pickling

Vintage Vittles #1: Pickled Cherries White House Cookbook (1902)

I acquired the White House Cookbook from a friend who got it from her grandparents-in-law. She knew that I collect vintage cookbooks & text me some photos of the book to see if I wanted it. She warned me that it was not in the greatest condition, but the title & age of the book had me intrigued. 

This book is a beaut! It’s quite literally falling apart & leaves bits of binding & glue behind each time I crack it open, but hell, it’s over 100 years old!! There are some amazing butcher’s charts in the beginning (seriously, why are the pigs always so adorable in these?) that I may frame & hang in my kitchen if the pages continue to fall out. 

This happy little dude reminds me of a piggy I’ve met before….


Honestly, I’m not quite sure why it’s called the White House Cookbook. There are pictures throughout of various First Ladies, and there’s a section in the back about State Dinners & their table set-up & etiquette; but I cannot figure out any direct relationship between the author, Mrs Gilette & the White House. I researched her, although not extensively, and as far as I can see this was her only book. It seems Mrs Gilette & her knowledge of the White House is a mystery.

Look how pretty Mrs Taft is!

I wonder if the men enjoying cigars & liquor after dinner while the ladies “retire to the parlor” is still a thing.


I made a very interesting recipe from this book. Pickled Cherries. I was vaguely aware that you can pickle fruit; I’ve definitely enjoyed a pickled watermelon rind or two. You may have garnered that I have a deep love for anything pickled/brined. Cherries are one of my favorite fruits and really, what’s a more American fruit than a cherry? Sure, there’s apples, but I offer you the cherry blossoms in DC & the favorite George Washington chops down a cherry tree story as proof that cherries are as All-American as it gets when it comes to fruit. 

Here’s the original recipe as it appears in the book.


Vintage recipes can be a little challenging in a number of ways. First, many are written in paragraph form & take you through the entire process of making the recipe rather than giving you a list of ingredients followed by a procedure. Second, there’s a matter of sizes/measurements. Example: a recipe will call for a small onion. I am certain that a small onion by today’s standards is not the same as a small onion by 1930’s standards. Third, many vintage recipes assume that the reader has basic cooking skills mastered already, whereas today’s recipes generally assume the ignorance of the reader. Keep this in mind as we navigate the world of Vintage Vittles. 

Pickled Cherries

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of cherries (I used Bing)
  • 2 C white vinegar
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar 
  • 24 whole cloves
  • freshly-grated nutmeg (Mace is actually the outer part of a whole nutmeg. Unable to find mace, I grated the nutmeg with 12-15 strokes.)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan combine vinegar, sugar, cloves, and nutmeg/mace. 
  2. Bring to a boil & cook for 5 mins at a rapid boil, you will want the sugar to melt completely. 
  3. Remove from heat and cool pickling liquid for about 1 hour. Basically, you don’t want it to be scalding my hot when you pour it over the cherries. 
  4. Meanwhile, wash your cherries, remove the stems & pack them into a pint-size mason jar. (I left the pits in mine.)
  5. When the liquid is cooled pour over the cherries (I left the cloves/nutmeg/mace in the jar with the cherries & liquid. After all, they are pickles!)
  6. Cover jar tightly & allow fruit to marinate for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

These are great for snacking, tangy & sweet with just a hint of warm flavor from the clove/nutmeg. Best of all they keep their bite, because nobody wants a mushy pickle. They would be a great addition to a cheese board or a picnic. If I can stop eating them before they’re gone I may fashion a relish from them to go with some Brie.   

#putaneggonit (Part 1)

The theme of the week is eggs. Really, the theme of my life is eggs. I have this theory, any dish is better when you put a fried egg on it: pizza, burgers, fried rice, name one food that isn’t better with an egg on it.  You can’t. I really could eat eggs at every meal & never feel deprived. In keeping with my pickling obsession, I pickled some eggs this week. In all fairness, I’ve never eaten a pickled egg before so I have nothing to compare it with with regard to quality. I don’t even know where you would get a pickled egg. At a bar? Isn’t that what’s in the jar on The Simpsons at Moe’s Tavern?

