Sunday, 29 March 2009

Miscellaneous Items From The Canadian Farm Cook Book

When you get to the end of the Canadian Farm Cook Book, there is a chapter of miscellaneous recipes. A number of them are for chocolate, tea and coffee, but there are also some non-food items, which could loosely be described as household hints. These were found in most old cook books, and they make for fascinating reading.

I'll start with the drinks though:
"COCOA. - Cocoa is a tasty drink when properly made, and one of the least injurious. For 1 cup take 2 level teaspoons of cocoa and the same quantity of sugar, stir together and add water drop by drop, stirring constantly until a smooth, even paste has been secured. The success of the drink depends largely on the care used in thus mixing the water and cocoa. Place 1/2 cup milk over fire and allow it to heat until it begins to simmer around the sides of the pan, add the cocoa and allow it to come to the boiling point. Then remove from the fire and beat vigorously for 2 or 3 minutes. This beats the air into it and removes the heaviness from the cocoa, making it a lighter and more refreshing drink. This makes 1 cup. - Miss Blanche Stone, 505 Brunswick Avenue, Toronto."
"COFFEE SECRETS. - The almost imperceptible flavour of vanilla is a great improvement to coffee; add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to coffee for 4 persons just before serving.

A pinch of salt in coffee helps to give a delicate flavor.

In France and Norway coffee is roasted fresh every morning on a covered shovel kept in constant motion over the fire; a piece of butter the size of a walnut and a dessertspoon of powdered sugar to three pounds of green coffee added while roasting is said to bring out both flavor and aroma and to give the caramel taste so enjoyed by tourists in those countries.

White of an egg (the yolk should never be used) clears the coffee, but too much spoils the flavour.

Coffee essence, very useful in travelling or camping, may be made as follows: 1/4 pound of ground coffee put in a percolator and simmer in 1 pint of boiling water; allow it to filter, not boil, for about 20 minutes; when cool, cork tightly in bottle or can.

2 tablespoons in a breakfast cup of hot milk makes a delicious and easily prepared drink. - H. A. T., Buffalo, N.Y. - By Courtesy of "Delineator."
Although Canadians used to be more known as tea drinkers than coffee drinkers - I'm not sure how true that was - there are several more recipes for coffee, and by comparison tea gets short shrift;
"TEA. - Allow 1 teaspoon of tea to each person. Have the teapot hot and then put in the tea; pour over the boiling water until steeper is a little more than half full; cover tightly and let it stand where it will keep hot but not boil. Let it steep thus for 10 or 15 minutes and then, if desired, pour into a separate tea urn, adding more boiling water, in proportion of 1 cup of water for every teaspoon of dry tea used. Have hot water kettle of copper, brass or ordinary pitcher, if it will keep water almost at boiling point, and weaken tea to suit taste. Do not use water for tea that has boiled long. Spring water is the best for tea, and filtered water the next best.

TEA A LA RUSSE is made in the same way and served with a slice of lemon either in cup and tea poured over it, or placed on saucer beside cup. Rind is always left on. No cream is used in this tea. - Mrs. Joseph Woodrow, Richmond Hill, Ont."
That's the entire section on tea. It's mostly very good advice, although I can't imagine steeping it for 15 MINUTES!!! then diluting. Still strong enough to trot a mouse. Steep it for 4 minutes exactly, that's what I say, then take the tea ball or tea bags out, and serve it diluted only by milk, sugar or lemon, if wanted.

Okay, now that you have a nice cup of the hot beverage of your choice, let's see what else they have.
"TO PREVENT RED ANTS. - Put 1 pint of tar in an earthen vessel, pour on it 2 quarts of boiling hot water and place it in your closet."
You know what the next recipe is going to be, don't you? Oh yes, you do:
"TO REMOVE TAR. - Rub well with clean lard, afterwards wash with soap and warm water. Apply this to either hands or clothing."
From there we jump to:
"TO TAKE INK OUT OF LINEN. - Dip the part in pure tallow melted, then wash out the tallow and the ink will disappear."
which seems like the same advice, really. But this is a new topic;
"CURE FOR RINGWORM. - Put a penny into a tablespoon of vinegar, let it remain until it becomes green. Wash the ringworm with this 2 or 3 times a day.

CURE FOR RHEUMATISM AND BILIOUS HEADACHE. - Finest turkey rhubarb 1/2 ounce, carbonate magnesia 1 ounce, mix alternately, keep well corked in glass bottle. Dose, 1 teaspoon in milk and sugar the first thing in the morning. Repeat until cured. Tried with success."
From medicine we move to household decorating;
"CHEAP PAINT FOR KITCHEN FLOOR. - And one that cleans off easily. - Apply paint with a cheap white-wash brush, and oil with a paint brush. 5 pounds bright yellow ochre, 2 pounds powdered white lead, 1/4 pound white glue, 1 gallon hard water. Boil altogether and be careful it does not boil over and apply to floor while still hot. When dry take 1 gallon boiled oil and go over it. This recipe will cover a floor 15 x 15 ft. Some like a little red ochre in it. - Mrs Edwin B. Kerns, Zimmerman P. O. Ont."
Well, that explains why they didn't worry about their methods for canning meat. Do you suppose they used the same pot? If they did, they could clean it with
"COSTICK SOAP. - 5 pounds costick (40 cents worth), 20 quarts soft water, 25 pounds grease or scraps; boil all together in kettle for 2 hours, then add 1 cup salt; let stand over night after covering it up well. Next day cut soap out, boil again, with 10 quarts soft water, 1/4 pound borax, 1/4 pound resin, 1 cup turpentine, 1 cup salt, 1 cup ammonia; boil 2 hours, let it stand a while; it is then finished."
I've got to say, that sounds caustic all right. Let's hop back in the book and end it on a sweeter note:
"MAPLE SUGAR COOKIES. - 2 large cups maple sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup butter, 2 tablespoons sweet milk, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/2 teaspoon soda, flour enough to roll soft. - Mrs Walter Edwards, Cookshire, Que."


Marnie said...

Ha! I'm still chuckling at the recipe for removing tar. Good idea to have those together in the book. Seems to me a teaspoon of vanilla would be quite noticeable in four cups of coffee. I can only dream of owning two whole cups of maple sugar and using it in a recipe!

Green Grrl said...

I just do not know what to say about the paint and soap recipes! Nowadays where no voc paint and all natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar reign supreme (at least in my house), I cannot imagine someone boiling up a mixture including powdered lead or turpentine and ammonia. Did people actually do that in their kitchens? Wow. Just.... wow.

Ferdzy said...

Yeah, Marnie, that tar thing had me in stitches too. I actually bought a pound of maple sugar last year and still have most of it - it's one of those things I take out and look at in awe every so often, but is too valuable to actually use. Maybe I will try those cookies.

Green Grrl, it was a different world. One of my morbid little hobbies is checking out old graveyards, and one of the things you will immediately notice if you do that, is the number of women who died between ages 28 and 35 or so. Once women were no longer in the peak healthy years for giving birth, they dropped like flies.

I googled to find some information about maternal mortality rates at the time. Without spending a lot of effort on it, it's pretty clear that women were well over 100 times more likely to die in childbirth than they are now (in Canada).

The fact is that there was almost literally NOTHING that a woman could do that was more dangerous than getting pregnant, and there was no effective birth control.

I think about that a lot. There but for the random fluctations of universe go I...