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Apicius Crusts the British

Apicius Crusts the British

My favorite pudding is good old English apple pie.

Jeremy Bulloch

In AD 46  Aulus Plautius invaded Britain bringing with him plenty of soldiers equipped with 60 pounds (27 kilograms) of equipment, which included shields, daggers, bows and arrows and, of course – a recipe book. During Roman occupation the adventurous soldiers not only built walls, large homes called villas but, to warm the hearts of the locals, shared recipes. One of those recipes happens to be what many today consider a British Classic – in reality, it is Roman. Ask Apicius.

What is this “British Classic” you ask… meat pies.

Don’t believe me? Check this out:

[287] [Baked picnic] Ham [Pork Shoulder, fresh or cured] Pernam The hams should be braised with a good number of figs and some three laurel leaves; the skin is then pulled off and cut into square pieces; these are macerated with honey. Thereupon make dough crumbs of flour and oil.  Lay the dough over or around the ham, stud the top with the pieces of the skin so that they will be baked with the dough [bake slowly] and when done, retire from the oven and serve.

Now that half of Great Britain has their knickers in a wad and asking what the… allow me to continue on to the medieval time frame when the Europeans perfected the one ingredient needed to make this tasty treat. The pie crust. The pie crust of ancient Rome was flour and oil which, according to the experts had no real taste and did not hold up well in the baking process.

Tilly: It is possible that the Roman flour and oil crust was not intended to be eaten – a la the salt crust for baking fish and vegetables – but merely a convenience to cook and contain the pork, figs, and other goodies.

Back to medieval times and the Northern Europeans who added lard or butter to the mix and discovered the dough rolled out more easily and kept its shape when baked. Meat pies served another purpose. Economics, and larger households are just two of the reasons these tasty dishes survived.

It was in the late 16th or early 17th century that fruit was used.

Tilly: So the Romans beat us to it when they included figs in their pies – whether savoury or not. Makes me wonder what recipes and foods they took back to Italy. Marco Polo took pasta to Italy after his travels to China in the thirteenth century

The recipe below tells the reader just how important it is to use butter and cold water. This recipe dates back to 1669.

“My Lady Lasson makes her finest minced Pyes of Neats-tongues; But she holdeth the most savoury ones to be of Veal and Mutton equal parts very small minced. Her finest crust is made by sprinkling the flower (as much as it needeth) with cold water, and then working the past with little pieces of raw Butter in good quantity. So that she useth neither hot water, nor melted butter in them; And this makes the crust short and light. After all the meat and seasoning, and Plums and Citron Peel, &c. is in the Coffin, she puts a little Ambered-sugar upon it, thus; Grind much two grains of Ambergreece and half a one of Musk, with a little piece of hard loaf Sugar. This will serve six or eight pyes, strewed all over the top. Then cover it with the Liddle, and set it in the oven.”

Tilly: For some reason, I thought neats’ tongues would be birds’ tongues! Imagine the preparation … but they’re beef/ox tongues. Delicious … but Shakespeare had a word of two to contribute:

Falstaff: “‘Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s tongue, you bull’s pizzle, you stock-fish!”

I am reminded that ‘pizzle’ is rather more couth than ‘pr**k’!

Enter the Americans. A cookbook titled “American Cookery” had the following Apple pie recipes:

Apple Pie – Stew and strain the apples, to every three pints, grate the peel of fresh lemon, add cinnamon, mace, rose-water, and sugar to your taste – and bake in paste No. 3.

A Buttered Apple Pie – Pare, quarter and core tart apples, lay in paste   No.3, cover with the same; bake half an hour, when drawn, gently raise the top crust, add sugar, butter, cinnamon, mace, wine or rose-water.

Marlborough Pudding – Take 12 spoons of stewed apples, 12 of wine, 12 of sugar, 12 of melted butter, and 12 of beaten eggs, a little cream, spice to your taste; lay in paste No. 3, in a deep dish; bake one hour and a quarter.

Paste No. 3. To any quantity of flour, rub in three-fourths of its weight of butter, (twelve eggs to a peck) rub in one-third or half, and roll in the rest.

So everyone, which pie are you making?

Tilly: Silly Olive! The one with wine, of course, I wonder if they used sweet white wine or a nice Chardonnay. Or maybe Viognier. But happy to give the first one a whirl – love lemon and rose water in an apple pie.

