December Extra: Stitchcraft Cooking, 1949

stitchcraft1949In its earlier decades, Stitchcraft included a page of easy and economical recipes in each issue, mostly for tea-time cakes or pastries. The tradition ended around 1950, so none of my 1960s issues have a recipe page, but I do have a few magazines from the late 1940s and thought this would be a fun time to try out their “Christmas Cooking” ideas.

December 1949 gave us a savoury recipe for nut pie and a very easy recipe for candy made of condensed milk, sugar and vanilla. I had some ground nuts on hand, so decided to try the nut pie. The recipe is quite simple and calls for 2 parts by weight of finely ground nuts of any kind, 1 part each of cooked rice or semolina, breadcrumbs, and sautéd onions, plus mixed herbs, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. My version had ground almonds and hazelnuts, Arborio (risotto) rice which I thought would stick together better than other sorts of rice, no breadcrumbs as I forgot to buy bread and didn’t feel like going out again in the rain, and some sunflower seeds for topping. Here’s my adaptation of the 1949 recipe:

  • 120 grams (about 1 1/3 cup, measured after grinding) finely ground nuts
  • 60 grams (about 1/2 cup) Arborio rice
  • 1 small onion
  • A small handful sunflower seeds
  • Olive oil for frying onions and greasing the pan
  • About 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 pats of butter or margarine

Cook the rice in 2 parts water to 1 part rice and let it absorb all the water. Chop the onion finely and sauté it in a bit of olive oil until soft and golden. Grease a small loaf pan with olive oil and sprinkle with sunflower seeds (they will come out on top when the pie is inverted.) Mix all ingredients except butter or margarine thoroughly with oiled hands and press the mixture evenly into the pan. Top with butter or margarine and bake in a 190°C (375°F) oven for about 30 minutes, or until slightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then invert onto a board or serving platter.

This is about half the amount of the original recipe and makes enough for 1-2 portions. It was hard to tell when it was “done” — after all, all the component parts had either already been cooked, or didn’t need to be — but I figured it was ready when the top began to brown a little. It didn’t hold together as well as I had hoped, so I might add a beaten egg next time I make it.

The original recipe suggests serving it with thick, brown gravy, baked potatoes, peas or stewed celery, or “apple-sauce goes well, too”. I didn’t see the need to eat potatoes with something that already had rice in it, so I made some simple sautéd carrots and fennel to go with it. Gravy or applesauce would have been a good idea, as the loaf was a little dry, but it tasted absolutely delicious.

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I imagine this recipe would make an excellent stuffing for a holiday goose, duck or turkey, as it can be cooked as long as needs be and has a nice nutty, meaty taste. You could cook a loaf of it outside of the bird for vegetarians. Nota bene: if you use margarine instead of butter, this recipe is vegan, and if you make it without breadcrumbs as I did, it is also gluten-free. Just don’t expect it to hang together in a compact loaf that you can slice, and do serve some kind of sauce to go with it. Also nota bene: I am not a food photographer and this is what it actually looked like. Bon appetit and happy holidays!