A great tasting oven baked French Fry? No way!

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First, let me state for the record that I used to say that oven baked French Fries are about as appetizing as a cooked Gila Monster…YUCK!   Until I tried these!

I can’t even remember where I got this recipe from so I can’t give the credit to the rightful person. Whoever you are, thank you big time.  I grew up in Idaho and since I was old enough to exchange breast milk for spuds, I’ve been eating these things with gusto. I consider myself a true spud connoisseur.

I’ve tried cooking potatoes in every form imaginable with pleasure but one form that I’ve consistently turned my nose up at is the oven baked French Fry. They either turn out so crisp that they cut the roof of your mouth or so mushy that they mimic a mashed potato.  Well guess what? This recipe fills the bill for great tasting fries!

Now spuds are a staple for the trail cook. Tossed directly into a fire, home fries made in a skillet or even baked in a portable oven, potatoes can be cooked in numerous ways. But good tasting non-deep fried french fries have always been elusive… until now.

Try them and see for yourself. It’s all I’m asking.

Seasoning Ingredients

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into good sized pieces.

1/2 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of pepper

1/2 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

2 TBL of grated  Parmesan cheese

1 TBL of olive oil

Oddball stuff

*Lots of ice

*A big bowl

*Parchment paper lined baking pan (Not really needed but it keeps the pan from getting all messy)

*A gallon sized zip lock type storage bag

Directions for making and baking

Preheat oven to 425 degrees—– baking time will be 35 minutes (preheating is important if you’re using your portable camp oven.)

Peel and cut your potatoes into pieces a bit thicker than a McDonalds fry but not the size of a true potato wedge. Immediately place the cut fries into a bowl. Add a bunch of ice to the bowl and fill with water until the potatoes are covered. Let stand for 45 minutes to an hour to deep chill the fries. (This is important!  The combination of cold and soaking in water forces the extra starch a russet contains, out of it but leaves the sugars intact.  (In this case, you want to keep the russets sugar but not the starch.)

In a large plastic storage bag place all the dry ingredients in it including the Parmesan cheese, and shake it up until well mixed.

When your fries are done being chilled, drain off all the water and pour the fries out onto a cloth towel to absorb any remaining water. Give them a good rubbing to get them dry.

Place the chilled and now dry fries into the plastic storage bag that contains the spices and grated cheese. Do a shake and bake to get them all good and covered.

NOW, add the olive oil to the same  bag and redo the shake and bake again to make sure every fry is well coated with the oil / spice mixture.

Pour the fries onto the parchment lined baking sheet and spread them out so they don’t touch each other.

Bake until a golden brown.  (around 30 -35 minutes, begin checking at 30)

Rare pictures of french fries being made… 

Gather up your fixens

Gather up your fixens

Get your spuds in order

Get your spuds in order

cut up spuds and get 'em soaking in ice water

cut up spuds and get ’em soaking in ice water

 

prepare your baking sheet.

prepare your baking sheet.

 

Mix up your spices and grated cheese in a gallon storage bag.

Mix up your spices and grated cheese in a gallon storage bag.

 

keep your olive oil close at hand

keep your olive oil close at hand

 

place dried but chilled fries into your spice filled storage bag and do a 'shake and bake'  to 'em.

place dried but chilled fries into your spice filled storage bag and do a ‘shake and bake’ to ’em.

 

Once the fries are well coated with the seasoning, add your olive oil and man handle the bag  until every fry is well coated

Once the fries are well coated with the seasoning, add your olive oil and man handle the bag until every fry is well coated

 

Once your fries have absorbed all the spice/oil mixture, lay them out in your pan like this.

Once your fries have absorbed all the spice/oil mixture, lay them out in your pan like this.

When done baking, they should look like this.

When done baking, they should look like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pancakes… Olde vs Modern

Pancakes… 1588 style

Pancakes-1588-Making

 It seems pancakes have had little change until the mid 1800’s. In the mid 1800’s leavening agents first made the scene, thus… the fluffy pancake. But, if you desire to try out the world’s oldest known recipe for pancakes here it is. Culinary historians have converted the amounts into modern day measurements. (Historians converted the Olde English measurements into metrics and I converted metric into our American standards as best as I could)

 Below is the recipe. Notice there is no leavening used but I’m sure the unpasteurized Ale, if left overnight, might cause it to act a bit as a yeast bread. My guess it was used as a bitter agent to offset all the sugar or to curdle the cream. I may be way off base here since no one in 1588 bothered to explain why they used ale. Truthfully, I should have just drank the Ale.