Olive and Tilly

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A Son and His Crock Pot

A Son and His Crock Pot

Never underestimate a woman with a crock pot and a can of cream of something soup

Author Unknown

I knew the day would come, I knew it. What did I know you ask? My son, that precious male child has finally become independent. Not from any female particularly but sit down folks, his crockpot, that’s a slow cooker to y’all in the United Kingdom, England to the Americans reading this.

Tilly: Keep up, Olive, they’re called crockpots here, too. And slow cookers.

It does sadden me just a bit to have to announce that.  I was excited at first; he is a fair cook and still learning from some of my recipes.  Which to my delight and following in my Grandmother Ollie’s footsteps I do leave out one little ingredient so he will have to call home.  He has gotten good at following instructions over the phone, especially on how to make gravy to go with the leg of lamb he cooked.

In wanting to write this, I sat with my glass of wine and remembered that innocent little red-haired child that I gave birth to.

I have forgiven him for his antics behind a Wing Commanders’ house with a few of his little friends.

I have forgiven him for the dead lizards I found in his jean pockets; he was trying to hide them from me. Even for the six dead lizards, he stuffed between the mattresses’ in his bed.

Let’s not even forget the salamander that he rescued from the water, “cuz, Mom he could drown,” sneaking it into the house via the front door in a box.

I guess what I am trying to tell all you mommies and daddies of baby boys, and this will surprise you, you will survive.

What will be hard to get used to is not that he moved out AGAIN, and bought himself a crockpot. Yes, a crockpot or slow cooker if you wish.

Tilly: And you can go to there for Sunday lunch. And maybe take your washing?

Olive: What a great idea, I should have thought of that.

Wait for it…. HE LOVES IT… argh… I do not even own a microwave… microwave I tell you!

I cook from scratch, cast iron skillet and all, ironstone bowls to blend and mix, wooden spoons that are well used, and, he owns a crockpot.

What, I ask you, what is this generation coming too?

Tilly: Maybe you should give one a whirl? Might need to if energy restrictions happen.

Olive: I finally went out and bought one. They are ok for some things.

Tilly: They are very handy when you need to be out most of the day. Sling some tasty stuff into the pot and leave to cook all day. We love casseroles and in the colder weather we are ‘enjoying’, the slow cooker has been ideal.

Just what is his recipe for this prize winning leg of lamb?

1 large Crockpot, 1 large leg of lamb, 2 carrots chopped, 1 onion chopped, 1cup of water, lots and lots of garlic, yes, he loves his garlic, , (Tilly: Good man!) tablespoons of salt, pepper and rosemary.  Make large gash cuts in the lamb and stuff with crushed garlic; rub the salt, pepper, and rosemary on top of lamb. Place in crockpot on high for 2 hours, turn down to low and let it go all day.  When done, drain the juice and place in a pot on top of the stove and make gravy with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. Salt and Pepper to your liking, but I bet you won’t need it, due in part to using so much earlier on in the cooking process.

Tilly: Yeah – that’s a lot of salt on the lamb! It’s possible I would not be able to eat it – salt sensitive – the herbs and garlic would accommodate less salt and still give a great flavour. I’d sling in some wine (Marsala?), sherry, brandy or liqueurs that need using because people rarely drink them after dinner these days.

Olive: Well folks now I know where my son got his love of garlic, from Tilly. What do you mean people don’t drink sherry, or brandy these days….You need to get into a right and proper bar and not those back alley hangout of yours.

Tilly: We have a proper bar at home but people seem to prefer to stick to wine after dinner. I have to use the liqueurs in cooking because they oxidise after the bottles are opened. It’s hell thinking of dishes to cook so as not to waste these fine drinks …

Enjoy

Olive and Tilly

 

 

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To Brine or Not to Brine

To Brine or Not to Brine

Don’t make a big to-do about the turkey; brine it, put it in the oven, and don’t think about it again.

Ruth Reichl

 

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar”.

Tilly: I’m with Jefferson when it comes to pickles!

Now for those of you who may be wondering what the hell I am talking about, well, sit back, be patient and grab the family bible. No, I am not going to be preachin’ at ya. Although the thought did cross my mind. I will just leave that up to Tilly the Tart. That British accent of hers will keep you listening.

Tilly: Bit concerned that you haven’t mentioned my wise words …

Olive: Wise Words, from you…remind me please.

Tilly: Oh! You know how to wound …

 

Have y’all noticed lately that everyone is talking about brining, as if it is something new? For those of you, like myself who speak more of a proper way, brining is pickling. Yep, just plain ole pickling, like you used make when your mamma was with ya.  I just love it when the high mucky mucks change the language to make themselves sound intelligent.

