Sunday, July 20, 2008

Moon Day Recipes

Small bright herbs on the banks of the stream;
Moon pale primroses and tapestries of fern;
This is reality, and life is just a dream-
Iridescent bubbles that the moon tides turn.
-Helen Hay Whitney-

The Story of When We First Left Earth

On July 20Th of each year, we gather to commemorate the wondrous accomplishments achieved by the Human Beings of Planet Earth...Of all the formal holidays celebrated by the people of Earth, few, if any, recognize the peaceful and productive technological achievements accomplished by human beings as individuals, or as a species. The Story of When We First Left Earth (come back for the Moon Day recipes:)

"...I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish..." President John F. Kennedy (1961)

When President John F. Kennedy announced, "We will go to the moon in this decade," it was the beginning of the The Apollo Space program and the journey to put the first man on the moon. An estimated 600 million people from all corners of the world watched the first manned mission to land on the Moon on July 20, 1969. During their 2 hours 31 minutes outside the lunar module, the two men planted the United States flag, collected 49 lbs. of lunar rocks and soil, and deployed scientific equipment to study the solar wind and measure seismic tremors in the moon's interior and on its surface.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. The countdown, the blast off, the cheers. Hold your breath The "Eagle" has landed. (The Lunar Module was nicknamed the "Eagle") Neil Armstrong, stepped off of the Eagle's ladder, placed one foot upon the lunar surface and proclaimed: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind". There was nothing like it built before, perhaps, nothing like it ever again. As many of you may already know, I grew up on Long Island in the state of New York. Thousands of Long Islanders worked to build the lunar command module "Columbia" that carried Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin to their moon landing. (Michael Collins remained in space.) Six of the 13 lunar modules were built by Grumman. In the mid-1960's, it seemed everyone had a parent, relative or friend who worked at Grumman.

Moon Day Recipes

Today, on this historic anniversary, I would like to share some recipes from a spiral cookbook titled the Out of This World Cook Book published for The Cocoa Beach Woman's Club; Cocoa Beach Florida in 1973. From the introduction:
The Outer of This World Cook Book is dedicated to all those who have had a part in the Space Program on the Ground, or in Outer Space, or on the Sidelines. It includes the wives who have served meals at odd hours to husbands who have worked odd hours, and all those who have served meals to the many V.I.P.s and friends who descended on the Space Coast for every launch.
"To make an apple pie from scratch,"
"you first must create the universe."
Carl Sagan

According to Dennis Sanders in his book titled Famous Firsts, "The first meal eaten on the moon by Armstrong and Aldrin before their moonwalk was 4 bacon squares, 3 sugar cookies, peaches, pineapple grapefruit drink and coffee." How's this for a taste of space? "The first American astronaut to eat in space dined on applesauce squeezed from a no-frills, aluminum toothpaste-like tube." Yep, that's directly from the NASA website. How 'bout this for a little moon dust? Do you know who gave American astronauts the first space age beverage? His name was William A. Mitchell. Although, we may not know much about him, I'm sure you all are familiar with some of his inventions. Cool Whip, quick set Jell-O, powdered egg whites for cake mix, Pop Rocks, and drum roll... Tang! John Glen was the first to experience the unappealing food paste squeeze. The toothpaste like tube had to go directly into his mouth with, get this, his helmet on. Through the years, the food experts at NASA have made dining in space much more palatable. Nutrition, packaging preparation, and planning have all benefited from the use of advanced technology.
Speaking of costs-one thing the housewife will be surprised to hear, is the fact that feeding an astronaut is becoming less expensive with each flight. On Gemini flights, it cost about $300.00 a day to feed one astronaut. Apollo crew costs came down to below $200.00 and they hope to feed Sky-Lab crews for about $75.00 a man, a day. Out of This World Cook Book (1977 ed.)

Foods flown on space missions are researched and developed at the Space Foods Systems Lab in Houston. Foods are analyzed through nutritional analysis, sensory evaluation, storage studies, packaging evaluations and many other methods. Since the Apollo flights of the early seventies, interest in growing plants in space has increased. Apollo investigations and of horticultural research, have strengthened the possibility of eventually growing crops inside space bases. source

Cosmic Cuisine has also left its imprint in history. Former NASA astronaut John Watts Young, who walked on the moon in 1972, was scolded for smuggling a corned beef sandwich onto a spacecraft during the Apollo 16 mission. His crumbs, floating posed a risk to the craft's sensitive machinery. Famous astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan (quoted above) often used apples in his analogies and explanations throughout his series Cosmos. He also had a favorite recipe which you will find the link for below.

