HFF: Pan Perdu for Breakfast


The Historical Food Fortnightly challenge this time was Breakfast Foods.  Mmm, breakfast.  Mmm, breakfast for dinner… I didn’t have very much luck finding something that could definitely be used for breakfast, but I found something that we modernly make for breakfast.  French toast!

I’m normally pretty hit or miss on french toast.  I have a terrible time getting it browned just right and I’m weird about my food textures.  Since Amon has started cooking things that need to be ‘fried’ or ‘browned,’ the outcome of french toast in our house has drastically improved.

The recipe I found for french toast, or Pan Perdu, comes from the Savoring the Past blog.  The recipe used was from an 18th century recipe, but they also found references for the same sort of thing in a 15th century cookbook.  The older recipe doesn’t call for as much alcohol as the newer one, but I think I will try it at a later time.


The Challenge:  #10, Breakfast Foods

The Recipe: Pan Perdu from the Savoring the Past blog where it was found in The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith.

The recipe calls for cream and sack/sherry.  In previous recipes, I had made due with the alcohol on hand, but I find so many recipes that call for sack, I decided to go ahead and buy a bottle.  We ended up doubling the recipe because we thought we would eat a lot of it.  Turns out, it was way too much for us.  We could have used a single batch and been more than happy.


The Date/Year and Region:  1739, English

Time to Complete:  About an hour all together.

Total Cost:  Maybe $30?  The cream was about $3-$4, the sherry was $18, and the bread was $3 a loaf – and we used two.  Everything else was at the house.


How Did You Make It: The night before we were cooking, I cut off the crusts of the bread, sliced it thick, and set it out to dry overnight.  The next day, we put together the egg mixture, dipped the bread slices in it, and let them sit for a little bit.  Amon had sausage links cooking in the oven and used the grease to fry up the bread.  While he was doing that, I mixed together the sweet sauce and let it sit on the stove until we were ready.


We served the pan perdu with a bit of fresh fruit and the sausage links.  Yummy.


How Successful Was It?: It definitely was french toast!  I really enjoyed the thick slices.  I am not sure I can go back to regular sandwich bread french toast after this.  Maybe it was because it had been dried or maybe it was just a higher quality of bread, but this recipe turned out very well.  My french toast tends to be custard in the shape of a piece of bread.  With this recipe, you were definitely still eating a piece of bread that had just happened to have egg soaked into it.

The sweet sauce was good.  Maybe not a replacement for syrup but it was pretty good.  It was mellow and it took quite a bit to be able to get the taste of it.  It was still yummy, though.  I didn’t use any syrup on mine but the boys broke open the bottle.  I couldn’t expect any more of them, though, when it was Boysenberry syrup.

Will this take the place of our normal french toast?  Maybe. Probably.  It will probably  be modified a little bit (I don’t think I am going to cut up and leave bread to dry overnight all the time, but now and again, sure) but I think we will use it.  The thick bread is definitely staying a part of our regular recipe.

How Accurate Is It?: This mostly as accurate as you can get cooking on a modern stove.  We did switch butter out for sausage grease for the first batch.  But we ended up using a bit of butter in the end.  We also probably didn’t let the bread ‘soak’ for long enough after dipping it in the egg.  The recipe calls for fifteen minutes and I think the first batch only sat for about five minutes.




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My New Obsession: Dish Cloths


Moss stitch

I have long been a person who creates things for the home.  Part of that was because I tend to always be broke but the other part was my hippy tendencies.  Why buy a pack of sponges that I will have to throw away when I can make scrubbies out of my mesh potato bag and throw them in the wash?


Granny square

While I haven’t made scrubbies for a while – partly because I am still using the ones I made three or four years ago – I am currently head over heels with crocheted cotton dish cloths.  I have been experimenting with different stitches and styles.  I haven’t experimented with anything but the basic cotton yarn from Walmart and Joann’s, but maybe in the future I will splurge on the nice cotton yarn.