Pancakes-1585

If this recipe is accurate (along with my conversions) then these folks sure loved their sugar!  English recipes sometimes leave the pallet a bit flat but gets even worse when you look at the Olde English breakfast called a flap jack! It’s nothing like our pancake. Take my advice, some recipes are better left to history.

 

Pancakes 1588 Recipe (Above recipe) converted into modern measurements

Recipe Ingredients.

  • 300ml cream (1 ¼ cups)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 175g plain flour (¾ cup)
  • 60ml ale traditional British ale (2 oz)
  • 100g sugar (7 Tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 25g butter (for frying) (2 Tablespoons)

Directions.

In a mixing bowl sift in the flour, ground cinnamon and ginger. Make a well in the center and using a spoon mix in the egg yolks. Then switch to a whisk and gradually whisk in the cream, then the sugar, then the ale, making a smooth and silky batter.

Use an 8 inch (or 20cm) non-stick frying pan (or a traditional English griddle) and for each pancake grease it lightly with a little butter – carefully wipe the surface over with a little softened butter dabbed onto a piece of kitchen paper, folded over to thicken it, keeping your fingers from the heat. For the first pancake heat the pan until the butter smokes, then turn the heat down a little.

Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of the pan, and quickly tilt the pan to and fro to spread the mixture thinly across the surface evenly. The amount of batter poured in should just coat the surface of the pan, no more.

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Now, for a much better tasting pancake try this recipe. I love the hint of vanilla found in this fluffy version.

buttermilk_pancakes_1

  If you’re trail cooking you will need an ice chest or cooler to preserve the buttermilk, sour cream etc outdoors. These pancakes end up nice and fluffy with a delicious hint of vanilla

Makes sixteen 4-inch pancakes

The pancakes can be cooked on an electric griddle or frying pan. Set the griddle temperature to 350 degrees and cook as directed. It’s best if you use a lower-protein all-purpose flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury. If you use an all purpose flour with a higher protein content, like King Arthur, you will need to add an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk. The lower the protein or gluten, the more cake like your pancakes will be.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 Tablespoonbakingpowder * see note below
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda * see note below
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar. or 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid. (citric acid is roughly four times as strong, so you have to reduce the amount used by four. If your recipe calls for a teaspoon of cream of tartar, use 1/4 teaspoon citric acid.)

Instructions

1. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar (or citric acid) and baking soda together in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla, sour cream, eggs, and melted butter. Make well in center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Whisk until combined then Allow batter to sit for a few minutes to allow leavening to begin (Bubbles will form).

2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Using paper towels, carefully wipe out oil, leaving thin film of oil on bottom and sides of pan. This insures even cooking. Using ¼ cup measure, portion batter evenly on griddle. Cook until edges are firm. When the first side is golden brown, and bubbles on the surface are beginning to break, (2 to 3 minutes) then using your spatula, flip the pancakes and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

If you wish a good recipe for homemade maple tasting syrup (Non high fructose corn syrup) you will find it within this blog under; Homemade syrups and ingredient replacements.

* Test your baking soda and baking powder once a month… here’s how

Baking soda. Place 1/2 tsp of vinegar into 1/2 cup of water and add 1/2 tsp of soda… if good it will bubble violently.

Baking powder. Place 1/2 tsp of baking powder in 1/3 of a cup of HOT water…it should bubble violently.

Using out of date ingredients is the most common reason for recipe failure!

Fool proof great tasting potato salad

While not a ‘true’ heritage recipe because I switched the mayonnaise with Miracle Whip, I don’t think my grandma would complain.

A few summers back I packed up the car to attend a family reunion on my in-laws side of the family. Being late September, the 18 hour leisurely drive up to Cincinnati Ohio was beautiful. From a marina on the Ohio River near downtown, we all boarded my brother in-laws 80 foot Pluckebaum house boat and motored westward down the river out of Ohio. The reunion was actually being held in Indiana on the Ohio River shoreline near the quaint town of Rising Sun. Across the river is gorgeous Kentucky farmland. What a setting for a 100+ person cookout. The beer flowed as freely as the conversation and snacks ranging from deer jerky to homemade chocolates were plentiful. We had arrived at the property around two in the afternoon and the cookout was set for six that evening.

