Monday, October 31, 2011

A Justly Earned Reputation for Grossness

I'm a bit fascinated by the idea of "indigestibility", which back in the day typically referred to fat content or greasiness.

For example, Aunt Jenny's cookbook contains numerous claims about how much more digestible Spry is than other shortenings on the market. Take the following passages:
"Fried foods crispier, tastier, and so digestible: But say, when it comes to fryin, I could tell as much as any of 'em! Since I been fryin' with Spry, you should see all the doughnuts, French fries, and fried chicken my husband, Calvin, stows away! And never a twinge of indigestion!"

"Mebbe I mentioned it before, but I want to say over again, so that everybody gets it, how easy to digest foods cooked with Spry are. Grandpa Briggs at the Old Soldiers' Home eats pies and doughnuts and fried foods aplenty. Mrs. Thompson, the matron, uses Spry for everythin'."

"And you'll notice such a difference with fried foods! Why folks are eatin' all they want since Spry came to town. Sleepin' like tops and feelin' real chipper, too. Fact is, foods fried proper in Spry are as digestible as if baked or boiled. Why even a child can eat 'em."
Apparently devoted hubby Calvin, old man Briggs, and even little Tommy are putting away fried stuff like there's no tomorrow. With nary a twinge.

Obviously, the concern about fried foods had more to do with what it does to the tum tum than what it puts around it.

But back to the Bacon and Cabbage.

In this recipe, I'm confused. Looks like you still cook the cabbage in the grease-saturated pot liquor, so it's not like the leaves walk away unbeglistened. In this recipe, you drain off as much of the stuff as you can, so maybe it was the pool of liquor floating with fat globules that turned the author off. If you drain it, merely a gleaming whiff of pork fat would remain on the leaves, which could perhaps be disregarded as you dig in to the bacon.


(And herein lies the mystery.)

Is it the cabbage itself that produces results described as indigestibility, the symptoms of which could be reduced by changing out the cooking water?

My solution, and undoubtedly Aunt Jenny's: do yourself a favor and just fry the cabbage in Spry. You'll justly earn a reputation for refinement.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

12 Eggs and a Glass Full of Brandy Means it's Time for Divorce. I Mean, Dessert.

Time for dessert!

First off, apologies for the skewed image. It's a book, after all. An old book. I don't want to press it too flat, nor get my fingers in the shot.

While I'm on the subject, apologies generally for the horrible photography in my blog. I'm no Pioneer Woman. It's true.

Back to the recipe.

Having recently wrapped up a very painful and drawn out divorce, I can't help but love love love (translate <3 <3 <3) the name of this recipe.

I so get it.

With luck, in time, I will view marriage in a more favorable light. I believe in it intellectually,10,000%. Maybe even a million percent.


Given where I am, so recently post-married that my flesh still stings and my emotions wince, the name of this cake is completely logical to me.

Not to mention the brandy. Though I would have included at least three wineglass fulls.

Better stock up on eggs.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tootsies and Jammies

Enough about seafood! Where's the beef?!?

Actually, I'm not sure this entry qualifies as beef. But I'll let you be the judge.

Here's the thing: I never realized that calf's foot jelly was jelly. I mean, I've heard of it before, and had the usual shivering "Eeeewwwwww" response that most of us do from our view in this latest millennium.

But I never realized that it was sweet. I'd pictured one of those 1960's aspic affairs, some sort of jellied consume upon which ladies lunched.

But no. This is sweet. Three cups of sugar sweet. (Or to taste. Depending on how sweet you like your cow toes.)

Pay close attention to the first step: clean the feet carefully.

Now I don't know much about raising cattle. But I'm imagining that cows don't exactly tip-toe around the pasture, trying to avoid the patties in their path. They may be smarter than sheep, but even the most cautious bovine must step in poo.


So I like that this is the first step. In case you are the same person who fell for the city eel of previous report.

Wash the darned feet. Carefully. Use an old toothbrush if you must.

I also like the image of the jelly filtering through an old pair of jammies, knotted around an overturned chair.


