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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.


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!

Gram’s Cookbook – Page 2

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My Great Grandmother, Edna Loveless, was born in 1894.  In 1916, the date written on the inside cover of this cookbook, she was 23 years old.  Just for some perspective, a 23 year old today would have been born in 1988…

Back in the early part of the 1900’s, life was a tad different than it is today.  First, women in most states, still did not have the right to VOTE.  Can you, as a woman, imagine being denied this fundamental right simply because you do not possess a Y chromosome?  (Or , based on the color of your skin?  But, we know that that sadly took much longer to be put to rights…)

During the beginning of the twentieth century, as women’s suffrage faced several important federal votes, a portion of the suffrage movement known as the National Women’s Party and led by suffragette Alice Paul became the first “cause” to picket outside the White House. Due to this manner of protest, suffragists were subject to arrests and many were jailed.[43] In 1918, Congress passed what became, when it was ratified by sufficient states in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment, which prohibited state and federal agencies from gender-based restrictions on voting.

From the Wikipedia site.

Cars were also in their early years… with Model T’s not coming out until the late 1920’s…  This is the Benz Patent Motorwagen, built by the inventor of the modern automobile, Karl Benz, in 1885.

A photograph of the original Benz Patent-Motorwagen, first built in 1885 and awarded the patent for the concept

But, back to the cookbook.

Gram's Cookbook Cover

Ready Reference Recipe Book.  Written inside the cover is what appears to have been the price – 75 cents.  The book was blank, with lined pages with tabs on them – apparently to list what recipes are written on what page.  The rest of the pages are blank, with the page number in the top corner.

Inside of Cookbook Cover

My mom and I were talking about this cookbook… and why Gram had it.  There are several curious aspects to it – namely that the recipes all have names written below them and they’re all written by different people.  Mom remembered that Gram was married in 1918… and we think that this is the “wedding shower” cookbook.  So, Gram would have bought or been given the book (maybe by her mother?) and then given it to different married women that she knew so that they could give her a recipe to use in her new married life.

People still make wedding shower cookbooks – but most are written on recipe cards and then assembled – not written into a blank book just for that purpose.  And, how often do we refer to those modern books?  It looks like this book actually got a bit of use by Gram…

Page 2 - Chicken Bisque

There are 15 pages with recipes written on them – so I will post one per week for over 4 months!   Not a full cookbook, but enough to get a perspective on the foods made by the women of Kansas in the early 1900’s…

So, I will write out the recipe as written, and then, if it is reasonable according to my tastes now, tell you how I made it, with modern recipe written out, and what I thought of it.

Original Chicken Bisque – by Gertrude Hackler

Joint the fowl and cover with cold water, one quart for each pound.  Put in a large minced onion and three stalks of clery, minced fine.  Cover and cook slowly until you can slip the  flesh from the bones.  Let all get cold together; skin, take out the bones and meat, and chopp the latter fine.  Return the soup to the fire and heat in another vessel a cupful of milk (dropping in a little soda).  Thicken this with a tablespoonful of butter rubbed into a teaspoonful of flour, add a tablespoonful of minced parsley.  When the soup has reached a fast boil, stir into it the chopped chicken with a cupful of cracker crumbs soaked in warm milk; boil one minute, beat in the milk and butter and pour out.

As this seemed like a “reasonable” recipe, I decided to give it a try.  There is an updated version of the Chicken Bisque at CopyKat Recipes….

Crockpot Chicken Bisque-ish

1 whole chicken

1 onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

red pepper, diced

Italian seasoning


1/4 c flour

2 T. butter

frozen peas

shredded carrots

1 c. quinoa

Put celery, onion, pepper and Italian seasoning into the crockpot and add enough water to nearly cover the chicken.  Cook on high until the chicken comes off of the bone easily.  Separate the meat from the bone and skin, shred the meat into bite sized pieces.

On the stove, in a large soup pot, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter.  Add in 1/4 cup of flour – cook for a couple of minutes.  Stir in the boiling (or very hot) chicken broth from the crock a bit at a time, stirring the entire time… eventually add it all and cook until it starts to get thick.  Add back in the chicken and veggies.   Stir in any veggies you have hiding in the fridge – I had green peas and carrots.

But, my bisque never bisqued for some reason… so in a desperate act to thicken it up, I added in 1 cup of uncooked quinoa and cooked until the quinoa was done.  That did the trick…

It tasted OK, not super spicey, but OK.  My husband liked it, said that it was very filling.   We love quinoa, so it was a nice addition.  I’ll probably make the quinoa chicken soup recipe again, with more spices added to it.

I hope that you liked week one of Gram’s recipes… next week, it’s Breads!