February 11, 2016

1940s Caesar Salad or Aviator's Salad

This recipe was cooked for the Historical Food Fortnightly. A yearly challenge that encourages bloggers to cook a historical food every two weeks. The inspiration for this recipe came from my grandma who recently went out to eat with some family members. She ordered a Caesar Salad which is one of her favorites but she couldn't say anything favorable about it.

"A Caesar salad used to be a big to do. The chef would bring the ingredients to the table and make it fresh in front of you. This one they just handed it to me and the dressing was from a bottle!"

Which got me wondering why this particular salad was such a big deal and how far away from the my grandma's amazing recipe was from the originals. How old is Caesar Salad anyway? Sounded like the perfect recipe to cook for the history detective challenge!

Like with many foods, various people have claimed to be the inventor of the Caesar salad. One would think the dish has obvious old world origins but it turns out it is an American/Mexican invention. The most likely inventor is Caesar Cardini an Italian-American restaurant owner who took advantage of prohibition by establishing Caesar's Palace in Tijuana which attracted people looking to drink legally.

As the story goes, the 4th of July weekend in 1924 was particularly busy. So busy the restaurant started running out of food. Caesar mixed together left over ingredients and tried to make up for the limited dish with fanfare at the table. The dish was made with full leaves of romaine lettuce so diners could eat pieces with their hands in traditional Italian fashion. 

Caesar's brother Alex, made a similar dish, substituting anchovy paste for Worcestershire sauce, which he called Aviator's Salad. His story is that he served it to pilots from Rockwell Field Air Force for breakfast after they drank too much and missed curfew. Alex being a pilot himself during WWI named the dish in honor of the pilots.  Eventually aviator's Salad became more popular and eventually became known as Caesar Salad. (1)  Julia Child's claimed that she remembered being served the dish at Caesar's restaurant in the 20s but not what was in it and by the 1950s it was a household dish.        

The Challenge: History Detective (January 29 - February 11) For this challenge, you get to be the detective! Either use clues from multiple recipes to make a composite recipe, or choose a very vague recipe and investigate how it was made.

The Date/Year and Region: 1924 invented in Mexico, popularized in the 1940s in the US. 

The Recipe


- 3 cloves Garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- Juice of 1/2 Lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon Dry Mustard
- 1 spoonful of Worcestershire Sauce
-  Anchovy paste, to taste
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
-  Black Pepper, freshly ground as a garnish 
- Croutons
- 1 lb Lettuce  

*Grandma says some places added a coddled egg but it's not necessary. Strangely this is my grandfather's recipe. It said so on the crumpled up recipe my grandma gave me. She said he liked it so much he convinced a chef friend in Philadelphia to give him the secret recipe.  

Instructions: Squeeze the garlic in a garlic press, straight into the oil. Add the lemon juice, mustard, Parmesan cheese and Worcestershire Sauce. Add the anchovy paste to taste. Wash and dry your lettuce, keeping the leaves full if you want a finger food or chopped if you want to use a fork. Add croutons to thee lettuce and pour on the dressing then top with freshly ground pepper.    

Time to Complete: A few minutes regardless of what Dorothy Kilgallen wrote in the newspaper in 1948 about the popular dish from California " tak[ing] ages to prepare."

Total Cost: A few dollars.

How Successful Was It?: Very successful. This recipe will have you wondering how we can even call that stuff in the bottle Caesar dressing.

How Accurate Is It?: I used the coddled egg but having had it without the coddled egg, it really doesn't need it. The traditional recipe calls for lime juice instead of lemon but it seems almost immediately other restaurants were using lemons instead due to a mistranslation.   

February 3, 2016

Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party Post

It's been awhile since I've done a blog party post. The weather has been odd, spring like days mixed with snow storms and I've been keeping busy.

I've been spending a lot of time with the Chester Historical Preservation Committee in trying to preserve the Old Third Presbyterian Church in Chester, PA, which is a beautiful church that pioneered the very first vacation bible school. It's very beautiful on the outside but as it has been abandoned for the last few years and faced demolition, it's in pretty rough shape on the inside. Once finished it will hopefully be the new home of the Chester Historical Preservation Committee and their archives and a center for the performing arts and culture of Chester. 

Some pictures of the church and what I've been up to these last few weeks:

Old Third Presbyterian from the outside just to give you a visual.

The Third Presbyterian Church on the inside. Vandals ripped out all the metal railings, the heating and the plumbing. This leak is from where they ripped out part of the heating and exposed the room to the outside.

So far we have removed over 110 huge contractor bags full of trash from the building but we still have a long way to go. There are tons of rooms in the church and the weather is making cleaning difficult.

