1880’s Minced Cabbage

cooked minced cabbage

Along with last week’s post on escalloped salmon, I discovered this elegant, easy minced cabbage in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which was originally published in 1880 by Washburn-Crosby Co.  Its successor General Mills reprinted this worthy account in the twentieth century.  This latter company, however, is better known for publishing recipe books under the pseudonym Betty Crocker, who, unlike our illustrious 19th century writer Miss Parloa, never existed.

In 1921, before this transfer of title, Washburn-Crosby was first to use the name “Betty Crocker”.  At that time they were inundated with 30,000 entries in a contest promoting Gold Medal flour; many of these participants asked questions on baking.  Washburn-Crosby discerned that the replies would promote more influence if signed by a woman; thus, the inspiration for this sham, which was derived from the surname of a retired company director.1

General Mills continued in this tradition, after it was created in 1929, when it merged Washburn-Crosby with 26 other U.S. flour mills.2   This, then the world’s largest flour mill, initially portrayed this fictitious authority as a gray-haired home-maker in 1936; her image was frequently revised throughout the last century, as Betty Crocker was used as a major brand name for their various products.3

It is jarring when we learn the falsehood of long accepted traditions, like the authenticity of this established person, for truth is fundamental to our stability.  We implicitly search for verity in all things, cooking included.  Rejoicing occurs when a good source for teaching the basics is found, such as that required for food preparation and the execution of life present in my writings.  Indeed, the trust generated here grows into a comprehensive application upon many areas of our existence.

My prayer is that we will come to rely on my receipts, preparing them with the ease with which they are intended.  They may look lengthy at times, this is because I spell out shortcuts with care, for my blog is like going to cooking school.  Quickly we learn my simple, creative techniques; thus, we are able to adeptly use these recipes.

This effortless minced cabbage comes with the height of freedom.  Enjoy!

  1. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), p. 434.
  2. Ibid., p. 456.
  3. Ibid., p. 488.

chopping cabbage in a food processor

1880’s Minced Cabbage  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 30 min/  active prep time: 10 min/  cooking time: 20 min.  This is adapted from a recipe in Miss Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, (Boston: Estes and Laurait, 1880), reprinted by General Mills in the 20th century.

Note: this is best when made ahead and reheated just before serving.

1 1/2 lb green cabbage

2 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is ideal for quality and flavor here; avocado oil is also good; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in health section at local supermarket.)

  1. Chop cabbage either by hand or, more quickly, by using the slicing attachment to a food processor.  If using a food processor, cut cabbage in slices that will fit in its feeder (see photo).  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan, in which you have placed a small piece of cabbage.  When it sizzles, add rest of cabbage and stir well to evenly distribute oil; cook until vegetable is limp, stirring frequently.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  3. Make roux in a small sauté pan: melt butter over medium heat, add flour, and stir vigorously with a wire whisk.  Cook only until mixture is a light brown, about 30 seconds; remove from heat and set aside.
  4. When cabbage is soft, add salt and stir well.
  5. Blend roux from step 3 into vegetable, cook until consistency of cabbage is somewhat thickened, stir frequently.
  6. When done, remove from heat.  May serve immediately or, better yet, enhance its flavor by letting it sit; when it sits, the cabbage juices form in bottom of pan.  Use a wooden or plastic cooking spatula to loosen the fond (carmelized pan drippings and browned bits, which add great flavor); stir these juices and the loosened fond into cabbage (see top photo for finished product).  Reheat just before serving.

1880’s Escalloped Salmon

ingredients for escalloped salmon

Miss Parloa blessed us with escalloped fish in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which Washburn-Crosby Company published in 1880.  This company’s successor General Mills brought these proven receipts back to America by printing an edition in the mid-twentieth century.  Both these companies are known for their production of Gold Medal flour, which they successively produced; thus, this product has been on the market for nearly two and a half centuries.

This 1880’s cook book was one of many written by Miss Parloa, who was an important figure in the gastronomical world of her day.  As director of the Boston cooking school, she became famous for her Boston Cooking School Cook Book, which was forerunner to the renowned Fanny Farmer Cook Book.

In this first above account, she taught “modern” techniques and included 93 “essential” utensils for the kitchen, which boasted of such items as an apple corer, melon mold, and squash strainer.  Her writings catered to the affluent, for she recommended that a dinner for twelve need cost no more than $25, this at a time when an unskilled worker made about $1 per day.1

In her preface to this book, she set forth her desire to give clear, complete, and concise directions, but these were vague compared to our present standards.  Her instructions, however, had far greater detail than those found in the contemporary cook books of her day.

This recipe required five pounds of fish to sustain a family of six at a meal, in contrast to providing for twelve guests at a dinner party, as these hospitable affairs were always profuse in delectable dishes.  My directive only calls for one pound of salmon for four people, because this is a rich food for our relatively sedentary bodies; in these former days people were highly active, requiring many more calories than we do today.

