent has basically stayed the same, there have been a few changes. for instance, it didn't take long before seats for children were added to the carts and during the fifties, grocery stores got to brand their store carts with the name of the store by covering the handle with colored plastic like caps.

I ran across this poem quite a few years ago on the internet and was delighted to come across it again. It's a spiritual poem titled Heaven's Grocery Store.

Resources
1. History of Shopping Carts (with pictures)
2. Shopping Carts @ The Engines of Our Ingenuity by John H. Lienhard
3. Scoping the Shopping Cart @ Tasteful Inventions

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eskimo Pie Day

It has always been my intentions to include American statehood celebrations @ Months of Edible Celebrations. Perhaps, I'll begin with A for Alaska or just Eskimo Pie Day.

"Between 25,000 and 35,000 Alaskan Inuit inhabit the west, southwest, and the far north and northwest of Alaska. Other smaller groups live in Canada, Greenland, and Siberia. The name Eskimo was given to these people by neighboring Abnaki Indians and means "eaters of raw flesh." The name they call themselves is Inuit, or "the people." Culturally and linguistically distinct from Native Americans of the lower 48 states, as well as from the Athabaskan people of Alaska, the Inuit are closely related to the Mongoloid peoples of eastern Asia. It is estimated that the Inuit arrived some 4,000 years ago on the North American continent, thus coming much later than other indigenous peoples...Throughout their long history and vast migrations, the Inuit have not been greatly influenced by other Indian cultures. Their use and array of tools, their spoken language, and their physical type have changed little..."source

Eskimo Pie, is an ice cream confection. It is a brand name for a chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream bar wrapped in foil, the first such dessert sold in the United States. The Eskimo Pie was invented by a high school teacher by the name of Christian Kent Nelson. An Eskimo Pie is a type of foil wrapped dessert that's made with vanilla ice cream and covered in hard chocolate. The sweet confection is skewered onto a thin wooden stick, which is used as a handle. Although, today is not the day Christian K. Nelson was granted his patent, that was on January 24, 1922, it is the day the Danish immigrant was born (in 1893).

How to celebrate Eskimo Pie Day instantly flashed in my mind when I was reminded by T.W. @ Culinary Types that today is Eskimo Pie Day. My first instinct was to give a brief run down of Christian Nelson's life. Then, I would hit my database and see what came up for Eskimo Pie Day. Finally, I would hit the books and then google. Not really sure what I wanted do, I hit google first. Well, of course Christian Kent Nelson popped up @ wiki. That was good enough for me. I somehow became driven to find out why the I-Scream-Bar was renamed the Eskimo Pie.

Why? Why? Eskimo Pie!

According to legend, Nelson pursued the idea for a chocolate coated ice cream bar in Onawa, Iowa in 1920. "After experimenting with different ways to adhere melted chocolate to blocks of ice cream, Nelson began selling his invention under the name "I-Scream Bars." Now, I don't know how it was then, but, to me, it sounds like he had an established catchy name already, why choose a new one? In 1921, he filed for a patent which was issued on January 24, 1922. The I-Scream-Bar was an immediate success. It seems, somewhere along the way, Christian Kent Nelson partnered up with chocolate manufacturer Russell Stover to mass-produce the I-Scream-Bar under the new trademarked name "Eskimo Pie" (a name suggested by Clara Stover, Russell Stover's wife.) Okay, so Mrs. Stover dreamt up the name "Eskimo Pie" but what propelled her to come up with that name in particular? Let's recap. It's 1922 in Iowa. The Cracker Jack Company is in full swing and The Ice Cream Song isn't popular yet. You know, that song we all know the most popular words to; I scream, you scream, we all scream, for ice cream It was sung by Walter Williams, the members of Waring's Pennsylvanians and recorded in Camden, New Jersey on Novemeber 30, 1927. FYI: namesake band of Fred Waring, as in the blender. The Russell Stover Company did not start with candy. It actually began with the partnership of Christian K. Nelson and his I-Scream-Bar. So, here they all are sitting at a dinner party and out pops Mrs. Stover, "Let's call it the Eskimo Bar!" Had she seen the granddaddy of documentaries, the groundbreaking film Nanook of the North, which was released in 1922? 