The pickled egg recipe I tried out was made with liquid smoke to give it a slight smokiness under the vinegary pickled flavor.  I also looked at some recipes for pickled eggs using beets, where the eggs end up a lovely pinkish-red color when they’re done. But since I’m one of the only members of my family who likes beets, I 86ed the idea (for now).


Smoky Pickled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 2C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp Kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Pack your hard-boiled eggs in jars. Fun fact: 1 dozen large eggs fit nicely into a quart-size Mason jar. Don’t worry if it seems like there’s not enough room, the eggs will shrink down slightly in the pickling liquid.

    IMG_2268

    Here are 1 dozen large eggs crammed into quart-size Mason jar, waiting to be pickled.

  2. In a saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and heat over medium-high heat until salt has dissolved and liquid begins to boil.
  3. Lower the heat and simmer pickling liquid for about 5 minutes.
  4. Cool liquid, uncovered to room temperature. It takes about 30 minutes.
  5. Pour liquid over eggs until completely immersed (A few of mine were peeking out of the liquid on top, and didn’t get as flavorful all the way through.)
  6. Cover jar and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating. The longer they are able to sit in the liquid, the happier and more pickley they will be.

    IMG_2274

    Here are the finished eggs. 2 of them got a little torn during the pickling process, but I think this is normal. Any ideas on what I can do to prevent this in the future?

  7. Be aware the egg whites will be slightly harder than a normal hard-boiled egg. Delicious in egg salad, for making deviled eggs, or straight out of the jar!

    IMG_2275

    Here are 2 of the eggs, in all their brownish glory, waiting to be sliced open and devoured (they later were).

For more on my egg obsession, check out my Huevos board on Pinterest!

Using the pickle juice…

My recent dabbling in pickling has left me with a small surplus of pickle juice (more stuff in mason jars…) so I decided to use it to marinate some more chicken. Another use for pickle juice, I’m told is to mix it with vodka & make a Pickle Juice Martini of sorts.


Pickle Juice Chicken

Ingredients:

  • pickle juice (I used both the juice from the Dưa món and from the pickled red onions- link to post above)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions:

  1. Wash chicken breasts, with cold water, and pat dry.
  2. Put the chicken in a resealable container or freezer bag.
  3. Pour the pickle juice over the chicken, making sure it’s enough to cover.
  4. Cover or seal & marinate, under refrigeration for at least 8 hours.
  5. When ready to cook chicken, preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Place cutlets in glass/ceramic baking dish.
  7. Bake 30-35 mins.

The flavor of the pickle-juice marinated chicken was not dissimilar to that of chicken marinated in bottled Italian dressing (Duh, the vinegar.) but with a bit more heat. It was delicious cold on sandwiches & wraps. I think that battered & fried it would taste a lot like Chic-Fil-A .

A little quick pickling…

I decided to do a little quick pickling last night. Because I don’t have nearly enough random items in mason jars in my fridge at the moment. I did some Vietnamese-style pickled veggies (carrots, daikon radish, jalapenos) and some pickled red onions. I still have some headcheese left, and the delicate meaty flavor of the headcheese works really well with something tangy and spicy. If you’re anti-headcheese, these will work on almost any type of sandwich.

Vietnamese-Style Quick Pickled Veggies (Dưa món)

made 4 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots (ended up being about 6 carrots total), peeled & cut into “matchsticks”
  • 1 large daikon radish (it was really big, over a foot long), peeled & cut into “matchsticks”
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (if you want your pickles less spicy, remove the seeds), sliced
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar + 2 tsp
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 C hot water
  • 2 1/4 C rice vinegar

