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Day 365: Mock Duck and Potato Puff

Tonight is New Year’s Eve and the last day for my self-imposed commitment to cook every day in 2014 from The New Galt Cook Book, a local community cookbook published in 1898. This occasion requires some celebration food and yet my family isn’t exactly in a celebratory mood. I decided to make something that will be recognizable and comforting. Without conscious planning it is also a bit of a nod to the meal I made on Christmas Day. Tonight’s supper is Mock Duck and Potato Puff. The Mock Duck recipe doesn’t list a contributor but the Potato Puff was shared by two contributors — Mrs. Capron and Mrs. Webb of Waterloo.

Striploin steak pounded flat and ready for the next step.

Strip loin steak pounded flat and ready for the next step.

My tasters purchased a 300 gram strip loin steak so that I could make this mock duck recipe. There’s another recipe for mock duck in the cook book but it uses liver. This version sounded much more appealing and much closer to the mock duck both my grandmothers used to make. The first step was to prepare the meat. After opening the package I pounded the steak with a meat mallet to flatten and tenderize it.

Stuffing placed on the steak ready to roll.

Stuffing placed on the steak ready to roll.

I made a the stuffing/dressing from at least three slices of white bread. I tore the slices into small pieces and then seasoned with salt and pepper. Next I chopped a tablespoon of butter into bits to mix into the bread crumbs. I poured a dribble of milk into the bowl and mixed using my hands until everything was well blended. Finally I took the stuffing and patted it into place on the steak making sure the edges were clear.

Mock Duck ready for the oven.

Mock Duck ready for the oven.

I began rolling the stuffing-topped steak like a jelly roll and then tied it in three places with string. It looked very small to feed five people but I put it in a baking pan and popped it in the 350 F. oven for 1 hour. As instructed I basted it with pan juices about three times. Once the hour was up I removed the pan from the oven and let it rest while I finished up the rest of the meal.

Earlier I’d made some mashed potatoes and let them cool. I took 2 cups of the mashed potatoes and put them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of butter I’d melted. I stirred until the potatoes were very smooth and creamy. I beat 2 eggs in a bowl until they were light and then added 1 cup of cream with a few shakes of salt. When these liquids were well blended I mixed them into the potatoes. Should I grease the deep baking dish? I decided not to add anything except the potato mixture. I smoothed the top and put the Potato Puff in the oven at 400 F. while the meat rested.

I checked on the potato puff after 15 minutes and it was almost done. It was beginning to brown. I sliced the mock duck and placed them on a platter with some parsley sprigs. The top of the potato puff was a bit browner a few minutes later so it was time to sit down to our New Years Eve evening meal circa 1898. My tasters were eager.

Billiards Sporting Life Dec 28 1895Mrs. Capron and Mrs. Webb of Waterloo both contributed other recipes I prepared in 2014. I’m assuming they are Mrs. J. W. Capron of Galt and Mrs. J. H. Webb of Waterloo. Annie Fairweather (or Farnveather) Scott was born in Galt around 1855 to Scottish born parents John and Catherine. John was a marble dealer and Annie was one of approximately twelve children according to Waterloo Region Generations. She was 24 when she married 26-year-old Joseph Wolverton Capron from Paris Ontario in November 1879. He was a Congregationalist and she was Presbyterian. His occupation is listed as gentleman. and their first child Anna Gertrude was born in January 1880 in Goderich where Joseph was now a Billiard Room Keeper according to her birth record in Ancestry.ca. Their next child Josephine Catherine was born in March 1883 in Chatham Ontario where again Joseph is operating a billiards room.

CapronThe family must have moved to Paris Ontario by March 1886 since it is there that little Catherine Josephine died of a fever when she was three years old. They were in Galt by September 1887 when their last child Mary Austin was born. Joseph’s occupation again is listed as a gentleman. Although I can’t find the family in the 1891 census they must have remained in Galt since it is there that Annie (Mrs. Capron) died of stomach cancer in March 1895. This means that her recipe in the 1898 revised Galt Cook Book appeared after her death. By December 1895 Joseph is playing billiards professionally and his name appears in an American paper called Sporting Weekly.