Nanook of the North

To many Americans of the time, Nanook, the Eskimo hunter, had become a beloved character. Director Robert Flaherty had brought attention to the Alaskan territory and the Inuit the likes that had never been seen before. Perhaps, Mrs. Stover empathized with the "everyday people doing everyday things, being themselves." Perhaps, Nanook and the toil of his family planted the seeds of resourcefulness, creativity, adaptability and yes, even a bit of humor into the soul of Mrs. Stover. Nanook became an international icon. The film inspired a worldwide "Eskimo" craze. In today's jargon, Nanookmania took to the streets.

Two years later Nanook was dead- as so many of his people die- of starvation. Storm-bound while hunting in the interior, he had not been able to reach the coast and its life-giving seals in time. But by that time Nanook, the film, had gone around the world, and Nanook, the Eskimo hunter, had become a world character, world-beloved. News of his death came out in the press as far away as China and Japan. In Malaya there was a new word for "strong man," and it was "Nanuk." Ten years later in Berlin, in the Tiergarten, I bought an Eskimo pie. It was called a "Nanuk," and Nanook's face smiled up at me from the wrapper...Such was the impact of this first film of its kind, made without actors, without studio, story, or stars, just of everyday people doing everyday things, being themselves. source

NanookWas Nanook of the North a commercial success? Yes. Was the now named Eskimo Pie a commercial success? Yes. The partners sold their manufacturing rights to a number of different companies, and collected royalties from their sales. By 1922, a million Eskimo Pies were being sold every day. Reportedly, the success of the Eskimo Pie caused cocoa bean prices to increase by 50%. Nelson became independently wealthy off the royalties. By 1924, Nelson sold the business to the United States Foil Company, the company that made the foil wrappers that covered the Eskimo Pie treats. In 1935, Nelson returned to the foil company as an executive and invented new ways of manufacturing and shipping Eskimo Pies until his retirement in 1961. When Christian Kent Nelson died in 1992, (at the age of 99,) the Eskimo Pie Corporation was formed as an alternative to an acquisition that Nestlé had proposed in 1991. To this day, the Inuit add an integral fabric to the Alaskan frontier.

Foods of the Inuit

While reading about Nanook of the North, it occurred to me that Clarence Birdseye had also been influenced by the diet and preservation techniques of the Inuit. As a matter of fact, March is also National Frozen Food Month and March 6, 1930 is the confirmed date of "The birth of retail frozen foods" in Springfield, Massachusetts. A source of inspiration for Birdseye's experimentations hit him like a block of ice while he was trapping Caribou in the Arctic. He butchered some steaks and stuck them in the ice as he had seen the Eskimos do. He found they were quite pleasant when thawed and cooked. His keen observations led him to continue his experiments with other precious harvests of the seasons and the eventual belief that fast freezing in temperatures well below zero was the solution to good tasting, frozen food. The "father" of the frozen food industry was reborn.

I also discovered some of the food that was included on the film's expedition. The director Robert Flaherty had frozen canvas bags of pre-cooked pork and beans, dried fruit, sea biscuits and tea. Nanook and his companions' diet was comprised of seal and walrus. The tea, they drank was "borrowed" from Flaherty. The Inuit have traditionally been hunters and fishers. To this day, they still hunt, whales, walruses, caribou, seals, and at times other less commonly eaten animals. Their traditional winter diet does not contain plant matter. But, depending on the season, Grasses, tubers, roots, stems, berries, and edible seaweed are collected and preserved.

