“The necessity for saving food is responsible for the creation of many new dishes that are in no sense substitutes nor makeshifts. They really are good and worth retaining after the necessity for conservation ends. War time Griddle Cakes in one of them. You can take stale bread, once a household waste, and make pancakes that you will like as those made wholly with flour.”
So claims a 1918 advertisement for Crisco. The recipe for Crisco’s “War time Griddle Cakes” is included below. Serve them with maple syrup or the “conservation syrup” the recipe recommends.
War Time Griddle Cakes
1 egg yolk
3/4 cupful milk
3/4 cupful water
2 1/2 cupfuls bread crumbs
2 cupfuls flour
2 teaspoonfuls salt
8 teaspoonfuls baking powder
1 tablespoonful melted Crisco
1 egg white
Soak stale bread until sufficiently soft. Squeeze as dry as possible. Then crumble and measure. Beat egg yolk well, add milk, water, bread crumbs, flour, salt, baking powder and melted Crisco. Beat the egg white and add it. Fry in well Criscoed pans. This recipe makes about two dozen medium-sized cakes. Serve with a “conservation syrup” made of apple or other fruit parings, water and sugar. A little Loganberry juice will give it a delicious flavor.
In Alaska one could find frontier cooking at its best. Rugged prospectors combined their culinary skills with those of the native Eskimos, whipping up hearty dishes of game, fish, wild plants and sourdough breads. The typical dinner of an Alaskan prospector featured such exotic delicacies as caribou, moose, rabbit and bear. Sometimes, when the fishing was good, the dinner table was graced with king crab or ruby red salmon and rainbow trout. For dessert prospectors and frontiersmen enjoyed blueberry pies and huckleberry preserves — nutritious gifts harvested from deep within the Alaskan forests.
But baked goods made from sourdough were perhaps the most treasured treats of the prospector, who guarded his bubbling pot of sourdough starter with the utmost caution. According to Mary Kellogg Sullivan, in her book The Trail of a Sourdough: Life in Alaska (1910), the term “sourdough” referred to “a miner who has spent one winter in Alaska and ‘has seen the ice go out.'” This picturesque way of describing a hardened and experienced miner’s life suggested that he lived entirely beyond the pale of civilization, so much so that he was forced to rely on bread made from fermented potatoes and flour — Alaskan sourdough.
“Sourdough” by Fred Machetanz (1908-2002)
Here’s a recipe for sourdough pancakes from sourdoughbreads.com. You can purchase an authentic Alaskan (from a Yukon prospector, at that!) sourdough starter from sourdo.com. Serve your pancakes with a blueberry conserve or maple syrup.
The night before, mix well (to incorporate some air) 1 cup of sourdough starter with 1½ cups of all purpose flour and 1 cup of warm water (85°-90°). Leave at warm room temperature (70°-85°) overnight, covered well with plastic wrap.
The next morning, return 1 cup of the starter mixture to the fridge.
Then mix the remaining 1½ cups of starter with
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tablespoon of sugar (or more if you like)
1 Tablespoon of melted butter
¾ Teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon (generous) of baking soda
2 Tablespoons of milk
Try to have your ingredients at room temperature. This will help to make more tender pancakes.
Bake on a 400° griddle. Enjoy!
The ancestor of our humble oat was a wild and uncouth relative that grew in southern Europe and western Asia. Used for animal fodder and as an ingredient in hearty dishes and baked goods, wild–and later cultivated–oats provided sustenance for Europe’s rural poor.
The Norwegians for instance consumed fish and oatmeal porridge; an ancient saga tells of a hero’s enjoyment of this dish before leaving his home: “Before I left my home, ate I in peace fish and oatmeal,” he says. The more humble folk also enjoyed some variation of this dish, partaking of it in numerous guises throughout the day. Alfred Heaton Cooper in his book The Norwegian Fjords (1907) tells us that the average Norwegian peasant followed the following daily gustatory routine: “At 6 a.m., oatmeal cake or potato cake and buttermilk; at 8 a.m.–the chief meal of the day –is served fish, and boiled, salted, or dried mutton with potatoes; at 12 midday, oatmeal porridge and buttermilk; at 4 p.m., dried, smoked, or salted fish with potatoes and buttermilk; at 8 p.m., oatmeal porridge and milk.” Though variety was lacking in this austere Nordic diet, the meals were filling and nourishing, especially when in the warmer spring and summer months vegetables were added to the menu.
Claude Monet, Oat and Poppy Fields, 1890
Here’s an 1888 recipe for Norwegian oatmeal porridge. Serve it with cream and brown sugar or as a side for more savory dishes.
Norwegian Oatmeal Porridge