Stirring up the Stacks number 7: Virginia Pudding

Thursday, April 30th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Gini Jory, Hocken General Assistant

When I came across this recipe late last year in the Cyclopedia of valuable receipts: a treasure-house of useful knowledge for the every-day wants of life, by Henry B. Scammell (what a mouthful!) that one of my colleagues had on his desk, I knew I had to give it a go.  For some background, my full name is Virginia, and I’ve always had a bit of a problem with it. As a child people always said it in an American accent which I hated, and I never knew anyone else with the same name who wasn’t about 30 years older than me, so it always felt a bit weird. Finding a pudding with my name out of the blue brought up lots of nostalgic memories of searching for notebooks, mugs, key rings and piggy banks desperately looking for one with my name on it. Of course, I was never successful, whereas my sister Emily found her name every. single. time.  Secretly, I was quite bitter about this fact.

But now it is finally my time! I have a whole pudding, and that’s much better than a key ring.
Or, at least, I hope it is.

At first look, this recipe has a few issues. Firstly, the whole thing is one tiny paragraph, nothing like recipes in cookbooks these days. And the whole thing is pretty vague on a lot of key points. No temperatures are given; the texture or consistency of the desired outcome is never mentioned, and I don’t know about you, but that frothy raw egg white sauce doesn’t sound great. It also sounds pretty flavourless.

Here is the recipe, split into ingredients and method and with some more modern metric measurements:

Virginia Pudding

Ingredients:
5 eggs (reserve 3 whites for sauce)
1 pt (472 ml) milk
1 gill (142 ml) cream; or 1 oz (28g) butter
3 Tb flour
6 Tb sugar

Method:
Mix all ingredients bar three whites and sugar. Bake for ½ an hour.
Beat egg whites to a froth with sugar. Pour over the pudding just before it is eaten.
Flavour to taste; serve cold.

I originally turned to google to see if I could find anything similar, to get a better idea of what I should be making here. It was rather unhelpful however- plenty of results for Virginia apple pudding, Virginia bread pudding, and even a Virginia chicken pudding. Eventually though, I found a transcription of Housekeeping in Old Virginia, by Marion Cabell Tyree from Project Gutenberg which has a slight variation of the same recipe:

Virginia Pudding.

Scald one quart of milk. Pour it on three tablespoonfuls of sifted flour. Add the yolks of five eggs, the whites of two, and the grated rind of one lemon. Bake twenty minutes.

Sauce.—The whites of three eggs, beaten to a stiff froth, a full cup of sugar, then a wine-glass of wine and the juice of a lemon. Pour over the pudding just as you send it to the table.—Miss E. S.”

As you can see, the sauce on this one is a bit fancier (and sweeter), and there is some lemon for flavour in the pudding.  But there’s still no temperature and no hint as to what this pudding should turn out like.

This was the way practically all recipe books were written at the time, as there were no oven thermometers, no exact way of measuring ingredient weights, and a lot of the methodology was assumed, as the books were mostly used by cooks who knew what they were doing, and didn’t want to waste time writing down recipes. A fun history fact, but not a lot of help to try and translate this recipe into 21st century-speak!

With not a lot to go on, I decided to just get in and give it a go. I had looked up similar looking puddings, like the Chess pie and transparent pudding, which have similar ingredients and origins, so I thought I was probably looking for something that resembled a pumpkin pie, sans crust.

I decided to add a splash of vanilla for a bit of flavour, and I opted to use the cream over the butter.

Having mixed all the pudding ingredients together, it was decidedly wet! Into the oven it went for half an hour, at 180 degrees Celsius, which is what most things I bake seem to be cooked at.

First attempt mixture before baking

First attempt mixture during baking

I had decided I wasn’t super keen to eat this cold, so decided to crack on with the sauce while the pudding cooked. This was… a mistake.

When I took the pudding out, it was still very soft. It had a skin on top but was extremely wobbly. Not thinking this was what I was aiming for, I put it back in for about another 20-30 minutes. I should have held off on the sauce, as the egg whites went very stiff during this time. Because I wasn’t sure about the raw side of it, I put the egg white/meringue mix on top of the pudding and put it back in the oven to make it like a meringue topped pie. If it hadn’t gotten so stiff I could have made it look much nicer, but it was very hard to spread.

First attempt mix after baking

First attempt with addition of meringue baked

First impressions: Egg with meringue on top.

It had a definite quiche like texture, and was still very bland despite the vanilla. the only flavour came from the “sauce” which was nice and sweet. In all honestly, I was disappointed this was the dessert I shared a name with.

 

First attempt end result

I had been meaning to give it another go to share with my workmates, but due to the Covid-19 lockdown I am currently unable to. However, this did give me another idea- so, I emailed round the recipe and asked everyone what they thought it would taste like, and if it was something they would want to try.

Here are some responses:

​“Yes I would definitely like to try this. Maybe with some poached fruit?”

“What is a gill of cream?” (I had never heard of this measurement before either!)

“Anything sweet and comforting looks good to me.”

“I’m intrigued, there isn’t as much sugar as I would have expected for the meringue and there isn’t any vanilla. Perhaps it will taste like a pavlova except not as sweet? Looks yum.”

“I think it would be super bland, no flavour at all! Definitely would try it though as there’s nothing gross going on but would be nice with some berries on the side or something.”

“The pudding looks amazing and sounds perfect for a cool Autumn evening! But the recipe makes it seem like it might be a bit bland as there is nothing to give it much flavour e.g. vanilla or lemon.”

“Reading the recipe the bottom bit is an unsweetened batter pudding, like a Dutch Baby or a Yorkshire pudding, and then it is topped with meringue. Personally I think it might be a bit bland to my 21st century palate and I’d be craving some fruit with it. But back in the day it would have been sweet, filling and easy to digest. And also made from the kinds of ingredients readily available to the home cook. Lockdown food?”

“I’m always a sucker for meringue !!! (and a lot of eggs !)”

One of my colleagues suggested it sounded a bit like a Queen pudding, minus the breadcrumbs and jam. I had a quick google of this, and now that I saw something similar and a properly explained method, I decided to give it another go with my bubble buddies over Easter weekend. This time I did things a bit differently:

I beat the egg mixture, and took the instruction to “flavour to taste” very liberally, adding about 1/3 a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla to this as well.
I heated the milk and butter (had no cream this time round) on the stove, not letting it boil. Sifted in the flour, mixed and then slowly poured it into the egg mixture in small batches while beating to combine. This resulted in a much puffier mixture than my previous attempt, and I had more mixture, so had to put the extra in a mini ramekin. Popped it into the oven at 160 degrees, slightly lower this time. After 30 minutes I took it out and left to cool on the bench.

Attempt 2 uncooked mixture

Attempt 2 cooked mixture

When we were ready for dessert, I whipped up the egg whites with the sugar, and piped it on top of the pudding. Popped it in the oven on grill for about 5-10 minutes, until the meringue was slightly browned on top. We had it with some boysenberry ice cream, and it was much nicer this time round! More of a baked custard consistency, which I think is probably more what this pudding should be like. I think it would definitely be nice with some poached fruit or a berry compote. I definitely wouldn’t call this my new favourite pudding, but I’m glad I gave it another go and got a better result.

Attempt 2 meringue piped

Attempt 2 final result

Now this is more of a fun weird thing to share my name with, and I’m ok with that.

References:

Scammel, Henry B, c. 1897. Cyclopedia of valuable receipts : a treasure-house of useful knowledge for the every-day wants of life. St. Auckland, N.Z. : Wm. Gribble.