The Inuit pride themselves on being great hunters. The Inuit had lots of sea and land animals to hunt. The most important of these were the caribou and the seal. These two animals provided the Inuit with food. Their skin was used for clothing, blankets, tents and boats and their oil was used for cooking and lamps. Bones, ivory and wood were used to make tools. Other animals the Inuit hunted were the walrus, whale, polar bear, musk ox, fox and wolf. source

An interesting Inuit delicacy is Muktuk. Muktuk "is the English word for the traditional Inuit/Eskimo meal of frozen whale skin and blubber. It is most often made from the skin and blubber of the Bowhead Whale, although the beluga and the narwhal are also used. The Inuit treat has its own unique flavor and tender-crisp texture. Some say it tastes like fresh coconut. It is usually sliced thin, sprinkled with salt and eaten raw. Occasionally, it is finely diced, breaded, deep fried and served with soy sauce. It is also sometimes pickled." It is a subsistance food for Alaskan Natives. Seal meat and seal fat which are high in omega-3 oils, are also staples of the Inuit diet. I suppose, I found the Inuit recipe diet worthy of a place on my computer because, although I don't have the recipe book published by the American Gas Company here with me in New York, I do have the recipe for Muktuk in my computer database. It may even be possible that at one time I found it online, I'm really not sure. In any case, here is the recipe from the database.

Muktuk
Muktuk is the outer covering of the whale. It includes the white skin, approximately 1-2 inches thick, plus a thin pinkish layer immediately underneath. After taking blocks from the whale, leave 2 days hanging to dry. Cut into pieces 6 x 6 inches (15x15cm). Have water ready to boil. Cook until it tests tender when pierced with a fork. Keep in oil in a 45 gallon (206 litre) drum after it is cooled. Store in a cool place.

There aren't many places to find traditional Inuit recipes on the internet but, I did manage to find a list of Eskimo recipes which I have provided below. This recipe for Eskimo Ice Cream was harvested from a website which appears to be used as a teaching curriculum. Some of the links don't work but it was a useful resource. You may also be interested in a recipe for Inuit Tortillas and Eskimo Fry Bread. I've also posted a quite a few Arctic recipes for seal, walrus and Polar bear recently. Follow the Arctic link.

Eskimo Ice Cream
Grate reindeer tallow into small pieces. Add seal oil slowly while beating with hand. After some seal oil has been used, add a little water while whipping. Continue adding seal oil and water until white and fluffy. Any berries may be added to it.

Resources
1. Christian Kent Nelson @ foodreference.com
2. The Chipwich Story
3. Why Eskimo Pie?
4. How I Filmed Nanook of the North
5. Alaska Eskimos in the Movies (University of Washington Press)
6. Eskimo Recipes

Friday, March 7, 2008

It's National Cereal Day!

So, why is today National Cereal Day I wonder? It took a little digging but, I think I came up with a plausible reason. It seems, today may be National Cereal Day because it is believed that on March 7, 1897, John Harvey Kellogg served Corn Flakes at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. This is where it gets a bit "flaky." I was always under the assumption that Will Keith Kellogg, John's younger brother, "invented" corn flakes but, it seems corn flakes may have been "born" more as a mishap which both brothers were witness to.

Kellogg was working with his brother Will on a new kind of wheat meal for patients at the sanitarium when the process that resulted in Corn Flakes was accidentally discovered. Rolling out wheat dough that had been forgotten overnight, the brothers discovered that instead of loaves of bread they got thin flakes.Inventors' Hall of Fame

Through the years, Corn Flakes became quite the Marketable Flake. Credit is given to Will Keith Kellogg for its success. Brother John Harvey went on to bigger and better things also. (the brothers had quite a caught battle over Corn Flakes and in the end, Will succeeded)

This page from the Kellogg's Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures booklet has a copyright date of 1932 (the last year it was produced). According to A Guide to Collecting Cookbooks by Colonel Bob Allen the first issue of this promotional premium was introduced in 1909. Some say, the Kellogg's Funny Jungleland booklet may have been the most successful premium in all of cereal history. Kellogg's used the 6x8 booklet as a promotional give a way for 23 years!

