Tag Archives: Potato Salad

Day 330 Potato Salad

Well, here we are at day 330. It’s been a while since I looked at the Salads section of The New Galt Cook Book (1898), probably because I tend to think of salads as a summer food. However, several of the salads in the cook book could be eaten anytime. The Potato Salad recipe I’m going to make tonight is such an example. The recipe was contributed by Mrs. Richard Jaffray and Mrs. Sylvester.

I have some potatoes already boiled so the first step is to slice them. Then I’m going to make the dressing so it has time to cool. However, I only have 3 potatoes so I’m going to cut this recipe. I beat1 egg and then sprinkled in some salt, pepper, sugar, and a dollop of prepared mustard. I poured a small amount of vinegar in and then some hot water. I cooked it until it was like custard before I added some cream. I set it aside to cool. I minced up a bit of onion and found some walnuts. I’m ready to put this all together. First I put some sliced potatoes in and then a bit of onion, dressing and potatoes and finally walnuts. I didn’t bother garnishing it with anything other than walnuts since I don’t like pickles or cucumbers. My cold place is the fridge. It is time to taste.

This is one of the recipes affected by the editors’ decision to eliminate duplicates for the 1898 edition of The Galt Cook Book. Therefore, it is attributed to two women. Mrs. Richard Jaffray and Mrs. Sylvester. Mary Havel (or Havill) was born in 1848 in Galt. Around 1870 she married Richard Jaffray and they had three daughters. He died the year this cookbook was published and Mary remained a widow for the rest of her life. She died in 1922.

Mrs. Sylvester is likely Charlotte “Lottie” Catherine Alma Reed was born in Bowmanville Ontario in 1854. She married George Perry Sylvester in 1977. He was an allopathic doctor and they had four daughters and possibly a son too. One of their daughters died when she was ten years old but the others grew up and married. George died in 1924 and Charlotte died in 1933,

My dressing was a bit odd but I like the addition of walnuts in my potato salad. It provides crunch and protein. Someday I’m going to try the dressing again and keep better track of the amounts I used. This salad would look nice in a glass bowl.

POTATO SALAD
Mrs. Richard Jaffray and Mrs. Sylvester

Take eight or ten potatoes, boiled, slice very thin, and have ready some blanched almonds or shelled walnuts (about a large half cupful), slice a piece of onion very fine or grate it. A salad dressing made of three eggs (well beaten), mustard, pepper, vinegar, sugar and salt to taste; stir in hot water until thick as custard, then add rich cream; put a layer of potatoes, just a sprinkle of onion, then dressing, then potatoes, then walnut, dressing until your dish is full; garnish with cucumber, pickle and walnuts, or nuts alone. Put on ice or in a very cold place until required.

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Day 71: Potato Salad

Yesterday was a nice above freezing day but today more snow fell, the wind blew and the temperature is dropping significantly so it seems a strange day to make Potato Salad. However, I thought we should thumb our noses at winter and pretend it is summer. In fact I think the recipe could work as a hot dish too. This recipe from The New Galt Cook Book (1898) was contributed by Mrs. W. T. Smith.

The first challenge with this recipe emerged when I tried to decide how many cold boiled potatoes I needed. Every other ingredient is very specific and yet this one is left up to the cook. I boiled three potatoes with the skins on and then left them to cool. The potatoes were a bit smaller than those used for baked potatoes but not by much. Once they were cool I chopped them fine and put them in a bowl. Since the recipe specifically mentioned cooking with the skins I decided to keep them on for the salad although I’m not sure that’s what was intended.

Next I prepared the other ingredients. I chopped one onion very fine. Again I wasn’t sure what size of onion to use but simply pulled one out of the onion bag and went to work on it. The prepared onion went into the bowl. Now for the browned butter. What is browned butter? I decided to try to create it since I’ve made it often enough by accident. I put two tablespoons of butter in a pan and turned the heat to medium low. I let the butter get just past that melting point and turned the heat up just a bit so that the butter began to turn brown. It seemed to work. Really watch it at this point to avoid burned butter. I poured the 2 tablespoons of brown butter in with the onions. I put 1/4 cup of vinegar on to warm in the same pan I’d used for the butter. I thought I might as well get as much of that nutty brown butter flavour as possible. Once it was warm I put it in with the other ingredients. The proportion of potatoes to the other ingredients seemed possible so I added some salt and pepper and mixed everything together before sampling.

Mrs. W. T. Smith is Annie Henderson. She was born in Waterloo County around 1835 and married William Thomas (W.T.) Smith. He was born in Scotland and seems to have been a bit unusual. He’s the first person connected to this cookbook whose religion is listed as agnostic. Annie remains a Wesleyan Methodist. Their first child was born in 1853 when Annie was 19 years old. I think she had eight to ten children in total, most of them boys. I’m not certain of the number of children since variations of some names appear with very different birth dates. In some family trees this means that the first child died and the name was reused in some form for another child. Sometimes a child is given one name that is used for a while and then they start using a middle name and of course census takers might make a mistake in listing the birth date. In 1871 William is listed as a school teacher in Blenheim but by 1881 he’s a merchant in Galt.  For a while they must have lived in Berlin (Kitchener) since it’s listed as the birthplace for a few of the children. The birth records of the children are a way to follow the family’s movements. One son Charles Alexander Smith was a photographer in Galt according to the 1881 census. By 1891 William is again listed as a Methodist and a retired teacher. Two of the sons Thomas and George are now running the business which seems to be a book and stationery store. Unfortunately 29-year-old George dies of consumption about a month after the census. Another son Elton died two years earlier at age 20 of “Bright’s disease of kidneys” according to his death certificate. In the 1901 census William is back to being an agnostic and at age 69 is listed as a truss maker!! Annie is sticking by Methodism and now son Thomas is a photographer a profession he is still following in 1911. By then William had died (1909) but Annie lived until she was 81 and died in 1915.

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

I like this potato salad although I’m not a big fan of raw onion. The vinegar could be a bit strong for some people but I found the amount suited the other ingredients. This is a very different potato salad from the usual mayonnaise based salad. This is healthier and probably safer on a hot summer day without the mayo. This recipe is great as written (well with some more details) but has tremendous potential for a modern cook to add personal touches such as some chopped fresh herbs or flavoured vinegar. Since it is actually winter I tried heating the potato salad and it was delicious. I can imagine it with fried onions instead of raw if eating it hot. I used potatoes with nice thin skins so leaving them on didn’t affect the salad negatively except perhaps in appearance. I like the “rustic” look of the salad. This recipe is a keeper.

POTATO SALAD
Mrs. W. T. Smith

Take cold potatoes (that have been boiled with the skins on), one onion, chip together very fine. Pour over this one-quarter of a cup of warm vinegar, two tablespoonfuls of browned butter, salt and pepper; mix a together thoroughly.

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