Viet, Helen Zoe, 2017, Smithsonian Magazine. The Making of the Modern American Recipe. Visited 8/4/2020. < https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/making-modern-american-recipe-180964940/>

Mcdaniel, Melissa, originally by Tyree, Marion Cabell. Housekeeping in Old Virginia. Visited 8/4/2020. < https://www.gutenberg.org/files/42450/42450-h/42450-h.htm#Page_365>

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #6: Pumpkin pie

Stirring up the stacks #5: Sauerkraut roll

Stirring up the stacks #4: A “delicious cake from better times”

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Miscreant Mollusks: A look into the relationship between Bluff Oysters and Typhoid Fever with reference to the Muttonbirding Industry.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

The second of our series from Practising History (HIST 353) students, this is Shinay Singh’s response to an Otago Preventive Medicine dissertation. An invaluable primary source of New Zealand medical and social history, the Preventive Medicine dissertation collection comprises more than three thousand public health projects written by fifth-year medical students from the 1920s to the late 1970s. Topics range from studies on current health issues, such as asthma, to health surveys of various occupational groups and of New Zealand towns and Maori. Permission is required to access the dissertations. An index to the dissertations is available.

Typhoid fever was and still is a serious illness for anyone to contract. In 1932 two fifth year medical students, L.P. Clark and R.J. McGill, conducted a public health survey of the Bluff township looking at the sanitary standards of industries associated with Bluff, specifically the oyster industry.

In 1929 news articles of six cases of typhoid fever outbreaks in Christchurch were suggested to link back to the consumption of Bluff oysters. The Bluff oyster industry was about to go international with refrigerated live and canned oysters. This potentially serious health risk, therefore, needed to be examined more closely.

Public Response

Strong denial was the response to the accusation that the source of the outbreak lay in the consumption of Bluff oysters. An Invercargill man called it all ‘bunkum’, that it was the housewives who “often keep them a week and expect them to remain good.”[1] The fact that the oysters were “kept in good salt-water”[2] at the wharves in Bluff Harbour was used to suggest they were healthy. Professor Hardman and Professor Boyce had done research into disease and oysters in 1899 and found that oysters could carry bacteria for up to 10 days. The lifespan of the bacteria could apparently be inhibited by pouring salt-water over them or storing them in pure water.[3] The fact that sewage contaminated the Harbour may have increased the likelihood of contamination.

Oyster Harvesting

The oyster season occurred from February 1st to September 30th. The students Clark and McGill were able to go on board the ‘Wetere’ oyster boat to observe the oyster harvesting process. An average of 80 sacks were yielded a day with each sack containing about 70 dozen oysters. The oysters were dredged up from the Foveaux Strait oyster beds and piled onto the deck of the boat. Clark and McGill noted the men standing all over the pile of oysters as a potential contamination point. The oysters were then brought back to Bluff Harbour and stored below the wharves in a pile for transportation to the local cannery or to buyers who wanted fresh oysters.

Oyster boat with fishermen standing on pile of oysters. ODT Collection. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/11281.

 

Canning Process

Oysters were brought in from the wharf on carts to the cannery. They were opened by employees, then sent to be washed in a kauri tub. They were then canned in half pound tins that held around 18 oysters per tin. In the tin they were sent through a hot box with steam pipes that both sterilised, and partially cooked the oysters. The tins were stored in an incubation room at 38°C. Clark and McGill noted that this was the most sanitary way of shipping oysters. Any water contamination was prevented by the high heat of the hot box steam pipes.

Muttonbirding

Muttonbird harvesting was and still is restricted to Māori who have claims to the industry. The season began on March 18th of every year and everyone must be off the islands by the end of May. Oyster boats took them to the Muttonbird Islands to harvest. In exchange for this, the captains of the oyster boats received a kit of muttonbirds. Each kit could hold about 3 dozen muttonbirds. They packed the birds into kits, inside these kits were kelp bags. The oils of the birds filled the bag, acting as a preservative. Clark and McGill were highly suspicious of contamination, but there was no evidence that anyone had been contaminated by muttonbirds. Thousands of muttonbirds were collected in the season. The kits were sent around New Zealand in cheese wagons to go to shops or individuals for sale.

 

Materials used in packing kits of mutton birds for marketing: kelp blades blown up to form bags, protecting the kits when full, 1927. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/16790.

Medical Students Findings

Clark and McGill found that sewage was being disposed of into Bluff Harbour at low tide. The high tide took the sewage by the flood tide to the Foveaux Strait oyster beds. Oysters are filter feeders and so they would consume the small particles of faeces and those who ate the oysters raw were at risk of getting infected with disease as this was how it was spread. The sewage of Bluff residents coming from the flood tide created a volatile combination that could potentially have allowed for the spread of typhoid.

Bluff Harbour. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/2155.

Medical Students Suggestions

Clark and McGill suggested holding the sewage for 13 days until diseased bacteria died. They also suggested heating the sewage to 65°C to sterilise it. They argued for some sort of sewage treatment before being released into the ocean. Diseases could survive in salt-water for 11-25 days. By treating the sewage this could be reduced to 3-5 days. Bacteria could survive in unsterilised seawater for 3 weeks and could survive in an oyster for 5-6 days.

The students suggested a water carrying system that would go to a pumping station located in the Ocean Beach neighbourhood to remove the town sewage. Then it could be pumped into Foveaux Strait well away from the Harbour. It wouldn’t be until the mid-1960s that Bluff would have a sewage pumping system that would do just as Clark and McGill suggested.[4] And it was much later, in the 1990s, that the sewage being released was treated.[5]

The Oyster Industry Today

There are higher sanitary standards in the Bluff oyster industry today. It is now the oysters themselves that are at risk of disease. Bonamia exitiosa is a waterborne parasite that was found in the Foveaux Strait in 1986. Between 1986 and 1992, 89% of the oyster population was killed.[6] The population was closed off in 1993 to let them repopulate and was opened again in 1996.[7] Since 2016 Bonamia infection levels have been low and oyster populations have been recovering with close monitoring by the Ministry of Fisheries.[8]

 

[1] “All Bunkum”, Evening Post, 17 October 1929.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Oysters and Disease”, Evening Star, 3 June 1899.

[4] “Sewage treatment and disposal”. Invercargill City Council, accessed 3 August 2019, https://icc.govt.nz/infrastructure/sewage-treatment-and-disposal/.

[5] Ibid.

[6] H.J. Cranfield, A. Dunn, I. J. Doonan, K.P. Michael, “Bonamia exitiosa epizootic in Ostrea chilensis from Foveaux Strait, southern New Zealand between 1986 and 1992”, Journal of Marine Science 62, no.1 (2005): 3.

[7] K. P. Michael, J. Forman, D. Hulston, D. Fu, “The status of infection by bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in Foveaux Strait oysters (Ostrea chilensis), changes in the distributions and densities of recruit, pre-recruit, and small oysters in February 2010, and projections of disease mortality,” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2011/5, (2011): 5.

[8] K.P. Michael, J. Bilewitch, J. Forman, D. Hulston, J. Sutherland, G. Moss, K. Large, “A survey of the Foveaux Strait oyster (Ostrea chilensis) population (OYU 5) in commercial fishery areas and the status of Bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in February 2018,” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2019/02, (2019): 2.

 

Bibliography

“All Bunkum”. Evening Post. 17 October 1929.

Clark, L.P. and McGill, R.J.  “A public health survey of the Bluff with special reference to the Oyster industry” (5th Year Medical Diss. The University of Otago. 1932).

Conn, Ailsa. “The Importance of Norovirus and Cadmium in Shellfish and Implications to Human Health”. (MA. Thes. University of Canterbury, 2010).

Cranfield, H.J.  Dunn, A. Doonan, I. J. Michael,K.P. “Bonamia exitiosa epizootic in Ostrea chilensis from Foveaux Strait, southern New Zealand between 1986 and 1992”. Journal of Marine Science 62, no.1 (2005) 3-13.

“Oysters and Disease”. Evening Star. 3 June 1899.

“Sewage treatment and disposal”. Invercargill City Council. Accessed 3 August 2019. https://icc.govt.nz/infrastructure/sewage-treatment-and-disposal/.

Michael, K.P. Bilewitch, J. Forman, J. Hulston, D. Sutherland, J. Moss, G. Large, K.

“A survey of the Foveaux Strait oyster (Ostrea chilensis) population (OYU 5) in commercial fishery areas and the status of Bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in February  2018,” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2019/02, (2019).