As you can imagine, corn flake competition became fierce amongst the cereal companies of the day. (cereal companies have a history of not getting along:) One particular company that I would like to mention is the Jersey Cereal Company organized in 1903 and once located in Cereal Pennsylvania. Yes, the village was named because of the company who at one time employed over 200 citizens. I wonder if the Jersey Cereal Company "crew" in Cereal PA knew the Hershey Chocolate "crew" in Hershey PA? Anyway, I just happen to have a recipe booklet published for the Jersey Cereal Company in 1930.

And guess what, they too made their own brand of corn flakes. Here's a 1923 advertisement from The Pittsburgh Press for Jersey Corn Flakes!

If you would like to see more vintage images from the Jersey Cereal Company, I suggest you "pop" on over to Mr. Breakfast. He has a slide show of images. He also has a bowl full of Jersey Corn Flake history too. As for me, I'm going to share some corn flake recipes. But first, a few words from the "Jersey Family."

Corn Flake Recipes

Long before I knew there were actually "traditional" corn flake recipes, I often used corn flakes as an ingredient. I remember once adding them to meat loaf in lieu of bread crumbs. Would you believe we didn't have any in the house! I was eleven, or twelve I think and responsible for many family dinner meals. I improvised. Unfortunately, I don't remember the reaction. I'm not sure if we had a copy of Kay Kellogg's Corn Flake Crumbs Cookery in the house, actually, I'm sure we didn't!

Naturally, it does include a "few" corn flake crumb recipes. Here's one for Corn Flake Crumbs Muffins. I sure wish it were in color though.

And another for Corn Flake Crumbs Pie Shell.

The Jersey Cereal Company booklet has a few recipes using Corn Flakes too. Although they are in color, the recipes that include corn flakes are not illustrated. I know, they do sound a bit outdated. But hey, it was published in 1930! First up Jersey Lace Wafers. It sounds as if breakfast cereal meets butterscotch goodness doesn't it? Perhaps this recipe should be reinvigorated with real maple syrup or even brown sugar!

And last but not least, Corn Flake Croutons.

Just in case you desire something a bit more sweeter, try my favorite Kellogg's Frosted Flakes in a bowl with ice cold milk or in Tony the Tiger's Cookies!

Enjoy Cereal Day
Louise

revised March 2013

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Oreo!

Let's have a toast. Raise that glass of milk way up to the sky. Today is Oreo Cookie Day! That's right today is the Oreo Cookie's Birthday. Have you had your Oreos today? Ninety-six years ago today, Oreo Cookies made their debut. Gee, I wonder if Nabisco started planning the birthday of the century yet. It really wouldn't be fair to pay tribute to the Oreo Cookie without at least mentioning Nabisco.

Nabisco has its roots firmly planted in the National Biscuit Company. But wait, there's more. The National Biscuit Company has its roots planted in the American Biscuit Company which had its seedlings sown by a Chicago lawyer by the name of Adolphus W. Green and his partner William Moore. American Biscuit was a large food company with headquarters in Chicago. Around 1898, Green and Moore convinced the three largest companies, New York Biscuit, American Biscuit, and United States Baking to merge together and dominate the American market for mass-produced cookies and crackers National Biscuit Company (N.B.C) was formed with Adolphus Green as president. The new president was convinced that National Biscuit needed something big to gain the public’s attention. The new company’s first product was the Uneeda Biscuit, lighter and flakier than anything else being made at the time. "Uneeda Biscuits," championed what was to be the first of many innovations in biscuit packaging, interfolded layers of wax paper and cardboard, to form a sanitary "in-er-seal." On the box, was a little boy in a yellow rain slicker, with hat, boots, and a box of biscuits, to denote the moisture-resistance of the package. Along with it came the company trademark, an oval surmounted by a double-barrel cross. source

