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Michael Sheldon
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Michael Sheldon

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Dutch Apple Pudding

Now some of you are certainly saying, "that doesn't look like a pudding!" It's only in the United States after the early 20th century that the word "pudding" became exclusively associated with custard-like desserts. Prior to that time, and still in other parts of the English speaking world, pudding could refer to all sorts of things, sweet, savory, baked, boiled, hot, cold, etc.

This recipe comes from Miss Parloa's New Cook Book and Marketing Guide of 1908. There's a photo of the original recipe in the attached album.

2 cups flour (Soft wheat like White Lily is best)
1 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp (1oz) Cold Butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg
2/3 Cup Milk
4 Apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/8 wedges
2 Tbsp Sugar

Preheat oven to 400F
Butter a 9" square pan or if you're braver, a cookie sheet.
In a bowl, add the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt, then whisk to combine. Then rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it is well combined.
In another bowl, beat the egg, then whisk in the milk. Then add this to the dry ingredients, mixing quickly and thoroughly. It should be a very thick batter.
Immediately spread the batter into your pan or onto your sheet, it should be about 1/2" thick. Then place the apple wedges in rows, pressing them down lightly into the batter. Sprinkle the sugar over the top, then place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

This should be served with sugar and cream or a sauce.

Notes:
You'll note there's very little sugar in this recipe. This is fairly typical of early recipes, first, sugar was expensive, second, because they used much less, they were likely more "sensitive" to it.

Puddings in general were always served with sauces of some type. Whipped cream will work also. Heck, you could serve this for breakfast with Maple Syrup. I had just finished making a batch of Crème Fraîche earlier today, so that's what I served this with. Crème Fraîche is sort of like a mild sour cream, though richer than modern store-bought. It was quite nice.

The pudding was perfectly done, though only very slightly browned near the edges. Next time I may use the convection mode in my oven, or try a slightly higher heat for a little less time.

If you don't have Cream of Tartar around, you can omit the Cream of Tartar and Baking Soda, and use 1-1/2 tsp Baking Powder instead.

The really nice part about this recipe, is that it is simple and fast. Total time was under an hour, and most of that was in the oven.
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Edited, forgot instructions to sprinkle the sugar on top before baking.
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Martingale collar I made for my newest adoptee, Diva. I was aiming for an Art Deco feel to the design.

Purple stained backplate, blue dyed center strap. Both treated with a silver metallic wash. 
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Creole-style Stewed Shrimp

The beauty of this dish is the initial shrimp boil. This is going to seem like a LOT of spices, do it anyways. :)

Adapted from the "Picayune Creole Cook Book", 1922 edition.

Boiled Shrimp, works for 1-2 pounds of unpeeled shrimp, maybe more.
To a 4-5 quart pot, filled with water, add
8-10 Tablespoons Salt (1/8 cup +)
6-8 stalks celery, chopped fine.
24 Whole Allspice
12 Whole Cloves
2 Blades of Mace (approx 1 tsp of broken blade or 1 tsp ground)
4 sprigs Thyme (1 Tbsp dry)
4 sprigs Parsley
4 bay leaves
6-12 Whole Black Peppercorns
1/2 tsp crushed Red Pepper flakes.

Boil all together for at least 20 minutes to extract the flavors, then add the shrimp. Boil 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and let the shrimp cool in the liquid for at least another 10 minutes.

This is a universal treatment for shrimp in this cookbook. Just about every shrimp recipe says to start with this boil. And yes, it seems like a lot of salt, but you really do want something approaching a weak brine. Shrimp don't absorb flavors easily, the salt gets the flavor into them.

Stewed Shrimp:
Shrimp from above, peeled.
1 Large Onion, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Butter
1 28oz Can Whole or Diced Tomatoes
4 Celery Stalks, chopped fine
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Sprig Thyme (or 1 tsp dry)
2 Bay Leaves
Dash Cayenne
Salt and Pepper to taste.

In a deep skillet with a cover, or a dutch oven, brown the onions in the butter. Meanwhile, if using whole tomatoes, dice them. Add the tomatoes and all their liquid, the celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir well, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, simmer ten minutes longer, then serve.

Options: I added a diced green pepper to the onions, and 1/2 pound of thawed frozen okra when I added the shrimp.

I served this over a bed of saffron brown rice.

This is probably the fourth or fifth time I've made this since I found it. It's very good, and very simple to make.


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Oriental Saloon Stew

In his "Original Cowboy Cookbook", Wes Medley says this recipe came from a man who worked as a bartender and cook at the Oriental Saloon in Tombstone AZ. In the mid to late 1880's into the very early 1890's, Tombstone was a large and wealthy town, said to be second only to San Francisco in the West. Some of the restaurants were very high-class. Such a highly spiced stew served in a saloon would not be surprising at all.

