Thursday, December 31, 2009

100 Years Ago

Let's take a moment to look back at cooking a century ago.  The Alfalfa Cook Book (Second Edition, 1909) compiled by the Ladies of the Roswell Cemetary Association gives us a glimpse into "what was cooking" in the Southwest at the time.  The advertisements point to an era where kitchen cabinets were what we later called "cupboards" - furniture pieces transportable by families should they move.  There are ads for differing stoves, the Garland Stove competed against the Majestic Range in this market, both appear to be wood-burning.

In the section labeled "Mexican Dishes", Higinia Paredes submitted a recipe for Green Chile with Cream
Roast about eight green pepper pods on top of stove.  Place in cold water till you can slip the skins off, cut off stem ends.  Place in a bowl and mash fine, add two medium sized tomatoes, skinned and mashed.  Place in a frying pan a very little lard, when hot cut up one onion fine and fry until tender.  Then add chile and tomatoes, cook a few moments and add a cup of cream.  Salt to taste and serve hot.
Mrs. S. L. Ogle submitted a recipe titled Texas Lyonnaise Potatoes
Put two tablespoons butter or bacon grease into a frying pan.  When melted add an onion chopped fine, cook two or three minutes.  Add six cold boiled potatoes sliced into strips, seasoned with salt and pepper, fry to a light brown.  The addition of a little chopped parsley and a few drops of lemon juice gives a savory flavor.
I'm not quite sure what made that "Texas".  Mrs. J. P. Dyer submitted Chile Sauce as follows: 
Two quarts ripe tomatoes, four cups vinegar, four quarts onions, three tablespoons sugar, four red peppers or cayenne, two tablespoons salt, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.  Boil all together.
Peach Sweet Pickles?  Apparently so, by Mrs. Otto Hedgcoxe: 
If desired sweet take 7 pounds of peeled peaches to 2 pounds sugar, or if preferred sour, use 10 pounds of fruit to 3 pounds of sugar.  1 quart of apple cider, stick whole cloves in peaches and put allspice and cnnamon in muslin bag and cook with fruit sugar and vinegar.
But my favorite, written by Minnie B. Sharp was for Potato Split Biscuit, written in rhyme and with a sense of humor:

I start at nine o'clock, that is, have potatoes baked by then,
At nine in the morning have baked to a turn
Two large, white potatoes - be careful not to burn;
Half and half mix a teacup of butter and lard
With a pinch of fine salt, nor the process retard
Till you add the potatoes, mashed fine and still hot
      (I rice my potatoes)
And two well beaten eggs, but yet you must not
Forget that a teacup of milk you will need
Which you scald and then cool - 'tis a trouble indeed;
In this you dissolve one cake compressed yeast
And a large spoon of sugar, and last but not least,
Add one quart of flour and stir all together.
     (Stir at first, then lightly knead.)
And set away to rise until light as a feather
At noon you must stir in one pint sifted flour
Then leave quite alone till five, at which hour
Turn carefully out on your bread board the dough
With a wee bit of flour, not more you must know,
Roll thin and cut small, then arrange them by twos
One on top of the other and then if you choose
Bake them quickly, when once they are risen again
And they will soften the hearts of the crossest of men.

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