Friday, January 30, 2009

Three Cooks in a Turban?

Tap-tap, tap-tap, tap-tap, tap-tapioca, everyone!

"Everybody tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tapioca,
Everybody, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slapioca.
If ya got the dap, dap, dap-dap-dappier flappers flap-flap-flappier
Everyone is happier when the do the tap tapioca.
When they do the flap flapioca.
Tap, tap, tap, tapioca,
Slap, slap, slap, slapioca,
Tap, tap, tap, tap the tapioca.
Let's pretend we've got a bowl, we're gonna have some sport.
Ha!Add trumpled licks and a rag-time beat, let's say about a quart.
Yeah!Ya stir and stir it with your knee, adding a bump or two.
Ya heat it, mash it, beat it, smash it, if there's a lump or two.
Don't let the temperature drop to many degrees,
Or you'll wind up with what is called the frozen tapioca freeze!
Everybody, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap tapioca, everybody freeze!
Slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap slapioca everybody freeze!"

Ahhh, Thoroughly Modern Millie - don't you wish the twenties had really been like that (except perhaps without the unpleasant white slave trade associations...)

So here is my tapioca pudding... I went without soaking the tapioca before hand, and it turned out just fine and dandy.

This recipe was a little too egg-y for my liking but seeing as the eggs are optional I will probably omit them next time.


INGREDIENTS - 1 pint of milk
2 tablespoonfuls of tapioca or sago
1 tablespoonful of sugar, or to taste
2 eggs, optional

METHOD - Boil the milk, sprinkle in the tapioca or sago, stir until boiling, and simmer gently until it become clear, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and a good pinch of salt, and when a little cool, the eggs, beaten. Pour into a greased pie-dish, and bake in a slow oven.

TIME - To bake, about 1/2 an hour. SUFFICIENT for 4 to 5 persons.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Que sago, sago, whatever will be will be...

Well, according to Wikipedia, sago and tapioca are two completely different things.

"Sago is a starch extracted from the pith of sago palm stems. It is a major staple food for the lowland peoples of Papua New Guinea and the Moluccas. It is traditionally cooked and eaten in the form of a pancake and served with fish.
Sago looks like many other starches, and both sago and tapioca are produced commercially in the form of "pearls". Sago pearls are similar in appearance to tapioca pearls, and the two may be used interchangeably in some dishes. This similarity causes some confusion in the names of dishes made with the pearls."

And yet I bought "Seed Tapioca (Sago)", so clearly McKenzie's thinks they are the same thing... go figure.

Either way it all sounds fairly exotic for for something my brain thinks of as boarding school food...

I haven't made anything with my tapioca yet, as every time I read the packet the first instructions is to 'soak the Tapioca for 24 before use', which really doesn't lend itself to a spur of the moment thing.

However, Mrs Beeton doesn't have that as an instruction so I may just give it a burl...
Stand by for some tapioca pudding real soon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Take my advice!

The housewife

'House keeping has been mostly aptly described as the "oldest industry." It is certainly the most important, the very lynch-pin of life's daily round...Woman [since the War] has extended her influence in every sphere and in that which has always been peculiarly her own her position is more unassailable than ever. To use language appropriate to this volume, it may be said that while statesmen may carve nations, good cooks alone can consolidate them.
There are those - not many nowadays - who hold that housekeeping is a matter of instinct and the light of nature. Many women have, it is true, an inherited capacity; but like all other arts, this of domestic management must be cultivated, and even the most self-reliant of brides is generally willing, after a short experience, to concede that she is glad of such counsel as a well-tried book like this can give.'

I was thinking about all of us here in blogland, all with various different housekeeping or cooking experiments going on, and I was wondering why it is so prolific. What is it that we are missing from our ordinary lives that we need to search out old books and manuals to teach us? Obviously, it's nothing different to what they used to do 'back in the day'. sounds like it was perfectly acceptable to ask for help or get a book if you needed it.

Anyway, let see what else Mrs B has to about the housewife...