I could only find one recipe in the Outer This Wold Cook Book that remotely sounded freeze dried, which was another popular method of providing for the space food diet. Gee, I wonder if that was the beginning of freeze dried coffee. I'll look into it. In the meantime, picking recipes to post for moon day was not easy. I made up my mind I wanted to include astronaut recipes only, but oddly enough, there weren't that many. It seems Michael Collins focuses his moonbeams on Sweet & Sour Meatballs. The recipe was contributed by his sister. Soupsong has another favorite recipe of his, Freeze Dried Potato Soup. Here's the Sweet and Sour Meatball recipe.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
2 lb. ground round steak
1/2 c. milk
1 slice day old bread
1 egg
2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper, garlic powder
1 can beef bouillon
1 can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve liquid)
1/2 c. sugar
2 tbs. soy sauce
1/4 c. wine vinegar
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Accent
Mix and make into walnut sized balls. In skillet, heat 2 tbs. peanut or safflower oil. Roll balls into hot oil, shaking pan to avoid sticking. Cook just enough to brown. Sauce: Simmer all sauce ingredients about 15 minutes. Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch into pineapple juice. Slowly stir into simmering sauce. Cook 3-5 minutes, until smooth and thickened. Add meat balls. Serve in chafing dish.

Looks like Buzz Aldrin also enjoyed his beef in those days. His wife contributed a recipe for his favorite; Pot Roast in Bourbon. Here's the introduction to the recipe with, the recipe.

Mrs. Aldrin sent this as one of her husband's (Buzz Aldrin, Astronaut and second man on the moon) favorite recipes. Joan Aldrin claims that an added bonus is that during cooking, the kitchen smells heavenly. She also notes: "This can also be a marinade for a less expensive cut of meat which you want to barbecue outdoors. Let meat set in it (any kind of barbecuing beef) in the refrigerator overnight, and use it during cooking. Just brush it on. I have never done this, but why not the basis for a good old fashioned stew!

I decided to scan the Pot Roast recipe and offer one more recipe which I thought was kinda cool. At first, I was going to include the recipe for Astronaut Fruit Cake, which I happened to whiz by online ("...a fruitcake so nutritionally complete that a 6-ounce serving provides a third of the daily nutrient and 2,500-a-day calorie requirements for each astronaut.") The book notes the recipe was scaled down by the U.S. Army Laboratories in Massachusetts. It makes about 2 pounds and like so many other fruitcakes, it can be baked in coffee cans but, it won't be Astronaut Fruit Cake unless you follow that recipe link:) Also bookmarked, was a recipe for Boston Cream Pie contributed by Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, mother of the late President John Kennedy, for whom the space center was named but, I found a version of the Kennedy Boston Cream Pie recipe also online. The recipe I finally chose is for Grits Casserole. Yes, I know there are casseroles full of grits casserole online but none plated up like this one.

Dorothy Duke wrote, "I'm sending you a recipe for a delicious grits casserole-since grits was first carried to the moon by Charlie. Being a South Carolinian, he is fond of grits and asked NASA dietitians to prepare it for him for Apollo 16." This is a favorite of Astronaut Charles Duke.

Grits Casserole
Cook 1 cup grits in 4 cups boiling water, according to package instructions. When done add 1 stick butter 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese. Mix until both are melted, add 1/2 cup milk and stir. Let mixture cool a little and add 4 egg yolks, 1 at a time. Mix. In a separate dish, beat 4 egg whites until foamy, but not stiff. Fold into grits. Bake in shallow (2 inches high) well greased baking dish at 325 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until puffed high and lightly browned.

It was the Astronaut who told me,
The moon is not made of green cheese
So pass me some Swiss, Edam, or Brie
From our good planet Earth, if you please.

Another southern favorite is the Moon Pie. Don't know what a Moon Pie is, well, it's sorta like a Scooter Pie but, not really, maybe it's more like a Whoopie Pie, no, anyway, there's a link with the history below. (I've bought Moon Pies in Cracker Barrel Restaurants) Okay, I need to provide one more recipe from the book and also the above poem. I couldn't scan it because it appeared on two pages so, here goes the recipe for Saturn Eggs (with satellites!) I would also like to bring your attention to another novel recipe I found over by Jenn, the Leftover Queen. (she also is mistress of the Foodie Blog Roll) Her recipe for Spaceship Squash Fritters would make a wonderful addition to a Moon Day celebration. For Moon Day entertainment, may I suggest you take a leap over to Kitchen Retro. Lidian shares her Moon Day memories with an added 44 calorie bonus treat.
Saturn Eggs
4 large eggs
4 slices bread
1 tbs. Parmesan cheese
4 tbs. butter
salt and pepper
Lay the bread slices flat on a hard surface, and using a 10 ounce highball glass as a cookie cutter, remove the centers, saving, saving them (your satellites) to be used later. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter (approx. 350 degrees) and then place the bread in the pan until the down side is brown. (At this point, put satellites into the toaster to serve with your planets, either butter them or serve with Parmesan.) flip the slices over and put 1/4 of the remaining butter in each crater (hole). Next, crack an egg into each crater, and dash a little salt and pepper on each egg. Cover the skillet and reduce heat slightly. When yolks are still slightly "quivery", sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon Parmesan cheese on each planet. Cover again until cheese melts. Remove and serve immediately. Ed Note: I always thought eggs prepared like this were called Toads in the Hole:)

Apollo Space Program Memories

Not Everyone over the age of fifty remembers where they were in July, 1969. Where Were You? It dawned on me that some visitors may have been too young or dare I say, not of this Earth yet. So, I've gather a few memory links for the new generations. I thought it might be more enticing to include their introductions.

