Monthly Archives: January 2014

Day 31: Celery Vinegar

Tonight was a reminder that life is full of surprises. I am writing this just before midnight. We had an exhibit opening tonight at the museum where I work and when I came out to the parking lot to head home I found a note on the windshield of my rental car letting me know I had a flat tire. I am grateful to this anonymous person since I was able to get help from my wonderful coworkers in getting the tire changed. I arrived home to find another surprise. My mailbox contained a package from my sister to celebrate one month with this blog. She sent me an apron that says Galt Cookbook 1898 on it!  Now what to prepare in the half an hour before midnight. I decided to try something that sounds easy and that will add to the “store cupboard”. I’m making a half batch of Celery Vinegar using an anonymous recipe in the 1898 New Galt Cook Book.

Since I’m cutting the recipe in half, I put one cup of white vinegar in a pot to heat while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. I weighed some celery and cut five ounces into small pieces. I needed 1/4 pound of celery seed but I didn’t have quite that much. I put both the celery seed and chopped celery in a jar. I added half a teaspoon of salt and then poured the hot vinegar over everything. I covered the jar and gave it a good shake to mix. The vinegar really doesn’t cover all the celery. I’m not sure if I was supposed to use both celery seed and celery. The recipe isn’t very clear. I wonder if it was supposed to say celery seed OR fresh celery. I think there would be a difference in the end result. I did taste my combined version even though I need to wait one month for the final tasting.

There is a distinct celery flavour to the vinegar even after a few minutes of steeping. I’m not sure how I’ll use the vinegar in a month but it is an interesting item. Is it for salad dressings? Would it be used in marinating meat? It appears in the drinks section of the cook book but I can’t imagine using it in a drink. Have you made celery vinegar? How do you use it?

CELERY VINEGAR
One-half pound celery seed, ten ounces fresh celery, one pint vinegar, one teaspoonful salt. If the fresh celery is chosen use only the white tender part. Cut it into very small pieces, place it in a fruit jar and pour over it the vinegar scalding hot, add the salt. Cover tightly, and when it has stood one month strain the vinegar, put it in small bottles and cork tightly.

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Day 30: Orange Creams

I just arrived home after seeing all sorts of former colleagues. It was a great retirement party but it was a long drive. I wanted to find a recipe that was easy but a bit celebratory. Hopefully Orange Creams will fit this requirement. The recipe was contributed to the 1898 New Galt Cook Book by Miss Harvey of Woodstock and appears in the Candy section.

Bowl of Orange Cream base.

Bowl of Orange Cream base.

I washed a medium-sized orange and grated the zest – the outside orange part of the skin. I cut the orange in half and used my glass juicer to squeeze out the orange juice. Note that this is not an electric appliance. It is simply a glass dish with an area to put half an orange and rotate it back and forth to squeeze the juice. My juicer is exactly the same design available in the 1890s. This was a particularly juicy orange but it smelled great. I started adding one cup of icing sugar at a time and stirring. I soon realized I needed to sift the icing sugar to eliminate lumps. After two cups of icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar, powdered sugar) I had a nice icing but the recipe specifically mentions moulding the cream. I added another cup of icing sugar and it was getting closer but still too sticky. Half a cup of icing sugar was all that was needed to take the sticky stuff and make it something that could be shaped. In total I added 3 1/2 cups of icing sugar. I took bits of the cream in my fingers and made small balls. I placed the shaped cream on a piece of wax paper. I imagine that it will harden a bit over night. I could not resist tasting one.

Miss Harvey of Woodstock might be Ev L Harvey. The 1901 census shows her as a single 38-year-old woman living in the home of her married sister Margaret Caldbeck (another recipe contributor) and her brother-in-law George Caldbeck. George was a dry goods merchant in Woodstock. I haven’t been able to find out anything more about her including whether Ev L was the census takers abbreviation of Evelyn or some other name.

Orange Creams drying

Orange Creams drying

Wow! Orange Creams are wonderful. Very sweet but with a true orange flavour. This will make a good centre for home-made chocolates or to insert into pitted dates. There are probably other uses that I haven’t discovered. This quick and easy recipe is a keeper. I’ll report the condition of my orange creams in the morning.