How old is pickling. Pickling might have been around since the Mesopotamians. Yep, around BC 2400, before they could begin the process, they first had to get the cucumbers from India. Therefore, the next time you crunch down on one of those beauties you can thank India for being so friendly as to share them with those “Meso people”.

Tilly: I have a suspicion sharing wasn’t necessarily voluntary.

Why cucumbers and vinegar hold a special place in the “good book”, this is the Bible to some of y’all. Don’t believe me…Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8 and as for the vinegar Matthew 27:34 and John 19:29. Look it up.

Did y’all know that pickles were declared a medical aid and a beauty aid? Aristotle praised the healing effects of cured cucumbers and Cleopatra stated that her good looks came from a hearty diet of pickles. I’m not believing either one of them statements can be proven today, so I wouldn’t be trying it y’all.

Tilly: Given that we are urged to eat sauerkraut and kimchi for digestive health, Aristotle and Cleopatra make sense. Healthy gut = healthy skin.

Well, now that you know the history of this biblical product allow me to give you some hints on what you can do with the brine that is left over.

  1. When you are finished with the pickles use your favorite raw vegetables such as sliced red onion, cauliflower, carrots and celery in pickle juice and soak in refrigerator. They are great just for snackin’ or for the tops of salads.
  2. Use as a Marinade for chicken or shrimp: 1-cup juice to ½-cup olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, in a zip-top bag. Add one pound of either chicken or shrimp, roll it in the liquid and marinate for 1-hour before grilling. You may also use parsley in the marinade.
  3. 3 tablespoons to ¾-cup mayonnaise and mix with 3 pounds of cooked potatoes makes a great salad.
  4. If you want a classic macaroni salad, add 3 tablespoons to ½-cup mayonnaise and mix with 2 cups of cooked macaroni.
  5. During football season, make this delicious snack: ¼-cup pickle liquid with one jar of barbecue sauce and one large bag of little sausages in a crock-pot. Heat thoroughly and serve in crock-pot to keep warm.
  6. Don’t like the flavor of pickle juice here are just two things that juice can be used for: cleaning copper pans and controlling weeds. Just douse the weeds with the pickle juice. Weeds hate all that vinegar and salt. As for the copper pots, pour a little bit of the brine onto a sponge and clean.

Tilly: The pickle juice also makes interesting salad dressings, especially the kimchi juice.

For a look into the past try this Elizabethan recipe:

  1. To preserue Cowcumbers all the yeere. Take a galon of faire water, & a pottle of veriuice, and a pint of bay salt, and a handfull of green fennell or Dill: boyle it a little, and when it is cold put it into a barrel, and then put your Cowcumbers into that pickle, and you shal keep them all the yeere.

From Sir Hugh Platt’s Delightes of Ladies to adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and distillatories with Beauties, banquets,perfumes and waters. Reade, Practise, and Censure 1602.

Tilly: Verjuice?

Olive: Gees, Tilly “Verjuice (/?v??r?d?u?s/ VUR-jooss; from Middle French vertjus ‘green juice’) is a highly acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes, crab-apples or other sour fruit.  Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1989)

Sometimes lemon or sorrel juice, herbs or spices are added to change the flavour. In the Middle Ages, it was widely used all over Western Europe as an ingredient in sauces, as a condiment, or to deglaze preparations. It is still used to some extent in the American South.

Tilly: Jeez, Olive … I know very well what verjuice is – I was querying a possible typo.

Well, I am done laughing now. I am sure y’all just understood every word right.

Tilly: What’s not to understand? It’s plain English …

Olive: Tilly, and you studied English where and when?

Tilly: English A-Level covered previous ages of English.

See below for the modern version:

A pottle is a Elizabethan unit of measurement. A pottle is a ½ gallon or 2.25l

Ingredients:

500ml water (if using tap water boil and set aside to cool before use to remove any chlorine) 250ml verjuice or white wine vinegar 2 1/2 tbsp sea salt 500ml baby cucumbers (gherkins) a few sprigs of dill or fennel fronds To Preserve Cucumbers Preparation: Method: Combine the water, verjuice (to acidulate the brine) and salt in pan. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Wash and pat the baby cucumbers dry. Pack onto a large jar with the dill or fennel. Pour the hot (but not boiling) brine over them and seal securely with a vinegar-proof lid. Allow to cool, label and set aside for at least two weeks to mature before opening. Once opened, store in the refrigerator.