Apollo: A Look Back
The Apollo Program is already in the books as a historic event of the last century, and is starting to fade from the memories even of those who lived through it. I was one of those, and better yet, was a participant, though only an Earth-bound one. My memories are still vivid, and I would like to share them with the new generations...read
Steven Brockerman
One million people were there that day. They were camped out in tents on the beaches, strewn along the banks of the Indian River, gathered along highways US 1 and AIA. Every motel and private residence overflowed with visitors who had come from every state in the Union and from every continent on the planet... read
Reminiscing About July 20, 1969
So many of us remember right where we were when certain historic events took place: such as the assassination of President Kennedy, the resignation of Richard Nixon, or the landing of the first person on the Moon. But wait a minute. People under 20 weren't even alive when that momentous occurrence took place...
1969 marked an entire generation
In July of 1969, I was 8 years old. My parents, younger sister, and I were spending our first summer in our new house, which we had moved into the previous April. Though I lack any specific memories, I suppose I was enjoying a typical child's summer filled with swings and bicycles, lemonade and watermelon, fireflies and hide-and-seek. And there was the moon, which was why this was no typical child's summer...read
  • 1. Milestones of Flight (read more at the Smithsonian images also)
  • 2. Apollo 11...39 years and counting...
  • 3. When the Island Took the Ride to the Moon (New York Times 2004)
  • 4. Space History
  • 5. Dining in Space
  • 6. Dr. Sagan's Apple Pie Recipe (on flickr)
  • 7. Forty Years Ago (7-20-09)
  • 1. What is a Moon Pie?
  • 2. Moon Rock Cookies (No Bake)
  • 3. The History of the Great American MoonPie
  • 4. Divided Sky Pie
  • 5. White Moon Cake
  • 6. Hungarian Moon Cookies
A few books I found.
The First Men on the Moon; The Story of Apollo 11 by David M. Harland
In the evening, Lew Hartzell served a dinner of broiled sirloin steak and buttered asparagus for the crew, their backups, the members of their support crew, and Deke Slayton. The three astronauts then chatted with their wives by telephone, and retired at 10 pm...
First ManThe Life of Neil A. Armstrong By James R. Hansen
No tailgate party at any Southeastern Conference football game could match the summer festival preceding the first launch for a Moon landing. Sunglassed spectators dressed in Bermuda shorts or undressed in bikinis, even at this early hour firing up barbecue grills, opening coolers of beer and soda pop, peering through binoculars and telescopes, testing camera angles and lenses -- people filled every strand of sand, every oil-streaked pier, every fish-smelling jetty...


  1. I remember Tang all right. My mother sent me to college with jars of it, fearing for my vitamin C levels. Perhaps she thought I was going to the moon!

    It came in Grape too. Ugh. Thank goodness my roomate liked it...

    You have reminded me that it is Moon Day, for which I will thank you in my post as soon as we get back from Doing Errands..thank you for this great post!

  2. Hi Lidian,
    And thank you for your GREAT post. It was quite a "trip."

  3. Hi Louise
    This is cool stuff! It makes me want to cook moon meatballs in celebrations...where was I when the Eagle landed...well, I was just a twinkle in my dad's eye!

  4. As a kid I missed out on going to the Air and Space Museum. I always wanted to try those freeze dried samples they gave on tours I heard about. Its funny how we take space travel for granted now.

  5. Hi Dulce,
    I'm glad the post inspired moon meatballs. I would LOVE to see them!

    Yes Glamah, "In my day" it was so very exciting!

  6. This is exactly what I was eaqrching for to celebrate Moon Day with my little ones. What a great thing to honor, discovery, exploration, technological advancements, and passion to set a goal and see it through. We as a race are a mighty thing when we set our minds to it. I can not remember where I was that day, as I wasn't born tell September of that year. Still 1969 was an historical treasure of a year .

  7. Dear Anon,
    Thank you so much for visiting. I'm delighted you found this post worthy of sharing with your little ones. Today on this 40th anniversary, I still get chills when I think of that day. Please drop by anytime:)

  8. Your article is worth reading and the quotes are very fascinating. Those recipes are extremely delicious.


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise