Main dish


Pork Sausage and apples is a period concoction; pies are too, and putting anything in a pie goes back to the Middle Ages. I didn’t have any blackbirds to bake in a pie for the last muster but this seemed to satisfy.

Several members asked me for the recipe and as I didn’t have one, you’ll have to be indulgent as to quantities of ingredients. I’ll start with the crust . For meat pies, I like a lard crust. While flaky, they hold up better to the moisture and are substantial .

Pie crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  •  23 cup lard (or Crisco if you’d rather)
  • 5 -7 tablespoons cold water. I actually use vodka which I store in the freezer. it’s colder than water and the alcohol evaporates when baked.

Directions

  1. Put flour into a mixing bowl with the lard or shortning
  2. Using a pastry cutter or your floured fingers, cut the lard into the flour until it’s very crumbly.
  3. add salt and water.
  4. Mix until dough is formed.
  5. Roll out on flat surface.

I made the crust at home , rolled it out and on waxed paper and brought it with me. Since I made 2 pies, I did two batches which made 4 – 9 inch crusts. I put 2 of them  in pie pans and set aside while I made the filling.

Filling:

  • 2 lbs homemade lean pork sausage (or any kind you want)
  • 2 medium sized sweet onions, chopped fine
  • 1 medium red pepper, 1 small  green pepper, chopped fine
  • 6 medium apples (I used Macintosh but half whatever apple you have AND  half Granny Smith would be great.), peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb divided, grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 tablespoon + of flour (maybe more)
  • 1 egg scrambled
  • 1/4 organic apple vinegar
  • 1/4 cup + Stevia (If it weren’t for my diabetic friends, I’d use dark brown sugar)

Directions:

  1. In a skillet, Crumble the sausage and brown it. Remove after it’s done and set aside.
  2. Deglaze with a little bit of vinegar. Then melt butter, add the onions and peppers and fry until semi soft and the onions are golden. Ad the apples and cook down a little.
  3. Add the sausage back to the pan and mix with the remaining vinegar and sugar or stevia. cook a little to combine.
  4. At this point, you’re done and then you fill the crusts high. the crusts should be in pie pans ready to be filled.
  5. Brush the egg on the sides and bottom of each crust.
  6. mix a bit of flour in the filling to bind the liquid when baking.
  7. Layer the cheese on top and fill each pie.
apples and sausage

Egg washed pie crust and filling

 

cheese

Add the cheese

Put the crust lids on, pinch the sides to close and spread remaining egg wash on tops. Cut vents in to let the steam out.

As to baking. , I put each one in a dutch oven and used what is described as a quick fire, coals on top and on bottom. If I was making this in my oven, I’d start at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes and them reduce to 375 for about 40 minutes or so.

pie baking

Dutch ovens are stacked with coals between. I turned them every 15 minutes.

I made a salad. The dressing was a simple dressing of 3 parts good olive oil (I used infused oil with lemon), a bit of Stevia or sugar, a pinch of salt and pepper and 1 part apple cider vinegar. Can’t get anything this good in a restaurant!!!

 

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Chad always asks us what we want to do to demonstrate 18th century living skills and invariably, my mind turns to cooking. Slowly but surely, I’ve been collecting the right period pieces to make  on the hearth nearly any thing people ate back then. Since I have to eat, I may as well make things that are good as well as something that reflects the ethnic identity of the area. It seems as though, I dip more into German cooking than anything else which, fortunately, is appropriate as many families did come from the Palatine area. thinking ahead, I was tryingto plan a bill of faire that wouldn’t be a ton of work on a hot day but tasty and pleasant. I was planning on a salmagundy, roasting the hen in a tin roaster but then I ran into a recipe for Wurstsalat from the Alsace region. God knows how much I love sausages so its going to be a sausage salad that i will make in September. The recipe below is from a Facebook site called “I Love Germany”.  I’m going to go to Fresh Market and see if the traditional sausages are available. If not, I think I will use Summer Sausage.

wursytsalat

Wurstsalat

German, ( literally sausage salad) is a tart sausage salad prepared with distilled white vinegar, oil and onions. It is normally made from a sort of boiled sausage like Lyoner, stadtwurst, regensburger (two types of cooked sausage) or extrawurst. It is a traditional snack in southern Germany, Alsace, Switzerland and Austria.