 

Enjoy

Olive and Tilly

 

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When it’s Good to Lie

When it’s Good to Lie

 

“MOTHER: It’s broccoli, dear.

CHILD: I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.”

E.B.White (1899-1985)

Cartoon caption in the ‘New Yorker’

Yep, you read that title correct it is good to lie. Now you might be askin’ yourself what lie is Olive and Tilly speakin’ about. I am talking about telling your little precious angels lies. Still confused, please continue reading.

Tilly: Sometimes it’s about survival – theirs.

I was in the grocery store the other day picking up a few things, that I needed and a few that I did not need. When as usual a toddler started crying, the mother started assuring the toddler that he did not have to eat that. She comforted him by repeating that as his mother she knew “just what he liked.”

Tilly: Mothers (and fathers) do – doesn’t mean you should give it to them.

Now folks I am a patient person. Now y’all have had one of those mornings when you can only take so much, blame it the lack of coffee or the screaming brat. Rolling my cart closer to hers, I whispered to this new mom, Just lie to him, “that is how I got my son to eat all his veggies.”

Tilly: I had a number of sneaky tricks to get vegetables down our children. 

Y’all you would think that this young mother would be happy to take this advice from an old broad. Hell no, she didn’t want my advice and not so politely told me to butt out. She continued by saying she would never lie to her child.  Rolling my cart away from her and her screaming brat, I stopped and turned back towards this young mother. Whispering again I asked, “Have you told him about Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny, and in years to come are you going to tell him about the tooth fairy?” The glare from her eyes put a sarcastic grin on this old face, and I slowly turned and rolled my cart away.

Tilly: Parents lie all the time, intentionally or otherwise.

Now just what lies do you tell, setting aside the usual ones mentioned above. First, you have to accept that you with everyone else on planet earth have given birth to a little con artist. That’s right a con artist. Trust me, they have you pegged the moment you look into those tiny eyes and smile. So don’t fall asleep that’s when they get ya. They will lay awake and plot their next move.

Tilly: they can twist those silver cords and have you tap-dancing to their tune.

So remember the next time the lil bugger tells you “I don’t like that.” Here is what you tell them, “Gee I’m sorry to hear that, cuz I’m fixing it this time because you loved it so much the last time I fixed …” and name the veggie.

Tilly: I blitzed the vegetables into the gravy. They loved it. Also had a counting game – they had to eat ten peas, two pieces of broccoli, six matchsticks of carrots – except that before they were mathematically inclined, I always lost count and had to start again …Also said that when they were invited to eat in friends’ homes, they had to try whatever was placed in front of them.

If you are wondering if I have put this into practice, you will have to take my word when I tell you my son today eats all veggies, including the evil peas. So go ahead and lie.

Tilly: One son will no longer eat raw tomatoes – cooked is fine – but they eat every other vegetable.

Olive and Tilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is not NASCAR

This is not NASCAR

“A kitchen knife cannot carve its own handle.” – Korean Proverb

For those of you who watch anyone of the cooking channels either on your television or stream link through your computer pay close attention to this post.

There are few things y’all that bother me.

One, is how fast the Chef, y’all know the ones, those that went to li’l chefs school, decides to chop an onion, or anything else.  Folks this is not NASCAR where the fastest one wins. It is a cooking show, got it. It is not a time to impress the boys in your hood, nor your momma and daddy who might have paid for the li’l cooking school.  It is for the average man or woman who by chance is bored with whatever else was on the tube and happen to have found your show while surfing the channels.

Tilly: some are so deft and fast, they need to a ‘Do Not Try This At Home’ warning … I’ve seen fingers slashed in attempts to copy the demonstrations.

Two, I realize that you are going to taste what you just cooked. However, for once I would love to see one of you spit it out and say, “Damn forgot to add…” Just once I would love to see that

Tilly: Or given how much salt they all seem to add, see them gasp because their tongues are burning!

Three, Arugula aka Rocket Salad spicy, peppery, flavour, if I hear that one more time I am screaming at the T.V. again. Either change writers or just drop it altogether.  Now let me ask the average home cook this one question. What would your family do if you plopped Arugula in the centre of the plate and stacked everything else on top?  Folks you’re serving dinner not building the leaning tower of Pisa!

Tilly: Hmm .. depends on the finished ‘picture’. Some look appetizing, others intimidate – how does one tackle the stack!