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, toss carrots, daikon radish, jalapeno peppers, with 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp kosher salt. After about 2 minutes the vegetables will begin to soak up the salt & sugar & soften slightly, losing some of their bite.
  2. Rinse the vegetables in a collander in the sink with cold water.
  3. Whisk together 2 1/4 cups hot water, 2 1/4 cups rice vinegar, and 3/4 cup sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved. I did this in a large glass measuring cup so it would be easy to pour the pickling liquid into the jars. You can use hot tap water for this, but I used hot water from my kettle, so the sugar would dissolve more quickly and thoroughly.
  4. Transfer the softened vegetables into 4 pint-sized jars. I pushed them down a bit with my fingers so I could fit more veggies in each jar. Pour the pickling liquid over them. The liquid should cover the vegetables completely.
  5. Store in the refrigerator, and let sit at least 1 hour (and ideally 24 hours) before eating. They will get better flavors the longer they sit.

Tasty Pickled Red Onions

makes 1-2 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 medium red onions, sliced thin
  • 1 C rice vinegar
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 tsp granulated garlic OR 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, whisk together rice vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and bring to a boil.
  2. Add onions, pepper flakes, and granulated garlic, stir together, and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature. Note: I used granulated garlic because in a strange occurance I had NO garlic in the house at all. Not even the kind in a jar. Unheard of. You can definitely use actual garlic in this recipe, but the granulated worked fine too.
  3. Once cooled, transfer the onions to pint jars or and keep refrigerated. The onions are ready to use immediately but will get better flavor the longer they sit.

Not the prettiest picture, but this was my breakfast today. Headcheese breakfast burrito with pickled veg. Next time there will definitely be a fried egg in there.

Not the prettiest picture, but this was my breakfast today. Headcheese breakfast burrito with pickled veg. Next time there will definitely be a fried egg in there.

Food Trends: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You go to the supermarket- it’s there. The other moms at the playground won’t shut up about it. Your still-hip high school friend is Facebooking about it. Just where did this food come from and why is everyone obsessing over it? Welcome to food trends. Fear not, soon you will be able to find this item at your local McDonald’s and that is how you will know it is almost over. Some food trends will get you excited, some will make you scratch your head, and if you’re like me some will make you FURIOUS.

TEN FOOD TRENDS YOU WILL LOVE OR LOVE TO HATE:

  1. Kale: My God. Kale is everywhere. Sautéed kale, kale in salads, kale chips. Here’s what: I don’t think that kale is any better for you than arugula, endive, spinach, or any other greens out there. And, it tastes terrible. Kale chips are not real chips. C’mon people.                                                                                                                            Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.51.46 AM
  2. In-house charcuterie: I am super-excited about this one. This trend came about with the morphing of 2 trends: head-to-tail eating (in other words you purchase an entire animal and eat ALL of it’s bits and pieces) and the pork-everywhere trend. Both of which are trends I am fully on board with. I think this may also be, at least partially, a backlash from the vegan food overload we’ve been seeing in the last few years. Charcuterie was my favorite class in culinary school and homemade pâtés and terrines are very nearly a lost art. LOVE.                                                                          charcuterie
  3. Pretentious food: It’s so very avant-garde (eyeroll)! What? You’re not a fan of deconstructed burritos? There’s a tiny stack of tortilla strips over there, and a small smudge of refried beans here, and some artfully arranged beef in the corner and a smattering of shredded cheese sprinkled over the whole thing. Under the heading of pretentious food is deconstructed anything, anything prepared in a sous-vide (AKA French boiling bags), and anything that Gwyneth Paltrow puts on GOOP.gallery_main-gwyneth-paltrow-meme-01
  4. Canning/brining/pickling: This is uber-trendy at the moment and I’m all over it. I learned to brine my Thanksgiving turkey a few years ago from Aunt Martha– to which my Southern Belle Bestie replied “How else do you make a turkey?” I got a canner at Christmas and I’ve been happily canning soups and tomato sauce ever since. I’ve even made some jams out of wine! So trendy! And let’s talk about pickling and brining. I will literally eat ANYTHING that is pickled or brined– except those weird pale tomatoes at the kosher deli. They’re just creepy.                                          portlanda-pickles
  5. Asian cuisine: It’s not just about Chinese takeout anymore. A few years ago the trend was Pad Thai, then Vietnamese Pho, and now suddenly it’s any and all things Korean. Bulgogi and Kimchi are not words that were in the average American’s food vocabulary 2 years ago and now Korean BBQ places are popping up all over and dishes like Korean Short Ribs are showing up on fine dining menus. A coincidental combination of #4 and #5: you can buy a kimchi pot from Williams-Sonoma! Make your own kimchi at home, and then can it!!                                                                    kimchi-1
  6. Cupcakes and macarons: When I was growing up, cupcakes were what your mom brought to school when it was your birthday and a macaroon was something that was made by Manischewitz and came in a canister. Today, high-end cupcake shops are all the rage and feature humungous cupcakes in interesting flavors. Food Network is running a competition show called Cupcake Wars You can even pair your cupcakes with wine! The macaron (not macaroons) that you’re seeing are are delicate, adorable, fussy, tiny French cakes (although historically they are Italian in origin) made from meringue, sugar, and almond flour (no coconut as present in the macaroons). A sweet trend!

