Cottage life provides a captive audience of tasters but also time to make more than one recipe. Today’s lunch includes two recipes from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book – Mrs. H. Oswald’s Fruit Salad and Miss K. Fisher’s Cream of Salmon Soup.
The fruit salad takes some prep time and can be a little messy with all that juice flowing across the counter. While cutting up the oranges, I managed to be stung by a wasp attracted to the fruit. I started the preparations by cutting the pineapple. I cut off the top and bottom and then sliced along the sides removing the skin and eyes. I set the pineapple in a bowl and started scraping with a fork. This was a new technique for me and it worked quite well. Most of the pineapple was shredded although it was so soft I had a few chunks too. My hands were covered in pineapple juice. I kept the pineapple shreds in the resulting juice. I’m not sure if it should be drained.
Next I peeled and sliced the bananas and put them in the bowl with the pineapple. I grated the orange zest and then quartered, peeled and cut the rest of the orange. I added two tablespoons of sugar and stirred everything together.
I moved on to making the Cornstarch Jelly for Fruit Salad part of the recipe. I boiled the water and mixed the cornstarch with some cold water before adding it to the boiling water. I stirred and it quickly thickened. I removed the pot from the heat to cool and added two tablespoons of sugar. I squeezed in part of a lemon. I now reached the difficult part – strawberry flavour and red sugar. They aren’t available in this cottage and I don’t even have them at home although they are available at baking supply stores such as Ayres in Waterloo. Sometimes people are surprised that such things would be around in 1906 but brightly coloured food was becoming popular. It really took off in the 1920s. Coloured sugar is now really only used to sprinkle on sugar cookies but was used to colour food in the Berlin Cook Book. It can be made at home too using paste colour and granulated sugar. My creative substitute at the cottage was to use three teaspoons of strawberry jam. It provided the strawberry flavour, sugar and red colour called for in the recipe – not authentic but as close as I could get in this situation. I thought I was prepared with all necessary supplies packed but this was a step I missed.
The final part of the recipe is to place blobs of whipped egg white on top. My tasters were not keen on having raw egg so I skipped this part.
The Cream of Salmon Soup is easy to make. I opened a can of salmon and removed any skin and bones. I used a makeshift sieve to break up the salmon meat. I heated 3 ½ cups (1 quart minus 1 cup) of milk and poured it into the prepared salmon. I used the other ½ cup of milk to make the white sauce. I melted the butter and added the flour. Then I slowly stirred in the ½ cup of cold milk and kept stirring to prevent lumps. Once it boiled I added pepper and salt and then gradually added it to the milk and fish.
I’ve talked about both women as I’ve used several of their recipes. Mrs. H. Oswald contributed four recipes to the Berlin Cook Book and
Miss K. Fisher has seven recipes. Miss Fisher often mentions using level measurements so I think she has a domestic science background.
Two of us sampled the fruit salad while it was still a little warm. It was nice that way although there was a suggestion that adding a sprinkle of cinnamon would complement it. This salad works for winter or summer but it is not what most of us call a salad in the 21st century. It is a bit more like a gelatine salad. Once the salad was cold it was a big hit with all the tasters. We ended up using it as a dessert served with the left over Cottage Cake.
The Cream of Salmon Soup was tasted by all but the non-fish eaters and those who don’t like milky soups were not keen on it. It needed a little additional seasoning. Some more salt and pepper and a bit of dill perked up the soup. Everyone also felt it should be a bit thicker. Two tasters really enjoyed the soup. I’ll keep this recipe on hand as it is quick and I usually have all the ingredients so it can be made when there are extra guests. A modern cook should consider serving it with some dill and sour cream.
Take 2 oranges, grate outside yellow peel, then quarter, free from skin and seeds, cut in pieces, not too small, 3 bananas sliced thin, 1 small pineapple scraped fine with a fork, place all in a dish and let stand in sugar until jelly is made.
Cornstarch Jelly for Fruit Salad
2 cups boiling water, cornstarch (wet, thin with a little water), 3 tablespoons; have water boiling briskly, add cornstarch, stirring quickly until thoroughly cooked, cool, sweeten to taste. A little juice of lemon to make tart, 3 teaspoons strawberry flavor, 3 teaspoons red sugar, a little salt, add fruit, stir all together, put in salad bowl. Garnish with islands as for Gold Custard, using whipped whites of 2 eggs. Sprinkle a little red sugar on islands, put in a cool place.
CREAM OF SALMON SOUP
½ cup salmon, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 quart scalded milk, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons butter, a little pepper, drain oil from salmon, remove skin bones and rub through a sieve. Add hot milk, all but 1 cup. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add flour, stir in the one cup milk and stir until it boils. Add seasoning and stir gradually into the fish mixture. Level measurements are used.