To prepare the dish, the sausage is cut into thin slices or strips and placed, along with raw onion rings or cubes, in a vinegar and oil marinade, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Common additional ingredients are finely cut gherkins, radishes, parsley or chives. Wurstsalat is normally served with bread and sometimes also with fried potatoes. (I don’t know about the fried pottoes but some boiled new potatoes, diced would be great)

Popular variants are the Schwäbischer Wurstsalat (Swabian wurstsalat), which is half composed of blood sausage, and especially the Schweizer Wurstsalat (Swiss wurstsalat), also called Straßburger Wurstsalat (Strasburg wurstsalat) or Elsässer Wurstsalat (Alsacian wurstsalat), and containing Emmental cheese.

I am also going to add yellow peppers for sweetness , Emmenthaler cheese and use sweet red onions , cut fine and fresh corn .My secret ingredient will be white wine vinegar and Styrian pumpkin seed oil. that stuff is so good, it’s almost a sin. Serve it up on artisinal lettuce and garnish with hard boioled eggs, OH MY!!!

I’m going to make rye bread too as the heart will make the dough rise easily. I’ve made it at home many times and it’s really wonderful. ( I got this recipe from http://www.whats4eats.com/breads/bauernbrot-recipe   a while back and each time I use the variations, adding spelt and seeds)

BAUERNBROT

1 large loaf

INGREDIENTS

Dough Starter

  • Bread flour — 3/4 cup
  • Rye flour — 3/4 cup
  • Honey or malt syrup — 3 tablespoons
  • Water, lukewarm — 1 1/2 cups
  • Instant yeast — 1/2 teaspoon

Flour mixture

  • Bread flour — 2 1/2 cups
  • Caraway seeds — 2 tablespoons
  • Salt — 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Instant yeast — 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oil — 1 tablespoon
  • Cornmeal — for the baking tray

METHOD

  1. Add the ingredients for the starter to a large bowl and mix together until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
  2. While the starter is resting, mix together the remaining ingredients except for the oil and cornmeal. Pour the flour mixture over the starter. Do not stir. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set aside for at least two hours and up to five hours. The starter will bubble up through the flour mixture.
  3. Add the oil to the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir the flour mixture into the starter. As the mixture comes together, remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. The dough might be a little sticky. Knead in just enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
  4. Set the dough aside to rest for about 10 minutes, then knead for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and lightly oil the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set in a draft-free area of the kitchen to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough and lightly knead it 3 or 4 times. Form into a ball, return to the bowl, cover and let rise for another 45 minutes or so.(I like to let it rise overnight.)
  6. Preheat oven to 450°F and set the shelf at the lowest level. Put a small metal pan in the oven (you will use this later). Lightly press down on the dough and form it into a ball. Sprinkle the cornmeal onto a baking sheet and set the dough onto the baking sheet. Lightly oil the top of the dough and cover it with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for another hour.
  7. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to slash the top of the dough in 3 parallel lines about 1/4-inch thick. Then slash with another set of 3 lines perpendicular to the first set. Use a spray bottle to mist the dough with water.
  8. Set the baking sheet in the oven and pour about 1 cup of water into the small pan to create steam. Shut the door immediately and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400°F and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes. (An insta-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf should register 190°F.) When you bake it in a bastible, just add a tiny bit of water to the bottom of the pot. The cast iron creates it’s own steam and keeps it in.
  9. Set the loaf on a cooling rack and let cool completely.

