Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Electric table apparatus - or how you can keep your coffee warm at the table

It's the Bland of Blandonia

So this is the Tomato and Onion Pie I have been talking about for a while. And it was a complete bust.

So I'll post the recipe and then give you comments on where I think she goes wrong and on where I think I went wrong...and we'll see if we can't improve on it somewhat.


2 Spanish onions,
2 lb. of firm tomatoes,
vegetable butter,
and seasoning.

METHOD. - Peel the onions, cover them with boiling water, let them remain for at least 2 hours, then drain and dry thoroughly, and cut them into slices.
Heat up 1 oz. of butter in a frying-pan and fry the onions until lightly browned. Slice the tomatoes, place them in alternate layers with the onion into a greased pie-dish, sprinkling each layer lightly with salt and pepper, and liberally with breadcrumbs.
Cover the whole with a good layer of breadcrumbs, add a few small pieces of butter, and bake in a moderately hot oven for about 1 hour.

TIME. - About 4 hours. SUFFICIENT for 4 to 5 persons.

Now, as you can see from the photos it's just a pile of bread crumbs - this may be my fault, I may have been too heavy handed with them, but it does say 'liberally' to sprinkle them.

Apart from that it was bland... even extra salt and pepper couldn't help it and I think I know why.

Could it be the lengthy soaking of the onion to begin with? Or the frying or the further cooking? All of which result in Spanish onions that are so limp and apologetic as to be almost indiscernible.
Spanish onions aren't the worst kind of onions, as onions go, so this treatment seems rather excessive and produces something definitely unimpressive.

My recommendations: Use brown onions, forgo the 2 hour onion bath, fry the onions if you want or for real bite, don't, and use less breadcrumbs or just sprinkle them on top. And then you would have a pleasant accompaniment to a roast or fish or just about anything.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Portion Distortion - Now & Then

An interesting article from The Age Online... especially for those of us with an historic cookery/living project on the boil...

Are recipes making us fat?
February 17, 2009 - 10:05AM

Studied ... US cookbook Joy of Cooking.

It's not just fast food restaurants that have changed the way people eat - cookbooks share the blame.

So-called portion distortion, the trend of eating larger and larger servings, is as much a problem with recipes as it is restaurants, and has been going on even longer, a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine found.

The study, which looked at how classic recipes have changed during the past 70 years, found a nearly 40 per cent increase in calories per serving for nearly every recipe reviewed, about an extra 77 calories.

"So much finger pointing is going on at away-from-home dining it really takes the focus off where we could probably have the most immediate influence," says Cornell University marketing professor Brian Wansink, who directed the study.

The study identified the trend in numerous cookbooks, but it focused on American kitchen icon Joy of Cooking, first published during the 1930s and regularly updated with new editions since then, most recently in 2006. Those editions gave researchers a continuity of recipes from which to draw their data, Wansink says.

Of the 18 recipes published in all seven editions, 17 increased in calories per serving. That can be attributed partly to a jump in total calories per recipe (about 567 calories), but also to larger portion sizes.

Only the chili con carne recipe remained unchanged through the years. The chicken gumbo, however, went from making 14 servings at 228 calories each in the 1936 edition, to making 10 servings at 576 calories each in the 2006 version.

Calls to Scribner, publisher of Joy of Cooking, were not immediately returned.

Most excess calories in the American diet still come from food eaten outside the home, says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University. But she says the study is yet another illustration of how accustomed people are to eating ever increasing quantities of food.

And changes in Joy of Cooking have been going on for a while. Increases in overall calories per recipe have been gradual, but portion sizes tended to jump, first during the 40s, again during the 60s, and with the largest jump in the 2006 edition.

The first significant signs of restaurant portion inflation didn't show up until the late 70s, says Wansink.

Lisa Young, an adjunct nutrition professor at New York University, had similar findings in a 2002 study that compared the book's brownie recipe from the 60s and 70s editions to the recipe from the 1997 edition.

"Same recipe. Same pan. But in the 60s and 70s it yielded 30 brownies," she says. "In the 1997 edition it yielded 15."

She also was able to trace the trend to other recipe sources. For example, a popular chocolate chip cookie recipe that decades before produced 100 cookies, made only 60 during the 80s, though no ingredients had changed.

Wansink says he is more concerned by the increase in overall calories per recipe - what experts call caloric density - than in the portion size increases, which is a more easily recognised phenomenon.

"That (calorie increases) is more insidious because that's the sort if thing the average person wouldn't notice, wouldn't even think would have happened over the years," says Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, an examination of why people overeat.

Much of the change can be attributed to money. Relative to household income, food is cheaper than during the 30s. So recipes once padded with less expensive (and lower calorie) ingredients like beans, now often have more meat, Wansink says.