Granny square star

Of course, most of the dish cloths I have made lately have got out the door to new homes.  I have participated in a number of swaps on Swap-Bot where I mail someone else my dish cloth and I get one from a different partner.  But one of these days I will have enough time to make duplicates for my own use, I swear.


Another granny square.  I love these colors.

Amon and the Kiddo aren’t sure they can really use the ones I’ve been receiving or the ones I have made.  But once the dish cloths been used and abused once or twice, the boys don’t seem to mind using them.


Diagonal weave

I find my patterns on Pinterest, Ravelry, and the infinite interwebs.  Just search for crochet (or knit, if that’s what you are into…) dish cloth patterns.  If I ever decide to learn to knit, I plan on making a few dish cloths first to get the hang of it.

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HFF: Hedgehogs

Most of the time, I end up figuring out what recipe I want to cook for the Historical Food Fortnight challenges as they come up.  But the recipe for the latest challenge, #9 Mock Foods, has been something I have wanted to do for a while… fake Hedgehogs!  Hedgehogs are adorably cute creatures.  It turns out that the fake ones are pretty cute too.



Oh, and no real hedgehogs were harmed in the making of this subtlety.

The Challenge: #9 Mock Foods (foods that look like something else)

The Recipe:  Hedgehogs, from Take a Thousand Eggs or More and the Coquinaria blog.  The original recipe that is quoted in both of those locations is found in a fifteenth century English manuscript, Harleian 279, on page 38.


Take a Thousand Eggs and the Coquinaria blog parse this out into English for those of us who can’t read ye olde English very well.

The basic recipe is that you take ground pork and season it with Spicerye (my new favorite word), ginger, salt, and sugar.  You then sew this into a pig’s stomach, roast, and glaze with wheat flour and almond milk.  But before you glaze, you put in slivers of candied almonds as the spines.  Then you throw it back into the oven for the glaze to set.

The Date/Year and Region:  15th century, English

Time to Complete: With prep time and cooking, about two hours.

Total Cost:  $9.  The pork was on sale and ended up being about $3 a pound and I used two pounds.  The almonds were $3 for a bag, if I remember right.

How Did You Make It:  Pig’s stomach is rare, if not impossible to get a hold of.  I didn’t even try.  I contemplated using Coquinaria’s idea of using caul fat to wrap around the hedgehogs.  But in the end, I decided that I wasn’t going to put them on the rotisserie, so I would just shape them and bake them.  I also substituted out the glaze for an egg wash.  Coquinaria used egg and bread crumbs to keep her hedgehogs together but I decided to leave that out.

Here is the recipe I used, mostly taken from Coquinaria’s blog but with my own variations:

For the Hedgehogs:
2 lbs ground pork
1 TBSP ginger
3/4 TBSP cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/5 tsp sugar

For the Almonds:
1/4 cup butter
2 TBSP sugar
1 package of slivered almonds


Raw hedgehogs ready for the oven

The pork was mixed up with the seasonings and then divided into six equal portions.  Each portion was shaped into something resembling a hedgehog or a mini meatloaf, depending on your angle, and covered with an egg wash.  It went into the oven at 350 degrees for a total time of an hour and twenty minutes.  We checked at an hour and decided to cook it a little longer.


Almost forgot to take a picture before we devoured the naked hedgehogs

While the hedgehogs were cooking, I melted the butter in a pan and mixed in the sugar.  Once I got tired of trying to get the sugar to dissolve into the butter, I threw in the bag of almonds.  Amon took over at that point because things refuse to brown for me.  Once the almonds were brown, we spread them on a plate.  Coquinaria’s blog said to make sure we laid out the almonds or they would stick together.  I didn’t spread them out far enough.


Almonds ready to be browned

Turns out, however, that both boys really dug the almond brittle I made…. Next time they will be spread out even further.  I spent way too long trying to break apart the almonds in order to get enough long spikes to stick into at least one hedgehog.


Almond Brittle! 

