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Gram’s Cookbook – page 16 Meats

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Today is all about meat!  One of these is a fairly common dish in modern American diets – the meat loaf.  I don’t make these much, so don’t have a new recipe for you on this.  The other is Mince Meat – which may not be something most folks are familiar with.

Beef Loaf

A dimes worth of beef.

Fifteen cents worth of pork.

Grind the meat then season.  Put in about a cup of rather fine bread crumbs. Season with salt, pepper, allspice and sage.  One egg and about 1/2 cup of water enough to moisten well.  Mix well together, mold and bake.

“Bob” 

Mince Meat

1# cooked lean meat (weight after cooking) 

1# seeded raisins

2 1/2 # chopped apples

1# currants

1/2# kidney suet chopped fine

2 1/4 cups sugar

2 cups meat broth in which meat is cooked.

1 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoons cloves

3 teaspoons cinnamon

4 teaspoons salt

This can be added:

1/2# citron

2 oz. candied orange peel

Juice 1 lemon & grated rind

Juice 1 orange & grated rind

1/2# chopped nuts

Steam & simmer raisins separately until they have “plumped” before adding them.  Apple cider can be added.  This can be sealed while hot.

Mrs. A.J. Austin

First things first – the Beef Loaf recipe is the only recipe in this book that is submitted by a man!   Who knows, maybe it was a lady who went by Bob, but still…

Clearly, the first issue for the Beef Loaf recipe for us is the understanding of how much a “dimes worth” or “fifteen cents worth” of any meat was in 1916.  I’ve done several internet searches and not come up with much… I did find this reference which has the prices listed from an add in a New Jersey newspaper for December 1910.   It doesn’t directly list beef, but pork loins were 18 cents a pound – so maybe 15 cents was about a pound back then.  Who knows.  (Plus, this add is great fun just for seeing how much things cost 100 years ago!  And, the sorts of things available – steamer trunks, smyrna figs, women’s corsets…)  But, this does greatly illuminate the need for volumes to be written in recipes – not a “can” of soup or a box of jello… Cultural understandings of these things change over time and while the author of such recipes might know, her great grandchildren might not.  🙂

Mince meat pie, from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons, by author Jmb

Mince Meat is well, not a common thing these days.   Not many people my generation have had it or like it I’m sure.  But, I remember my paternal grandmother making it and my finding it strange that meat would be put into a pie!  (Pies are all fruit and pudding, right?)  Now as an adult, I’ve discovered that my father in law loves it – but few people make it anymore and finding an authentic recipe is hard.  Wikipedia explains that mincemeat has changed over the years and current version that you can buy in stores don’t have any meat in them at all!  As a method of using of scraps of meat, it seems silly to make it into a savory fruit pie… I mean, it DOES have the word “meat” in it!  So, at some point, my father in law will get a go at this 100 year old recipe and an authentic mince meat pie and maybe compare it to this updated version on Epicurious.  That is, if I can find…

From the Wikipedia site under Creative Commons by FotoosvanRobin

Kidney suet – what the blazes is that?  I had to look it up and apparently – it is the fat surrounding the kidneys of a cow and is dense and hard.  It used to be rendered into tallow to make candles and was used in the English Christmas Pudding.   And, they also used to use it to make pie crusts!  For me, that’s enough of a reason not to eat pie!  Another, more modern use for this is in bird feeding blocks – no doubt because there is lots of suet as a by-product of all of the meat we eat and how very little suet is consumed by humans these days.  (And really, I’m not offended by feeding this to the birds…)

Citron is another unusual ingredient from today’s perspective.   Unlike the lemons and oranges this it is most closely related to, there is little to no juice in the citron and instead, the white pith of the rind is most often used in recipes.  However, unless you happen to live near a specialty grocery store, I don’t think that this is easy to find anymore.  There are many sources on Amazon (and I get no money for anything from this blog – including links to products like this) including a 10 pound tub and a 6 – 8 ounce tubs.   However, looking at the Christmas shopping prices previously mentioned in today’s post, Leghorn citrus IS listed at the price of 18 cents/pound!   Compare that to the prices on Amazon that range from $3 – $7 today.  Wouldn’t my Gram have a fit over that?

candied orange peel in syrup - Creative Commons from Wikipedia by User:Manutius

Candied Orange Peel is crazy simple to make.  It involves boiling the orange peel, then rinsing and draining it, then boiling it with equal part of water and sugar, then draining it and then coating it with sugar and letting sit out to dry for a couple of days.  Easy, but not fast.  For a more detailed recipe, try this one at Epicurious.  Or, you can buy it for $10 per pound on Amazon.

Currant fruit - from Wikipedia, creative commons by author Aconcagua

Currants are a berry that grows  on bushes that was native to northern Europe and Asia and are very high in vitamin C and other polyphenols, in addition to lots of dietary fiber.  According to the Wikipedia site:

Blackcurrants were once popular in the United States as well, but became rare in the 20th century after currant farming was banned in the early 1900s, when blackcurrants, as a vector of white pine blister rust, were considered a threat to the U.S. logging industry.   The federal ban on growing currants was shifted to jurisdiction of individual states in 1966, and was lifted in New York State in 2003 through the efforts of horticulturist Greg Quinn.   As a result, currant growing is making a comeback in New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon.   However, several statewide bans still exist including Maine and New Hampshire.

Obviously, at the time the recipe was written, currants were still available to American grocers, and thus included in the recipe.  And, I believe that it is still easy to find currants in larger grocery stores – though I have not ever used them.

That’s it for this week…  next week, we move on to fruits!  And, I’m still working on finishing the recipe page from last week where I did not go into detail on the soap recipe – that is in the works and will have some good information on it!  Stay tuned!

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One response »

  1. My mother used to can mince meat. She would use the beef suet left over from our butchering. I remember her grinding all the ingredients together with a hand grinder. I don’t remember how she processed it. It seems like something with meat in it would need special processing.

    The jars would keep in our basement for several years. Since not very many people liked mincemeat pie, she would only use a few jars years.

    I occasionally buy commercial mincemeat to make a pie since I like it. No one else in my family likes it however.

    Reply

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