VARIATIONS

  • For even better flavor, let the starter ferment for an hour a room temperature. Then set it in the refrigerator to ferment slowly for another 8 to 24 hours. Return it to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. (I’ll make the starter a day ahead and bring it with me.
  • Vary the proportion of rye flour and bread flour to your liking. Or eliminate the rye flour altogether and use all bread flour. You can also make a whole wheat loaf by replacing about 1/2 of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. You will need to add a little more water if you do. I acrually like more rye flour rather than less
  • Mix 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds, flaxseeds, cracked wheat, rye or spelt into the flour mixture for added texture. THIS IS A MUST!!!!
  • For a darker crust, brush the dough with some buttermilk, yogurt or dark coffee just before baking.
  • I use a bastible and bake it in that. It allows for a wonderful crust yet delicious interior texture.

Noodles and Broth served up!

Noodles and Broth served up!

This is something I really shouldn’t admit as a person raised in a rich Italian American tradition but my favorite food is German. When we have events, I love to do cooking demos and can make German recipes all day long because many of the early settlers to the region were Palatine German. For the May Seige, I wanted to make something hardy, few pots and yet something that would make a good show. I count as a friend a chef in Californina whose name is Stephen Block and he has a very fine website called GERMAN GOODIES RECIPES. He has also compiled an excellent book of his mother’s recipes which I have and has another site tracing the history of foods. His links are below.

http://www.kitchenproject.com/

 http://www.kitchenproject.com/german/german_food_recipes.htm

I was skimming his recipes as I usually do and found one that was his mother’s favorite called GEFULTE NOODLES. At first I thought of gefilte fish and thought that was a non starter , but then I read on and oh boy, it fit the bill.

I made the beef broth at home using vegetables, bones and a nice roast which we had for dinner, but the rest I did at the fort. the result was SPECTACULAR so this is going be a staple and I’ve made it at home too . His recipe makes an enormous amount but can be halved and it works out just fine, just as Stephen said it would.

Gefulte Noodles

This is a hearty cold-weather dish, consisting of large squares or triangles of noodle dough, filled with a meat and parsley mixture, folded over and sealed, then boiled in beef broth.

FILLING:
1 or 2 bunches fresh parsley, washed, drained, and heavy stems removed. (Should have about 2 qts.)
1 large or 2 small onions
Chop parsley and onions (or put through a grinder or
food-processor.) Put into a large skillet with
2 Tbs. Oil
Simmer until heated through, stirring frequently. Remove into
a large bowl.
2 slices bread; put to soak in about ½ cup milk.
1 lb. lean ground beef ; Brown lightly in skillet.
Add to the green mixture in bowl; squeeze the milk out of the soaked bread, crumble bread up and add to the mixture. (May add a little salt.)
1 egg Break into mixture and mix all together. If filling seems too soft, add a few bread crumbs.

NOODLE DOUGH
5 eggs, plus ½ shell of water for each egg used.
Beat lightly with a fork.
1 tsp. Salt (Optional)
Flour Add, a little at a time, enough to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out onto well-floured board. Knead, working more flour into dough, until it is smooth and elastic. (May use Kitchen-Aid mixer for this.) Allow dough to “rest” for 10-15 minutes, while preparing broth.
Fill a large pot—or two of them—about 2/3 full of water; bring to a boil. Add enough bouillon cubes or other beef base to make a good broth. Keep simmering while getting noodles filled.

Keeping board well floured, cut off, with metal spatula, a piece about the size of a large potato. Roll with floured rolling pin until about 1/8 in. thick. Cut into squares or rectangles about 3” or 4” on each side. Put a spoonful (about 1 TB) of filling in center of each; fold over and seal well. Drop a few at a time into boiling broth. Repeat until dough is used up. If there is extra filling, put it into the broth. Simmer at least an hour. (Two hours will be even better. If some of the noodles break up and spill their filling into the broth, it’s okay. These noodles are not things of beauty, but they are delicious!)
Grandma Block used to lift out a few nice filled noodles, dry them a bit, and then keep them in the refrigerator to fry in butter for the next day’s breakfast!

