07 July 2016

My Grandmother's Cookbooks

For years, I've been saying that someone could do an interesting study of cultural history looking just at the cookbooks from my grandmother's kitchen. For now, I give you two recipes for creamed spinach:

1. From The Joy of Cooking, 1943 edition, by Irma S. Rombauer:

CREAMED SPINACH
4 servings

If this unfortunate vegetable--so often thrust upon resisting children and grownups--were given a fair chance by the following rule it might retire permanently from the comic papers and the vaudeville stage.
Pick over and cut the roots and tough stems from:
1/2 peck (2 pounds) spinach (when cooked 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups)
Wash it in several waters until it is free from sand and soil. If the spinach is old cook it for 20 minutes in:
1 quart boiling salted water (1 1/2 teaspoons salt to the quart)
If the spinach is new lift it from the water with the hands and place it moist, but without additional water, in a saucepan, cover it and cook it for 6 minutes, or until it is tender. Drain it well. Chill it. Chop the spinach, old or young, until it is as fine as puree, using a board and a knife, or a chopping bowl and a knife, or put it through a coarse strainer or ricer.* Melt in a skillet:
2 tablespoons butter
Add and cook for 1 minute (or if preferred until brown):
1 tablespoon or more very finely chopped onion (optional)
Stir in until blended:
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
Stir in slowly:
1 cup hot cream, top milk, stock or diluted evaporated milk
When the sauce is smooth and boiling add the spinach. Stir and cook it for 3 minutes or until it is thoroughly blended. If the spinach seems too thick it may be thinned with additional cream or milk. Season it well with:
Salt
Paprika
Nutmeg (very good but optional)
Serve it garnished with slices of:
1 hard-cooked egg
The French recipes call for 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar and the grated rind of 1/2 a lemon. These ingredients and the onion are optional. The flour is sometimes browned before it is added to the butter. Evaporated milk is good in spinach. Stock, cream or milk may be used in combination.
Remember that young uncooked spinach makes a good salad; that cooked buttered spinach and grapefruit salad are an ideal reducer's luncheon; and that cooked spinach greens are superb with Hollandaise sauce (page 381), with crisp bacon, minced, or with Sauteed Mushrooms.
*An ideal strainer may be purchased for about a dollar which makes this process painless. It is called a food mill. I am devoted to mine and shall reward it some day with an old age pension.

2. From Microwave Cookbook, JCPenney, 1984:

CREAMED SPINACH

2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Combine spinach, butter, and onion in a 1 1/2-quart glass casserole. Cover and microwave at Time Cook 1 (power level 7) for 6 1/2 minutes, or until spinach is very hot, stirring twice.
2. Stir flour into spinach, blending until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Microwave, uncovered, at Time Cook 2 (power level 10) for 5 to 6 minutes, or until mixture boils and thickens, stirring twice. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Raise your hand if you've ever bought anything by the peck, if you know what top milk is, if you own a food mill, or if you noticed that JCPenney uses the Oxford Comma, but Rombauer does not.