More and more, Kris is becoming my partner on these blogs. Here she provides a guest entry for foldedspace.
Over the past few months, I’ve entered hundreds of recipes into MacGourmet, a computerized recipe database. While working on my recipe project this weekend, I came across an old mimeographed and bound cookbook put together in 1947 when both my grandparents and great-grandparents were working for a naval base in California. I thought you’d get a chuckle out of these.
Ambrosia Pie (Great Grandmother)
1 pint heavy cream
16 large ginger snaps, + 2 extra for garnish
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp sugar
9″ graham cracker pie crust
This is an ice-box dessert and should be prepared 6-8 hours before use. Whip the cream so it will hold its shape but not be too dry. Break the gingersnaps into pieces about the size of a quarter and stir into the whipped cream. Add the sugar and vanilla and heap into your pie shell. Sprinkle with crushed remaining two cookies. Set in refrigerator until ready for use.
Chicken Chasseur (from Grandmother)
Take one stewing hen. Boil with 3 stalks of celery, 1 large onion, salt and 5 peppercorns. When tender, remove meat from bones, put in casserole with onions. Add parsley, sage and thyme. Pour over meat 1 cup dry white wine and 1 cup cooking liquor. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and add 2 lumps of chicken fat. Cook in 325 degree oven for a half-hour.
Chocolate Puffs (Great Grandmother)
1 large bar Baker’s bittersweet chocolate
2 squares baking chocolate
1 package Rice Crispies cereal
Melt chocolates together in a double boiler. Pour in the Rice Crispies. Stir until they are uniformly coated in the chocolate. Drop by large spoonsful upon waxed paper and put outside to cool. This is something a child can successfully make.
Boneless Birds (from Great Grandfather)
Split the flank steak or have the butcher do it, then cut each half in half again to make 4 6″ squares. Lay flat, season well with salt and pepper. On each piece, at one end, place a piece of bacon, a sliver of dill pickle cut lengthwise, some chopped onion and a slice of garlic salami (diced small). Roll up each steak and skewer neatly with toothpicks. Fold ends together and skewer to keep contents in.
Put a teaspoon of fat in a Dutch oven and brown the “birds” well on all sides. Then, add any leftover onion, a teaspoon of vinegar, a generous dash of Worcestershire sauce. a bay leaf and a can of tomato paste. Reduce heat and cook slowly for one hour. Add water if it gets too dry.
Fruit Salad Dressing (Great Grandmother)
1 egg, well-beaten
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard, heaping
1 cup heavy cream
Cook all ingredients except the cream until they get quite thick. This must be done in a double boiler. Cool. Just before you are ready to use, whip the cream quite stiff and at the last few turns of he beater, fold in the cooked mixture. Pile on top of your fruit salad and top with a cherry. This makes an excellent tangy dressing.
These recipes are so, well, vague. What are you supposed to do with the Chicken Chasseur? Eat it over noodles? By itself? And what about the ingredients? There aren’t any amounts for anything! How much parsley? Where does the chicken fat come from?
It’s not just the vagueness that shocks our modern sensibilities. The very notion of eating some of these things puts my stomach ill-at-ease. Ambrosia pie? It’s just whipped cream with soggy cookies! And what’s up with that fruit salad dressing? (Just reading the ingredients makes J.D. sick.)
Aside from the “ick” factor, reading recipes like this should remind us that we need to provide specific weights and measures when we write things down for friends and family. (At least if we want our recipes to be prepared by our descendants.) Who knows if a package of Rice Krispies from 1947 is the same size as it is now. How much, exactly, is “one large bar of Baker’s bittersweet chocolate”? And how about “16 large ginger snaps”?
I’ve only posted the silliest recipes here, but I found my great-grandfather’s crepe recipe, which I remember eating in my grandmother’s house, and a braided Christmas pastry recipe that brings back fond memories. So many of our childhood memories involve food — it would be great if the recipes that we (not J.D. and I — but we as a generation) passed on were actually useable by our children. (Not to mention appetizing!)