ORANGE CREAMS
Miss Harvey, Woodstock

The grated rind and juice of one orange, to this add enough icing sugar to mould.

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Day 29: Dessert for the Sick

I am not sick but I am staying in a hotel tonight. I’m travelling to get to the retirement party of a former boss. The highway has been closed due to an accident and rather than take the detour I decided to stay in a hotel here. This has restricted my cooking for tonight. I selected Dessert for the Sick since I could make it in my room — there’s a microwave and a fridge. Miss Gibson contributed the recipe to The New Galt Cook Book (1898).

Dessert for the Sick

Dessert for the Sick

I buttered some soda crackers and then moved to preparing the milk. I wasn’t very successful in warming the milk. I don’t like warm milk so I didn’t mind that it was cold. I poured some on the crackers, sprinkled with sugar, and dotted with jam. This doesn’t look or sound appetizing.

Miss Gibson might be Elizabeth Gibson. In the 1891 census she is single, 30 years old and her occupation is listed as matron. Below her are two women listed as nurses. This led me to believe she might be connected to the local hospital. The Cambridge Memorial Hospital has a great deal to say about Miss Elizabeth Gibson! A special fund with its own webpage has been named in her honour. She was the first superintendent of the Galt Hospital. According to the website, the tragic death of her eldest sister  led her to nursing. She studied in Toronto and helped shape the Galt Hospital. She resigned her post in 1895 to care for her father. Elizabeth Gibson died in 1945. In 2002 she was inducted into the Cambridge Hall of Fame.

Close up of Dessert for the Sick

Close up of Dessert for the Sick

After writing the recipe below I realized that perhaps I was supposed to use something more like a tea biscuit for this recipe. This is the problem of language. I saw soda biscuit and thought soda cracker. Either way this Dessert for the Sick reflects Miss Gibson’s medical background. Although today this might not sound or even look appealing it was quite common to consume warm milk and the jelly would make this a bit of a treat. In preparing the recipe I rediscovered my long ago love of buttered crackers. They even taste good sprinkled with sugar. As I mentioned I am not a fan of warm milk unless it becomes hot chocolate. I also don’t like soggy bread. However, if you get past all that this isn’t too bad. I didn’t wait for the crackers to become soggy and used cool milk. This might appeal to some sick people … especially if they are tired of pudding or gelatine in the hospital. I’ll stick to the buttered saltines with a bit of jelly. That’s a perfect treat for me in my hotel room.

DESSERT FOR THE SICK
Miss Gibson

Take a couple of soda biscuits, buttered lightly, pour over them hot milk or hot thin cream. Sprinkle over them a little sugar and decorate with lumps of jelly.

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Day 28: Baked Bananas

I happened to see red bananas at the grocery store on the weekend. I remembered this recipe and decided to buy a few. I realized I should use them soon so tonight I’m making Baked Bananas using a recipe contributed by Mrs. James Trotter for The New Galt Cook Book (1898).

Red & Yellow Bananas

Red & Yellow Bananas

I discovered that my red bananas were smaller than the typical yellow banana in my fruit bowl. I’m not sure if they qualify as large but I’m going to use them. It turns out that the skin is difficult to peel on a red banana. I ended up using a knife to slice off the side of the banana and then I was able to work my fingers around to loosen the skin. I wondered how they compared to yellow bananas so I decided to use the same method on the typical type.

Bananas ready for sugaring and baking

Bananas ready for sugaring and baking

I put the two red bananas and one yellow banana in a baking pan and sprinkled white granulated sugar on them. I wasn’t sure about quantity so my poor bananas were quite covered in sugar. I put the pan in a preheated 350 F oven for 30 minutes. I can’t wait to see what they look like and to taste them. I have a bit of wine left from Saturday’s dinner so I’ll put it on before serving.

