settlement cookbook

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A few years ago I was shopping at a used bookstore in Brandon, Manitoba. I stumbled across a cookbook and the first thing that caught my attention was the author’s name: Mrs. Simon Kander. I thought it quite peculiar. I picked it up and a little insert suggesting recipes for entertaining at bridge games fell to the floor. The title of the book was The way to a man’s heart… The Settlement Cookbook I was tickled pink.
I paid the store clerk the $15 dollars for the book and walked away with a book that I thought represented the history of women’s existence. Previously reduced to a formal married name on a cookbook filled with basic recipes and life skills such as hosting dinner parties and basic cleanliness.
Until very recently, it sat in my kitchen serving as an item of discussion for anyone who stumbled across it. Some time back, I pulled it out to show Nick. We had a good chuckle about its contents and even the measurements (Honestly, what is a quart or a pint?!) Then my curiosity got the better of me. This was not the first edition of the book. Who was Mrs. Simon Kander and what was all this about?
So I consulted Wikipedia.
As it turned out, the author’s name is Lizzie Black Kander.
She was the wife of a wealthy real estate developer – so that sufficiently explained why she was published as Mrs. Simon Kander. As for the multiple editions of the Settlement Cookbook, there was a method to the madness.
Kander was involved with a Settlement House in Milwaukee. After working as a truancy officer, she saw the struggles of newcomers to America assimilating into the culture. Especially the less wealthy newcomers. After working with some other women to provide basic necessities, such as clothing, to America’s newcomers, she and her colleagues came to realize helping newcomers was about more than providing clothing.
There was a serious need to provide the skills needed to adapt to life in the United States.
They started a settlement house. Kander served as president and also taught cooking classes.
After a while, they came to realize they needed a more stable source of income to keep the Settlement House running. Their board of directors refused to pay the $18 to publish the Settlement Cookbook, so Kander approached a printer who agreed to print the book, which was supported with advertising revenue.
After funding the settlement for nine years, the proceeds of the book allowed the settlement to grow to a new location as well as the establishing of a Jewish Community Centre.
None of the women involved with the Settlement House accepted pay until 1917. Kander didn’t accept a royalty from book sales until 1921. These women did this for the sake of helping immigrants.
In short, this cookbook has a history far richer than I could have imagined. While its title is still hilarious to me, it sold 2 million copies and helped countless immigrants settle into America with some much needed supports.
In light of today’s political climate, this seems somehow ironic. The concept of “making America great again” by reverting to what – this? A place where a bunch of women help immigrants who practice a different faith settle into their new home? Funny how items like this in history can really alter that “slogan”.
I have a completely renewed interest in this cookbook. It’s no longer just the cheeky little book in my kitchen. I’ve got dinner in the oven made right from this book. The recipes offer incredible insight into how people ate in the early 1900’s. It’s completely insightful to how trends in the kitchen have shifted – we definitely don’t cook the same today. If you happen to see a copy of one of the various editions, absolutely don’t hesitate to scoop it up. It’s worth it to own a little piece of history – both American and culinary.

caramelized carrot soup, etc.

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parsnip & apple variation

We recently made up some soups in the pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you’re missing out. It may be one of the single most useful items we have in the little kitchen. If you catch one on sale, be sure to take advantage! These recipes came from Modernist Cuisine, which seems to be a favourite of ours – especially when it comes to challenging ourselves with new techniques and methods.
I would love to tell you these soups are a labour of love and take hours. They don’t. They taste like they had a lot of thought put into them, but they don’t. They’re simple recipes with minimal ingredients and they pack a major flavour punch!

