I showed a glimpse of this old cookbook the other day. I loooove reading old cookbooks. There are so many hints to the past, so many “why?”s answered about how we came to do things the way we do today. And sometimes they afford us a personal view into just one life, or household. Remember this cookbook, when I found the movie theatre schedule? This "Rumford Complete Cookbook" had a little offering for us too:
And I didn’t know about the potential benefit of waiting before placing my cake in the oven. That’s especially good to know if you forget to pre-heat your oven.
I especially love the cookbooks that have come from the test kitchens of the companies that made the ingredients. I figure they were motivated to have the most successful recipes where their products will really shine. Have you ever visited the King Arthur Flour website? Beware if you are a carb-a-holic like me, you can bake yourself into a carbohydrate coma! (If you have hours of time to dispose of, go take a look at all the recipes for the Easter and St. Pat’s baking you could be doing, Hot Cross Buns, anyone?) And they have on-site classes. One of these Decembers, I’m going to sign up for Christmas Cookie Baking, or Gingerbread House Making. I bet it is quite an experience.
The Rumford Cookbook doesn’t tell you baking temperatures, yields, or nutritional information. It uses phrases like: “Bake in a moderate oven, about 45 minutes”, and “…cook very gently one and one-half hours”. There are recipes for Ox-tail Soup and Mutton Broth. There is a whole chapter on Recipes for the Sick, including such tasty offerings as “Barley Water”, “Junket Eggnog”, and “Wine Whey”, and when you can progress to something with a little more thickness, there is “Corn Meal Gruel” and “Arrowroot Gruel”. I don’t know where one procures Irish Moss, but perhaps if you are sick this weekend, you could have someone make you the following:
1 small handful Irish moss
3 cups milk (surely whole milk was intended)
1 level tablespoon sugar
1/3 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring (do you own a 1/3 teaspoon measure? I don’t)
Wash and pick over the moss carefully, add it to the milk in a saucepan, and simmer the two till the moss begins to dissolve. A double broiler is preferable as it prevents too rapid cooking. In about twenty minutes, if the moss is dissolving, strain through cheese cloth, add sugar and flavoring, and turn into wet moulds or cups to cool. Serve with cream and sugar.
Well, this post is getting long, so I will end. Next time, I will share my adaptation of a recipe for stuffed fish.
Edited to Add: I found some very interesting information about the use of Irish Moss for medicinal and nutritional purposes here. I will be looking about in the coastal rocks for this stuff now. It apparently is basically a seaweed, and functions like a thickener (it is a source of carrageenan, as used in ice cream), and the result of the above recipe will probably be like a jelly or custard. Probably easier just to make tapioca!