'Whether the establishment be large or small, the functions of the housewife resemble those of the general of an army or the manager of a great business concern. It is hers to inspire, to mould, direct; vigilance or slackness on her part will alike inevitably be reflected back. The most successful housewives are those who, as in other walks of life, make themselves felt rather than seen or heard. Constant nagging never yet made a good servant: on the other hand, a too-easy rule and undue familiarity are bad alike for housewife and for maid. In every household there are occasions when the housewife can, without loss of dignity and without suspicion of intrusiveness, show that she is interested in the lives of those about her and genuinely concerned for their welfare. Servants, for their part, can always give "that little more, and how much it is," which raises the relationship from that of mere wage-earning to one of respectful friendliness and willing co-operation. On the day that mistresses and maids realise their common humanity, their mutual dependence, and their mutual interest, the servant difficulty will disappear.'

Being a housewife was more that just slobbing about at home while your servants did all the work. And it was more that working your fingers to the bone in a flurry of housecleaning activities with no greater purpose or plan. The housewife is a general, directing and planing the battle against dirty and unclean elbows. She is the CEO of Home, Inc. making sure that all the quarterly projections for health, happiness and domestic tranquility are met.

Interesting that now homemaking and the domestic arts are such underrated skills, huh?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stimulating Nescafe

Mrs B recommends Alzheimer's

Well, not really, because aluminium doesn't really cause Alzheimer's, but she recommends aluminium cookware. In recent times, there has been a move away from aluminium, but in All about Cookery, "we belive, wherever possible, in the use of aluminium". I am, however, assuming that this is a later day addition, as aluminium was only first isolated in 1825.

Anyway, this is the list of 'required' articles for the kitchen in a fair-sized house.
Let me know if you have even half of these things. And if you do, where on earth do you keel it all?
The things I own will be in orange.

1 Boiling-Pot, oval, cast-iron
2 Casseroles
1 Double Pan or Boilerette
1 Dripping-pan with well on Iron Legs, wrought-iron
1 Ladle for same
1 Egg-Bowl
1 Egg Poacher
1 Fat-Pan and Drainer, Oval, wrought-iron
6 Fireproof glass Dishes, assorted I have one or two
1 Fish-Kettle with tin bottom, strong
1 Frying-pan, oval
1 Omelet-Pan
1 Preserving-Pan
4 Saucepans, assorted I have 3
1 Salamander and stand
1 Saute-Pan
3 Souffle Dishes
1 Steamer, 3 or more tiers
6 Stewpans, assorted sizes I have 2
1 Stock-Pot, 4 galls., with tap and drainer
1 Sugar Boiler
1 Tea-Kettle, oval
1 Well-Kettle, copper-bottom, tin body
1 Basting Ladle
1 Colander, strong tin
2 Dish Covers, wire
2 Dish-up Forks and Guards I have one
1 D. Slice
1 Egg-Slice
1 Frying-Basket
1 Gravy Strainer, Conical
1 Gridiron, Hanging, strong wire
1 pair Steak-Tongs Do BBQ tongs count?
1 Soup Ladle, strong tin
12 Spoons, assorted
6 Spoons, Wooden
1 Toasting-Fork Again I ask, do BBQ ones count?
1 Vegetable Strainer, wire
1 Apple corer
1 Bread-Grater I have a cheese grater, it would probably grate bread
1 Bread Rasp
1 Chopping-Board - and then a few more
1 Cook's Bone Knife
2 Cook's Knives
2 Corkscrews
1 Cutlet-Bat
1 Cutlet-Saw
1 Daubing Needle
2 Egg brushes
1 Egg Whisk, strong-wire
1 Box Fancy Cutters - I assume she means biscuit cutters
1 Filleting Knife
1 Flour-Dredge
1 Icing-Tube
1 Jelly Bag and stand
1 case Larding Needles
1 Lemon-Squeezer
1 Meat-Chopper
12 Meat-Hooks
1 Meat saw
1 Pasteboard, hardwood
1 Box Paste Cutters, fluted
1 Box Paste Cutters, round I have a few, not sure what constitutes a box though
1 Paste Jagger
1 Pestle and mortar
1 Pint Measure
6 Pudding-Cloths
1 Rolling-Pin, hardwood
2 Root Knives