1-1/2 pounds beef cubes (approx 3/4")
2 Tablespoons flour
1Tablespoon paprika
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons lard or shortening/vegetable oil
2 sliced onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 28oz can tomatoes
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 - 1 tsp dry crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups chopped potatoes
2 cups chopped carrots.

Mix flour, paprika, 1 tsp chili powder and salt, coat the beef cubes with it. Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add the lard. When hot, add the beef cubes and brown. Depending on the diameter of your pot, you may want to do half at a time. If the meat is too crowded, it won't brown well. Remove the meat, lower the heat to medium, then add the onion and garlic, cook until soft. return the meat to the pot, add the remaining spices and the can of tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook until the vegetables are done.

Warning, your house will fill with the smell of cinnamon, cloves and pepper. Every time I make this, I'm hungry all day.

A cheap, tough cut of meat is perfect for this. I cut up a london broil this time, and have used chuck previously. Round roast would also be fine. I would also consider using venison. Definitely a good idea to remove any fat and connective tissue when cutting up the meat.

The pepper heat depends quite a bit on the types of paprika and chili powder you use. If you use a half-sharp paprika and a good chili powder, I recommend keeping the pepper flakes to 1/2 tsp or less unless you like a lot of heat.

I served this with cornmeal biscuits.
1-1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening or lard
2/3 cup milk or buttermilk

Whisk dry ingredients together, cut in the shortening, then add the milk. Stir lightly with a fork just enough to moisten the flour. Turn out onto a floured board, knead gently until smooth, then roll to 3/4 inch thick. Cut with a 2" cutter and place on a lightly greased sheet (or parchment). Bake at 450 for 12-15 min.

My variation, I rolled the dough into approximately a 3" diameter log, cut 8 even sized disks, then lightly pressed them into shape. I pre-heated a cast-iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes. When hot, I pulled it out and dropped a tablespoon of lard into it and swirled it around until it melted. I placed the biscuits into the pan then brushed the tops with buttermilk and put them in the oven for 12-15 min. 
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I try my best to keep it off the floor. ☺️
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Scones. Today, that brings visions of large, usually triangular pastries, studded with dried fruit and topped with sugar.

But as a fan of history and cooking, I wondered at the origins. So I looked through my antique cookbooks to find what they were like in the 19th century. That was a bit of an eye-opener in itself, of more than a dozen pre-1900 cookbooks I own, only two had recipes for "Scottish Scones". One, a promotional booklet by the Royal Baking Powder Company, 1888. The other, The 1899 edition of the White House Cookbook. Both recipes were remarkably similar in ingredients, with only minor differences.

This one is from the Royal Baking Powder Company:
Scottish Scones. -- 1 quart flour, 1 teaspoonful sugar, 1/2 teaspoonful salt, 2 teaspoonfuls Royal Baking Powder, 1 large tablespoonful lard, 2 eggs, nearly 1 pint milk. Sift together flour, sugar, salt, and powder; rub in lard cold; add beaten eggs and milk; mix into dough smooth and just consistent enough to handle. Flour the board, turn out dough, give it one or two quick kneadings to complete its smoothness; roll it out with rolling-pin to 1/8 inch in thickness, cut with sharp knife into squares larger than soda crackers, fold each in half to form three-cornered pieces. Bake on a hot griddle for 10 minutes; brown on both sides.

Differences to the White House Cookbook: WH omits the sugar, instructs to roll to 1/4 inch and cut in triangles, provides the option to bake in an oven or on a griddle.

I made a half-recipe:
2 cups White Lily flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons lard
1 egg
approx 1/3 cup milk

You notice here that my 1/3 cup of milk is much less than half of the "nearly a pint" called for. I'm not sure if it's how I measure the flour, or if the standard egg size is now larger, but I had measured out 3/4 cup of milk, and ended up using only half of it.

I rolled the dough out to 1/8", cut it in approximately 2.5" squares, and folded them as directed, then cooked them on a 370 degree griddle, 5 minutes each side.

Regardless of whether you use the sugar or not, 1 teaspoon of sugar in 4 cups of flour is not enough to provide noticeable sweetness. As you can tell from the recipe, these are really much closer to a plain biscuit than the pastry-like modern scones, and much smaller. They are very plain, but surprisingly good. I found myself continually reaching for the plate for another one.

I served these alongside a nice black bean soup, and they were truly excellent. They would also be outstanding split in half and spread with butter, honey or jam.

