Saturday, September 27, 2014

Baked "Fried" Chicken Recipe

Ah, the family.  Gathered around the table on a Sunday after church, eating mama's Fried Chicken. 

Fried Chicken brings us all home and it is a true comfort food.  

It's also one of my favorites.  It reminds me of a certain kind of kitsch.  A yearning for days past when life was easy and not so very complicated.  

So, today I invite you to a not-so-long ago past, during a time of family meals with no cell phones or laptops.  When we all had a hankering for a home cooked meal that hit us right in our soul.  

I invite you to a Sunday dinner of yesteryear....

Retro "Fried" Chicken Dinner

Yesteryear's Sunday Family Tradition

In truth, I don't often have the patience to cook long meals and it is a true shame because when I put in a little effort it almost always turns out for the best.  And today, I really wanted to make our meal special -- call it a hankering for some good ol' homecookin'.  I came across a recipe from RecipeCurio that I knew I had to try.  It got me thinking, though about Fried Chicken, and, although fried chicken is nothing new, I really wanted to focus on our love of all things vintage-kitsch Fried Chicken.  

(Image: Judy Garland frying Chicken in 1955). 

Think KFC in the 1960s...

(Retro KFC Bucket, KFC Ad circa 1968, Early KFC Restaurant)

Quick versions of fried chicken entered the "fast food" world in the 1950's and 1960's with the rise of deep freezers and fast food restaurants.  At the beginning of the upward trend in all things convenient, fried chicken was right there along with hamburgers and french fries. KFC, local fried chicken shacks and the ever-so-kitsch TV dinners were extremely popular. 

However, convenience fried chicken could never replace the homecooked versions.  And recipes, coming out in magazines (from the 1920s through the 1960s and beyond) as well as in new fangled cookbooks, were a dime a dozen: 

I love to look through old recipes, and, fried chicken recipes are always eye catching.  Each family has their own version and their own kind: Southern, Spicy, Corn-Flaked, Breadcrumb-Breaded, and finally, the version I tried, Rice Crispy coated. The different kinds of Fried Chicken may be various in cooking methodology with fans of each but they all have one thing in common: a delicious & comforting homecooked-taste.

And now on with the recipe...

Baked Fried Chicken

Recipe Provided by

(A Printable Version Link Provided at End of Blog)

I stayed pretty true to the recipe with the ingredients, only subbing out two packages of chicken breast for the fryer chicken and the garlic clove for dried.  It was super delicious and it has since been added to my family's meal rotation.  

  • 2 Packages of thin cut chicken breast OR 1 package of thick cut chicken breast OR 1 Fryer chicken. 
  • 4 Cups Rice Krispie Cereal
  • 3/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (or Romano or mixed)
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1/8 Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon each: Garlic Salt and Garlic Powder (or 1 Clove Garlic)
  • 1/4 chopped parsley (I used dried)
  • 1/2 Cup Butter

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.  Melt Butter in microwave for 45 seconds or until melted. *Here is where I differed in methods from the above handwritten recipe: I did the shake'n'bake method.* Combine dry ingredients in a large ziplock bag.  Crush the Rice Krispie Cereal in the bag and make sure all the Parmesan Cheese is clump free. Dip chicken in butter and add to the ziplock bag. Once all the chicken is in the bag, seal it up, and toss until all the chicken is well-coated with the Rice Krispie mixture. 

Once the chicken is coated add to a baking pan in an even layer (if using Fryer Chicken - place skin side up).  I covered the chicken with remaining Krispie mix.

Place Aluminum foil over the baking dish and pop it in the oven. 

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  Do not turn the pan once in the oven.  

It came out perfect, and I made some truly vintage sides to go with the baked "fried" chicken.  And it really did taste like I had fried it!

Some good old fashioned mashed potatoes and gravy with green beans and country white bread rounded out the baked "fried" chicken meal.  It was a real winner!

(All recipe's provided by and images from Pinterest: (Searched Images)

Enjoy this very vintage KFC commerical!