Mrs. J. H. Webb's house in Waterloo. (Photo WPL)

Mrs. J. H. Webb’s house in Waterloo. (Photo WPL)

Mrs. J. H. Webb of Waterloo is Helen Buchanan. She was born in 1851 in Branchton to John and Isabella. Her father was a farmer and a teamster. In the 19th century a teamster was someone who drove a team of horses or oxen not a member of a specific union for truck drivers. Helen was twenty when she married Doctor Joseph Hughes Webb in March of 1872. He had been born in Newmarket Ontario and was a Quaker. He is eventually listed as a Presbyterian like Helen. They have two children. Their first daughter Clara Belle dies when she is seven hours old. The doctor was unable to figure out why she died. The next year they have another daughter and also name her Clara Belle. By 1881 the little family have moved from Wilmot Township to the Town of Waterloo. Here’s their house in 1906. Dr. Webb seems to have been a general practitioner as his name appears on both birth and death records in the community. It must have been risky for their daughter and Helen as he cared for patients with all sorts of communicable diseases. Helen didn’t die until 1935 when she was 85 years old.

Mock Duck ready to slice.

Mock Duck ready to slice.

Our New Years Eve meal turned out great. To accompany the mock duck and potato puff I served some plain cooked carrots. Mock Duck made using this recipe is wonderful. There was just enough meat for the five of us to each receive one slice. All my tasters really liked the mock duck including the two of us who are not keen on steak. It came out tender and slightly pink inside but with a nice browning on the outside. The stuffing was good too. This is an easy recipe to make since it requires little attention and looks nice when served. It makes a cut of meat go further and can probably be made with a cheaper steak. I didn’t have enough pan juices to make gravy so I served the mock duck slices with some leftover gravy from another meal. This recipe can time travel as it stands but has lots of potential for creative cooks today. The dressing can be enhanced and the meat seasoned in different ways, plus it can be cooked for a shorter time to appeal to those who like meat medium rare.

The Potato Puff is fine. Everyone liked it but it isn’t all that different from mashed potatoes. The bonus is that it uses leftover mashed potatoes — something that doesn’t reheat well in a world without microwave ovens. Making Potato Puff turned my somewhat lumpy mashed potatoes into a nice creamy version that had some extra calories and nutrition from the eggs. However, again I think this recipe could be transformed by a modern cook through changing the seasoning and cooking method. To help this recipe time travel to 2015 add some interesting seasonings perhaps simply some chopped chives, then bake in individual dishes to present with the rest of the meal.

Thank you for joining me on this daily journey through time. I hope you enjoyed exploring the food and lives of people connected to Galt Ontario in 1898.  Happy New Year to you all!

 

Slices of mock duck.

Slices of mock duck.

MOCK DUCK

Mock duck is a particularly nice dish for luncheon. For a family of four, select a beefsteak weighing three-quarters of a pound, and free from loose fat or stringy pieces. Mix bread crumbs with salt, pepper and a little butter; chopped very fine. Moisten slightly and spread over the steak, half an inch in thickness, but not extending to the edges. Roll like jelly-cake and tie in three or four places with string. Place it in the oven for an hour, basting frequently, and it will come out nicely browned. Cut in slices and serve on a platter garnished with sprigs of parsley.

 

Potato Puff fresh from the oven.

Potato Puff fresh from the oven.

POTATO PUFF
Mrs. Capron and Mrs. Webb, Waterloo

Take two cupfuls cold mashed potato, two eggs, butter,cream or milk; stir into the potato two tablespoonfuls melted butter, beating to a white cream before adding anything else. Put with this two eggs whipped very light and a teacupful of cream or milk, salting to taste. Beat all well, pour into a deep dish, and bake in quick oven until it is nicely browned. If properly mixed it will come out of the oven light, puffy and delectable.

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Day 342: Saratoga Chips

Ever have one of those days? I expect that it is a universal feeling every so often and probably occurred in 1898 too. How did women cope on those spilled and sour milk days? They couldn’t turn to take out food, a frozen meal, or even very many meals in a can. Pork and beans was one of the few canned convenience foods available. And convenient it would be since even today it is time-consuming to make from scratch. However, making potato chips seems hard today and yet the recipe for Saratoga Chips in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) sounds quite easy so I’m going to try it tonight. Hopefully I’ll get some nice chips out of it. The recipe was contributed by two women and since they must have given the same recipe to the first edition of the cook book, and this time it appears just once but with both their names attached. They are Mrs. Capron and Miss Andrich.

I pared one potato and then sliced it as thin as possible. I put the slices in a bowl of cold water. I couldn’t wait until they curled so I started heating the lard. I dried a few of the slices and then dropped them carefully in the hot fat. As they turned golden on one side I turned them to the other side. When both sides were golden or the edges were crisp I removed them and left them on the towel. I sprinkled a bit of salt on top and then it was time to taste.

Mrs. Capron is a bit of a mystery. I’ve tried the recipes of Mrs. J. W. Capron a few times and she is probably the same person. I made her Raisin Pie and Potato Rolls earlier this year.