These could be very handy if you cook outdoors, as a means of having biscuits without having to set up a dutch oven.
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Can we talk about flour? Specifically for Baking?

And yes, we'll be talking about gluten, but not relating to gluten-free, etc. What we're talking about is how gluten/protein content affects your baking.

And, just to get this off my chest, the biggest lie in baking is "All Purpose" flour. It's not, there's no such thing. What these should be labelled as is "General Purpose" flour.

For reference, more protein equals more gluten. Gluten is a protein. Gluten is what makes a dough "strong". High gluten flours make stretchy, strong doughs needed for free-standing loaves, pizza crusts, etc. If you are using yeast, you probably want a high-gluten flour. Low gluten flours are needed for light, delicate things. If you are using baking powder/baking soda, you probably want a low to mid gluten content flour.

Now for the numbers. Generally, basic wheat flours are going to run a range from 5 to 14% protein content.

* From 5-8% are your cake flours. These are VERY low gluten, to give very light cakes. Also may be milled finer. This is what you want for super-light angel food cakes, etc.
* From 8-9% protein are the pastry flours. Enough gluten to hold together a light dough, low enough to make the finished product very light and flaky.
* From 12% and higher protein are the bread flours. Made from hard wheat, they have high gluten content to allow the bread to hold together while rising. You really cannot make really good free-standing loaves like french breads without it.

And now, "All Purpose", which I have seen defined as 10-12% protein, but actually found in the range of 8-12%. Seriously, that covers a lot of ground.

In the case of one of my favorites, King Arthur All Purpose has a protein content of 11.7%. That means for all practical purposes, it is bread flour. And, it really does turn out perfectly acceptable yeast breads. Enough so that I don't bother buying Bread Flour. The flip side is that it makes lousy biscuits, pie crusts, etc. And cookies, biscotti, muffins, etc are really kind of marginal.

After getting tired of my biscuits being hockey pucks, in spite of recipes claiming "light and fluffy," I decided maybe the Southern cooks I was getting my biscuit recipes from had an unfair advantage. So I ordered a bag of White Lily flour. Yeah, they really do have an unfair advantage. You see, White Lily All Purpose flour is made from soft wheat, and has only 8% protein content. All of a sudden, my biscuits were reaching for the sky, and my pie crusts would flake to the lightest touch.

So you see that while King Arthur "All Purpose" is really bread flour. White Lily "All Purpose" is really pastry flour. For a fun comparison, White Lily bread flour is also 11.7% protein content, exactly the same as King Arthur all purpose.

That was when I started looking up the protein contents of my flour. And how I realized "All Purpose" was a lie. Trust me, I would never even dream of making yeast breads with White Lily all purpose, just as I will never again make biscuits from King Arthur all purpose.

Now for thickening gravy, light batters like pancakes, etc. any flour will work. Though for batters, I would still lean toward the lower protein flours, even bread flour would work.

Now, the difficulty for us Western bakers, is getting hold of soft wheat flours like White Lily. White Lily is just not sold in stores west of the Mississippi. You can get pastry flour, but it's definitely more expensive. I ended up mail ordering my flour. You can get it directly from White Lily, or through resellers like Amazon. There are some artisan flours available here in the West, but they are very expensive to use for anything but special cases.

For my own kitchen now, I keep both White Lily and King Arthur all purpose on hand, using each to its strengths, even possibly mixing them when I want something "in the middle".

Flour protein content:
http://www.theartisan.net/flour_test.htm

Flour types and their uses:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/baking-guide/flour-101-guide-to-different-types-and-uses.html

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For the most part general purpose flours are good enough to do yeast breads. Only the very low gluten flours would not do well, and those are hard to come by in the SW. The only time I really made sure to use bread flour was with large, free-standing loaves.
The exception is for non-yeast breads. Those do best with low-gluten flours. King Arthur makes truly horrible soda bread. Like eating a brick.
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I find it fascinating that during a time when the medical profession still scoffed at the need for cleanliness, pastry-makers were absolute in their belief.

From "Culinary Jottings for Madras", fifth edition, 1855
Similar statements found in other cook books of the same time period.
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Maybe, but I'd put my money on those who just think the whiter and softer the bread is, the better. Can't really come up with any other excuse for Wonder Bread.
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Martingale collar I made for my newest adoptee, Diva. I was aiming for an Art Deco feel to the design.

Purple stained backplate, blue dyed center strap. Both treated with a silver metallic wash. 
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Blackberry Buckle, using Alton Brown's Blueberry Buckle recipe.

