St. Benedict’s Meatloaf and Irish Little People Salad – Old World Recipes with a little history.

St. Benedict's Meatloaf  and Irish Little People Salad/Slaw

St. Benedict’s Meatloaf
and Irish Little People Salad/Slaw

Bull CookMy dad had these cookbooks called Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices  by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter from Waseca, Minnesota in the late 1960’s. It was a set of 2 cookbooks with shiny gold covers, and they were made for manly, hunting, fishing, outdoorsy men. There is history in it, from pioneer cooks to lumber camp cooks and a lot of Old World history as well as a lot that the author experienced on his own, traveling around Europe and the USA. Each and every recipe gives a page or so on its history/origin, and the recipes themselves are written out in paragraph form, very unlike modern day recipes. Only a book for men would start with the heading: Meats: How to make real corned venison, antelope, moose, bear and beef. There are sections on how to properly field dress birds, to sharpen a knife the correct way, and how to clean a turtle. There are also recipes for cooking snapping turtles, among other things I don’t think I’ll ever get around to cooking. These books are filled with “typical” meal menus from around the world, as well as restaurant menus from around the world and major cities in the USA. 

I found this article about these books, and it makes me laugh each time I read it.  NeglectedBooks.Com

“These were not at all like my mom’s cookbooks. These were cookbooks written for men by a guy without a shred of doubt about his studliness. What cookbook written by a woman would put “Meat” at the front, on the very first page? And lead off with, “How to Make Real Corned Venison, Antelope, Moose, Bear and Beef”? The last is just a concession to the little ladies, I’m sure. The author, George Leonard Herter, provides a short preface explaining the public service he is about to perform:

I am putting down some of these recipes that you will not find in cook books plus many other historical recipes. Each recipe here is a real cooking secret. I am also publishing for the first time authentic historical recipes of great importance.

For your convenience, I will start with meats, fish, eggs, soup and sauces, sandwiches, vegetables, the art of French frying, desserts, how to dress game, how to properly sharpen a knife, how to make wines and beer, what to do in case of hydrogen or cobalt bomb attack. Keeping as much in alphabetical order as possible.”

They are a treasure to be cherished, in my opinion, and very hard to find if you want a copy!

There are two recipes I’d like to share with you today from these wonderful cookbooks. The first one is called St. Benedict’s Meatloaf, which I have adapted over the years since my dad first taught me how to make it when I was about 10 years old. When referring to it in my house, I simply call it Cheeseburger Meatloaf, because it’s made with dill pickles, onions and cheese. Today’s recipe is actually something I’ve never tried before – Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf. But what I want to share is the lovely history given in the Herter’s books.

 Here’s the recipe as it’s written in Herter’s – then I’ll give my recipe.

Saint Benedict’s Meatloaf

The first person of African descent to be canonized was Saint Benedict. He was born in a small village near Messina, Sicily and died in Messina on April 4, 1589. Benedict was canonized in 1857 and his day of remembrance is celebrated on April 4. In Sicily he is known as a protector of Palermo.

Saint Benedict’s parents were bought as slaves in Ethiopia and brought to Sicily and sold. They were dark skinned and often called Negroes. Actually there were never many Negroes in Africa. Most of the dark skinned people of African descent are of Arabic, Chinese, Lebonese, and Jewish mixtures with Africans.

Benedict and his parents were sincere, devout Christians. Because of their devotion to Christ their Sicilian master granted freedom to their first born son.

As a child Benedict was only interested in Christianity. He joined a group of Christian hermits near Palermo while in his teens. At the time there were so many existing Catholic orders that the formation of new orders was forbidden. The group of hermits decided to join the Franciscan order. The Franciscans were formed by Francis of Assisi Italy who as a teenager was a drunken disorderly sob, yet turned out to be one of the greatest Christians who ever lived. Benedict became the cook for the brothers. They built the Friary of St. Mary in Palermo. Everyone liked Benedict as well as his very good cooking. Although he always remained a lay brother, he was elected guardian of the house and later vicar and master of the new incoming brothers. He possessed an intuitive ability for explaining spiritual matters to those who could not believe in Christianity. Rich and poor flocked to him to gain faith and to ask for advice on how to face the problems of life. Saint Benedict’s only relaxation because the kitchen. He almost became as well respected for his cooking as his closeness to Christology.

Saint Benedict’s meat loaf is a cooking masterpiece. Here is the famous recipe.

Take one pound of finely chopped-up or ground meat. Beef hamburger is excellent. Venison, antelope, mutton and pork, however, all work well. Take dark bread such as whole wheat or rye bread. Place a large pot on a good solid table surface. Take pieces of the bread and tear them up and put them loosely into the pot, until you have about three times the bulk of your pound of hamburger. Add a half cup of milk, or enough milk to soak up the bread well. Take the hamburger and mix it well into the milk-soaked bread. Get a piece of yellow cheese such as cheddar, longhorn or gouda about an inch thick and about five inches long. Cut the cheese up into about half-inch cubes and add to the meat and bread mixture. Take an onion about 2 ½ inches in diameter and chop it up into about quarter-inch squares and put it into the pot. Take four cucumber pickles, dills work very well, about four inches long and an inch in diameter. Slice them up inot thin, one-eighths of an inch slices and add. Season to taste. Mix the cheese, onions, and pickles into the hamburger and bread mixture. Take a oaf pan and grease all sides of it with butter. Then put the mixture into the pan. Do not fill the loaf pa more than about three-fourths full. Put the loaf in a moderate oven at around 350 degrees and bake for about two hours or until well done. Remove the meat loaf when done, slice and serve. The cheese holds its shape in the loaf and so do the pickles and onions. This meat loaf makes a meal that you will remember.

