I’m not quite sure what we are going to have for Thanksgiving dinner since my oven isn’t working. I am sure I’ll think of something. After all, it’s not really the food that is important. However, in honor of the holiday I took my Welcome Baking Powder cookbook off the shelf to see how the housewife of 1890 might have cooked dinner. I’m doing this early so that you’ll have plenty of time to make all of your preparations- including killing the turkey.
Poultry- In choosing poultry, the best way to determine whether it is young, is to try the skin under the leg or wing; if it is easily broken, it is young; or turn the wing backwards; if the joint yields readily it is tender; a fat fowl is best for any purpose. After a chicken or fowl is killed, plunge it into a pot of scalding hot water; then pluck off the feathers, taking care not to tear the skin; when it is picked clean, roll up a sheet of white wrapping paper, set fire to it, singe off all the hairs. Poultry should be carefully picked and nicely singed. If a fowl is fresh killed, the vent will be closed, and the flesh have a pleasant smell.
Carefully pluck the bird, singe it with white paper, and wipe it thoroughly with a cloth; draw it, preserve the liver and gizzard, and be particular not to break the gall-bag, as no washing will remove the bitter taste it imparts where it once touches. Wash it inside well, and wipe it thoroughly with a dry cloth; the outside merely requires wiping nicely. Cut off the neck close to the back, but leave enough of the crop-skin to turn over; break the leg bones close below the knee; draw out the strings from the thighs, and flatten the breast bone to make it look plump. Have ready your dressing of bread crumbs, mixed with butter, pepper, salt, thyme or sweet marjoram; fill the breast with this, and sew the neck over the back. Be particular that the turkey is firmly trussed. Dredge it lightly with flour, and put a piece of butter in to the basting ladle; as the butter melts, baste the bird with it. When of a nice brown and well frothed, serve with a tureen of good brown gravy and one of bread sauce. The liver should be put under one pinion, and the gizzard under the other. Fried sausages are a favorite addition to roast turkey; they make a pretty garnish, besides adding much to the flavor. When these are not at hand, a few force-meat balls should be placed round the dish as a garnish. Turkey may also be stuffed with sausage meat, and a chestnut force-meat with the same sauce is by many persons much esteemed as an accompaniment to this favorite dish.
Old potatoes, when unfit for plain boiling, may be served mashed; cut out all imperfections, take off all the skin, and lay them in cold water for one hour or more; then put them into a dinner pot or stewpan with a teaspoonful of salt; cover the stewpan, and let them boil for half an hour, unless they are large, when three-quarters of an hour will be required; when they are done, take them up with a skimmer into a wooden bowl or tray and mash them fine with a potato beetle; melt a piece of butter the size of a large egg into half a pint of hot milk; mix it with the mashed potatoes until it is thoroughly incorporated and a smooth mass; then put it in a deep dish smooth the top over, and mark it neatly with a knife; put pepper over and serve. The quantity of milk used must be in proportion to the quantity of potatoes.
Mashed potatoes may be made a highly ornamental dish; after shaping it, as taste may direct, trim the edge of the plate with a wreath of celery leaves or green parsley; or first brown the outside in an oven or before the fire.
String, snap, and wash two quarts beans, boil in plenty of water about fifteen minutes, drain off and put on again in about two quarts boiling water; boil an hour and a half and add salt and pepper just before taking up, stirring in one and a half tablespoons butter, rubbed into two tablespoons flour and half pint sweet cream. Or boil a piece of salted pork one hour, then add beans and boil an hour and a half.
After removing all soft berries, wash thoroughly, place for about two minutes in scalding water, remove, and to every pound of fruit add three quarters of a pound of granulated sugar and a half pint water; stew together over a moderate but steady fire. Be careful to cover and not to stir the fruit, but occasionally shake the vessel, or apply a gentler heat if in danger of sticking or burning. If attention to these particulars be given, the berries will retain their shape to a considerable extent, which adds greatly to their appearance on the table. Boil from five to seven minutes, remove from fire, turn into a deep dish and set aside to cool. For strained sauce, one and a half pounds of fruit should be stewed in one pint of water for ten or twelve minutes or until quite soft then strained through a colander or fine wire sieve, and three quarters of a pound of sugar thoroughly stirred into the pulp thus obtained. Serve with roast turkey or game.
Cocoanut Sponge Cake
Beat the yolks of six eggs with half a pound of sugar and a quarter of a pound of flour, add a teaspoonful of salt, a teaspoonful of lemon essence, and half a nutmeg, grated; beat the whites of the eggs to a froth, and stir them into the yolks, etc. and the white meat of a cocoanut, grated; line square tin pans with buttered paper, and having stirred the ingredients well together, put the mixture in an inch deep in the pans; bake in a quick oven half an hour; cut it in squares to serve with or without icing.
Beat the whites of two small eggs to a high froth; then add to them a quarter of a pound of white sugar, ground fine, like flour; flavor with lemon extract, or vanilla; beat it until it is light and very white, but not quite so stiff as kiss mixture; the longer it is beaten the more firm it will become. No more sugar must be added to make it so. Beat the frosting until it may be spread smoothly on the cake. This quantity will ice quite a large cake over the top and sides.