Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Reliving Hospital Food of the 70s

I was the one who made the whipped potatoes every afternoon. First I steamed the potatoes-yes real potatoes-scrubbed, peeled and halved by early shift employees. Then I mashed them in a mixer taller than I-with gears and clutch to boot! I carefully separated out four batches for specific diets-low salt-fat free, fat free, low salt and regular. To those I added milk, margarine or salt according to the prescription. I did not have a recipe but was given demonstration and guidance from the head cook-Virginia Stoneking-who I adored.

"Stoney" helped me fix things when my whipped potatoes were too runny or too thick and seemed to like me in spite of that!

What foods do I remember from the hot line? I remember meatloaf, roast beef, turkey, chicken a la king, whipped and boiled potatoes with parsley and lots of vegetables. The kitchen had a meat cutting area where whole carcasses of beef were delivered via overhead pulley and cut and prepared by skilled meat cutters. We had one walk-in cooler designated the "bone" room where bones were stored prior to preparing broths and soups. The beef gravy for the potatoes was supreme!

From the cold line-I remember the custard and jello. There were layered salads of jello, some with cream cheese.  The baked custard was made on site with a sprinkling of nutmeg on top and always held it's shape when cut. The milk was made on campus by the university dairy. I couldn't forget the zero dressing, made with low sodium tomato juice and lots of vegetables, then blended and portioned. The smell of the peppers lingered throughout the cold line refrigerators.

I loved the little individual carafes each patient received, filled with either coffee or hot water for tea. The carafes were special, though the coffee smelled strong and after sitting in the large urn I'm suspecting it was just that!

Throughout my adult career, I worked at the hospital in four jobs, five different decades, with intervals between graduation and moves to four cities. My 37 year career with WVU Medicine started and ended in the same kitchen. That was the reason I was the designated keeper of the early recipes from the 70s and 80s. Tonight's dinner was made following those original recipes.

Salmon Loaf

(Serves 7)

Saute celery in butter until soft. Add paprika.
2.4 ounce celery, diced
1/2 ounce butter
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pour celery puree over bread cubes.
4.8 ounce bread cubes

Beat eggs. Add milk.
2 eggs
2.4 tablespoon scalded milk
Pour over bread cube mixture.

Drain salmon. Remove skin and bones. Mince with fingers. 
1-14 ounce can salmon

Add salmon to celery-bread and egg mixture. Combine well. Form into a 3 inch loaf.
Place on greased baking tray. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

Note that in the 4 recipe books from the old University Hospital, there is no recipe for whipped potatoes!

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