Boxing Day 2020-Bookish Cooking

Well Christmas day is truly over here in Tasmania until next year. I have spent the morning having a couple of boiled eggs, toast and watching an old series of The Great British Bake Off. I haven’t seen all of them so nice to watch them and the old ones I have seen my memory is such I don’t remember who won so it is all new again.

Today they were featuring recipes from the Victorian Era. Series 5 or 6, can’t remember. They did a quick historical segment on Mrs Beeton and her cookbooks from the 1800s (of which she only ever cooked one recipe) that has been in print for more than 150 years. Evidently (which I did not know) she was brought into her husband’s publishing arena as a new 21 year old bride and was asked to do a column. She could not bake but she did publish a column on how to make a particular type of cake (sponge I think) and she forgot the flour so of course it was a flop. She did print a recipe of hers, the one and only accordng to Mrs Beeton’s biographer on this program, called Mrs Beeton’s Useful Soup for Benevolent Times. Recipe here. Evidently she was very good at editing so instead of creating recipes she researched old recipes she could find previously to her lifetime and published them. A quite resourceful woman it seems.

That got me thinking about an old cookbook my aunt gave me years ago before she died. It was a cookbook she got from her mother (my father’s mother) and it actually belonged to my mother’s grandmother (my great grandmother). There are recipes in it handwritten in the margins and inside covers from both paternal and maternal grandmothers. The book is a first edition published in 1913. It is called Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners by Mrs. Elizabeth O. Hiller. The price was $1.00 US and was marketed by the Cottelene company. Cottolene was a shortening or lard substitute.

Mrs. Hiller actually has a Wikipedia page and it states, Elizabeth O. Hiller (circa 1856 – August 14, 1941) was a prominent early twentieth-century American author of cookbooks and a professor of culinary arts. You can see all of her published books here.

The introduction of the book states: “Years ago nothing but butter or lard were used for shortening and frying: today the visible supply of these two products is insufficient to supply the demand, taking into consideration the amount of butter required for table use. Furthermore, as the demand increased it out grew the supply of butter and lard, with the result that prices were materially advanced; and, incidentally, the quality has been lowered. Naturally, under such conditions scores of substitutes have been offered as shortening and frying mediums- some meritorious, but mostly inferior” (introduction, 1913).

Grandma Schavey’s Prune Cake
This recipe is on the back cover of the book. I notice all writing was in pencil and the books is covered in stains so was obviously used a lot.

It continues on, discussing the merits of this product. Americans now use the vegetable shortening Crisco quite a bit while baking or frying. When I moved to Australia in 1988, I had a difficult time not having access to Crisco as Americans regularly used. Southern Fried Chicken is ONLY excellent when fried in Crisco which is a vegetable shortening with the more solid consistency of lard. It is also used to rub onto baking pans of cakes and pies so the batter doesn’t stick. Everyone here seems to use a baking paper. I was not used to that. They also used a slab of butter or margarine to grease their pans.

Michigan is a big corn growing state. This recipe from the Detroit newspaper for Corn Oysters was tucked into the book. 1925.

Anyway- I digress. I don’t have many items from my grandmothers, both of whom I loved dearly and I never knew my great grandmother. I do treasure this book though I am unlikely to ever cook one of these full recipes for Sunday dinner as they are loaded with lard (or Cottolene) and salt, and the recipes are pages long. I thought I would share this today in view of holiday spirit and a coming new year. I could do a Julie and Julia project such as was the film when a character named Julie spends one year cooking her way through Julia Child’s French Cookbook. This also gives me a way here to document this lovely old book in our current times. I do love looking through it and perhaps could try one or two vegetable dishes or cakes or pies. (By the way I now have a small can of Crisco I get from USA Foods.com in Melbourne and I also have baking paper).

I had to share this advertisement. It is on the reverse side of the Corn Oyster recipe. Love the hair on the child.

I will caption the photos of what this book contains and share a couple of the hum drum Sunday dinner menus with you. Such a gift it was from my aunt (my father’s sister.) Everyone now is gone on both sides of the family so it is even more valuable for nostalgic perusing.

