Which is less a ritual than just a particular food I have... Every. Single. Day.
That food? Oatmeal.
I missed my oatmeal, okay?
Consequently, breakfast has been much on my mind of late. So tonight, we're going to visit the "Dainty Breakfast Dishes, Toasts and Mushes" section of the "Woman's Exchange Cook Book."
We haven't dropped in on the cookbook lately, so for anyone who's new here... the "Woman's Exchange Cook Book" is a self-titled American Culinary Encyclopedia that was published in the late 1800's. My great-grandmother wrote a treasure-trove of recipes in the back pages, but the rest of the book is a gold-mine as well. Every time I (very carefully) open those pages, I'm reminded of a completely different time... a time that is often referred to as simpler. Although when I read my great-grandmother's book, I'm not sure simpler is the right word at all...
The word that usually comes into my mind is harder. A lot harder.
Buttered Toast: Although toast is commonly used, few know how to prepare it nicely. Take bread not too fresh, cut thin and evenly, trim off the crust edges for the crumb jar; first warm each side of the bread, then present the first side again to the fire until it takes on a rich, even, brown color; treat the other side in the same way; butter and serve immediately. The coals should be bright and hot. Toast properly made is very digestible, because all the moisture is extracted, and the bread has become pure farina of wheat; but when it is exposed to a hot fire and the outside charred, the inside remains as moist as ever, and butter applied to it while warm does not penetrate, but floats on the surface in the form of rancid oil. Or, beat 1 cup of butter and 3 tablespoons flour to a cream, pour over this one and a half pints of boiling water; place over a kettle of boiling water for ten minutes, dip into the toast and serve hot.
Or, dip each slice of toast in boiling hot water (slightly salted), spread with butter, cover and keep hot.
Breakfast toast: Mix 2 tablespoonfuls of sugar, a little salt, and a well-beaten egg, in one-half pint of milk. In this mixture dip slices of bread and fry them on a buttered griddle until they are light brown on each side.
Reed Birds On Toast: In selecting birds, be sure and get those that have not long been too long killed; clean thoroughly and place on a broiler. Brush over them a little melted butter and broil thoroughly. Melt a generous lump of butter, season it with salt and pepper, and pour this over each bird that has been previously placed on slices of toast.
Oatmeal: Two cupfuls of oatmeal, 1 teaspoonful of salt, 8 cupfuls of boiling water. Put in a basin and stir well, set in a steamer and cook one and a half hours. A double boiler may be used to cook it in, or a pail set in a kettle of boiling water. And if great care is used, it is possible to cook in a stewpan on the stove. Steam cooked, or rolled oats may be cooked in much less time. If rolled oats, the quantity mentioned will cook during the time given for boiling the potatoes for breakfast. Serve with fruit, sugar, cream, butter, or any plain pudding sauce. If steamed, part milk may be used in cooking.
Oatmeal Mush Fried: The mush to fry should be stiff and dry. Mould in a deep dish, cut in slices and fry in butter and lard, equal parts.
Scrambled Eggs on Toast: For 1 egg allow 3 tablespoonfuls boiling water, a little salt and a bit of butter the size of a hazelnut. Stir rapidly from the moment the egg is dropped into the water until the mixture is of the consistency of cold, thick cream, but to not allow it to whey. Have ready slices of moist, buttered toast; put the eggs on the toast and serve.
Anybody else hungry?