FOR SMALLER BATCH: Use 2 jumbo eggs + 2 half-shells of water. Add 1 ½ to 2 Cups flour; this will make about 12 noodles. Cut filling recipe and broth about in half.

Making the noodles. They were perfect. I bet I could add sugar and fry those babies too!

Making the noodles. They were perfect. I bet I could add sugar and fry those babies too!

half the recipe made 13, plus the left over stuffing I put in the pot.

half the recipe made 13, plus the left over stuffing I put in the pot.

Simmering nicely over the fire.

Simmering nicely over the fire.

I had left over so I dried them and fried them up for breakfast on Sunday. Oh yeah, with a nice fresh egg!

20140121-chicken-mull-shutterstock-2.jpgWhen I went to Fort Yargo in Georgia last year, I was fed like I hadn’t been fed before and this year was no exception. As the militia boys up here said, those folks in Georgia really know how to cook! Yep and double yep. What I found interesting and totally delicious was something I never heard of before. Susie Brooks Fouts called it Chicken Stew and she said it has another name, chicken mull,  but it was not like anything I ever had before. I can’t say it was the prettiest stew I’ve ever seen but boy oh boy, it had a taste that was rich and wonderful. She said it’s a local dish whose epicenter is in the Athens area and maybe made in South Carolina as well.

I was determined to look it up and in fact, not too much is known about it. From what I can see, it was traced to Greenville County where the men would make TONS of the stuff to raise money for charity. It may have started as a fish muddle somewhere near the coast in Virginia and moved down as people migrated southward, . They also put turtle meat in with the chicken and boiled hell out of it . Anyway you look at it,  the north Georgians put their unique stamp on it to be sure, and it’s down right lip smacking good.   If you want to know the documented history of Mull or Muddle as it’s know, check out this link- most interesting .

http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/the-secret-history-of-chicken-mull-southern-barbecue-stew.html

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 5.54.48 PM.png

Susie described how she made it and the lady who writes the  Boonie Foodie blog has a similar recipe. Where Susie differed is that she used whole milk instead of chicken stock and a load of butter, my guess is 3 tbs  based on what I saw floating. She used Club Crackers to thicken it and I think that’s what I would used rather than Saltines. Stewing the chicken in the pot would be good but hers was liquified so I would think crock potting it or using an immersion blender would achieve the results wanted for a pulverized chicken stew. She also used Texas Pete for heat….just right!!! I guess a person could fancy it up with fresh corn, an onion, and celery  which would be unreal good and notch it up another level but it wouldn’t be tradition. Anyway you go,though, this is one heck of a true comfort soup.

boonie foodie

Chicken Mull
A Family Recipe

ingredients:
One whole roasting chicken (4-5 lbs)
2-3 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cans of evaporated milk or 3 1/2 cups milk or cream
2-3 sleeves of Ritz (or crackers of choice)
Salt and pepper to taste

directions:
Boil chicken in deep stockpot or crockpot, with enough water to cover, until meat is done and tender. Remove chicken from stock, let cool enough to handle, and shred meat from the bone. Strain stock back into cooking pot, add shredded meat, milk and additional broth. Let cook to a simmer, add crushed crackers and salt and pepper, and cook to desired thickness. Add more crackers if needed. Serve with hot sauce and extra crackers if desired.

It really is as simple as that. More crackers means a thicker mull; using milk or cream means a richer mull than using evaporated milk. It’s extremely forgiving, and very tasty.

https://wanderluck.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/chicken-mull/

Out of curiosity, I looked at 18th century cookbooks as well as Kay Moss’s ” Back Country Housewife” and “Seeking the Historical Cook”, Marty Davidson’s “Grandma Grace’s Southern Favorites” and Joseph Dabney’s “Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread and Scuppernog Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking”, and other than Hannah Glasse’s milk soup and soup made the Dutch way and Hodge Podge which was a pre 1744 southern recipe with variations, , nothing comes remotely close.