Once the hedgehogs were done, we pulled them out and let them sit for a few minutes.  They didn’t need to go back into the oven to set the glaze, so I just cut little slits with a knife and put the spines into place.  Almonds also made up his nose and eyes.

How Accurate Is It?: While I would love to say this is wonderfully authentic, it isn’t really.  I made a lot of modifications.  However, I’m pretty sure we got the overall taste the same.  I left out the pig’s stomach and glaze in favor of an egg wash.  I also baked the hedgehogs rather than putting them on a spit.

How Successful Was It?: Oh my gosh, these were good.  And rather simple to make, other than the whole solid mass of almonds.  We were all sort of overpowered by spice in the first bite – the Kiddo wasn’t expecting the specific type of Spicerye, and Amon and I thought there might be too much clove.  Next time, the clove stays on the shelf.  

I was really concerned with the sugar in the recipe.  I couldn’t wrap my head around why a meat dish had candy on top of it.  But wow, the almonds were the perfect compliment to the slightly sweet meat.

It was delicious and I will definitely be making this recipe again.  But I probably won’t form it into hedgehogs.  We’ll see.


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HFF: Literary Meat Pies, Two Ways

“I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think, for me.”
“And for me,” said Thorin.
“And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.
“And mince-pies and cheese,” said Bofur.
“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.
“And more cakes-and ale-and coffee, if you don’t mind,” called the other dwarves through the door.

-The Hobbit- Chapter 1, An Unexpected Party, J.R.R. Tolkien


Pulled Pork Pie

I adore pasties and meat pies.  Even though I don’t always enjoy rolling out the dough for them, I love to eat them.  The eighth challenge for the Historical Food Fortnightly was to “make a dish that has been mentioned in a work of literature, based on historical documentation about that food item.”

In my searching, I found the quote above from The Hobbit and decided I was going to make a meat pie.


Smoked Pork Loin Pie

That decision led to lots of cooking this weekend.  After I told Amon that I would like to make a roast to get pulled pork for one of my recipes, he decided that we would pull out the smoker.  He made ribs and pulled pork for a delicious dinner on Saturday,  On Sunday, I made not one meat pie, but two using different medieval recipes and two different kinds of meat.

One pork pie was made with leftover pulled pork… which was full of all the smoky goodness and may have changed the flavor of the pie, but oh well.  The second pork pie was made with deli sliced smoked pork loin.

Amon was the one who thought of using the deli slices.  Of course, he also thought I was layering the slices with ground pork…  But it worked regardless.  I was originally going to tear the slices into smaller pieces, but then I remembered that I hadn’t injured myself lately and I could use the Ninja.  The pork loin ended up looking, and tasting, like ground ham.  I may have Ninja’d it too much.


The Ninja in action on the poor pork loin slices

The leftover pulled pork went into the Ninja too but not for as long.


The pulled pork after it was attacked by the Ninja

And I’m quite happy to report that no injuries occurred while using the Ninja which is quite an achievement for me. 🙂

As I was putting these pies together, I was quite happy that I managed to transcribe out the recipes and reduce them as I needed.  I was quite happy that I was doing well and wasn’t making any mistakes… until I pulled the pork loin pie out of the oven and realized that I had left out not one, but two ingredients and possibly messed up on my seasoning…  Sigh.  On the other hand, it was probably a good goof.  I found out neither the Kiddo nor Amon like currants and that was one of the ingredients I left out.

Regardless of my recipe goofs, both of these pies were delicious.  I really liked the pulled pork mini pie (with currants).  I made a mini pie because, well, I didn’t want to waste all that delicious pulled pork if the recipe fizzled.