Isn’t that lovely? I had so much fun reading those books as a kid, and my dad did, in fact, follow this recipe to a T when he started teaching me to cook. There are other recipes that I experimented with in the books from my younger, inexperienced cooking years that I may share in the future.

Now, here’s my recipe, simplified and health-ified for a diabetic, removing the bread. I also make a bigger batch because we love leftover meatloaf sandwiches.

Everything in the bowl before mixing

  •  1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey breast
  • 2 whole eggs (to compensate for removing the bread/milk glue mixture)
  • cheddar cheese. Enough to make small cubes to fill about a cup to cup and half
  • dill pickles. Enough to make small cubes to fill about a cup
  • 1 large cooking onion diced fine
  • 1 package onion soup mix
  • 2 Tblsp granulated garlic
  • 1-2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb bacon, chopped fine and fried crisp. (optional)
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix everything together by hand in a mixing bowl.
  3. Place in Pam sprayed 9×9 cooking pan (I like using my glass one)
  4. Cover with foil and bake about 1.5 – 2 hours till cooked through
  5. Drain off any oil that has accumulated. Let set about 5-10 min before cutting. Serve hot.

 This next recipe is one that as a child I hated. Couldn’t stand the smell of it, and my mom loves it and made it quite often. It’s kind of a sweet and sour cabbage. As an adult, I love it. I have no idea what changed in me, but it’s awesome.

The paragraphs of history leading to the Irish Little People Salad Recipe:

Dublin is a very pleasant old town and the people are friendly in Dublin as well as in all of Ireland. The Irish love a cause. In Northern Ireland a shopkeeper will put up a sign in his window, “Man Wanted – Catholics Need Not Apply.” The first catholic that passes the shop will find something to throw through his window. It is all a game. The shopkeeper knew his window would be broken when he put up the sign.

The last time I was in Dublin was on a business trip. I was catching a cab and a minister asked if I minded if he went along with me as he heard me say where I was going and was going the same way. I told him to join me, of course. After the minister was in the cab he said to the driver, “Let me off at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.”

St Patrick’s Cathedral strange as it may seem, is a very large Protestant church. The cabbie never said a word. He pulled up the cab in front of a huge Catholic church and stopped and opened the door.

The minister said, “This is not the church I wanted to stop at.”

The cab driver craftily sputtered, “If Christ is in town this is the church he will be at,” and told him to get out. The minister got out but was smiling – he knew Ireland too.

I was up fishing trout in hinterland of Ireland and stopped in a convent to ask the Mother Superior if I could fish on the part of the stream that ran through their convent property. I went into the waiting room of the convent and sat down in a heavy carved oak chair to await the Mother Superior. A man came in with his wife and asked the nun in charge of the waiting room if he could see the caretaker of the grounds. The sister was real pleasant and asked the man how any children he had.

He said, “Twelve, Sister.”

“My,” Sister beamed, “A good Catholic man.”

“No,” said the man, “I’m am not Catholic, I just came to see the caretaker about buying some new yard equipment.”

The sister’s face clouded with a scowl as she stalked out of the room. Another Sister was entering the room and as she passed the Sister entering the room I heard her mumble.

“Look out for that man and his wife, he’s a sex maniac.”

This is Ireland and it is wonderful spirited country and the Irish would have it no other way. Contrary to common beliefs, Northern Ireland does not want to be joined with Southern Ireland but wants to form a small country of their own. Southern Ireland actually does not want Northern Ireland as it is far from self supporting. It costs the British $900 million a year to keep Northern Ireland going and they would love to gracefully get rid of it.

Cabbage in many forms is a staple in Irish diets. They raise both green conventional cabbage, as well as red cabbage and also a lot of Brussels sprouts which belong to the cabbage family. The Irish make a cabbage salad in winter months in Southern Ireland that is exceptionally good and even teaches the Germans and Belgians a thing or two about handling cabbage. Here is the recipe.

Little People’s Salad

Irish Little People Salad

Take a green cabbage and with a shredder, shred it into a bowl. Take a red cabbage and shred it into a separate bowl. Make up a dressing consisting of 1/3 bacon drippings and 2/3 vinegar  and season with salt, pepper, and onion. Onion powder works very well for this. Take the red cabbage and put it into a large sieve or strainer. Put the sieve or strainer over a pot with several inches of water in the bottom. Make sure that the sieve or strainer does not touch the water. Put a cover of some sort over the sieve. Now over a medium heat steam the red cabbage for twenty-five minutes. Take a small bowl and fill it half way up with shredded green cabbage. Fill up the other half with the steamed red cabbage. Pour plenty of the dressing over the steamed red cabbage. Let the eater mix the red and green cabbage together just before he eats it. What makes this salad or slaw, as we call it, so different and good is the steaming of the red cabbage.

 My recipe for it:

Shredded cabbages

I don’t use whole cabbages, since there is only three of us. Shred enough of each color to make a bowl for each person, using a mandolin set medium for the green and thicker for the red, then steam the red. If I have some already peeled and sitting around, I’ll finely grate in about 1/8 of an onion into the red cabbage before I steam it. The reason the green is thinnner is because it’s eaten raw. I use my steamer pot. I make the dressing with ¼ bacon drippings, ¾ cider vinegar, pepper and quite a bit of onion powder – I leave out the salt since the bacon drippings have enough. Depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll throw in some Splenda to sweeten the dressing a little bit, to give it a more sweet & sour flavor. I heat this up because I like it going on hot, and the onion tastes better cooked. And I only put about a couple of tablespoons of the dressing on each bowl. I don’t think it needs to be drowned in it.

 I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have. And I hope you love the recipes!

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