‘Tis the season for more cayenne please!

One of the museums I work at recently hosted its second food and drink event, using historic recipes from the 1850s to the 1920s.  It’s a fun Christmas event with a lot of food samples.  I try to mix it up a little each year and introduce different recipes so repeat guests will find something new and tasty to try.  Some of the recipes stay the same, however, because they are simply too delicious not to serve.

Cayenne pepper isn’t for everyone, which makes both of these recipes all the more wonderful because you can leave the cayenne pepper out and still enjoy them, or add the cayenne in moderation to control the heat.

Cayenne Cheese Crackers
This recipe is from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861.  It was brought to my attention by a colleague who copied the recipe from a museum she had previously worked at.

1 cup butter
1/3 tsp salt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese [a sharp or old cheese works best]
2 cups flour
1/3 tsp cayenne [or less, or more]

Rub the butter in the flour.  Add the grated cheese, cayenne and salt, mixing well together.  Moisten with sufficient water to make the whole into a paste.  Roll out and cut into fingers about 4 inches in length.  Bake them in a moderate oven [modern oven 350°F] until a very light colour, and serve hot.  [Modern time – 12-15 minutes].  You can can also simply roll out the dough and cut into rounds.

Parsnip Soup
This recipe is sourced – it comes from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in 1861.  You can follow the recipe exactly, or you can follow my method – add more butter and a little less broth.  The results yield a very creamy and savoury soup.

½ cup butter [3/4 cup]
2 pounds parsnips
4 cups of broth + 4 cups of broth [I used sodium reduced beef broth, 873ml cartons. 1 carton:4 cups]
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper for seasoning

Melt ½ cup butter.  Slice parsnips and add directly.  Stew until soft (45+ minutes).  (Might have to add a little water or more butter so it doesn’t burn off or cook on low heat).  Gradually pour in 4 cups of broth and boil for 20-30 minutes.  Work through sieve with wooden spoon [food processor or blender] and then add remaining 4 cups of broth (to equal 8 cups of soup total).  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (optional).  Bring to boil, skim and serve.

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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


‘Tis the season for tasty foods

We’re trying to eat relatively healthy leading up to Christmas in an effort to shed some pounds gained over the last year.  Injuries and sickness have plagued us both – mostly due to not sticking to our healthy and mostly clean eating routine.  With minor deviations here and there (I will admit to Friday night pizza recently), we have been doing fairly well.  One of my favourite dishes that I make for myself when we’re having dinner is sautéed kale with walnuts.  The boys don’t like kale but I love it.  So while they’re enjoying their peas, carrots, cucumbers or whatever vegetable I prepare for them, I make myself my yummy kale.  Here is how I do it:

1 cup of frozen kale (otherwise, it goes bad because I’m the only one who eats it!)
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic (or more…I like garlic)
a small handful of chopped walnuts
1-2 tbsp honey

On medium heat, I melt the butter (or sometimes use garlic infused olive oil instead), then add the garlic.  Once the garlic starts to simmer a little, I add the kale and walnuts and stir them around for a minute or so.  Then I drizzle everything with honey and let it all cook itself to a delicious state, approximately 5-7 minutes.

My times may be off slightly – to be honest, I usually just wing it.  It is safe to assume that you want to cook the kale until it isn’t frozen anymore!  :)

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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


Chocolate Gingerbread (finally!)

So a few weeks ago I promised a chocolate gingerbread recipe.  I have made this a couple of times trying to perfect it, and you would think that I would have pictures of it!  Sadly, I can only offer you a close up of the gingerbread cut up from when we served it for a special event we hosted recently at the museum. I did make it for 125 people and it was well received, so it can’t be that bad!

This recipe came from a promotional cookbook from Walter Baker & Co. published in 1909, also known by the modern world as Baker’s Chocolate.  You can conveniently find Baker’s chocolate in pretty much every grocery store with a baking section.  What’s handy for this recipe is the package tells you exactly how much each square of chocolate equals in ounces, so you don’t have to work that hard to figure it out.

Chocolate Gingerbread

1 cup molasses

½ cup sour milk or cream

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 tsp of baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp of cold water

2 tbsp melted butter

2 cups sifted flour

2 oz of chocolate melted with 1 tbsp of butter

Mix in a large bowl one cupful of molasses, half a cupful of sour milk or cream, one teaspoonful of ginger, one of cinnamon, half a teaspoonful of salt.  Dissolve one teaspoonful of soda in a teaspoonful of cold water; add this and two tablespoonfuls of melted butter to the mixture.  Now stir in two cupfuls of sifted flour, and finally add two ounces of [Walter Baker & Co.’s Chocolate] and one tablespoonful of butter, melted together.  Pour the mixture into three well-buttered, deep tin plates, and bake in a moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes. [325F for 30 minutes in two loaf pans]



Posted by on December 15, 2013 in Cooking, Food, History, Museums, Recipes


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Odd week

An odd week – kind of wish I could have a redo.  This weekend I started getting a cold, which has transformed itself today into a monster headache, etc.  Monday I got my MRI results for my knee – a horizontal trizonal cleavage tear in the body and posterior horn of my meniscus – which means my knee is pretty messed up, with few options for repair.  And last but not least, today I go to the doctor to see if I should be tested for narcolepsy (more on that later).

On a plus side, I will post a couple of recipes this week – a 1909 chocolate gingerbread recipe I tested out (if I haven’t already), plus a made up recipe for apple pear butter and how it goes when I attempt to make another historic gingerbread recipe, sans instructions.

I really should post more often.

Happy Hump Day!

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


History meets history

History meets history

A circa 1926 Ford Model T parked outside of one of the museums I work at. Almost 100 years span between the building of the house (1835-1837) and the car; another (almost) 100 years span between the car and today. Don’t you just love history?

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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in History, Museums



Give me sugar!

I’m trying to be good.  I seriously fell off the clean eating wagon almost a year ago, when we traveled to Disney (how can you eat clean there?!)  I figured, I’m on vacation so why not indulge a little?  I’m not one to be super strict 100% of the time either, but I did strive to eat as clean as I could when it counted.  

I have been injured for almost 2 years as well, which hasn’t been the best time.  It originally started with my left knee, which is pretty much fine now (I think – I can’t run, so I can only hope all the resting is doing nothing but good for that knee); but then the right knee decided it wanted in on the fun.  So after trying to make a comeback to Crossfit after over a year, within 3 weeks I was out of commission.  Meniscus pain, MRI scheduled, yada yada yada yada.

So I have been feeding my unhappiness with food.  A horrible habit from when I was a kid and was bullied constantly; I fed my pain.  So in an attempt to curb the downward spiral (noticeable in pictures), I have started my own clean-eating challenge.  I’m almost 4 days in and I’m noticing the cravings.  Already.  I just need to get through the next week and a half.  I know I can do it, I’ve done it before.  I just really need to focus.  During the week isn’t so bad.  It’s the weekends.  I get lazy on the weekends.  


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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Goals


“I find nothing so singular to life as that everything appears to lose its substance the instant one actually grapples with it.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables

I’m going to do it.  I am going to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The House of the Seven Gables”.  I picked it up when we visited Salem for the second time this past May and visited the House of the Seven Gables museum.  I fell in love with the house and the history, plus we stayed at the Hawthorne Hotel.  So I feel like I should read it.  It most likely will take me a while, despite it being a short book.  Wish me luck!

“I find nothing…


Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Goals


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