Keeping Christmas With a Conscience
Ethel M. Chapman
THE windows of delicatessen stores, and meat-shops and groceries will be as attractive as ever this Christmas. Rows of holly-garnished roasts, plumpbreasted fowls and dressed sides hung above a bank of glittering cotton snow; artful arrangements of iced cakes, imported fruits, high-class confections and a hundred other baits of the trade will seek to captivate the eye and degenerate the will. In spite of the food shortage the display will be there, and in some districts it may last well past the holiday, since so many families this year will not have the means wherewith to disturb it. In other neighborhoods trade will be brisk because the people have the money to buy anything they want, and it doesn’t occur to them that while the individual has a right to spend his money as he likes, he has no right to use more than he needs of a limited supply of a commodity when there is only so much in the country for everyone. Neither do they stop to consider that by using a pound of food more than they need they make it just so much harder for some other family to buy what they actually require to keep soul and body together.
There is also a deplorable absentmindedness about the household which can waken to the peace and safety of a Christmas morning in Canada, shiver in a mild imagination of the contrast with the endless discomfort of the sodden trenches of Europe, then smother the unhappy contemplation in a day of feasting such as would supply a soldier with luxuries for a month. There has always been something a little barbarous and inelegant in our rather general custom of celebrating Christmas by giving the day to overeating; in a year when account is being taken of the world’s food resources to the last
pound, the indulgence shows at least a rather unpatriotic indifference. After all, the clever housekeeper knows that the secret of a good meal does not rest with the variety and length of the bill-of-fare,
but in the art of planning a balanced meal where the flavors as well as the food properties of the various dishes are complementary, in careful cooking to bring out the very best in every food served, and in attractiveness in the"way of setting and decorating the table.
The joint or meat course is the pivot about which the rest of the dinner will swing. Fowl will be fairly expensive, but the indulgence seems more pardonable when we reflect that fowl cannot be sent to the trenches like beef or ham. It is not unknown, how-
ever, to see a roast of beef or boiled ham served at the same meal with fowl or game in a full course dinner. Besides being unnecessary, by having two kinds of meat at one meal, we fail to get the best flavor from either. It is not absolutely essential to a good dinner that we have a turkey or fowl of any kind. Roast pork tenderloin stuffed with bread crumb dressing, or roast stuffed heart make good substitutes for fowl, while a little meat, chicken or duck may be made to go a long way by combining with vegetables in a meat pie, and a meat pie with skilful seasoning and light flaky crust is not to be despised on the most epicurean tables. A very nice meat dish for a simple holiday dinner may be made from pork chops. Have the chops cut thick, sprinkle with salt and pepper, dip in flour and broil in a greased frying pan. Place a cooked cauliflower in the centre of a large platter, arrange the chops around it, and decorate with mashed potatoes, forced through a pastry tube if you have one. Put in a hot oven for five minutes to brown.
These are a few suggestions as to substitutes to use for poultry, or expensive Toasts. In most homes, however, it will be possible to have at least a chicken, and since poultry cannot be shipped overseas, there is no better place for it than on the holiday table, especially if it takes the place of a roast of beef. Neither will the far seeing woman stuff a turkey with oysters or sausage meat, nor serve oyster soup at the same meal where she has a substantial meat course. A stuffing of seasoned bread crumbs, or better still potatoes, is more delicate in flavor and more wholesome, than any force-meat, and since the purpose of a soup at the beginning of a heavy meal is to serve as a tonic, only a clear soup should be used. The oysters, which would have been wasted in the over-abundance of the dinner, if made into soup or scalloped with a quart of milk, will form the substantial part of a supper later on.
