Uncategorized

1920s cooking

I’ve started off the new year with a resolution to cook through the past century; 1920s-2010’s. Food history has always fascinated me and looking through old cookbooks is such a thrill to me. 

I also discovered a few fun facts on my own. A few that stand out are about wine and Chinese food. Of course, the 1920s was during prohibition. Despite this, recipes with wine or liquor remained popular with American palates. This is when rum flavor extracts became popular. As for wine, they started to add a significant amount of salt to their wine sold for cooking to keep people from drinking it! And guess what? The cooking wine you can buy in the vinegar section at the grocery store…it still has a large amount of salt! I found this out when I over-salted one of the following recipes because I didn’t realize the cheap cooking wine I used had the second ingredient of salt! Ick.  I wish I could remember the link to the article I read, but here is a different good one to here.

In the 1920s, Chinese food was really gaining popularity. Both as a fine dining experience, or a cheap but filling meal in a small restaurant. In the big cities, hipsters were trying to recreate “authentic Chinese” dishes like Chop Suey and Egg Foo Yung. I’m just kidding about authentic. I learned that these dishes are purely American made by Chinese Americans using available ingredients in the U.S. at the time and catering to American tastes. I also learned why there was an explosion of Chinese restaurants around this time. Laws came into effect that basically stated that people from China were not allowed to immigrate to or stay in the United States UNLESS they were opening a restaurant. So….Chinese restaurants! Read this fascinating article about it. 

The recipes I made this week were cheap, filling, and used many of the same ingredients. Like celery! I think for the first time, I actually used a whole head of celery in a week. Also, ham, onions, jarred pimentos. Funny thing about pimentos. Evidently, they’re not as easy to find in 2019 Denver. At my usual store for grocery, they did not have pimentos. I considered roasted red peppers but thought it was worth a trip somewhere else for the sake of authenticity. I went to the Wal-Mart by my house thinking it was a sure thing. No pimentos. So I bought a jar of roasted red peppers. It was a little annoying. So I’m walking out, and just when I was thinking that my Wal-Mart thinks it’s better than everyone, my bag breaks. My jar of roasted red peppers broke and splattered on the floor. One of the workers comes and reassures me right away and asks if I would like to go get a new jar. Humbled. Thank you, Wal-Mart. $3.75 for a jar of peppers is a lot of money for the 1920s!

So, this week I made:

Ham and Bean soup with homemade biscuits

Chicken a la King

Egg Foo Young

Ham and Bean Soup

This soup is good and cheap. My understanding is that you could find a variation of ham and bean soup in most area of the country in the 1920s. I couldn’t find a ham bone from a company with integrity in how they raise their pigs. I had to use only a ham I found that was Niman Ranch. A ham bone would add a huge depth though if you use it. I also used dried black-eyed peas. Cook dried beans in the crockpot with enough water to cover them. Do 2 hours on high and then 2 hours on low. Then drain them and use like canned beans. Cheaper and better texture. In the recipe below I just put canned beans because I know most likely you all aren’t cooking dried beans in your crockpot. I usually don’t either.

  • 1 ham bone
  • Oil (I used avocado)
  • 1 lb. thick cut ham
  • 2 onions
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas or any kind of white bean like Great Northern
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat a large soup pot on medium-low. Add about 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan.
  2. Add the chopped onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium for about 4 minutes.
  3. If using the ham bone, add that to the pot and pour in the vegetable broth. Turn the heat down to a little above low and simmer for as long as you have time for 30 min? 1 hour?
  4. Add the beans and the ham and bay leaf. Simmer on medium-low for about 30 more minutes.

Serve with homemade biscuits. (recipe below) This soup could definitely be cooked in the crock pot ( but not in the 1920s). If you’re not playing pretend, just do it in there. Add all the ingredients, turn it on low, go to work.

Homemade Easy Biscuits

Ok, so this was the first time I had ever made biscuits. I’ve always been one of those people who say “I cook but I don’t bake”. However, I have to admit, whenever I do bake I feel really happy about it. And there is something about making a homemade bread item to go with soup that makes me much more excited about the meal. So I googled something like “1920s easy homemade biscuits”. I honestly can’t find the recipe I used but since I’m not really a baker, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. And my biscuits were crumbly and not flaky. So I googled “why are my biscuits crumbly” and I learned that my butter wasn’t cold enough. I’ve found this new recipe that stresses the importance of cold butter. It even has you grating frozen butter into the mixture. I also learned in my googling that even distribution of the fat is what gets you those flaky layers too. I posted the recipe below but you can go here to find the original recipe and article on delish.com.

