22 May 2015

Culinary Echoes From Dixie


In 1914 according to Kate Brew Vaughn:

"It has been a great pleasure and gratification to me to see the growth of interest in cookery and household efficiency. Fifty years ago, women of refinement were prone to declare almost boastingly that they had never cooked a meal in their lives, and today we note with interest their granddaughters cooking wholesome meals without becoming degraded in the work."

Ah, those poor degraded women of the late 1800's who were forced to cook for the family. In a attempt to instruct these "granddaughters" who are now making their way into the kitchen, Mrs. Vaughn wrote Culinary Echoes from Dixie.  However, before one can set about to cook for the family, Mrs. Vaughn has very strict rules for the budget.

" Twenty-five percent for food, twenty percent for rent, fifteen percent for operating expenses, fifteen percent for clothes, and twenty-five percent for  higher life --education, benevolence, entertainments, and savings."

And one might imagine, cookbooks.

Now one of the reasons folks just love old cookbooks is because they find recipes that have been adapted into the most ravishing dishes, when in fact, the origins are quite simple.  For instance, several years ago in the New York Times, Julia Reed raved about the frozen tomato at the Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville. Well truth be told, frozen tomatoes, a kind of  tomato ice cream served on a bed of lettuce were quite popular.  Mrs. Vaughn's recipe is a bit less complicate than Belle Meade's; more if a tomato sorbet than an ice cream, but the effect is the same.

Frozen Tomato Salad

Peel and chop fine 8 ripe, firm tomatoes. Season with a little salt , pepper, and sugar and three drops of onion juice; turn into a freezer and freeze.  Fill a melon mold with this frozen mixture, pack in ice and salt, and let stand for several hours to ripen.  Serve on a bed of white celery leaves garnished with olives, with mounds of thick dressing over it.

Now while both of these recipes are fine, here is Miss Lucinda's trick for accomplishing the same thing in no time.  Grab a bottle of you favorite Bloody Mary mix.  Pour in in the ice cream maker following the factory instructions.  In 40 minutes you will have a tasty tomato sorbet that will make you the Belle (Meade) of the ball, or tasteful summer luncheon, which ever comes first.

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