One more note on these damn shows, no matter what they tell or show you if you are making a salad out of bagged salad greens. PLEASE WASH THEM.  If they tell you that they are pre-washed, they are right.  Which explains why Doctors and others in the health field recommend to re-wash them again?

Tilly: 100% It is alarming how many bits, pieces and tiny beasties float out from ‘washed’ salads, spinach, chard, etc.

To end these current rants check out the recipe below. It is for Sangria, get away from the television, make a pitcher of Sangria, sit out on the front porch, invite the neighbours over and enjoy the summer nights.

Tilly: Nice idea. But can you come up with a long drink like this that isn’t sweet? I love Campari and soda with a slice of orange, but something else for a change would be welcome.

Sangria

Ingredients:

1 Bottle of red wine

2 Lemons one cut into wedges and one sliced thinly

2 Oranges one cut into wedges and one sliced thinly

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Shot brandy

2 Cups ginger ale or club soda or 7up

Preparation:

Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon and orange into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges making sure there are no seeds of course.  Add sugar and brandy. Chill overnight.  Before serving add the sliced lemon and oranges slices add the ginger ale, club soda or 7up. If you want to kick things up you might want to use two shots of gin, brandy or even your favourite rum.

Tilly: Why the sugar when ginger ale, 7Up, lemonade are added? I wouldn’t add the sugar with soda either. Plenty of ice!

Of course, Tilly being British has insisted on the recipe below. – Olive

John Nott, Cook’s Dictionary. 1726

Take a pint of sherry, or a pint and a half of red port, four ounces

and a half of chocolate, six ounces of fine sugar, and half an ounce

of white starch, or fine flour; mix, dissolve, and boil all these as before.

But, if your chocolate be with sugar, take double the quantity of

chocolate, and half the quantity of sugar; and so in all.

Adapting the recipe for modern use

To make 4 small cups:

  • 128g (4½ oz) dark chocolate, at least 80% cocoa solids
  • 600ml (1pt) ruby port (or 500ml of sherry)
  • 30/40g (2/3tbsp) caster sugar
  • ½ oz rice or plain flour

Pour all of the port into a saucepan.

Break up the chocolate into small chunks and add to the saucepan.

Add the sugar to the saucepan. Alcohol goes bitter when you heat

it so you may need more to taste.

Whisk in the flour.

Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, until small bubbles form around

the edge. Do not let it boil!

Whisk the chocolatey mix together.

Pour into cups or a chocolate pot of choice, and enjoy warm.

Tilly: Sounds just the job for Christmas morning, especially if the Out-Laws are resident … two or three of these and no one will feel any pain or disagreement.

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Brains Really

“I want order and taste.  A well-displayed meal is enhanced one hundred percent in my eyes.”

Antonin Careme (1783-1833)

 

Now, folks he has done it again. Who, am I talking about? Apicius. That damn ancient Roman. I was going to post a German recipe for Meatloaf, and give a tidbit of history. Well, guess what I found out – the first recorded recipe for meatloaf is in De Re Coquinaria (On Cooking) written by guess who -, Apicius. Damn him.

The modern version (I personally like the German recipe) is far better than what was made in Ancient Rome. You see in Ancient Rome they used Beef and /or Veal brains. Yep, you read that right, brains.

Tilly: Brains in black butter are delicious. Ask the Italians. Well, they would be if one could buy them. Haven’t seen them available for years; not since the BSE/Mad Cow debacle.

For that reason I am only posting the German version. It is a bit more modern in that it does not include brains. Of course you have to have at least half a brain to make it.

Enjoy.

Olive and Tilly

Source [Apicius: a Roman cookbook circa 400 AD, J. Vehling, (trans.))]: Put in the mortar pepper, lovage, and origany, moisten with broth and rub; add cooked brains and mix diligently so that there be no lumps. Incorporate five eggs and continue mixing well to have a good forcemeat which you may thin with broth. Spread this out in a metal pan, cook, and when cooked [cold] unmould it onto a clean table. Cut into handy size. [Now prepare a sauce.] Put in the mortar pepper, lovage, and origany, crush, mix with broth, put into a sauce pan, boil, thicken, and strain. Heat the pieces of brain pudding in this sauce thoroughly, dish them up, sprinkled with pepper, in a mushroom dish.

Tilly: What is a mushroom dish, Olive?