So besides Soda bread and farl, what did the Irish south of the Pale eat for main meals. The answer depends on location, location, location. Near the coast lines, protein was fish and shellfish made into stews and cakes, simple and fortifying and inland mutton, pork and sausages in broths and stews. The common factor seems to be simple ingredients, seasonal vegetables, potatoes and methods of cooking, notably boiling, stewing and maybe frying. I found a great online resource for traditional Irish recipes called YOUR IRISH.COM http://www.yourirish.com/food/ and among them was Coddle, dating back at least into the 18th century.

Dublin Coddle

Dublin Coddle

Most popular in Ireland’s capital city, Dublin, this recipe is not for the faint hearted and has been appropriately described by some as heart attack in a bowl.

It’s rarely found outside of Dublin city but is still a popular meal served in some traditional Irish pubs around Dublin. To ‘coddle’ means to cook slowly or parboil and this dish of ham, sausages, onions and potatoes dates back to the 18th century.

Ingredients for cooking Dublin Coddle

1 ½ pints of water
8 thick slices of ham cut into chunks
8 pork sausages cut into thick slices
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
1 ½ lbs potatoes peeled and sliced
Salt and pepper
2 heaped tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
Method for cooking Dublin Coddle

Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan, then add the ham and sausages and cook for 5 minutes. Drain well, reserving the cooking liquid. Set oven to 300 degrees. Place the ham and sausages and chopped parsley and pour over just enough cooking liquid to cover. Cover with a piece of buttered greaseproof paper, put on the lid and cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the liquid is greatly reduced and the vegetables cooked but not mushy.

Serve with the chopped parsley to garnish and hot buttered soda bread on a side plate. This dish serves 4-6 people.

You also find adding Guinness to the Coddle will give it that extra kick!

The fishing village of Claddagh

The fishing village of Claddagh

Of the three main cities in Ireland, Dublin, Shannon and Galway, The last was my favorite. On the West Coast, it had the flavor and feel that was most what I had expected in my mind. A thriving, bustling and artistic town, it was a far cry from the one of grinding poverty that one sees in pictures from the turn of the 20th century. At the tip of the city, near the Spanish gates is the neighborhood of Claddagh. Associated with the symbol of hands holding a heart with a crown on top, it was an isolated village. Now it’s nice buildings with a jewelry store where the original ring was made. I found these pictures which were part of a pictorial series from 1906 through 1913. They are interesting and fish was a way of life.

Fish vendor in traditional clothes

Fish vendor in traditional clothes

Claddagh 1905

Claddagh 1905

And a traditional meal made in the bastible was FISH PIE

INGREDIENTS
8 ½ fl oz/250 ml fish stock
8 ½ fl oz/250 ml milk + 2 tbsp for the potatoes
12 oz/350g asstd. fish pieces (see note below)***
1 bay leaf
750g warm, creamed, mashed potatoes
2 oz/ 55g butter
1 medium sized leek, the white, washed and finely sliced
2 oz/ 55g all purpose/plain flour
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
Handful grated cheddar cheese (optional)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
PREPARATION

Serves 4

Heat the oven to 355 °F/180 °C
Pour the fish stock and milk into a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the fish pieces and bay leaf and poach for 5 mins. Remove the fish pieces with a slotted spoon and keep to one side. Reserve the liqueur.
Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and cook for 5 minutes until the leeks are soft.
Whilst still hot, add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon. Pour the fish liqueur into the pan and stir again, raise the temperature and cook for 3 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Turn the heat off. Remove the bay leaf. Add the fish, chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper. Leave to one side.
Place the fish and sauce into an ovenproof dish, cover with a thick layer of mashed potato fluffed up with a fork or for a more professional look, pipe from a piping bag and large nozzle.
Sprinkle with grated cheese if using.
Put the dish onto a baking sheet and cook in the center of the preheated oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling beneath the potatoes. Serve immediately.