Everyone had been asked to bring a covered dish. Now, I know of few dishes that will survive a 4 hour boat ride on top of an 18 hour road trip so using our trail cooking / boat skills, we made up our dish on the houseboat.

Now the houseboat has a full sized kitchen in it. I have a hard time calling the kitchen a ‘galley’ as most boats have because a floating house does not in anyway shape or form, resemble a boat. The vessel is not only eighty feet long but eighteen feet wide! That’s longer and much wider than most house trailers. Having stopped at a Kroger’s in Cincinnati, I picked up all the necessary items for the covered dish.

Earlier, I mentioned my boating skills. When I had a restaurant in the Florida Keys, I lived there on my boat. I set up the galley so that even when rough weather was up, I could still cook with ease. Cooking in the houseboat was so calm it was like cooking in my house!

Pulling out a large stainless steel stock pot I began boiling my water. Figuring ten pounds* of Red Potatoes should do about right, I whipped out my Kitchen Aide potato peeler and went to work. *(The recipe below is much smaller but will still feed from 6-8 people.)

After I completed my recipe, I kept the finished product right in the stock pot. To chill it down, I slid the pot inside a beverage refrigerator after removing all its shelves.

By six o’clock, my covered dish was perfectly chilled and waiting to be devoured.

Recipe;

1)      Wash your potatoes and place them in a pot of cold water. Cover the potatoes with at least 1 inch of water. Do not peel at this time. (peeling the potatoes prior to boiling will over saturate them with water and make them too soft.)

2)      Place 4 eggs in a pot of cold water and while uncovered, bring them to a boil.  As soon as the water begins to boil, remove the pot from the burner, cover and let stand for 17 minutes. Then pour out water and replace with ice cold water. Let stand for 1 hour. These will now peel quite easily.

3)      When potatoes are thoroughly boiled, test by piercing them. They should offer little resistance to your fork or bamboo stick.

4)      Place pot of potatoes under faucet and run cold water for 1 minute, leave it partially filled then pour in ice and set aside for 1 hour. After 1 hour your eggs and potatoes should be well chilled.

5)      When potatoes and eggs are well chilled, peel them. Normally just rubbing the skins will remove the potato skins.

6)      Slice 2 eggs into ¼ inch thick slices. Set aside as they are used later on top of the potato salad

7)      Chop into medium pieces the last two eggs and place them into a large bowl.

8)      Add these ingredients into the bowl then mix it all together;

-2 tablespoons of dill pickle juice

-1/4 cup of chopped up red onion

-one fresh celery stalk chopped into 1/8 inch thick pieces (1 tsp of celery salt may be used)

-1 tsp of paprika

-1 tsp of mustard

-1 cup of Miracle Whip

9)      Mix all ingredients together then add your potatoes and re mix it until the potatoes are well coated.

10)   Transfer the coated potatoes into a smaller bowl that you will use to serve the potato salad from

11)   Place egg slices on top covering the salad

12)   Sprinkle paprika lightly over the entire top

13)   Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until served

PHOTO’S

Wash 6-8 Red Potatoes but don’t peel until cooked and chilled.

Place 4 eggs in a pan and bring to a boil uncovered. Once it reaches boiling, remove from burner, cover and let stand for 17 minutes.

Bring spuds to a boil. until done.

To rest doneness. Pierce spud with fork or bamboo stick. I slide mine in on an angle until it reaches past the center. There should be only minor resistance felt.

When eggs have sat for 17 minutes, place pan in sink and fill with cold water. Pour ice in pan top thoroughly chill eggs. When cold, they will easily peel.

Cool spuds down the same way you cooled the eggs

let eggs and spuds cool for an hour then drain and peel both.

Slice spuds to desired size. Mine are bigger than most folks like… I like the taste of potatoes!

Slice all your eggs about 1/4 inch in thickness

Chop two eggs into smaller pieces to mix in with the spuds but leave two in slices for the topping.

In a bowl, add your ingredients including the chopped up eggs but don’t include the potatoes yet.

Mix all ingredients into the eggs and celery.

Add your spuds into the egg mix and fold them into the mix until well coated.