Michael, K. P. Forman, J. Hulston, D. Fu, D. “The status of infection by bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in Foveaux Strait oysters (Ostrea chilensis), changes in the distributions and densities of recruit, pre-recruit, and small oysters in February 2010, and projections of disease mortality.” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2011/5. (2011).

Images

Oyster boat, ODT Collection. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin,

https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/11281.

 

Oyster boats, Bluff, Southland, 1935. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New

Zealand, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/30657435.

 

Materials used in packing kits of mutton birds for Marketing: Kelp leaves blown up to

form bags, protecting the kits when full, 1927. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/16790.

 

Bluff Harbour. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/2155.

 

 

 

 

 

Stirring up the stacks #6 – pumpkin pie

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Andrew Lorey, Collections Assistant (Researcher Services)

I faced a daunting challenge as I started thinking about what to cook for my contribution to the Hocken Collections ‘Stirring Up the Stacks’ series. Over the last year my colleagues have fermented sauerkraut from scratch, deciphered German-language cooking notes, recreated 1960s party starters, provided a perfectly prepared peach parfait, and concocted lovely jelly-stabilised variety salads for vegans and omnivores alike.

I would describe myself as an unskilled cook at even the best of times, and as such, I struggled to think of a dish that I could contribute to a morning tea or lunchtime without subjecting my workmates to bland tastes and unpalatable textures. As you might expect, I ended up thinking about the types of foods that I enjoy, and particularly the types of dishes that my parents and grandparents cooked when I was a child growing up in America.

 

Figure 1 – Two Hocken Collections cookbooks offering recipes of ‘American Dishes for New Zealand’.1, 2

Different Cultures and Different Cuisines

It is an indisputable fact that all of us have our own personal favourite foods, whether they come in the form of hāngī, vegetarian dishes featuring perfectly cooked tofu or after-dinner treats like ginger nuts and vanilla ice cream. But food plays a much more important role in our lives than simply providing us with nutritional nourishment and energy. I think Emma Johnson captures the multi-dimensional importance of food in her introduction to Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa:

Food is a confluence of things: a web of weather systems; the lay of the land; stories of arrival, trade, economics and politics; histories and empires; domestic and urban practices. It is all connected and culminates in each of us. All of these systems, stories and politics become deeply personal, as food becomes part of us.3 (emphasis added)

In an increasingly global world, it may come as no surprise that people are consuming increasingly global foods. Recent census statistics published by Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa show that 27.4 per cent of the people residing in New Zealand during the 2018 Census were born outside of the country4, and it follows that most New Zealand immigrants have transported their home countries’ cuisines along with them. When reflecting upon my own identity as an immigrant, I realised that it would be interesting to search for cookbooks at the Hocken Collections that provide instructions for dishes that may not traditionally be associated with New Zealand.

Figure 2 – This adaptation of a figure published by Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa illustrates the proportions of New Zealand immigrants as reported during the 2018 Census.5

I am pleased to say that I did not have any trouble finding cookbooks related to the immigrant experience here at the Hocken Collections. Interestingly, I found a series of cookbooks published by Wellington’s Price Milburn publishing house between the late 1950s and early 1970s that provided recipes from a wide variety of international cuisines. The two American recipe books shown in Figure 1 come from this Price Milburn series, but the publisher also included volumes dedicated to Chinese, Turkish, French and South East Asian dishes.

Figure 3 – Wellington-based publishing house Price Milburn published a series of cookbooks catering to international tastes between the late 1950s and early 1970s.6, 7, 8, 9

Although it is uncertain whether actual New Zealand immigrants were involved with the creation of this Price Milburn series or whether the recipes were put together by New Zealanders who were simply interested in international cuisines, it is clear that an appreciation of international flavours and food literature has persisted in the decades following the Price Milburn publications. For example, recent books like Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar10, Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific11 and “Dinner at my place”: The great Refugee and Migrant cook book12 celebrate and explore the many layers of meaning that exist within the flavours of immigrant experience.

Bringing together dishes from countries as diverse as Rwanda, Chile, Sweden, Vietnam and Vanuatu, books such as these showcase the many vibrant culinary cultures that exist both inside and outside New Zealand while also telling the stories of particular people from particular places. As Therese O’Connell states in her introduction to Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar, “food, the preparation and sharing of it, consistently plays a fundamental role in each of the cultures we encounter.” It was precisely this fondness for sharing that led me to prepare a dish that pays homage to the culturally American cuisine that I grew up with – the not-too-savoury and not-too-sweet pumpkin pie.

As American as… Pumpkin Pie?

Pumpkin pie is a popular American dessert during autumn, particularly during the months of November and December, when many people observe holidays like Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November) and Christmas. During my recipe search, I consulted three separate cookbooks that included recipes for pumpkin pie in a quest to discover the finest list of ingredients and the most fool-proof instructions. Although one of the recipes came from a ‘foods demonstration’ undertaken by the University of Otago Department of University Extension13, I ultimately decided to use a recipe for ‘Hot Pumpkin Pie’ that appeared in one of the Price Milburn booklets shown in Figure 1.

Figure 4 – American recipes for Thanksgiving, including the instructions used for the ‘Hot Pumpkin Pie’ eaten recently at the Hocken Collections.

Hot Pumpkin Pie

8 oz [227 g] flour
2 oz [57 g] butter
2 oz [57 g] lard
½ teaspoon salt
cold water
1½ cups [368 g] mashed cooked pumpkin
2 eggs
6 oz [170 g] brown sugar
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup [237 ml] milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

METHOD:—Sift flour with salt and rub in butter and lard. Cut in just sufficient cold water to bind to a stiff paste. Turn out and roll and line a pie plate with one inch overlapping. Turn overlapping edge under. Prick the bottom and bake for ten minutes in a fairly hot oven, then fill and return to bake for a further three-quarters of an hour in a more moderate oven, until the filling is set and browned. To make the filling, steam pumpkin until tender and sieve enough to make 1½ cups puree. Beat in eggs, brown sugar, spices, and milk. Turn into pie shell and dust with additional nutmeg.

 

As you can see, the recipe provides instructions for making both the pie crust (using the first five ingredients) and the filling (using the final eight ingredients). The instructions do, however leave some things open for interpretation when it comes to the quantity of cold water necessary to create the perfect crust and the cooking temperatures that should be used in the oven (I could not locate settings for ‘fairly hot’ or ‘more moderate’ on my oven at home…). Where possible, I have calculated metric conversions for the ingredients and included those above.

Although the recipe does not explain this portion of pumpkin pie preparations, I began my cooking by washing my pumpkins under cool water, slicing them in half, scooping out the seeds and roasting them for about 60 minutes at 170˚C. To decide whether they were ready to be sieved, drained and pureed, I tried to pierce their rinds with the tines of a fork.

Waiting for your pumpkins to soften in the oven provides ample time to make the pie crust, although I must confess that I had saved some pre-made shortcrust in the freezer for this occasion. If you have a tried-and-tested family recipe for pie crusts, then you should feel free to use that too!

After pre-baking your pie crust if you wish (see the recipe method above) and creating your pumpkin mash puree, then the rest of the recipe is quite straightforward. Just beat in eggs, brown sugar, milk and spices (I doubled the suggested amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger), fill up your pie crust with this mixture and then cook for about 60 minutes (or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean) at 175˚C.

Figure 5 – One of the two pumpkin pies cooked as part of this instalment of ‘Stirring Up the Stacks’.

Reactions from colleagues about the pumpkin pies that I prepared were generally favourable, although several comments did remark that sweet pumpkin dishes remain somewhat foreign to the New Zealand palate:

“Transcendent”
“Delicious! A lovely blend of spices”
“Texture was a fluffy dream!!”
“Is it a main? Is it dessert? Could be both. All day eating.”
“I still find the concept of pumpkin as a sweet dish hard to wrap my head around, but this pumpkin pie was delicious!”
“Best pumpkin pie!”
“Yum!”