At twenty-two Marion C. Henderson married twenty-five year old James W. Trotter soon after Canadian Confederation. The couple’s wedding day was July 11, 1867 in Dumfries Township.  Marion was born in 1845 in Berlin Ontario but James was originally from Ohio in the USA. Soon after their marriage they moved to Galt Ontario where James was a watchmaker. In 1871 the household included James and Marion but also their two little boys William (3) and Archibald (7 months) and Marion’s 10 year old sister Bella. This Scots Presbyterian family employed a 22 year old German Methodist named Mary Simmer as a servant. By 1881 James is listed as a jeweller and they have seven children. James’ mother as well as Marion’s sister are living with them. They continue to have various family members and servants in the home. However, in 1903, the youngest daughter dies of consumption when she is 17. A few months later Marion (Mrs. James Trotter) dies at age 58 of a lung disease.

Baked Red Banana with red wine.

Baked Red Banana with red wine.

Baked Red & Yellow Bananas

Baked Red & Yellow Bananas

I was looking forward to my first taste of this version of baked bananas. Unfortunately, they were a bit of a disappointment. The red bananas were quite hard and not at all sweet  even with sugar and wine on top. The yellow banana was very sweet but mushy. This way of preparing baked bananas might work better with firmer yellow bananas. Perhaps my red bananas were not ripe enough. I have a few more of them so I’ll see if they become softer with age.

BAKED BANANAS
Mrs. James Trotter

Select large red bananas, strip off one section of the skin, loosen the remaining, place it in a baking pan the uncovered side up, sprinkle with granulated sugar, and bake in a moderate oven for thirty minutes. If you use wine put one tablespoonful over each banana and serve in shells.

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Day 27: Mutton Broth

Today I’m going to make another soup from The New Galt Cook Book (1898). Although the recipe is Mutton Broth, it does say to use either mutton or lamb. I still have some lamb left from Saturday night so I’m going to use it for this soup. This also helps solve my difficulty in finding mutton. The lamb was cooked quite rare so it should work well. The contributor of this recipe is known only by the initials N. Y. T.

I cut up the pound of lamb into small pieces and put it in a pot and covered it with cold water. I didn’t have quite a quart since my pot was a bit small. I’ll add more as it cooks down. I think the lid fits tightly. I put 1 tablespoon of pearl barley in a bowl and added 6 tablespoons of warm water. Again I’ll check on it later to see if it needs more. Half an hour later  the barley was fine but I added some more water to the soup pot. It is getting late so I went to take out the meat and continue with the rest of the soup. Unfortunately it had boiled dry and I’d managed to burn some of the meat so I couldn’t even add water to get a little broth!

The contributor must remain a mystery and so must the soup at least for now. I tasted a bit of the unburnt (but crispy) meat and it was okay. However, I wasn’t looking forward to the soup. Milky broth did not sound appealing. I suppose I must try again another day but for now I’ll enjoy Saturday’s Scotch Broth.

MUTTON BROTH
N.Y.T.

For mutton broth use one pound lean mutton or lamb cut small; one quart water — cold; one tablespoonful rice, or barley, soaked in a very little warm water; four tablespoonfuls milk; salt and pepper, with a little chopped parsley. Boil the meat, unsalted, in the water, keeping it closely covered, until it falls to pieces.Strain it out, skim, add the soaked barley or rice; simmer half an hour, stirring often; stir in the seasoning and the milk, and simmer five minutes after it heats up well, taking care it does not burn. Serve hot, with cream crackers.

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Day 26: Loaf Cake

I need to do something with the leftovers from yesterday’s Burns supper but finally settled on making a simple cake instead. I selected Mrs. John McDougall of Berlin’s Loaf Cake as today’s recipe from the 1898 New Galt Cook Book.

Loaf Cake

Loaf Cake

This recipe lacks some basic directions. I followed it more or less as written which was a mistake. I tried mixing the dry ingredients first and then adding the eggs, milk and butter. I should have creamed the butter and sugar first and then added the eggs and milk followed by the rest of the dry ingredients mixed together. I’m curious to see how it turns out with my method. I really should have read the general directions at the beginning of the Cake section of the cook book. I’ve decided to include them below for future reference. I was able to get the batter reasonably well blended but there were still lumps of butter. I considered using my wonderful electric mixer but decided to stay true to 1898. This is the sort of mistake an 1890s woman new to cooking might make too. I poured my lumpy batter into a greased loaf pan and set it in the preheated 350 F oven. I quickly had a change of mind and decided to reduce the temperature to 325 F since I realized that it would be better to have long slow baking for a loaf cake. I checked the cake at the 30 minute mark. It was not close to ready so I left it for another 30 minutes before removing the cake from the oven. I let it cool slightly before cutting a slice.

