16 June 2017

Historical Cooking Report - The Delineator Cookbook

I need to do some catching-up on both cooking attempts and reporting.  I've found a new website about 18th Century things, including cooking, thanks to another blog I read, Savoring the Past.  So the rabbit hole of the Interwebs is working its wiles!

This month I had plans to cook with a young cook of my acquaintance, one of my honorary nieces.  She wanted to do a menu from an old cookbook of mine which I believe was created to teach new wives how to do simple cooking and manage their homes.  I have several of these, some of which are very similar and turned out to be by branches of the same company, and I chose this one because I thought the name is fun:

Research told me that The Delineator was a women's magazine of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. It originally focused only on sewing patterns and related needlework, since it was published by The Butterick Company, but expanded to include articles about home decor, recipes, and fiction by popular authors.  As was common, the company collected some of its work into books such as this one, which was published in 1929.
We looked through and Z chose this menu, I think because it includes baked apples, which she loves:

The original plan was to make the menu as written.  We ended up changing it around a bit for several reasons, including:

  1. Nobody in her family likes green peas, so we decided to substitute broccoli.
  2. Then her mother found zucchini at the grocery store and bought it instead.
  3. They also don't like raisins, and there was no reason to just use nuts in the apples.
  4. The temperature was in the 90s(F) on the day we were cooking.
  5. I ended up running late from a tour (see photo below) and we didn't have as much time as we'd hoped because everybody was hungry.
The cookbook doesn't tell you where to find the recipes, so we had to hunt.  There wasn't a rice croquettes recipe, so I made it up from the other recipes for croquettes.  Upon reflection, I should have used half the rice, because it wasn't stuck together well enough.  They precooked the rice, which saved quite a bit of time once I arrived.

  • Make a medium white sauce (recipe in book), mix with rice, set in refrigerator to cool.
  • Cut apples into pieces, removing cores, and put into bowls.  Instead of baking them we decided to use the microwave.  Apple pieces were sprinkled with cinnamon and a pinch of cloves.
  • Slice zucchini, layer into oiled dish, sprinkling with dried herbs.  We discussed several options, and while marjoram is my favourite, Z selected basil.  We then microwave-steamed them.  [NB: Zucchini was not mentioned at all in the cookbook.]
  • Make a thin white sauce and stir in lots of shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Form rice croquette mixture into patties and pan-fry.  It was much too hot to properly deep-fry them (form, chill again, flour-egg-breadcrumbs, fry) and since they didn't stick together well (more white sauce or less rice needed), it was sort of a crispy fried rice patty.
  • Instead of tomato soup (per recipe, heat broth - we were going to use vegetable - and stir in chopped vegetables, then heat through) we decided to just slice the tomatoes to salad.
So the final menu ended up being:
Sliced Tomatoes
Steamed Zucchini with Herbs
Pan-fried Rice Patties with Cheese Sauce
Baked Apples

Overall, the verdict was that the food was tasty, and suited to the heat of the day.  I'd bought strawberries at a local farmers' market and because I was leaving town the next day brought them over to share.  I didn't take photos because we were busy, and people were hungry!

Z enjoyed the experience and loved making the white sauces.  We stirred flour and butter together over low heat, and when they made a paste stirred in milk.  For the medium sauce it was two tablespoons of each to a cup of milk, and for the thin sauce we used one tablespoon of each.  When you add the milk it gets both clumpy and thin for a minute, then the paste dissolves into it and for a few minutes it seems you are just stirring warm milk and nothing happens.  You have to keep stirring so it does not scorch.  Then all of a sudden it starts to thicken and you pay attention!

We're planning another cooking event and I suggested a menu with "corn oysters" in it because they keep kosher and I thought her father would be amused.  These are really corn fritters with a funny name, and if there is fresh corn in early July, we'll do it.

The tour that delayed me was one scheduled by MakeHartford on the replicas of The NiƱa  and The Pinta that had anchored in Hartford for a week.  It was really interesting to be aboard and the First Mate of one ship gave us a guided tour.  If they are near you, go aboard and see what it was really like (but the modern ships are much cleaner and less smelly!) for the sailors on Columbus' voyages.
Picture I took of the ships while waiting for
all of the tour attendees to arrive.