***Either buy one type of fish (skinless and bones removed) and cut into bite-sized chunks. Or mix different fish and/or prawns together, for a pie though I would choose non-oily, fleshy fish such as cod, smoked haddock, coley, white fish.

http://britishfood.about.com/od/eorecipes/r/fishpie.htm

It’s cold and snowy and there’s nothing better than some good ol’ comfort food. That brings me to mind of meatloaf. Before I get going on making one, I happened to think whether 18th century cooks made meatloaf. Sure enough, it goes back in time, way back if you read this very interesting article by Nadia Arumugan. Nadia Arumugam is a writer in New York City and the author of the cookbook, Chop, Sizzle & Stir. Her work has appeared in Fine Cooking, Slate, Epicurious, NPR, and Saveur, and she writes the Chew On This blog for Forbes.com.
meatloaf

In 1940, the Culinary Arts Institute published a recipe for Savory Meat Loaf that called for beef, vegetable soup, and cereal flakes. A pork loaf from the 1957 Complete American Cookbook was to be seasoned with turmeric, Angostura bitters, meat extract, and caramel. In 2008, the now defunct Gourmet swore a meatloaf of beef, pork, bacon, sautéed onions, garlic, carrots, celery, Worcestershire sauce, allspice, cider vinegar, and prunes, to be the best. It’s no coincidence these seemingly distinct dishes are unified by the incongruous fact that they’re all meatloaf. This peculiarity illustrates the essence of one of our best-loved meals. There is no one way to create meatloaf: It’s precisely this capacity for re-invention that’s allowed the iconic mélange to keep in step with the ebb and flow of American life over the last century. In its nuanced response to societal change, meatloaf has maintained a favored place on our dinner tables.

Had it not been for the advances of the Industrial Revolution, meatloaf as we know it might never have been.
This isn’t to say there aren’t limitations to the dish’s elasticity. The criteria are clear. Ground meat is primary — the options for meatloaf span the gamut of proteins available at the butcher’s counter, but an all-beef or beef and pork combo is commonly called for. The meat must be cut with filler or the loaf will be dense. Breadcrumbs, oatmeal, crackers, Japanese panko crumbs, rice, and minced vegetables are all fair game. Egg and/or dairy of some kind is essential to bind and moisten. As for seasoning, stick with salt and pepper if you’re a purist; if not, raid your pantry. The loaf shape is half the point and it’s provided by a tin or free-form shaping on a baking sheet. Top with bacon or serve naked, glazed, or sauced — these are all acceptable forms of décor.

Though modern meatloaf is an American innovation, its ancestry spans the globe, and centuries. In his cookbook, De Re Coquinaria, Roman gastronome Apicius features chopped meat combined with spices, bread soaked in wine and pine nuts and formed into a patty. In Medieval Europe, odds and ends of meat were arduously diced fine, mixed with seasonings and fruits and nuts, and molded into pie-shaped disks called pastez. The lavish spreads of 17th-century France featured loaves of chopped meats and offal preserved within a hefty layer of gelatin. The Ur-American meatloaf was born in the 18th century courtesy of Pennsylvanian Dutch settlers who were partial to an austere concoction called scrapple. To further stretch the yield of a slaughtered pig — after the steaks, loins, chops, hams, bacon, and sausages were cut and produced — meat was scraped from bones and combined with the lungs, liver, and heart in a cauldron of broth. Cornmeal and seasonings were added and the resulting mush was pressed into loaves, allowed to set, then sliced and pan-fried.