Tilly I have no idea. – Olive

Meatloaf

German style

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. lean ground beef /226.79 g

1/2 lb. ground lean pork / 226.79 g

1 medium onion, chopped

3 tablespoons breadcrumbs /44.37 ml

3 tablespoons cold water / 44.37 ml

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt / 2.46 ml

1 teaspoon paprika / 4.92 ml

1 teaspoon prepared mustard / 4.92 ml

2 tablespoons chopped parsley /29.58 ml

3 peeled hardboiled egg

4 slices bacon (cube 2 strips; cut 2 strips in half)

4 tablespoons vegetable oil / 59.16 ml

1 cup beef broth /236.59 ml

SAUCE

1/4 cup hot water / 59.14 ml

1 teaspoon cornstarch / 4.92 ml

1/4 cup water /59.14 ml

1/2 cup sour cream / 118.29 ml

Directions:

1 Mix together ground meats, onion, bread crumbs, 3 Tablespoons cold water, and eggs.

2 Flavor with salt, paprika, mustard, and parsley.

3 Blend ingredients thoroughly.

4 Flatten out meat mixture in the shape of a square; about 8 X 8 inches.

5 Arrange whole hard-boiled eggs in a row along the middle of the meat.

6 Fold sides of meat pattie over the eggs.

7 Shape meat carefully into a loaf, resembling a flat bread loaf.

8 Cook cubed bacon in a Dutch oven about 2 minutes.

9 Carefully add the vegetable oil, and heat.

10 Place meatloaf in the Dutch oven and cook until browned on all sides.

11 Cut remaining bacon strips in half and arrange over the top of the meatloaf.

12 Place in uncovered Dutch oven in a preheated 350F/Gas mark 4 / 180 C oven for about 30-45 minutes.

13 While meat is baking, gradually pour hot beef broth over the top of the meatloaf; brush occasionally with pan drippings.

14 When done remove meat to a preheated platter and keep it warm.

15 Add 1/4 cup of hot water to pan and scrape all particles from the bottom.

16 Bring to a gentle boil.

17 Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and add to pan.

18 Cook until bubbly and thick.

19 Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

20 Reheat to warm (do not boil).

21 Season with salt and pepper if desired.

22 Serve the sauce (on the side), separately

Tilly: I’d be tempted to add some cornichons or chopped gherkins to the meatloaf. Or some mushrooms and capers to the sauce. And I’d definitely want some garlic in the meatloaf …

Tilly, if you did that, then it would not be German. It would be British. – Olive.

 

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Pickle Juice

In the last analysis, a pickle is a cucumber with experience.

Irena Chalmers

 

Food Hacks, or as some people call it Kitchen hacks is the ability to make food preparation easier and faster.

Or in Tilly’s and my case a food hack is the ability to use what is left over for something entirely new.  It is called living on a tight budget.

For example, let’s take Pickle Juice.

Leftover pickle juice, I bet you throw yours out. What if we told you that you can re-use that juice?

PERFECT FOR PICKLING

The way to recycle pickle juice is as pickling liquor. The vinegar has already been infused with spices so no stinky smell.

Chop up veggies, allow them to rest in the pickle juice for a day or two.

Pickled shredded carrot can be used as a salad topping, sliced red onions to use on hot dogs, hamburgers.

Tilly: White onions are good too if you don’t have any red onions. Good with cold rare beef and crunchy chips (fries) and in cheese sandwiches.

If you like pickled eggs, leftover pickle juice is perfect.

List of other items to pickle

Green beans

Garlic

Carrot slices

Cauliflower chunks

Jalapenos 7-8 sliced… Seeds removed are your choice.

Sliced cucumbers

Hard-boiled eggs

Onions

Use in potato salads

Deviled eggs

The list is endless.

Tilly: Useful for sweet and sour dishes too. A tablespoonful or two in casseroles can add a certain fillip for the taste buds.

Some people pour the pickle juice directly over the veggies, others will boil the pickle brine. If you boil the brine first and pour it – still hot – over the veggies, it does seem to absorb into the veggies a little faster.

How long will they last? Approximately 2 months if properly stored in the fridge in a sealed container, a lidded jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. As long as the brine looks clear, you’re ok. When it starts to look murky, that could indicate bacterial growth and it’s time to toss.

Reusing it more than once, some say the brine can safely be reused 2 or 3 times. Just watch for changes in the clarity of the brine. Personally, I only use the pickle brine one time.

 

Dill Pickle Vinaigrette

Yield 1 1/2 cups

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups dill pickle juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried dill

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all ingredients in jar with lid.

