Thursday, September 11, 2014

Melissa: Challenge 7: The Best Thing since Sliced Bread

Here I am, the prodigal admin, returning to the blog after skipping a challenge! I apologize for the tardiness of this challenge, but I had to move in to school and start the new semester so the pear dish I was going to make sadly got pushed aside to do, well, school.  But I'm here! Better late than never, right?

To preface this, I am not a salad eater.  I have never been a salad eater.  I am morally opposed to what most people deem "salad", which is basically layers of fat and oil and cheese with some green stuff to make you feel good about yourself.  So I decided for this challenge I would go back to the start of this terrible thing called salad, the 1920's.  I turned to my original cookbook, Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, 1925, for some background.  The book touts that, "there is no more effective nor appetizing way in which to include [fresh fruits and vegetables] in a meal than in the serving of salads.  In addition, salads make a strong appeal to the appetite and at the same time are beneficial so far as the health of the family is concerned."  Yeah, no.  The "salad" I made was definitely not at the top of the healthy totem pole.

What did I make, you ask?

Banana-and-Peanut Salad
Fruit-Salad Dressing

Yes. You heard me correctly.  It was insane.

I started off by making the dressing in a double boiler.  It consisted of 1/2 cup pineapple, peach, or pear juice (I chose pineapple), 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 eggs.  It was briefly whisked together, then put in the double boiler, boiled until it thickened, taken off the flame and whisked a bit, then left to cool before serving.

What do you do when you don't have a double boiler? This!

As that cooled I prepared the "salad".  The recipe calls for cutting the bananas in half lengthwise, rolling them in crushed peanuts, and serving on a lettuce leaf.  If you'd rather have a more appetizing (disgusting) presentation, you could coat the bananas in the dressing before putting the peanuts on.  No thanks!

I ground the peanuts in a vintage nut grinder, as one does, and then put them on a plate.  The peanuts stuck very well to the middle of the banana but fell off of the outside.  Oh well.

See? It's a salad now because it's served on a lettuce leaf!

After the dressing had cooled, I topped my banana with it and tried this weird concoction.  It's... strange.  There are no bad flavors, the combination is just so strange!  I imagined some kind of bananas-and-peanut butter flavor, but the peanuts kind of faded to the background and all I could taste was bland banana and super citrusy dressing.  But I ate salad!

The Challenge: #7: The Best Thing since Sliced Bread

The Recipe: Woman's Institute Library of Cookery (personal collection)

The Date/Year and Region: Pennsylvania, 1925

How Did You Make It: See above :)

Time to Complete: About 30-45 minutes, the dressing took most of the time

Total Cost: I had to buy large bottles of juice for this project, so I would say about $10 outright, but only $3 was used.

How Successful Was It?: Strange... weird... different... unexpected... My father apparently liked it, since he ate two pieces, while my mother and I (more discerning critics) only ate one each.

How Accurate Is It?: Pretty darn! Most of the items I used would have been available in '25, except the bananas might have been smaller.

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