I was truly astonished when I realized that this is my 100th post for this blog. How should I celebrate it? What would be appropriate? I struggled with that for a while. Should I do something spectacular? Something on the 100th page of a randomly selected cookbook? Even though my work levels have dropped, I still have other responsibilities than cooking, so what I chose had to be reasonable in its demands.
What I settled on was using a 100 year old cookbook, which turned out to be an excellent decision for an historical recipe blog. You see, I live in California and this year is the 100th anniversary of the Panama Pacific International Exposition, a world's fair, which was held in San Francisco. If you know the history of that city, you know that a major earthquake followed by huge fire had ravaged the city in 1906. The Exposition was a chance for the city to rebuild and to show to the world how wonderful it could be. San Francisco pulled it off with style only nine years after its devastation.
One of the exhibitors was the Sun-Maid Raisin company and they published a book of raisin recipes, the Souvenir California Raisin Recipe Book, which they sold for 25 cents. I found a copy of it on their iPad website, sunmaid.com, where they offer a selection of their raisin cookbooks from the last 100 years, available for individual download.
If you go to their non-iPad/iPhone website, http://www.sunmaid.com/book/, you can get their PDF book and read a lot about the history of the company, including the discovery of Thompson Seedless grapes, the woman who became the face on the box, and how the Exposition lead to the company's widespread recognition. It has recipes but not the historical ones.
On the introductory page of the 28 page souvenir booklet, the dedication is " 'To Mother' who in addition to her many other responsibilities is vitally interested in providing 'Good Things to Eat'..."
They point out that the recipes contained within are all prize recipes: "We have eliminated all those that are commonplace. We have printed in this book only those that produce the most delicate and most palatable foods."
I was amused at their blatant sales propaganda, under "The Economy" section:
Raisins, then, are economical because they supply the body with needed food-properties. Nothing that is food is waste. Raisins are not a luxury. Economize by doing without other edibles that do not produce health, strength, and energy. Never be without raisins. Keep them always in the house. Give them to the children after school in place of questionable candy.There are several categories of recipes in the booklet: bread, cookies, cake, candy (I guess they aren't of the questionable type), pie, puddings, miscellaneous dainties, and miscellaneous raisin dainties.
I selected "Raisin Puffs", which appears twice! Once under puddings and once under raisin dainties. I suspect some proofreading was neglected before publication but I am not bothered by this at all. I liked it because it is a steamed pudding.
Two eggs; 1/2 cup butter; 3 teaspoons baking powder; 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 cups flour; 1 cup milk; 1 cup Seeded Raisins, chopped fine. Steam 1/2 hour in small cups.
<Note: the other recipe says "1/2 package Seeded Raisins", which would be about 8 ounces by weight.>
|Today's boxes are only 15 ounces, not the 16 ounces they used to be.|
|Finely chopped using my ulu knife!|
After the time was up, I tested each puff with a toothpick to see if it was cooked in the middle. They were all ready and I put them on the counter to cool.
Before tasting them, I decided they needed a glaze, and what better to represent California than lemon juice mixed with powdered sugar? I decided to glaze only four of them so the taste testing would include the original recipes.
My guest taster and I each tried an original puff and a glazed puff. We both liked what we were eating: the puffs were not too sweet and had a moist, dense texture with a mellow raisin muffin-like flavor. I thought they needed a little salt in the batter but he, who eats much more salt than I do, did not feel it was necessary.
|A closeup of the middle|
The glaze added a little bit of excitement but not as much as I had hoped for. I enjoyed the puffs with and without the glaze. I was worried at first about them not being cooked enough despite the toothpick test because the tidbits off the bottom of the bowls tasted a little doughy and floury. However that was not the case once the puffs had cooled.
I would definitely do them again. For variation, I would add some lemon or orange zest to the batter, and maybe some spices like cloves or cinnamon. But they are fine as is and good for dessert, breakfast, or with a cup of coffee or tea.