Had it not been for the advances of the Industrial Revolution, meatloaf as we know it might never have been. According to the Oxford Companion to Food, that meatloaf was first mentioned in print in the U.S. in 1899. It was no accident this this was immediately after the invention of the mechanical meat grinder by German inventor Karl Drais. From then on, recipes started appearing in cookbooks. Fannie Farmer’s 1918 edition of The Boston Cooking School Cookbook included two variations of a ground veal-based loaf, as well as a recipe for Cannelon — a dish that recalls almost every aspect of a beef meatloaf, except the name. For the gastronome, the grinder offered a new degree of fineness and consistency of texture. Cooks previously had to chop meat in large wooden bowls using a curved blade, but now they were buying pre-ground meat directly from butchers and working it through grinders. A 1906 grinder from the Enterprise Manufacturing Co. of Philadelphia could process 1 ½ pounds of meat per minute, all for $1.75. This, and the fact that beef was increasingly accessible due to advances in refrigeration and a thriving meat packing industry in Chicago, propelled meatloaf onto every housewife’s radar.

For the millions burdened by the hardships of the Depression, it was lucky meatloaf arrived when it did. The notion of meatloaf as comfort food stems from its frequent appearance in this period. Warm and filling, it provided cheap, nourishing sustenance. Tough cuts of beef like chuck or rump were tenderized by way of a good grinding. Small amounts of beef or veal were stretched by adding fillers. Manufacturers commercialized World War I developments in food technology and the ’30s saw a significant shift towards processed and canned products. In addition to bread and crackers, quick-cooking oats, tapioca, breakfast cereal, and powdered sauce mixes could pad out a meatloaf, and condiments such as mustard, bouillon, canned soup, and Heinz ketchup added flavor and moistness at small cost. Manufacturers themselves, seeing an opportunity for increased sales, positioned meatloaf recipes on the backs of products such as Quaker Oats, Campbell’s Soup, and Post Toasties.

With the increased strictures of wartime rationing in the ’40s, meatloaf consolidated its high-ranking position in the housewife’s culinary artillery. Here, meatloaf took on new symbolic significance. By maintaining the health and strength of a country at war, it played its role on the front lines. Penny Prudence’s “Vitality Loaf” was jammed with beef, pork, pork liver, oatmeal, wheat germ, onion-evaporated milk, egg, and chili sauce. The most economical options of this era, however, even deviated from the aforementioned ingredients — they didn’t actually feature meat at all. Capitalizing on the familiar shape and texture of the dish to appeal to the American palate, cookbooks with titles such as Cooking on a Ration (1943) were filled with recipes that used beans, nuts, rice, and soy flour in place of meat.

But meatloaf was capable of more than just budget fare, and the post-war era of the 1950s and ’60s liberated it. Taste and creativity now served as primary ingredients. For a large contingent of women who spent the war in the work force, the ’50s were a time of re-discovering the kitchen. Advertisers, magazines, and newspapers, charged with the task of encouraging women to embrace their new role, glorified the image of the housewife, celebrated kitchen skills, and stressed the importance of being creative as a means to fulfillment. Naturally, meatloaf fit seamlessly into this milieu. It could be personalized and adapted any number of ways, all the while requiring only basic skills. The 1955 edition of the Good Housekeeping cookbook included Sherry-Barbecued Meatloaves, Mushroom-Stuffed Meatloaves, and a Spicy Peach Loaf. The frosted meatloaf, where mashed potato is slathered on a baked loaf, then broiled for a golden crust, debuted in the ’50s. To enliven a simpler offering, there was an inexhaustible trend for garnishing, glazing, saucing, and decorating. The traditional loaf was even temporarily retired in favor of the fashionable ring shape. A proponent of this trend, Betty Crocker, the fictional domestic doyenne of General Mills, advised piling vegetables in the center.

No doubt innovators of the ’50s and ’60s would reel at the next turn in meatloaf’s evolution. The dish maintained its popularity, particularly in blue-collar homes, but dropped the outlandish accoutrements. Recognizing this, supermarkets packaged an inexpensive ground meatloaf mix of 1/3 pork, 1/3 veal, and 1/3 beef. And so the sacred triumvirate that many advocates hold as gospel was born. The dish gained a reputation as tasty, honest fare, for honest, hard-working folk. Then the ’90s happened. Restaurant chefs looking for the next wave of culinary inspiration embraced the food of the home and hearth. They called it comfort food and slapped a $20 price tag on a $2 slice of ground meat and filler.