Let the accompaniments to the meat course be simple and complementary in their food properties, that is, do not serve any entrees in the shape of cheese dishes, nut roasts, fried croquettes or heavy salads; these foods are meant to take the place of meat, not to be used with it. That turkey requires cranberry jelly, and roast
goose apple sauce is no traditional whim. The acids in these fruits, we are told, actually aid in the digestion of the meat. For the same reason the tonic flavors and the bulky, less concentrated food properties of vegetables give them an important place in the menu. Celery is particularly desirable; with well-crisped celery “curls” there is no need of olives as a dinner relish. As for the cooked vegetables there are no set rules as to what shall go with certain kinds of meat, though it is possible to get some poor combinations. Parsnips for example are too starchy to be used with the drier meats like turkey or chicken, while they may be used very well with roast goose. Cabbage and carrots are both pretty strongly flavored, and might better be saved for days when we have some of the more tasteless meats. Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are the most delicate in flavor of our winter vegetables and may be used with any kind of fowl or meat. Turnips or boiled onions are good with turkey, chicken or duck. Mashed potatoes will be a staple in every bill-of-fare, and where the imported sweet potatoes have been favorites with a turkey dinner, we have an excellent substitute in the Canadiangrown Hubbard squash, baked dry in the
The salad served with a substantial dinner should be light and tonic in flavor, made of fresh crisp vegetables or fruits rather than lobster, tuna fish, cheese, etc. Neither is it necessary to have Malaga grapes, pineapple, or other imported luxuries to tickle the palate. Apples and celery or celery and cranberries make good combinations. A French oil dressing is the correct thing for a dinner salad, being lighter than a cooked dressing where eggs and cream are used, but this is a point which the sensible woman will decide according to the tastes of her family.
It is not an unheard of thing to find both plum pudding and mince pie served at one and the same meal; the dessert which was meant to be merely a crowning touch to the dinner becomes an uncomfortable weight, and there is just a suggestion of vulgarity in the over-abundance. It is not likely that many housekeepers will commit this specific offence this year, but the times demand other economies which we have never practised before. If it would not seem like a Christmas dinner without a Christmas pudding, Have one! but it need not be the regular plum pudding made rich with eggs which would
furnish the basis of a meal by themselves. A carrot pudding or a French fruit pudding may be made so good that nothing but its shape would distinguish it from the plum pudding of more prodi-
gal times, and even the recipe for these may be cut in half if we want the pudding only for the holiday. A saving in fuel may be made by steaming in individual moulds which require about one-quarter as long to cook as the large mould. If mince pie is to have a place in the holiday festivities it can be made without meat, using a combination o f raisins, currants, apples, suet, spice, and substituting for the brandy or boiled cider required b y most recipes, th e syrup from sweet fruit pickles o r tart canned fruit such
as sour plums o r cherries.
That we have been asked to reduce our consumption of sugar should make some difference in the
quantity and variety of sweets used around the holiday. It is estimated that in Canada we consume over one hundred pounds of sugar per person per annum. The Allies have placed their population on a sugar ration of from twenty-one to twenty-five pounds per person, and even this cannot be supplied unless we reduce our consumption. Fortunately some very wholesome and delicious candies can be made at home without having a concentrated sugar mixture. The gelatine candies, Turkish delight, and marshmallows, and the vegetable creams where mashed potato forms the basis of the candy are both excellent. One good feature of the vegetable candy is that a rather large proportion of the candy is made up of a valuable food element, and before enough sugar is taken to damage the digestion, the appetite is satisfied. Plain after-dinner mints can be made at home, but the richer candies, even if homemade, can be dispensed with except for sending to the trenches. Dried fruits, dates, figs and raisins and such variations of these as stuffed dates, figs and raisins and a fruit fudge combination, may be made to take the place of candies to a great extent, and if they are higher in price this year they at least have the advantage of being more wholesome than candy. If salted nuts are to be used, they may be salted at home at almost half the cost of the confectioner’s product, while the quantity of nuts usually used during the holiday season may be greatly reduced by having a supply of pop-corn ready to be popped and eaten fresh and hot.
Christmas cake, always an item of financial worry to the housekeeper will be more expensive than ever this year. If we had margarine in Canada we could at least procure shortening at lower cost. We can, however, use with fair results, any sweet dripping like pork, chicken or other poultry fat, as the spice in the cake will cover up the flavor; beef dripping gives a rather hard texture to a cake. At best a very rich fruit cake is too expensive to have on hand for months, so about the best thing to do is to make only a small quantity, using such substitutes as nut bread, graham or bran gems with raisins, date corn muffins, or other homemade “brown breads,” or plain cake. If only the coarser breads are used during the festive season the health of the family will be better.
In view of the scarcity of sugar the careful housekeeper will not use any unnecessarily in cake icings this year, or if icing is used at all on a Christmas cake it will be merely a thin plain white coat without almond paste or thick fancy border. A prettier decoration can be ar-
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Keeping Christmas With a Conscience
Continued from page 48.
ranged from holly leaves when the cake is put on the table.
The following recipes include dishes mentioned in this article which may be new to many housekeepers :
ROAST FOWL, GIBLET GRAVY Clean and singe a fowl, stuff and truss, dredge with flour and place in a roasting pan. Cover with thin slices of fat salt pork and bake in a slow oven for three
hours, basting every fifteen minutes. Put into the pan the fat which was removed when cleaning and use this for basting. Dredge with flour twice while cooking. By keeping the roasting pan covered for the first two hours the fowl will be more tender. Leave it uncovered for the last hour to brown well. If cooked slowly the fowl will be as tender as a chicken.
Cover the giblets with water, simmer for one hour, and chop fine. Make a gravy in the pan, allowing four tablespoons each of fat and flour. When well blended add the water in which the giblets were cooked and enough boiling water to make two cups. Stir over the fire until well thickened, then season with salt and pepper and add the giblets.
POTATO STUFFING FOR ROAST GOOSE
2 cups hot mashed potatoes.
1 cup stale bread-crumbs
1 finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon sage.
114 teaspoon salt
Mix lightly and be careful not to pack solidly when stuffing the goose.
ROAST STUFFED HEART.
Wash a calf’s heart, remove veins, arteries and clotted blood. Stuff with one cup stale bread crumbs mixed with two tablespoons melted dripping, one-quarter teaspoon salt, a dash of pepper, one tablespoon chopped onion, one-half teaspoon sage. Sew up the opening, sprinkle the heart with salt and pepper, roll in flour, and brown in hot fat in a frying pan over the fire. Place in a small, deep baking pan, half cover with boiling water, cover closely, and bake slowly for two hours, basting every fifteen minutes. Remove the heart from the pan, thicken the liquor with flour, season with salt and pepper and pour around the heart before serving.
Use the remnants of cold roast fowl. Make stock by covering bones and leftover gravy with cold water and simmer for an hour or more. To three cups of stock add one-half onion chopped, two potatoes cut in half inch cubes, one teaspoon salt, and a little pepper. Boil fifteen minutes. Thicken with one-half cup flour mixed to a paste with cold water. Put chicken in a baking dish, add stock and potato, and cover with small baking powder biscuits, or with a crust of biscuit dough or with a plain pastry crust. Bake in a hot oven until crust is done. Remnants of any roast poultry or meat may be made into a meat pie in this way.
CELERY AND CRANBERRY SALAD
1V4 cups shredded celery 1 cup cranberries V4 cup walnut meats*
3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon vinegar Salt Lettuce
Prick the cranberries with a darning needle to keep them from bursting, and cook in a little syrup made of equal parts of sugar and water. Shred the celery in two-inch lengths and let the pieces “curl” in cold water for two hours. Make a French dressing of the oil, vinegar and salt. Mix with the celery. Arrange nests of lettuce leaves, pile the celery on each, sprinkle the nuts chopped coarse, over the top. A boiled dressing may be substituted for the oil dressing, but it should not be
poured over the salad until just before it is eaten.
1 cup grated carrot 1 cup grated potato 1 cup sugar 1 cup chopped suet 1 cup sultana raisins 1 cup currants 114 cups flour 1 teaspoon cinnamon 14 teaspoon cloves 14 teaspoon nutmeg 14 teaspoon mace 14 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda Juice of 14 lemon
Sift the soda and spices with the flour, add to the grated vegetables and suet and if necessary moisten with canned fruit juice, milk or water. Add the lemon juice last. Mix well and steam four hours.
FRENCH FRUIT PUDDING
1 cup suet, chopped 1 cup molasses 1 cup sour milk 114 teaspoons soda 1 teaspoon cinnamon 14 teaspoon cloves 14 teaspoon nutmeg 14 teaspoon mace 14 teaspoon salt
114 cups ruisins seeded and cut in pieces 14 cup currants 214 cups flour
Add molasses and sour milk to suet; add two cups of flour mixed and sifted with soda, salt and spices; add fruit mixed with remaining flour. Turn into greased mould, cover and steam four hours. By adding enough flour to make a dough as stiff as fruit cake this may be boiled as a plum-pudding.
LITTLE CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS
4 tablespoons molasses 14 cup sugar 14 cup milk 14 teaspoon cinnamon 14 teaspoon ginger 14 teaspoon nutmeg 2 tablespoons orange peel 4 tablespoons butter 14 teaspoon soda 14 cup chopped dates 14 cup raisins 114 cups pastry flour
Mix and sift one cup of flour with the soda and spices. Add the remaining flour to the fruit. Melt the butter, add to the milk, stir this with the sugar and molasses, and gradually sift in the flour, soda and spices. Add the floured fruit, pour into individual moulds and steam one and a half hours.
MINCE PIE WITHOUT MEAT
114 cup chopped apples 14 cup raisins seeded and chopped 14 cup cranberries chopped 14 cup currants
1 tablespoon shredded citron peel
14 cup suet
14 teaspoon salt
14 teaspoon cinnamon
14 teaspoon nutmeg
14 teaspoon cloves
% cup sugar
% cup juice from canned fruit, or 14 cup water and 14 cup vinegar from sweet pickles.
Mix in order given, and boil for about fifteen minutes. This quantity fills one very large or two small pies.
% cup sugar 1 egg
2% cups flour 4 teaspoons baking powder Vi teaspoon salt 1 scant cup milk Vi cup chopped dates 1 cup shelled walnuts Beat the egg, add sugar and milk. Sift two cups of the flour with the salt and baking powder. Combine the two mixtures. Add the dates rolled in the remaining flour, and the nuts. Bake in greased pans or baking powder tins.
RAISIN CORN BREAD 1 cup sour milk 1 egg
1 tablespoon butter 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt teaspoon soda 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 cup flour 1 cup cornmeal Vi cup raisins
Mix together the milk, egg, sugar, melted butter and salt. Add flour, soda and cream of tartar sifted together. Stir in the cornmeal and raisins and bake in a moderate oven.
BRAN FRUIT GEMS
1 cup bran 1 cup white flour % cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt 4 teaspoons baking powder 1 cup milk 1 egg
I tablespoon melted butter Vi cup chopped dates.
Mix and sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add bran. Mix sugar, milk, egg well beaten and melted shortening, and combine the two mixtures. Add dates rolled in flour and bake in greased gem pans in a hot oven.
Vi cup sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter 1 cup rolled oats 1-3 cup shredded cocoanut Vi teaspoon salt
Beat egg until light, add other ingredients in order given, beat well and drop from spoon on greased pan. Bake about fifteen minutes in a moderate oven.
VEGETABLE CREAM CANDY
Boil a medium sized potato, and while warm, not boiling hot, mash with fork, or spoon, gradually working in confectioner’s sugar, until you get the consistency of a good cream candy. A large potato will take nearly two pounds of sugar. Work in any flavoring desired, shape like cream candies and decorate with nut meats.
1 box granulated gelatine 2-3 cup orange juice
1 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice Grated rind of one orange % cup chopped nut meats
Soak gelatine in orange juice five minutes. Dissolve in boiling water, add sugar and lemon juice and stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil twenty minutes, add orange rind, and when nearly cold add nuts and pour into a pan to the depth of
about one inch. When set cut in cubes and roll in confectioners’ sugar.
1 cup sugar % cup boiling water 1-8 teaspoon cream of tartar 3 drops oil of peppermint Dissolve sugar and water, add cream of tartar and boil about five minutes or until mixture forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water. Beat until creamy, and drop from a teaspoon on a greased
CANDIED ORANGE PEEL
Remove peel from four thin skinned oranges, having it cut in quarters. Cover with cold water, bring to boiling point and cook slowly until soft. Drain, remove white part, and cut the yellow rind in strips, using scissors. Boil one-half cup water with one cup sugar until the syrup forms a thread when dropped from a spoon. Cook strips in syrup for five minutes, drain and coat with granulated sugar.
1 cup almonds, shelled 1 tablespoon butter 1 teaspoon salt
Cover almonds with boiling water and let stand on back of range for two minutes. Slip off the skins and allow them to get perfectly dry. Melt butter, add almonds and salt, spread in a dripping pan and bake in a slow oven for fifteen or twenty minutes stirring occasionally. When prepared in this way nuts will keep
Shell peanuts, pour on boiling water to blanch them, drain and let stand several hours to dry. Fry in olive oil or butter until a light brown. Turn on crumpled brown paper to dry, and sprinkle with salt.
1 cup dates 1 cup raisins 1 cup walnut meats Confectioners’ sugar
Put fruit and nuts through the food chopper. Turn on a board dusted with confectioner’s sugar, knead until well mixed, roll with a rolling: pin to about one-inch in thickness, cut in squares and roll in confectioner’s sugar.
Canadians consume 29 pounds of fish per head of population in a year. The normal consumption in Great Britain is 56 pounds per year. Canadian consumption of meat is out of all proportion to the food value of fish.
In time of war it is Canada’s duty to do her utmost in view of the demands of the armies upon her supplies of heef and bacon, to make fullest possible use of the abundant supplies of food fish obtainable from Canadian waters This is one way of serving the country in the time of need.
W. J. HANNA.