Sunday, September 28, 2014

Walnut Cutlets

The Win the War Cookbook, published in 1918 by the St  Louis County Unit of the Woman's Committee Council of National Defense (not to be confused with its British anologue, The Win-the-War Cookery Book, which appeared the same year) offers the following calendar to help the thrifty, patriotic housewife keep track of what her family should and should not be eating on particular days.

SUNDAY: One wheatless meal, one meatless meal.
MONDAY: Wheatless day, one meatless meal.
TUESDAY: Meatless day, porkless day, one wheatless meal.
WEDNESDAY: Wheatless day, one meatless meal.
THURSDAY: One meatless meal, one wheatless meal.
FRIDAY: One meatless meal, one wheatless meal.
SATURDAY: Porkless day, one wheatless meal, one meatless meal.
EVERY DAY: Save wheat, meat, fats, sugar to create provision for our armies and the allies. Temporarily to save wheat, Food Administration asks you to observe beefless and porkless Tuesday, but not meatless meals and porkless Saturday.

The authors also have this to add, on the value of nuts as meat substitutes: "The protein of nuts as far as known at present has not the value of animal protein. When used with some cheese, milk or meat they make an excellent meat substitute. When used without these they make good meat savers. With the constant tendency toward higher cost of meat and the necessity of shipping meat to our allies and our own soldiers (for they in their exposed life need the blood producing elements of meat) and with the growing knowledge of nut culture we may look for a much larger use of nuts as 'meat substitutes.'"


All I'll say about this is that between "porkless Saturday," "observe beefless and porkless Tuesday," and "nut culture," I've got some new favorite euphemisms. I've also a got some pretty decent walnut cutlets, inspired by the recipe pictured above in our friend Mrs CS Peel's Eat-Less-Meat Book; after some rationalization (you might be interested to know that a gill is equal to about 1/2 cup, and I'm bound to say that using a pound of breadcrumbs for anything in 1918 seems not only excessive and improbable, but borderline treasonous), these came together quickly and turned out quite well. I also made a version of the recommended mushroom sauce to accompany them, which I'll share in another post.

Vive le nut culture!

Walnut Cutlets
~ 1 tbsp. oil
~ 1 small onion, chopped
~ 1 cup chopped, shelled walnuts
~ 3 slices lightly toasted, crumbled bread (I used Ezekiel)
~ 1/2 tsp. each: salt, sage, thyme
~ Dash mace
~ A grind or two of pepper
~ 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed

~ In a skillet, saute the onion in the oil for 5-7 minutes, until quite soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
~ In a small bowl, beat the flaxseed with the soy milk for about a minute, until slightly thickened.
~ Combine the walnuts, the toasted bread, and the spices in a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs.
~ Add the cooked onions and flaxseed/soy milk mixture and blend for another minute.
~ Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to rest for about 10 minutes, and then form into cutlets (I got 4 large-ish ones from this recipe).~ Fry over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes each side. Bear in mind that the walnuts have a fair amount of fat in them, so you can cook these in a non-stick skillet, or in a cast iron pan with a very thin coating of oil or cooking spray.
~ Serve immediately; we had ours with baked potatoes, braised carrots, and mushroom sauce.

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