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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Salad Week Salad Recipes

I've chosen a few of my favorite salad recipes from The Book of Antipasti by Lyn Rutherford. Enjoy!

Venetian Chicken Salad



1/4 cup raisins
Juice of 1 orange
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 lb. cooked chicken breasts, cut into strips
Small pinch of ground cloves
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs. white wine vinegar
1 to 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Mixed lettuce leaves to serve

1. Heat raisins and orange juice to boiling in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Let stand 20 minutes. Drain and set aside raisins, discard liquid.
2. Put pine nuts into small saucepan or skillet, without oil; place over medium heat and stir 3 minutes until golden.
3. Put pine nuts and all other ingredients, except lettuce, into a blow and toss well to mix. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Serve with lettuce leaves. Makes 4-6 servings

Fennel & Dolcelatte



3 medium size fennel bulbs
1 tbs. fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Puice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of sugar
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 cup crumbled dolcelatte cheese

1. Trim fennel, reserving green feathery tops. Add whole bulbs to saucepan of boiling salted water. Cook 5 minutes, then drain. Refresh under cold running water, drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Chop reserved fennel tops and set aside.
2. In a small skillet over medium heat, dry-fry seeds 2 to 3 minutes to brown and release aroma. Remove from heat and stir in olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and freshly ground pepper.
3. Thinly slice fennel bulbs and arrange in a shallow serving dish. Add oil and fennel seed mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and reserved fennel tops. Let stand 30 minutes. Toss lightly before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

Zucchini & Tomato Salad



About 30 (2-inch long) zucchini (about 1 pound total)
12 ounces small tomatoes, sliced
4 green onions, white part only, finely chopped
1 tbs. chopped Italian parsley
Italian parsley sprigs to garnish
Dressing:
5 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs. white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs. chopped thyme or 1 tsp. dried leaf thyme
1 tsp. honey
Salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Add zucchini to a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook 3 minutes. Drain well. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a long lengthwise slit in each zucchini, place in a serving dish.
2. To make dressing, mix ingredients together in a small bowl or shake together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Pour over hot zucchini and leave until completely cold. Add tomatoes, green onions and parsley to dish. Toss to mix. Adjust seasoning before serving. Garnish with Italian parsley sprig. Makes 6 servings

Cauliflower Insalata



1 cauliflower
1/3 cup pitted green olives, halved
1/3 cup pitted ripe olives, halved
2 tbs. capers in wine vinegar, drained
1 red bell pepper packed in wine vinegar, drained and chopped
5 anchovy fillets canned in oil, drained and halved crosswise
6 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. white wine vinegar
Salt & freshly ground pepper
3 small carrots

1. Break cauliflower into flowerets.
2. Add cauliflower to a saucepan of boiling salted water and boil 4 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain, refresh under cold running water, drain again and cool. Put into a serving bowl with olives, capers, bell pepper and anchovies. Add oil and vinegar and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss gently to mix and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
3. Using vegetable peeler, remove long thin slices from carrots. Place slices in a blow of iced water 10 minutes to curl and crisp. Drain thoroughly and add to salad. Toss lightly to mix, then serve. Makes 6 servings

Mixed Bean Salad



2/3 cup cannelini beans, soaked overnight and drained
2/3 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained
2/3 cup dried lima beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbs. chopped oregano or 2 tsp. dried leaf oregano
1 tbs. chopped Italian parsley
Italian parsley sprig to garnish
Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs. red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Place beans in separate pans. Cover with cold water, bring to boil and boil briskly 10 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer, covered about 1 hour until just tender. Drain, rinse briefly under cold running water then drain and transfer to a serving dish.
2 T make dressing, mix all ingredients together in s mall bowl or shake together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Add onion and dressing to beans while they are warm. Stir and cool to room temperature. Cover and chill until served. Just before serving, stir in oregano, parsley and adjust seasoning. Garnish with Italian parsley sprig. Makes 6 servings

Bell Pepper Salad



1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 small red onion, sliced
16 ripe olives
2 tsp. chopped basil or 2/3 tsp. dried leaf basil
2 tsp. chopped thyme, or 2/3 tsp. dried leaf thyme
Dressing:
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Pinch of sugar
Salt & freshly ground pepper

1. To make dressing, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, or shake together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Set aside. Preheat broiler. Place whole peppers under hot broiler about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until skins are evenly blistered and blackened. Transfer peppers to a plastic bag a few minutes, then peel away and discard skins.
2. Cut peppers in half, remove and discard seeds and cut peppers into strips. Place in a salad bowl with onion and olives. Stir or shake dressing and pour over salad. Toss gently to mix and sprinkle with herbs. Makes 4 servings

Green Bean & Onion Salad



12 ounces green beans
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tbs. caper in wine vinegar, drained
6 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp, hot red pepper flakes
Pinch of sugar
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp. chopped mint

1. Add beans to a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook 4 minutes until tender. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Place in a bowl with onion and capers.
2. Beat olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl or shake together in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
3. Pour over salad, and herbs and mix well. Makes 4-6 servings
"...Our Garrick's a salad; for in him we see
Oil, vinegar, sugar and saltness agree..."

~Oliver Goldsmith~
Retaliation: A Poem

Harvested from Hospitality Search

1. Recipe Girl Grilled Salad
2. For the Love of Cooking Grilled Corn, Avocado & Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
3. No Recipes Sukju Namul (Korean Bean Sprout Salad)
4. A Veggie Venture Raw Beet, Carrot & Kohlrabi Salad Recipe
5. Taste Buddies Pomegranate & Spinach Salad
6. Norahs Menus and Recipes Cucumber Salad with Ranch Dressing
7. Culinary Adventures of a New Wife Asian Cucumber Quinoa Salad

And one more; Pie Plate Salad. I couldn't resist!!!

Resources
1. Beware of the Confetti Salad (previous post)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Eben Horsford; "Father of American Food Technology"

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Eben Norton Horsford, considered "the father of American food technology" who was born on July 27, 1818. Noted for his success in the development of processes for the manufacturing of baking powder and condensed milk, Eben Horsford was inducted into the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumni Hall of Fame in 2001. (Class of 1838)

Before the invention of Horsford's calcium acid phosphate baking powder, some of the methods used to bake perfectly light and fluffy griddle cakes, waffles, muffins, shortcakes and biscuits, incorporated the use of yeast, ammonia, and pearl ash. The development of baking powder, eliminated the need for yeast and the mixing of two separate ingredients (sodium bicarbonate and cream of tartar) to produce a stable leavening agent. Rumford's® Baking Powder made the entire process less of a chore while improving the final results.

...The mixing of sodium bicarbonate and cream of tartar marked the introduction of baking powder. The action of the two chemicals — initially marketed in twin envelopes — began as soon as they were added to the wet dough or batter. Bakers began buying both chemicals in bulk, but they had to be kept separate to prevent a premature acid-base reaction occurring. This required extra time in measuring. And there was an additional problem as cream of tartar was imported from France and Italy. The supply and price of cream of tartar was erratic depending on the grape harvest. These two factors — that the components of baking powder had to be kept separate and that the availability of cream of tartar was erratic — fueled the search for a more efficient and economical baking powder.

Rumford Chemical Company

In 1854, Professor Eben Horsford became partner in the George F. Wilson Company later renamed Rumford Chemical Works Company of Providence, Rhode Island. The purpose which is best expressed perhaps in one clause of their agreement made at that time:

"building up a chemical manufacturing establishment of respectability and permanency, such as shall be an honor to ourselves and our children, and a credit to the community in which it is located, and which shall afford us a reasonable means of support."New England families, genealogical and memorial By William Richard Cutter (1914)

The business of the Rumford Chemical Works was named in honor of the man who is believed to be the inventor of Baked Alaska and the Rumford Fireplace. His name was Benjamin Thompson, aka Count Rumford an authority on the means of supplying nutritious food, and who had founded at Harvard University a professorship for the purpose of teaching the utility of science, a chair which was occupied by Professor Horsford. Although he didn't actually have anything to do with the manufacturing of baking powder, Horsford named his baking powder Rumford in his honor. The company also used his silhouette on their private die stamps (if you would like more information on Count Rumford and a Baked Alaska recipe, I've left my link below) The business whose name is now a household world in this country from one ocean to the other, was moved from Providence to what was then Seekonk, but which by change of the state line has since become East Providence, Rhode Island.