Damn you +Alton Brown! How am I supposed to not eat the entire thing for lunch today?
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Paprika. Probably very under-appreciated in most kitchens. A few days ago I was watching a Youtube video by a popular chef, where he said "add a teaspoon of paprika, any kind will do." Well, I just about choked on my Goulash.
Now, I will grant you, you can switch between sweet paprika and smoked paprika in many dishes, and while there will be a difference, both versions would taste quite good. But, try that with half-sharp paprika, and you may have a different opinion. (Sprinkling half-sharp on your deviled eggs could be a fairly amusing prank if your friends have a low heat tolerance.)

I keep three bottles of paprika in my spice cabinet (yes, the entire cabinet). Hungarian sweet, Hungarian half-sharp, and Smoked Spanish paprika.

Hungarian sweet paprika is a mild, sweet paprika with very nice flavor. Awesome for adding to stews and soups, etc.

Smoked Spanish paprika has a definite smoky flavor, and is especially good for spice rubs for barbeque or grilling.

Hungarian half-sharp paprika is a full-flavored HOT spice. If you like heat, this is your paprika. When I make Goulash, I generally use half sweet, and half half-sharp, which results in a spicy, but not hot dish. (If I was making it just for me, I'd probably go all half-sharp.) I would equate half-sharp paprika's heat as being close to ground chipotle chile. It's not cayenne, but it's not Ancho either.
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The Scots are known for a lot of things, good food is not one of them.
"My theory is that all of Scottish cuisine is based on a dare." - Mike Myers
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Another day, another bean. Today is Bolita.

In appearance, they are definitely the least interesting. Mostly a solid mud-brown color, they cook up to a reddish-brown in about three to three and a half hours.

Cooked, they hold their shape well, firm, but with a very smooth texture. The flavor is mild and pleasant.

I made a batch of refried beans with these. They produced what I would call a very traditional texture and flavor, and very tasty. Heavier and thicker than the Mayacoba beans, but every bit as enjoyable.
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Today's bean is the Mayacoba

A pinto-sized pale yellow bean, it cooked in about 4 hours to a tan color with a very creamy texture. The taste is mild and pleasant. While they hold their shape, it takes very little effort to mash them once cooked.

So today, I made Frijoles Refritos (refried beans). From The Tex Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh:

You will need something to mash the beans with. A potato masher works, or anything with a large flat end. I happened to have a masher/tamper for making sauerkraut that worked perfectly.

3 cups cooked beans, drained (1/2 pound dried Mayacoba made 3 cups)
1/2 cup of liquid drained from the beans
1/4 cup lard
1/2 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste.

Over medium heat, melt the lard in a skillet. When the lard is hot, add the onions and cook until done. Add the beans, and gently mash them into the lard and onions, until you have reached the texture you like. I like all the beans to be at least broken, but not all to a fine paste, I like it a little bit chunky. Add the salt and mix in, then slowly add the bean liquid until you reach the consistency you like. Add and mix in the pepper.

No, you don't have to use lard. Bacon grease would be delicious too. If that gives you the heebie jeebies, well, you can use vegetable oil, but it really won't give the same texture, or taste as good.

Honestly, I've never had refried beans this good before. It took major effort to not just eat them from the serving bowl.
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What is this thing I hear of, specialization?
Introduction
I am the stereotypical jack of all trades:
- Software engineer/codemonkey, I write DNS software
- Actor/historical re-creationist, I perform at renaissance faires promoting greyhound adoption
- Leatherworker, I make sighthound collars and other miscellaneous things.
- Woodworker, I make all of the furniture, boxes, etc for Greyhounds of Fairhaven
- Businessman, I am part owner of Carpe Canem, a store selling Greyhound-related goods. And, I am an officer of Greyhounds of Fairhaven, a 501c(3) charity promoting adoption of retired racing Greyhounds.
- Fewterer, a keeper of Greyhounds
- Cook, I'm the camp cook for Greyhounds of Fairhaven
- Brewer, ale, mead and their wonderful love-child, braggot
- Tailor, I make all of my own costumes
- Musician, I play Irish flute and pennywhistles.

In the past, I have also been a military medic, police officer, IT manager and even fruit-picker.
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First, they are REALLY bad at estimating wait times.Told 30-35 minutes, we weren't seated for over an hour and a half. Bar drinks were very weak. There's only one ratio for a Negroni, 1 part gin, 1 part campari, 1 part sweet vermouth. And yet, could not taste the gin at all. My wife's Cosmo was the same. The beer selection was good, nothing exciting, but solid. The food was good, and the service, once seated was good. But the excessive wait and watered down drinks will keep me from ever going back.
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Chile Philly rocks. Best sandwich bread anywhere.
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