Special Equipment

  • Immersion Blender
  • Pressure Cooker (at least 5.7 litres)

Caramelized Carrot Soup

Ingredients

  • Carrots – 500g
  • Unsalted Butter – 133g
  • Baking Sode – 3.5g
  • Water – 30g
  • Carrot Juice (fresh or Boathouse Carrot Juice) – 660g
  • Unsalted Butter OR *Carotene Butter – 40g
  • *Thyme – 4g (to garnish)
    *Optional

Method

  1. Peel and quarter carrots. Remove any large cores. Lightly coat with baking soda.
  2. Melt unsalted butter in pressure cooker.
  3. Add coated carrots to pressure cooker, mixing with melted butter. Add Water.
  4. Bring to pressure and cook for 28 minutes at 12 PSI shaking every 7 minutes to ensure carrots do not stick.
  5. De-pressurize and blend carrots to a puree. Pass through a sieve to a clean pot.
  6. Pass Carrot Juice (fresh or boathouse) through a sieve into puree and warm.
  7. *Add Carotene Butter or Unsalted Butter to soup mixing with immersion blender. (We made carotene butter. By we I mean Nick)
  8. Garnish with Thyme. Serve.

Variations

Carrot-Ginger

  • Replace 5g of carrots with Fresh Ginger Root.

Apple- Parsnip (pictured above)

  • Substitute for Carrots:
    • 200g Honey Crisp Apples peeled, cored, and cut into 6 cm strips
    • 300g Parsnips quartered into 6cm strips with large cores removed.
  • Substitute for Carrot Juice:
    • 660g Chicken Stock
  • Substitute for 40g Carotene Butter or Unsalted Butter
    • 40g browned butter
  • Garnish with apple peel roll and crowns made of parsnip flowers

 

raspberry lemonade cupcakes

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Recently, I made some lemon cupcakes complete with raspberry buttercream icing. When you decide to work with your buttercream, there is always the possibility of it going horribly awry. I knew I wanted to work with raspberries, I didn’t want to use any artificial colours, and that I couldn’t live with any seed material in my frosting. As much as it would offer a sense of authenticity, it would completely destroy the smooth consistency of my recently mastered buttercream icing.
Fast forward past a few days of Internet research and discussions at home and I ended up making myself a raspberry reduction from frozen raspberries and adding it to my buttercream atop lemon cupcakes.
While I think the buttercream could of had a touch more raspberry in it for both flavour and colour, I would still consider this round successful. The Raspberry Lemonade cupcakes were all well-received and thoroughly enjoyed. The surprisingly refreshing raspberry flavor matched well with the lemon cupcake. Granted, I would like to repeat this whole recipe. As I said, I would have liked to have been left with more raspberry reduction and I used all purpose flour in my cupcakes. The gluten content wasn’t quite correct. Wile delicious, it was a heavier cupcake than I would have liked.
I’ve decided the recipe into icing and cupcake. I would, however, recommend starting this process with the raspberry reduction. If you start the process with the reduction, you will have plenty of time for it to cool while you prepare the cupcakes and complete the first steps of the icing preparation.

Special Equipment

  • Hand mixer with whisk attachment or stand mixer with whisk attachment and paddle attachment
  • Icing bags with large star icing tip
  • Fine mesh Sieve
  • Cupcake Papers (foil preferred)

Raspberry icing

Ingredients

  • Salted Butter – 1/2 cup (115g)dsc_1186
  • Shortening – 1/2 cup (95g)
  • Icing Sugar – 4 cups (480g)
  • Milk – 2-3 tbsp (30 -45 ml)*
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • Frozen Raspberries- 2 cups**
  • Lemon Juice – 3 tbsp

*I used lactose-free milk and you can use water in substitute.
**I used 1.5 cups of frozen raspberries.

Method

  1. Add lemon juice and raspberries to sauce pan. Heat while constantly stirring, breaking raspberries up. Reduce by approximately 80%.
  2. Pass raspberry reduction through a sieve to remove any seed material. Should yield approximately 1/4 cup of reduction.
  3. Cool reduction to room temperature. (Hint – if you make the reduction in advance of the cupcakes, your reduction will have plenty of time to cool)
  4. Combine butter and shortening with mixer until smooth.
  5. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, continue mixing until smooth.
  6. Add vanilla extract and measured to milk and mix until smooth.
  7. Add fully cooled raspberry reduction from steps 1 -3
  8. Add remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix. The mixture will be smooth, but heavy.
  9. Add additional milk/water by the tablespoon while mixing until desired consistency is achieved. Mix each tablespoon before adding any additional liquid.*

*I added about 3 tablespoons of milk.