The 1891 census shows a John and Mary McDougall living in Berlin Ontario. Berlin today is called Kitchener. John was born in Scotland around 1836 and 52 year old Mary was born in Ontario but her parents were from the United States. The couple have two young adult children Agnes (26) and Alexander (24), and the household includes Mary Simpson a 22 year old maid,  and a 35 year old female lodger named Mary Glick. John is the Clerk of the County Court and Alexander is a ticket agent. Through an internet search I discovered a little booklet from 1905 that shows John McDougall is the president of the Berlin Lawn Bowling Club.

Slice of Loaf Cake

Slice of Loaf Cake

Loaf cake is very good. It would be even better mixed properly and baked in two pans. It seems similar to pound cake in taste and texture. This is a good thing since I like that type of cake. Although Mrs. John McDougall’s recipe needs some work the end result can certainly time travel into the 21st century.

LOAF CAKE
Mrs. John McDougall, Berlin

Two cupfuls sugar, one cupful butter, three eggs, one cupful milk, one cupful corn starch, two cupfuls flour, two teaspoonfuls Cleveland’s baking powder. Beat all well together.

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Day 25: A Robbie Burns Supper — Scotch Broth, Oat Cakes, Beet Salad, Boiled Turnips and Ginger Drops

Tonight I had some friends over for a spontaneous celebration of Robert Burns. I created an entire Scots meal using recipes from The New Galt Cook Book (1898). First up was Scotch Broth using Mrs. James Young‘s recipe on page 10. My guests included two vegetarians so I served a second vegetarian version of my own creation. I decided to serve Oat Cake with the soup and Mrs. Quarrie‘s recipe on page 281 was vegetarian friendly. I wasn’t able to get the traditional haggis or the ingredients to make one. Instead I served roast lamb with traditional mashed potatoes. The cook book mentions mashed potatoes so many times I knew they were suitable. Mutton is mentioned several times in the cook book and so are roasts so I felt we were still in 1898 with those two additions. The main course also included Boiled Turnips from an anonymous recipe on page 114 and Beet Salad using Mrs. Caldbeck of Woodstock’s recipe from page 127. This seemed suitable as one of my guests works in Woodstock. We finished the meal with the Scotch Bun I made yesterday and some Ginger Drops I made using Miss McNaught‘s recipe on page 362.

I’ve talked about Miss McNaught in an earlier post. She was one of the editors of the cook book. Mrs. James Young is her sister. George and Mary Quarrie lived in Galt Ontario and had a young daughter at the time of the 1891 census. George was the assistant post master in the 1901 census. George and Margaret Caldbeck lived in Woodstock for many years. They had a dressmaking business on Dundas Street.

Beef Shank ready to boil.

Beef Shank ready to boil.

I bought two pounds of beef shank and assorted vegetables at the Kitchener market this morning. I put the meat in a large pot along with 1/2 cup of pearl barley. I wasn’t sure if the pearl barley was the right type but I had seen it mentioned in other recipes. I poured in enough cold water to cover and left it to boil. It soon became clear I was going to have to add more water every so often. The recipe doesn’t mention this so perhaps Mrs. Young’s pot had a tighter fitting lid! I went out and shovelled snow in hopes of creating parking for guests. This would not have been an issue in 1898 as guests probably came by horse and sleigh, or walked.

As the two-hour mark approached, I started preparing the vegetables. I cut a cabbage in half and chopped it into fine pieces. I peeled three carrots and cut them into small bits. I thought one entire bunch of celery seemed like a huge amount so I cut up five stalks instead. I chopped up some parsley and I added a handful to the soup along with all the chopped veggies. I topped it up with water again and left it to boil again. Since I was entertaining two vegetarians among my guests I created a second veggie version of the soup without the beef. I simply put the same proportion of vegetables in a pot with barley and covered it with water. I let it boil the same length of time. Just before serving I seasoned both soups with salt and pepper and a bit more chopped parsley.

