Almost roasted today. Went to Sunday school this afternoon. We had company this evening.
Air conditioning didn’t exit, and my grandmother’s family didn’t have electricity so there were no electric fans. In those days families congregated on the porch on hot summer days to relax and enjoy the breezes. Friends would often stop by, and a dessert would generally “just appear.”
I’m glad that modern technology makes our summers more bearable now, but I sense that we’ve also lost something. Does anyone sit (or entertain) on their porch anymore? (As I write this, I realize that we now have decks and outdoor rooms. Maybe they serve the same purpose that porches did in days gone by.)
The old ad was chock full of old tapioca recipes. A recipe for Maple Walnut Tapioca particularly intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try.
Tapioca pudding is a little tricky to make because it requires lots of stirring while cooking prevent burning, but it’s well worth the effort. This classic recipe is delightful with a hint of caramel which blends perfectly with the crunchy walnuts.
Heat milk in a saucepan using medium heat while stirring continuously until it begins to steam. Stir in the tapioca, and cook for 15 minutes while continuing to stir continuously. Midway through the cooking time, the mixture will begin to boil. When this occurs reduce heat so that there is a very slow rolling boil; continue to stir constantly. Remove from heat at the end of the 15 minutes.
Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot mixture into a small bowl with the beaten egg yolks and salt, and quickly stir. Then add the egg mixture to the tapioca, and return to medium heat and cook for an additional 3 minutes while stirring constantly. (The egg is first combined with a little of the hot mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot combination.)
Remove from heat, and cool in the refrigerator, then stir in the maple syrup. If the maple syrup does not readily mix with the tapioca mixture, beat a few seconds until combined (I used an electric mixer); then stir in the chopped walnuts.
If desired, may be garnished with walnut halves or whipped cream.
Visiting with old friends is always special. For the last 15 or 20 years, my husband and I get together a couple times a year with my daughter’s former girl scout leader and her husband to play pinochle. There are shared memories, family updates, and just plain good times.
It recently was my turn to host the gathering, and I wanted to make a special dessert – but something not too heavy. And, of course, my other criteria was that it had to be made using a hundred-year-old recipe. When browsing through an old cookbook, I came across a recipe for a citrus sponge cake called Sunshine Cake that peaked my interest, so I decided to give it a try.
The cake turned out wonderfully and did not disappoint. It was light, tender, and tasted divine. The recipe calls for both orange juice and lemon juice so it has a nicely balanced citrus flavor. The cake requires beating egg whites until stiff peaks form but it is worth the effort.
The trick to getting a really light cake is to cool it upside down. The cake can be inverted on a cooling rack when it is removed from the oven. In the old days, cakes often were inverted on an empty glass 1-quart soda-pop bottle to cool.
I am never an early adopter, but I always check out the latest kitchen equipment and gadgets. I recently was dismayed to discover that I only own some of the gadgets that were highly recommended in a 1916 issue of Ladies Home Journal. I obviously have some catch-up to do.
Recently a serendipitous event occurred. I saw a recipe for Chicken a la King in hundred-year-old magazine, and a left-over chicken breast languished in my refrigerator.
My mother and grandmothers often made Chicken (or Turkey) a la King to use left-over poultry – and I suddenly craved this old-time comfort food. The recipe did not disappoint. This delightful dish was both tasty and easy to make. The diced meat was embedded in a lovely thick and creamy sauce that contained mushrooms and green pepper. It is perfect when served over toast, biscuits, rice or pasta.
1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1 cooked chicken breast, diced into 1/2 inch pieces (or use 1 cup diced left-over chicken or turkey)
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Combine the half and half, chicken broth, lemon juice, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl; set aside.
Melt butter in a skillet, then stir in mushrooms, green pepper, and onions. Using medium heat, cook until the vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes) while stirring occasionally; then stir in the diced chicken. Stir in the flour, salt, paprika and pepper. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in the combined liquids that previously had been set aside and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. May be served over toast, biscuits, rice, or pasta.
When I walk into a supermarket, I informally evaluate it. Is the produce fresh? Are the clerks friendly? Does it stock all of the grocery items that I regularly buy? Is the location convenient? Does it have good prices? . . . And, if it doesn’t meet my standards, I might go to a different store the next time I shop.
Similarly, a hundred years ago people also evaluated their grocery stores; but that’s where the similarities end. A hundred-year-old home economics textbook had a Grocery Scorecard that students could use to evaluate their grocery stores – but frankly I’ve never considered the proximity to stables, or most of the other old-time criteria.
I tend to look at the past through rose-colored glasses, but when I’m honest with myself, I must admit what while some things were better a hundred years ago, I think I prefer modern food stores.