Lemon cupcakes

Ingredients

  • Cake Flour – 1.5 cups + 2 tbsp
  • Baking Powder – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Sour Cream (Full Fat) – 1/2 cup
  • Milk – 1/2 cup*
  • Eggs – 2 large (room temperature)
  • Unsalted Butter – 1 stick (4 ounces) (melted)
  • Granulated Sugar – 1 cup
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • Juice of one medium lemon (aprox 2.5 tbsp)

*I used 2% lactose-free milk.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)/ 177 (C)
  2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub zest into sugar until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Set aside.
  4. In a large measuring cup or batter bowl, combine sour cream, milk, and egg. Mix well. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl or stand mixer (using paddle attachment) beat sugar from step 2 with melted butter until well combined. (apron. 2 minutes) Add lemon juice and mix for another minute at medium speed.
  6. Slowly add flour mixture from step 3 to combination from step 5. Beat until just combined.
  7. Add dairy and egg mixture from step 4 to mixture from step 6. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
  8. Divide cupcake batter evenly into lined cupcake pan. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed clean.
  9. Allow cupcakes to cool on a cooling rack and ice with raspberry icing when completely cool.

buttercream icing

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Baking is not something that happens often in the little kitchen. We’re not particularly skilled in that department. There are a couple of things I do well – pecan pie and tea biscuits mostly – but the rest I am painstakingly average at.There is a lemon meringue pie that was once made for Nick’s birthday. It will be remembered as an epic non-setting meltdown with really beautiful meringue made from a week of research on the subject. Also to be remembered by old friends is the marble cake meltdown of 2009.
While I’ve had a couple of meltdowns that have effectively ended my relationships with the instigating desserts, every now and then, I get on a baking kick and I get a little better at it. There’s also been some serious conversations about bread-making in the little kitchen recently as there is an upcoming Modernist Cuisine cookbook focusing on the subject. We’re really considering getting better at baking.
Most recently, I tackled the task of mastering buttercream icing. I’ve never enjoyed my own icing. I’ve always found something about it I dislike. But this works. It’s especially handy since I moved 30 hours away from my buttercream connection. I’m kind of on my own with icing now.
I discovered icing recipes often include lard. For my own health, I can’t be trusted to have the knowledge to make lard delicious. I sought a recipe that used an alternative to lard. The other popular option are shortening and butter, both of which leave you with taste and texture issues. Alas, I stumbled upon a post on Life, Love and Sugar and it’s exactly what I was looking for – half salted butter for the buttery taste and half shortening. Thankfully, somebody did the leg work to find the balance I was hoping for. #grateful I absolutely cannot wait to convert this to chocolate, mint, and all the other good extract flavours.

Special Equipment

  • Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer with whisk attachments

Ingredients

  • Salted Butter – 1/2 cup (115g)
  • Shortening – 1/2 cup (95g)
  • Icing Sugar – 4 cups (480g)
  • Milk – 2-3 tbsp (30 -45 ml)*
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

*I used lactose-free milk and you can use water in substitute.

Method

  1. Combine butter and shortening with mixer until smooth.
  2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, continue mixing until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla extract and measured to milk and mix until smooth.
  4. Add remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix. The mixture will be smooth, but heavy.
  5. Add additional milk/water by the tablespoon while mixing until desired consistency is achieved. Mix each tablespoon before adding any additional liquid.*

*At this stage, I also added the slightest touch of vanilla with the additional milk. I added about 3 tablespoons of milk.

Any additional icing should be stored in the fridge and can also be frozen for short periods of time.