This 21 st birthday card from my maternal grandmother to my mother was also tucked into the book. The year would have been 1947, about two months before my mother married my father.
This is the note inside the birthday card for my mother, Sally.

I hope you have enjoyed this little historical journey into a small part of my family history. I think for 2021 I will make an effort to cook and share some of the recipes with you.

Read on for a list of a couple of the Sunday menus. Remember, these recipes are just for a non-event Sunday, not a special occasion or holiday. (So much work!!!). I picked a couple of menus at random.

NB: As this book was published in 1913, before WWI and the great depression of the 1930s, people must have been quite well off if there were to cook these menus or they had staff to do it. Families were bigger in those days than they are now and the resources used to go into these meals must have been many. I think members in my family back then would have simply picked and chosen what they wanted to cook individually as I might do in 2021 to carry on a tradition.

WINTER

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SPRING

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SUMMER

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AUTUMN

WOW! I’m stuffed !

A Cool Summer’s Day Christmas

Photo: Shutter Stock

Having grown up in the state of Michigan in the USA, I will never get used to Christmas in summer. We have lived here more than 30 years now and it still seems strange to not have a myriad of lights everywhere (as our summer days are long) and snow covered trees and bushes. However I cannot complain about our weather although summer heat has still not kicked off. 18 degrees C today (64F or thereabouts).

We have some lovely food in the fridge for a later dinner, a new kitchen instead of gifts and many books waiting to be read. Our cats have been chasing each other through the house. Ollie is running around the backyard looking through his fence crack for the neighbour’s cat, Stanley and old Molly is waiting for her heart and arthritis medication before her doggie breakfast.

Photo Source: tdls.com

I finished the Ann Cleeves book I mentioned previously and the Gifts of Reading also. I will now pass those on as they won’t need to live here anymore so they will be released into the wild.

I will start a new novel in the next day or two and I have a new book of essays I began today. I will mention that today. It is called In the Kitchen: Essays on food and life. Published 2020 by Daunt books it consists of 13 essays by a variety of authors. Here is the inside cover’s blurb:

Food can embody our personal histories as well as wider cultural histories. But what are the stories we tell ourselves about the kitchen, and how do we first come to it? How do the cookbooks we read influence us? Can cooking be a tool for connection in the kitchen and outside it?

I love this brightly coloured cover.

In these thirteen original essays, writers consider the subjects of cooking and eating and how they shape our lives, and the possibilities and limitations the kitchen poses. Rachel Roddy traces her life through the cookers she has known; Rebecca May Johnson considers the radical potential of finger food; Ruby Tandoh discovers other definitions of sweetness; Yemisi Aribisala remembers a love affair in which food failed as a language; and Julia Turshen considers food’s ties to a community.

In the Kitchen brings together thirteen contemporary writers who brilliantly capture their experiences in the kitchen and beyond.

I have read the first essay by the food writer Rachel Roddy who lives in Rome. She recalls the 20 cookers she has known throughout her life, where she was living, what she was doing and their idiosyncrasies. They varied in use from disconcerting gas leaks, collectible old Agas, bum warmers and overheated kitchens. It was a fun read of how life can be measured by our appliances in a kitchen, which I have never really thought of much. I have not lived with 20 cookers in my lifetime and I doubt I could remember many of the ones I did live with except to say they were all electric.

I am sure I will enjoy the rest of this book through my daily reading of these little gems of wisdom and history.

I can’t believe I have traded in my motorbike for a new stove. You just never know the direction life may take.

I will now leave you to enjoy the rest of your day and happy thoughts to each of you whether you have a large Christmas (I hope not too large) or a quiet, more melancholy one of which I think might be quite prevalent this year

As our relatives are all spread out between the USA and Canada, ours will be quiet but it will be contented with what is going on today and I must say I am really looking forward to January when I hope to be seeing Trump being dragged out of the white house on 20th. Put him on a horse and slap it on the rump and watch it run off (like in the cowboy movies of the 1950s I grew up on.) It is good to have things to look forward to.

May we all do things in 2021 that keep us healthy, make us happy and move us forward as humanity and keep our earth, flora and fauna happy too.

Hope you all get a book for Christmas.

