28 July 2009

The Working Girl Must Eat

Who knew the 1930’s were such a liberating era. All those modern women living in the Village, attending plays by Susan Glaspell, watching Bette Davis and Kate Hepburn on the movie screen, wearing cool hats over their bobbed hair and working 9-to-5. But after five... the working girl must eat.

Hazel Young felt the same way and provided an economical and pre-planned cookbook which she titled, matteroffactly, The Working Girl Must Eat. In her introduction, she summed it up this way.

“This business of meal-getting has always seemed like quite a chore even when women stayed at home all day and made it their major occupation. But it becomes much more of a problem with us modern girls. We are emaciated and can “live our own lives”! We are free to work all day in office, or school, or factory, and then rush home and get our own and possibly our husband’s dinner. As the Scotchman said: “It takes a good bit of doing.””

While I am all for the working girl eating, some of these menus are just a bit convoluted. Our recipe today comes from Menu 19 which suggests the following dinner:

Curry of Oysters
Boiled Rice
Buttered Asparagus
Stuffed Celery Salad
Apple Brown Betty
Apricot Rice Whip

I think that perhaps, we should not be having both the Apple Brown Betty and the Apricot Rice Whip with our curry. Clearly, Hazel Young, was so busy working that she failed to realize that Menu 19 had two desserts. Just to let you know, Apricot Whip includes strawberry jelly, canned apricots, rice and heavy cream…yum!

As for the curry, Young tells us girls out there living our own lives:
"A seasoning that is too little used by Americans is curry. We think we must have some special Indian recipe before we can venture to try it. But that isn’t true. We must be sure, of course, that we really like curry, then we can start experimenting with it. It’s surprising how it will pep up an ordinary lamb stew and it’s grand with oysters."
Curry of Oysters

1 pint of oysters
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup oyster liquor and rich milk
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Sauté oysters very gently in 2 tablespoons butter until edges begin to curl. Remove from fire. Drain, reserve liquor; add rich milk to make 1 cup. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan and stir in flour and seasonings. Ass oyster liquor and milk gradually and cook over low flame until thickened, stirring constantly. Add oysters and heat thoroughly. Serve with boiled rice.

I don't know about you, but I think this afternoon I might just run out and get me a job... and a tin of curry.

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