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Posts Tagged ‘treakle/treacle’

There are five major chain grocery stores in my neighborhood
that I can easily reach by walking. Of course, some are closer
than others. The distances range from a mere (?!) six blocks
to more than a mile. They all vary in size, as well. And then
there are the numerous, albeit much smaller, specialty stores
and bodegas. Not to mention the weekly farmers markets,
of which there are two. I must say, this wealth of, and
accessibility to, such a wide range of food stuffs in my own
neck o’ the woods is quite amazing. HUZZAH!

So what does this have to do with historic cooking? Well, alot!
Because when I need to buy food for use during any hearth
cooking event, whether it’s a demonstration, a talk, or a class,

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I can go to one or more of the above stores. I know which
ones carry this or that particular ingredient and which don’t.
Or which offers it at a better price (aka cheaper). And most
importantly, which store or stores offer historically-accurate
ingredients, be it mace or quinces or unadulterated flour. Or
which sells the means for creating the same (i.e. pig fat so
that I can render my own lard). Sometimes when I decide
to cook a particular dish from this or that historic cookbook,
I’m able to procure all the necessary ingredients at just one
location, and at other times, I have to pay a visit to two or
more. I will say, though, that even I’m amazed at what I
can find relatively nearby. Even at the major so-called
“generic” mass-market chain stores such as Associated,
Key Food, and C-Town. And here in Brooklyn, no less. It’s
absolutely fantastic! HUZZAH, again!

However, a major glitch has reared its ugly head. The range
of historic dishes that I can prepare and cook, at any time
and at any historic site, may soon be sorely limited. In fact,
my ability to cook specific dishes may all but be eliminated
entirely, as my access to certain ingredients will be drastically
altered within just a few short months. You see, sadly, one
of the above-mentioned big chain stores, a 36,000 square
074foot freestanding supermarket,
with a similarly-sized parking
lot, the one that’s more than
a mile from my place, down
where Sterling Street meets
5th Avenue here in Park Slope,
namely the Key Food, will be
completely demolished. It’ll then be replaced by two shiny
new modern glass, concrete, and steel 165-unit apartment
buildings. Ain’t progress grand?! Bring in more people!
Destroy their major source of food! What a deal! lordy

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This particular Key Food is where I can acquire several ingredients
that are appropriate for replicating dishes from the 18th and early
19th centuries. And in some instances, the ONLY place. Sure,
there’s another Key Food that’s closer to me. Just seven blocks,
in fact. It’s quite a hike of more than a mile, downhill to and up
from, to arrive at this one. But believe me, being able to purchase
specific ingredients that are appropriate for countless historic
receipts makes it worth the trip.

For starters, the 5th Avenue Key Food, and ONLY this Key Food,
has a set of bookshelves that constitutes its British section…

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and there I can find treacle (aka treakle)…

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which, as you may know, is NOT the same as molasses (an
item most any store carries). It IS different! Yes, you can
switch the one for the other, but doing so affects the taste
of the end product. I frequently make Gingerbread Cakes
in accordance with Hannah Glasse’s receipt in her cookbook
The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy (1747), and she
specifies “treakle.” For me, nothing else will do!

Here’s the 5th Avenue Key Food’s wonderful and HUGE (in
comparison to so many other stores, even other Key Foods)
meat department, where I can find a plethora of items for use
in my various hearth cooking activities…

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It’s where I find marrow bones, containing that all-important
marrow specified in numerous historic receipts…

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and pig fat, so I can render my own lard, as well as salt pork,
otherwise known as smoked slab bacon…

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There’s also plain ol’ sausages…

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as you see, they’re called “Breakfast Sausage.” Yes, other stores
sell them, including the much-closer-to-me Key Food, but they’re
usually only the flavored varieties, those that contain herbs and
spices or cheese and tomato and so forth…which are too modern
and NOT what I need or want!