In the early 1890's there were hundreds of hometown bakers putting out generic crackers in barrels and plain cookies in square shipping boxes. There were soon far too many bakers for anyone to make a decent living, so they began to combine. For eight years, savage merger fights reduced the market to three very large companies: New York Biscuit, American Biscuit, and United States Baking.  In 1898, a Chicago lawyer named Adolphus Green convinced the big three that they would all do better as a single unit; they worked out a deal and the National Biscuit Company was born with 114 bakeries firing 400 ovens. In its first year, NBC owned 70 percent of all the bakeries in America. He was convinced that to make it all work, he had to kill the idea of 'a cracker is a cracker.' A National Biscuit Company cracker — or cookie — was going to be one of a kind. source

The Oreo

In 1912, the same year National Biscuit (also known as Nabisco) introduced Lorna Doone cookies, the Oreo biscuit was created. Although some say Nabisco was trying compete with the Hydrox "bon bon" which had been introduced a few years earlier, others say Nabisco was targeting the British market, whose biscuits were seen by Nabisco to be too ordinary. Originally, the Oreo was two mound-shaped wafers filled with either lemon meringue or creme filling. It didn't look much different than it does today but the price was a bit less. Oreo cookies were sold in 1 pound tins with glass tops for about 30 cents a pound. A newer design for the cookie was introduced in 1916, and as the cream filling was by far the more popular of the two available flavors, Nabisco discontinued production of the lemon meringue filling during the 1920s. The modern-day Oreo was developed in 1952 by William A Turnier, to include the Nabisco logo. Nabisco changed the name to "Oreo Cream Sandwich" in 1958. It seems a bit surprising that no one is quite sure how the Oreo cookie got its name but, there are a couple of theories. It seems that two more cookie varieties were introduced at the same time, Mother Goose cookies and Veronese biscuits. Company executives had no idea which cookie would lead the pack. The Oreo biscuit was described as "two beautifully embossed, chocolate-flavored wafers with a rich cream filling." The other offerings were described as "rich, high class" and "delicious."

There are many theories pointing to the origin of the name 'Oreo', including derivations from the French word 'Or', meaning gold (as early packaging was gold), or the Greek word 'Oros', meaning mountain or hill (as the original Oreo was mound shaped) or even the Greek word 'Oreos', meaning beautiful/nice. Other theories are that the 're' from cream was 'sandwiched' between the two Os from chocolate, or the word 'just seemed like a nice, melodic combination of sounds' and easy to remember. wiki

Fried Oreos

Have you ever sunk your teeth into a deep fried Oreo? First let me say this, it's an indescribable, unforgettable experience. My first encounter with a deep fried Oreo was at the San Gennaro feast in New York City’s Little Italy a few years ago. Now, Fried Chocolate Sandwich Cookies may not stir up memories of my Italian grandmother standing at the stove but it appears that they have become a popular carnival junk food delicacy right up there with funnel cakes, kettle corn, deep fried dill pickles, elephant ears, onion blossoms, and my personal favorite, zeppoli! I don't know what I'll do if they decide to ban trans fats at State Fairs or any other outdoor feast. If your are looking for a truly delightful chocolate wafer surprise, take a peek at this beauty at the Smitten Kitchen. Oh my, my, my...

Resources 
1. History of the Oreo Cookie
2. Oreo Truffles
3. Homemade Oreo Ice Cream
4. Oreo Fudge
5. An Easy Oreo Cookie Recipe (Cookies In Motion)
6. Oreo Delight (4 layers of yum!)
7. Crochet Oreo Cookies (they look so real)
8. Oreo Cookies from Scratch
9. Home Made Oreo Cookies @ Dying for Chocolate

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

March is Time for Maple Syrup

And what better place to begin than in Vermont, the "Maple Center of the World."

The Vermont Year Round Cookbook
Louise Andrews Kent.