Horsford named his baking powder Rumford, after Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753-1814), a Massachusetts-born British-sympathizer in the American Revolution who, in addition to serving the Elector of Bavaria and marrying Antoine Lavoisier's widow, left Harvard University an annuity of $1,000 to establish a Rumford professorship. Horsford had been the Rumford Professor at Harvard. Chemical & Engineering News

According to the Horsford Family Papers, 1681-1954:

Rumford Chemical Works, 1852-1892

Letters from George F. Wilson make up the bulk of this sub-series and are arranged chronologically. George F. Wilson co-founded the Rumford Chemical Works and took care of the business of operating the company. Methods of manufacture, development of new products and markets for new products are among the subjects discussed in this correspondence. The Rumford Chemical Works produced Horsford’s chemical inventions. Among the products manufactured and sold were Horsford’s yeast powder, baking powder and cream of tartar used in baking; acid-phosphate used for indigestion; and anti-chlorine used as a bleaching agent.

The company's first product, Horsford's Bread Preparation, was a baking powder containing acid phosphates and was used to leaven bread.

When recipes call for soda and cream of tartar, baking powder may be used by taking the same quantity as required of both, or Horsford's-Bread Preparation will be found excellent. "Milk"' always means sweet milk. "A cup" always means a tea cup, not a coffee cup. Sour milk may always be used instead of sweet, by using soda only. The proportions of rising-powder to one quart of flour are three teaspoons baking-powder, or one tea-spoon soda and two tea-spoons-cream tartar, or one measure each of Horsford's Bread Preparation, or one pint sour milk and one level tea-spoon soda. Practical Housekeeping by Estelle Woods Wilcox (1887)

Perhaps, the most popular chemical produced by the firm was Horsford's Acid Phosphate. (image link) Patented on March 10, 1868, Horsford's Acid Phosphate claimed to be the "best tonic for the restoration; relief of mental and nervous exhaustion, and to give one a good appetite." A Serendipitous Drink, in powder form, Horsford's Acid Phosphate was a mixture of phosphate of lime, magnesia, potash, iron, and phosphoric acid. It was taken with water and sugar to make "a delicious and healthful drink." It was manufactured until the early 1940s. I know there's probably some funny faces being made at the thought of Horsford's cure for the "tired brain." I wouldn't get into too much of a huff, if you drink soda, there's a good chance one of the ingredients is phosphoric acid. And you thought all you had to worry about was the sugar content, nay...

When a teaspoon of the product was mixed with a glass of cold water and sugar, the result was a "... delicious and refreshing drink" similar to the present day lemon-lime drinks. This 'tonic' was taken to relieve mental and nervous exhaustion and 'cured' other ailments. It proved to be so popular in the United States, that it was exported to many foreign countries.source

Anyone out there remember the soda fountains at the corner drug store? Well, if you do, there's a good chance you remember being able to order a Cherry Lime Phosphate to drink. You can still make Phosphate Soda Recipes at home using club soda.

Cherry Phosphate
12 oz club soda
2 tsp cherry flavored syrup
2 tsp lemon juice
In a tall glass stir carbonated water or club soda into cherry-flavored syrup and lemon juice. Add ice cubes.

Rumford Baking Powder

If you were to do a google patent search for Eben Horsford, Rumford Chemical Works, and Charles Albert Catlin, you may be surprised to discover the massive amount of patents involving the manufacturing of baking powder. (<-that link is just a definition) These revolutionary discoveries in food science proved to be a method by which calcium and phosphate, which was lost in the process of milling white flour, could now be restored by placing the ingredients in baking powder!

At These works are manufactured culinary and medical preparations of the phosphates, including Rumford Baking Powder, Horsford's Bread Preparation, Rumford Yeast Powder, Horsford's Acid Phosphates, etc. At the time of the beginning of the manufacture of these phosphatic products, under the patent of Professor Horsford, the only virtue of any baking powder, yeast or other preparation for the raising of bread was its power to make the dough light, none of them contributing anything of nutritious value. Professor Horsford's object was to produce a powder that would not only raise the dough, but also supply the nutritious elements so essential to the healthy condition of the human body which are removed from fine white flour during-the process of bolting, and how well he succeeded in accomplishing his object may be judged by the statement of the late Baron Liebig, of Germany, one of the leading chemists of his time, who in commenting upon this preparation said, "I consider this invention as one of the most useful gifts which science has made to mankind. It is certain that the nutritive value of flour will be increased ten per cent by this phosphatic preparation."

Below is just one of the patents issued on January 16, 1883. I've chosen this one for two reasons. 1) It is not as unappetizing as some others I read and 2) Charles Albert Catlin who was a chemist Rumford Chemical Works for more than forty years, published a book titled Baking Powder; A treatise of the character, methods for the determination of the values, etc. with special reference to recent improvements in phosphate powders in 1899. It is available online at the American Libraries website if you're curious.

Be it known that we, Eben N. Horsford, of Cambridge, in the State of Massachusetts, and Charles A. Catlin, of the city and county of; Providence, in the State of Rhode Island, have invented a new and useful Improvement in Process of Preparing Alkaline Bicarbonates for Use in Baking-Powders; and we do hereby declare that the following is a full, true, and exact description thereof. In the manufacture of baking-powders in which bicarbonate of soda and certain acid salts are employed great difficulty is experienced in preparing them so as to prevent the reaction between these elements of their composition through the intervention of atmospheric moisture. Especially is this the case where certain deliquescent acid salts are employed—as, for instance, the acid phosphates. The object of our invention is to render this decomposition less liable of occurrence; and we effect this by investing the individual particles of powder of the bicarbonate with a superficial coating of neutral substance, so that the contact of the acid and alkaline carbonate is prevented until water has been added...

Baking Powder Recipes

The recipe below for Rumford Biscuits was published a recipe booklet compiled by Mildred Maddocks; a lecturer at Massachusetts State board of Agriculture, copyright by the Rumford Chemical Works Company, 1911. An anniversary gift from my late husband, I have had this 12 page leaflet as part of my recipe collection for over twenty years. As you can see, it is in excellent condition:) It's a rather detailed recipe so I have scanned it for your enjoyment:) (click to enlarge in its own window)

The next recipe for Glories comes from the Rumford Recipe Book pictured. It was published in 1913 and compiled by Fannie Merritt Farmer, Lily Haxworth Wallace, and Mildred Maddocks.

Glories
4 tbs. butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsps. Rumford Baking Powder
2-1/2 cups flour
1 cup milk
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy; add the egg, then the salt, cinnamon, baking powder and flour; well sifted together; and the milk alternately with the dry ingredients to form a dough soft enough to be easily handled but stiff enough to keep its shape. Roll between the palms of the hands into very small balls, drop these in a pan containing plenty of smoking hot fat, coo golden brown and cool. When cool, roll in hot boiled frosting, then in a mixture of finely chopped nut meats and seed raisins.

The final scanned recipe is a modern version of Peanut Baking Powder Biscuits. It, comes from a competitor of Rumford Baking Powder; Royal Baking Powder and was published in Best Wartime Recipes Royal Baking Powder. I found it in the 1995 edition of Around the American Table; Treasured Recipes and Food Traditions from the American Cookery Collection of The New York Public Library by Michael Krondl. It too has been scanned for your enjoyment and should open in its own window when "clicked."

Resources
1. History of Baking Powder (@ What's Cooking America)
2. What's the difference between Baking Powder and Baking Soda?
3. National Bicarbonate of Soda Day! (previous post celebrating the uses & benefits of baking soda)
4. Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (inventor of Baked Alaska)
5. New England families, genealogical and memorial By William Richard Cutter (@ google books)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Picnics, Salad Days & a bite at Entomophagy

Remember yesterday when I told you I was going on a picnic for my nephew's birthday? Okay, hold that though...Now think a moment and see if you can remember when I mentioned National Salad Week. It was the day before. Well, it seems I may have made an error. You see, National Salad Week begins the fourth week in July and if my calendar serves me correctly, that would be today!!!