Decorate the top with the reserved egg slices and sprinkle with a fine layer of paprika.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat!

Oatmeal cookies from the early 1900’s

In a past blog I mentioned my cousin who still lives on one of the family homesteads in Idaho. Being the family’s unofficial family historian, she is by default the recipient of many of the family keepsakes. Old photo’s, letters and passed down recipes make up just part of this treasure. She was the one who provided, among others I will someday post, the recipe I posted on my grandmothers homemade bread.

Knowing my love of cooking and wishing to help me in my sharing of heritage recipes, she took the time to email me each recipe she thought I would like. One of them was my Grandmothers recipe for oatmeal cookies. It was given to her by her counterpart, my Ohio Grandmother, on my Moms side of the family during a visit to Idaho in 1947.

On the reverse side of the recipe written in her hand was this notation concerning the origin of the recipe. It read;

“When lois and Vern came back to Jerome after they were married, Helen and Jack came back with them to visit us. Helen made these cookies for us during their stay and they were very good tasting. Seeing how much we all enjoyed eating them, she left me this recipe. She told me it is from a cook book that came with a gas oven she had purchase when her home was built. I do not put the table sugar or broken chocolate pieces in because Hamblin thinks the cookies are too sweet and he does not want the children to come down with worms”

(Lois and Vern are my Parents, Jerome was the farm in Idaho I was raised on, Helen and Jack are my Moms parents and Hamblin was my father’s father.)

I figure this recipe is probably from the turn of the century since my Ohio Grandparents house was built in 1917. It makes sense that the house would have been outfitted with a new gas stove as gas for lighting and cooking was available to them back then and the brand of stove was popular.

I have no idea how much ‘table sugar’ or ‘broken chocolate pieces’ she left out but I think I would agree with my grandfather Hamblin that these cookies are sweet enough without the added sugar. If you differ, add a ¼ cup and see what they taste like. I do add ¾ cup of Ghirardelli dark chocolate morsels though. I suggest you adjust it from there and the worms be damned!

I was really surprised to see that no butter was used in her recipe. Instead it calls for oil (remember, the recipe originated in Cleveland Ohio). During WWl, butter and cream became scarce and expensive in the cities and this was probably reflected in the baking recipes of the day. Milk was still available.    Conversely, in the rural countryside, many people still owned a dairy cow and made their own butter, cream and milk and were not as affected as their city living counterparts. I suspect the oil used in the recipe was the popular cotton seed or recently invented corn oil. All this may explain the absence of butter in the recipe since the cookbook was included with the purchase of a Cleveland Ohio stove manufacturer’s product. (American Stove Company, now called Magic Chef).

Ingredients #1; (mix these together well using a mixer)

1 cup of packed brown sugar (to make your own brown sugar, read my earlier post on pancake syrup)

1/4 Cup of granulated cane Sugar to taste  (optional) I would suggest starting with 1/4  of a cup and go from there.

2 large fresh eggs

1/2  cup of milk

3/4  cup of oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Ingredients #2; (combine these in a bowl then add them to the other ingredients then mix well)

3 cups of flour

2  teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2  teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

2 1/2 cups of rolled oats (oatmeal)

3/4 cup of chocolate morsels

Directions;

In your mixing bowl combine brown sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Use beaters to mix well. (I use an electric stand mixer) Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir into the batter. Stir in the oats. (Add chocolate morsels and table sugar if desired at this point.)

Let stand for 10 minutes. Drop a heaped tablespoon of cookie mix onto greased baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove immediately to cool. 

Makes about 3 dozen.

It started out as 3 dozen but by the time I took this photo (20 minutes later) I was left with only about half of them!

A delicious Almond nut meal bread!

On my previous post, I had you making your own almond milk. At the very end of the recipe I told you, DO NOT THROW OUT THE ALMOND MEAL! This is why.

Almond meal can easily replace Whole wheat flour in many recipes.

I altered the recipe found in “My grandmothers recipe for whole wheat bread” (in a previous post on my blog), except this time, I removed the whole wheat flour and replaced it with Almond nut meal from making my last gallon of almond milk and used almond milk instead of whole milk.

This recipe will use 1 1/2 cups of almond nut meal.

I mentioned in my almond milk post that this nut meal is gluten free. That means you can use this in recipes not requiring yeast. Some ideas are banana bread and cookies. If you come up with your own recipes that worked let me know and I’ll make up a batch for everyone to know about here.

