It’s time for comfort food, isn’t it? Perfect, crisp fall days. Work in the yard and around the house, preparing for winter. Football, in the background, on TV. Delicious cider and apples.
And flashback food.
My good friend, Mary, gave me this darling little cookbook. It’s purple with white polka dots and says, The Detroit News Menu Cook Book*. Apparently, menus were tough to assemble back in the Great Depression. The book is small – the pages are 5×8″ – conserving paper.
Its forward cites the “magic of radiotelephony,” as the News was producing shows like Hints for Housewives and Tonight’s Dinner by Radio. The recipes are extensions of the shows, broadcast as an “intimate chat with women in their homes.”
I suppose, somewhere out there, one of you is thinking of this as an intimate chat, although most media (to me, at least) seems as far away from intimate as can be.
But sharing food is intimate – it sends a message, conveys levels of caring, speaks to the heart.
You won’t find these Baby Porcupines prickly – they’re easy and tasty. I made the Corn Meal Rolls that were in the menu, but the rest is better left to the past (buttered onions, orange and lettuce salad, cottage pudding and fruit sauce).
The very next page calls for finnan haddie (I looked it up – it’s haddock) and parsley potatoes…again, not making the grade, here, but there’s a recipe for French chocolate you may see during the holidays.
Until then, enjoy an intimate dinner with family or friends.
Your complete menu? Add a spring greens salad, very light, with a nice garlic salad dressing. Try a nice piece of dark chocolate or pumpkin bars for dessert.
I’ll type this the way they wrote it – you’ll see that they were also conserving type space with the ingredients listing. My adaptation are in italics.
One pound ground round steak, 1 cup bread crumbs, 1 egg, 4 tablespoons chopped onions, 2 tablespoons chopped green pepper (4 tablespoons), 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper (1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper), 3/4 cup raw rice, 1 cup tomato soup or puree (puree is a “purer” ingredient, but if you’re a soup lover, go for it), 2 cups boiling water. (Do add all the water. I was skeptical, but the rice needs it and you’ll love the sauce.)
Mix all but last 3 ingredients. Shape into small cakes (3″ loosely rolled balls, see photo) and roll in uncooked rice. Heat soup and water in heavy pan with tight-fitting cover. Dutch oven is ideal for this (cast iron skillet, making sure to allow space around each for better cooking, wrapped with foil). Place cakes in tomato mixture, cover and cook slowly 45 minutes or until meat is tender and rice is done (350º for 45-55 minutes).
This made about 1 dozen meatballs. A good serving size is 2-3. You might like extra rice on the side. Garlic lovers may be saying, “Gee, why not add it?” These were very flavorful and tasty; you’d likely be masking the onion and pepper flavors. But it’s yours to try.
Corn Meal Rolls
One and one-fourth cups flour, 2 tablespoons fat (used Crisco, but I might try softened butter), 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup corn meal, 4 teaspoons baking powder.
Sift together dry ingredients. Rub in shortening (cut in with a pastry cutter). Add well beaten egg and milk. Roll out (at least an inch thick). Fold over as for Parker House rolls, brush tops with beaten eggs or milk (I tried milk…think I would try melted butter and a little dust of sugar). Bake in hot oven, 400 degrees, 10 minutes.
After rolling, the dough may also be cut with a small biscuit cutter, placed on a greased baking sheet, and baked for bisuits. (I did this style, as I’ve never made a Parker House roll, but I’d probably try folding them over the next time. My husband liked them with the sauce, as a whole bite of food.)
*by Myrtle Calkins, © The Detroit News, Printed in the United States of America at the Lakeside Press