Savoring a Culinary Vice

So the challenge was culinary vices, “foods (that are) are really, really naughty. Globs of butter, lashings of sugar and syrup, decadent chocolate and wine. Bring out your naughty, indecorous side with foods associated with all the bad things, in the best ways.” A culinary vice in our house is chocolate, the more the chocolate merrier. And what could be better than chocolate, combined with brown sugar, molasses, a bit of butter and milk, and a dash of vanilla? That is what we made for the second Historical Foods Fortnightly 2016 challenge.

But first about the recipe; the recipe came from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 28, 1902. (USA) The front page of the paper featured articles about the recent tunnel explosion in Manhattan. The day before, Jan 27, Manhattan was rocked by a terrible explosion near Grand Central Station and Park Avenue. The Murray Hill Hotel, Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital, Grand Union Hotel and Grand Central Station were all damaged in the blast. Six people died and the damage was over $1,000,000. The explosion was caused by dynamite cartridges that were stored in a subway shaft under Park Avenue. A fire swept through the shaft at noon time, causing the dynamite to explode.

On page twelve, Some Things That Will Interest Women, were articles on what to wear between seasons, English going-away gowns, Republican’s Woman Euchre (card game), suggestions on how to get a spot of green around the house (including a suggestion of sprouting clover seeds in a sponge), and this very tasty recipe for Chocolate Caramels.

And yes we did like it better, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan 28, 1902, page 12

It was very easy to make, all ingredients except the vanilla, were combined in a large pot and heated to 238oF. The vanilla was added after we took the pot off the stove. This process took about 30 minutes, from breaking up the chocolate to pouring the mix in the pan.

The only challenge was determining when to “mark off” the squares. When I first went to score the caramels (after ~45 minutes), the mix was still too hot and the cut lines blurred back on each other. After about 90 minutes the caramels were ready to be cut. We got about 49 caramels from the recipe.

And of course eating too many was the other challenge. The molasses added just the right amount of chew to these tasty confections.

Fortunately I was able to bring most of them into work where they were enjoyed by my colleagues.

Followed the recipe nearly exactly, except adding the vanilla after the mix was heated and not before.

Cost ~$7.00 (brown sugar had been given to me)


NYS Historic Newspapers, Brooklyn Daily Eagle Jan 28 1902, p 12,

Explosion in new york causes great damage,


Simple Meal During Troubled Times

One can imagine the relieve the war-weary residents of Port Jervis, New York, (a small city on the Delaware River near the New Jersey – Pennsylvania border) felt when they sat down to read their copy of the Evening Gazette on Saturday November 2, 1918 – the front page headlines told it all:

Kaiser Charles Quits Vienna,
Turkey agrees to Conditions, and
Over 1,000 Square Miles of Italy is Conquered.

The Evening Gazette, November 02, 1918, Page 1, accessed from NYS Historic Newspapers

One can image that they were also relieved to read the letter home from a wounded soldier and that in the nearby Pennsylvania community of Matamoras, the flu quarantine had been lifted, and churches and schools would be opening on Monday.













Meat and Spud
The Evening Gazette, November 02, 1918, page 14, accessed from NYS Historic Newspapers

Tucked on the last page was the recipe for Minced Beef with Potato Border. This simple entree was similar to Sheppard’s pie, with the mashed potatoes serving as a border to the chopped meat center.




This 2016 version followed the 1918 recipe nearly exactly; the only difference was that the beef was cooked just prior to assembly. The beef was simmered in a little water to get the required beef stock.

While it was a tasty, simple meal, modern cooks might add garlic, Worcestershire sauce, or mustard to enhance the flavor of the meat.

Cost : about $6.50 – US