Thursday, January 21, 2016

HFF 2: Culinary Vices

2. Culinary Vices (January 15 - January 28) Some foods are really, really naughty. Globs of butter, lashings of sugar and syrup, decadent chocolate and wine. Bring out your naughty, indecorous side with foods associated with all the bad things, in the best ways.

We had every intention of having our culinary vice meal involve foie gras, because what's more decadent than feeding a goose to death and then eating only it's liver? But I couldn't find a single recipe involving it in any of the cookbooks I read, French or otherwise. I did come across one mention of fattening geese for dinner, and that many hundreds of such geese are prepared every year in France, but that was it.

So I did something else. Part of my personal naughty, indecorous side is obsessed with china, dishes and fancy settings. I had gotten as a gift, a soup tureen that I had never used. It sat in my cupboard and taunted me. I also have salad tongs (the kind that look like hnads!) that I never use, because it's just as easy to use your own fork to get a handful of salad. I also have a cake stand that I never use because they're really impractical when you have no space. The only thing I didn't bother getting out was nice china (it's in storage) or silver (it's really hard to get to). My culinary vices use up my very very limited cupboards, and don't actually involve food. :-P But here is my meal from yesterday using my fancy serving dishes.

Squash Soup
Spice Cake

The soup is from Marion Harland's Complete Cookbook, a very very useful turn-of-the-century work full of adorable "familiar talk" with the help, or how to clean kid gloves and old lace. She's opinionated and very knowledgeable.

Squash Soup: one cupful of cold boiled squash, run through a colander, one quart of milk, heated, with a pinch of soda, one teaspoonful, each, of salt and sugar, a quarter as much pepper, and a pinch of mace, two tablespoonfuls of butter and one of flour, one tablespoonful of onion juice, and two of minced celery.

Make a roux of butter and flour, and stir into the hot milk. Beat together the squash, celery and seasoning until light; heat quickly in a saucepan, stirring all the while. When very hot, put into the tureen, turn in the milk, stirring all well together, and serve.

Notes: I had cooked two squash the day before, so just used what squash there was. It wound up looking closer to 2 or 3 cups of squash. I heated a whole half gallon of whole milk, and didn't bother with a roux -- just tossing all those ingredients into the milk. I mixed the minced celery and MORE spices into the squash, and heated it. I was concerned that it would burn before it actually heated, but it turned out fine. I then put the squash in the tureen and ladled as much milk in as it took to make a consistency I liked. I have about a pint left of flavored milk. Oh, and instead of onion juice I used chopped garlic and some of the juice from the garlic jar. I served it in a pre-warmed tureen and with roasted squash seeds on top.

The salad was mixed greens with dried cranberries, walnuts, cheddar cheese, chopped apple and a vinaigrette.

The cake was from a box -- I had had every intention of making one, but every recipe called for eggs and we had none in the house and time was a factor. So I made boxed spice cake, using applesauce instead of the 3 eggs. Between the layers I put applesauce cooked down with basil sugar and I put powdered sugar on top because I don't like frosting. I served it on my cake stand. Y'know, it's been years since I had a cake bx cake, and it was really fluffy! The cakes I've made in recent years have all been denser than that and it was a surreal feeling to be eating and not even really feel the food in my mouth.

The Challenge:Culinary Vices
The Recipe: Marion Harland's Complete Cookbook
The Date/Year and Region:original copyright 1903, this edition 1906, published in Indianapololis, Indiana, USA
How Did You Make It: see above
Time to Complete:Not counting the cooking of squash, under an hour. It took a while for the milk to come up to temp.
Total Cost:I bought a half gallon of organic whole milk for $4.79 and that was the only cost of the entire meal. Everything else was already in storage.
How Successful Was It?:It was delicious! It was really quite tasty, and very easy to make. And I'm in love with using my soup tureen. Honestly, I FELT quite decadent, eating this creamy delicious soup with my gorgeous tureen full of even more tasty soup. I would make this again. I think it also would have done well with the addition of corn or something, as it tasted quite chowder-like.
How Accurate Is It?:I think I doubled the spices, by heating the milk with seasonings AND the squash. So this was probably more flavorful than the original recipe intended. I also did a garlic substitution for the onion. But other than that, I think this was very accurate. This isn't that old of a recipe, and cooking was very similar to today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pullover Sweater Pattern

So Bex from Subversive Femme has posted several entire knitting magazines on Flickr. Just in case it disappears, here's a pattern that I'm considering.

I'm trying to plan a yellow, bobbled sweater. Just deciding a pattern.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

HFF: Meat and Potatoes

The challenge is described as: Meat-and-Potatoes (January 1 - January 14) They’re a staple for the tables in the most rustic cottages as well as the fanciest banquet tables - and it’s also an idiom meaning a staple or the most basic parts of something. Make a historic “meat-and-potatoes” recipe - however you interpret it.