The 5th Avenue Key Food has a HUGE fresh produce section,
with nearly every vegetable and fruit you can imagine…

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This is where I find small packaged bundles of herbs for only
99 cents! You can’t beat that. It’s just enough for the dishes
that require them…

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and if I need more, they also have a larger size for $1.99…

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The smaller Key Food has had neither. Since a recent remodeling,
however, it now offers the larger bundles…at the higher price
of 2 for $5. So in my book, it’s worth it to walk farther in order
to save a few coins (besides, it’s good exercise! LOL). And if I
need something else that only this Key Food offers, or really
just any other item, all the better.

On a personal note, this is the only store (at least, of which
I’m aware) that sells bags (not boxes) of Kit ‘n Kaboodle, one
of my kitty’s favorite dry foods…

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And here’s the frozen food section, where I can find my beloved
Stouffer’s frozen entrees. When all was said and done, the other
Key Food eliminated eight frozen food cases upon finishing its
remodeling project. Which meant that several items had to be
jettisoned, including the entire range of Stouffer’s that had
been previously offered. Sacre bleu!

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A few more interior shots of this soon-to-be-gone good-sized
supermarket. It’s just expansive! In both space, layout, and
variety and diversity of products offered.

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In case anyone’s interested, here’s what’s possibly going
to be built soon to replace this neighborhood’s beloved
5th Avenue Key Food supermarket…

(c) 2016 Avery Hall Investments

(c) 2016 Avery Hall Investments

Incidentally, at a recent Community Meeting about the project,
the rep from Avery Hall Investment (AHI) made a big deal of that
“pedestrian-only” walkway. or “piazza,” where people “will be able
to sit and chat, and have a cup of coffee.” My immediate thought
was, “HA! Have you seen the nearly 600-acre green space just up
a few blocks? It’s quite lovely, with trees, a lake, and everything!
It’s been there for more than a century. Hello! Prospect Park?!
Not to mention popular Washington Park, just down 5th Avenue.”
Golly. Don’t give us what we need, but give us something we don’t.
So ridiculous.

Speaking of that Community Meeting, here’s one report. As it
mentions, I, too, thought I was attending a meeting where
the possibility of the 5th Avenue Key Food being sold and
replaced with new development would be merely discussed.
And ONLY discussed. Boy, was I wrong! It soon became clear,
not only from the meeting’s outcome, but also from a discussion
I had immediately afterward with a current Key Food employee,
that it’s a done deal. Apparently, the owner has been looking
to sell for some time; he was just waiting for the right deal,
and this is it. So the property’s been sold, finances secured,
the developer/investor chosen, moneys exchanged…it’s final…
the end is near. I must say, it was extremely disheartening
to learn that the current store owner seems to have moved
quietly, securing his deal without considering for a moment
how it might affect any of his loyal customers. Let alone
without seeking their input. It’s too bad. Like it or not,
we’ll just have to shop elsewhere. Or do without.

Alas, so it goes. Sorry to see you go, 5th Avenue Key Food!
I’ll certainly miss you and those items that only you offer.

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scan0002The annual Essex County (NJ) Historic Holiday
House Tour was held this year on December 7
and 8. The public was able to tour assorted
historic sites located throughout the County
on both days. Naturally, all the properties held
under the auspices of the Montclair Historical
Society
were included in this event.

Of course, I was busy greeting the many folks
who stopped by the kitchen during their tour
of The Israel Crane House. The crowds on Saturday tended
to ebb and flow, but they were virtually non-stop on Sunday.
It was fantastic! I SO enjoy this program every year, as it
gives me an opportunity to chat at length with visitors. We
always cover an assortment of topics and have some mighty
interesting conversations. HUZZAH!

Engaging and enlightening discussions weren’t the only thing
that I shared with the guests. There was a rather wonderful
spread of tasty treats for all to enjoy, as well. And this year,

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the offerings were pretty much the same as in years past. And
so the following goodies were set out for guests to enjoy.

Shrewsbury Cakes, made in accordance with Amelia Smmons’
receipt in her book American Cookery (1796):

Shrewsbury Cake.
Half pound butter, three quarters
of a pound sugar, a little mace, four
eggs mixed and beat with your hand,
till very light, put the composition
to one pound flour, roll into small
cakes—bake with a light oven.