A tireless chameleon, meatloaf is up to its old tricks again. With more television shows that document exotic fare, eclectic cookbooks that chronicle dishes from around the world, and wider access to global ingredients in mainstream grocery stores, Americans are increasingly hungry for ethnic flavors. According to a study by market research group Mintel, sales of ethnic foods climbed steadily in the early ’00s to reach a record high of $2.2 billion in 2009, and are expected to advance a further 20 percent within the next three years. At Eatery, in Manhattan, a ricotta meatloaf with pecorino sauce and a grape tomato and balsamic reduction is a crowd-pleaser. San Francisco’s Sentinel serves a turkey meatloaf, moisturized with lemon juice, chile paste, tahini and cream. Buckhead Diner in Atlanta adds green chile and chorizo to a veal and wild mushroom loaf. Gussied up once more, this time meatloaf has traded retro cool for ethnic chic.

Yep, they got meatloaf.

Yep, they got meatloaf.

Image: Jovinacooksitalian.

I was going to roast a chicken using the tin reflector oven and make dumplings but thought better of it as the chicken didn’t need the heat in 20 degree temps as much as I did. I rethought my cooking demo and got a little help from Stephen Block ( http://www.kitchenproject.com/ ). I asked him if German cooks marinated backbones and ribs like a sauerbraten and he said yes so I used his herb combination plus added 2 galengale roots and marinated my Texas pork ribs and sausages for three days. If you want to know more about sauerbraten or any other food, check out his site. it’s WONDERFUL!!! I also shedded a cabbage and salted it in a crock to do an early sauerkraut and there was just enough fermentation. I added this to two cans of sauerkraut. I think next time, I’ll only add one can as there was so much.

Pork,and Sauerkraut, German style

Pork,and Sauerkraut, German style


Pork ribs, Sausages and Sauerkraut
Marinated pork and sausages ( cup of apple cider vinegar, cup of water, 6 each bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, cardamom seeds , mace, 2 tbs dark brown sugar and dried onion, salt) for minimum of three days, maximum of seven. I crushed all the herbs and toasted them, then added to the organic cider vinegar (Braggs) and water and simmered it. I put the meat in a freezer bag and marinated it for three days. When I was ready to cook, I the seared the pork and sausages in bacon drippings and layered between fresh sauerkraut, diced apples, carrots and leeks . I added canned sauerkraut 40 minutes before serving. Stewed until done. Thicken broth with crushed gingersnaps and add port soaked raisins to taste.

Pickens County Cornmeal Dumplings

1 cup cornmeal, ½ cup flour, 2 tsp dissolved pearl ash or baking powder, ½ tsp salt, 2 eggs, ½ cup milk, 1 tbs melted butter, 2 green onions including the green finely chopped, 1 celery rib chopped fine, fresh thyme. Salt and pepper . Mix together adding butter last and drop by spoonfuls into boiling stock (I siphoned the stock from the pork and sauerkraut and added a little boiling water. OH IT WAS GOOD!!!) . Boil for 12 minutes, simmer for 3 minutes. Turn out to a tureen with broth.
Pickens Co. Cornmeal Drop Dumplings

Pickens Co. Cornmeal Drop Dumplings

I had the makings for these two recipes but with a huge Heritage chocolate and Stout Cake and so few people to eat, I decided to make this at the next muster , but it’s good nonetheless.

Kilt Lettuce and Onion
Soft lettuce and sliced green onion. Dressing of 2 T bacon grease, 2 T white vinegar, 1 T sugar, salt , pepper .

Molasses Gingerbread
½ cup unsalted butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, ½ cup molasses, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp soda, 1 tsp each : ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice. 1 cup boiling water.
Cream the butter and sugar, Add eggs and molasses and mix well. Add dry ingredients and blend thoroughly. Stir in boiling water. Put in buttered pan. Bake in dutch oven 30-40 minutes until done in center.

Molly burning something....

Molly burning something….

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