Back to the picnic. As it turned out, our family picnic quickly became a barbecue once everyone decided they would much rather plop in my sister's backyard than drive all the way to Heckscher State Park. Personally, I would have preferred going to Heckscher. I have fond memories of Heckscher State Park. Not only is it the home of the first beach where I learned how to sail a Catamaran, it is also the berth of my first place Hobie Cat race trophy. (I won first place in a novice race:)And, it was my very best favorite place to hike out across the bay to the infamous OBI and Fire Island. With Cherry Grove as my destination, I was often a spectator at The Miss Fire Island Contest. There was lots of dancing @ both destinations and this "girl" loves to dance:) Ah, those were the days:)

Before I get all caught up in my "salad days of yore," let me get this "pesky" Confetti Salad recipe situated for National Salad Week.

Confetti Salad
With colors of red, white, and green, this is a happy salad, almost to pretty to eat.
1 cup cooked crickets
3 cups cooked rice
1/4 celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, finely chopped
1/4 cup green pepper
1/4 cup pimiento, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 tbs. mayonnaise
1 tbs. lemon juice
Lettuce
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1/2 cup French dressing
In a large bowl, combine crickets, rice, celery, olives, green pepper, pimiento and onion. Cover and chill. Just before serving, mix salt, pepper and mayonnaise in a smaller bowl. Toss with cricket mixture. Add lemon juice and mix again. Spoon mixture on lettuce and garnish with tomato wedges. Serve with French dressing.
Basic Cooked Insects:
1 cup cleaned insects
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
2 dashes pepper
1 tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. sage
2 tbs. onion, finely chopped
Place ingredients in medioum size saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until tender.

So, I figured out what to do with all those pesky insects that intruded on the picnic that almost was. Toss them in the salad!!! Whew! I'm glad I got that out of the way. Fried dragonfly, anyone? hehehe...got cha!!!

The "delectable" recipe for Confetti Salad was dug up one night while I was paging through a book titled Entertaining with Insects Or; The Original Guide to Insect Cookery by Ronal L. Taylor and Barbara J. Carter and illustrated by John Gregory Tweed. I said it was Salad Week. I didn't say what was going to be in the salad I was preparing for the occasion. Oh now, don't get in a huff. Insects in your food shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Chances are, you "noshed" on an insect in the past few days and didn't even know it. And, according to the FDA, it's quite acceptable.

You may not be in the habit of dining on insects and I may not be accustomed to having Beetle Sausage sizzling on the grill however, the custom of eating insects is well documented in the early writings of most cultures. While we may think of them as pests, insects are prized for their nutritional value and tastiness. Yes, as in delish! Sure, we have hot dog day and hamburger day. Heck, nearly everyday we have a food to celebrate. Well just what would happen if I decided to call a day Eating Bug Day? Oh not today, we're just diving into Salad Week. I'll surprise you!!!

A person who is an “entomophage” (en-tem-o-fozh) is a “bug-eater”. Many people around the world eat insects. Some just eat bugs as a tasty snack, but others eat insects as an important part of their diet. Not all insects taste good, and some are even poisonous! There are over 1,462 species of edible insects in the world. In Algeria, the people eat desert locusts cooked in salt water. Australian Aborigines eat cooked witchety grubs and honeypot ants. The Japanese eat fried grasshoppers and cicadas. In Nigeria, the west Africans eat roasted termites and crickets. These insects are a good source of nutrition and are easy to find. They take up less space and are less expensive to feed than grazing animals like cows. Many species of insects are even higher in protein than beef, pork, and chicken. Have you ever eaten a bug? Living in the United States, most people will never deliberately eat an insect. But you will consume over a pound of insects in your lifetime! Many foods that we eat have insects and insect parts in them that we can’t see. The Food and Drug Administration publishes a list of food standards called the “Food Defect Action Levels.” These standards set the maximum acceptable levels of insects allowed in food products. It is almost impossible to grow crops in open fields, harvest, and process them without some insects getting mixed in. To keep all insects out of our food, farmers would have to increase the frequency and potency of the pesticides that they use. This would be dangerous to people who consumed the products. PDF file

Insects taken into the stomach, may generally be destroyed by taking a small quantity of vinegar and salt. When insects get into the ears, use a little salad oil, or melted lard. Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts, and Hints to Young Housekeepers by Elizabeth E. Lea

Just think, there was a time our "duty" was to be the live in exterminator. I know this to be true because, many of the vintage cookbooks in my collection include a chapter which lists the assorted ways of disposing of Insects and Vermin. How many times have you asked yourself, "Will I ever solve my Garden Pest Problem??" I know for a fact Chef Tom has asked himself this question at least once. Jady from Thyme Goes By awaits her next visitor with great anticipation. What about you? Here's another question. Are you an adventurous eater? Take the Omnivore’s Hundred survey and find out for yourself. Don't worry, it's safe:) Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we start using insects as food. Heck, most of the western world wouldn't dream of doing such a thing. What I am asking, is for you to let me share a few recipe ideas for cooking with insects. How bad can that be? We'll share some Ant Tacos (or whatever is locally available; locusts, snails perhaps?) followed by some Sweet Treat Insect Recipes. Feel like taking a quick trip to Connecticut College to sample some delicacies? No. That's okay, I don't blame you for your hesitation. Others have hesitated because of the "fear factor." Instead, let's watch the video.

I have a sneaking suspicion it's just about that time to really contemplate the nutritional value of insects. Are insects good for you? That's an important question these days along with value. Does a 100g Emperor moth have more protein than a 100g chicken? According to Cornell University, it certainly does. graphic PDF file

Well, enough is enough. We wouldn't want to become gluttonous bug eaters now would we. From Entertaining with Insects:

This cookbook, which is the outgrowth of an earlier book by one of the present authors, Ronald L. Taylor, entitled Butterflies in My Stomach or Insects in Human Nutrition. That work's scope and intention are broader and, in a sense, more serious. Briefly summarized, it shows that numerous insects are cleaner than many of the animals man regularly eats, there are no special religious prohibitions against the eating of insects as such, insects have been eaten throughout man's history and are eaten today, certain insects are relished and regarded as delicacies by civilized as well as primitive societies, insects are likely to be the most reliable source of animal food for the individual lost in the wilderness, insects play significant roles as therapeutic agents in man's drug arsenal, and, perhaps most important, insects are clearly a nutritious source of human food. As the book makes clear, insect eating (entomophagy) is not inherently abhorrent or unnatural-in fact, quite the contrary-for insects are a perfectly acceptable alternative source of food for man. Entertaining with Insects (1976)
"If all insects disappeared from the Earth, in 50 years time, there would be no life; 
but if all people disappeared from Earth, in 50 years time life would flourish."

Resources
1. Bert Christensen's Weird & Different Recipes
2. Lots of recipes @ the Bug Blox
3. Bug Girl’s Blog
4. Weird Foods: Bugs
5. The Audubon Insectarium
6. Bay Area Bug Eating Society
7. Eating insects with Heston
8. NOVA documentary
9. Insects on the menu (restaurant)
10. National Salad Week (UK)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's National Baked Bean Month!!!

With the hullabaloo of celebrations going on in July, I plum forgot about National Baked Bean Month. Not to worry I thought to myself. I have a vintage Heinz die-cut bean recipe book to share. It is undated and printed in Canada which leaves me to believe it is probably circa 1930s. No long stories today guys. Just some scanned baked bean recipes and I'm off to a picnic!!! Enjoy Baked bean Month!


(Click to enlarge. Each image should open in it's own page:)

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Literary Gourmet

Alexandre Dumas

On this day in 1802, one of the most celebrated French authors was born. His name was Alexandre Dumas. Known as Dumas père, a title distinguishable for the "senior" Dumas, Alexandre Dumas was a prolific writer best known for his perilous historical novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. His son, Alexandre Dumas (jr.) is often referred to as Dumas fils or junior and he too was a writer.

Often referred to as "the father of the adventure serial" Alexandre Dumas wrote more than 300 books. Only one of those books was a combination of encyclopedia and cookbook, Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine, which was published posthumously in 1873.

...He was among the first, along with Honoré de Balzac and Eugène Sue, who fully used the possibilities of roman feuilleton, the serial novel. Dumas is credited with revitalizing the historical novel in France, although his abilities as a writer were under dispute from the beginning. Dumas' works are fast-paced adventure tales that blend history and fiction, but on the other hand, they are entangled, melodramatic, and actually not faithful to the historical facts. source

History, Legend or Both?

