Saturday, July 30, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #15 - Smell, Sight, Sound, Touch

Challenge #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 a scent, texture, visual appeal, or sound.

It's the grip of heat in North Carolina and a time when I can only be outdoors for brief periods of time.  Although in the 90s, the actual feel due to the humidity which can reach 100% is today around 105 degrees F.  So my time outdoors begins evening until dawn and that is perfect for this time of year as it is the Perseid Meteor Showers!

Yes, I know, this is a food blog you say.  I'm getting to that part.  *smile*  If you are a stargazer like me you will enjoy these cool facts....

and this link.

The dates for the Perseids this year is July 17 through August 24 with peak around August 12 where you might see 60 meteors per hour.  While the days are like an oven, our evening temperatures drop drastically into the 60s and even the 50s and it is almost chilly.  Chilly enough and damp enough to throw a shawl over your shoulders and wrap your hands around a delicious cup of hot chocolate.  (Aren't you glad you were patient?)

Chocolate!!  Even the word melts on your tongue!!  I'm convinced, like Harry Potter, that chocolate has magical and healing powers.  Here is a little history of chocolate from the Smithsonian:

So fast forward many thousands of years to our 1916 book Twenty Lessons in Domestic Science by Marian Cole Fisher.

Our recipe in Lesson 19 Beverages:

The ingredients:

While the recipe calls for whipped cream or a marshmallow to be added upon serving, I will use Half and Half (half milk, half cream) in place of the milk.  It reminds me of the flavor of whole milk on the farm and is so wonderfully smooth and rich.

Although there are wonderful chocolates on the market from all over the globe, for baking I am still a fan of Baker's.  Produced since 1780 this is the perfect percentage of cacao for my hot chocolate, melts at body temperature, and is readily available, tasty, and inexpensive.


The water is heated to boiling and everything is measured and staged as the entire preparation is just minutes.

The grated chocolate is placed in the saucepan, boiling water added stirring all the while.

Over a medium heat, the water and chocolate are brought to boiling and allowed to boil for just a moment.

The Half and Half and sugar are added and heated through.

And yum!!

 Time to grab a shawl, our cups of hot chocolate, and watch the meteor shower!

Hmmmm, clouds and more clouds and the only bright lights are the fireflies.

But all is not lost as we sit on the porch wrapped up in the beautiful night with our hands around the warmth and wonderful aroma of a perfect cup of hot chocolate.

Wishing you many starry nights!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #14 - Waste Not, Want Not

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!

After finishing the Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #13 - Pies, and making Schmierkase, it seemed such a shame to toss all that whey that was left over from the process.  Although I didn't actually measure it, it seemed that after extracting the solids from the milk I was left with just as much liquid as I had started with my 2 quarts of whole milk.

By definition whey is the watery, protein-rich liquid left behind when milk is curdled to make cheese.  It can store in the refrigerator in this state for about two weeks.  In some countries it is bottled and sold as a thirst quencher and protein drink.  In other countries it has been dumped into waterways causing quite a problem with ecosystems.  The research and information on whey is almost overwhelming but I've sorted through enough to share with you my favorite four uses for whey.

The process I used for making the cheese used vinegar which left an acid whey.  Some processes will produce a sweet whey.  All of these uses are for acid whey. 

1.  Lacto-Fermented Probiotic Lemonade

Probiotics are in the forefront of health topics these days as our processed foods tend to kill the healthy bacteria our digestive systems require.  The healthy bacteria in whey in combination with sugar, which the bacteria feed on, makes a perfect probiotic drink.


6-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (don't use bottled lemon juice as it has added preservatives)
1/2 cup Sucanat or other unrefined sugar
1/2 cup whey

Unable to find Sucanat locally I substituted turbinado sugar and the difference can be briefly studied here:

Now the beverage sits at room temperature for 2 days.  You can see a gentle fizz as the bacteria feeds on the sugar.

After 2 days put the lemonade in the refrigerator.

On the third day we filled large glasses with ice, added a few lemon slices, made cold chicken sandwiches, and had a picnic on the screen porch.

This hummingbird was enjoying our sugar water from a feeder just outside the screen porch.  We all sipped our drinks in peaceful harmony.

There has to be a better name than Lacto-Fermented Probiotic Lemonade as this beverage is delicious!  It is not overly sweet and has the crisp taste of a cider.  Heavenly and thirst quenching!  We drank it all so I can't tell you how long it would last in the refrigerator.  I did read that the taste even improves over the days of storage, that it can be bottled, and that it is also excellent using limes instead of lemons or even a combination.