    cupcakes

    These are actual cupcakes made by moi to be paired with wines. From the top: dolce de leche, red velvet, lemon drop.

  7. “Weird Dairy” and non-dairy Dairy: Wow. The dairy section in your local supermarket has grown! The yogurt you didn’t want to eat as a kid now comes in flavors like passionfruit, watermelon, and key lime. You can get an extra protein boost from Greek yogurt (best with a drizzle of honey) or the truly brave can try the weirder dairy products like Kefir. Kefir is a yogurty drink, originally from Russia (remember those Russians that ate yogurt and lived forever?) that contains both bacteria (of the probiotic variety) and yeast. If your local grocery is really trendy you will be able to find quark, a weird dairy product made from coagulated sour milk. It is used in many German baked goods and often as a breakfast spread. The other side of the weird dairy coin caters do non-dairy eating folks like vegans and the lactose-intolerant. There are no shortage of dairy alternatives for you. Gone are the days where the only non-dairy dairy you could get was soy. Today you can get almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, cashew milk and even hemp milk!                                        milk
  8. Farm to Table: Farm to Table is huge here in the Midwest and it seems to be a trend that was MADE for America’s heartland. This trend includes things like eating local, eating seasonally, and knowing where your food comes from. The trend has even spawned a new foodie term: “locavore”- one who eats locally. Restaurants are getting away from using the big food suppliers and forming relationships with local farmers, some are even cultivating gardens and raising fish in-house!folk and roots fest 08
  9. “Ancient Grains”: Ancient Grains include grains such as quinoa, spelt, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, barley, and rye. Five years ago I probably couldn’t have told you what half of those are (the only Buckwheat I knew was on The Little Rascals) much less how to pronounce quinoa (it’s KEEN-wa by the way). Quinoa is super-trendy right now as a substitute for rice or pasta. I think that this trend began as an offshoot to gluten-free diets. But be wary, some of these grains (barley, rye, and spelt) DO contain gluten!                                                                                                              ancient grains
  10. Slow cookers/Crockpots/Pressure Cookers: These used to be your grandma’s bag. The roast would go into the crockpot so she could get household chores done. Today, families are BUSY. Mom and dad work all day, there are sports and rehearsals for the kids after school but most people would like to keep fast-food eating to a minimum. Enter the crockpot/slow cooker. Set it up in the morning and come home to a hot meal ready for the family! The traditional pot roast and chili are there, but also some fun outside-the-box stuff. How about breakfast in your crockpot for Christmas morning? Or a chocolate cake? Bread? Pumpkin Spice Latte? I got my crockpot as a wedding present, and for years I only used it for heating up Glühwein, but in recent years I’ve used it tons more. This is a great trend for families, homemade meals, eaten at home, possibly together? Definitely a good thing.                                                                                                         Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 11.13.44 AM