Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Throw Back to 1908...

This past week, the boyfriend drew The Inglenook Cook Book, dated 1908.  He found this book on eBay and gave it to me as one of my Christmas' presents.  Neither of us are really big on Christmas since we don't buy into the whole commercialism aspect of it so we always struggle in trying to figure out what to get the other for Christmas, even if its something photography or cooking related.

In any event, part of the challenge of 2014 is a week of vintage.  I really didn't know what to prepare out of The Inglenook Cook Book, since there are a number of different types of recipes.  Mindful of my "diet," and quest to keep things fresh, I caved.  Unnecessarily, but I was having the week where my "diet" never makes sense only that being a woman in childbearing years without the child.

I also wanted to keep the ingredients simple and perhaps out of the cabinet for this challenge since I'm sure that's what the women of 1908 would do.

Introducing, Chocolate Fudges from Sister Emma Carstensen, Elgin, Illinois.

Chocolate Fudges (c) 1908
"Take 1 cup of sugar (I reduced to 1/2 cup), 1/3 cup of sweet cream (whipping cream), and 1 heaping tablespoonful of grated chocolate; boil until it hairs from the tines of a fork.  Stir briskly till cool, pour into a pan and cut into squares."

Simple right?  Way too simple!  In my days of making fudge, which weren't many since my family was never big on sweets, always involved using sweetened condensed milk.  Now that I know that whipping cream is a good substitute, I can replicate this to a better chocolate (like 67% coco).

In any event, I learned something new from this little venture and hopefully this upcoming week's challenge can pull us through to another vintage week with another book.

Next week, The Republic of Congo...

Monthly update of funds going towards the Food Bank: $4.02

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Exploring Belgium

Last week, I was away on business again, and found myself having to research Belgian food.  I've been fortunate in my life to explore Belgium as a teenager and two things stick in my memory bank on Belgian food: beer and waffles.

Unfortunately, this challenge isn't calling for either, or at least something I didn't call for.  I also was trying to be mindful of the new year's challenge for the boyfriend and I to shed some pounds.  Belgian food is uniquely different in that it is heavily influenced by the French, hence the debate between France and Belgium as to who "discovered" fries.  Honestly, it was the Belgians!  So if you remember the argument in the last decade that we abandon French fries because they were French, obviously it was bogus!  Freedom fries, seriously?!  In any event, Belgians take the reigns as top fry.  Also, Belgian food is influenced by the Germans.  Germans influence the Belgians by the amount of food they serve: A LOT.

So with the gourmet of French food and the quantity of German in mind, my quest to find the happy medium began.

Part of my quest this year was to also make sure I kept to fresh foods made finding a reasonable Belgian dish that much harder.

Introducing Celery Root and Potato Puree from Estel's Kitchen--Live 2 Eat!


  • 1 celery root--peeled and cubed
  • 3 medium Idaho or russet baking potatoes--peeled and cubed
  • 1 c of milk
  • 1 Tbs of salt
  • 3 or 4 Tbs unsalted butter--at room temperature
  • 3 Tbs heavy cream or additional milk
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  1. In a large saucepan, combine celery root, potatoes, 1 cup of milk, 1 Tablespoon of salt, and enough cold water to cover the vegetable
  2. Cover partially and cook over medium heat until the potatoes and celery root are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain
  3. Press the celery root and potato through a food mill or potato ricer into a large mixing bowl.  Use a wooden spoon to beat in the butter and cream
  4. Beat until the mixture is very light and fluffy.  Season generously with salt, pepper and nutmeg
  5. The puree can be kept warm in 150°F oven for up to 2 hours
I paired this side dish with a roasted chicken from Thomas Keller (owner of the French Laundry) and sauteed carrots.  All and all, it has been a great jumping off point dish. When I bought the chicken, I didn't realize there were bagged gibbets included!  As a result, I am going to attempt the other dish I was thinking of prior to the Celery Root and Potato Puree; Chicken Liver Mousse.

Next week, we will explore the year 1908 with the Inglenook Cook Book.

Correction: Apparently the dish from last week is not the New Wiggle Shrimp.  It was misnamed and is actually, New Shrimp Wiggle.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The New Wiggle Shrimp Might As Well Just Wig Out

Last week, I was on a business trip, and fortunately, I had to only pick a recipe out of one of my vintage cookbooks for the challenge.  Yet, this was a challenge in itself since there were over 1,000 to choose from, and I had to make something that was within season, within budget, and within healthy guidelines.

New Wiggle Shrimp

I first thought, perhaps since the weather is still cold, I could pull off a "rabbit stew."  It sounded tasty, but upon reflection, all I can picture is Bugs Bunny in a cooking pot.

So, I decided to test my seafood skills instead.  I found what was called "New Wiggle Shrimp."  While preparing it, the boyfriend asked, "what was old wiggle shrimp, if this is or was considered new wiggle shrimp?"  His question was relevant as we did use a cookbook dated at 1925.  I was honestly afraid to think of the worst case of why it was called "new wiggle shrimp."  I thought that perhaps, it was because the individual wanting the shrimp couldn't just go to store like I could and had to freshly catch the shrimp from the sea.  It was an English cookbook after all so it could be possible.

