Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Tale of Two Sundays - August

On the first Sunday of August, 1927, our homemaker prepared a Slice of Ham Baked in Milk, Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Escalloped Tomatoes, Canned Asparagus Tips in French Dressing, Salt Crackers with Cream Cheese, and a Charlotte Russe for dessert.

Baking a ham slice in milk is a way to draw out some of the saltiness and keep the ham moist; and the sweet potatoes were partially pre-cooked and then baked in the oven beside the ham, in a sugar-butter syrup (no marshmallows, a curious omission. 1920’s cooks were madly in love with marshmallows). Both of the side dishes called for canned vegetables, at a time of the year when the average home garden was bursting at the seams with fresh produce. And the dessert was served with something called Mock Cream.

Mock Cream. Bring to scald in the double boiler a cup of milk. Beat the whites of 2 eggs with a tablespoon powdered sugar and a scant teaspoon butter, creamed until soft enough to beat. Mix a teaspoon cornstarch with ½ cup cold milk, add to the egg whites and stir all with the hot milk. Cook until mixture thickens, strain and cool. It should be of the thickness of real cream. If too thick, thin with a little real cream or milk. This can be used plain or can be flavored and is very useful when real cream is not on hand or has perhaps soured.”

Too much time in a hot kitchen, even for a Sunday. Cold sliced ham, with sweet potatoes made in the cool of the morning and re-heated, and a salad of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, would be more to my liking. Let’s see what our 1953 cook is up to.

Planked Salmon with Glazed Beets, Buttered Spinach, Mashed Potatoes and Hardcooked Eggs; Hot Rolls, Apple and Nut Salad, and Peppermint Stick Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce for Dessert.

Planked fish was a popular company dish because the presentation demonstrated the hostess’ skill not only at cooking, but garnishing. Are there any home cooks out there who still plank fish, I wonder? General directions are as follows.

Planked Fish. Select any fish suitable for baking. Large fish may be split, boned, seasoned and planked flat, or small fish may be cleaned, seasoned and planked whole. Oil plank and preheat thoroughly in hot oven. Place fish in center of plank, brush lean fish with melted butter or French dressing*. Bake in a very hot oven (450° F) 10 to 15 minutes, reduce temperature to moderate (350° F) and bake until fish is nearly tender, allowing about 10 mintues per pound. About 15 minutes before fish is doen, remove plank from oven, garnish with mashed potatoes pressed through a pastry tube and other vegetables as desired. Return to oven to finish baking fish and to brown potatoes. Garnish.”

(*As I've mentioned before, at that time French dressing would be our old friend oil and vinegar).

I’m not thrilled by either menu. Anyone care to vote? Which meal would you rather prepare today?


cristinoel said...

They sure had weird ideas about food, didn't they?! I wouldn't eat any of it.

Joyce said...

I can't imagine cooking in the heat of August, especially before the advent of air conditioning. A chef salad with bits of ham or something equally cool and light sounds much better.

Erre54 said...

I try to transale Mock Cream
I want to do it
from Italia

one of my Husnand hobby is The firt war in italy 1915 1918.On June we went in Cortina .Tofane mountains, on the way of the big war.
-Whith us ,there was a writer of some books about war in Italy.if you come in italy , I bring(portare ) you there

nancyc20 said...

For the first of August 2010 I'm reheating a casserole 45 seconds in a microwave. I did cook the casserole last night in a hot kitchen...maybe that will give it the "cooks" flair??

Lidian said...

In August I do not care to cook either meal! Let's get takeout, I say :)

They certainly did slave over those hot stoves back then. I admire it, but i cannot condone it ;)

Shay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shay said...

Rita: Mock Cream seems to be Zuppa Inglese but with egg whites instead of yolks. If you make it, let us know how it turns out!

Packrat said...

I wouldn't want to cook either one. However, clear up into the 1980's sometime we always had a huge Sunday dinner. No one had air conditioning so we were hot all the time all summer long. We often ate outside, though.

Funny how fast we forget things like salty ham and bacon. We used have to parboil them before cooking them "for real", or they'd be too salty to eat.

Sam said...

Brown bread and butter. Both menus sound disqusting.