I live in Arizona, and I recently saw a map showing this year’s flu outbreaks state by state. I would show you the map, but it changes each week, so check to see what the Centers for Disease Control is saying about YOUR state. By now, the epidemic may be lessening, but just in case Arizona still needs some invalid food, Mrs. Beeton has a suggestion:
INGREDIENTS.– Thin cold toast, thin slices of bread-and-butter, pepper and salt to taste.
Mode.– Place a very thin piece of cold toast between 2 slices of thin bread-and-butter in the form of a sandwich, adding a seasoning of pepper and salt. This sandwich may be varied by adding a little pulled meat, or very fine slices of cold meat, to the toast, and in any of these forms will be found very tempting to the appetite of an invalid.[/info]
Doesn’t sound terrible appetizing to put pieces of bread between pieces of toast–even with, or especially with salt and pepper?
Here’s a better use for the bread–one of my favorites, Bread Pudding. Mrs. Beeton has three versions, baked, broiled, and what she calls butter-bread pudding. I’ve chosen the baked version.
Actually, I’m going to give you three versions of bread pudding, (1860s, 1920s and 1980s) because they illustrated one of the things that I find so fascinating about the history of the way we eat. We keep changing our ways of preparing food and popularity waxes and wanes.
Once I had tried the bread pudding with whiskey sauce recipe that I picked up in New Orleans at the Presidential Nominating Convention in 1988, I never went back to ordinary bread pudding. (Although I have to admit that I do not always indulge in the whiskey sauce.)
In looking to see how our ancestors may have cooked bread pudding, I found a striking difference between Mrs. Beeton’s Civil War era recipe and my vintage 1920’s Buffalo Cooking School Cook Book. See what you think.
BAKED BREAD PUDDING
NOTE: Bitter almonds are not sold in the United States, as they contain poisonous substances. According to a Wikipedia article, in Italy they are/were used to flavor some cookies, but generally apricot pits have been substituted. If I were following Mrs. Beeton’s recipe, I think I might just use some apricot pits. I could not imagine what a bitter taste adds to this pudding. However, if she follows a complicated procedure outlined in this Victorian mansion web site, they would lose their bitterness. And Mrs. Beeton is not poisoning anyone since she is heating the bitter almonds and then straining them out of the milk before adding the milk to the pudding, two steps recommended in the linked article.
By the way, if you are a mystery book reader and are familiar with detectives using the smell of almonds to indicate cyanide poisoning…..they are referring to the smell of bitter almonds.
Moist Sugar is another name for Muscavado or Barbados sugar, a dark brown sugar with a pronounced molasses flavor. I would use dark brown sugar or just molasses instead, if I couldn’t find Muscavado sugar in the store.
Next, we have the Buffalo Evening News Cooking School Cook Book.
BLAND BREAD PUDDING
NOTE: Bland! Other than the lemon juice, no extra flavoring. I find that blandness in many of the vintage cookbooks from the early 20th century.
Next we have the New Orleans version–anything BUT bland.
BREAD PUDDING WITH WHISKEY SAUCE
NOTE: My how times have changed. As I mentioned earlier, the whiskey sauce is optional, but oh, so good, if you decide to use it.
Because we do not care for pineapple, I substitute chopped pecans (Yes, entirely different!) and if you have them on hand, use golden raisins.
There you have your choice of three generations of bread puddings, and although they make fine food for invalids, you don’t have to get sick to try them.
Interesting to read through – my recipe uses toasted bread, no fruits or nuts, but the nuts toasted I would like. Not sure abt the whiskey but I’d try. I haven’t made it in so long time, I might just have to now, just because ….
Toasted rather than slightly stale, I assume. I like the French bread used in the New Orleans recipe, but I’ve used all kinds of bread–whatever I have a few slices left. And unlike Mrs. Beeton, I don’t cut off the crusts, but even use the heels of the loaf. The nuts in the New Orleans version were a first for me, but I like it so much that I throw a few chopped nuts in most of my bread puddings now.
I’ve nvere been a particular fan of bread pudding, but reading this story on a dark, cold, rainy day is making me rethink that — and it is fascinating how food choices and fashions change with time.