With the exception of the Literature Network, almost every biography I read online casts a doubt as to whether Alexandre Dumas wrote each and every book that bore his name.

From the book The Count of Monte Cristo By Alexandre Dumas, translated by David Coward in 2008, (limited preview @ google books ) "In 1845 a journalists named Emile de Mirecourt attempted to expose Dumas accusing him of directing a fiction-factory which employed writers to turn out serials and volumes to which he put his signature. Dumas took him to court and won."

From the introduction by A. Lloyd Moote in his book Louis XIII, the just also available @ google books:

As I read about Louis XIII, the ghost of Alexandre Dumas was always at my shoulder. Dumas was not only a prolific writer of historical novels, but also a competent historian who knew the standard sources and even wrote a half-serious history of Henry IV and Louis XIII. Furthermore, his writings were part of an interpretive tradition...

Dumas had at least fifty-two collaborators at different times during his literary career. With the aid of researchers and assistants, he produced hundreds of books, plays, historical novels, biographies, and children's books. He founded his own literary magazines, was a prolific correspondent and a well known and respected travel writer. One of Dumas' chief collaborators was Auguste Maquet. In 1844 he produced, with Maquet's help, that most famous of "cloak and sword" romances The Three Musketeers. Before 1844 ended, Dumas completed a second great romance in 12 volumes, Le Comte de Monte-Cristo; (The Count of Monte Cristo) in which he had help from Fiorentino as well as from Maquet.

In The Life and Writings of Alexandre Dumas Spurr vows to tell the general reader—"the man in the public library"—"who Dumas was, what he did, which books he did write and which he did not write, and finally, what his confreres and the great critics had said of him." (the book is fascinating:)

...It is almost impossible at this date for any one, particularly an Englishman, to take the circumstantial allegations of these gentlemen and refute them in detail. It is now over sixty years since they were made: they had their source in admitted enmity, and their medium was equally contemptible. Dumas ignored them; his colleagues in the higher ranks of literature discredited them; his enemies accepted them willingly, without demanding proof. "M. de Mirecourt" was sentenced to imprisonment for publishing his statements; but their improbability is still stronger proof of their falseness...

As his fame grew, Dumas employed more collaborators, (Auguste Maquet, Paul Lacroix, Paul Bocage, and P.A. Fiorentino, to name only a few), but it was undoubtedly with Maquet that he produced his best novels. He had assistants who supplied him with the outlines of romances whose original form he had already drawn up; then he wrote the work himself. The scale of his "fiction factory" has often been exaggerated. Although at least a thousand works were published under his own name, most were due to his own industry and the amazing fertility of his imagination. Dumas grasped at any possible subject; he borrowed plots and material from all periods and all countries, then transformed them with ingenuity. The historian Jules Michelet once wrote admiringly to him, "You are like a force of elemental nature." Encyclopedia of World Biography

Dining with Dumas

Dumas' Paris bustled with gastronomic exploits. "The dinners at his apartment in the Boulevard Malesherbes were worthy of Soyer or even of Brillat-Savarin himself in his best days." From Dumas' Paris (1908) by Francis Miltoun:

Dumas' reputation as an epicure must have been formed early; he describes in his "Memoirs" how, on a certain occasion, when he had first become installed in Paris, he met a gentleman, Charles Nodier, in the stalls of the Porte St. Martin, who was reading a well-worn Elzevir entitled "La Pastissier Francois." He says, "I address him. . . . "Pardon my impertinence, but are you very fond of eggs? "Why so?" "That book you are reading, does it not give recipes for cooking eggs in sixty different ways?" "It does." "If I could but procure a copy." "But this is an Elzevir," says my neighbour."

The Elzevirs were a family of Dutch booksellers, publishers, and printers, which were in business between 1587 and 1681. They were best known for their books or editions of the Greek New Testament and the classics.

Of all Elzevirs the most famous and the most expensive is an old cookery book, Le Pastissier Francois. [François Pierre de La Varenne] Wherein is taught the way to make all sorts of pastry, useful to all sorts of persons. Also the manner of preparing all manner of eggs, for fast-days, and other days, in more than sixty fashions...The ‘Pastissier’ is cherished because it is so very rare.  The tract passed into the hands of cooks, and the hands of cooks are detrimental to literature.  Just as nursery books, fairy tales, and the like are destroyed from generation to generation, so it happens with books used in the kitchen.  The ‘Pastissier,’ to be sure, has a good frontispiece, a scene in a Low Country kitchen, among the dead game and the dainties. The buxom cook is making a game pie; a pheasant pie, decorated with the bird’s head and tail-feathers, is already made...

Dumas was both a gourmet and an expert cook. Many questioned his skills in the kitchen. Critics said if it were not for the excellence displayed by chef Julien, the dinners would not be worthy of attendance. From Cooks, Gluttons, and Gourmets.

Every Wednesday Dumas held dinner for the leading wits and artists of the periods with fifteen places laid at table. The dinner hour was eleven o'clock, for the Paris of the early nineteenth century had turned night into day. Most of the food was prepared by Dumas' chef, Julien, but the salad was always made by the master himself. It was so renowned that one friend, Ronconi, when he could not attend the Wednesday dinner, sent his servant to pick up his share of salad, bearing a giant umbrella to protect the dish from inclement weather. (Cooks, Gluttons, and Gourmets Betty Wason pg. 200)
On one occasion Dumas gave a masked ball to which four hundred people were invited; among the viands on the buffet were an entire roasted roebuck and a three-hundred pound sturgeon from the Caspian Sea cooked in bouillon. Fish of this size apparently was not uncommon (though in what kind of vessel it might be cooked all in one piece is hard to imagine), for Dumas, in his Dictionnaire, related the story of a banquet given by Prince Cambacérès for which two sturgeons weighing well over three hundred pounds, were prepared. The prince, as arch chancellor, was given many lavish gifts by would be office seekers, but he was greatly embarrassed by this coincidental payola, since both donors would be present at the banquet. The frist was brought in to the music of violins, the way lighted by footmen bearing torches. Then, deliberately (so Dumas tells us), one of the footmen slipped and the sturgeon crashed to the floor. Cried Cambacérès "Serve the other sturgeon!" and it was borne in, escorted by four violinists, two flutists, and four footmen.

I don't have a copy of Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine in my cooking library yet. Quite frankly, it never occurred to me to seek it out. That has changed with today's posting. The man was a locomotive of words, anecdotes, enthusiasm, and personal experiences. Dumas' exuberance bewilders me! His reputation urges me to unravel his complicated lifestyle. Dumas especially wanted to be remembered for his extraordinary production of Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine; (Great Dictionary of Cuisine) He often said, "I want to close my literary work of five hundred volumes in a cookbook."

Have you ever heard of the dish; Turducken? I found a video on you tube featuring Paula Deen preparing turducken for Thanksgiving. (A turducken is a dish consisting of a partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken.) Well it seems, turducken has a past, I also found an interesting "letter to the editor" recently published in the New York Times titled Swash Buckle and Fowl. In gist, the article states, that the dish appears in Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine as Roast à l'Impératrice. (The term à l'impératrice is used to describe a variety of rich sweet or savory dishes.)

Alexandre Dumas was a great eater, as well as a great storyteller. "It was in the year 1869 he wrote the Grand Dictionnaire de cuisine. The manuscript was delivered to his publisher and friend, Alphonse Lemerre, in March 1870. This manuscript was brought to the printer, and several sheets were made when the serious and sad events among whom Alexandre Dumas died, came and publication was suspended." Alexandre Dumas died on December 5, 1870.

Rather than share Dumas' salad recipe with you today, (there's dinner and salad Dumas style @ the Old Foodie:) I have instead chosen a recipe for Almond Cakes as served at the King's Supper in Louise de la Valliere. The recipe is gleaned from my copy of The Literary Gourmet written and edited by Linda Wolfe. (1962)

In the Vicomte de Bragelonne, a second sequel to The Three Musketeers, the gastronomer Dumas expounds upon the Gastronomer Louis XIV, an unbeatable combination. One of the main characters of the Vicomte is still the musketeer D'Artagnan, but D'Artagnan grown wiser and more mature and holding a responsible position at court. In this scene D'Artagnan has brought Porthos to eat at the king's supper. Only to often the embarrassed Louis is the greatest consumer at his own dinners, and D'Artagnan hope to ingratiate himself with the king by making Louis feel less gluttonous in the face of Porthos' grand appetite.

