Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

Cooking Breakfast

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

the water must be boiling madlyIn the preface to 2002 Household Helps, editor Janet D. Myers wished the book would “be called upon many times to shorten the labors of those who are responsible for the welfare of our American families.” Since I’ve mostly been cooking breakfast these days (who needs lunch or dinner, when there are so many sugared cereals to indulge in?), I thought I’d pull out some helpful tips to share. Pouring the milk over the cereal sure is laborious, and my singlular American family deserves only the best!

1942: Cooking Breakfast

CRISPING BACON ~ Try laying your thin slices of bacon in a shallow pan and putting them in the oven. They will be uniformly crist and moderately browned. When you take them out of the oven lay the pieces on oiled paper until you are ready to serve. The fat that has been cooked out can be used in frying hashed brown potatoes or chops.

MILK INSTEAD OF CREAM ~ Two quarts of milk added to one quart of heavy cream makes cream sufficient strength when serving coffee to 100 people.

SODA IN OMELET ~ A half teaspoonful of soda added to a cup of sour milk and used instead of sweet milk in preparing an omelet makes it light and fluffy.

‘NEW’ CEREAL IDEA ~ When tired of breakfast cereals try cooking two or three kinds together. They will give a new flavor to the breakfast.

BETTER COFFEE ~ Many people use too little coffee when they make the drink. Put more of it into the coffee pot and you will have a better beverage.

COOK CEREALS LONGER ~ Breakfast cereals cooked for long periods of time will have a better flavor and be more digestible than those cooked only a short time.

MAKING SAUSAGE ~ In making sausage or other things calling for ground meat, it is desirable to have the seasoning evenly mixed with meat. Cut meat in strips, lengthwise, for grinding. Weigh meat for same. Put layer of meat in pan, sprinkle seasoning over, then another layer of meat and seasoning until all is used. Then feed into grinder. The sausage will be uniform in flavor.

FRYING SAUSAGES ~ When frying pork sausages invert a colander over the frying pan and you will find that you will not be bothered with the grease spattering the stove and yourself.

JELLY OMELET ~ A dab of tart jelly is very good with the breakfast omelet.

FRYING ON OIL STOVE ~ Use an aluminum frying pan for pancakes when frying them over an oil stove.

CHOICE GRAPEFRUIT ~ Grapefruit uniform in size, with smooth thin skin and small pores, are the choice ones.

BEATING EGG WHITES ~ Never beat whites of eggs in an aluminum pan. It will always darken it and make it ugly. Use a china or porcelain bowl.

POACHING EGGS ~ Don’t try to poach an egg by putting it in lukewarm or slightly boiling water. The water must be boiling madly, so that the albumen is cooked at once, otherwise the egg spreads all through the water.

LEFTOVER TOAST ~ Dip leftover toast in egg and milk, and brown in a small amount of fat. This is French toast and may be served for breakfast with powdered sugar or syrup.

KEEPING DOUGHNUTS ~ If doughnuts are put into a covered dish while still warm they will keep fresh for some time.

BETTER TOAST ~ Bread a day old makes better toast than fresh bread.

AVOIDING LUMPY CEREALS ~ If you have trouble with cereals lumping when you are pouring them into the boiling water, stir vigorously with a wire cake spoon.

Source: Myers, Janet D. 2002 Household Helps. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1942.
~ pp. 27-45 ~

The Man Who Stayed for Breakfast

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

take the wrinkle out of his pajamasI turn now to some tastier (excuse the pun) material from a book with one of my favorite titles ~ She Cooks to Conquer. When I registered for my 30th birthday I received many wonderful kitchen supplies, and was hoping for the chance to use this book. Unfortunately my kitchen at that time was the size of a crock pot, which didn’t make it easy to cook a romantic dinner. But it did inspire this post.

I decided to jump to the end of this classically themed book, skipping such recipes as “Artichokes Artemis,” “Soup Hades,” and “Clam Juice Calypso.” I don’t think the author, Robert H. Loeb, would mind ~ in the introduction to the book, he writes “neither the author, the illustrator, nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for the order in which this book may be used.”

1952: The Man Who Stayed for Breakfast

Now you’ve done it, haven’t you, Circe? Your culinary sorcery has conquered. The man who came to dinner, that former wild, untamed adventurer, has cast aside his play clothes and donned his matrimonial uniform. And he’s now the man who stayed for breakfast.

And you, the bewitching temptress, are supposed to transform yourself from the enchanting Circe into Penelope, the ever-patient wife of Odysseus.

But beware! For what did the original Penelope get from such a role? Her Odysseus left her to retrieve Menelaus’ Helen. He spent over a dozen years on this little sojourn, and, although Homer tried his best to lend his adventures an aura of respectability with much trial and woe and suffering, Odysseus’ little side trips and year-long week-end stop-off with his Circe (and others, too) cause one to wonder about the true extent of the tragedy of his wanderings.

And what was Penelope doing all this while? There she sat for a dozen years, a penumbral, pallid sort of female, resisting the importunities of some broken-down suiters, growing older and wearier (who wouldn’t, weaving and unweaving petit point day and night?). What did she get when her liege lord finally came home to roost? Odysseus, the gamecock of yore returned more of an ancient barnyard rooster.

No, Circe, that’s not for you. To maintain your conquest, don’t cast aside the delicious witchery of your former role and become a mere pallid companion to this palladin. Maintain your spell and start his day off with more Circean magic.

Here, then, are a few special breakfast dishes [see below] that will keep the fire burning within his manly chest, take the wrinkles out of his pajamas, put back the night-before’s luster in his eyes, and maintain you forever as the irresistible temptress who conquered for eternity.

Incidentally ~ Unsure about making male-appealing coffee? Here’s a sure one for percolator:

1. put 4 cups of water in pot
2. boil it
3. then fill coffee receptable with 5 tablespoons of drip grind coffee
4. assemble and let perk slowly for 12 minutes
5. let stand then for about 5 minutes
6. serve

Miss Abigail here, again: I had to share at least one recipe with you. Each one fills an entire page of the book, and I mimic the layout with the images below so you could get a sense of the actual page. The illustrations are beautifully done by Laura Jean Allen; “She describes herself, as far as her art, as schizoid: in one breath she can do dreamy pastels, and in the next she can be stingingly satirical,” the flap copy reads. The recipe is titled “Eggs Eos”:

Eggs Eos

Step 1 Step 2

Steps 3, 4, 5

Step 6 Step 7

Source: Loeb, Robert H., Jr. She Cooks to Conquer. New York: Wilfred Funk, Inc., 1952.
~ pp. 112-114 ~