I want to say something about the latest fad in diets…. Going gluten free.

Years ago I was in the medical field. Many of my patients were those were diagnosed with Celiac sprue and other auto immune diseases. Celiac sprue is a disease that affects the small intestine hindering the absorption of nutrients. Those of you that have been diagnosed with Celiac sprue know that the treatment consist of a lifetime of abstinence of any gluten found in the Triticeae family of grains. This is a very difficult diet to follow. I would wish it on no one.

Let me be clear, Celiac sprue is NOT a wheat allergy but is a genetically inherited auto immune disease. An allergy to wheat products is a whole other ball game DO NOT confuse the two! If you have digestive concerns due to gluten, get tested. Do not self treat!

My reason for bringing this up is this.

Going gluten free will also leave you with a diet that is severely lacking in calcium, vitamin D, folate, niacin and iron. You should be under a Doctors* supervision on this diet even if you do not have Celiac sprue. If you are pregnant, tell your Doctor that you are eating a gluten free and have your Doctor prescribe supplemental diet therapy to prevent your newborn from having nutritionally derived birth defects.

By trying to eat as if you had Celiac sprue, your body could be as nutritionally starved as if you truly did have Celiac sprue! This is not a diet to play around with. If you do not have Celiac sprue, I would highly advise skipping this one.

Note* I have to side with the medical field on this, not health nutritionist. There are serious consequences to a gluten free diet that effect organ and bone function that are way out of a nutritionist scope of training. Please, DO YOUR RESEARCH.

But folks, the big reason you’re hearing so much today about going gluten free is an age old reason…money!

Every few years, those producing products for the ‘health’ industry roll out a few new reasons you need to change your eating habits. We’ve been hit with, vitamin A,B,C,D, X,Y and Z. Then came the attack on sugar which gave us a myriad of substitutes including High Fructose Corn syrup. Sea salt verses table salt, brown rice verses wild verses Uncle Bens. Good Lord, the list goes on and on and on.  As long as you keep chasing after each new miracle diet, the health industry keeps raking in the bucks!

Domino’s Pizza now offers a gluten-free pizza, (for an extra 3 dollars), Frito Lay is offering more than a dozen gluten-free chip products and even Michelob came out with an Ultra Light Cider that’s gluten-free. It’s all about the money!

Folks, my grandparents lived a long, long life. They worked hard and ate well. They were western State farmers. When they passed, it was determined they died of…Old Age!

Many of my heritage recipes come from my grandma. While I’ve been leaning more and more to the vegetarian side of eating, I am still  doing so with my eyes wide open! I am not one to delve into fad diets. They come, they go.

Now, back to the darn recipe!

The recipe below is one that contains nut meal instead of whole wheat. You may ask, why replace the nutritionally superior whole wheat and not the high gluten flour?  Gluten!

In order for bread dough to rise it needs gliadin, a prolamin protein called gluten to react with the yeast. These proteins bind to each other causing the dough to not only rise, but it adds flexibility to the bread. Without it, the bread would crumble into pieces when you slice it.

The ratio of high gluten flour (bread flour) to almond nut meal is close to 2:1. This gives just enough nutty taste to the loaf but not too much.

Try this recipe using the almond nut meal from making your almond milk. It is truly delicious!

2 ½ cups of high gluten flour (standard bread flour found on your grocery shelf works fine

1 ½ cups of almond nut meal

3 Tablespoons of sugar. Divide by setting aside 1 tablespoon of sugar to rise yeast

1 ½ teaspoon of salt

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

1 Tablespoon of dark Karo syrup

2 teaspoons of yeast

1 egg yolk

6 oz  of almond milk heated till very warm

Directions

In your electric mixer’s bowl with dough hook, combine and mix together on low, flour and nut meal, salt, and 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

In a smaller bowl combine 6 oz of very warm milk, Karo syrup, melted butter, egg yolk, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of yeast. Mix well with a fork and let stand until bubbles begin to form showing that the yeast is activated.