In other words, a sort of eating duel:) Before we get to the menu and the recipe, I must give you a snippet of insight into The Literary Gourmet.

The Literary Gourmet

Beginning with the Bible and The Story of Jacob and Esau, each chapter in The Literary Gourmet takes the reader on a culinary journey through history in which food and drink are an integral part and where sometimes even Murder is on the Menu. (previous post:)

Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. Was It worth It? You can decide for yourself. The recipe is in The Literary Gourmet, an entrancing cookbook, a completely dleightful literary anthology, and a charming collection of anecdotes about famous chefs throughout history.

For centuries authors have been wining and dining their fictional characters, serving up meals that have satisfied a variety of literary purposes. They have found food, with its kaleidoscope of odors and textures, colors and flavors prime equipment for creating the semblance of reality that is the first requirement of their job, to reveal precisely the milieu from which the characters drew breath. Some of these depictions have been so fine that much of what we know best of ancient life or even of the more recent life of the French nobility or English gentry or American homesteaders, we know through the carefully detailed dinner scenes of fiction writers and poets.

Literary Gourmet
Almond Cakes
from Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine
butter (1 cup)
2-3 egg yolks
flour (2-1/2 cups)
sugar (3/4 cup)
125 grams (about 3/4 cup) crushed almonds
a good pinch of salt
orange-flower water (1/4 tsp.)
2 additional egg yolks for glazing
Make dough in the usual way, with some butter, 2 or 3 egg yolks and flour; add sugar, 125 grams of crushed almonds, a good pinch of salt, and a little orange-flower water. Mix the ingredients well together, make a smooth paste, roll out with a rolling pin on a greased paper (chill for an hour), glaze with egg-yolk (cut into small round shapes), and bake in the oven. (Moderate: 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.) Makes 2-3 dozen small almond cookies.
Alexandre Dumas may well have been the most popular novelist of the 19th century; to be sure, along with Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson, he stands among those 19th century novelists who retained their popularity best in the 20th century. His books, including The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Man in the Iron Mask continue to sell, well over 100 years after his death. His influence over our popular culture is so widespread and deeply implanted that, five generations after his death, mass audiences throughout the world still understand the meaning of references to the Three Musketeers or the Count of Monte Cristo. If Dumas' work has endured, it's because it was written from truth and from reality, astounding as that may seem on its face. The author's life, and that of his father's even more so, reads like the plot of one (or more) of his novels...Dumas died in 1870, long before the advent of motion pictures, but his fiction has served as the official basis for over 100 screen adaptations from 1898 through 2002 and beyond. Actors from Douglas Fairbanks Sr. to Leonardo DiCaprio have starred in film versions of his work. source (Ed Note: You may remember reference to the three musketeers in Slumdog Millionaire)

Today is also National Tequila Day. Check out this recipe for Chocolate Tequila Mousse @ Dying for Chocolate. Let us not forget, tomorrow kicks off National Salad Week!  If you happen to be in the vicinity of Gilroy, California, have fun at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, it too begins today!!! 

"People with curly hair like you and me, Sarah, [Bernhardt] should never bind ourselves to anything for life!" Dumas

Resources
1. Alexandre Dumas (sr.) Biography
2. Alexandre Dumas fils (son)
3. The Alexandre Dumas père Web Site (French & English)
4. The Life and Writings of Alexandre Dumas (1902)
5. Three Musketeers Online
6. Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo
7. Countess Dash Memoirs of Others
8. Legends: Swashbucklers & Fops
9. The Club Dumas (google books)
10. Dumas' Paris (1908) By Francis Miltoun available online
11. New York Times article published March 1920 PDF
12. The Rarest of Elzevirs (New York Times September 1896)
13. Auguste Maquet @ wiki
14. A Fan's Guide to Dumas
Recipes
1. Asparagus à Pompadour

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's Junk Food Day!

I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that Junk Food Day happens to fall on the 21st day of July. By most accounts, the month of July is spewing with "Junk Food" celebrations. I say "most accounts" because, IMHO, the definition of "junk food" is a matter of personal taste. Oh, I know, there's all kinds of reports defining "Junk Food." There are those who are determined to ban advertising for junk food, tax soft drinks and squash the sale of junk food at schools. I personally think some of these measures are both practical and necessary. However, "does banning hot dogs and bacon make sense?" Not necessarily according to this article researched by Sandy Szwarc @ Junk Food Science.

In my "salad days of yore," I would have stood on the podium with the best of them and condemned the evils lurking within the world's passion for junk food. Nix the salt, purge saturated fats, dissolve sugar all together and decimate additives and preservatives forever!!! If it comes in a box, a jar or a can, obliterate it!

Sugar is my comfort food, junk food is my refuge from anxiety and stressed spelled backwards equals desserts! Lots and lots of sweet treats! I don't want to explain, I'd rather not get into the politics of consumerism and I certainly don't want to judge or be judged. What I want to do is celebrate Junk Food Day and that dear visitor is that!

Junk Food Junkie
by Larry Groce (1976)
Junk Food: Inexpensive food with little nutritional value, often eaten as snacks or bought at fast-food establishments. Junk food might include potato chips, pretzels, tortilla chips, sodas, french-fried potatoes, sugared cereals, candy, and ice cream. The first appearance of the term in print was in an article by food writer Gael Greene called Confessions of a Sensualist in New York Magazine for May 17, 1971, in which she wrote, "My respect for the glories of French cuisine are unsurpassed, but I am a fool for junk food." Dictionary of American Food & Drink by John F. Mariani p.169

What's Your favorite Junk Food??? I don't have a favorite. There are just too many variables to pick just one. For today, I've chosen a recipe for Chocolate Snowballs discovered in a 1989 edition of Chocolatier magazine. I posted this recipe a while back when I was having a "bad hair day." Can you see why?

Nostalgic Chocolate Snowballs are just the ticket for a sentimental journey back to childhood bliss. Each tender mound of chocolate cake, capped with a drift of gooey marshmallow icing and a sprinkle of coconut, conceals a pocket of luscious whipped cream. Be forewarned, you're in for an avalanche of lip smacking.

The recipe is in two sections. If you would like to see the recipe, click each section separately.

Chocolate Snowballs

Resources
1. Junk-Food Facts
2. Center for Science in the Public Interest (junk food report)
3. Smart Food, Junk Food
4. Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food By Andrew F. Smith (limited viewing @ google books)
5. Junk Food Hall Of Shame (Parent's Against Junk Food)
6. Junk Food Mecca
7. 4,293 snacks reviewed and counting
8. Junk food & the Comics
Recipes
1. Almond Roca® Milk Chocolate Fudge
2. Candied Bacon Ice Cream Recipe (David Lebovitz)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Grand Marnier Day!

Yes, it's true. A day devoted to the "world’s most premium orange liqueur," Grand Marnier. The Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge liqueur was created by Louis Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle in 1880. From its beginnings, Grand Marnier has mingled at the courts of both Franz Joseph of Austria and King Edward VII.

Marnier initially named his liqueur Curaçao Marnier, highlighting the tropical source of its flavor. However, Marnier's friend, César Ritz soon to found the Ritz Hotel empire convinced him that the liqueur deserved a more fitting name. Ritz reportedly proposed the name "Grand Marnier" as a "grand name for a grand drink." The choice of the word "grand" also served to set the liqueur apart from the prevailing fashion for prefacing products with the word "petit." The company had also developed a distinctive bottle and red label, including a red wax seal, which led to the label's full name, "Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge" (Red Ribbon). The drink soon caught on, with Ritz himself playing the role of ambassador for the label, introducing it to the Savoy Hotel in London, where it quickly became popular. Marnier-Lapostolle himself returned the favor, helping Ritz acquire the property on the Place Vendome in Paris, where Ritz built his Ritz Hotel. That site became a prominent Parisian landmark--and source of sales for Marnier-Lapostolle. (source)

I tried to get into the Grand Marnier website but even after they "proofed" me, I couldn't get in. Not to worry, I did a post a while back celebrating Elizabeth David's birthday and while there I not only included a bit of history about Grand Marnier, I also included a recipe for Lemon & Grand Marnier Ice Cream. Just in case you don't feel like going back to December, (who wants to go back to December when we finally have some sunshine, anyway) I've included a few highlights from Epicurean Monthly published in 1957 and the Lemon & Grand Marnier Ice Cream recipe.Enjoy!