Something is stirring inside the maple trees this time of year. March is maple syrup time! Oh that pure glowing golden goodness, just the thought of maple cotton candy, maple popcorn, maple jelly beans, maple nuts and maple mustard, causes my heart to pitter patter. The sap drip-drip-dripping into a plastic milk jug, no matter how much it collects, sends me into a boiling frenzy. The sweet celebration of crumbly maple candy makes me want to head right to the nearest Maple Festival.

I read somewhere that the only places in the world that have maple trees are New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and the southeastern corner of Canada. I later learned that Maple syrup is produced as far west as Minnesota and as far south as Virginia. When I lived on Long Island in New York, we had a big old maple tree in our back yard. My late husband would tap into the tree trunk and the kids would get the biggest kick out of the sap running into the milk jugs. We didn't do it every year but the times we did, are memorable.

Maple sugaring is as old as the hills, well maybe not quite that old. The history of maple syrup in America flows from the boiling of the sap which was first discovered by North American Indians. Native Americans celebrated the March maple moon or sugar moon as the return of spring long before European settlers arrived. They called their syrup product "sweetwater."

"...The Indians knew and used two means of reducing the sap to syrup. One was to freeze the sap partly, and throw away the frozen portion, which was little more than plain water; the other was to boil the sap down, in whatever way they could devise. According to Lieutenent-Colonel Graham, in his sketch of Vermont published in 1797, "the method pursued by the Aborigines in making this article was as follows: Large troughs were made out of the pine tree, sufficient to contain a thousand gallons or upwards; the young Indians collected the sap into these troughs, the women in the meantime made large fires for heating the stones necessary for the process; when these were fit for their purpose, they plunged them into the sap in the troughs, and continued the operation till they had boiled the sugar down to the consistence they wished." He adds: "There are two kinds of the maple tree, from which sap is taken. One, the black, or hard maple; the other the white, or soft maple; the former makes infinitely the best grained and best flavored sugar, and fully equal in quality to the best Muscovado..."
American Forestry, Volume 26, 1920

Here's a recipe to celebrate Maple Season the Native American Way. I found this recipe for Maple Bark Bread so intriguing (and not anywhere on the web) I just had to include it. It's from the book titled A Naturalists Guide to Cooking with Wild Plants by Connie and Arnold Krochmal. (1974)

Maple Bark Bread
This was a major staple food among Indians
2 c. maple tree inner bark dried & ground (see below)
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. margarine, melted
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups milk
How to Dry & Grind Inner Bark Never take bark from a living tree. Select a tree that has fallen or been cut down. (a local lumber mill may cooperate) Strip off the bark and scrape the inside with a broad, sharp tool such as a small cement trowel or broad chisel. Collect the scrapings on a clean sheet of paper, let them dry, then grind them very fine and store them in a paper bag.

Sift the ground bark, discarding any unsifted pieces. Combine the bark with enough water to moisten it, and set aside for 30 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients using only enough of the milk to make a stiff dough that can be handled. Turn the dough onto a floured board, and knead for 1 minute. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick, and cut into 4 inch wide biscuits. Fry on a griddle over medium heat until golden brown and light. Or, bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes if preferred. Spread with butter and serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Did you know maple syrup season depends on the weather and that Vermont is the largest producer of pure maple syrup in the United States? Even Uncle Sam agreed as you can see in this advertisement I discovered in the Highland Maple Syrup Recipes from Old Vermont, published sometime in the 1920s. (the booklet is undated so I'm going off the postage stamp date:)

The Vermont Maple Season can begin flowing as early as February and extend into mid-April. And since Vermont is the largest producer of pure maple syrup in the U.S., it shouldn't come as any surprise that Vermonters were the first to establish a Maple Law. It seems, even McDonald's has to follow it:) A charming tradition has evolved during sugaring season, it is called the "sugaring off" party as depicted in Grandma Mose's 1955 painting titled, Sugaring Off'

Folk artist Grandma Moses was born on a farm in New England, on September 7, 1860. "Sugaring Off" is a painting of Grandma Moses's town in the winter. image courtesy of wikipaintings.

