Blue Ribbon Contenders from Country Fairs Past

   Country fairs always mean a little bit of fun, a little show and tell and a lot of competition to see who raised the best livestock and who prepared the best baked goods or concocted the perfect meat dish.

If you plan to enter a dish in the Ramona fair, here are a few blue ribbon contenders dating back from the 1800s and early 1900s.

   At that time, women received recipes that were passed down from mother to daughter, or were taken from the pages of Pearson’s Magazine.

Pearson’s was a fashion, romance and adventure publication that carried the works of authors like H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling among others. It also carried popular recipes of the time, and many of these would be carefully cut out and pasted into mother’s “secret” recipe book.

   Here are a few to tickle your taste buds: 

Baked Beans Savory

“For the Picnic Basket”

Circa 1890

Cook in two tsp. of salt pork or bacon fat a large slice of onion, add one tsp. curry powder and one-half cup of tomato pulp, or half the amount of tomato catsup. Add two or three cups of baked beans, turn in a mould and, when cold, serve on lettuce leaf. (Sounds like a winner to me.) 

Prairie Chicken, Circa 1900

After preparing, boil in hot water until quite tender in all the joints except the breast; take out and rub all over with butter; salt, and pepper, and boil briskly with the breast; then take out again and with a lump of butter on each piece set in the oven for a very short time.

(Sounds good but I’m still leaning toward that bunny dish.)

Boiled Ham, March 19, 1914

A ham should be soaked overnight, then washed and scraped before it is boiled. Place it in a large kettle, in cold water, and heat gradually. It is best to let it remain an hour before it comes to a boil, then let it simmer gently, allowing twenty-five or more minutes to each pound.

Breast of Veal, Stewed, January 1867

Brown the veal first by half roasting it; remove as many of the bones as possible, and then put it into a stewpan with some stock, a glass of wine, a piece of lemon-peel, a bunch of sweet herbs, and a carrot; let simmer slowly on a hot hearth, with hot cinders on the lid of the stewpan; about half an hour before it is served, strain off the sauce and remove the herbs, etc., put it then back with the veal, first thickening it with some flour browned in butter; let it boil up, to take off the raw taste of the flour; then add some pickled mushrooms, with their juice; and, when you serve, add some forcemeat-balls, which have been fried, and are hot. To vary the appearance, the tendons may be cut off, and the remainder rolled into a nice round, and finished as before; season with salt and pepper. A ham-bone, or a bit of lean ham, will improve the flavor.

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