In your dry ingredient mixing bowl (flour, nut meal salt, sugar), create a low spot in the center and begin to add the wet ingredients while the mixer is on low speed. Add the entire wet mixture until dough begins to form into a soft spongy ball but not outright sticky. (add water or extra flour as needed ) After mixing for a few minutes, dough should not stick to your fingers when touched but should feel damp. Knead dough for 10 minutes using the electric mixer. After well kneaded, the ball of dough should feel very spongy. Remove dough and place on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand 10 to 15 times forming it into a ball. Place dough ball into a large greased bowl to rise. When dough is doubled in size, remove and press down lightly to deflate the dough ball. Shape into a loaf and place it into a greased bread pan, let rise until ½ inch higher than lip of pan.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees now.

When dough is risen to the desired height, poke holes along the top of the center at 2” intervals no deeper than 1/4″ with a tooth pick to let gas build up escape while rising in the oven. Brush the top of the loaf of bread with almond nut milk and place onto middle oven rack in the center. Set a timer for 35 minutes.

Remove when done ( it should sound hollow when thumped) and brush once again the top with a coat of nut milk.

Wait a few minutes after coating the top, then remove the loaf from the pan and cover with a towel to prevent it from losing its moisture while it cools. When completely cooled, place in a plastic bag or bread container to preserve freshness.

A heritage idea that is making a big comeback… Homemade almond milk!

In my last trip to the Library in Fort Pierce (No, Google doesn’t know everything!), I ran across a story of a family that settled the area I live in. The story begins well before and continues sometime after the Civil War.Inside the book was not only a history of what settlers went through but contained such things as how to make a mosquito broom out of palm fronds, recipes and other little known tidbits.

I like scouring through old stories because they are a goldmine of Heritage Recipe information. I was fascinated reading how after the railroad arrived, ice blocks became available and how such a simple thing we take for granted today, revolutionized their lives down here (what would they have done if they had air conditioning?) . Before the coming of ice, the heat and humidity down here in Florida would render most fresh food to a state of spoilage overnight. That definitely included fresh milk!

Cattle here were called ‘Cracker Cows’ and they are the oldest of all breeds here in the United States. That and the wild boar were the meat staples for the time. The Spanish brought the cattle here in the 1500’s. Here, as they were in Spain, the breed was a gentle and social breed having a desire to stay close to humans. The only problem was, the cattle loved the taste of our Saw Palmetto and Sago Palm brush.  In order to round up the cattle, this meant rooting the cattle out from this near impenetrable vegetation. Because the cattle were so gentle, the Spanish found that by cracking their whips over the tops of the brush, the cattle would think they were being attacked and head out into the open to defend themselves. Never was the actual cow whipped. While the cattle loved eating this growth, it was also home to panthers, wild boars and bears. The cattle knew better than to try and defend itself against a predator within the confines of the brush, so out into the open they’d come.

After the Spanish left Florida due to British insistence, they left behind vast herds of Cracker Cattle. Our early settlers here soon discovered these cattle freely roaming around and found by using their whips they could control the cattle as the Spanish did . These cowboys were America’s first true cattle cowboys and acquired the name “Cracker Cowboys” from the sound of their whips. Their specially bred and trained horses became known as “Cracker Horses” and are still being bred today.

But this is not a story of Cracker Cattle but one of milk… or actually, the lack of it.

Before ice, cow and goat milk had to be drank or used in baking while it was still fresh. There was no saving it for another day. Spoiled milk not only tasted bad but was a perfect medium for bacterial and germ growth. Milk was needed in emergencies for babies and in everyday baking. So what was a mother to do?

The answer was growing in right front of their noses. Nuts…or rather, nut milk!

The South is famous for its nut trees but long before Christ was walking about, the Mideastern countries were making milk from almonds. Later, returning soldiers from the Crusades brought the concept of nut milk back to England and France with them. From there all of Europe and eventually the United States were turning almonds into a delicious drink that would still be drinkable a day later.

In my library trip, I discovered many folks down here had substituted nut milk for that of cows milk. In fact, two early Cracker recipes I ran across actually listed nut milk in their ingredients. Early Crackers lived a very frugal and sparse lifestyle. If you Google them they are a fascinating people.  Contrary to the popular belief of some writers, the Cracker is still alive and well. They still ride Cracker horses, raise Cracker cattle and have a language that is able to travel long distances through the high brush. It consist of whistles and hoots that few outsiders know about. I personally know this to be true because I lived along side of them as friends and neighbors when I lived in the Everglades just south of Lake Okeechobee.