Beets Cooking

Beets Cooking

Once the soup was bubbling away, I put a pot of beets on to cook so that I could make Beet Salad later. Then I started mixing up the Oat Cakes. I measured out five cups of rolled oats and 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour in a large bowl. I mixed them together and then added 1/2 cup butter in small pieces. I added 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt and mixed well. Then I poured in 1 1/2 cups of milk. It was time to mix. I found mixing by hand worked best. I put some flour on a board and rolled a small amount of the dough. I ended up cutting the rolled dough into two-inch squares. I put them on a greased baking sheet and popped them in the oven. I decided to try a 350 F oven for 8 minutes and it seemed to work. I only did one pan for tonight’s supper and it was enough. However, I have plenty of dough left to make more when I get energetic.

I wanted to make an another dessert in case the Scotch Bun from yesterday was awful. I decided to try making Ginger Drops. This is a challenging recipe as the ingredients are not written in the order of use. First I melted one cup of butter in a saucepan and then added one cup of white sugar. Once they were boiling I realized I didn’t know if I was to add the rest of the things to the pot and keep cooking or remove from the heat. I decided to remove the pot from the heat and added the one cup of molasses. I was running out of room in the pot so I put the three cups of flour in a bowl. I added the spices and baking soda to the flour and mixed. I poured the hot mixture in and stirred. Next I added the milk and eggs and mixed well. I had a very liquid cookie “dough”. I buttered two cookie sheets and tried to drop the dough. I wasn’t sure what size to make. I kept them small but they were spreading out on the pan. I accidentally baked the cookies at 350 instead of 400 F. I let them bake for 10 minutes and checked. They had spread significantly but seemed baked so I took them out. Even after cooking they were challenging to remove from the pans. Again I have lots of batter/dough left and will try again.

It was now time to start making the main course. I bought a boneless leg of lamb at the grocery store and put it in a roasting pan. I followed the directions on the package which were much the same as directions for roasts in the cookbook. I also peeled and boiled some potatoes. Once they were on the go, I started preparing the Boiled Turnips. It is important to know that there is a difference between turnips and rutabagas. Turnips have a thinner skin, white flesh and often a purplish top. Rutabagas are often waxed to keep longer, have a yellowish flesh and a thicker skin. Turnips tend to have a milder flavour compared to the more robust rutabaga. I peeled some turnips and cut them in chunks. Once in a saucepan, I covered the turnip pieces with cold water. I let them boil and once soft I drained the water, mashed them and seasoned with butter, salt and pepper before serving.

While the main was cooking, I finished off the Beet Salad. I peeled the cooked beets and chopped them finely until I had four cups (one quart). Next I chopped cabbage to make two cups (one pint) and did the same for the celery. I mixed the beets, celery, and cabbage in a bowl and then added two cups of white sugar. This seemed like a huge amount of sugar but I decided to risk it. Next I added 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper. I had an actual root of horseradish but since I was pressed for time I used prepared horseradish. I have grated horseradish before and it was unforgettable. It is worse than chopping onions! One cup of horseradish also seemed like a large amount but I decided to follow the recipe exactly. Once everything was well mixed, I poured white vinegar over until it was almost covered. Then I ran out of vinegar so I switched to cider vinegar. I covered the bowl and set it aside until supper time.

It was now time to serve, sample, and discuss the meal. First up was the Scotch Broth and Oat Cake. Both were a hit. My vegetarians liked my adaptation and the carnivores loved the 1898 version from The New Galt Cook Book. One guest grew up with the Campbell soup variety just like me and this was the first time he’d eaten a home-made version. He declared it even better and had seconds. I agree that this is a very very good soup. Consider making it on a cold winter afternoon. It gives you an excuse to stay in the house but it doesn’t require a lot of attention. Chopping the veggies is a little time-consuming so a modern cook could speed things up with a processor or food chopper. The end result is a thick soup that fills you up.