Miss Andrich is possibly Rosie Andrich, daughter of Martin and Rachel Andrich. Rachel contributed recipes so it is likely that her daughter Rosa Lydia “Rosie” did too. Her other daughter Emma Marie is another possibility. Emma’s 17 in 1891 while Rosie is 22. Both young women were born in Galt. Emma married in 1899 and died in 1950 while Rosie was married in 1890. She turns up in her father’s household in the 1891 census along with her husband but someone must have forgotten and listed this newly married woman under her maiden name. It looks like the most likely contributor is Emma!

I couldn’t wait to taste my Saratoga Chips so they were very hot when I took my first bite. The very thin ones were nice and crisp. The thicker slices ended up more like a pan-fried potato. Both were very tasty. I’m not sure what they would be like if I’d waited for the raw slices to curl but I liked them just fine made my quick way. This really is close to convenience food especially if you are a speedy peeler of potatoes. This is also a good recipe to try if you are nervous about working with hot fat. It only takes a small amount. I had about an inch of liquid fat in my pot. I always keep my safety gear handy just in case of accident.

Apparently Saratoga Chips are named for the community in New York state and have been around since 1853 according to this website that is bringing back the name. There’s more about the history of the potato chip here. Whatever their history this recipe for Saratoga Chips can time travel easily to 2014.

SARATOGA CHIPS
Mrs. Capron and Miss Andrich

Pare and cut some potatoes very thin; put into a pail of ice-cold water, and let them stay until the ends curl up, then dry them with a towel, and cook them in hot lard until brown; sprinkle a little salt over them.

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Day 155: Raisin Pie

The father of one of my young co-workers has died suddenly and amid my shock and sorrow for her, is the sense of familiar rituals kicking into place. Growing up I knew that when someone died or was injured certain foods were called for, foods like casseroles and cookies. My family was in a bad car accident just before my 9th birthday and I ended up choosing my birthday cake from among the three that had been dropped off by caring relatives and neighbours. Many years ago when I worked in the Martin House at what is now Doon Heritage Village, I learned that Raisin Pie was also called funeral pie by Old Order Mennonites since it was commonly served after funerals. Tonight I’m making it using Mrs. J. W. Capron‘s recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) and thinking of all those who

Eby, Blain ad in the June 3, 1898 edition of the Canadian Grocer magazine.

Eby, Blain ad in the June 3, 1898 edition of the Canadian Grocer magazine.

I put 1 cup of raisins in a saucepan. Fortunately in 2014 I don’t have to stone (seed) them. I added 1 cup of white sugar, 3 cups water and 2 tablespoons of corn syrup. I wasn’t sure what sort of syrup to use. Should it be corn syrup, maple syrup or something else? I also wasn’t sure whether my regular granulated sugar would be much different from coffee sugar. Apparently coffee sugar has larger crystals and is more golden than white in colour. While this mixture was boiling I started making the crust. First I mixed  the 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup lard together and then I added 1 cup flour. I make terrible pastry so I’m worried about trying to roll this. I know I shouldn’t over work the dough or else the pastry will be tough. I decided to simply press the dough into the pie plate.

After half an hour I started keeping a very close eye on the raisin mixture boiling away on the stove. The liquid was decreasing rapidly so I wanted to make sure it didn’t all boil away or even burn. I mixed up the 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour with some vinegar ready to add to the raisins. I decided to add it before the hour was up since there was very little liquid left. It thickened a bit more and I poured it all into the pastry. It seems to be just the right amount for the one pie.  I baked the pie at 350 for 25 minutes. The crust was just golden and the raisins were bubbling and starting to crisp up on the top. It was definitely time to remove it from the oven and taste (once it cooled a bit).

Mrs. J. W. Capron is hard to find. A 1889 Ontario business directory lists a tobacconist  J. W. Capron in Galt. I finally found Joseph Wolverton Capron. He married Annie F. Scott in 1879 in Galt. She had been born in Galt in 1857 to Catherine and John Scott. Annie and Joseph had three daughters. Sadly calling Raisin Pie funeral pie is appropriate in this case. The middle daughter died at age three of a fever. Unfortunately Annie died in 1895 of stomach cancer. Joseph moved to the United States in 1896 — quite the change of scene after his wife’s death. He became a professional billiards player.

Raisin Pie is sticky sweet and you better like raisins if you make it. Although it makes a small pie, you don’t need very much to be satisfied. I enjoyed it since it is reminiscent of butter tarts. If I made it again I would use maple syrup to add even more flavour. Although I had trouble making the pastry I like it too and I’m not usually a fan of pie crust. This is an old style pie that probably isn’t going to be a favourite in the 21st century but if you want a taste of the pie this is traditional and not too hard to make.