It seems fitting that this blog post has been published only shortly after Thanksgiving, and I hope that many of you who read it decide to give this recipe a try!

Figure 6 – I think one of my colleagues put it best when she said, “Yum!”.

[1] Elizabeth Messenger’s American Dishes for New Zealand (1962). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[2] American Dishes for New Zealand (n.d.). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[3] Johnson, Emma (2017). Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa. Christchurch: Freerange Press.
[4] Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa (2019). 2018 Census totals by topic – national highlights. https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/2018-census-totals-by-topic-national-highlights[5] Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa (2019). New Zealand as a village of 100 people. https://www.stats.govt.nz/infographics/new-zealand-as-a-village-of-100-people-2018-census-data[6] 50 Chinese Dishes you can make (1958). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[7] Harris, Patricia (n.d.). Fit for a Sultan: Turkish Food for Other Kitchens. Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[8] French Dishes for New Zealand (n.d.). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[9] Heuer, Berys (n.d.). South East Asian Dishes for New Zealand. Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited
[10] Reid, Robyn (1999). Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar: refugees and immigrants talk about their lives and food. Wellington: Wellington ESOL Home Tutor Service Inc.
[11] Oliver, Robert (2010). Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific. Auckland: Random House New Zealand.
[12] Refugee and Migrant Service (1998). “Dinner at my place”: The great Refugee and Migrant cook book. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: Refugee & Migrant Service.
[13] University of Otago Department of University Extension (n.d.). Ideas from Overseas American Food. Foods Demonstration. Dunedin: University of Otago.

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #5: – sauerkraut roll

Stirring up the stacks #4: a “delicious cake from better times”

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

 

Stirring up the stacks #5 – sauerkraut roll

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Alex Scahill, Collections Assistant, Publications

I came up with this idea upon spotting a recent children’s book by Gavin Bishop, Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook, appear on the new arrivals shelf at the Hocken. What caught my eye was that the cook in question, John Thompson, only had one hand. What a challenge it must have been for Thompson, attempting to prepare meals for dozens of men, on a ship being rolled around by the merciless ocean, using 18th century technology and ingredients that often did not store well or were opportunistically harvested along the way, many of which most of us would turn our noses up at today (anyone keen for penguin, seal or turtle?). Actually, I think that’d make for a great contemporary cooking show. Let’s chuck Gordon Ramsay into a cramped little box that pitches and rolls around like a ride at an amusement park, and make him cook haute cuisine for dozens of amused onlookers using an assortment of random (and questionably fresh) ingredients using nothing but a woodfire oven… with one hand tied behind his back. I’d watch that!

Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Hocken G246.C7 BH57 2018

What attracted me to cooking something in the realm of what may have been served on board these voyages was that at the time I spied this book I was also (temporarily) one handed, having recently broken my elbow. So I endeavoured (insert cheesy dad joke grin) to become a one handed cook myself and see if the food served aboard the ships was really as bad as it sounds. Admittedly, extended preparation time of my dish, combined with a rather unfortunate mishap which set me back a few weeks (keep reading), meant that by the time it actually came to serve my dish to my colleagues my elbow was fully healed.

So what type of fare was typical on board Cook’s voyages to New Zealand? Cook set out with provisions for a two year voyage, unsure of where and when they may have the opportunity to resupply with fresh water and food. Eighteenth century sailors were a hardy bunch, and there was little room for fussiness when it came to food. Eat what you were served or perish.

Provisions list from Cook’s journal for July 1772 for the Resolution and Adventure (total 201 men). Burkhardt et al. 1978. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

While Cook had loaded his vessels with a variety of livestock, this was primarily for leaving behind on islands they encountered during the voyage, and generally only those animals which did not survive the voyage were consumed on board. What meat was available for consumption was usually subjected to heavy salting in order to prevent the meat from spoiling, thus extending the shelf life for long trips. Other protein came primarily from what birds or sea creatures could be caught along the way.  The same was said for produce, with unknown plants harvested for food from islands along the way. Consumption of some poisonous species in the South Pacific resulted in the deaths of a pig and a pet parakeet, although no sailors suffered the same fate (Burkhardt et al. 1978: 132).

However, due to the large number of Hocken staff who are vegetarian or vegan, I wanted to prepare a dish which would cater for as many of our staff as possible, so I opted to use two of the absolute staples from Cook’s galleys: bread and sauerkraut. The third major staple on board these voyages was booze, which was consumed regularly in lieu of fresh clean water, although I decided that serving beer at work during morning tea was perhaps unwise.

Sailors and Sauerkraut. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

In the stacks I found a book called Sailors and Sauerkraut (Burkhardt et al. 1978). The authors of this volume scoured the journals of Cook, Banks and others for references about the food and beverages which were consumed during their voyages to New Zealand, and subsequently produced a recipe book inspired by those references. I chose to recreate their recipe for Sauerkraut Roll.

This was perhaps a little ambitious considering I’d never even tasted, let alone tried to make sauerkraut before. The recipe seemed straightforward enough. Just cabbage and brine. But it does take several weeks to ferment. My first batch appeared to be going well and after a while began to take on the characteristic sauerkraut smell of ‘sweet farts’ (I’m really making this sound appealing!).

Enter catastrophe. After several weeks of waiting it came time to have a taste test. As I moved my container to the kitchen bench for tasting my clumsiness got the better of me and I ended up with my entire batch of sauerkraut pasted across the kitchen floor. So I started again.

Once the sauerkraut was ready it was time to prepare the rest of the dish for morning tea. I opted to double the following recipe.

The sauerkraut is ready

FOR THE ROLL

  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • yeast, sugar, salt, water
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk

Mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk and add the flour. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, then put in a warm place to rise until double in volume. Roll out the dough to a size large enough to wrap around the filling.

FILLING

  • 500g sauerkraut
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • cracked pepper
  • 5 large onions
  • 2 cups croutons

Wash the sauerkraut under running water and drain. Fry one of the onions in a little oil until golden and then add the sauerkraut and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for a while. While the sauerkraut is cooking slice the remaining onions into rings and fry in oil until golden. Also prepare croutons.

Spread half the onions and croutons on the dough and cover with a layer of sauerkraut. Repeat. Carefully roll everything up, sealing the ends of the roll so that nothing will leak out during cooking.

Adding the filling

All rolled up (like a “sauerkraut calzone” according to my feedback)

To make it look a little less rustic (debatable) I prepared some caramelised onion as a garnish.

On the morning of serving I arrived at work with the rolls raw, gave them a quick glaze with olive oil, garnished with the caramelised onion and popped it in the oven first at 220˚C for 10mins, and then at 180˚C for a further 30mins until nice and golden.

Looks delicious!

They came out looking much better than I’d anticipated, but the real test would come down to taste. My personal opinion was that it tasted fine, but certainly better than expected. I just don’t think sauerkraut is really my thing. The following are a selection of comments left in the anonymous comments box during tasting:

visually appealing, which was surprising”

“this was so nice it gives me a false impression of what ships meals were like”

“…would definitely be great with a beer”

“Delicious! What were the sailors complaining about?”

“smells divine!”

and my personal favourite:

“tasty, and the perfect meal to prevent shipboard romance on long trips”

Overall, certainly a reasonable tasting novelty which provoked some decent discussion, but given the effort I think it’s fair to say I won’t be attempting this one again any time soon.

 

References:

  • Beaglehole, J. C. (ed.) 1955-1974. The journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery. Cambridge: published for the Hakluyt Society at the University Press.
  • Bishop, G. 2018. Cook’s cook : the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Wellington: Gecko Press.
  • Burkhardt, B., McLean, B. A., and Kochanek, D. 1978. Sailors & sauerkraut, or, Recipes from Paradise, or, Making do with what you have : a reading cook book with extracts from the journals of William Anderson, Joseph Banks, James Cook, Thomas Edgar, Alexander Home, James King, David Samwell and recipes interpolated therein. British Columbia: Gray’s Publishing.

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #4: a “delicious cake from better times”

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Stirring up the stacks #4 – a “delicious cake from better times”

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post cooked up by Ali Clarke, Collections Assistant, Archives

When we started this challenge of testing recipes we had found in the Hocken stacks, I immediately thought of the archives of scientists Franz and Marianne Bielschowsky, whose lives took several unexpected paths. Marianne’s recipe books – some handwritten, some full of clippings and some published – are mostly in German, so that added to the challenge! My German language skills are pretty basic, but with the help of a good dictionary and a fluent German speaker I was able to figure out the technical instructions in my chosen recipe.

The cover of Marianne Bielschowsky’s book, ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’ (an illustrated cook book), compiled c.1946, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

 My attention was grabbed by Marianne Bielschowsky’s handwritten heading “Leckere Kuchen aus besseren Zeiten!” for some printed recipes she pasted into one of her recipe clippings books. This translates as “Delicious cakes from better times!” That has a poignancy which reflects the times – the clippings book was probably compiled about 1946, when she was living in England. A cake like this, featuring butter, sugar and 6 eggs, would have been beyond the capacity of most people during rationing – when an adult’s weekly rations were 2oz of butter, 8oz of sugar and 1 egg. No doubt this distinctly German recipe also served as a reminder of a happy childhood there.

Recipe for Frankfurter Kranz, pasted into ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

I’ve written about the Bielschowskys previously, in a post about the Spanish Civil War for the University of Otago 150 years history blog. Franz Bielschowsky (1902-1965), the son of a distinguished German neurologist, was dismissed from his position as a medical researcher in Dusseldorf early in 1933 because he was Jewish, and fled to Amsterdam. In 1934 he relocated to Madrid, where he became a lecturer in the medical faculty; in 1935 he was appointed director of the biochemistry department of the new Institute for Experimental Medicine at the Central University of Madrid.

Marianne Bielschowsky, photographed in Brussels, 1939. MS-1493/036, Bielschowsky papers.

Marianne Angermann (1904-1977), a German biochemist who had worked with Franz Bielschowsky in Dusseldorf, joined him at the Institute in Madrid late in 1935; they were to marry in 1937. Angermann was born in Dresden. She was not Jewish herself, and her family appears to have been in comfortable circumstances; her father was at one time the Burgermeister (Mayor) of a small town. She studied in Koln (Cologne), Bonn and Freiburg im Breisgau, where she obtained her PhD. Marianne described herself and her parents as ‘Antifaschisten’ – opposed to fascism.

Angermann and Bielschowsky refused offers to leave Spain when the civil war began there in 1936, but as the siege of Madrid lengthened, research became impossible. Franz joined the republican medical service and worked at a military hospital in Madrid. They fled Spain early in 1939, as Franco’s forces prepared to enter the capital. They were now refugees for a second time, and as war took over Europe they ended up in England. Both worked at the University of Sheffield until 1948, when they arrived in Otago, where Franz had been appointed director of the cancer research laboratory; Marianne worked alongside him. She was especially known for her development of various special strains of mice, used worldwide for medical research.

My first attempt at the cake was a hit with my family.

An English translation of Marianne Bielschowsky’s recipe:

Frankfurt Wreath

For the cake:

4 eggs

200g sugar

100g potato flour

100g wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 packet vanilla sugar (I substituted 2 tsp vanilla essence)

Whip the egg whites until stiff (“like snow”). Mix together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add to egg whites alternately with the sifted flours and baking powder to make a soft dough. Beat well. Bake for 1 hour in a greased and floured ring tin. When the wreath is cold, cut it through twice [making 3 layers]. Fill with the following cream, then spread cream over the outside and sprinkle with the almonds.

For the cream:

2 eggs

100g sugar

3 heaped tbsp flour

½ litre skimmed milk

125g butter

toasted chopped almonds

Mix the eggs, 3 tbsp of the sugar, the flour and milk together well [in a pot]. Heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to the boil. Remove from heat and continue stirring until it is cold. Mix the remaining sugar and softened butter together and stir into the custard mixture.

Hints

I couldn’t find potato flour in my usual supermarkets, but it is available in health food stores and Asian grocery stores.

No oven temperature is given – I found it took just 30-40 minutes in a moderate oven (180°C).

I made the cake twice. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the consistency of the cake in my first test run, so I changed the method a little on my second try. Instead of adding the yolks/sugar/vanilla to the egg whites, I slowly folded the whipped egg whites into the well beaten yolks/sugar/vanilla mixture, then added the flours/baking powder – this worked better and made a lovely light sponge.

The cream was more successful on my first attempt – it curdled slightly on my second go when I added the butter/sugar. I recommend making sure the butter/sugar mixture is really well creamed, and cold, before stirring it into the cold custard.

The secret to any custard is stirring to prevent lumps – I use a hand whisk to stir the entire time it is cooking. This recipe recommends stirring while it cools as well – I put the pot into a sink of cold water to speed that process.

I used whole almonds I had chopped into big chunks, then toasted in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes.

The second attempt disappeared quickly from the Hocken staffroom!

Results

This cake was a big hit with the tasters both times I made it! It isn’t strongly flavoured, but the contrast in textures between the fluffy cake, smooth cream and crunchy almonds is delicious, as many commented. There was universal approval from the Hocken staff: “those ‘better times’ must have been amazing”, suggested one. The delicious custard/nuts made it “quite different to most of my modern cake experiences”, wrote one reviewer, with others also noting its distinctly Germanic style. A warning – it’s messy to eat, as one reviewer pointed out!

I searched online for modern versions of this recipe – the English-language versions, such as this one translate the name as Frankfurt Crown Cake. They add jam to the filling between the layers, coat the almonds in caramel, and include cherries and other fancy decorations so the cake resembles a jewelled crown. They also use packets of vanilla pudding instead of making the custard from scratch! The older version I tried is less extravagant, but still delicious, and I encourage you to try it at home. We don’t know if Marianne Bielschowsky made this cake once she had settled in Dunedin, but in any case it has been a pleasure to make it as a tribute to her.

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

 

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft Party starters

Monday, May 6th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post cooked up by Katherine Milburn, Liaison Librarian and Curator of Ephemera

There was never going to be a problem deciding which of Hocken’s amazing collections to use when it came to my turn for ‘Stirring up the stacks’ – it had to be Ephemera hands down! But the major dilemma was choosing from the hundreds of advertising flyers and leaflets in the collection featuring recipes.

I finally settled on a little recipe leaflet, dating to ca.1960s, promoting Bycroft cracker biscuits as “Party starters” that “set parties off with a bang!” In 1961 Bycroft merged with Aulsebrooks to become A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd manufacturing both biscuits and confectionery. Their product lines included Huntley Palmer biscuits, Mackintosh toffees and Oddfellows. Unfortunately big losses in the confectionery market led to the closure of their Dunedin factory in Maclaggan Street in 1976. In 1977, while the parent company continued to be A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd, their trading name changed to Aulsebrooks, and in 1978, a private Nelson based company, Moana Estates, made a successful partial takeover of the company.

 

Bycroft Party starters! Recipes. Bycroft, [1960s]. Ephemera Collection, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.)

My next big decision was which of the eighteen toppings and dips featured in the leaflet to make and test on Hocken staff, who include vegetarians, vegans and those with food intolerances. Eventually I concluded five spreads and one dip was the best way to ensure that there was at least something for everyone.

I decided against the Worcester spread and Gherkin scramble as being too last minute to make and the idea of flavoured scrambled egg was off-putting! The current exorbitant price of avocados made the Avocado dip off limits – I wonder how easy these were to find back in 1960s New Zealand? The liver paste, needed for the Liver and bacon spread, was unobtainable in 2019 and the Creamy cheese spread seemed too safe an option. So I settled on Minty spread; Ham and pineapple spread; Peel spread; Savoury egg spread; Crunchy spread; and Mushroom dip.

Some of the recipes specify which Bycroft cracker should be served with each dip – there were six pictured on the leaflet; but I selected a fairly similar range from today’s options at the supermarket, including rice crackers for the gluten intolerant and a new cracker chip that I thought would make a good dipper.

All the recipes were easy to make, although I had to make two servings of the Savoury egg spread to provide a similar amount to the others. Apart from the crunchy spread and finishing the Mushroom dip, all were assembled the night before which required one departure from the recipe – I was concerned the mint in the Minty spread might turn brown overnight so added a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Thanks to a previous Hocken staff member, Val Parata, I had a great set of authentic brown ramekins to serve the spreads in, and an old Christmas gift set of bread-themed spreaders seemed a fitting final touch.

Recipes

Minty spread

1 cup tinned green peas, well drained; 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint; ½ teaspoon salt; shake pepper

Mash peas until smooth. Blend in chopped mint, salt and pepper. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers, top with fresh mint sprig.

 

Ham and pineapple spread

2 slices cooked ham; 1/3 cup crushed, well-drained pineapple; 2 tablespoons mayonnaise; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Trim fat from ham. Chop ham finely. Blend in pineapple, mayonnaise and mustard. Spread on Bycroft Savoury Crispbread, top with more chopped ham if liked.

 

Peel spread

¼ Cup finely chopped peel; ½ cup peanut butter; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; about 4 tablespoons opf cream

Place chopped peel in bowl. Blend in peanut butter and lemon juice. Stir in enough cream to make a spreading consistency. Spread on lightly buttered Bycroft Imperial Crackers. Decorate with more chopped peel if liked.

 

Savoury egg spread

1 hard boiled egg; 2 tablespoons butter; 1 tablespoon tomato sauce; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard; ½ teaspoon curry powder; 1 teaspoon sugar; 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Shell hard boiled egg while still hot. Mash well with butter. Blend in remaining ingredients. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers.

 

Crunchy spread

½ cup grated carrot; lemon juice; 1 stick celery; ½ cup roasted peanuts; ¼ teaspoon salt; shake pepper; 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Sprinkle carrot with a little lemon juice. Chop celery finely. Chop peanuts a little. Mix all ingredients together. Spread on lightly b uttered Bycroft Savoury Crispbread.

 

Mushroom dip

1 packet mushroom soup; 4 tablespoons ginger ale; 8 oz. reduced cream

Soak soup overnight in ginger ale. Next day add cream. Blend thoroughly and leave in refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

 

Hocken staff were excited by the final array presented at morning tea time and eagerly tucked in. They were asked for feedback on their most and least favourite spreads, and overall the reaction was positive but, as can been seen in the photographs, “The most delicious spreads weren’t the most visually appealing though haha!”

Minty spread proved the most popular with seven votes and was described by one staff member as “unexpectedly good and refreshing”, but another rated it their least favourite saying “cold cooked peas reminded me of being made to finish my dinner as a child. It took so long the peas went cold.”

Savoury egg spread was the next most popular with a nostalgic taste that took one “back to Nana’s house”. Mushroom dip and Peel spread were third equal favourites: “LOVE the mushroom dip. Definitely making it at home to impress my vego friends, as nice alternative to onion dip”; “Peel – my favourite, interesting flavour combo that worked – mostly nuttiness coming through”.

Crunchy spread and Ham and pineapple spread were the least favourite overall, the latter for one staff member being “better than expected as I avoid Hawaiian pizza” but Chloe declared “Ham and pineapple for life!”

My own personal favourite was the mushroom dip: I was wary of the overnight ginger ale soaking of the mushroom soup mix but it was not noticeable in the eventual tasty product. But I think the Minty spread has star potential if the tinned peas were exchanged with fresher tasting frozen peas and some mashed feta was added for a delicious 2019 update.

Stirring up the stacks #3 was a fun trip back to the recent past that proved nostalgic (in a good way) for many Hocken staff, and the recipes were, as promised by the Bycroft leaflet, “Easy, economical, imaginative ways and means of getting the gathering going.”

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Stirring up the stacks #2: The parfait on the blackboard

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 1 Comment

Post cooked up by David Murray, Archivist

In our last ‘Stirring up the Stacks’ post, my colleague Kari laid down a challenge: find old recipes in the collections, try them out, and inflict them on fellow staff members for their verdict.

The recipe I found comes not from a publication or manuscript, but from a glass plate negative (reproduced above), noticed when rehousing records of the University of Otago’s former Home Science School. It dates from the 1930s. Four instructors in uniform stand in front of a group of fifteen women. These women don’t appear to be students, and possibly the class was one of the demonstrations given through the Home Science Extension Bureau, or one of the ‘refresher’ courses offered to former students.

Behind the instructors, written in chalk on the blackboard, are five recipes. One of the great thing about glass plates is the level of detail that can often be found in them – you can really zoom in! Richard, our reprographics wizard, scanned the plate and was able to pull up the recipes with some clarity. The titles were clearly visible: vanilla ice cream, coffee mousse, orange water ice, pineapple mousse, and peach parfait. Most of the text for the last two recipes is readable, partially obscured by an instructor staring down the camera.

Choosing the parfait, I thought I might have to fill in the missing parts of the recipe, but after a fair bit of hunting I fortunately found a beautifully handwritten copy in the first-year practical workbook of Rae Vernon (1915-2001). Rae was a Home Science student from 1934, and later joined the staff herself. On the same page is a coffee mousse recipe that also appears on the blackboard:

Peach Parfait

Mashed peaches 1 cup
Sugar 1 cup
Water ⅓ cup
Egg whites 2
Juice of 1 orange
Cream 1 cup
Almond essence ¼ tsp

Method: Boil sugar and water to 238˚F or until it threads and pour gently into the stiffly beaten egg whites, whipping constantly. Combine peaches and orange juice. Beat in the white mixture. Stir briskly until cool and then fold in whipped cream and almond ess. Pour into a mould cover with waxed paper and press on the lid. Pack in two parts of ice and 1 of salt for 4 hrs. If canned peaches used the amount of sugar should be reduced to ¾ cup.

My prior knowledge of frozen parfaits was somewhere between non-existent and negligible, but this is apparently a fairly conventional recipe, except it only uses the egg whites and not the yolks. The most unusual ingredient is the almond essence, and I was not entirely convinced it would go with peaches, but looked forward to finding out.

The cooking process was fairly straightforward. I did use tinned peaches, and so used less sugar as directed. I wasn’t quite sure how mashed they should be, but erred on the side of a smoother consistency. The trickiest bit for me, not having a thermometer, was boiling the sugar and water to the correct ‘threading’ stage. To add to the fun I found a vintage (though not 1930s) mould. Unwilling to experiment with packing in ice (apologies to those wanting closer authenticity), I covered the finished mixture tightly in its mould and put it in the freezer overnight.

Turning the parfait out of its mould was a bit tricky, but dipping it in a bath of warm water did the trick. I tarted it up with some more peaches and a sprig of mint and hoped it would pass muster.

Reaction in the Hocken staff room was favourable, a common theme being pleasant surprise about the peach and almond flavour combination. Some comments:

“Proper grandma food”

“Delicate and dreamy”

“If was a synaesthete I would say it tastes like a floral dress”

“Love the almond flavour”

“I enjoyed the flavour combination”

“Very sweet, but also quite light”

“I was a little apprehensive re tinned peaches but very pleasantly surprised how nice it tasted. The almond flavour was a surprise, but subtle”

 “Would be a lovely dessert to cleanse the palate”

Overall, it turned out better than I expected, and I would make it again. It was fun to bring to life the obscure detail of an image in the collections.

Image references:

Glass plate negative showing cookery class. University of Otago School of Consumer and Applied Sciences records. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena. MS-1517-034-005.

Page from Rae Vernon’s Foods 1 practical workbook. Association of the Home Science Alumnae of New Zealand records. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena. MS-1516/023.

 

Stirring up the stacks #1: Variety salad in tomato aspic

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Kari Wilson-Allan, Collections Assistant, Archives

Food. We all need it, and many of us love it. We love to try new tastes, new textures, know what’s on trend and what’s on its way out. (Time to see yourself out, salted caramel?)

But what about the old food fads? Is there value in revisiting them? Have our palates shifted; can we stomach the ingredients?

‘Stirring up the stacks’ is a new and occasional blog series coming to you from the kitchens of the Hocken staff. By finding and preparing long-forgotten, curious, or delectable sounding recipes amongst our varied collections, we aim to entertain, inspire, delight or, perhaps, disgust, you with our concoctions.

So, let’s get into it!

I’ve been perpetually intrigued and grossed out by the concept of jelly salads since I first heard of them. Meat and/or veges, suspended in elaborately shaped goop, and usually photographed with the colour balance all out of whack. Images I’d seen tended to be American in origin, and seemed to date from the 1950s until maybe the 1970s. But meals of jelly had hit the culinary scene far earlier on, here in New Zealand and many other parts of the globe. Emeritus Professor Helen Leach, a well-known face in our reading room, had me nearly fall off my chair in surprise when I read in her 2008 book The pavlova story: a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history, that the first pavlova, dating from 1926, was in fact a layered jelly, with nary an egg white in sight! The Davis company cornered the market, from 1913 producing a gelatine that opened up options in the kitchen. Previously, dishes with gelatine had been the preserve of those with time, resources and great expertise.

Evidence indicates that the Davis company promoted their product vigorously. We hold eleven of the recipe books they published in New Zealand, ranging from 1926 through to the 1980s.

Desserts, salads and savoury dishes the Davis gelatine way (n.d.)

I browsed through a couple, and quickly realised I was going to need a recipe with an illustration to understand how exactly I was to construct my masterpiece. The book above proved to be a boon. Not only did it have a recipe I thought I might have some chance of executing, it was pictured in full colour on the rear cover. There’s no year of publication, but I suspect it is from the late 1950s or early 1960s – elements of it indicate that it predates decimal currency.

My choice of recipe, variety salad, requires me to to make tomato aspic too. For those not in the know, or who (like me) only associate the word aspic with cat food, an aspic is a savoury jelly, traditionally made with meat stock.

What better to do than put on some sixties pop and hit the kitchen?

Cutting my work out for me

You might notice I’ve got both gelatine (Davis brand, naturally), and agar agar powder.  Why’s that? I’m (probably foolishly) making two discrete aspics – one for the omnivores and one for the herbivores, of whom I’m one. Curiously, around a quarter of Hocken staff are vegetarian or vegan, and I want a good range of willing tasters  – as much as I’m leery  of trying it myself.

I’ll admit here I cheated a little. The day prior to cook day, I did a trial aspic, to get an idea of how it came together – had I converted pints to millilitres accurately? I also wanted to see if I could get the veges in the mould to behave as they should, to figure out how quickly the gelatine would set (the answer: forever), if there was enough liquid (there wasn’t – must double the mix come Show Day!) and if I could get it out of the mould. I’m an impatient one at the best of times, and tried too soon. The tomato aspic, freshly tipped out of its bowl, cleaved itself as if it were the Red Sea. Lesson learned. Well, maybe.

Chop chop!

Leach and others have pointed to the time-consuming nature of this type of dish as one reason why it eventually fell out of favour. I’m not surprised to read this: as I was wielding my knife I was feeling certain that, were I transported back to the the 1960s as a housewife, I would not fare well in the role. I’m realising nor will I ever be a Michelin-starred chef. I’ve diced my vegies, cooked my peas and rice (rice??), and juiced the lemon that’s not listed in the ingredients but features in the method. It’s a hot day, I’ve got my first aspic brewing, and I’m knackered.

Best to not think about being knackered when prepping gelatine…

Now things are getting tense. I have to pour a little aspic in my bowl, allow it to set a little, then artfully place my ‘garnish’ (slices of tomato and capsicum), then pour over a little more aspic.

Jusqu’ici tout va bien, as the French would say

Time for the fiddly bit, the bit everyone wanted to know about – how did I get the gherkins and carrots to stay put? It’s a game of dip the strip (in partially set aspic), stick the strip  (against the wall of the bowl at an angle), then repeat with the next.  The fun continues as you discover half are falling off, and the others aren’t doing so well at staying parallel. Come half time, your language is becoming as colourful as the salad itself.

Excuse my French

Finally, I’m reasonably satisfied with the alignment, and the rest is plain sailing. On top of the peas, I pile the seasoned rice and diced celery. I have surplus carrot and gherkin, so in they go too. Once I’ve poured over the aspic, I’ll be done. But do I mix the aspic through the ‘variety’ mix? The instructions don’t specify, and I’m not sure there will be adequate seepage through to lower layers to avoid a rice eruption when I unmould. I give it a desultory stir, then leave it as it is.

Come the big reveal, I’m nervous as. Will my salads unmould in one piece, and will anyone actually try any? It’s scary stuff.

Ta da! The agar agar version, still in its bowl on the left, pleads with gravity to help it along. Meanwhile, the gelatine has held its own.

To my great shock, both were persuaded fairly easily from their nests. The agar agar came out most cleanly, and had a beautiful sheen. It takes some time, though, to convince my workmates that they want to taste them.

The first cut is not for the squeamish

Archivist Tom eventually made the first move, and once he consumed a little and didn’t collapse, others tentatively followed suit. As we’ve learnt from reality cooking shows, nothing counts until the feedback is given. Tasters had the opportunity to submit their thoughts, anonymously or otherwise, and these, along with their facial expressions, gave me almost as much delight as the successful up-ending of my concoctions.

The aforementioned Tom declared it to be ‘very surprising, & unexpectedly good’. Jacinta, Kaitiaki Mātauranga Māori, found it ‘delightfully refreshing’. Another said ‘very tasty once you get past the texture’. Emma (Collections Assistant, Publications), had textural misgivings too, saying ‘it is like eating tomato sauce as the main meal’. Jennie, also from Publications, thought it ‘visually splendid’, but noted ‘I don’t trust food that wobbles’. Understandable – I have similar reservations.

Megan, a CA from Researcher Services deserves a special medal for summoning the courage to take the plunge, but said ‘I hope to never be that starving’. She was not a happy chappy. Others felt they’d been transported to the past – Archives Curator Anna said ‘just like Grandma used to make’. More than one staffer suggested the addition of vodka. Bloody Mary salad, anyone?

Publications Curator Pete summed it up for most of us though: ‘I can honestly say this is the best salad in aspic I have ever tasted’. And what did I think? It was a fun culinary experiment I probably wouldn’t repeat (I chose not to finish my serving), but it was far less horrific than I had imagined.

Chaos out of order

General Assistant Nick takes the last word. He said ‘visually arresting, perfect for Christmas, delicious with Emerson’s Morning Star Pale Ale’. So, what are you waiting for – get it onto your menu for Christmas dinner. It’s sure to be a memorable dish.

Sources

Australian Dictionary of Biography: Davis, Sir George Francis (1883-1947)

Leach, Helen. The Pavlova story : a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history. Dunedin, Otago University Press, 2008.

Serious Eats: A social history of Jell-o salad: The rise and fall of an American icon

 

Enquire Within

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Megan Vaughan, Library Assistant – Publications

 

Huia butter

Huia butter advertisement (edition 3, p.5)

Addressed to the householder these booklets were distributed to subscribers in the 1930s and 1940s. The content ranges from household cleaning tips to reading tea leaves.

Hocken holds 12 Dunedin editions from the 30s and 40s, as well as a 1935 Auckland edition and a 1935 Wellington edition.

About half of the content is dedicated to advertising for local businesses such as Hallensteins, and Wolfenden and Russell.

Hallensteins

Hallensteins advertisement (inside back cover of 1st edition)

While the booklets themselves are not eye-catching the content offers an interesting, and sometimes amusing, insight into the minutiae of domestic life in 1930s and 40s New Zealand.

Recipes occupy a lot of space. Instructions for cooking asparagus (boil for 20 minutes!) (ed.1, p.14), curried sardines (ed.1, p.10), parsnip and turnip wines (ed.1, p.17), stuffed lettuce (ed.5, p.28), tripe (ed.7, p.8) and rusks (ed.7, p.28) are just a few of the recipes featured.