 

lazy beans

There are  a lot of benefits to consuming beans. They’re a complex carb rich with fibre, antioxidants, and vitamins and they’re the cheapest source of protein you could possibly find. Why aren’t we all eating way more of these bad boys? I presume it has something to do with now knowing what to do with them. Honestly, what do you do with beans?
Often, I stare at the stash of canned and bagged whatevers we keep in the back hallway. The apocalyptic supply of legumes and various other items all awaiting the day when fresh food is no longer available. I wonder why we’re not eating those so-good-for-you beans. The rest, I am saving for the apocalypse. But the beans – why should those little gems go to waste? They last forever, but WHY am I just letting them collect dust when they are so good for me?
So we’ve committed to eating more beans.
Thus far, we bring you the two laziest bean ideas to have ever graced the internet. We have plans to engage you with more complicated beans. It’s a work in progress, here, so bare with us.

Lazy Brown Beans

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Ingredients:

  • Canned Brown Baked Beans – we have a  strong preference for the Bush’s Vegetarian because they don’t taste like syrup or pork.
  • Dry mustard

 

Instructions:

  1. Open can and empty into saucepan.
  2. Add dry mustard to taste.
  3. Revel at the remarkable improvement in a canned baked bean.

 

Less Lazy But Still Pretty Lazy Mixed Beans

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Ingredients:

  • Canned Mixed Beans (2 cups) – the 540 mL cans should do the trick!
  • Onions (2 whole)
  • Pepper (to taste)

 Instructions:

  1. Cut onions. Julienne is recommended.
  2. Caramelize onions (about 15 minutes)
  3. Add canned beans to caramelized onions. Reduce heat and warm beans for approximately 4-5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with pepper.

balsamic brown sugar carrots

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These carrots are stupid easy and I’m betting you have the ingredients in your kitchen right now. And be honest – you’ve probably got some carrots overdue to be cooked.
This side has never disappointed when I’ve served it. You don’t boil the carrots, so you don’t lose flavour and the glaze and tarragon beautifully compliments the sweet and full carroty goodness.
This is a dish that is easily completed with a number of different carrots. I’ve completed this bad boy with heirloom carrots, parsnips, and the regular orange garden variety. Its worked every single time. My only recommendation with using a variety of carrots is to watch the cook times. Some heirloom or parsnip varieties take a touch longer to cook. Your options are to begin cooking them in advance or cut them to smaller sizes than the carrots that will cook quicker.

Ingredients:dsc_0964

  • Balsamic Vinegar (1 tbsp + 1 tsp)
  • Brown Sugar (2 tbsp)
  • Tarragon (to garnish/add to taste)
  • Olive Oil (1 tbsp)
  • Carrots (7-10)

Method:

  1. Slice carrots to desired size.
  2. Add oil to frying pan and heat to medium temperature on stovetop.
  3. Fry carrots until cooked. Regularly stir and do not add water.
  4. Mix balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.
  5. Pour mixture form Step 4 on cooked carrots.
  6. Top with a sprinkling of tarragon leaves.

 

Pairs well with most meals, especially fall and winter dishes.

 

the life-changing chicken method

dsc_0976We’ve recently attempted to master the art of cooking a chicken. While we can’t take credit for the method – that came to us from Modernist Cuisine At Home (page 237-41) – we are going to go ahead and take credit for this particular chicken.
This is not a recipe to toss together for a quick after-work meal. This divine chicken took a few steps and more than 24 hours. In fact, the timing from start to finish is closer to 30 hours.
To begin, you have to disregard absolutely everything you thought was necessary to cook poultry. Everything you think of when you think of roasting a bird is the opposite of this experience. There is no smell of roasting chicken wafting in the air. There is no pulling it out of the oven to baste. There is no cooking at 325 degrees for X number of hours per kilogram.