2.  Whey Pancakes

This recipe came from the King Arthur Flour website.  King Arthur Flour has been produced since 1790 and it was no surprise that they would have a recipe using whey.  Easy to make and loved in our household for a leisurely breakfast!

2 cups unbleached all-purpose or whole wheat flour or a combination, 1-2 tablespoons sugar, honey, maple syrup (I used maple sugar), 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cups whey, 2 large eggs, 2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine dry ingredients.

Beat together eggs, whey, and oil.

Combine wet and dry ingredients and blend just until moist, about 20 seconds.  Do not overblend as this will cause the batter to not rise as nicely during cooking.

Medium heat griddle.  With the oil in the batter no additional oil on the pan is required.

Browning beautifully and rising splendidly!

Can't have too much maple flavor in our house.  Warmed syrup just before using.

A lovely stack with gobs of melting butter!

Oh yum!  Let's eat!

3.  Whey all by itself is a refreshing and wholesome drink.  The first time I tried to drink the whey created from my cheesemaking I could smell the vinegar although I couldn't taste it.  I added a bit of sugar and the vinegar odor left immediately.  A very smooth, healthy drink with just a touch of a milky flavor.

4.  Here is my fourth and last use of the whey left over from my cheesemaking.

Wondering what on earth I'm doing with whey in the bath?

Just 1/4 cup.  It's a hair rinse!  Vinegar is a wonderful hair rinse as it removes residue and makes hair shine.  It must have worked because the first thing my husband said when I came out of the bath is "Wow!  Your hair looks great today!"  He didn't know what I had been up to and my first thought was "What was wrong with my hair yesterday?".  But it was true.  The shine was definitely there and I can imagine the protein is a wonderful supplement to the hair as well.

There are hundreds of other uses for this wonderful by-product of cheesemaking and they are as useful in today's home as they would have been 100 years ago.  Please share some of your uses!


Friday, July 8, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #13 - Pies

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!

Challenge #13 and we are half way through the year!  Amazing!  Time to make a pie...

Still using the Twenty Lessons in Domestic Science by Marian Cole Fisher Copyright 1916 to meet the Challenges for Historical Food Fortnightly 2016.

It's a constant surprise at the simplicity of recipes from this book and also a surprise that there was only a single pie recipe.

The recipe for Kase Kuchen (Cheese Pie) immediately followed the recipe I used for Cottage Cheese (Schmierkase) in the Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #3 - History Detective.  This is the link to the blog post:

Since this pie recipe had a similar name I decided to make a batch of Schmierkase and use it as the ingredient in my Kase Kuchen.  I  researched a bit and found a similar 100 year old recipe in "Recipes from a German Gramdma".  That recipe uses what is called "old-fashioned cottage cheese", but states that a Quark or ricotta will work too.  That recipe included some almonds with a little sugar and cinnamon on top.
Knowing from experience that my half-gallon of milk will yield 2 cups of cheese I make the cottage cheese on one day and allow it to completely drain in the refrigerator overnight.
Whole milk, vinegar, cheesecloth and strainer.

Milk heated over medium heat to 190 degrees F or just below boiling.  After taking the milk off the heat, 1/4 cup of vinegar is added.  When completely cool, pour into strainer lined with two layers of cheesecloth.

Allow the whey to drain away from the curds.  Put the whey in the refrigerator.  Stand the curds in the cheesecloth in the strainer over a bowl to allow the whey to continue draining.

Now I can begin my Cheese Pie.  Ingredients are simple.

The process is equally simple.

The drained curds.

Sugar and flour.

One egg and 2 yokes, and 2 egg whites in separate bowls.

The juice and grated rind of one lemon.

Three egg yokes and two egg whites beaten.

The cheese curds are smoothed with a spoon.

Sugar and flour mixture added to beaten eggs.

Cheese added.

A smooth cheese pie filling.

Ready to bake.

Baked at 375 degrees F. for 50 minutes and the center is finally set.  The remaining two egg whites are beaten and the meringue is ladled onto the hot pie and the pie popped back into the oven until the meringue is brown, about 10 minutes.

A beautiful Cheese Pie cooling on the counter!

Cooled completely, refrigerated overnight, this cool lemony Cheese Pie is perfect for a summer desert.  The texture is soft and smooth, the taste light and refreshing!

Two thumbs up!