It is HOT today. Summer doesn’t officially start until tomorrow but this is salad weather. My house is still quite cool inside so I couldn’t bear to turn on the oven and risk adding to the heat. I decided to make Mrs. Blough’s version of Mayonnaise Dressing that she contributed to the 1906 Berlin Cook Book.
This is certainly the oddest method I’ve seen for making a salad dressing and it is certainly not the classic mayonnaise but I thought it would be easy to follow. I soon discovered the pit falls. I mixed the flour, dry mustard powder and soft butter together. Now I faced a decision. Do I add everything else to this paste or to the vinegar? I decided Mrs. Blough intended me to add the salt, sugar and cayenne pepper to the paste. After that I separated the eggs, adding the yolks directly to the paste. Yes, I know I was supposed to beat them well first, but do you really want me to dirty and wash yet another dish? I was already trying to figure out what I would do with the bowl containing the whites (they are waiting in the fridge to be turned into something tomorrow). I blended the eggs with the rest of the paste and then added a bit of the milk expecting it to mix in well. Surprise! I had an island of yellow gloop amid the white milk sea. I added more milk and the sea grew but the island still didn’t blend no matter how much I stirred. Meanwhile I had started to heat the vinegar in a saucepan on the stove and was now breathing in the fumes. It was time to add the milk and mustard paste to the vinegar. Will anyone be shocked that the milk immediately curdled? I was sure I had a disaster on my hands and was planning what I would say here and wondering if I had enough milk for a repeat attempt. I kept stirring as my mind spun and soon everything was nicely blended and beginning to thicken. It continued to thicken and now I had to find containers for all this dressing. I put a small amount in a dish to cool quickly for use on my salad and I’ve stored the rest for another day. Soon I will be able to taste it.
I think I’ve found the woman who contributed this recipe and Mrs. Blough must have a story to tell. In the 1901 census Elizabeth Blough is 33 living with her 15-year-old daughter Mabel as lodgers in the home of Albert and Catherine Schneider. The Schneiders have two babies (age 1 year and 2 months) and two more female lodgers. Elizabeth is listed as married rather than widowed and she is a seamstress. The Schneiders are Mennonite and the Bloughs are Presbyterian. The other lodgers are Irish and Scottish Presbyterans too and are seamstresses as well.
By 1911, Mabel has married Hebert Huber and they have two little ones (age 1 and 2). Their household at 39 Mansion street in Berlin Ontario includes a woman named Mary Blough who’s listed as Herbert’s mother in law. I think this is probably Elizabeth and it is hard to read the writing of the census taker. I’m not sure if I’m reading a W for widow or M for married. There is also 21-year-old Mildred Blough listed as a sister. I imagine this is Mabel’s sister and Mary/Elizabeth’s daughter. The Hubers and Bloughs are of German heritage but the Hubers are Mennonite while the Bloughs are Methodists. Herbert is a factory accountant and the two Blough women are listed as servants in private home! I really hope this doesn’t mean they are servants for their own relatives.
The Waterloo Generations website provides even more information about this family. Mrs. Blough is probably Mary Elizabeth Cressman married to Joseph Emerson Blough in 1885. Their eldest daughter is Mabel Magdalena Verdella Blough. The younger daughter Mildred was born in the community of Lebanon in Wellington county. What happened to Mr. Blough. How did Mary Elizabeth end up on her own by 33? Why did she end up a servant rather than a seamstress? Where was Mildred in the 1901 census?
Mrs. Blough’s story is more interesting than her dressing. The Mayonnaise Dressing is thicker and milder than some of the other cooked dressings in the Berlin Cook Book but it has a slight pasty feel. I think I’ll try it again with just a little less flour. It will be easier to prepare the second time since I know what to expect and how to proceed with preparation. I think this dressing would go well with egg salad or as a bread spread for a ham sandwich.
2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon mustard, 2 tablespoons butter, work this well together, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar, a dash cayenne pepper, yolks of 2 eggs (beat well) 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/2 cup vinegar (heated). Now pour the other mixture into the vinegar and stir until boiling., if too thick add a little water.