Grand Marnier As A Liqueur: The finest brandies in the world are distilled from wine produced in the small area of France known as Grande Champagne...In the heart of the country which produces these Brandies lies the Chateau de Bourg Charente, owned by the firm of Marnier-Lapostolle. Here is produced the Grande Champagne sold under the name of Cognac Marnier Lapostolle, and on a basin of this same Cognac is distilled the world famous orange liqueur known as Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge.

Grand Marnier then, is not just "a liqueur," a term which nowadays implies almost any spirit based, sweetened, and fruit or herb flavoured compound. Now there is a world of difference between a liqueur in which the flavouring extract has been produced by distillation of a fruit syrup, and one in which the sugar and the flavours have been introduced by maceration, which means the fruit kernels, peels, herbs or whatever the flavouring may be, having been steeped in the spirit for varying periods is then removed and the spirit is filtered. In the past many such liqueurs were made at home according to treasured family recipes, and were called cordials or ratafia as distinct from distilled liqueurs. article image

Though it may be enjoyed as an after dinner drink, Grand Marnier is also a welcome infusion in fine cooking. I'm going to be in Pennsylvania trying to rescue my flower garden for the rest of this week so, I'm not serving up anything fancy today. Just a few dessert links for you to explore the many wonders of Grand Marnier.

Grand Marnier is one of those high-end liqueurs that no home bar should be without. There's no substitute for the seductive blend of bitter tropical orange peel and cognac, aged in oak barrels for three years or more and sweetened just enough. It's strong enough to get a proper fire going inside, but still slides down easily. Chances are you've sipped it from a warmed snifter or had some mixed into an after-dinner coffee topped with whipped cream. (source)
Lemon & Grand Marnier Ice Cream
2 large lemons
3 ozs. icing sugar
1/4 pint double cream
Grand Marnier
Put the thinly peeled rind of the lemons with the icing sugar in 4 oz. water, and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Leave this syrup to cool, strain and add to it the juice of the lemons. When quite cold, add it gradually to the whipped cream; stirring gently until the whole mixture is smooth.

Pour into the ice-tray, cover with paper and freeze at maximum freezing point of the refrigerator for about 3 hours, taking it out to stir it twice, after the first 1/2 hour, and again after another hour. Half an hour before serving, stir in a good liqueur glass of Grand Marnier (the contents of a miniature bottle) and put back in the freezing compartment. Being an orange flavoured liqueur, the Grand Marnier mixes well with the lemon, supplying the rich flavour against the sharp background of the lemon.

The amounts given will fill an 18oz ice tray. Should the quantities have to be altered to go in smaller or larger trays, alter them all in proportion. The amount of sugar in refrigerator made ice cream is important. Made in the above manner, there will be no little ice particles and the result is a soft, light ice-cream. but it melts quickly, so leave it in the ice tray until the moment comes to serve it. Note: Instead of the customary wafers to go with the ice cream, serve minature, very fresh brown bread sandwiches with a filling of chopped walnuts, and a drop of Grand Marnier beaten into the butter with which the sandwiches are spread. Epicurean Monthly; June 1957, pg. 39

Resources
1. Chocolate Grand Marnier Torte
2. Frozen Grand Marnier Torte with Dark Chocolate Crust & Spiced Cranberries
3. Golden Grand Marnier Cake
4. Strawberry Puffs with Grand Marnier Mousseline
5. Vanilla-Cardamom Cupcakes with Grand Marnier Buttercream & Candied Orange Zest
6. Cornmeal Cupcakes with Orange Flavor and Grand Marnier Whipped Cream
7. Grand Marnier Chocolate Chip Cookies
8. Chocolate, Hazelnut, Grand Marnier Crinkle Cookies
9. Grand Marnier Chocolate Mousse
10 Grand Marnier Napoleons with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quick Links: Watermelon Month


Okay, there seems to be a bit of confusion as to when Watermelon Month is actually celebrated. What's a girl to do? Write the Watermelon Guy himself? Yes. Here is what he had to say when queried about National Watermelon Month.

"You’re right, Louise. Some sources designate August as National Watermelon Month and some say July. I side with July because that’s the official word from the National Watermelon Association. July 2007 was designated as National Watermelon Month by the U.S. House of Representatives and if they say it’s National Watermelon Month, it must be National Watermelon Month. Of course, I’m not sure if that resolution only pertained to July of 2007 or if it was meant to apply to every July thereafter. If there’s still some confusion about July or August, we can always just celebrate watermelon in both months and have twice the fun!"

I agree! You know, I had this same problem with National Peach Month last year and I got through it like "Peaches N' Cream." Let's have some watermelon fun!!!

One of the first watermelon recipes I spotted and had to know more about comes from Mandy, Gourmet Mom on-the-Go. Can you guess the "secret" ingredient??? How clever. And, that picture! Amazing!!!


Wiggly Watermelon
"It is chief of the world's luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat..." ~Mark Twain~

Oh my, and here I thought those shapely spheres were only filled with refreshing crunchy goodness. Boy oh by was I wrong. There's another side to watermelon I just never considered. Thank goodness Stacey has more of a cosmopolitan approach to this member of the Gourd family. Doesn't Watermelon, Ricotta Salata & Mint Salad sound heavenly? Leave it to Stacey Snacks to wet this girl's appetite!

Watermelon Salad

I don't know about you but I'm not quite fortified with enough glacial watermelon recipes. Hmmm...I know just when the seeds were planted. It was when I stopped in at Leslie's; The Hungry Housewife and feasted my tired eyes on those Frozen Watermelon Pops! I knew I couldn't leave without one. Go ahead, I dare you! The image alone will carry you off to a watermelon oasis.

Watermelon Pops

Confession time...I rarely buy watermelon for myself. When I do buy watermelon, it has to be whole. I just don't feel comfortable buying it when it has been pre-sliced or cut into chunks and stuffed into one of those plastic containers. I mean really, how much watermelon can one person eat? On the other hand, my grandchildren LOVE watermelon! Is there a child that doesn't, I wonder? Perhaps, I really never cared for watermelon when I was a child. So, as much as I would like to venture into the world of cooking with watermelon, I may not get there in the near future. I will be saving the recipes I have included in this post (which by the way is one of the reasons I am doing this post:) for a later date. I think the recipes and gorgeous images above are all truly mouth-watering and worthy of at least one attempt by yours truly:)

In the mean time, I intend on setting my watermelon dreams on "Watermelon Cake and Thoughts of Summer" carefully prepared and shared by T.W. @ Culinary Types.

Watermelon Cake

Staying true to my "rind," I just wouldn't feel right if I too didn't contribute a recipe, or two for Watermelon Month. The first recipe for Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickle was harvested from What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking published in 1881. The copy of Mrs. Fisher's book in my collection is in PA as is the second recipe for Spiced Watermelon Rind from The Best of Amish Cooking by Phyllis Pellman Good.

Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickle:
Take the melon rind and scrape all the meat from the inside, and then carefully slice all the outside of the rind from the white part of the rind, then lay or cover the white part over with salt. It will have to remain under salt one week before pickling; the rind will keep in salt from year to year. When you want to pickle it, take it from the salt and put into clear water, change the water three times a day –must be changed say every four hours – then take the rind from the water and dry it with a clean cloth. Have your vinegar boiling, and put the rind into it and let it lay in vinegar four days; then take it from the vinegar, drain, and sprinkle sugar thickly over it and let it remain so one day. To make syrup, take the syrup from the rind and add eight pounds more sugar to it, and put to boil; boil till a thick and clear syrup. Weigh ten pounds of rind to 12 pounds of sugar; cover the rind with four pounds of it and make the syrup with the remaining eight pounds. While the syrup is cooking add one teacupful of white ginger root and the peel of three lemons. When the syrup is cooked, then put the rind into the boiling syrup, and let it cook till you can pass a fork through it with ease, then it is done. When cooled, put in jar or bottles with one pint of vinegar to one quart of syrup, thus the pickles are made. See that they be well covered with vinegar and syrup as directed. What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking (1881)

"Watermelons were a delicacy for Nebraska settlers. When the watermelons were in season and ripe, they were a summer treat and a standard for the ten o'clock and three o'clock lunch. Some pioneer families even claimed to keep melons through the winter by stuffing them in haystacks. (images)
Spiced Watermelon Rind
5 pounds watermelon rind, cut in 2" chunks, each with about a 1/4" strip of pink watermelon fruit
1/2 cup salt
2 quarts water
5 cups granulated sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
1/8 tsp. oil of cloves
1/8 tsp. oil of cinnamon

1. Place watermelon chunks in a large dishpan or crock. Combine salt with 2 quarts of water and pour over watermelon. Let set overnight.
2. Drain, rinse with fresh water and drain again.
3. Place watermelon in large saucepan, add fresh water and cook until tender. Drain.
4. Meanwhile, combine sugar, vinegar, water and spices. Bring to boil and pour over the cooked and drained watermelon. Let set overnight.
5. Drain watermelon, reserving syrup. Bring to boil, pour over watermelon and let set again overnight. Repeat this process for 3 days.
6. On day 3, cook watermelon and syrup together for 3 minutes. Then pour into hot sterilized jars and seal. Makes 6 pints.
The Best of Amish Cooking by Phyllis Pellman Good (1988)

A special thank you to everyone who was kind enough to let me "borrow" their enticing images for National Watermelon Month. I would suggest you, dear reader, take a skip on over to their blogs and check out the recipes. Simply delightful! Thank you also to watermelon.org for the sculptured watermelon turtle pictured above:)

FYI: Oklahoma designated watermelon as the official state vegetable in 2007. (Yes, that's vegetable?)
Seeded watermelon chunks can be frozen to use in watermelon slushes or fruit smoothies. Watermelon sorbet or granita stays fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
According to Yum Sugar, National Watermelon Day is August 3rd!

Wait! Before you go, today is also Pina Colada Day! Check out this Pina Colada Freeze over at Hungry Girl.

Resources
1. Watermelon 101
2. National Watermelon Association
3. Watermelon—The Essense of Summertime (Brooklyn Botanic Garden)
4. Smoked Eels with Watermelon & Balsamic Glaze
5. Grilled Watermelon with Seared Wild Scallops
6. Watermelon Varieties for Pickling
7. Chinese Watermelon Art Sculpture
8. Peaches 'N Cream

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Shameless Plug & A Give-Away (sorta)

What kind of mommy-in-law would I be if I didn't boast about my precious Kyla. I just happened to visit her blog this evening; Blue Collar Catwalk and as I was playing catch-up, I stumbled upon her first give-away. Now, I must take a moment to tell you, if you are into fashion and you are on a budget, Blue Collar Cat Walk is the blog to visit for honest to goodness inspiration. Let me introduce you. (clickable pics:)

Exquisite Kyla
Kyla

Playful Children
Kids

Grand-Pup Iggy Pop
Iggy

Tolani Scarf Give-Away
Scarf

Have Fun! Good Luck!...tune in [late] tomorrow. It's Watermelon Month!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Birthday Kiss...

What can you do with a kiss, a Hershey's Kiss that is? Can you think of a better way to celebrate the birthday of Hershey Kisses than by playing with them? Oh, you can, can you. Well then, I for one would love to hear your thoughts. You see, I LOVE Hershey Kisses! You may believe I divulge this morsel of truth today because, it was 102 years ago to the day that Milton Snavely Hershey had the idea to disguise those love bite pieces of chocolate in shiny silver coats of foil. Perhaps, but there's another reason. You see, I LOVE Hershey Kisses.
Many regular visitors to this blog are aware of the fact that I travel back and forth to Pennsylvania pretty regularly. They also know I usually follow the same routine. What they don't know, is I have my own supply of Hershey Kisses with me every single time I make the trip! Yes Sir Ree, I have my own portable Hershey's Chocolate Factory at my disposal with a flick of the wrist. Wanna see?


How cool is that??? I'll give you a peek into the factory windows if you recite after me; Louise LOVES Hershey Kisses!!!

Perhaps the most popular candy in the world, Hershey Kisses celebrated their centennial in 2007 with lots of "Loves & Kisses" by way of a postage stamp issued by The United States Postal Service.

Let's see, what else can you do with a Hershey's Kiss? It is summer after all, I suppose one could celebrate in Hershey, Pennsylvania where the streets are lined with streetlights shaped like Hershey Kisses. I only live about 3 hours away from Hershey when I am in PA.

Here are a few "crafty" things you can do with a Kiss.
Hershey's Kisses Kritters
Take the Hershey "Math" test over @ Granny Mountain. It's FUN!!!
Gabriela's Mice Kisses
Edible Halloween Witches Hats
Marshmallow Snowmen

Look what I found over @ Slashfood where I also found a few other inviting recipes to help celebrate the Kisse's Birthday. Having a BBQ? I made Hershey's Chocolate Barbecue Sauce.


Here are a few more cooking things you can do with a Hershey's Kiss.
Krispie Kisses
Chocolate Cherry Kisses
Win a Night at the Museum Sweepstakes (ends October, 2009)
Meringue Kisses with Passion Fruit Fool ("yields a light, crispy cookie that won't make you feel guilty.")
Meringue & Chocolate Kisses
Hugs & Chocolate Kisses

Did You Know? 95 Kisses =1lb. chocolate AND The name of the paper coming out of every Kiss is called a plume. So, If there are 95 Kisses in 1 pound of chocolate, How much would a single Hershey Kiss weigh in milligrams if 1 pound is to 2.2 kg? Did you know the answer? Have a Kiss below. Give up? Answer.


FYI: July 7th is also the "birthday" of Sliced Bread! Read all about it @ Tasteful Inventions. Friday I'll be serving up some watermelon dishes for Watermelon Month! Not only are they refreshing, they are adorable too!!!
Resources
1. 100 years A Kiss to Build a Dream On, Hershey's Kiss Turns 100
2. Hershey's Chocolate Barbecue Sauce @ Slashfood
3. The Hershey Insider (blog that keeps up with all things Hershey
4. Hershey's Kiss @ wiki
5. Zoe's Hershey Kiss Collection

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Domestic Side of Uncle Sam

Today, the day before one of our nation's most patriotic holidays, I would like to introduce you to, drum roll please...Aunt Sammy. Ah...You might be thinking. "Louise is going to formally introduce a relative; dear and close to her heart." "How sweet." Well, not quite. You see, Aunt Sammy is or should be near and dear to every American's heart. She is and always has been, Good Ol' Uncle Sam's wife! I digress:

You know that scene in the movie Miracle on 34th Street when Fred Gailey (John Payne) unequivocally proves Mr. Kringle to be the "one and only Santa Claus..."

Fred Gailey: Your Honor, every one of these letters is addressed to Santa Claus. The Post Office has delivered them. Therefore the Post Office Department, a branch of the Federal Governent, recognizes this man Kris Kringle to be the one and only Santa Claus.

Judge Henry X. Harper: Uh, since the United States Government declares this man to be Santa Claus, this court will not dispute it. Case dismissed. source

Well, the proof is in the pudding. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Aunt Sammy is Uncle Sam's wife. I know this to be true because, I found a 1974 edition Index to the USDA Home and Garden Bulletins available online. I quote:

Aunt Sammy came to life with the first radio broadcast of "Housekeeper's Chat" on October 4, 1926. The character of Aunt Sammy—wife of Uncle Sam was created by the USDA Bureau of Home Economics and the Radio Service. Many women across the country played the part as they spoke into the microphones of local radio stations.

The highlights of Aunt Sammy's show were the menus and recipes, but Aunt Sammy also talked about clothing, furniture, appliances, and other family and household matters. Aunt Sammy wasn't just a homebody, however. She commented on world affairs, reported the latest fads, and told jokes. The talk moved easily from one subject to another, always natural and entertaining as well as informative.

Many listeners wrote for copies of the recipes, and the Bureau of Home Economics answered these requests with weekly mimeographed sheets. In 1927 the most popular recipes were assembled into a pamphlet. The demand was so great that it had to be reprinted after only a month. "Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes" was revised and enlarged three times between 1927 and 1931. In 1932 it became the first cookbook published in braille.