Cooking hints complement the recipes and include being able to tell the difference between fungi and mushrooms (ed.1, p.6), how to make your jelly set quickly using methylated spirits and a draught (ed.1, p.22), how to improve your coffee with a pinch of mustard (ed.4, p.34), and how to sweeten rancid fat (ed.2, p.26) rather than throwing it away.

RS Black and Son

RS Black & Son advertisement (edition 5, p.73)

Other household hints make heavy use of vinegar, lemon juice, salt and methylated spirits. A recipe for homemade floor polish finds a use for broken gramophone records (ed.4, p.36). Eggshells thrown into the copper made clothes very white (ed.2, p.22) and rusty ovens were clearly an issue as the solution of leaving the oven door open after use was repeated in many editions (e.g. ed.12, p.28).

Health remedies include tips such as placing a scraped potato on scalds (ed.1, p.26), using sage tea for a sore throat (ed.1, p.28), smoking blue gum leaves several times a day for asthma (ed.1, p.30), and shaving warts until they bleed before applying lunar caustic (silver nitrate) (ed.1, p.30). Billiousness was treated by drinking salty water and “nerves” were improved by numerous glasses of cold water and getting out of bed earlier (and a better attitude is implied!) (all in ed.1). It was recommended invalids be protected from visitors (e.g. ed.1, p.26).

Beauty tips included “cures” for numerous complaints ranging from scurf (aka dandruff: cured with kerosene, ed.3, p.48), dry skin, and baldness, to freckles (ed.1, p.32). Much of this content was repeated without variation throughout editions.

 

United Cash Orders

United Cash Orders advertisement (back cover of 5th edition)

Etiquette for occasions such as visiting, dining out and weddings is described in great detail. The dense lists for these sections contain some conventions still familiar today such as not reaching across your neighbour at the dinner table or spitting out bits of bone onto your plate (ed.2, p.4-6). Declining a dish at a meal was acceptable, but offering a reason was not (ed.2, p.4-6). Carrying a stick into someone’s drawing room was within the realm of good manners, but wielding an umbrella or wearing an overcoat was considered impolite (ed.2, p.4-6).

Conversation brought a whole raft of dos and don’ts: the familiar rules against interrupting and whispering are listed along with the recommendation you don’t talk about yourself or your maladies, or afflictions  (ed.2, p.4-6). It was advised when telling jokes to laugh afterwards, and not before! (ed.1, p.25).

Wolfenden and Russell

Wolfenden & Russell (edition 5, p.11)

Fortune telling appears to have been popular with many editions containing hints on reading tea leaves (e.g. ed.2, p56), and large sections of many booklets were dedicated to interpreting dreams (e.g. ed.1, p.54-62). One booklet includes a section that explains mole position and your resulting fortune: for e.g. a mole on the nose means success in everything, but on the left knee indicates an indolent, thoughtless and indifferent person (ed.2, p.58).

Enquire within also offers tips for motorists, hints for fixing common radio problem, advice for gardeners, meanings of a select few given names, and guidance on the care of animals.

 

 

TE REO O TE HAUORA – TE HAUORA O TE REO

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | 1 Comment

Na,

Dr Anne Marie Jackson (Ngāti Whatua,  Te Roroa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Kahu) Lecturer – Te Kura Parawhakawai, the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences)

Jeanette Wikaira (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Pukenga, Ngāti Tamatera – Te Uare Taoka o Hakena, Hocken Collections.

TeReoOTeHauora

Every year for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori the Hocken develops a Foyer Exhibition to promote Māori collections, Māori research and Māori language. In 2015 Jeanette Wikaira and Dr Anne Marie Jackson from Te Kura Parawhakawai, the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, worked with the Hocken’s poster collection to develop Te Reo o te Hauora – Te Hauora o te Reo. This small exhibition examined Māori Health Promotion posters to plot the development of Hauora Māori, looking at the wider socio-political context from which Māori health promotion grew, from the 1950s through to more recent Māori health promotional campaigns. The display also considers how the development of Maori Health corresponds with the health of the Māori language through the increasing use to Te Reo Māori within health promotional material. From this collaboration, an online exhibition will also be developed with Te Koronga, a Māori postgraduate research excellence group within the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences.  The Hocken has digitised a collection of Māori Health Promotion posters for this project ranging from the 1950s through to the 2000s; some of which came from the University of Otago’s Smithells Gymnasium and were donated to the Hocken from the School of Physical Education.

Te Reo o te Hauora – Te Hauora o te Reo is up until August 28th.

CleanYourTeeth

ChewTheseFoods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAUORA MO NGA IWI MAORI – HEALTH PROMOTION FOR MĀORI

Historically health promotion for Māori applied generic health promotion campaigns to Māori individuals and communities. The health promotion objectives seen in the posters from the 1950s, was to promote European notions of ‘good’ health to Māori such as cleanliness and sanitation and framed within a deeply entrenched view that Māori needed to assimilate into European society in order to survive. A commonly held perception from the mid-nineteenth century through to the early twentieth century was that the Māori people, language and culture would be incapable of withstanding the progress of Western civilisation and colonisation.

MaoriActivism

KA WHAWHAI TONU MĀTOU – RESISTANCE AND ACTIVISM

Resistance and activism increasingly became strategic approaches of Māori development throughout the 1960s and 1970s. After the 1970 Young Māori Leaders Conference held at Auckland University, the first truly radical group, Ngā Tamatoa, took the issues of Māori rights into the public arena and protest action headlined across New Zealand with the Land March of 1975; the occupation of Bastion Point in 1977 and the 1978 occupation of the Raglan Golf Course. Māori activism also created proactive community projects such as a nation-wide petition for the recognition of Māori language in the education system. The petition contained 30,000 signatures seeking support for Māori language to be taught in schools. The argument over the value associated with Māori language use in a modern world was at the heart of the debate and bilingual schools and community initiated language approaches such as Te Ataarangi and Te Kohanga Reo developed in this period.NaTeMahiKaiPaipa

 

 

TEKAU TAU O TE TIPURANGA MĀORI – THE DECADE OF MĀORI DEVELOPMENT

KoTatouSelf-determination ran at the core of Māori protest in the 1960s and 1970s. This protest acted as stimulus for change and the creation of ideological space for contemporary Māori development. The decade of Māori development launched at the 1984 Hui Taumata heralded major transformations in approaches to Māori social, cultural and economic advancement. As part of the transformative process, a Māori developmental agenda was incorporated into government strategies and policies and this can be seen in the Māori health promotional material over this period. Māori health promotional material transformed radically throughout the 1980s and 1990s in comparison with previous decades.  The use of Robyn Kahukiwa’s art was instrumental in creating a visual imagery of Hauora Māori that situated Māori in the Māori world. With this new imagery and a heightened use of Te Reo Māori in the form of whakatauaki or traditional sayings, Māori health messages at this time, many of which had an anti-smoking message, were reframed from a deficit approach to a more positive and aspirational approach referring to Māori health as a taonga to be nurtured.

 

FlourishingForEverybody

HAUORA MĀORI

Hauora Māori recognises a notion of health that is framed within the parameters of a Māori worldview and requires a sound understanding of the social, economic, political, cultural and historical determinants of health among Māori people. A Māori worldview is the cultural and philosophical perspective of Māori health that maintains continuity with traditional knowledge, identity, language, customs and beliefs, along with contemporary and future focussed perspectives. In this way, Māori health is not limited to physical, mental and spiritual conditions of today. It recognises the relationship with past experience and knowledge, as well as aspirations and concerns for future generations. Māori health promotional material from the 21st Century moves some way towards reflecting Hauora Māori, in particular with the use of Te Reo Māori and the portrayal of Māori in everyday contexts. However with changes in Government funding priorities and the development of iwi Māori ability to provide Hauora services and messages directly to their communities, Māori health posters over recent years, when compared to previous decades, have taken on a mainstream approach to Māori Health promotion.

TeTinoRereketanga