The Challenge:  #8 Literary Foods

The Recipe: 
1 – Basic Meat Pie from various Medieval/Renaissance sources (A Boke of Gode Cookery Recipes website)

Here is what I ended up doing:
1 lb deli sliced smoked pork loin
3 egg yolks
1/2 – 3/4 cup chicken broth (because that’s what I had on hand)
Splash of red wine (which I forgot)
3/4 – 1 1/2 cup currants (which I forgot about)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and place in a pie shell.  Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.  The original recipe gave the option of putting another shell over the pie or covering it with pieces of cooked chicken.  I only had a certain amount of store bought pie crust and didn’t feel like running out to the store so this went in without a lid.
2 – Tartes de Chare – A-nother manere from Harleian MS. 279 (A Boke of Gode Cookery Recipe website)

I reduced this recipe to fit the little bit of pulled pork I was willing to part with.  I also ended up adding an extra egg yolk (which brought the total up to three) and a little bit more honey (to bring it up to 1/4 cup) to make the mixture a little more runny.
1/2 lb smoked pulled pork
1/4 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
3/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup currants

Bake at 375F for 45 minutes.   I remembered the currants in this recipe!  It went into a ramekin with store bought pie crust.   I originally reduced the cooking time, but it created a very thick pie and I needed the whole time.


The Date/Year and Region:
1 – Medieval/Renaissance.  I found various recipes throughout the time period and the website didn’t list a specific time as this recipe is a conglomeration of lots of them.

2 – England, 15th century

Time to Complete:
Both pies took about fifteen to twenty minutes to put together.  It probably took me a little bit longer because I was fudging my numbers around at that time too.  And each pie took about forty five minutes to cook.

Total Cost:  
I believe the pork loin cost about six dollars for the pound.  Everything else was on hand or leftovers.  I’m not going to try to calculate how much the half pound of pulled pork cost.  Whatever it was, it was worth it.

How Accurate Is It?: 
These pies are only sort of accurate.  I used store bought pie dough and the pork choices were experimental.  I think that the itty bitty pieces of pork loin might be close to what was actually called for in the recipe as it said to “grind or mash” small pieces of pork.  To make it more accurate, I should probably use a roasted pulled pork rather than smoked.  But either way, it was delicious.

How Successful Was It?: 

I am definitely keeping these recipes close at hand.  The basic meat pie recipe itself is something I can see myself referring to in the future.  Of course, I have yet to find a meat pie that I don’t like, so I might be biased.

Were these close the pork pies that Bilbo had in his pantry?  Maybe.  I am sure that he would have enjoyed these.

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HFF: Corn Bread


My procrastination level has been rather high lately.  I had a number of recipes picked out to choose from for the Pretty as a Picture challenge for the Historical Food Fortnightly, ingredients were bought, and then as the last night of the challenge came around, I changed my mind completely.

Instead of making an apple tart with cheese (which I made later anyway) or a mushroom tart, I made corn bread to go with my chili.

I’m not sure when I started eating corn bread with chili, or if I ever really did it at all in the past.  I know in school we were served corn bread with honey as a side when we would have “straw hats” for lunch.  Straw hats were taco meat and cheese over fritos.  My favorite part, however, was the corn bread.  And now it is stuck in my head that if I have chili, I should have corn bread with honey.  Mmm, honey.


As the chili got started, I looked through the Feeding America Historical American Cookbook Project website and found a number of corn bread recipes.  On a whim, I took a look through my favorite Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and found the recipe I ended up using.  I need to use that cookbook more.  I loves it. (And no, that was not a typo.  I looooves it.)

Recipe Book

The recipe itself was fairly simple.  It was different than the recipe I normally use from the back of the corn meal container in that it called for shortening.

The Challenge:  #7 Pretty As A Picture

The Recipe: Golden Corn Bread, from the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book


The Date/Year and Region: American, 1951

Time to Complete:  This took about an hour all together, including baking time.

Total Cost:   I say this all the time, but this was completely made from my pantry.  Nothing was bought specifically for this challenge.

How Accurate Is It?: I’m happy to say this is pretty accurate.  I made no ingredient substitutions or anything like that. However, I didn’t cook this in the waxed paper lining.  I just sprayed the pan with cooking spray.  Oh, and I didn’t sift the ingredients.  My bad.

