Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly 2016, Challenge No. 8: Literary Foods

The Challenge:
8. Literary Foods
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.

We'll take a departure from the menu of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick to showcase a novel that surprises with a commentary on the American Civil War.
The William Monk series by Anne Perry features a police inspector who is gravely injured and falls for his female nurse. Said nurse served with Ms. Nightengale in the Crimean War. Her reactions to adjusting to civilian life after service have inspired me to take a close look at how American women who served as nurses likewise adjusted to life after service in a military hospital.
The book, "Slaves of Obsession" is a who-done-it that races from parlors in London to the battlefields of First Bull Run to the dregs of Victorian docks. On the eve of the American Civil War, our heroes are invited to a dinner party to meet friends of Mrs. Monk's patroness. The friends are rifle manufacturers and buyers from both sides of the conflict are vying for a contract. Add in an idealist young lady with romantic notions and the dinner conversation gets explosive by the dessert, a cherry pie.
 Slaves of Obsession by Anne Perry
Slaves of Obsession by Anne Perry

The Recipe:
From: The Frugal Housewife; Or, Complete Woman Cook. by Sussannah Carter, 1803

To make a Cherry, Plumb, or Gooseberry Pie.
Make a good crust, lay a little round the sides of your dish, throw sugar at the bottom, and lay in your fruit, with sugar on the top. A few red currants will do well with them; put on your lid, and bake it in a slack oven.

The Date/Year and Region: 
1780-1860, Britain and United States

How Did You Make It:
Well, I looked through a lot of cherry pie, pudding, and tart recipes... a lot. They kinda mixed together after awhile. I intended to follow the above... without having it in front of me. :-p Whoops!

1. Line the pan with a "good crust".
Since poor Roomie has been patiently waiting for a gluten free goodie she can share, I chose a gluten free crust of a cup of almond flour, a cup of 1-1 flour, and a stick of butter, worked into a paste and then pressed into a greased glass dish.

2. Add a bit of sugar and "lay in the fruit."

3. Add more sugar and a top crust.
Whoops. I got the sugar and a bit of butter to keep things moist, but left off a top crust.

4. Bake in a "slack oven."
So that was 350* for about 30 minutes.

Time to Complete: 
45 minutes or so

Total Cost: 
The cherries out of season were the most expensive at $5.00.
Trader Joe's "Just Nuts" Almond Meal is a joy.
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-1 Flour saves my baking.

How Successful Was It: 
We liked it very well. Roomie suggested it worked well for breakfast having a pastry taste.

How Accurate Was It: 
Well, I strayed from the recipe and used a gluten free crust... so I doubt a person of the 1860s would recognize the recipe, but I hope they would bravely try it and enjoy my variation.

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