I had every intention of making some variety of cottage pie, and even bookmarked several. However, I discovered this challenge today. Aka the last day. And after work, I discovered that I had no potatoes that are worth eating. So with my freshly-bought-for-tonight's-dinner ground beef from the butcher, I fried it up with a little butter and garlic, and mixed in a jar of tomato sauce. My partner made a box of store bought pasta. Add in romano and a little ricotta and call it a late and tired dinner.

I call this a forfeit on this challenge. For all that I could define this dinner as the most basic staple of our diet (which is certainly true), the bulk of this was store-bought and I certainly can't find a basic sauce like that in my cookbooks.


Historical Food Fortnightly

So I found out about a historical food challenge from Romantic History. What fun! As anyone who knows me in real life can attest, I collect vintage and antique cookbooks. The rules of the game are that the recipe has to be from before 1960. Upon mentioning to my husband, he requested no 1940s or 1950s food. :-P

Here are the challenges!
1. Meat-and-Potatoes (January 1 - January 14) They’re a staple for the tables in the most rustic cottages as well as the fanciest banquet tables - and it’s also an idiom meaning a staple or the most basic parts of something. Make a historic “meat-and-potatoes” recipe - however you interpret it.

2. Culinary Vices (January 15 - January 28) Some foods are really, really naughty. Globs of butter, lashings of sugar and syrup, decadent chocolate and wine. Bring out your naughty, indecorous side with foods associated with all the bad things, in the best ways.

3. History Detective (January 29 - February 11) For this challenge, you get to be the detective! Either use clues from multiple recipes to make a composite recipe, or choose a very vague recipe and investigate how it was made.

4. Sweets for the Sweet (February 12 - February 25) It’s sugar, and maybe spice, and definitely everything nice. Test out a historic recipe for sweets, sweetmeats and candies - but don’t let them spoil your appetite!

5. Roasts (February 26 - March 10) They’re a staple of the historic table, in many different shapes and forms and types. It’s also a cooking technique. Try a historic recipe for a roast, or a recipe that involves roasting, and tell us how it turned out.

6. Juicy Fruits (March 11 - March 24) It’s fruits! Do something with fruits. It doesn’t get more simple than that. Bonus points for use of heritage crops and ingredients!

7. Pretty As A Picture (March 25 - April 7) If you’re a fan of cooking competition shows (like I am!), you know how the saying goes: we eat first with our eyes. Make a dish that looks just as spectacular as it tastes. Extra points for historically accurate plating - and don’t forget to post pictures!

8. Literary Foods (April 8 - April 21) Food is described in great detail in much of the literature of the past. Make a dish that has been mentioned in a work of literature, based on historical documentation about that food item.

9. Mock Foods (April 22 - May 5) Historic cookbooks are full of recipes meant to imitate rare, expensive or impractical ingredients. It’s your turn to help your food pretend it’s something that it isn’t!

10. Breakfast Foods (May 6 - May 19) It’s simple - make a breakfast dish. Get creative, but make sure to provide your documentation for its place at the breakfast table!

11. Picnic Foods (May 20 - June 2) Some foods are just meant to be eaten in the outdoors! Concoct a dish that is documented for al fresco dining, or foods that might particularly lend themselves to eating at a picnic. Bonus points for putting it to the test!

12. In A Jam...or Jelly, or Pickle (June 3 - June 16) In a world before refrigeration, preserving food was an important task. For this challenge, make your favorite preserved food - bonus points if it’s seasonal!

13. Pies (June 17 - June 30) Make a pie! Meat, fruit, sweet or savory; traditional pies, hand pies, standing pies, or galottes - get creative, but make sure it’s documented!

14. Waste Not, Want Not (July 1 - July 14) Good housekeeping in any historic era included making the most of your food items. Pick a recipe that involves avoiding waste (maybe reusing leftovers, or utilizing things commonly thrown out) and show us how historically-green you can be!

15. Smell, Sight, Sound, Touch (July 15 - July 28) For this challenge, create a feast for the senses. Cook a dish that is a treat for more than just the tastebuds, whether it is scent, texture, visual appeal, or sound.

16. Foods Named After People (July 29 - August 11) Beef Wellington? Charlotte Russe? Choose a dish named after a person (either fictional or real) to create. Bonus points if you tell us about the link between the person and the dish!

17. Myths and Legends (August 12 - August 25) It’s time to make some legendary food! Pick a story from folklore (a myth, fantasy, legend, or fairy tale) that features food, and use a historical recipe to recreate it.

18. Let’s Get Saucy! (August 26 - September 8) They can be the perfect addition to a delicious dish, the crowning glory, or stand on their own. Make your best sauce and show us how to use it!

19. Ethnic Foods (September 9 - September 22) Foodways and cuisine are at the heart of every ethnic group around the world and throughout time. Choose one ethnic group, research their traditional dishes or food, and prepare one as it is traditionally made.

20. Foods Mentioned in Songs (September 23 - October 6) Find a historic song that mentions a food - and then cook a historic recipe around that food and the time of the song. Whether it’s Yankee Doodle’s macaroni, mussels a la Molly Malone, or the Muffin Man’s muffins, make sure it’s documented!