Click for the Printable Recipe 

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Scullery Maid of Victorian England

“In great houses, scullery maids were the lowest-ranked and often the youngest of the female servants and acted as assistant to a kitchen maid” (Wikipedia). 
(Oil painting of a scullery maid by Jean-Siméon Chardin)

The Scullery Maid of Victorian England. 

In Mrs. Beeton’s 1861 Victorian house manual, The Book of Household Management, the scullery maid is the lowest ranking servant and the only servant in which Mrs. Beeton had some empathy towards, “…perhaps the only one of her class deserving of commiseration: her life is a solitary one, and in some places, her work is never done.  She is also subject to rougher treatment” (Beeton).   This ‘rougher treatment’ of young scullery maids was not unheard of, or, all together that uncommon,
“One sixteen year old reported…’I am an orphan.  When I was ten I was sent to service as maid-of-all-work, in a small tradesman’s family.  It was a hard place, and my mistress used me very cruelly, beating me often.  I stood my mistress’s ill-treatment for about six months.  She beat me with sticks as well as with her hands.  I was black and blue, and at last ran away’” (Flanders, 139).  

Mrs Beeton describes the position of scullery made accurately, writing, “The position of scullery-maid is not, of course, one of high rank, nor is the payment for her services large. But if she be fortunate enough to have over her a good kitchen-maid and clever cook, she may very soon learn to perform various little duties connected with cooking operations, which may be of considerable service in fitting her for a more responsible place. Now, it will be doubtless thought by the majority of our readers, that the fascinations connected with the position of the scullery-maid, are not so great as to induce many people to leave a comfortable home in order to work in a scullery” (Beeton). 

(Young Scullery Maids with Upper Servant)

Scullery Maids were often young ladies, some as young as 9 or 10, and whose families were often the poorest of the poor.  The opportunity afforded a scullery maid was that of a roof over her head, food in a consistent manner and the possibility of learning new trade skills to improve her station in life.  It was above the horrors of the Victorian Work House or being destitute.  

Still, the life a scullery maid was extremely hard and taxing. The hours of the Scullary Maid were long ones, and the days off were far and few between.  Servants often did not have every Sunday off but perhaps every other Sunday… if they were lucky.  The entire household staff might not even have a reduced workload on Sundays, “If the family expected an elaborate Sunday dinner, then Sundays were like any other day for the servant.  When a half day was given, the servant was expected to get through the regular twelve hours’ work by five o’clock before being allowed out” (Flanders).  

The Scullery Maids had a vast amount of duties to perform.  She literally worked before sunup until well after sundown.  According to PBS Historians and featured in the program ‘Manor House,’ the Scullery Maids daily chores were as follows:
 “Morning Duties: You must rise at six o'clock and wash and dress, with your hair tied neatly back beneath your cap. Your bed must be made and you must be downstairs at work within half an hour of waking. You first task of the day is to stoke the Kitchen range to a good heat, to boil water for early morning tea. You must then empty the chamber pots of all the female Servants, and wash them around with a vinegar soaked rag kept only for this purpose. You should also assist the Lower Servants in preparing the early morning tea for the Upper Servants. You must then set about cleaning the Kitchen passages, the Pantries, the Kitchen and Scullery. When the Chef de Cuisine arrives in the Kitchen at half-past seven you will be expected to curtsey and bid him "Good Morning". At a quarter-to eight you should lay the table in the Servants' Hall for Breakfast. Breakfast is served in the Servants' Hall at a quarter past eight. You should clear the table afterwards and wash the dishes. At a quarter-past nine you must appear in a presentable state, attired in a clean apron, for Morning prayers in the Main Hall. This is the only time that it is acceptable for you to be seen above stairs, and it is compulsory for all members of Staff to attend. Your duties resume in the Kitchen at ten o'clock, when you must wash up all the dishes from the Servants' Breakfast, as well as the pans and kitchen utensils used in preparing both the Servants' and Family's Breakfasts. At half-past ten you should lay the table in the Servants' Hall for tea. At eleven o'clock tea is served in the Servants' Hall. You should clear the table afterwards and wash up. You should then assist the Kitchen Maid and Chef with preparations for the Servants' Dinner and Family's Luncheon, should they require you to. You must ensure the Kitchen is kept spotless at all times and continuously wash up after both the Chef de Cuisine and the Kitchen Maid as they make their preparations. At Midday you are to take your Dinner in the Kitchen with the Kitchen Maid so that you may watch over the Family's Luncheon, whilst the Chef takes his Dinner in the Servants' Hall with the other Servants. The Second Footman will lay the table, serve, and clear away the dirty dishes.
Afternoon Duties:  Your duties resume at one o'clock when you must begin washing up after the Servants' Dinner, and the Family's Luncheon. Providing your work is done, you may have one hour at your leisure between half-past two and half-past three. At half-past three you should lay the table in the Servants' Hall for Tea. Tea is served in the Servants' Hall at four o'clock, you should clear the table afterwards. At half-past four, you should resume your duties in the Kitchen, washing up after the Servants' Tea and the utensils used in preparation for the Family's Tea. You must assist the Kitchen Maid with any food preparation for the Family's dinner and Servants' Supper and continuously wash up any pots and pans used.  After the Family's Dinner has been served you must clean the Kitchen Passages, Pantries, Scullery and Kitchen. Supper is served in the Servants' Hall at half-past nine. The Second Footman is to lay the table, serve, and clear away afterwards. Providing you work is done, from half past nine until you are required to go to bed, you may enjoy your leisure” (PBS).  

On top of daily chores, the Scullery Maid was also expected to help in assigned duties for the purposes of specialized cleaning.  An example could be, "Monday: laundry; Tuesday: servants' room, one bedroom; Wednesday: remaining bedrooms; Thursday: drawing room, breakfast room, morning room; Friday: dining room and polishing the silver; Saturday: hall, stairs, kitchen, passageways; [and] Sunday: collect, sort, and soak laundry, to ready for it Monday" (Flanders, 144).  

(Hannah Cullwick, photographed by her future husband Arthur Munby)

A description of a 'maid-of-all-work' named Hannah Cullwick was described to a man named Arthur Munby (who would go on to later marry Hannah).  He had a sordid fascination with working-class woman and he described a scene in which he vividly casts a poignant light upon the working conditions of a Scullery Maid.  He noted about what he saw when he visited Hannah at a house located in Kilburn in North-West, London, England, "She stood at a sink behind a wooden dresser backed with choppers and stained with blood and grease, upon which were piles of coppers and saucepans that she had to scour, piles of dirty dishes that she had to wash.  Her frock, her cap, her face and arms were more or less wet, soiled, perspiring and her apron was a filthy piece of sacking, wet and tied round her with a cord.  The den where she wrought was low, damp, ill-smelling; windowless, lighted by a flaring gas-jet; and , full in view, she had on one side a larder hung with raw meat, on the other a common urinal; besides the many ugly, dirty implements around her" (Flanders, 103-104, Davidhoff, 79).  

The life of a Scullery Maid was a far cry from the cleaned up versions portrayed in such shows as Downton Abbey and Upstairs/Downstairs. Yet, we have a sort of fascination with Domestic Service. They were a hardworking lot who often came from less than desirous circumstances and they tried to eek out an existence while working for those whose stations in life could afford the service of others. The class system was fully apparent in Victorian, London, England but perhaps never more so than in the houses of the wealthy with a full staff of domestics.  

All in all, it makes me appreciate my lot in life, and that I am in the time of automated dishwashers, dryers and Dyson vacuum cleaners!


Flanders, Judith. Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004. Print.

Davidoff, Leonore, and Ruth Hawthorn. A Day in the Life of a Victorian Domestic Servant. London: Allen and Unwin, 1976. Print.

Beeton, Isabella. Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management. 1861. Print.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Um, what is it?

Imagine you are seated at the head table of a grand Medieval or Tudor feast. The king and queen are only a few seats down (for you are nobility, of course). Dish after dish has been served up and all the guests including the king and queen are awaiting the main event. All have been promised a spectacular show.

And lo and behold the main event is presented...

...and you find that you have been served up an animal so exotic, so bizarre, and so absolutely absurd that all you can do is laugh in utter astonishment and delight.

