Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Scrambled Eggs

"Beat four eggs very light. Add a teacup milk, thickened with a teaspoon flour.  Have the pan very hot, put in a tablespoonful butter, our in the eggs, and scramble quickly---" Mrs. E Housekeeping in Old Virginia pg.189

I hate eggs.  I only eat eggs because I can use the protein in the morning. For this recipe, I downsized the portions to a single serving- 1 egg, 1/4 teacup of milk, 1/4 teaspoon flour and a bit of butter for greasing the pan. I have a single-serving miniature frying pan for my eggs.(1) Because of the size of the pan, I chose to scramble the ingredients prior to cooking.  My first attempt was an epic fail.  The center was extremely runny and the bottom portion of the eggs were burned.  I reread the recipe and realized that I had forgotten to "scramble quickly" as instructed by Mrs. E. I repeated the process with the appropriate instructions in mind.

The outcome was far better than expected!  The flour stiffens the egg and the added milk dampens the eggy after-taste that I loathe. The scrambled egg was fluffy and quite delicious.  I've decided to follow Mrs. E's recipe from here on out, making my future breakfasts more enjoyable and less dreadful.

1.  I discovered several months ago that when one shares a house with many people, one's things are often "borrowed" for other purposes.  There have been many frying pans in the house that have fallen victim to cruel cooking methods- such as using forks on Teflon surfaces... *shudder* I found a miniature four inch wide pan at Walmart and purchased it for $5. No one steals my pan because it's too small to cook anything substantial. HA!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Potato Cakes

"Mash potatoes, just boiled. Add salt, pepper, butter, and cream, make into cakes and fry brown on both sides." Mrs. P. W. Housekeeping in Old Virginia. pg 197

I saw the description of this recipe yesterday, having two potatoes I decided to give it a shot.  This morning I boiled a peeled potato on the stove for approximately twenty minutes.  I then extracted the potato and put in a bowl.  I used a fork to mash the potato and added salt, butter, and pepper.  I had no cream, so I added extra butter and a little bit of milk -- to milk cap fulls. I stirred the vigorously until all the contents were well blended. The ending consistency was something similar to stiff mashed potatoes. I made four "cakes" by rolling portions of the potato mix into a ball and flattening it in the frying pan.  I aimed for each cake to be about 1/2 an inch thick.  I then fried the cakes with a bit of oil, although I'm certain Mrs. P.W. would have advised either butter or lard (those seem to be the frying food products of choice in most of these recipes).

The end-product was quite delicious, very similar to a hash brown. As any good Virginian, I appreciate my salt- so I was sure to season the finished cakes for good flavor.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fried Steak

"Get from the butcher a tenderloin or porter-house steak. Do not wash it, but be careful to lay it on a clean block and beat it well, but not into holes, nor so as to look ragged. Sprinkle over pepper and salt, then dredge with flour on both sides.
Have ready a hot frying-pan, lay in the steak and cover closely. The juice of the meat will be sufficient to cook it. Turn often, as the pan must be hot enough to scorch and make the steak and gravy brown.
Before it gets hard or overdone, butter liberally; place in a hot dish. Pepper again, and, if preferred, pour over first one tablespoonful pepper vinegar, then one tablespoonful made mustard, and turn over all the hot gravy. Sift powdered cracker over and serve." Mrs. S. T. Housekeeping in Old Virginia. Pg 122.

I have to confess that being a broke college student prevented me from purchasing an unecessarily large piece of beef. So- instead I purchased sirloin strips from my local grocery. I did not beat the meat, as instructed by Mrs. S.T. I dredged the beef in flour, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and placed it on the hot frying pan.  I was cooking with a smaller portion of beef, so I had to use a little more butter on the meat that I had planned. I flipped the strips several times so as to prevent burning or overcooking the beef.
Once finished, there was a delectible salty crust on the outside of the beef. I think I used a little too much butter though, as the strips were a little oily.
I had no crackers to dust across the beef, an ingredient that I will surely include next time....