Also, did Bubba Blue know of this creation of the "new wiggle shrimp?"  He never did mention it in his speech to Forrest Gump when naming off the different types of shrimp.  In any event, this dish was rated about a C+ in terms of taste in my book.  There wasn't much flavor towards it so it was overshadowed by the steamed kale and broccoli we had on the side.  I give it an A- in terms of ingredients and ease of recipe.  I didn't find the jargon of 1925 too difficult to follow on this recipe.

New Wiggle Shrimp [Modern Priscilla Cookbook: 1,000 Recipes and Cooking Methods (c)1925]
3 slices of bacon
1 c of shrimp
2 c canned tomatoes (we diced fresh tomatoes)
1/2 c milk
1 Tbs of flour
•Dice the bacon and cook in a frying pan until brown
•Add the shrimp and the tomatoes
•Cook all together a few minutes
•Heat in a separate pan the milk to which the flour has been added, stirring until thickened
•Stir into the other mixture and season to taste

In any event, "new wiggle shrimp," is one I think we won't immediately repeat unless we are finding ourselves at a loss as to what to do with shrimp.  Then again, we might just refer to Bubba Blue's ideas. As far as the food bank fund: $.80. The shrimp and milk added up more than I had hoped.

Later this week, we explore the culture of Belgium not including the beer or waffles.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Starting off with Albanian

This year has just barely started, and already I'm finding myself busier than normal.  On New Year's Day, I made up some hours lost by working.  Not a big deal since the boyfriend put in some miscellaneous hours as well.  It was a good thing I was making up some hours lost since I found out that I'm also due to go out on another business trip next week.

The challenge of an Albanian dish, had to come sooner than expected since tonight I'll be away from the kitchen for the next three nights.

So, without further delay, even if it is a tad on the early side:  Fërgesë of Tirana with veal.

I tried my best to reduce the recipe in order to keep the portion small since we were still eating leftover roasted butternut squash risotto and freshly made sauteed arugula.  We're having to clear the fridge since we'll be gone for a few days and chances are, by the time we get back, the boyfriend isn't going to use what's left since he doesn't cook much when I'm gone.

Part of the challenge this year is to also list out the recipe I used to get the results pictured.  Also, it helps to have the cultured recipe published if it isn't easily found.  In this case, Albanian food is very close to Mediterranean food so it isn't as "foreign" as I'd hoped.  I like Mediterranean food and it isn't "unhealthy" as it were.

As far as cost is concerned, this dish came under $5 since I was using what we had in the fridge.  We had the onion, butter, flour, and Feta cheese so all I needed to purchase was the veal.  So, I'll be putting to $1.51 into the Food Bank fund.  Not a bad way to start out the year.

Fërgesë of Tirana with vealFergesë e Tiranës me Mish Viçi --


Fërgesë of Tirana with veal
  • one pound veal cutlets
  • 1/2 pound salted cottage cheese or Greek feta cheese
  • one tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 lb. (one stick) butter
  • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • one medium-sized onion
Add saltblack pepper, and chili pepper for flavor.


Cut the veal cutlets into small pieces. Dice the onion. In a saucepan, preheat the olive oil and sauté the meat and onion for 15 minutes. In another saucepan, melt the butter and then add flour, cottage or feta cheese, and black pepper, salt and chili pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients together (adding the sautéed meat and onions) in the saucepan and place in a preheated 350 oven for 15 minutes. Take out and serve immediately. Note: Instead of veal cutlets, beef liver can be used in the same quantity of meat and preparation/cooking instructions as above.
Serves 4 people, sometimes utilized as an appetizer.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Challenge

Here's a brief summary of the food challenge of 2013:

  • With all the hick-ups that occurred in 2013, I was able to complete 63 percent of the food challenges
  • 10 dishes were picked as 10 favorites
  • Two themes emerged from the food challenge of 2013 to forge the food challenge of 2014
Despite the business trips, mold infestation, and a sudden move; I think the boyfriend and I did fairly well in completing 63 percent of the food challenge.  Considering it was to occur 52 weeks, that's better than 50% :) Also, the fact we were able to pick 10 dishes as 10 favorites, that's pretty darn good.
Top 10 of 2013

Now, for the top 10 dishes as 10 favorites...

Each of these dishes had a common feel to them.  Aside from being tasty, they wanted me to dig deeper.

As a result, this is how the Food Challenge of 2014 will roll out:
  • There are two themes that will be present during the food challenge of 2014:
    • culturally different
    • vintage adaptable
  • Every week, the recipe will either be of a random country or from one of my vintage cookbooks
  • To be fair, the random country will be drawn by letter
    • for example, all "A" countries will be written on a piece of paper and drawn by the boyfriend to be a true random draw
    • all of the letters will be fairly represented even if there is only one country per letter like Qatar
    • this should result in 26 culturally different recipes represented
  • Vintage recipes consist of a dish from a book dated older than 50 years as of 2014
  • For optimum results, seasonal (and to the region) ingredients for the vintage and cultural recipes will be used
  • Total cost per dish must be under $20 and serve a minimum of 2 people
  • 10 percent of the remaining funds of per dish must be put back into PayPal Account and the balance at the end of the year must be donated to the local food bank
Onward, the food challenge of 2014, is just getting started with something ALBANIAN :)