California Mission Recipes

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The original wording of one of the delightful recipes in this book starts out: "Take as many hops as can be grasped in the hands twice, put one-half gallon water over them in a new coffee pot kept for that purpose, boil slowly for one hour. Do not tie them in a cloth as that keeps the pollen (an important rising property) out of the yeast … " An entire cookbook of this sort would provide many hours of happy reading. But this is not that kind of book! Bess A. Cleveland's purpose is rather to transcribe these traditional recipes into modern terminology, using modern methods and present-day materials, so that anyone can easily prepare all the various kinds of food that were served in the missions of old California in days gone by. All of the recipes in this book are both practicable and palatable. For the inveterate do-it-yourselfer there are, of course, some recipes for the making of leaf lard, sausage, cheese and wine; the preparation of cider, vinegar, olive oil and raisins; the baking of bread; the corning and the curing of beef and pork. For those who appreciate the distinctive flavor of wild game, here are directions for preparing duck and quail, squirrel and rabbit meat, bear and venison. By and large, however, the recipes are of the everyday variety, including many obviously of Spanish, Mexican, and Indian origin, as indicated in names like Mixtamal, Masa, Pinole, Tacos, Salsa, Pazole, and Bunelos. Some of the recipes call for a goodly use of onions, garlic and pepper, while others are delicately seasoned with the tantalizing flavor of parsley, thyme, and sage, sweet marjoram, rosemary, and nasturtium seeds. Wine was served not only as a beverage in those days but also as an important ingredient in many of these dishes. Saltpetre, too, was used in those days — for the corning of beef and pork. Here, indeed, is a truly significant memento of California's early missions that literally brings them back to life.

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