1 Pair of Scissors
2 sieves, hair
1 sieve, brass wire
1 set of Skewers
1 Sugar-Dredge
1 Scales
2 Tin Funnels - Well, mine are plastic
2 Tin Openers
1 Box Vegetable cutters
3 Vegetable scoops
2 Cake-Tins
12 Dariole-Moulds
6 Fancy Entree Cups
6 Flan tins
2 Jelly Moulds
24 Patty-Pans, fluted I have several cupcake and muffin tins though
4 Pie-Dishes, assorted Maybe only 2
4 Pudding-Bowls, assorted
12 Tartlet-Pans
6 Breakfast Cups and Saucers
1 Coffee-Pot
3 Jugs
6 Plates, assorted
1 Teapot
2 Trays, strong I have one
1 set Tea, Coffee and Sugar Canisters
1 Bread Crock
1 Flour Crock
1 Seasoning Box
1 Coffee Mill, steel
1 Freezer
1 Knife-Machine
1 Knife Sharpener
1 Meat-Safe
1 Mincing-machine
1 Potato-Masher
1 Potato-Peeler
1 Refrigerator
2 Galvanized Pails
1 Bass or Yard Broom
1 Dish Mop
1 Hair Broom
3 Scrubbing Brushes
1 Set Shoe Brushes
1 Set Stove Brushes
1 Flue Brush
1 Dustpan Brush
1 Oven Thermometer
Copper, Steel or Aluminium shavings for scrubbing out pans

Friday, January 9, 2009

If you have difficulty in obtaining

Dismally frumpish?

'Mrs Beeton lived in the Victorian era‚ which‚ as everyone under 30 knows‚ was dismally frumpish.' Florence White‚ The Times‚ February 1933.

So what are your impressions of the Victorian era?

An exceedingly long period in British history which includes the colonisation of New Zealand, the Irish potato famine, the Crimean War, the Indian mutiny, the publication of The Origin of Species, the occupation of Egypt and Jack the Ripper.

I imagine the 'dismally frumpish' comment is a reflection of the clothes and social mores perceived to have gone with them, the repressed sexuality, the constraints in society - and yet this is a time when prostitution was on the rise. However, even wikipedia disputes this, suggesting that "Corsets stressed a woman's sexuality, exaggerating hips and bust by contrast with a tiny waist. Women's ball gowns bared the shoulders and the tops of the breasts. The tight-fitting jersey dresses of the 1880s may have covered the body, but they left little to the imagination." Check out this foxy minx and tell me she's not as equally exciting as a Victoria's Secret model.

Lytton Strachey writing to Virginia Woolf, November 8, 1912:
Is it prejudice, do you think, that makes us hate the Victorians, or is it the truth of the case? They bungling hypocrites; but perhaps really there is a baroque charm about them which will be discovered by our great-great-grandchildren as we have discovered the charm of Donne, who seemed intolerable to the 18th century. Only I don't believe it... I should like to live for another 200 years (to be moderate).
(Cited in The Letters of Lytton Strachey, edited by Paul Levy, Penguin, 2005.)

So do we have a misconception of Victorian society? And if so, why? Is it because our high-school history teachers never bothered to explain it to us in depth? Or because we love to watch Dickens' adaptations and just accept that everything was dark, dirty and repressed? And are you a Victorian realist or romanticist?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Got some gumption?

Merely a trifle too.

So finally, the trifle...
It's taken me long enough, hasn't it.

A trifle is described by wikipedia as "a dessert dish made from thick (or often solidified) custard, fruit, sponge cake, fruit juice or, more recently, jelly (gelatin), and whipped cream. These ingredients are usually arranged in layers with fruit and sponge on the bottom, and custard and cream on top.
Some trifles contain a small amount of alcohol such as port, or, most commonly, sweet sherry or madeira wine. Non-alcoholic versions use fruit juice instead, as the liquid is necessary to moisten the cake." So there you go...

My trifle consisted of swiss roll, semi-sweet sherry, apricot syrup, port wine jelly, vanilla custard, whipped cream, flake and strawberries for garnish... One of them also had stewed apricots in it.
So a success all round? Well, almost...except for my husband who complained about the whipped cream on the top, and apparently I had the jelly and the custard the wrong way around. Everyone else, including those who don't normally partake of trifle enjoyed it. Apparently, it was much more pleasant that the variety that used to be made by our next door neighbour. But not my husband...stubborn man. It was good, but not great.

That night he got some kind of food poisoning, and was, jokingly, convinced it was the trifle... bah humbug, because everyone else who ate it was fine.

To add insult to injury, when I was explaining my culinary triumph and my quest for trifle recipes, his mother told me that it was just swiss roll, sherry, custard and jelly. No fruit, no whipped cream, no nothing.

So next time I venture into the murky trifle waters for my husband it will be the least exciting and ordinary of trifles...a store bought swiss roll, store bought custard, covered by store bought jelly... it will be merely a trifle indeed.