How Did You Make It: I ended up putting the shortening in an oven safe bowl and melting it that way since we don’t have a microwave in the house.  Otherwise, I followed the instructions leaving out things I didn’t feel like doing, like sifting ingredients.  I may have over stirred it, too, but it still turned out okay.

How Successful Was It?: This was pretty successful.  The boys liked it.  I liked it, especially drenched in honey.  Drenched in honey it definitely tasted at least as good as it looked while drenched in honey.  I may like honey…  It was definitely spongier than my ‘normal’ cornbread, but Amon liked it that way.  It also kept very well over a couple of days.  While I am not sure I am going to replace my ‘normal’ recipe with this one, I might very well make this one again.


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HFF: Raspberry Shrub


Shrub and hard cider

Ah, shrubs.  I learned about these vinegary fruity drinks quite a while ago – long before I learned of the Historical Food Fortnightly, but I never got around to making one.   I ran across a recipe for a raspberry shrub while deciding what to make for the Juicy Fruits challenge and I decided I had to make it.

Well, actually, I was torn between multiple recipes but finally settled on the shrub for a couple of reasons.  One, I need to stop randomly drinking soda.  Two, it will be a nice substitute for the ‘water enhancers’ I use randomly at work.  And three, I have a bunch of alcohol at home and no mixers other than soda.  Oh, and it will be nice to take to our weeklong camping trip in June.

I just have to say… oh my gosh, this is so yummy.  I wanted to post until I was sure it mixed well with something and it mixes delightfully well with Hornsby’s hard cider.  So delicious.

Anyway.  Let’s make the stuff.

The Challenge: #6, Juicy Fruits

The Recipe: Raspberry Shrub.  I used two different recipes and mixed them together.

1 – Raspberry Shrub from The Good Housekeeping Woman’s Home Cook Book
Arranged By Isabel Gordon Curtis.

2 – Raspberry Shrub from Buckeye Cookery, And Practical Housekeeping: Compiled From Original Recipes.

Raspberry Shrub

From Buckeye Cookery

The Good Housekeeping book didn’t scan very well, so I have not included a screen shot of it.  But the basic instructions for that recipe were to soak the raspberries overnight and in the morning strain them once with a colander, strain a second time through a cheesecloth, and then boil the remaining juice for twenty minutes.  At that time, you add an equal amount of sugar and boil for another ten minutes.

The Date/Year and Region: American, Good Housekeeping is from 1909 and Buckeye Cookery is from 1877.

One interesting thing about the Buckeye Cookery book was that it was a charity book put together to help raise funds for a new parsonage in Ohio.

Time to Complete: In total, about 25 to 26 hours.  The raspberries sat for about a full twenty four hours and it probably took me about an hour to strain and restrain and curse and think that I was doing it wrong.

Total Cost: $10.  I used two pints of raspberries that were $3.99 each, plus a new bottle of apple cider vinegar for about $2.  The sugar was already in the house.


How Did You Make It: After straining my raspberries (I don’t think I have ever written that word this much ever…) through a colander, I strained it through a tea towel as I didn’t have  any cheesecloth.  I thought I read somewhere that a flour sack towel could be used but I started to think I was mistaken.  It worked… but probably not the way it should have.  It took forever so I sort of …helped… it along and probably ended up with a little more pulp than I should have. I ended up with 1.5 cups of juice in the end.

I put the juice in a pan, added 1.5 cups of sugar, and boiled it for ten minutes.  Afterward, I poured it into a mason jar and called it good.


First straining through a colander

How Accurate Is It?: I think this is pretty darn accurate.  The only thing I didn’t do was the actual canning of the shrub.  For the small amount I had and the uncertainty of how it would taste, I didn’t feel like getting out all the supplies.


Second straining through a flour sack towel.

How Successful Was It?: I added a few teaspoons to a little bit of water and it was okay.  I added several tablespoons to a bit of hard cider and it was delicious.  Amon added a bit to a white wine and it was pretty yummy too.  I will definitely be making this again once raspberries are cheaper, and I think I might make it will a whole bunch of other fruit shrubs as time goes on.