RAISIN PIE
Mrs. J. W. Capron

One cupful raisins (stoned), one cupful coffee sugar, three cupfuls water, two tablespoonfuls syrup. Boil all together for one hour, and thicken with one and a half tablespoonfuls of flour mixed smooth with a little good vinegar. Crust for one pie. — One cupful sifted flour, one-quarter cupful butter, one-quarter cupful lard, one-quarter cupful water.

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Day 64: Potato Rolls

I thought I should take a look at the Vegetable section of the 1898 New Galt Cook Book again. I still had some potatoes I’d purchased a few weeks ago at the Kitchener Market so I considered the various potato recipes. I finally settled on an interesting recipe called Potato Rolls. It’s the contribution of Mrs. Capron to this community cook book.

I pared six medium-sized potatoes in hopes that would equal five large potatoes. Size is such a difficult thing to gauge particularly over time. Are my potatoes average size or smaller or larger than average?  They were grown locally and are a basic white potato. They are not a modern variety such as Yukon Gold so my hope is that I’m dealing with something close to the type used by Mrs. Capron. I cut the potatoes into chunks and put them in a pot covered with water. I turned the heat up and put the lid on the pot. I let them boil for twenty minutes. Once they were nice and soft I drained them and used a potato masher to mash them in the pot. I added 1 cup of all-purpose flour and started mixing. I shook the salt shaker over it all and poured in slightly less than 1 cup of milk. I beat it smooth with a wooden spoon and then added another 2 cups of flour. After the last few recipes turned out heavy due to the amount of flour added, I have grown cautious. At this point I couldn’t imagine adding another cup so I started to make the dough into rolls. I took a couple of tablespoons of dough and made it into a ball. I placed the balls on a cookie sheet. I’d made six when I decided to try adding another cup of flour. I discovered I could mix it in with my hands and then I was ready to make some more rolls. These I flattened just a little so that I can tell the two types apart. I left them sitting for two hours before baking in the oven.

Two sizes and flour amounts for potato rolls

Two sizes and flour amounts for potato rolls

Recipes like this are a challenge. They appear straightforward until near the end of the recipe. How big are the rolls? Cover them or not while they sit? How hot is the oven when they bake? How long do they bake? I decided to make them somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball in size. I didn’t cover them as they rested. I baked them at 350 F mainly because they seemed denser than a tea biscuit which needs a hot oven. I started checking them after 10 minutes but they needed much longer. After 25 minutes the bottoms were browned and the tops were becoming firm. When I broke one open it seemed baked on the inside. I removed the pan from the oven and took one of each type of roll to sample. I split them and put a bit of butter in between before taking a bite.

Mrs. Capron could be Anna F. Scott daughter of John Scott and Catherine Smith. She was born in Galt in 1857 and married Joseph Wolverton Capron in 1879. They had three daughters Anna Gertrude, Catherine Josephine and Mary Austin. They lived in Galt for a while and then moved to Chatham before returning to Galt. Unfortunately this family didn’t fare too well. Little Josephine died shortly after her third birthday in 1886. She had experienced ten days of a “remittent fever”. Apparently this term was common in the 19th century but doesn’t signify a particular disease. It just means a fever that fluctuates but never returns to normal. Further description of this medical term can be found at this site. Mrs. Anna Scott Capron died of stomach cancer in 1895 when she was just 38 years old. The next year Joseph moved with their youngest daughter to Chicago in the United States. The oldest daughter joined them in 1900. Apparently Joseph was a professional billiard player! I discovered his name in a billiard magazine. It appears on page 9. He lost the Canadian championship to George Sutton in 1893.  He’s mentioned again in a 1915 article in The New York Times. He died in Chicago in 1935 but is buried in Galt.

Potato Rolls

Potato Rolls

I am very curious to eat these rolls. The raw dough tasted of potato so I’m expecting the rolls to have it too. If this recipe turns out it will be a good one for anyone avoiding yeast or other leavens. My verdict?  I like these rolls — I ate four! This is not a typical bread roll. It is more like the potato breads of Ireland and Scotland although they tend to be flat breads baked on a griddle. I think this recipe has potential for modern cooks. A few herbs added to the dough would make it very interesting. However, this is not a vegetable recipe! It belongs in the bread section.

POTATO ROLLS
Mrs. Capron

Five large potatoes mashed while warm; add one quart of flour, salt to season, one teacupful milk; stir until light; make into rolls; let stand two hours, then bake.

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