An Icelandic Christmas in Tasmania?

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I do still have several old vintage Penguins. 

As many of you know Icelandic persons celebrate Christmas in a way that I love. The government sends each resident a catalog of books before the big day.  The residents pick out the books they plan to buy for their family members and off they go shopping. On Christmas Day they all receive their books as gifts and they they settle down and read for the day.  That sounds like heaven to me so we will come close to doing that tomorrow.

We have celebrated Christmas with a surrogate family (friends with kids) on Saturday so most of it is over. Mr. Penguin and I celebrate it on Christmas Eve.  Christmas morning is spent quietly at home, reading the papers, books, magazines and a leisurely breakfast. I might add it is to be 24 degrees C tomorrow here (75 F) so a lovely summer day. Then a friend will join us for afternoon tea later in the day.

I bought these books last year but they arrived too late to read them for the season so looking at them tomorrow. Very northern hemisphere but I love the covers and the authors.

 

Then it’s over. Of course the big Sydney to Hobart boat race begins on Boxing Day (26th) and we usually listen to a bit of that news or watch them leave Sydney Harbour on TV.  The boats begin arriving in Hobart around the 27th (the big maxis) to New Year’s day (the smaller ones.) I admire the smaller ones taking on this race. I’m not interested in the multi-million dollars racing boats. It’s those that sail on the smaller boats across treacherous Bass Strait that seem to have the spirit of the race in them, in my humble, non boating opinion.  They are all scored on handicap. I might post up a few photos later in the week.

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Beginning the walk into town.

Today I decided to take the bus into town and get a bit of Christmas Spirit.  I missed the first one so just started walking. I knew the next one would be along in another 35 minutes or so. It takes one hour, ten minutes to get into the city centre from my house.  Once the next bus was due I stopped at a bus shelter and sat down for a little rest. It was very hot today. 31 degrees C (88 F). An Indonesian woman, named Clara,  who has lived in South Hobart for many years was at the stop. I loved the flowers in her hair and the little Christmas hat she wore. We chatted for about 10 minutes and then both of us rode the bus into town. She certainly was enjoying the Christmas season. I ran into her again on the way back to the bus home. She was carrying two heavy grocery bags and I asked her if I could help, but she waved me away and said she was taking a taxi home. So we wished each other well again and went on our merry way.

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On the bus with cheery Clara. Don’t you just adore the “Merry Christmas” hat?

While in town I sat at Bojangles cafe which is located in the Elizabeth Mall. (For you American friends, a mall here is an area outdoors- not like you have.) I had a toasted cheese sandwich and a large, cold milkshake and people watched for about 30 minutes. It was fun watching everyone walk past with large bags and parcels, funny t shirts and all kinds of hats.

I then went on my way, finished my errands and caught the bus home.  I am looking forward to peace and quiet now in the coming week.  I haven’t decided if I’ll do the Boxing Day sales. I think it might be a bit mad and I really don’t need a thing.  I think I just talked myself into staying home and playing with Odie and Molly.

There are some fun summer photography challenges happening with our club so I will have a closer look at the topics and see what I can get up to with my camera.  I need to practise using my camera on its tripod more often. Sharper photos but so often I just don’t bother. There is always something to work on in photography.

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Hobart City Council Christmas banners were getting a bit windblown.

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This holiday urchin was on the front of a large tea shop. 

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One of the decorations in the mall. They are metal and go around the trees to keep the trunks from being damaged. You can see them in the photo below.

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People watching in the Elizabeth Mall. There were lots of people, I just caught this photo while it slowed down a bit.

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Enjoying my milkshake on this hot day.  

I am looking forward to seeing what books people get from Santa and I look forward to the year ahead reading, mostly what is on my shelf.  Stay tuned.

Merry Christmas to all my online friends and let’s hope 2019 is a really good year, personally, environmentally and politically. Snip20181218_10

Enjoy the photos.

Last but not least- the photo challenge for this week from Hobart Photographic Society fun challenge. The theme this week is:  LIQUID.

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ODIE enjoying ‘liquid’ at the beach. I just love the expression on his face. He always concentrates so hard whenever he does anything.