All boiled and ready to drink.




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HFF: Roast Chicken & Stuffing

Roast Challenge Plate

When I saw that the 5th challenge for the Historical Food Fortnightly was all about roasts, I thought that it would be easy.  It’s been our habit lately to make a roast on Sundays.  Most of the time, we use an awesome flea market find – a Farberware 455n Open Hearth Broiler & Rotisserie Indoor Electric Grill.  However, we have fallen out of the habit in the past couple of weeks… and I couldn’t decide on what to cook.

I was amused when I found recipes for baked potatoes in the old cookbooks.  I was intrigued with recipes for coffee substitutes.  But I ended up going with something that I knew we would like and something a little different just because.

I love the  Savoring the Past website. Period food porn, yes.  I ran across a post where they were making stuffing for a roasted chicken and thought it sounded delicious.  Plus, they had redacted the stuffing recipe for me already so it should be easy, right?

This time, the recipe actually was!  The only problem was that in my rush through the store at the end of a long day of work, I decided that stuffing mix would be easier than tearing up fresh bread.  And I brought home a frozen chicken…  So this challenge ended up being done a few days later than I had intended.

But enough with the exposition, let’s get cooking!

The Challenge: #5 Roasts

The Recipe: To Stuff and Roast a Turkey or Fowl, from American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, and Savoring the Past: Bread Stuffing


The Date/Year and Region: 1798, American

Time to Complete: The chicken was roasting for just under three hours.  The stuffing recipe said it would take about an hour and a half but it was done (and a little dryer than I wanted) in about fifty minutes.  It took a little bit to put all the ingredients together and grate the suet, so overall, the meal probably took three and a half to four hours.

Total Cost:  The whole chicken was $9.  The bread crumbs were about $2.  Everything else, including the wine and suet, were already on hand.


At about an hour into its roasting.

How Did You Make It: Luckily, Amon had the day off when we decided to cook this.  He got the chicken started before I got home.  The recipe called for ‘sweet herbs’ and that was about it.  Amon used granulated garlic, Italian herb blend, kosher salt, and because he has been enamored of it since he first used it in a period recipe, ground ginger.  The chicken was put on the rotisserie and left to baste in its own juices.

When I got home, I got to work on the stuffing.  I realized that my bread crumbs were only 12 ounces instead of the full pound for the recipe.  I was quite happy when I figured out how to change the proportions of the other ingredients.  Once the suet (one of many blocks we made quite a while ago) was grated, I threw all the ingredients together and let them sit for a while.  I was hoping that the dried bread crumbs would soak up the liquid and become like regular bread.  Yeah, no.  Next time, we are definitely using real bread.

Bread Crumbs and Suet

While the chicken was roasting and the stuffing was baking, we pulled out a more modern recipe for broccoli.  Amon had been wanting to ‘roast’ broccoli for a while.  I should have written down what he did, but all I can remember is olive oil, red wine vinegar, and tasty.  Oh so tasty.



How Successful Was It?: This was a successful meal in my book.  The chicken looked and tasted delicious.  It had a little bit different texture than we normally get with a rotisserie chicken, but we also cooked it longer than normal.  Good, though, and in no way dried out.  It was very moist and the skin was delicious.  

Almost Done

All done!  Look at that yummy skin.  And no, I don’t eat all the skin, just a bit to see what it tastes like.

The stuffing started out a bit dry but by adding the chicken drippings to it, it was wonderful.  Amon told me after he tasted it that he wouldn’t be sharing.


The broccoli was terrific and I think it will be joining our normal rotation of recipes.

How Acurate Is It?: …Fairly.  It definitely isn’t a hundred percent accurate but I give us extra points for using a rotisserie.  Granted, the rotisserie was electric, but still.   I’m not sure on the seasonings, but it seems reasonable that something similar would have been used.  The stuffing would have been more accurate had I used bread rather than dried out bread crumbs.  We baked the stuffing rather than putting it in the bird, but we did dump the drippings from the chicken over the stuffing before serving.

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