What have you been presented with, what is it?

You have just been served the exotic Cockentryce.

Presenting: The Cockentryce and Coqz Heaumez

Chimera Animals & Other Showmanship Pieces of Medieval and Tudor Feasts

According to Gode Cookery, "A cockentrice was made by combining a pig and a capon into one creature, thus creating a "new" animal that would not only feed hungry folk but amuse and amaze them as well. "Cockentrice" is actually just one among many spellings of the name of this dish; originally the beast was also known as a cokagrys or cotagres, from "cock" (a capon) and "grys" (a pig); a "gryse" was a suckling pig. Other period spellings include koketris, cocagres, cokyntryche, cockyntryce, and cokantrice. Cockentrice were common entries at great dinners, and a cokyntryche is listed among the many feast items at a festival given by John Stafford, Bishop of Bath & Wells, on September 16, 1425" (godecookery). 

Cockentrice's were an excellent example of the exotic and showmanship theatrics that the grand Medieval and Tudor feasts were known to have carried out.  

Heston Blumenthal, known for his theatrics in creating gastro-inventive dishes creates the Cockentrice in the video above.  Although his Cockentrice is extremely elaborate, the spectacle of the beast has the same mischievous fun that would have been found in the best of Medieval and Tudor banquets.  
I can imagine that the guests of Heston's Tudor dinner party are just as delighted as guests of those long ago feasts! Along with the Cockentrice, the mythical and imaginative chimera animal served up at grand banquents, one could also find the odd and amusing Coqz Heaumez or the Helmeted Cock.  

Helmeted Cock?

Yes.  Helmeted Cock.

According to Gode Cookery, "Serving almost as a sort of companion to the Cockentrice is the Coqz Heaumez, or Helmeted Cock, another fantastic combination of pig and fowl, which appears in the Medieval French Cookbook of Guillaume Tirel, known today as Le Viandier de Taillevent," (godecookery 2). 

Accompanying the Cockentrice was the humorous and resplendent Helmeted Cock.  
Yes, your eyes do no decieve you, for that is indeed a fowl riding a pig into battle wearing robes while holding a lance.  

Could you imagine being served up such a delight?  I certainly could not!

The Supersizers Go (a delightfully hilarious show you just have to check out, which is available on Hulu and YouTube) presented a medieval feast complete with the Helmeted Cock.  It was truly a gastronomic delight and I was jealous not to be among the guests watching the spectacular show. At least I can watch the video! 

So, now you are fully versed in a few Franken-animals presented in the fanciful banquets of Medieval and Tudor feasts.  Now, I am off to eat something...fresh & simple...and not an apple. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Glenn Miller: A Missing WWII Musical Icon

Glenn Miller: A Missing WWII Musical Icon

Alton Glenn Miller.  An icon of WWII.  His music captured a generation and an era.  The number of movies and television shows about WWII are countless and many have used Glenn Miller's music to capture the atmosphere.

But did you know that Glenn Miller vanished without a trace?

"On December 15, 1944, Miller was to fly from the United Kingdom to Paris, France, to play for the soldiers there. His plane, a single-engined UC-64 Norseman, USAAF serial 44-70285, departed from RAF Twinwood Farm in Clapham, on the outskirts of Bedford and disappeared while flying over the English Channel" (Wikipedia, Glenn Miller).

WOW! The entire flight vanished over the English Channel.  It is a true shame because he was so revolutionary in the musical world.  He was an amazingly talented musician and his sound was so distinctive.  Even today, his music connects us with a tumultuous time in the history of our world.  He wanted his music to be a morale booster, a hope for those oppressed worldwide, and in direct opposition to the fascist oppression that was rampant throughout Europe, even stating on a radio program, "America means freedom and there's no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music" (Wikipedia, Glenn Miller). 

It's amazing that even today there is a lot of speculation and misreported information regarding his disappearance. PBS History Detectives did a great presentation and special investigation regarding the mysterious disappearance.  