I wish I could show you Aunt Sammy's rosy little face. As the story goes, "Aunt Sammy was actually 50 women standing before 50 microphones in 50 radio stations across the country, and reading 50 identical scripts prepared by the USDA's Radio Service." (That old coot, Uncle Sam:)

Aunt Sammy's roots were planted firmly in small town America, just where the United States Department of Agriculture needed her to be. The "purpose" of Aunt Sammy's radio show was "to give homemakers useful information on the scientific practice of their job." Her warm, witty personality was welcomed into millions of American homes everyday. No longer did farming communities remain "out of the loop" when it came to matters that pertained to them. Aunt Sammy warned her female audiences of get rich schemes, while educating them in the use of the innovative appliances invading their homes. I found a most interesting article published in The Free Lance Star dated October 9, 1975. "A morsel please" you say? Surely,

"Housekeeper's Chat" was the high point in a series of radio programs initiated by the Department of Agriculture under Milton Eisenhower...

It just so happens, that Milton Eisenhower was the younger brother of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also served presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon as a special consultant. His biography attests to the fact that he had rural America's needs close to his heart.

Milton Stover Eisenhower, the last of six sons of David and Ida (Stover) Eisenhower, was born on September 15, 1899, in Abilene, Kansas, a farm-oriented town of about 5,000. His paternal grandfather, Jacob, a farmer and Mennonite minister, had brought his family to the midwest from Pennsylvania after the Civil War. He prospered, but son David, despite a wedding gift of a 160-acre farm plus $2,000 in cash, did not. So Milton Eisenhower grew up in relatively poor circumstances, but he was surrounded by the support of many relatives.

Wise Aunt Sammy and her radio broadcast had a tremendous impact on women of the post war era. As an official radio representative and Uncle Sam's female counterpart, Aunt Sammy gained the trust and loyalty of her listeners. The chats were written in an informal style. Unlike Betty Crocker who "hit the waves" in March of 1925, for the purpose of selling more flour, Aunt Sammy, passed along helpful hints and economical recipes. She discussed the important problems concerning home makers such as meal planning, marketing, cooking, canning, sewing, decorating, gardening and a host of subjects. By 1927, there were approximately 1,251,186 radio sets on farms in the United States. More than 100 commercial stations were broadcasting the USDA's programs including, Aunt Sammy's daily housekeepers' chat, noontime farm flashes, poultry chats, insect and wild animal allies and enemies, farm news digest, primer for town farmers, and the United States Radio Farm School. 

Report of W. M. Jardine, Secretary of Agriculture, November 1, 1926: Page 56: Radio and the Farmer

Early in 1926 the number of rural radio sets in the United States reached nearly 1,000,000. To furnish the users of these sets with timely agricultural information, the department has inaugurated a comprehensive radio program covering the full range of its activities. A new section in the Office of Information, known as the radio service, has been established, to originate programs; to make contracts with commercial stations as an outlet for these programs; and to adapt timely subject matter for radio presentation. Ninety broadcasting stations, representing every section of the country, lend their facilities regularly to the department for an average of half an hour daily. The department's farm programs are brief digests of the most timely, pertinent facts woven into story form, and covering a wide range of topics.

The United States Radio Farm School, which has already brought requests for a half million enrollment cards, is conducted from 25 stations. Lessons take the form of experience talks and imaginary inspection tours. Radio "schoolmasters" at the different stations conduct the classes. All lesson material is dramatized so as to catch and hold the interest of the listeners. Printed lessons are mailed to all enrolled students.

Another outstanding service, released from 50 stations, is called "Noonday Flashes." This program enables a million farmers to listen in daily on a conversation between a county agent and a farmer who discuss current problems. "Aunt Sammy," a new radio friend and neighbor for the 5,000,000 farm women of the Nation who have an opportunity to tune in, is heard from 40 stations. The service known as the "Housekeepers' Chat" is a 15-minute period devoted five days a week exclusively to up-to-date information on subjects of interest to women...During the 1926-27 season, the radio service sent 10,000 questionnaires to individual farmers, county agricultural agents, and managers of broadcasting stations. The replies are incorporated in a report, The Number and Uses of Radio Sets on Farms in the United States, April 1, 1927. In April 1927, there were 1,251,186 radios on farms in the United States, an increase of 128 per cent over the number on farms July, 1925.

The report was used as a guide in planning the radio programs. This season's programs include three of last year's favorites: Aunt Sammy's daily housekeepers' chat, the noontime farm flashes, and the United States radio farm school, as well as eight special features. The special features for 1927-28 are: The poultry chats, a new program worked out in answer to numerous requests for a special poultry program; the young folks' program; insect and wild-animal allies and enemies; primer for town farmers; the farm news digest, and chats by the weather man. Two new special monthly programs are scheduled: The agricultural situation review; and special monthly farm playlets dramatizing agricultural problems.

The services are well received by broadcasting stations. More than 100 commercial stations were broadcasting the department's programs in October. Hundreds of letters received from farmers cite instances of how these programs are put to use. Farmers report increased profits through improved marketing practices learned in farm radio lessons. More cotton on fewer acres, better food in the home, and better crops at lower cultivation costs, are listed among the benefits received. Thousands of individual requests have been received for literature mentioned in the services. Fifty thousand free copies of Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes and 165,219 free Farm School pamphlets have been issued. (Early Radio History)

Aunt Sammy's chats were eventually reduced from 15 minute segments to 10 minute segments. However, Uncle Sam's fictional "wife" competed with the best of them. Betty Crocker still had her radio program as did Ida Bailey Allen. Ida Bailey Allen will be discussed on this blog in the future. Suffice to say now, she was author of Cooking For Two, a real dietitian, and a cooking instructor. Allen's "The National Radio Homemakers Club" ran on CBS radio from 1925 to 1935. By 1935, while Aunt Sammy was being broadcast on 200 stations in 48 states plus Hawaii, "The Radio Homemakers Club" had switched to NBC radio and remained on the air until 1936. Ah...Women in the Golden Days of Radio.

It isn't unusual to have recipe booklets such as Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes Revised stamped with a political name of sorts. I have quite a few "politically driven" books in my collection. My edition of Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes Revised is compliments of James E. Van Zandt; Member of Congress, 23rd Dist. Penn.

I have chosen a "seasonal" recipe to share from Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes Revised in honor of today which just happens to be "Eat Beans Day," according to Gourmet Magazine's website; the Nibble. Despite the assortment of baked bean recipes I discovered at this website in honor of another bean speciality of the month, National Baked Bean Month, I have chosen Aunt Sammy's recipe for Boston Baked Beans. Boston Baked Beans require a fair amount of cooking time. However, they are indeed worth the effort.

Boston Bake Beans
2 cups dried beans
1/2 lb. salt pork
4 tbs. molasses
1 tsp. mustard, if desired
1-1/2 tsps. salt (depending on saltiness of pork)
Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover. In the morning drain, add a quart of fresh water, simmer for 45 minutes, or until the beans begin to soften, and drain. Score the rind of the salt pork and put half of the pork in the bottom of the bean pot. Add the beans, mix the molasses and other seasonings with a little hot water, and pour over the beans. Add enough hot water to cover. Place the rest of the salt pork on top, cover the pot, and cook the beans in a slow oven (about 250 degrees) for 6 or 7 hours. Add a little hot water from time to time to replace that which cooks away and is absorbed by the beans. Keep the lid on the bean pot until the last hour of cooking, then uncover, and allow beans and pork on the top to brown.

A very special thanks to our Military and a Happy & Safe Independence Day celebration to everyone! 

Resources
1. Index to the USDA Home and Garden Bulletins
2. The Free Lance Star
3. The Feminine Side of Patriotism & Liberty
4. Popular Culture in American History (@ google books)
5. When Radio Was King
6. Marian Manners, Prudence Penny, the first celebrity cooks (LA Times article)
7. Farm Household Topics Via Radio (1927 newspaper article)
8. Betty Hits the Waves (previous post)
9. Ida Bailey Allen and the Chef (May 1947; podcast)
10. Happy Birthday Uncle Sam (a previous post of mine)
11. Eat Beans Day (@ hicards)
Recipes
1. Any-meat Rollups (inspired by “Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes”)
2. Aunt Sammy’s Radio Desserts
3. Aunt Sammy's Braised Beef
4. Quick Turnip Soup (from Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes)
5. Aunt Sammy's Horseradish Sauce