As with this outmoded receipt, things call for adaptation; we must learn to adjust to the required needs of any given time.  Our living God perpetually covers us in all instances of unforeseen change, bringing healthy modification, if we ask believing.

There are truths in his word.  When overwhelmed with trouble, our heartfelt cries go out to our Father: “Do I have what it takes to counter this storm?  How do I do this?”  As we quiet our souls, clear answers come; next, we proceed to follow our heart’s unction with our determined movement.  Victory always follows when we heed this inner voice carefully!

At times the process is slow; thus, patience is critical to success.  It is necessary to listen for “the winds in the mulberry trees”.2   Like these air currents in trees, which are constantly varying, our circumstances also rapidly change; therefore, we need to be very flexible when we receive guidance as such.

This is a joyful race we are running!  Nothing is too difficult for us.  We simply align our hearts to the “recipe” our Father is dictating at each turn, purposing to not be alarmed when our five pounds of fish becomes one pound, or with equal intention, staying calm when it reverses back to five pounds.

Recently I enjoyed escalloped salmon with friends I hadn’t seen for a long time; our reunion was marked with excellence in both fellowship and food.  This dish is a winner for special occasions, especially when served with next week’s entry 1880’s minced cabbage.

  1. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), p. 310.
  2. The Holy Bible, King James Version, 2 Samuel 5: 22-25.

baked escalloped salmon

1880’s Escalloped Salmon  Yields 4 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 15 min/  active prep time: 45 min/  baking time: 30 min.  This is adapted from a recipe in Miss Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1880), a facsimile of this was printed sometime in the 20th century by General Mills.

1/4 cup bread crumbs  (May purchase these, or grind 2 slices of stale bread in a dry food processor; make extra, as these freeze well; for stale bread, leave it out for about 8 hours.)

1-1 1/2 lb salmon fillet  (A minimum of 1 lb is needed if fillet is boneless and skinless, more if there are bones and/or skin.)

1 tsp salt, or more to taste  (Real Salt is best for optimum health; available in health section of local supermarket.)

1 cup whipping cream*, or half and half

1/8 cup water

1 tbsp flour

1/8 tsp white pepper, or more to taste

Steamed rice, cooked according to directions on package

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (if preparing ahead, wait and preheat oven 1 hr &10 min before serving).
  2. If salmon fillet is large, cut in pieces that will fit in a 3 quart saucepan.  Place in pan and cover with water, to which you have added 1/2 tsp salt; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook until center of thickest part of salmon is opaque, when pierced with a fork.  Remove from liquid and cool.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  3. If preparing your own bread crumbs, grind 2 pieces or more of stale bread in dry food processor, pressing pulse button repeatedly until crumbs are fine.  Set aside, freeze extras.
  4. Heat cream over medium heat in a small saucepan, only until a soft boil is formed, stir frequently, and watch carefully.
  5. While heating, dissolve flour in water.  Watching cream carefully, turn heat down to medium/low, as soon as it barely boils.  Stir is flour mixture with a wire whisk and cook, beating frequently, until sauce is thick.  Season with 1/2 tsp salt and white pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings; set aside.
  6. Start rice, following directions on package (wait if you are preparing salmon ahead).
  7. Butter a small, 1 quart baking dish; place a light layer of sauce in bottom of dish.
  8. Skin and carefully de-bone fish, placing bite-size pieces in baking dish on top of layer of cream.  When all the salmon is thus prepared, press down on fish to make compact; cover the top with the remaining cream sauce.
  9. Just before placing this in oven, spread bread crumbs on top of sauce.  If a skim has formed on top of cream, gently break apart with a spoon, making surface wet again, so crumbs can stick; then, bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven to meld all flavors.  (If you are making this ahead of time, place dish in refrigerator; top with breadcrumbs just before baking, being sure to break up skim on top of cream first; cook for 1 hour in preheated oven; start rice when you place salmon in oven.)
  10. Serve with 1880’s Minced Cabbage, which is next week’s entry.

1880’s Philadelphia Clam Chowder

mincing clams

mincing fresh razor clams

This great chowder is adapted from a recipe in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which was originally published in 1880, by Washburn Crosby Co., the makers of what we now know as Gold Medal flour. I have a facsimile of this, which was printed in the mid-twentieth century.  (This collection also includes my all-time favorite oatmeal cookie, which I will share at a later date.)

I have enlarged upon this 19th century creation by adding such flavor/texture enhancers as garlic, onion, celery, and unpeeled potatoes.  Miss Parloa calls this receipt ‘Philadelphia’ clam chowder; it introduces the technique of straining the clams, thus lending a delicate touch to the fish soup.  I am not a big fan of clam chowder, but I love this because of its mellowness!