This storm was quick and disappeared almost over night. The weird weather is confusing birds and plants. Some trees have already started budding.

My dog generally loves the snow but today he wasn't having it.

My awesome friend Eva took the people from work on a tour of Glenncairn, a crazy house built by a wealthy businessman in the 1920s. I just loved the mosaic tiling.  

Another shot from Glenncairn, many of the rooms feature a mix of real and reproduction medieval stained glass. The family also collected religious artwork and artifacts from around the world. I have to say my new found interest in stained glass windows might have something to do with having to replace a lot of the stained glass in the Third Presbyterian where people threw rocks through. 

We also took a look at Bryn Athyn Cathedral which was built around the same time as Glenncairn.

Bryn Athyn on the inside. We sat and listened to the organist practice.

This was the sunrise of of the blizzard. That old saying "Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's warning" is true.



And more snow. At over 30 inches I think people are finally tired of it.

I hope everyone has been having a good winter and would love to hear what everyone is up to!

January 26, 2016

Civil War Molasses Candy Recipe and Candy Pulls

"Here comes a great paper of candy from Will C. I like it better than his company, for he has been to see me every day, and candy has not. " -Sarah Morgan in 1862

Civil War Era Molasses Candy Recipe | 1860s | World Turn'd Upside Down

"Candy Pulls," "Candy Parties" or "Molasses boilings" were common pastimes in the mid 1800s during the cold winter months. Groups of friends would gather around a pot of boiling molasses or other concoction and wait until it formed threads when a spoonful was dripped in cold water. They would keep stirring until the liquid formed a soft ball when a spoonful was placed in cold water. Finally, they waited until the liquid formed a stiff ball when placed in cold water. This meant it was ready.

The liquid was poured into buttered pans to cool and once there, the party began. Each member of the group would cover their hands in butter and begin to pull on a ball of candy. Pulling and folding, the group joked and gossiped until their balls of candy grew lighter in color. It was now time to form it into its final shape. It could be rolled into ropes and cut with scissors or twisted or braided, or molded into any number of shapes, but many young women preferred to make chain necklaces out of it. Seating around a warm fire with friends and the gingerbread like smell of molasses cooking wafting in the air, a candy pull was a nice break from an otherwise bleak and monotonous winter.

Making candy was mentioned frequently in Sarah Morgan's wartime diary and many letters of the time. In a letter from a Virginian in January 1861, Angus wrote to Kate of his holidays: "Was at a Taffy pulling; had a fine time eating hard Molasses with unwashen handsDid you ever pull any, when you had to spit on your hands to keep it from adhering to them?" Another Virginian, Mollie Houser, wrote to her cousin James "I Just wish you Could have been here we had a taffy stewing one nite they was a Couple of our soldiers home & some of the neighbours Came in & we had a fine time boililing molasses &...taffy."  

The majority of recipes from this time period include only molasses, flavoring and bicarbonate of soda, known now as baking soda as the main ingredients and some recipes suggested that peanuts or blanched almonds might be added. However, The Cook's Own Book (1854) includes the addition of brown sugar and lemon juice which is more similar to recipes today. The recipe did not vary much and was a favorite in shops for those who did not want to make it themselves. A writer for the Southern Literary Messenger (1863) remembered going North for school and couldn't remember much about the food there except to say:

I recollect, though, that the boys had a great passion for molasses candy, which was prepared in the Philadelphia shops—not in little pig-tail twists with a knot at the end and wrapped up in white paper, as the fashion used to be in Lynchburg thirty years ago-but in broad cakes, which the boys used to call by the atrocious name of “belly-wax.

This recipe was cooked for the Historical Food Fortnightly. A yearly challenge that encourages bloggers to cook a historical food every two weeks.

The Challenge: Culinary Vices (January 15 - January 28) Some foods are really, really naughty. Globs of butter, lashings of sugar and syrup, decadent chocolate and wine. Bring out your naughty, indecorous side with foods associated with all the bad things, in the best ways.

The Recipe:

Civil War Era Molasses Candy Recipe | 1860s | World Turn'd Upside Down

The Date/Year and Region: 1850s-1860s United States

How Did You Make It:


- 12 ounces of Molasses
- 1/2 stick of Butter
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- Vanilla, Lemon or Sassafras Flavoring


Before you start, butter a large square casserole dish. Pour molasses in a large saucepan (much bigger than you think you need as it will boil up) on medium-high heat. Boil, stirring constantly until you reach the soft ball stage (240° F) add baking soda and stir until the mixture reaches the hardball stage (250° F). At this point, remove from heat and add the flavoring. Stir in the peanuts or blanched almonds if desired. Pour mixture into the buttered dish to cool. Leave in the dish until it is cool to the touch (5-10 minutes.) Enlist helpers. Once cooled, the candy should move in one globular mass. Divide the mass up and have everyone pull at a piece, fold it over and repeat until the candy turns a lighter brown. Form into ropes and cut small pieces with scissors. Wrap in pieces of wax paper or oiled paper.

Time to Complete: About 30-45 minutes

Total Cost: About $5.00

How Successful Was It?: Very. It has a light, sweet molasses flavor. It photographed dark but is actually an amber color in bright sunlight.

How Accurate Is It?: I used baking soda as in the first recipe instead of carbonate of soda which is today sold as washing soda. If you are interested in making carbonate of soda here's a page on how to do it. 

Civil War Era Molasses Candy Recipe | 1860s | World Turn'd Upside Down

January 22, 2016

Easy Knitting Civil War Scarf

Civil War Scarf Pattern- Easy- World Turn'd Upside Down

This pattern is in response to the volume of emails I get every year asking for easy Civil War knitting patterns. Knitting was a popular pastime for women in the 1860s and many were anxious to make the soldiers items to keep them warm on the cold nights. This is a seriously simple scarf pattern "for a gentleman." I thought it would be a nice project for this weekend blizzard.

Civil War Scarf Pattern- Easy- World Turn'd Upside Down

Cast on 36 stitches or a number divisible by 3. I used size 6 needles which are at the bigger end of what was typically used in knitting during the Civil War. Use a heavier DK weight wool like Swish DK from Knitpicks. 2-3 skiens of Swish should be enough. This stitch pattern takes up almost twice as much as a plain knitted scarf.

Row 1: *yo, sl 1, k2tog* Repeat ** until the end of the row.

Knit every row like the first row for about 4 feet. Bind off loosely. Add fringe if desired.

I ended up adding a simple knotted fringe but you could add a simple looped in fringe.  

Civil War Scarf Pattern- Easy- World Turn'd Upside Down

Civil War Scarf Pattern- Easy- World Turn'd Upside Down

Civil War Scarf Pattern- Easy- World Turn'd Upside Down

January 14, 2016

Civil War Era Potato Chip Recipe

This recipe was cooked for the Historical Food Fortnightly. A yearly challenge that encourages bloggers to cook a historical food every two weeks. The challenge this week was "Meat and Potatoes" and mid 18th century potato chips fit both those categories. Being made with bacon grease, the chips from this recipe are fragrant, with a smoky bacon smell and a crunch that modern chips can't compete with.

The origins of potato chips are vague. Many people have claimed to have invented them when they became popular around the time of the Civil War, but recipes for similar dishes have been printed as far back as The Cook's Oracle (1822) with its recipe for “Potato Fried in Slices or Shavings." Recipes for them were printed on both sides of the Atlantic and a recipe for them even appeared in Godey's Lady's Book in 1865.

Today chips are known for being a side dish to a meat dish and this has historically been the case. A Manual of Domestic Economy (1856) suggested potato chips go out with the second course along with partridges and lobster. The Modern Cook (1858) suggested they be served with roasts and ptarmigans, a grouse like bird. The New England Farmer, and Horticultural Register (1847) recounted a trip through Mississippi where the author was offered "jerked venison and potato chips." The potato chips in this case being made from sweet potatoes but still being served with meat.

Civil War Era Potato Chips

The Challenge: Meat-and-Potatoes (January 1 - January 14) They’re a staple for the tables in the most rustic cottages as well as the fanciest banquet tables - and it’s also an idiom meaning a staple or the most basic parts of something. Make a historic “meat-and-potatoes” recipe - however you interpret it.

The Recipe:

The Date/Year and Region: London, England, though similar recipes were also printed in the U.S. around the same time.  

How Did You Make It:


- Potatoes or sweet potatoes
- Bacon grease or oil
- Salt


Skin the potatoes then peel them in long strips in the same way you would pare an apple. Put the strips in a bowl filled with cold salt water until you are finished peeling. Remove the pieces and let them dry on napkins. You can blot the tops of the strips carefully. In a medium sized saucepan on medium heat, heat the grease or oil. The grease is ready to fry in when you put a small piece of chip in and it bubbles. Drop in as many pieces as you can without overcrowding them. Stir constantly with a long handled metal spoon or they will stick to the pan. Fry 3-5 minutes. The pieces will shrink and float but wait until the edges are a little brown before removing. Place fried chips on a sieve to let dry. Sprinkle with salt as they are placed on the sieve.

Time to Complete:
30 Minutes

Total Cost: A few dollars.

How Successful Was It?: Better than I expected.

How Accurate Is It?: For my personal chips I fried in oil as I don't eat meat but my family had the bacon fat variety.