Maple Syrup Recipes

"...But for supper Grandma made hasty pudding. She stood by the stove, sifting the yellow corn meal from her fingers into a kettle of boiling, salted water. She stirred the water all the time with a big wooden spoon, and sifted in the meal until the kettle was full of a thick, yellow, bubbling mass. Then she set it on the back of the stove where it would cook slowly.... Then Uncle George came with a smaller bucket of syrup, and everybody ate the hot hasty pudding with maple syrup for supper. Little House in the Big Woods Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Let's begin with some Hasty Pudding. Hasty Pudding you say...

The original hasty pudding was nothing more than today's corn meal mush eaten with maple syrup instead of sugar and cream. For some years the principal sweetening in the Yankee household was maple sugar or syrup. When cane sugar became available it was compressed into hard loaves (hence the number of mountains named Sugar Loaf Mountains) and required special tools for being pounded into usable form.
The Everlasting Pleasure by Kathleen Ann Smallzried.

This pictured recipe leaflet for Vermont Maid Syrup is dated 1929. It's as rich in color as the syrup it advertises. There are just a few treasured recipes enclosed.

This recipe for Maple Sponge Pudding was harvested from the book Plain Cooking, Low Cost Good Tasting Amish Recipes by Bill Randle in 1974.

FYI: Maple syrup may be substituted for white sugar in cooking. Use ¾ cup maple syrup for 1 cup white sugar. Reduce the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons for each cup syrup used. Maple sugar was as common on a dinner table in the 17th and 18th century as salt is today. You can freeze maple syrup for up to one year, in a tightly-sealed container. It will take about one hour at room temperature for the maple syrup to become pourable.

revised February 2013

Resources
1. Sugar Bush History (excellent)
2. Hasty Pudding, an Early American Fast Food
3. Maple, the Official Flavor of Vermont!
4. Squirrels Harvest Maple Syrup
5. Maple Facts & Trivia
6. Maple Sugaring Terminology
7. Tree Tapping - Where It All Begins
8. History of Bisson's Sugar House

Recipes
1. Nutritional Value of Maple Syrup
2. Maple Cream Pudding
3. Hot Maple-Apple Cake
4. Balsamic-Maple Chicken with Grilled Peaches
5. Maple Custards with Sugared Pecans

Monday, March 3, 2008

Time for a Party!


Hina-Matsuri

Hina-Matsuri a magical way to welcome spring. (Hina means dolls and Matsuri means festival) The Girl's Day festival has been celebrated in Japan since the Edo Period. On March 3, families with girls wish their daughters a successful and happy life. Dolls are displayed on a tiered stand specially set for the occasion. The "Odairi-sama," a prince and "Ohina-sama," a princess, sit at the very top of the tier, surrounded by their courtiers. Beautifully arranged peach flowers also add to the festive spirit. The Doll's Festival, also known as the Peach Blossom's Festival (peach blossoms symbolize a happy marriage) has its origin in a Chinese custom. Hina Matsuri also has some of its roots in the festival of purification. The Peach Blossom's Festival which used to be one of the important seasonal events of ancient China and has now developed into a function symbolic of Japanese arts and customs. Unfortunately, it isn't something I know very much about which is a shame it sounds quite charming and delicately feminine. I wish I were able to get on a plane right now and share in the festivities but alas not possible. Thank goodness we have another means of exploring the world. I have tried to gather some resources below.

The traditional foods of the Doll's Festival may be sweet sake (amazake), chirashi sushi (Scattered sushi) and all kinds of Japanese confections.