The scope of Wansink's study is limited. It measures the recipes only as written, not as eaten. Because people may eat more or less than the suggested serving, estimating the effect on the typical diet is challenging.

But a 40 per cent increase is significant. A change of even 10 per cent can affect weight, especially when dealing with high calorie foods, says Wansink. His solution? Don't let a full portion get anywhere near your plate.

"It's not enough to just be aware," Wansink says of the recipes once intended to serve nearly twice as many people are they do today. "Put half of it away as soon as it's cooked."

What kind of cabinets do you have?

Friday, February 13, 2009

That's not a cheese sandwich...

THIS is a Cheese sandwich!

Ever thought a cheese sandwich is just that...grab some cheese and whack it on some bread? No fear... Mrs Beeton has an entire recipe for a cheese sandwich... actually an entire section for sandwiches...

So without further ado I present


INGREDIENTS. - Cheshire or Cheddar cheese
anchovy-essence or paste
white or brown bread
salt and pepper

METHOD. - Grate the cheese finely, then either pound or work it until smooth with a little seasoning, anchovy-essence or paste, and as much butter as is needed to form the whole into a soft paste. Have ready some thin slices of bread and butter, spread the cheese preparation on half of them, cover with the remainder, press well, trim, and shape.

As you can see I didn't quite pound my cheese enough to make it smooth... and I added a touch too much anchovy paste... but it was quite tasty and would make a good savoury addition for an afternoon tea. And I learned a new way of making a cheese sandwich.

nummy calf's head

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mrs Beeton would like to introduce...

well, anyone really, so long as they are of good character and reliable.

Further to 50's gal's post about visiting the new neighbours...here's what Mrs B has to say.


When taking a house in a new locality, it is etiquette to wait for the residents of longer standing to call, thus evincing a desire, on their part, to become acquainted. It may be that the mistress will desire intimacy with but a few of her neighbours; but it is to be borne in mind that all visits, whether of ceremony, friendship , or condolence, should be punctiliously returned, though some time may be allowed to elapse in the case of undesirable acquaintances.

Letters of Introduction. - You may perhaps have been favoured with letters of introduction to persons living in the neighbourhood. In this case, enclose the letter of introduction in an envelope, with your card, and leave it at the house. Do not, however, wait to be received on this occasion. If the person to whom the letter is addressed call in the course of a few days, the visit should be returned by you within a week, if possible. It is more usual to write by the post and introduce a friend, instead of leaving everything to be said by the letter that is give. Men, especially in business circles, frequently introduce by scribbling across a visiting card "To introduce Mr._______."

In the event of your being invited to dinner, after calls have been made as above, nothing but necessity should prevent you from accepting. If you really cannot accept, state the reason frankly. Opportunity should also be taken to call in the course of a day or two, to express regret that circumstances made it impossible.

Giving a Letter Of Introduction. - Always pass a letter of introduction to your friend unsealed. Courtesy dictates this, on the assumption that the person you are introducing is naturally interested in knowing the manner in which he or she is referred to. Should you receive a letter from a friend, introducing a person known to and esteemed by the writer, the letter should be immediately acknowledged, and willingness expressed to do all in your power to carry out his or her wishes."

Have you ever received a letter of introduction? Or been asked to write one? The closest thing to this nowadays that I can think of is the "Friend of a Friend" section of facebook... you may know this person..do you?
And wouldn't it make it easier to get to know people if you were introduced by someone already in the know...

The Marking Ink

The very last ad in the book

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A pie of potatoes (and tapioca)

I had my sisters over for dinner again...
but seeing as the temperatures were topping 46 oC last week and still in the 30s this week it was almost too hot for my planned meal of potato pie and tomato and onion pie...

Also I hadn't boiled my onions for 2 hours on Sunday like I planned so in the end I just went with Potato pie and a fresh salad.

The continuing challenge on making scrummy vegetarian cooking is keeping me occupied for when my sisters come over, and this did not fail to delight even though I thought it would be way too carbo-loaded.

It also contained tapioca because at our last dinner I threatened to cook and entire dinner with tapioca, so you know what we had for dessert then... and what kind of hostess would I be if I didn't fulfill my culinary promises.


INGREDIENTS - 2lb of potatoes,
1 onion
1 stick of celery
1 oz. of vegetable butter
1 oz of sago or tapioca
short-crust paste to cover
water or milk

METHOD - Slice the potatoes and the celery, fry the onion in the butter, and fill a pie-dish with these, sprinkling in the sago or tapioca, and seasoning to taste. Fill up with water or milk, put on a cover of paste, and bake in a good oven for about 1 hour or more, according to size.

TIME - To bake, about 1 hour. SUFFICIENT for 3 or 4 persons

I went with the water option seeing as we were having milky pudding. The water and tapioca mix and end up as a kind of gravy. It's definitely one I would make again... also carrots or any other vegetable would be a good addition.