The Oat Cake was not my favourite but everyone else liked them. They did go well with the soup and the size was just right for this use. Think Wheat Thins crackers but with oatmeal. If you don’t mind getting your hands gloopy, and enjoy using a rolling-pin then these could be worth your time. You control the ingredients, the size, and thickness.

One of the biggest surprises was the Boiled Turnip. Most people had not had real turnip before and turned out to like it! My lesson differentiating rutabagas and turnips was well received too. From an aesthetic standpoint having white mashed turnip and white mashed potatoes on the same plate looks weird but it is very traditional. The flavour and texture are different and my guests didn’t seem to mind. I like both turnip and rutabaga but for this supper the Boiled Turnip was just right. It seemed to suit the roast lamb. I have never cooked lamb before tonight and rarely eaten it. I tried to cook it to medium but ended up with rare. This was the first time for lamb for one of my guests and she liked it. I didn’t serve it with mint jelly — a popular accompaniment today.

The Beet Salad was terrific! Everyone really liked it. The kick from the horseradish was just right. It might have been too much if I’d used freshly grated horseradish or an unopened jar. If you want to try making this beet salad, I suggest sampling before adding the full amount of horseradish just to make sure it will suit you. And I do recommend making Mrs. Caldbeck’s beet salad. It is refreshing and would go well with other meats. It is a perfect winter salad and will keep. I’m curious what it will be like in a few days.

Finally we tackled dessert. The Scotch Bun was good but you need to be a fruit cake fan to really appreciate it. Everyone politely ate their piece but only two of us opted to have seconds. One person asked if there was alcohol in it but it is temperate. It does have a kick  … but it comes from the pepper and ginger.

Sadly the Ginger Drops were a disappointment. They are soft and yet hard to remove from the pan. One person said they looked like pancakes. Even the ginger flavour was a bit wimpy. The dough tastes good but they just aren’t worth the trouble.

To quote Robert Burns, “The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast, The joyless winter day” often suits my mood at this time of year so it was wonderful to have a chance to visit with friends over a meal. A good time was had by all who made it to my 1898 version of a Burns supper. I thank my guests for being my guinea pigs and tasters as I tried so many new recipes today. At least a few of the recipes are keepers and can time travel into the 21st century. My next special supper will have to wait for spring so that guests don’t have to deal with snow related challenges.

SCOTCH BROTH
Mrs. James Young

A shank of beef, a half cup barley, two slices onion, half a cabbage, three carrots, one head of celery, a little parsley, pepper and salt. Cover the beef with cold water, add barley, onions, and skim well when coming to the boil. Two hours before serving, add the vegetables all chopped fine. Skim the fat from the broth before serving; add pepper and salt to taste. This soup requires four hours to boil properly.

OAT CAKE
Mrs. Quarrie

Five cupfuls meal, one and a half cupfuls flour, half cupful butter, one and a half cupfuls of milk, one and a half teaspoonfuls soda, one teaspoonful sugar, salt. Roll out thin with mixed flour and meal.

BOILED TURNIP

Turnips should always be pared, and boiled from forty minutes to one hour. Season with pepper, butter, salt, and mash fine.

BEET SALAD
Mrs. Caldbeck, Woodstock

One quart of boiled beets chopped fine, one pint of celery chopped fine, one pint of raw cabbage chopped fine, two cupfuls of sugar, one tablespoonful of salt, one teaspoonful of black pepper, one-fourth teaspoonful of red pepper, one cupful of grated horse-radish; cover with cold vinegar and keep from the air.

GINGER DROPS
Miss McNaught

One cupful molasses, one cupful sugar,one cupful butter, one teaspoonful black pepper, one teaspoonful ginger, one teaspoonful cinnamon, one teaspoonful soda, a little nutmeg, two eggs, quarter cupful of milk three cupfuls of flour. Boil the butter and sugar together and add the other things. Drop on a buttered pan and bake in a quick oven.

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Filed under Cookies, Salads, Scones, Soups, Uncategorized, Vegetables