Shake to combine.

Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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Death, Destruction and Mayhem

Death, Destruction and Mayhem

No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize.

Have any of y’all ever wondered why the dinner hour is the most violent part of our day? Have any of your family members ran to the hills to hide at the thought of having to hear your screeching voice say one more time, “Why can’t one of y’all cook dinner once in a while?”

Tilly: There’s a splendid clip-on TikTok (I think) of a man asking a woman what’s for supper.

 ‘Nothing,’ she replies.

 ‘But we had nothing last night!’ he says.

‘I know – I made enough for two nights!’

Oh Yes, death, destruction and mayhem, all in the first five minutes of trying to figure out what’s for dinner. Death, to the others in the house who just presume that YOU have to cook dinner, destruction of the kitchen so you don’t have to cook dinner and mayhem to the lot of them for asking “What’s wrong dear?”

Yes, you have pored through the library of cookbooks that today look more like picture books, nothing.  You remember your favourite cooking show and still nothing.  In fact the more you think about it murder and mayhem sound good.  Destruction not so much, because you would only have to clean the damn mess up before the neighbours and cops showed up, and we know there is no fun in that.

Looking at the clock, you of course realize it is too late to thaw something out, dinner is at five and it is now four o’clock.

 Tilly: It’s hell when you are just not in the mood to cook.

Oh, I do have to admit that an evil grin will spread across your face with just the right menu for tonight.

One small package of macaroni, a jar of your favourite cheese spread, a small can of tuna, drained of course, and to top it off a can of peas, drained.  Peas are best for this; I have been informed by my son (who hates peas) that peas can be evil. If you want to get even just overcook the macaroni and not fully drain the tuna, it is best that you decide.  Drain the macaroni, and add the tuna, peas and cheese, mix well and place in the oven until a crust forms on top.  Serve.

Tilly: Hmm … macaroni, great. Tinned tuna? Nah – like chewing wood. Cheese spread? Meh … probably never seen cheese at any stage of production. Peas – frozen peas would have a better colour and possibly texture. How about a jar of artichokes? And a jar of red peppers? Plus the peas. Great colour. If pushed because there’s no cheese in the fridge, maybe there is a tin or packet of mushroom soup? Or make a quick sauce with milk, mustard, cornflour, parsley. Mix and bake.

If anyone complains after that, well then maybe destruction and mayhem should be next.

Tilly: Indubitably.

Enjoy.

Olive and Tilly

 

 

 

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Chicken Soup Anyone

Chicken Soup Anyone

A Jewish woman had two chickens. One got sick, so the woman made chicken soup out of the other one to help the sick one get well.

Henny Youngman

 

In the middle Ages, chicken soup was believed to be an aphrodisiac.

Tilly: All Jewish mothers know this this false. Chicken soup is the cure for colds.

If chicken soup was an aphrodisiac then this soup will turn anyone on…

Tilly: Beware who you invite to eat it is all I can say.

It is easy to make vegan… omit meat and use veggie broth.

Enjoy

And if this does turn you on… please keep it to yourself.

Tilly: The ingredients are definitely inviting.

Olive and Tilly

Vermicelly Soop

Take two Quarts of good Broth, made of Veal and Fowl, put to it about half a Quarter of a Pound of Vermicelly, a bit of Bacon stuck with Cloves; take the bignefs of half an Egg of Butter, and rub it together with half a Spoonful of Flower, and ’dissolve it in a little Broth to thicken your Soop;, boil a Pullet or Chicken for the middle of the Soop ; let your Garnishing be a Rim, on the Outside of it cut a Lemon, soak your Bread in your Dish with some of the same Broth; take the Fat off, and put your Vermicelly in your Dish, and serve it up.

from: Court cookery: or, The compleat English cook

1725, Robert Smith

Tilly: Lordy, I do so wishe thefe Brits wood lerne to spelle.

Olive, shall I tell her now folks that she is British.

Tilly: Indeed I am – may I should have written ‘… do so wishe thofe Brits had lerned to spelle as we do today.’

Or you can make this easy version of this aphrodisiac:

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

Serves 8 (Yes, I know that would be an orgy. Olive)

Tilly: Nah – doesn’t have the same orgasmic ingredients!

