Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pickle Juice & Summer Salad Recipes

Can you believe it's June already? I don't know where the days go. One of my favorite things about summer in the hollow has always been salads. Mom would make up big batches of potato salad and slaw almost every week. I was talking with Sunflower Sue the other day about saving pickle juice. You know - the juice left over in the pickle jar? Mom always saved it and used it in her potato salad. In days when every drop counted, Mom knew how to get every bit of salad dressing (we're talking Kraft here, not mayo) out of a jar. She'd pour a little pickle juice in the jar and shake it up. And, just like magic, there would be this wonderful 'dressing' she'd use to spice up the potato salad. Or, sometimes we'd use it in a bottle of store bought dressing that didn't have enough left in the bottle to get through dinner that evening. If there was no pickle juice on hand, then a little apple cider vinegar worked just as well.
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To this day, I still save pickle juice. These days, I'll use it as a base for a homemade salad dressing as I don't make potato salad that often. But, it's little things like this that really helped stretch the budget back in the hollow. So, the next time you are about to throw out an 'empty' bottle of salad dressing, try the pickle juice trick.
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Here are some vintage salad recipes I ran across in a cookbook from the late 1800's.

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Plain Salad Dressing is admissible with nearly all salads. It is composed of oil, vinegar, pepper, and salt, and nothing else. Many who do not care particularly for oil, use equal quantities of oil and vinegar, others one-third vinegar to two-thirds oil; these proportions satisfy a large class, but four parts of oil to one of vinegar are about the right proportions, provided the vinegar is of the best.
The plain dressing is made in two ways, either mixed in a bowl and the salad added to it, or as follows: Take a tablespoon and put in it (holding it over the salad) one saltspoonful of salt, one-fourth this quantity of freshly ground pepper, and a tablespoonful of oil; mix and add to the salad. Add three more tablespoonfuls of oil; toss the salad lightly for a few seconds; lastly, add a tablespoonful of sharp vinegar; toss the salad again, and serve.
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Beef Salad.—Cut into neat pieces, an inch in length, half a pound of boiled fresh beef. Take two heads of crisp lettuce, reject the outside leaves, wipe the small leaves separately, place them in a salad-bowl, add the beef. Chop up a sweet Spanish pepper, add a tablespoonful to the salad. Prepare a plain dressing, pour it over the salad; just before serving, mix gently.
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Breakfast Salad.—Scald two ripe tomatoes; peel off the skin, and place them in ice-water; when very cold, slice them. Peel and slice very thin one small cucumber. Put four leaves of lettuce into a salad-bowl, add the tomatoes and cucumber. Cut up one spring onion; add it, and, if possible, add four or five tarragon leaves. Now add a plain dressing and serve.
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Chicken Salad.—The average cook book contains a good deal of nonsense about this salad. Nothing can be more simple than to mix a little nicely cut cold boiled chicken and celery together, with a tablespoonful or two of mayonnaise. Put this mixture into a salad-bowl, arrange it neatly, and over all add a mayonnaise. Garnish with celery tops, hard-boiled eggs, strips of beets, etc. Use a little more celery than chicken. Or, tear a few leaves of lettuce, put them in a salad-bowl, and add half a cold, boiled, tender chicken that has been cut into neat pieces; pour over it a mayonnaise; garnish neatly, and serve.
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For large parties, and when the chicken is apt to become dry, from having been cut up long before it is wanted, it is best to keep it moist by adding a plain dressing. Drain it before using. Put on a flat side-dish a liberal bed of crisp lettuce. Add the chicken, garnish neatly, and, just before sending to table, pour over it a mayonnaise.
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If in hot weather, arrange the salad on a dish that will stand in a small tub or kid. Fill this with ice, place the dish on top, pin a napkin or towel around the tub to hide it from view. Flowers, smilax, etc., may be pinned on this, which produce a very pretty effect.
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In ancient times the fairest and youngest lady at table was expected to prepare and mix the salad with her fingers. "Retourner la salade les doigts," is the French way of describing a lady to be still young and beautiful.
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Cucumber Salad.—If properly prepared, cucumbers are not apt to interfere with digestion. They should be gathered early in the morning and kept in a cool place until wanted. After peeling, slice them very thin; sprinkle a little salt over them; let stand ten minutes, and add cayenne, and equal parts of oil and vinegar. If allowed to remain in salt water any length of time, if oil is omitted, or if their natural juices are squeezed out of them, they become indigestible.
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Orange Salads.—Peel and slice three oranges that have been on ice. Remove the seeds, arrange the slices in a compote, cover with powdered sugar, and add two tablespoonfuls each of maraschino, curaƧoa, and brandy. Let it stand an hour in the ice-box before serving. Or, arrange in a dish a neat border of cold boiled rice. Peel and divide into sections three Florida oranges; put the oranges in the centre; dust powdered sugar over all, and set the dish in the ice-box. Just before serving pour over the salad two wineglassfuls of arrack. A plain salad dressing is served with orange salad in some places in the East, but would not suit the American palate.

1 comment:

Sunflower Sue said...

Great ideas. As time goes on, I think you will see lots of people using these old hints in the kitchen.