21. Party Foods (October 7 - October 20) If there’s a party, there has to be food! Pick a dish meant to be served to a crowd, or at a festive gathering, and show your work!

22. Soups, Stews and Porridges (October 21 - November 3) Whether it’s a delicate broth or a hearty porridge, if it’s served in a bowl, it’s fair game!

23. Sweet Sips and Potent Potables (November 4 - November 17) Whether it’s hard or soft, we all enjoy a refreshing beverage! Pick a historic beverage to recreate - remember to sip responsibly!

24. Redo! (November 18 - December 1) Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Or, sometimes they go so well, you just want to do it again! Pick a challenge you already did and want to revisit, and try it once more.

25. “Foreign” Foods (December 2 - December 15) Make a dish that reflects the historical idea of “foreign” - either foods with a loose connection to foreign lands, named after faraway places, or attributed to foreigners. Real connections to actual foreign countries not necessary (or recommended) - the more tenuous the connection, the better.

26. Descriptively-Named Foods (December 16 - 19) We all know those recipes that come attached to interesting and imaginative names - slumps, crumbles, buckles, trifles, flummery. Pick a historic recipe that has a descriptive title.

I'm looking forward to this!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Knitting Woes

I've been working on this sweater for a few days. Right after I finished the lumbar pillow, I wanted to keep knitting. And for once in my life, I wanted to work on a vintage fingering-weight sweater. I already had the gigantic cone of wool fingering. So I started working on a gorgeous pattern.

And I'm blithely following the directions:
Commence at lower edge with 123 sts. on No. 12 needles. Work in rib of k. 3, p. 3, for 3 ins.

Change to No. ll needles and continue in stocking-web until work measures 12 inches on underarm, keeping centre 3 sts. in purl on right side (reverse stocking-web) to continue the purl rib from welt.

Sounds great right? It wasn't until I'm 7.5" inches along my journey (4.5 of that in plain stockinette aka 36 rows or so) that I read the next line.

At the same time increase one stitch both ends of every 8th row until there are 143 sts., after which work straight for about 22 rows.

Well. Here's to frogging 4 inches.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Lumbar Pillow

So earlier this week, my partner mused aloud that our couch pillows are really too large for a lumbar pillow, and that we don't actually have anything that'd work. He wound up bunching up a shirt behind his back.

Flash forward to I was itching to knit a few days ago. While browsing the Homegoods section of my favorited patterns on Ravelry, I found this Fair Isle stranding knitting chart. Since I had no experience in stranded knitting, a rectangle seemed like a good way to ease into the process. It was a lot of fun to knit up (it was a 3 day process), and the chart was well written. My one problem with the chart was it had no numbers on it (row numbers, etc.) and I have traditionally done poorly with counting charts. So I wrote out 119 rows worth of numbers. They look like such horrible things as:
23) 4 / 3 / 1 / 1 / 10 / 3 / 3 / 3 / 3

Since the pattern was fully mirrored, I went to the middle number and would work backwards for the second half. I knit this flat, in stockinette. So every other row is purled. I also had at least one row where I had a mistake that I did not correct, and in the second chart, I either doubled a row or skipped a row as my right side of the fabric changed from odds to evens.

Finished measurements are 8"x19" (if flat), and I backed the knitting in fabric (so that my floats didn't get stuck in the stuffing and so stuffing didn't leak) and added a fabric back for the pillow. I then stuffed it with more reused stuffing from the giant duck of "oh gods why is it in my house". Some of my floats weren't long enough, so that while un-pillowed, the knitting bubbled a little. But it's evened out and is apparently quite functional as is.

I like quick projects!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Because I No Longer Trust Websites to Remain Active

Here is a pdf of a pattern, entitled Bobble Stitch Jumper. Source here.

Embroidery Lessons

So I was doing the planning for my embroidery student's first lesson next week. I started looking up beginner projects (hella boring) and beginner tutorials. I found things like lists of the top 10 beginner stitches and 16 ways to embroider leaves!

I'm changing it up a little. The stitches that will be involved in my student's first project are:
- running stitch
- back stitch
- split stitch
- stem stitch
- satin stitch
- chain stitch
- lazy daisy
- colonial knots
- woven wheel

This'll be embroidered on some plain muslin or a hankie. The name is backstitch (and either cursive or script). Border is running stitch and chain stitch. Corner in split stitch with lazy daisy and colonial knots. Woven wheel under initial. Small flower in stem stitch, lazy daisy, and colonial knots. Medium flower in stem stitch and colonial knots. Tall flower in stem stitch, satin stitch and colonial knots.

I'm using colonial knots over French knots as I have never had good luck with French knots and colonial knots seem fool-proof.

The first lesson will probably be doing the backstitch for the name. I'll also sketch out all of the details, so that the running stitch could be done in the week between lessons. But this should be fun! I'm looking forward to this.

I hate google

So much. Now they think that I'm illegally hacking my own blogger account and I had to change my password to even log in. I don't WANT my password changed. Fuck you.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


I apparently have a new embroidery student! This is exciting. I have never had one -- I'll have to figure out how to structure those lessons.