N.B. In all cases where spices are
named, it is supposed that they be
pounded fine and sifted; sugar must
be dried and rolled fine; flour, dried
in an oven; eggs well beat or whipped
into a raging foam.

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For our Gingerbread Cakes, below, I followed the receipt
in The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy (1747), by Hannah
Glasse (1747):

To make Ginger-Bread Cakes.
Take three Pounds of Flour, one Pound
of Sugar, one Pound of Butter, rubbed
in very fine, two Ounces of Ginger beat
fine, a large Nutmeg grated; then take
a Pound of Treakle, a quarter of a Pint
of Cream, make them warm together,
and make up the Bread stiff, roll it out,
and make it up into thin Cakes, cut them
out with a Tea-Cup, or a small Glass, or
roll them round like Nuts, bake them
on Tin Plates in a slack Oven.

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I particularly like Glasse’s version, as she calls for using treacle
(“Treakle”) and not molasses. Yes, the two are similar, as both
are obtained during the sugar refining process, and either one
can be used. However, the taste of each is VERY different! And
I find that small cakes made with molasses tend to be blander
than those with treacle. The latter have a bit of a bite to them
(which I like BTW!).

If you’re interested in more information on the difference
between treacle and molasses, and their respective places
in the process of sugar refining, see my previous post HERE.

Pounded Cheese was also offered, along with store-bought
Water Crackers, which are made by Carr’s, a British company
that was founded in 1831.

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The receipt for the above cheese is from the 1817 cookbook,
The Cook’s Oracle, by William Kitchiner, M.D.:

Pounded Cheese.
Cut a pound of good mellow Cheddar,
Cheshire, or North Wiltshire cheese
into thin bits, add to it two, and if
the Cheese is dry, three ounces
of fresh butter, pound and rub
them well together in a mortar
till it is quite smooth.

Obs.–When cheese is dry, and
for those whose digestion is feeble,
this is the best way of eating it
and spread it on Bread, it makes
an excellent Luncheon or Supper.

N.B. The piquance of this buttery,
caseous relish, is sometimes
increased by pounding with it
Curry Powder, Ground Spice,
Cayenne Pepper, and a little
made mustard; and some
moisten it with a glass of Sherry.

If pressed down hard in a jar,
and covered with clarified butter,
it will keep for several days
in cool weather.

Also on hand both days were a smoked ham, candied citron,
dried apple slices, roasted chestnuts, and so on. OH! And
our delightful hot spiced cider. Which, according to one

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visitor, was MUCH better than what he’d been served
at another Tour site. HUZZAH!

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I made Ginger-Bread Cakes, as well, for the Big Weekend Event*
at the Israel Crane House this past December. For these, I used
Hannah Glasse’s receipt from her book, The Art of Cookery Made
Plain and Easy
(1747). What intrigued me most about Glasse’s
version, and the main reason I chose it, was that she calls for
the use of “Treakle,” and I really REALLY wanted to use that
specific ingredient (more on it later).

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Here is Hannah Glasse’s receipt:

To make Ginger-Bread Cakes.
Take three Pounds of Flour, one Pound
of Sugar, one Pound of Butter, rubbed
in very fine, two Ounces of Ginger beat
fine, a large Nutmeg grated, then take
a Pound of Treakle, a quarter of a Pint
of Cream, make them warm together,
and make up the Bread stiff, roll it out,
and make it up into thin Cakes, cut them
out with a Tea-Cup, or a small Glass, or
roll them round like Nuts, bake them
on Tin Plates in a slack Oven.

Of course, three pounds of flour makes a boat-load of small cakes,
so I cut the receipt in thirds (one pound of flour instead of three
and so on). I often then go further by cutting those amounts in half.
Makes it all more manageable.

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*the Essex County, New Jersey, Holiday Historical Houses Tour

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UP NEXT: Just what IS Treakle?

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