Hina-matsuri used to be one of the very few occasions when little Japanese girls had their own parties. It was customary up to the prewar years for them to invite their small friends to these parties at which they partook of the sweets and food offered to the dolls. Sometimes they cooked and prepared the food and cakes to be offered to the dolls. They drank Shirozake, a sweet mild rice wine, on the occasion. The main offerings are small cakes - hishi mochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) fruit-shaped candy, tiny white and red dainties of osekihan (glutinous rice boiled with red beans) and colored wheat gluten. (source below)
Rhomboid-shaped rice cakes and sweet rice wine are served as well. Other dolls also can be displayed together with the "Hina" dolls. The year is divided into 24 segments each having a specific seasonal message. March 3rd is called "the festival of peach blossoms." The display of the dolls lasts for about a month. On March 3rd, we enjoy "Chirashizushi" which consists of "sashimi" or fresh raw fish and other delicacies set on top of "sushi" rice in a bowl. source

Time for a Party

Here is a charming recipe booklet titled Time for a Party. The copyright date is 1940 by General Foods Corp. 2nd printing. The two main ingredients promoted in this advertising recipe book are Swan's Down Cake Flour and Calumet Baking Powder. The represented party ideas are introduced by doll like characters which darn the pages. Basically, this is a recipe book full of baking ideas for red letter days, birthdays, anniversaries, and treats throughout the seasons. (Much like Months of Edible Celebrations:) It's interesting to note, that this booklet is one of the many recipe pamphlets included in the Chef Louis Szathmary Collection of Culinary Arts. I have scanned a page from the booklet which includes a recipe for Quick Red Devil's Food Cake with variations. Below, you will find the recipes for the frostings included in the recipes in the scan. (click to enlarge) I did not include the recipe for Pineapple Fluff Frosting as I found the exact same recipe right here.


The Recipes

Mellow Chocolate Frosting
3 c. confectioners' sugar (sifted)
3 tbs. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
4-1/2 squares Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate melted
1/2 c. milk
Combine ingredients in order given in deep blowl, beating with rptary egg beater until blended. Place bowl in pan of cracked ice or ice water and continue beating until of the right consistency to spread. If necessary, add 1 too 2 tablespoons additional milk or cream. Makes enough frosting to cover top and sides of cake 10x10x2 inches or 13x9x2 inches, or tops and sides of (2) 9 inch layers. Use 1/2 recipe to frost tops of 2-1/2 dozen medium cupcakes. Note: If light cream is used instead of milk, it is not necessary to place bowl in cracked ice or ice water while beating the mixture.
Coffee Butter Frosting
2/3 cup butter
5 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)
5 tbs. coffee syrup (below)
Cream butter. Add part of sugar gradually, blending after each addition. Add remaining sugar, alternately with coffee syrup, until right consistency to spread. Beat after each addition until smooth. Makes enough frosting for 16 French pastries, or to cover tops and sides of (2) 9 inch layers. This is a rich frosting.
Coffee Syrup: For coffee syrup, bring to a boil 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon sugar; add 1/3 cup ground coffee and stir in quickly. Remove from fire, cover, and let stand in warm place 5 minutes. Strain from grounds through double thickness of cheesecloth.

Butterscotch Fudge Frosting
2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c. butter
1-1/4 c. granulated sugar
2/4 c. top milk (light cream)
1/2 c. water

Add brown sugar to butter and cook over low flame, stirring constantly, until mixture darkens slightly (about 5-6 minutes). Remove from fire and add granulated sugar, milk, and water. Return to fire and boil, without stirring, until small amount of mixture forms a very soft ball in cold water (232 degrees). Remove from fire. Cool to lukewarm (110 degrees); beat until of right consistency to spread. If necessary, place over hot water to keep soft while spreading. Makes enough frosting to cover tops and sides of (2) 9 inch layers, or tops of 3 dozen medium cup cakes.

Resources
  • 1. Hina Matsuri
  • 2. Celebrating Hina Matsuri
  • 3. Festival & Traditional Foods.
  • 4. Japanese Recipes
  • 5. Hina-Matsuri festivals as well as other Japanese recipes.