So why am I putting a recipe for nut (Almond) milk in my Heritage and trail cooking blog? Because it more than many other recipes is a true Heritage recipe! I later learned that many of our early American settlers and pioneers made their own nut milk. With the advent of refrigeration and pasteurized milk, nut milks lost favor for that of convenience.

An added bonus is after making your milk, you are left with what is called Almond Meal. Almond Meal is Gluten free and will take the place of whole wheat flour in most any baking recipe. I’ll add a photo of it below at the end of this post.

I’m giving you a recipe that makes  over (3) three quarts. This amount last me about a week. I will also give the recipe for 1 quart below the 3 quart one.

Note; You must soak the almonds overnight in water to soften and hydrate (swell) them .

Fill to 1 inch over almonds. Change the water a couple of times. Drain completely before putting almonds into blender.

Ingredients; (for making 3 quarts)

2 cups of raw and shelled almonds (they will swell to over 3 cups after soaking)

3 cups of water for each cup soaked and swelled  almonds (makes 9 cups of milk)

2 Tablespoons of honey

1 Tablespoon of light corn syrup

1 teaspoon of vanilla

½ teaspoon of salt

Ingredients for 1 quart;

1 cup of raw shelled almonds (they will swell to almost 1 1/2 cups after soaking)

3 cups of water

½ Tablespoon of honey

1/2 Tablespoon of light corn syrup

1/4 to ½ teaspoon of vanilla

 ¼ teaspoon of salt

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You will also need.

1 measuring cup

A cheesecloth or large dish towel

A colander

A large 4 quart pot

A spatula

A clean milk jug or 1 gallon pitcher with a lid

A funnel

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I purchase a 3 pound bag from a big box store here for under $9. I get about 3 gallons to a 3 pound bag. That brings the cost down to less than a dollar a quart.

There is not a lot of ingredients needed

Directions;

Note, your almonds have swelled after soaking. For the single cup, use the entire amount, for the 3 quart amount, divide your almonds into three separate amounts.

Set up your Pot, colander and filter cloth as in the picture below.

In a blender, pour in the desired amount of soaked almonds and fill with 3 cups of water then blend on high for 2 ½ minutes.

Pour blended nuts into filter cloth. (your colander will tend to have its center holes get plugged up by the almond meal filled cloth. Place a spoon between the cloth and the colander bottom to allow drainage. )

When fairly drained, pull up the sides of the cloth without spilling any meal into the colander and twist until a ball filled with almond meal is formed. Squeeze the ball tightly until no more milk seeps from it. Save the almond meal!

Repeat this process until all almonds have been blended and turned into milk.

Remove cloth and colander.

Stir the Honey, Corn Syrup, Vanilla and salt into the pot of milk

 I pasteurize my almond milk, it’s easy and makes for a safe bacteria and germ free drink.

(Heat milk over low heat.  145 degrees for 30 minutes. Stirring often. Do not boil or heat above 145 degrees)

To pasteurize; 145 degrees for 30 minutes

Pour hot contents into a BPA free pitcher or jug and refrigerate immediately. When chilled its as good as any that’s store bought !

Remember, this is a natural product with no added  artificial homogenizing agents in it, so over time some settling will occur. Before using, stir or shake container lightly to remix its contents evenly.

Sometimes after pasteurizing almond milk, you will find it has become thick (thicker than whole milk) in its consistency. To thin it down without losing any flavor, simply add cold clean water to it in small amounts until you find your desired taste and consistency.  By pasteurizing your milk, its taste also becomes more creamy than water like. Remember, do NOT  exceed 145 degrees as it will definitely thicken! Many online recipes skip the process of pasteurization so it’s up to you whether or not to pasteurize.  I pasteurize all of mine because I live in South Florida where there is a multitude of air born bacteria, yeast and fungi due to the high heat and humidity. Try it both ways and see which suits your taste best:)

Don’t throw it away! The left over Almond meal is a great Gluten free substitute for whole wheat flour!!! I freeze mine in marked 3 cup bags.

100 years ago, ‘Heritage’ meant this…

Do you ever wonder how typical life was during the time that many of todays ‘Heritage recipes’ were derived from?

Below is a compilation of  humorous and sometimes eye opening facts of the American life 100 years ago.

The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.

Fuel for a 1911 car was sold in drug stores only.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour.