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, very cold, plus more for brushing
  • 1 c. cold buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 425º. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  2. Using a box grater, grate butter over the flour mixture and quickly toss with your hands to incorporate. Then, using a wooden spoon, make a well in the middle of the dough and pour in 1 cup buttermilk. Stir until just beginning to come together, then dump out onto your work surface.
  3. Bring your dough together into a rectangle, about 1” thick. Fold the dough into thirds, like folding a letter to put into an envelope. Using a rolling pin, gently pat back into a 1” thick rectangle, and repeat the folding process two more times. Work fast so the butter does not melt.
  4. Once the dough is folded three times, roll into a 1” thick rectangle again. Using a 2½” round biscuit or cookie cutter, quickly press down (don’t twist!) to cut out the biscuits and place onto baking sheet, about a half inch apart. Bring together dough scraps and cut out more biscuits.
  5. Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter and bake until flaky and tops are lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Chicken a la King

YUM! This was so good. Even though it was too salty because of the cooking wine and the biscuits crumbly. It was still SO GOOD!

  • Chicken thighs- cut into large chunks
  • Mushrooms- thick sliced
  • 1/2 jar pimentos
  • 3 stalks celery- sliced
  • 1 onion- diced
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth- save the rest for another recipe
  • 2 tablespoons flour (use cornstarch if you don’t have flour)
  • Oil for cooking
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper- a bay leaf if you have one
  • curly or Italian parsley- chopped for garnish
  1. Heat a little oil in a large fry pan. Salt and pepper the chicken, add to the pan once it’s hot.
  2. Cook the chicken over medium-high heat and don’t stir too much. You want it to brown. After about 6 minutes, remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Your pan will have brown stuff on it called “frond” from the chicken. Over medium heat, add the sherry and scrape up all the brown stuff on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the butter and all the veggies (mushrooms, pimentos, celery, onion, bay leaf if you’re using it). Cook until quite soft.
  5. In the meantime- cook the biscuit according to package instructions.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low. Mix together your chicken broth and flour, mix very well.
  7. Add the chicken broth-flour mixture to the pan with the veggies. Turn heat to medium if necessary. Stir well. You want it to bubble for 1 minute in order to get the flour taste out and to thicken.
  8. Add the heavy cream. And reduce to medium-low. Add the chicken back to the pan. Cook for about another 5 minutes. Taste to see if it needs salt and pepper.
  9. Serve the chicken a la king over biscuits. Like biscuits and gravy. Most recipes will tell you to serve it over rice or potatoes. I used biscuits because it sounded really good and if this was 1929 (or 2019), I wouldn’t let them go to waste.

What the pan looks like after the chicken and before the vegetables. Frond (flavor).

Egg Foo Young

Yummy again. It was a stir-fry omelet with soy sauce gravy. So yum. I imagined the hipsters of the 1920s trying out this “adventurous” dish at home.

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 oz. ham
  • 2 teaspoons high heat cooking oil- (I like avocado)
  • ½ cup bean sprouts- canned or fresh
  • ½ cup water chestnuts- sliced
  • ½ cup bamboo shoots- sliced in half
  • ½ cup green onions- plus more for garnishing
  • 2 tablespoons pimentos- or 1 whole roasted red pepper- chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup white rice- (I like Jasmine)
  • ½ cup oyster sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce + more for stir frying veggies
  • ¼ cup sherry
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic- I often use the jarred kind
  • 1 teaspoon ginger- I used the jarred, you can use 1 inch chopped fresh ginger or just use the powder which is what they probably would have done in the average American kitchen.
  • ½ cup chicken broth- or water will work too
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional, but it makes it WAY good. Use fresh ground if you can)
  1. Cook the rice according to package instructions. What works best for me is add double the water as rice, (2 cups in this case), rice and heat uncovered on high. As soon as it boils, cover and turn off. After about 7 minutes, turn the burner to low and cook another 10-13 minutes. Fluff with a fork and cover again with the heat off until you’re ready to eat.
  2. Heat a large wok or fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the 2 teaspoons high heat cooking oil.
  3. Add the ham, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, green onions, and pimentos. Stir-fry for about 5-7 minutes. Stirring often. Add a few shakes of soy sauce.
  4.  Add the 1 teaspoons of sesame oil to the pan with the ham and veggies. Then add the egg mixture. Let it cook over medium heat, push in the edges from time to time for a few minutes. Cover with a lid for about 5 minutes, then check. The eggs should still look a little wet, but mostly cooked through.
  5. While the egg is cooking, make the brown gravy. Mix together the broth ( or water if using), oyster sauce, soy sauce, sherry, and cornstarch.
  6. Add the above to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stirring frequently. You want it to boil for one minute to get the corn starch taste out and to thicken to a gravy consistency.  Season with white pepper.
brown gravy ingredients
gravy before bubbling and thickening

finished gravy

Serve your Egg Foo Young with the rice, and brown gravy with green onions to garnish.

