It is another blustery day so I’m making Miss K Fisher’s Corn Chowder. Of course the recipe is from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while but since it calls for canned corn I knew I could make it anytime. What I hadn’t expected was trying to find salt pork. My grocery store has salt back fat but I didn’t think that was the intended product. I finally found some dry salt pork belly so I used it for this recipe. Fortunately I was familiar with the size of commercially canned corn since I used to work in the dry goods and grocery store at Doon Heritage Village.
I cut the salt pork into bits and started frying. I assumed that’s what was meant by “drying”. Next I sliced the onion and put it in the frying pan too. Meanwhile I peeled three potatoes and cut them into slices. I started the water boiling in a saucepan. When I went to drain the fat from the pork and onion combination there really wasn’t any fat!
I put the potatoes in the water and left it to simmer. I had the milk measured (4 cups = 1 quart) and the corn ready to go into the pot once the potatoes were getting soft. Once they were added I left it to simmer. I decided to add some of the onions from the earlier frying so that at least some of that flavour was in the chowder. I’m still not sure why the pork and onions weren’t part of the final chowder in the recipe. Once the corn and potatoes were cooked I added the butter, salt and pepper. I didn’t have any of the crackers mentioned so I had to skip that part of the recipe. I picture them like cream crackers or water crackers. It is time to taste the corn chowder.
Miss K. Fisher is another frequent contributor to the Berlin Cook Book. She often mentions level measurements so I suspect she is a younger woman who has some sort of domestic science (home economics) training. Elementary schools had the option to include it among the subjects for girls. I have a copy of the official Ontario teacher manual for domestic science from the turn of the century. It describes ways to teach the subject in classes without any cooking equipment as well as full lesson plans for teaching nutrition, various cooking methods and care of a kitchen.
This soup was disappointing. The slices of potato are large and make it difficult to eat. It is very milky, something that doesn’t suit my taste. It is surprisingly bland. I might try making it with salt back fat to see if it makes a difference A modern cook could do a lot with this recipe as a base by cutting the pieces of potato smaller and then frying them with the pork and onion. I’d suggest adding the pork and onion to the soup and using a little less milk. Perhaps try using bacon instead of the salt pork. The soup could be made vegetarian simply by using oil instead of the pork fat.
1 1/2 inch cube salt pork, 1 sliced onion, 3 cups potatoes, 2 cups boiling water, 1 quart scalded milk, 2 tablespoons butter, 8 round crackers, 1 can corn, salt and pepper to taste, cut pork in small pieces to dry out, add onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring often: strain fat into a saucepan, add 2 cups boiling water to the fat and in it put the potatoes cut to 1/4 inch slices, cook them until almost soft, then add corn and milk; boil until potatoes and corn are soft, add butter and slit crackers; remove crackers, turn chowder into a tureen, put crackers on top. Note — Level measurements are used.