PBS History Detectives Special Investigation: Glenn Miller

Great mysteries like the Glenn Miller disappearance, Vallisca Ax Murder case, the lost Roanoke Colony, and/or the disappearance of Amelia Earhart have always fascinated me. Now, I am off to listen to The Glenn Miller Orchestra and relish the music he created...

Wikipedia Link to Glenn Miller

Monday, September 22, 2014

The First Post: Stuart Era Dinner Rolls

My first post I will dedicate to food because, after all, food connects us.  It is a shared love that we all have and have had throughout the ages and around the world.  My love of history is often translated into food and I share my adventures with my two little boys and my husband, who for the most is a good sport (the kids not so much).  Depending on how you look at it, the unfortunate or fortunate aspect of cooking from historical recipes (especially the REALLY old ones) is that we don't typically have the same cooking techniques or even food sources.  After all, I don't have a spit boy roasting pigeon, pheasant, turkey or chicken over an open fire and I don't often have access to freshly killed venison or peacock! I don't have an open hearth in my kitchen (in fact the fireplace in the living room is gas and isn't currently operating) and I don't have the time (or energy!) to cook over an open flame for every meal.  So, it is with my trusty oven and stove top, KitchenAid mixer and blender, food processor and George Foreman grill, propane grill and other convenient modern tools that I find myself cooking with the adaptions of modern appliances. But, that doesn't mean the connection is lost.  Baking a pie that contains meat and fruit or using the same spices as they did in the medieval times brings us to a very small understanding of our early ancestors, or at the very least can elicit a dialogue about how they ate, why they ate what they did, and exactly what did they eat! I find that when I cook using a historical recipe I am in some way honoring my ancestors or my ancestors country of origin.  And by using my modern appliances, I am cooking in such a way that my children can help and history really can be brought to life for them and for myself.

Now on with the first adapted recipe...

Principe Bread Loaves

Recipe Adapted from The English HusWife by Gervase Markham

Published in 1615 (Isn't the name Gervase marvelous?!) 

  • 6 Cups all purpose flour (or more)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 packet instant rise yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups water, warm, (AKA microwave 1 minute)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1-2 teaspoons oil
Using a KitchenAid mixer and the dough blade: combine 5 cups flour, salt, & yeast. Mix slowly, gradually adding the water.  The dough will be super sticky and wet.  Stop mixer and scrap down sides.  Continue mixing, adding just enough flour in order to remove the sticky dough.  Place dough on a well-floured surface and add remaining flour. Knead in the flour until dough is able to be worked and not overly sticky.  (I found that I had to add a little more than a cup of flour.  I added enough to be able to successfully pick up the dough and place it in a bowl).  Place dough in a well oiled large bowl.  Place plastic wrap over bowl.  Let sit for 3 hours.  
After 3 hours, place dough onto floured work surface. Divide dough (adding flour to dough if needed) into 12 - 16 small pieces. Place cornstarch evenly onto a large baking sheet. Knead and form each little loaf into a round ball and place onto the pan (the cornstarch helps the rolls not to stick to the pan). Let the small loaves rest for about an hour (they will get a little larger).  
After an hour, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Once preheated, in a small glass or ceramic baking dish add 1 - 2 cups of water and place inside the oven on the lowest rack.  On the middle rack, place the rolls. Bake 10 minutes and then turn the pan around and bake another 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Once done, remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes before digging in (to make these really delicious I added a little melted butter to each roll on top).

The rolls were very tasty but a little time consuming.  Luckily, they yielded many little rolls and we can eat these for a few more dinners.  All in all I think I'd make these again; the ingredients were simple and if I have a day were I can devote to popping in and out of the kitchen from time to time it is worth the effort.  The crust was really crispy and I love a good crispy crust with a soft chewy center!

(A little history note: The commonly known Stuart Era refers to a period in British History between 1603 and 1714.  The House of Stuart ruled the land and this period was ripe with turmoil and conflict, including a civil war! William Shakespeare was a playwright partially in this era having been born around 1564 and died in 1616. I love all things Shakespeare and am even proud to say that Joan Shakespeare is my 12th Great Grand Aunt by marriage... it might be a small tenuous connection to all things Shakespeare but I'm holding onto it for dear life!)