What I loved and learned about 1920s recipes is they were delicious and cheap, and many used combos of similar ingredients. So for instance, you would use your whole jar of pimentos, the entire head of celery (head?), or all of the onions from the bag. Here is another article of 1920s recipes. Doesn’t the recipe for the Prosperity Sandwich look delicious?

ps- bonus recipe! It’s not the 1920s without pimento cheese on celery! my grandma always had a jar of Kraft pimento cheese in her fridge. That was really the only snack available besides saltine crackers. This homemade one is barely even homemade but really good in a pinch.

  • 1/2 cup shredded white American cheese- I used Velveeta Shreds “mozzarella style”. LOL. This is more authentic than you think. “American” cheese was gaining popularity in the 1920s.
  • 1/2 container cream cheese- I have no idea if cream cheese was around then. Probably?
  • one small jar pimentos
  • a dash worcestershire
  • celery
  1.  Mix all together.
  2. Spread on celery.

Uncategorized

That Fry Sauce

This is the sauce you want for your fries. I think I’ve finally pinpointed the recipe I use for tasty fry sauce. It wasn’t until I started using blue apron that I realized the secret to tasty sauce is a clove of grated garlic. Serve this tasty sauce with sweet potato fries, regular fries, salmon salmon cakes, grilled chicken, or any roasted veggie. If you serve it with sweet potato fries and salmon, be sure to serve it with a green salad or at least some green garnish, otherwise you’ll have a plate of orange!

ingredients:

  • ½ cup mayo (I like Primal Kitchen)
  • ½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (my latest favorite is trader Joe’s fat free sour cream) *
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 fresh garlic clove, crushed or grated with a microplane
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix. I wait to grate the garlic over the bowl of ingredients. 
  2. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
  3. That’s it!

*i usually don’t buy the fat free version. However, I really liked the taste of this sour cream. Nice and sour and the ingredient list is simple, short, and real. 

Uncategorized

monday musings

I can’t help myself. I love latte art.

I’m thinking about doing a series “cooking through the decades”. Each week I would cook  and share 2-3 recipes from each decade starting 100 years ago.  I think it would be so fun! I’ve already been doing my research with articles like this one and this one.  Do you have any ideas for me? What dish comes to mind when you think of the 40’s, 60’s, 2000’s?

Cookbooks among celebrity non-chef’s are so popular. Have you tried any? These are a few that look good to me: Cravings, (here is a good review on itThe Seasoned Life, Audrey At Home and here is a long list of celebrity cookbooks. Pippa Middleton? Freddie Prince Jr? Kris Jenner? Ok!

I heard a piece on the radio today about bringing back fresh cooking in schools.  When is the last time this was common practice? I know at the school I teach, the actual nutrition is much better than it was 10 years ago, but the main dishes are still majority pre-packaged and heated up.  I will say that there are always fresh fruits and veggies instead of canned. There are so many good cooks out there, I know many school food service people would be happy to actually use their real skills to cook again in the school.  Like this woman!

On that note, I leave you with a lovely picture of some chives I snapped as I was leaving my doctor’s office last week. It makes me wonder and hope that perhaps employees get to go out and snip some fresh chives for their meals?

Chives at Kaiser
Uncategorized

twice cooked truffled baby potatoes 

Ok! Last Easter recipe post. I gotta make it short and sweet. My laptop is broken and so Ive been blogging the last couple posts from my phone. Yuck! 

These potatoes are delicious of course because of truffle oil and truffle salt, two items worth splurging on. A little goes a long way and they are soooo delicious on things like potatoes, risotto, scallops. The trick to these potatoes is to cook them long enough. You’ll boil them, smash them and then oven fry them. They go great with anything! Serve them room temperature or warm.

twice cooked truffled baby potatoes

ingredients

serves 6-8 side dishes

2 lbs small baby potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 more tablespoons

2 teaspoons white truffle oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teasooon truffle salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf (italian) parsley

Freshly cracked black pepper

Boil the potatoes in a large pot with salt water that just barely covers the potatoes. Boil for about 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are quite tender when pierced with a fork. You want to be able to easily partially smash them with your fork once they’re drained. After the potatoes are partially smashed. Transfer them to a baking sheet and toss with the 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees until browned and a little crispy but still soft too. 