The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

The Five leading causes of death were:

1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars…

The population of Las Vegas , Nevada , was only 30!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet.

There was neither a Mother’s Day nor a Father’s Day.

It was determined that the San Fransisco earthquake was caused by the city using too much electricity. “An imbalance was created between the negative and positive charges within in the ether and earth”.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

The average work week consisted of a 6 day workweek at 50 hrs.

The typical home cooked on wood or coal burning stoves.

Kerosene began to replace whale oil in indoor oil lamps.

The deceased were still being ‘viewed with dignity’ at home in their own parlor.

Photographs of family members sitting alongside the ‘posed’ deceased in living rooms was common.

1 in 10 babies died before reaching the age of 1 year.

It would be another 40 years for American homes with indoor plumbing to reach 50%.

Penicillin had not been invented yet. Mercury was being used to cure STD’s. Bloodletting and leeches were commonly used to release bad blood.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at home .

Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as “substandard.”

Many ‘Rural Doctors’ received their training under an ‘experienced’ Doctor who himself was self taught. Many an ‘experienced Doctor’s’ only education was that of attending a medical seminar in physiology and anatomy or being a ‘remover of limbs’ (Saw bones) during the Civil War.

The medical community debated whether women were capable of reaching sexual climax. It was determined by a medical consortium held in Chicago that the idea was ‘ludicrous’. “While we (Doctors) are convinced women can feel pain and pressure, there are no pleasure nerves located with the female vagina needed to produce a pleasurable climax. Only the penis is capable of that.”

Women were strongly encouraged by their doctors to have their vagina’s “medically stimulated” (hysterical paroxysm) by the latest electrical medical intravaginal vibrators in the treatment of Female Hysteria. These “medical devises” were used during  pelvic exams in the privacy of an office visit. Symptoms of Female Hysteria included, sexual desire, heavy breathing, uncontrolled whimpering, screaming, signs of  irritability and the tendency to ’cause trouble’. Note to readers; ( and then they charged her for the visit!)

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores.

Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, Regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health!”

Ailments included of the day included, catarrh (sinus infections), consumption (tuberculosis) dropsy (edema or swelling) and grippe (a cold). Suppliers offered everything from balms to pennyroyal pills. Otto’s Cure and Paine’s Celery Compound were among the alleged cure-alls.

Consider the warning of Dr. J.K. Kellogg, which appeared front page on March 24. “We will all soon be idiots or insane” topped the article. The doctor made a plea for “vegetarianism,” saying that “feeding men with meat is like feeding a steam engine with coal made of stone.”

Kellogg suggested more healthy libations. “Many people today are habitually intoxicated on tea,” the article reported him saying. “There is more poison in a single cup of tea than an entire glass of beer.”  Note to reader; (I’ve been telling my wife that for years!)

He warned humans will sink into oblivion without reform. The number of degenerates, insane people, imbeciles and lunatics was increasing, according to the doctor. In 1849, there were 600 of these among 1.5 million people. In 1899, there were 1,800, he said.

Women could not vote for another 9 years.

There was no income tax.

Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help …..

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE country!

It was the year the Philippines revolted against U.S. rule, so readers frequently found dispatches from Manila on the front page. America’s war with Spain was over, but Havana still was a hotbed for headlines. Yellow fever was in the South.

Helen Keller was setting bicycle records. On May 24, The Herald reported she traveled – in tandem – 28 miles without stopping. The trip took two hours and 34 minutes. “Ms. Keller persists in riding fast and is quite indignant when either a halt or a slow pace is called for,” the article stated.

Local education control over State control was considered paramount. As the paper reported, “the standard of intelligence in Washington County is probably unexcelled by any other community, the United States or World.”

This made front page news; “Kenney, aged about 23 years, who has been simple minded for some time, yesterday became violently insane on the street,” the article stated. Before Kenney could be “taken in hand,” he knocked another person down and threatened several lives.

In Washington County, the free library was only a proposal that prominent community leaders touted. Williamsport chose electric lights over street lamps in a March election. Residents cast 804 votes.

A plan to bring a baseball team to Hagerstown have excited residents there.

The first film ever made by a Hollywood studio was completed in the fall.

The famous French chef, Julia Child was born.

THANKFULLY, AT LEAST A FEW THINGS HAVE CHANGED!!!