1 (46 ounce) can chicken broth / 1304,07 gr

1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken, cubed / 226.79 gr

2 cups uncooked egg noodles / 473.18 ml

1 cup sliced carrot / 236.59 ml

1/2 cup chopped onion / 118.29 ml

1/3 cup sliced celery / 78.07 ml

1 teaspoon dill weed / 4.92 ml

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper / 1.23 ml

Directions:

1 Throw it all in a big saucepan and simmer 20 minutes.

Options: If you feel the need you may pre-cook the noodles and serve separately and let them fill their own bowls.

Tilly: But that defeats the ‘throw it all in a big saucepan for 20 minutes’! Twenty minutes is plenty, plenty time for the noodles to cook. Why make work …

Below is the Chinese Noodle soup Tilly insisted I put back in.- Olive

Five-spice Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth / 396.89 g

2 green onions, thinly bias-sliced

2 teaspoons soy sauce / 9.85 ml

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder / 1.23 ml

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger/ 0.59 ml

2 cups chopped bok choy / 473.18 ml

1 medium sweet red pepper, thinly sliced into strips

2 ounces angel hair pasta precooked / 56.69 g

1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken / 354.69 ml

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan combine water, chicken broth, green onions, soy sauce, garlic, five-spice powder, and ginger; bring to boiling.

2 Stir in bok choy, sweet pepper strips, and noodles; return to boiling, reduce heat; boil gently, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in noodles

3 Stir in chicken, heat through and Serve

Happy now Tilly? – Olive

 

 

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Knives, Forks, and Spoons OH MY

Knives, Forks, and Spoons OH MY

As they say in Italy, Italians were eating with a knife and fork when the French were still eating each other. The Medici family had to bring their Tuscan cooks up there so they could make something edible.

Mario Batali, American Chef

Before you read any further, I want you to rummage through all your favorite baby photos and find the one where that precious baby’s face is loaded with food. Y’all know the one; food smeared from ear to ear and forehead to chin. Just keep it handy

This episode is about the fork. Yep, who knew the fork had history. I sure didn’t till I looked it up. Historians have proposed that the history of forks lay deep within ancient Greek history, yep, NO ancient Rome this time.

Forks were not used in Italy until the late 16th century, introduced by a Byzantine wife of a Doge of Venice. Long before they reached Italian shores, they were used in the royal houses throughout the Middle East.

Tilly: useful for puncturing possible enemies?

From Italy to France in the mid-1500s, the fork continued its journey but still not widely accepted, due in part to the curse placed on them by a Cardinal within the Catholic Church. He believed they were the work of the devil, stating, the good Lord had provided the perfect utensil to eat with your fingers.

Tilly: obviously, he couldn’t perfect the technique. Must have been a wow chop sticks.

It was the fashion of the day to see which of the female guest ate more delicately with her fingers in the belief she would make the better wife. No, I am not kidding, folks.

Tilly: Mmm … some sympathy with that – having seen the table manners and chewing habits of some, I’d opt for delicate, too.

So just when did the fork hit the merry island of England? Well, you have Thomas Coryat to thank for that. Touring Italy in 1608, he brought a pair back to England. The English weren’t too keen on forks finding them not just ugly but “effeminate and unnecessary,” asking, “Why should a person need a fork when God had given him hands?”  Tilly – tricky with soup or custard? Carving forks are probably the legacy of this original two-pronged fork, d’you think?

The fork won and they, of course, became the rage throughout the land. People still found them tiresome because the food fell between the two tines. However, leave it to France y’all for solving this problem. The late 17th century saw a reinvention of what would become today’s modern fork. The French made the forks larger and added four curved tines. This made everyone happy through all the land, including England, which had by then fully accepted the fork.

Tilly: the knife was used a lot to pick up food. Properly, cheese should be eaten using a knife, none of this knife-and-fork stuff considered superior by the French.

By the end of the 1700s, the fork as we know it today had spread to the new colonies of America. We did not like them, but we had them.

Some still argue over the fork even today. Mothers yell at their children, “Stop eating with your hands, why do you think forks were invented?”

Tilly: to chase peas or corn around the plate?

In closing, take a look at the adorable baby picture of food smeared ear to ear and forehead to chin and superimpose the picture of Elizabeth, the First of England. Why?  The fork was introduced well after her death in 1603. Therefore, Elizabeth ate with her hands.

Tilly: Manifestly not daintily, for she never married.

Makes you smile, doesn’t it? Trivia here. There are 34 different forks in use today. In some areas of the United States, they were sometimes called “split spoons.”

Tilly: I thought that was why the Spork came about – to make it easier for Americans to use …

Olive and Tilly

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