There is much to be said about the distinctive flavors of shellfish and fish.  Harold McGee shares this apt science in his treatise On Food and Cooking.  He teaches why ocean and freshwater creatures vary so greatly in taste, the former having a much stronger bite.

Ocean water is about 3% salt by weight, while the optimum level of all dissolved minerals inside of animal cells is less than 1%.  Consequently ocean creatures need to balance this substantial salt mineral that they are breathing in and swallowing; they do this with amino acids, amines, and urea, which their bodies produce.

Behold, these substances have different flavors!  For example the amino acid glycine is sweet, while glutamic acid is savory; shellfish are especially rich in these and other amino acids.  Unlike shellfish, finfish rely heavily on the amine TMAO,  which is largely tasteless, for processing salt.  Sharks, skates, and rays make ready the salt water with a slightly salty and bitter urea.  However, this urea and the amine TMAO are converted into stinky substances, by bacteria and fish enzymes, in these respective, dead, ocean-dwelling fish; thus, once they are killed, their meat tastes and smells powerfully bad with age, while that of their freshwater relatives doesn’t.

Freshwater fish have a gentler effect on our taste buds, because the water they live in is actually less salty than that of their cells; therefore, they do not need to accumulate these pungent amino acids, amines, or urea, which their ocean-dwelling cousins require to process the dissolved mineral salt.

You can see that different shellfish and fish supply our mouths with unique experiences.  Seawater varieties use a diversity of amino acids, amines, and urea to balance the salt in their cellular systems; these differing substances boast of wide variety of powerful tastes.  Their freshwater counterparts, which don’t require these salt equalizers, are bland by comparison.1

Miss Parloa counters the strong flavor of clam chowder by straining the clams, removing their excess liquid, which has an abundance of the above mentioned amino acids.  I take this illustrious chef’s simple inspiration and provide an even richer experience, with additional textures and mouth-watering thrills.  You’ll like this delicious, yet mild, chowder!

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984, 2004),  pp. 188-189.

Philadelphia Clam Chowder  Adapted from a recipe in Miss Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Silver Dollar City, MO: Washburn-Crosby Co., 1880).  Yields: 8 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 30 min/  active prep time: 30 min/  cooking time: 1 hr.

Note: you may make 2/3’s of this recipe, if you don’t have large enough pots for the makeshift double boiler (see step 1 for photo and directions).

1 1/2 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best.)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

6 ounce drained weight minced clams, or 3-6.5 ounce cans, strained  (May use 6 ounces fresh razor clams, chopped fine, see top photo.)

2 stalks celery, chopped fine

3 tbsp parsley, chopped fine

1 lb potatoes, unpeeled, cut in small pieces

5 large cloves garlic, minced  (May use 3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s for easy prep.)

1 1/2 quarts milk

1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is best; available in health section of local supermarkets.)

1/2 tsp white pepper, or to taste

  1. make-shift double boiler

    make-shift double boiler

    Heat coconut oil in a 4-quart pot that will sit inside a slightly larger pot to make a double boiler.  See photo.  (If you don’t have two large pots, you may make 2/3’s of the recipe to fit in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan, which in turn will rest over boiling water in a larger pot.)

  2. When a small piece of onion sizzles in oil, add the rest of the onions and sweat (cook until translucent).  Remove from heat when done.
  3. Fill larger pot 2/5’s full of water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Meantime melt butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Add flour and stir constantly with a wire whisk, cook until light brown in color, set aside.
  5. Spray celery, parsley, and potatoes with inexpensive, effective vegetable spray: fill a spray bottle with a mixture of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide; spray vegetables and let sit for 3 min; rinse really well.  Meantime go to next step.
  6. Drain canned clams in a colander.  If using fresh razor clams, drain and chop fine (see top photo).
  7. Chop all vegetables and garlic; add to cooked onions, which have been removed from heat.
  8. Add milk, clams, salt, and pepper to the pan of vegetables.  Fit this smaller pan into the larger pot, so it sits above the boiling water (see photo).  Watch water level while cooking to make sure water doesn’t boil dry.  Cook chowder until potatoes are soft, about 50 minutes.
  9. Beat in roux (butter/flour mixture) with a big spoon, cooking 5 more minutes, or until soup is thickened.  Stir constantly.
  10. Adjust seasonings and serve.  You may freeze leftovers.  When you heat thawed chowder, it will be of a thinner consistency.  If desired, you may thicken with a small amount of roux-about 1 tbsp of melted butter cooked with an equal amount of flour.  This amount will be adequate to thicken 4 leftover servings; see step 3 for details on thickening with roux.
  11. I am passionate about this soup!