Day 312: Scraped Beef

Health care has changed and improved in many ways. My mother is currently in hospital experiencing all sorts of innovations that would not have been available in 1898. In Galt Ontario in 1898 people could receive care in the Galt Hospital but families also provided home care for long lasting diseases like tuberculosis or for minor illnesses and injuries. Cookbooks like The New Galt Cook Book (1898) include chapters called Cookery for the Sick. I thought I’d try another of these recipes tonight while I’m healthy enough to make it since some are time consuming and sort of gross. This time it is one called Scraped Beef contributed by Miss Wardlaw.

The first step was to take a piece of steak and scrape it. For some reason I find it hard to figure out the grain of meat but I gave it my best shot. I used a knife and scraped just enough (about 1 tablespoon) meat to make one patty since this recipe really doesn’t sound appealing to me. I got the frying pan hot and put a bit of butter in it and then shaped my beef “pulp” into a thin patty about the size of a toonie. I put it in the pan and fried it on one side and then turned it. I don’t like rare beef so I probably cooked it a bit longer than Miss Wardlaw intended. I’m glad I was allowed to season my patty with salt and pepper before tasting.

I suspect this sort of food was intended to help build up the patient — perhaps helping rebuild their stores of iron (something I need too). Blood transfusions really didn’t exist at this time. Part of the difficulty was the lack of blood typing. Many medical innovations occurred during the horrors of the First World War out of desperation. Here’s a link to general information about this idea and be warned some of the descriptions are very vivid.

Miss Wardlaw contributed a number of sick room recipes to this cook book but she also shared other recipes. I talked about Margaret “Maggie” Janet Wardlaw extensively on Day 281 when I made her Pickled Onions recipe. She was a nurse at the Galt Hospital and would have been very familiar with recipes like Scraped Beef.

Scraped Beef is a surprise. This is good! I wish I’d made another patty. Although this is basically ground beef the texture is much finer. There were no hard bits or strange stringy things which make eating ground beef an adventure for me. I have to set aside my imagination and just eat. However, a scraped beef patty is soft and tastes really good even before the salt and pepper.

Miss Wardlaw

Take a piece of beefsteak and scrape against the grain, form this pulp into rather thin patties. Have the frying-pan hot with a very small piece of butter in it just enough to keep the meat from sticking. Put in the meat, brown nicely, but do not have it overdone. Season with pepper and salt after removing from the fire and serve immediately.


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