And while the recipe doesn't state it, you should probably wash those as well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dexterous Wrenches and Autumn Frolics

What better way to follow up on an eel post than to show you a page about oysters! Especially apropos on an autumn day such as this.

Helpful advice is, as usual, offered in abundance. For example, one should wash the oysters so as not to offend fastidious guests.

Your own "good man" will be truly heartened by your offering of this pearl of bivalves when he comes home on a wet night, cold, tired, and hungry.


Don't forget your bushel basket. Or your knife. or the pepper pot.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Country Eel Stew. You Know What it Tastes Like.

I love the earthy practicality of Common Sense in the Home. Here's another fine example:

Let's be honest: who hasn't been duped by one of those city slicker eel merchants? And who really has time to consider the diets of urban eels compared to those of more pastoral climes?

Poor Sigmund appears to be the victim of his own envy.

But I digress.

The advice is just so darned useful. For example, the suggestion about avoiding a three pound eel, despite the obvious draw.

(Three pounds is a big fella by anyone's reckoning.)

But I digress again.

So you start with a one pound country eel and THEN you add butter.

This affirms one of my culinary beliefs: add butter and anything tastes like chicken.

Stew that is.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lard Making 101: Practical Housewifery at it's Finest

This post is for my friend Carol Douglas, who appears to be in need of the recipe at just such a time as this.

It comes from the book Common Sense in the Household. It is copyrighted 1880 but was printed in 1903.

Just look; the poor thing is falling apart at the seams. Reminds me of what I saw in the mirror some mornings over the past year.

Unlike me, the cracks in this thing probably won't heal, no matter how much cosmeticological lard is spread on it.

Anyhoo, the book has been on my list for presentation to you, but I hadn't gotten around to it yet. Thanks for the prompting, Carol!

Here's your first taste of Practical Housewifery. Now you too can make your own lard.

Every housekeeper knows how unfit for really nice cooking is the pressed lard sold in stores as "best and cheapest." It is close and tough, melts slowly, and is sometimes diversified by fibrous lumps. And even when lard has been "tried out" by the usual process, it is often mixed with so much water as to remind us unpleasantly that it is bought by weight.

The best way of preparing the "leaf lard," as it is called, is to skin it carefully, wash, and let it drain; then put it, cut into bits, into a large, clean tin kettle or bucket, and set this in a pot of boiling water. Stir from time to time until it is melted; throw in a very little salt, to make the sediment settle; and when it is hot--(it should not boil fast at any time, but simmer gently until clear)--strain through a close cloth into jars. Do not squeeze the cloth so long as the clear fat will run through, and when you do, press the refuse into a different vessel, to be used for commoner purposes than the other.

Most of the lard in general use is, however, made from the fatty portions of pork lying next the skin of the hog, and are left for this purpose by the butcher. Scrape from the rind, and cut all into dice. Fill a large pot, putting in a teacupful of water to prevent scorching, and melt very slowly, stirring every few minutes. Simmer until there remains nothing of the meat but fibrous bits. Remove these carefully with a perforated skimmer; throw in a little salt, to settle the fat, and when it is clear strain through a fine cullender (sic), a sieve, or a coarse cloth. Tip the latter in boiling water, should it become clogged by the cooling lard. Observe the directions about squeezing the strainer. If your family is small, bear in mind that the lard keeps longer in small than large vessels. Set away the jars, closely covered, in a cool, dry cellar or store room.

In trying out lard, the chief danger is of burning. Simmer gently over a steady fire, and give it your whole attention until it is done. A moment's neglect will ruin all. Stir very often--almost constantly at the last--and from the bottom, until the salt is thrown in to settle it, when withdraw to a less hot part of the fire. Bladders tied over lard jars are the best protection; next to these, paper, and outside of this, cloths dipped in melted grease.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Aunt Jenny Gems: on boys and cookies

Just look at the face on this innocent little darling!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Aunt Jenny Gems: on boys and spoons

This little book is so full of gems that I think I'll just post a few pictures and let your mind do the rest.

Here's the first, wherein Jenny comments about her husband's love of spoon licking.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Oh, butter...

Butter rocks. It is the mayonnaise of the cow world.