April 8, 2012

Old-Time Recipes

I picked up this great little cookbook at a local produce market, Bi Zi's Farms, called "Secrets of the Great Old-Timey Cooks: Historic Recipes, Lore and Wisdom" by Barbara Swell. In addition to the recipes, which are so fun, there are sayings and thoughts that whisper of days long gone.

"If you don't share your dough, your bread won't rise."
"Always bake a cake while the sun is going up or it will fall."
"A cow with its tail to the west makes weather the best; a cow with its tail to the east makes weather the least."

The recipes are all made with simple ingredients, most of which you would find in a basic kitchen garden. Like this one:

Etta's Garden Fresh Green Pea Soup
2 quarts fresh green peas
2 cup water
1 onion, whole
1/4 teaspoon thyme or tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

Cook peas in water until just tender. Put in a food processor or blender and puree. Add an equal amount of milk. Return to pot, add whole onion, and bring to simmer, stirring frequently. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove onion and serve.

According to the book, Etta wrote down her recipes sometime between 1906 - 1918. The manuscript was never finished, but a few of Etta's recipes are transcribed by the author. She doesn't say what to do with the onion. Personally, I think it'd be better to dice half an onion and saute it in butter, then add to the soup (and leave it).

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