Remove from the oven and put in a large bowl. Add two more tablespoons of olive oil, the truffle oil, parsley, truffle salt and more pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Add more truffle salt and oil if desired. Happy Easter! 

I apologize for any mistakes. Again, iPhone blogging is a true struggle. But I do it for you, my faithful 5 readers. xoxox

Uncategorized

monday musings

My chihuahua is pretty chill. Here we are snowmobiling in Maine.

Did you like the chill chihuahua? Last night, I made it for some friends and I accidentally grabbed the bottle of triple sec instead of tequila. Wowza! And yikes. It was quite the tart and sweeeet drink. It turns out that cocktails named after dog breeds is a thing!

On Thursday, I posted a recipe for japchae. The recipe I used called for bean thread noodles, but after research, I found that sweet potato starch noodles are the actual Korean japchae noodle.  This article clears most all your Asian noodle questions up!

Saturday’s post has tahini as the shining star ingredient. I use Woodstock Tahini, but evidently, I could be using several other more artisanal brands. Last year was the year of tahini.  I’m hoping tahini trend will continue in 2017.  I have a food scientist friend who works with companies to develop new products. I picked his brain for a bit the other day about 2017 food trends.  He said peppercorns are a big thing right now paired with sweets, such as pink peppercorns with chocolate.  Sounds like the new salted caramel?  He also said something about a cloudberry that has the texture of yogurt on the inside? Yes please!

I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of my chill chihuahua.

 

 

His name is Papo
Here is he with my husband and niece

 

 He met a man a couple of years ago that had just had his 107!! birthday! They really liked each other.
Uncategorized

monday musings

I’m right in the middle of Chef’s Table season 3(Oh! this trailer is so good!). This week I watched Nancy Silverton , Osteria Mozza, (Los Angeles, CA) and Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen, (New York, NY).  The theme I loved the most with these two was the obsession. Pure obsession with every detail until it was right. Oh and hey!  He uses oven roasted tomatoes to achieve umami perfection in his ramen broth. With the episode and this article, I found a certain affinity to Ivan’s story. It got me thinking about this.

So, currently I teach 1st grade and have taught elementary school for the past 12 years. I’ll be making a change next year so I’m learning new things and rediscovering my hobbies. From time to time my husband passes on articles to me. He sent me an article today entitled: 30 Lessons Leonardo Da Vinci has taught me about photography, art, and life. Number 11 was an “ah-ha”.

And when I’m not cooking or teaching, I’m loving on my pets and foster pets. I’ll leave you with this sweet photo of my late Great Dane getting a little too close to the blueberry pancakes.

 

I miss my counter surfer!

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Monday Musings

We have friends in town and we were all craving some spaghetti and meatballs so I made Barefoot’s recipe. So, so good.  Watch the video in the link.  Ina is so cool, so confident.

we are pretty happy about all those meatballs

 

Food can be a very passionate topic for some.  This article sure grabbed my attention this morning: Why your Instagram photos of food may be racist . Check out the original article here.

I really love culture sensitivity articles.  This article on “American behavior” was quite enjoyable to me.

After the Oscars last night (um…wow), we decided to watch the first episode of season 3, Chef’s Table.  Amazing.  Jeong Kwan is an absolute joy and inspiration! The part that stuck with me most was how calm it was at the monastery.  Also, the vast amounts of bowls and barrels. This morning, we were discussing our Chef’s Table view and my friend brought up a good point. One always has to consider that with the attention that Chef’s Table brings, will it also bring tourists to the calm monastery?

Alright. Ok! I do like chicken breasts sometimes. Blue Apron used to include the airline chicken breast cut.  I loved that.  Bring it back Blue Apron! I also love chicken breasts that are pounded until thin, breaded and fried. So there!

Uncategorized

monday musings

img_2774

I hope that you started your day with a latte like the one above.  Don’t you feel smarter and healthier?

Thinking about the connection of African Food and American Food and reading this.

Making injera is hard for me and I’ve been trying my darndest to figure out it out!  I think of Injera as Ethiopian but I read here that it’s “Always present during mealtime, in countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Yemen, Djibouti and Sudan with each country having it’s own variation.” Woah! This is good to know. So far, it’s been quite the failure to me.

I’m obsessed with this this youtube channel and this one in particular is my favorite. The music, the camera angle and light.  It’s like cooking ed plus asmr all in one. I just love them! Oh and how about this one. The perfect combination of Swahili, Pilau, and ASMR.

I’ve been thinking about where I’d like to travel in my kitchen this week and what would be good enough to share with you. My friend introduced me to the most tasty Korean lettuce wraps with all the banchan. And don’t think I’m cool enough to know to just always remember that word.  I’m always having to google “name of Korean side dishes”.