Monday, March 31, 2014

White House Cookbook : 1887 Edition

I love old books.  I love the way they feel.  I love the way they look.  I love the way they smell.  They are even better if there is a personal inscription penned on the inside cover.  If you also happen to be a lover of all things old and antique, then you will most definitely enjoy reading this.

My Grandmother gave this to me a few months ago, just because, and it is by far one of the most favorite gifts that I have ever received.  This 1887 Edition of the White House Cook Book is 123 years old! She bought it with my late Grandfather in southern Indiana decades ago.  The binding is completely loose, the pages are worn and tear easily and I have to be incredibly gentle when handling it.

When she bought it, there were numerous newspaper clippings and handwritten recipes enclosed and she kept them all in tact.   

With all of the luxuries and conveniences at our fingertips these days, we tend to forget how different life was 50-100+ years ago.  When I read this book, I am instantly whisked away to a different world.  I really enjoy reading it.

Notice that the recipes are not written as they are today.  There are no lists of ingredients nor specific cooking temperatures and the measurements are sometimes estimates.

They used rustic birds like pigeons and squabs.

Scattered through the book are portraits of the women of the White House.

One of my favorite things about this book are the old newspaper articles that were clipped and tucked away.  Most of the clippings include recipes, but I like to read the articles and advertisements that are printed on the reverse side.

Take a look at this recipe for Crisp Potatoes... remind you of anything?

I am fascinated by all of the illustrations of scenes in and around the White House.  It is incredible to think that some of the items in these pictures are still in the White House today.  Don't you just love history??

Even though this book was written ages ago, a lot of the material is still relevant.

More of the ladies. 

There is a huge section of desserts that I hope to try and share them with you soon!

Another fun little clip tucked away...

This article was entertaining.  It discusses etiquette for ladies who use the dressing rooms on trains.

"There are dressing room hogs, just as there are selfish persons who keep the end seat in church or on the street car."

It goes on to tell women how to get ready in a few inches of space and how to be tidy with their toiletries and clothing.

This is one of my favorite sections as it lists seasonal foods for each month of the year.

This is fun as well!  Menu planning for each month of the year as well as for holidays and celebrations.

Fried chicken was on the menu for the 4th of July.

At the end, it goes into some home remedies and recipes for those who are under the weather.  

Look at that!  Men's vests for $2.59.

Helpful hints for all different ailments.

This book literally covered everything on how to run a tight ship at home.

Those prices!  I wish I could time travel back 100 years just to see what it was like!

I hope you enjoyed this deviation from my usual recipes.  Now I have an original copy but you can purchase a newer copy on Amazon.  Even if you don't end up making anything, this book is such a fun read and a wonderful part of our history. 

Go USA!  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mom's Roasted Chicken

My mother has always made the BEST roasted chicken.  It is probably one of the most comforting meals ever.  I could be down, homesick, ill or stressed and her roasted chicken can instantaneously bring me a sense of calm and happiness.  I guess it just reminds me of growing up and I was very fortunate to have had an amazing childhood.

The kitchen is the heart and soul of my family.  I am blessed to have been raised by two parents who have such a passion for cooking.  Growing up, we had a hot, home-cooked meal on the table practically every night.  That passion has been passed on to my brothers, sister and I and to this day, we are all still sharing recipes with each other.    

I actually posted this recipe as my second post ever but decided to recreate it with some new pictures.  I don't plan on doing this with all of my older posts but I felt that this chicken deserved better than the dark and gloomy pictures that I had originally posted.

 Enjoy your week everyone!  

Rinse all of the juices off the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels.  This will result in a crispy skin that everyone will fight for when it comes out of the oven!

Here are all of the aromatics to stuff in the chicken.  Woody herbs like thyme, oregano and rosemary work best.  As it cooks, these flavors will transform the chicken.   

Oh... and a quick tip to get butter to room temperature faster is to cut it up into small cubes.  More surface area helps it to soften up real quick!  

Put as much as you can fit in the cavity.  Also, don't forget to salt and pepper the inside of the bird as well. 

I always mince up some garlic and fresh herbs to rub all over the skin and meat.  

Rub the entire chicken with the room temperature butter, herbs and garlic. Don't forget to get some underneath the skin of the breasts. The white meat is dry so the butter will help baste as the chicken is roasting.  Season the skin liberally with salt and pepper. 

It also helps to truss the chicken with some kitchen twine.  When the legs and wings are tied closer to the body, they cook more evenly.  

Mom's Roasted Chicken
1 whole roaster chicken, 3-5 pounds
10-12 garlic cloves, peeled
1 lemon, quartered
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh oregano
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 385 degrees

Remove chicken from plastic and rinse off with cold water. Completely pat dry with paper towel.   Liberally season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. 

Stuff cavity with garlic cloves, fresh herbs and lemon wedges. Reserve a sprig of each of the herbs and two garlic cloves to rub on the outside of the chicken. Mince up the reserved herbs and garlic. 

Rub the entire bird, including underneath the skin, with room temperature butter, minced herbs and garlic.  Liberally salt and pepper skin of the chicken.

Tie wings and legs with bakers twine so they are close to the body.  Place the chicken in a roaster pan, breast side up and place in preheated oven.  

About 30 minutes in, take chicken out of the oven and baste with butter and juices in the bottom of the pan.  
The most foolproof way to know when a chicken is done is to insert a well-calibrated instant-read thermometer into the meat near the inner thigh (between the leg and the breast, but make sure you’re not hitting bone). If the thermometer reads between 160° and 165°, it’s done.  You can also tell it is finished by placing your knife between the leg and the thigh and the juices run clear. Total cook time for my 4 pound chicken was approximately 1 hour.    

Take out of oven when finished and let cool for 20 minutes.  After carving, spoon some of the juices over the meat.

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