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What you will do is brine a chicken, cook it to a specific temperature, let it rest for forty minutes, broil it on both sides, and be left with a chicken that retains nearly all of its juice and more flavour than you could imagine exists in a single bird. You will not have a lot of chicken trimmings released in the cooking process. If you’re looking to make any gravy with this bird, you will have to produce that from a separate stock. In the image to the left, the only chicken juice that escaped is the dark matter in the bottom of the measuring cup. The rest is butter. We got a little ambitious with the basting.
When we roasted this bird, we chose to stuff it with a lemon and fresh thyme. I’ve opted for a lemon and rosemary as a stuffing option many, many times in the past – cooking my chicken until it hit 74 degrees and my lemon exploded. It wasn’t bad, but it was no match for this method. The flavour we were left with was incredible.
Even though this method will take a day of preparation, I doubt I would consider roasting a chicken any other way. The extra preparation and time is absolutely worth the payoff.

Tools:

  • oven thermometer
  • injector
  • leave-in digital probe thermometer.

These aren’t particularly pricy or unavailable tools, and I am sure you could make do with a regular leave-in thermometer, but the probe option makes for a no-fuss cooking experience.

Ingredients:

Savory Brine:

  • Water (200 ml)
  • Salt (1 tbsp)
  • Whole Corriander ( 2 tbsp)
  • Whole black peppercorn ( 2 tsp)
  • Anise Seed Pods (5)

*Brine can include only water and salt if preferred*

Chicken:

  • whole chicken (1)
  • whole lemon (1)
  • fresh thyme or rosemary springs (8 or to taste)
  • Melted Unsalted Butter (1/8 cup)

*Option we declined but will definitely do NEXT chicken: 15 ml of soy sauce*

t-minus 30 hours:

You should have a chicken that is ready to be prepared with gullets removed. It should not be frozen.
You will prepare the Savory Brine, inject the chicken, blanche it (if you’re not feeling lazy) and return it to the fridge for 24 hours.

To prepare the brine:

  1. Lightly crush the coriander, peppercorns, and anise seed pods.
  2. Add salt and ingredients from step 1 to water in a small saucepan.
  3. Bring brine to a boil and turn burner off.
  4. Strain ingredients from brine, reserving all liquid.
  5. Brine should come to room temperature before injecting to chicken.

To inject the chicken:

  1. Using your brine injector, inject brine to breasts and legs of chicken in equal proportions. To avoid damaging skin, inject from neck, tail region, and inner thigh.
  2. At this point, chicken can be blanched in boiling water for 20 seconds and placed in an ice bath. This may be repeated up to three times, but is also completely optional. It helps maintain the integrity of the skin. We skipped this because we have pretty limited space in the little kitchen. We don’t have a dishwasher. We really didn’t feel the urge to wash stock pots.
  3. Another optional step we skipped is to rub the optional soy sauce on the skin of the chicken. Both the blanching and the soy sauce are steps we will incorporate next time around.
  4. Chicken should be placed in the fridge uncovered for 24 hours to allow skin to dry. If you skip step 2, place in the fridge covered.

t-minus 4-ish hours:

  1. Remove chicken from the fridge and let it rest until it hits room temperature.
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    Step 6

  2. Preheat oven to 205 degrees – this is where you’ll need the oven thermometer. Most ovens are inaccurate. This is the best $12 you’ll ever spend.
  3. Remove the wishbone – this will increase airflow.
  4. You can French your legs at this point. This is optional, but will improve the integrity of the final chicken. Do not tie chicken’s legs together. The bird will cook more evenly
  5. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towel.
  6. Stuff chicken with whole lemon and fresh springs or thyme or rosemary. Do not puncture or cut lemon.
  7. Insert thermometer probe into thickest part of the chicken’s breast.
  8. Place chicken in a pan on a rack, breast side up. Cook until internal temperature reaches 60 degrees Celsius.
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    Chicken resting for 40 minutes.

  9. Remove chicken from oven and let rest for 45 minutes. (disclaimer: we left it standing for only 20/30 minutes). Set oven to broil.
  10. At the 45 minute mark, flip chicken over and baste bottom of chicken. Broil for 5-6 minutes.
  11. Remove chicken from oven, flip chicken and baste top of chicken. Place in oven and broil breast up for 4-5 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved.
  12. Remove chicken from oven. Let stand for a couple minutes. Admire your handiwork.
  13. Remove lemon and thyme springs, and serve.

 

We served this with: