Wednesday, January 30, 2008

February is...

All around looks sad and dreary,
Fast the flaky snow descends;
Yet the red-breast chirrups cheerily,
While the mitten'd lass attends.

February is...

...Do you get a case of the mubblefubbles in February? How about the mulligrubs? Me too sometimes, but, not this year. No not I. Why you ask? The month of February has so many tantalizingly tasty days to nourish us through the rest of the winter, why be melancholy? What's the first day that comes to mind? Valentine's Day? Yes, can't deny Valentine's Day. It sure can be a cure for bouts of the blues, not for everyone though. Some rather celebrate National Gum Drop Day baking a Gum Drop Cake. Let's talk Ground Hog day. Now groundhogs and Kiwifruit are both cute, cuddly, brown and furry. Cuddly and furry Kiwifruit? I had to think about that for a moment also when I read it on the California Kiwifruit site. Mmmm...Kiwifruit day is February 2nd. Chinese Gooseberries even sounds like a good cure for grumpiness, don't you think? A case of the "blue devils", Super Bowl Sunday is February 3 this year. Although, I don't watch football, I will certainly be able to gain a smile once I share some tailgating recipes with you. And you, you get to prepare them if you like. February 6, 2008 is Food Check Out Day. Food Check Out Day is part of Food Check Out Week which is a weekly celebration of the American harvest. Come on now, you can crack a grin for the American harvest and it's unsung farmers. Widen up that grin, "When applied to calendar days, the average American will have earned enough income to pay for the family's annual food supply just five weeks into 2008, Food Check Out Day. And while your checking out those groceries, don't forget to return those shopping carts. It's Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month too!

Feeling miserable? Eat some potatoes. February is Potato Lovers' Month. Sweet potato, red potato, yellow potato, Idaho potato, any ol' potato will lift that depressed spirit. Wait a second, potatoes don't do it for you? How about a nice bowl full of cherries? February is National Cherry Month too! You just can't feel bleak with a big bowl of cherries in front of you. Can you? Still feeling melancholy? February is National Grapefruit Month. You must admit, churning up that face to the first taste of a grapefruit is enough to send anyone singing into the month of March. Don't believe me? Try it in front of a mirror. Don't have time for grapefruit? Running out the door are you? If you really want to get those doses of Vitamin C, I suppose you could (do I dare:) try canned grapefruit. Stop! don't do it, I couldn't stand myself for recommending canned grapefruit even if Del Monte says it's Canned Food Month. Have a healthy snack instead. It's also Snack Food Month. Have a a convivial gathering celebrating the Great American Pie this month (pie day was in January) after all, it's Bake for Family Fun Month also. If that doesn't make you jovial, I know just the dish you need. You need to celebrate National Pot Roast Month. Just the thought of Pot Roast eases those pangs of sadness and evokes slow simmering Sunday dinners with family, friends and loved ones.

No gloomy days here, February is going to be quite a busy month at Months of Edible Celebrations. I haven't even nibbled away at the many morsels to come. The calendar (upper left corner) will give you a glimpse, but even that isn't filled to the brim---YET!

No Grumps Here

I'm also looking forward to February 11, it's Inventors' Day. I actually thought February was Inventors' Month but that's not until August. I'm kinda glad about that because as I said, there's a lot going on this month and I haven't totally updated my Tasteful Inventions page. I compiled it a long time ago on AOL and have left it up there until I can figure out how to transfer it to blogging. I was quite choosy about the links I chose when I did it way back when so most of the links are still good. Thank goodness. So my plan is to work on it but now I can at least procrastinate a bit longer:) I do want to celebrate Inventor's Day though, but, there are also so many birthdays this month. I suppose the best thing to do would be to start with those inventors who have a birthday this month such as Margaret Knight (of paper bag fame) continue with a few additional inventions and then introduce birthday stars such as Fernand Petiot (of Bloody Mary fame), Ruth Siems (Stove Top) author Peg Bracken who was also born in February. Whoops, I almost forgot Claude R. Wickard (sliced bread fame). Oh, what's the sense, there are so many more. You will just have to visit often. Smile:) Here are a few nibbles...

Resources (you will leave this blog when you open these)

  • 1. Great American Pie Month
  • 2. Canned Food Month (Del Monte web site)
  • 3. Cherry Month
  • 4. Snack Food Month
  • 5. Grapefruit Month

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Date With A Dish

I am a lonely cookbook
a sittin on the shelf
Although I'm full of goodies
I'm no good there by myself
I need someone to pick me up
and look inside my cover
And if you do, I promise you
A new world you will discover.
Granny's Kitchen.

My inspiration for today's post comes from another one of my favorite blogs, Culinary Types. The first article that caught my eye at Culinary Types was American Children's Cookbooks of the 50s and 60s for which I have provided a link for below. At Culinary Types, the blog, T.W. introduced his readers to a cookbook store he enjoys visiting in Manhattan.

...It is a bitterly cold day in Manhattan, but a whimsical early-Valentine’s Day window display of red paper-doily hearts and cookbooks on food and love beckons visitors to enter the town house. Inside the narrow shop, tidy white shelves hold a plethora of cookbooks from floor to ceiling...

Like many cookbook collectors, I am always excited to learn of a "new" source to explore. But wait, I had a cookbook "store" once. Yes, indeed, I did. It wasn't that long ago either. It was 1998 and the store was in central Pennsylvania. When I opened the store, I had over 4,000 cookbooks in my library. (now I'm down to a mere 3,000 and dwindling:() It may sound like a cliche, but the store was truly a dream come true. I'm not going to write about my store right now as I would really like to include some photos which I don't have here with me in New York. But, I would like to revisit cookbook collecting. I declare, cookbook month should be every month. Heck, cookbook day should be every day! I'm not the only one that feels that way, I'm sure. What is it about cookbooks that ignites the fire in our souls? Some say, cookbooks are a window to the past, a culinary view of history, or an economic glimpse of our world. Does cookbook collecting begin with a love of books in general? Do they not provide a window to the past, views of history and also an economic glimpse of our world? My dear friend Walter runs a huge book store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire called The Antiquarian Bookstore. Last time I asked, he had over 200,000 books. I met Walter during a visit to New Hampshire many years ago when I was in search of a cookbook titled A Date with a Dish by Freda De Knight. We got off to a bumpy start. The chiming of the door bells was my first feeling that this bookstore was going to be "the one." Then there was the nameplate on the desk. Walter Wakefield, proprietor. Good. Rows and rows, stack and stacks books everywhere. I was in heaven. Now, my experience with bookstore owners runs the gamut. There are almost as many personalities as there are books. What was Walter's going to be like. The obvious introduction to me was simply.

"Any relationship to Ruth Wakefield" I asked quite seriously. (Ruth Wakefield of chocolate chip fame)

Barely lifting his head he quickly replied. "Yes."

I could hardly control my excitement but I could tell right away, Walter was a man of very few words. I decided to leave it alone and browse the many narrow aisles. As I approached the first cookbook aisle, I could "feel" Walter's presence upon me.

"Can I help you find something" he asked.

No, thanks, I replied cautiously. The man of few words spoke again. "Don't take any book off the shelf" he said very sternly.

Taken back by this request, my first instinct was to leave. Honestly, look but don't touch just doesn't cut it with cookbooks. I'm not sure it's good advice for any book seller to request.

"I would never do anything to hurt a book, especially a cookbook, I touted.

Once again, the door seemed like the path to follow but, I am a cookbook collector, I collect cookbooks and I wanted to find A Date with A Dish!

"I'm looking for a book titled A Date With a Dish by Freda De Knight probably published in the late 1940's. It's a cookbook", I added flippantly.

"I don't have it" he answered as he returned to his outdated Royal typewriter.

My heart sank. I had been looking for this book for so long and was told about Walter's store by a local bookstore owner. However, my local bookstore owner did not warn be about Walter's less then personable personality. I no longer wanted to be in that store and yet the books, all of them, tugged at me. Look at me, see my signatures, hold me, peruse me, feel me. It was as if they were all calling out to me. I felt like I was spinning. Who should I grab first? The aisles began to close it, the shelves appeared to be shooting right through the roof. Rather than pass out, I decided it was time to leave. As I headed toward the door, the man of few words once again spoke.

"I will find it for you."

I wrote my name, address and phone number on an index card with the title of the book I was looking for and I left the store. About 6 months later, I received a note from Walter. He was still searching for the book but had just gotten in a huge supply of American Cookery Magazines and wanted to know if I was interested in them. I had never heard of American Cookery Magazine then and was quite intrigued by his description. I went back to New Hampshire this time with my son, John and his friend, Mario. Walter, John and Mario hit it off immediately. They talked and talked about books for what seemed like hours. Walter was more than cordial he even invited us to his house to see his private collection. I got to see (and feel) his wife's extensive collection of antique cookbooks and the boys were able to actually see what a house filled with books from wall to wall from door to door looks, feels and yes smells like. It was wonderful! Eventually, I found out that Walter had just lost the true love of his life, his wife only 2 months before my visit to his store. He had been devouring the many books in his store to offset his insatiable loss and barely could lift his head. That was back in 1988. Last I spoke to Walter, he was running for office at Mensa, publishing a monthly newsletter and still trying to find me a copy of A Date With A Dish.


  • 1) American Children's Cookbooks
  • 2) The Antiquarian Bookstore

Friday, January 25, 2008

Irish Coffee Day

Cream---rich as an Irish Brogue
Coffee---strong as a friendly hand
Sugar---sweet as the tongue of a rogue
Whiskey---smooth as the wit of the land

Once again, I'm in a tizzy. Link after link, proclamations are made, Today Is Irish Coffee Day! Now, I'm not one to avoid celebrating coffee, especially Irish Coffee but why? Why is today Irish Coffee Day? Inquisitive minds want to know. According to the Buena Vista website in San Francisco, the challenge was embarked upon on November 10, 1952. And I quote, "Jack Koeppler, then-owner of the Buena Vista, challenged international travel writer Stanton Delaplane to help re-create a highly touted "Irish Coffee" served at Shannon Airport in Ireland."

Is it possible, Irish Coffee had its historic beginnings in January. Maybe it was on January 25, 1943. Let's visit the Shannon Airport website to see what they have to whet our whistle. And I quote again: The bar is named after Joe Sheridan, a former chef at Shannon Airport. Joe invented the world famous Irish Coffee in 1943.

Now, the tizziness begins again. The Foynes Airport Museum reveals the legend as quoted at The Scotch Blog.

Legend has it that one night in 1942, a plane bound for the U.S. was turned back to Foynes due to bad weather. According to historians at the Flying Boat Mueum, this was not an unusual occurrence. But on this night, as Chef Joe Sheridan was serving coffee, he thought a little something extra was needed to warm the tired travelers. He sweetened the hot coffee with sugar, added a dram of Irish whiskey and floated a dollop of rich, delicious, lightly-whipped cream on top. Irish Coffee was born.

Flying Boats

Flying Boat Mueum! Why would someone travel to the Flying Boat Museum to explore Irish Coffee? Humbly she states; What the heck is a Flying Boat! Off to wiki I go.

A flying boat is a type of aircraft which uses its fuselage as a floating hull, generally stabilised on the water surface by underwing floats or stub projections. It is a specialised form of seaplane, an aircraft that is designed to take off and land on water utilising a carriage and pontoons that maintain the fuselage above water level. wiki

Foynes, Ireland was the terminal for many early transatlantic flights. Where land-based aircraft lacked the range to travel great distances and required airfields to land, flying boats could stop at small island, river, lake or coastal stations to refuel and resupply. Foynes is noteworthy for having been, in the early years of aviation, the last port of call on the eastern shore of the Atlantic for flying boats. Surveying flights for flying boat operations were made by Charles Lindbergh in 1933 and a terminal was begun in 1935. It was at the dawn of transatlantic plane travel, when a trip from America across the Atlantic was only possible on an 18-hour flight. On landing, passengers were ferried from these early seaplanes, arriving chilled and damp at Foynes Airport. In 1942, Brendan O'Regan opened a restaurant and coffee shop in the Foynes terminal building and employed a Chef named Joe Sheridan. The restaurant had been established at the airport to welcome travelers, which by then included such VIP’s as Humphrey Bogart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Edward G. Robinson, Ernest Hemmingway and Douglas Fairbanks. The drink was invented to welcome-and to warm up the first transatlantic travelers.

Brendan O’Regan had already imbued his staff with pride in their work and the sense that “we are Irish, we are different”, thus creating a culture centred around maintaining high standards of service. He sought ideas from his staff believing that everyone has the capacity to be creative. It was no accident therefore that Chef Joe Sheridan created Irish coffee in this environment, and no surprise that O’Regan had the staff welcome passengers with the beverage upon their arrival.
"Man alive, that stuff would make your toes open and shut."

Full Circle

There's a wonderful article by Bridget Haggerty at A Taste Of Ireland about the History of Irish Coffee. There is also the original recipe. It's a beautifully designed site which is very easy to navigate. But, before you leave, I would like to offer you this article from the May 1957 issue of The Epicurean Monthly. It is the menu for that which was served at the Waldorf Hotel on March 18, 1957. The host, Mr. Scott-Hayward printed and "circulated among the guests, notes on the menu and on the dishes served." Here is his note on Gaelic Coffee. 

Gaelic Coffee

"Sip the coffee through the cream and enjoy to the full this delectable brew. It was invented at Shannon Airport, one bitter winter night, to speed a dispirited American traveller on his journey across the Atlantic. The ingredients are:

Cream---rich as an Irish Brogue
Coffee---strong as a friendly hand
Sugar---sweet as the tongue of a rogue
Whiskey---smooth as the wit of the land

He continued with..."Man alive, that stuff would make your toes open and shut." If that quotation frightens you off, then ask for a black coffee and Irish Mist.

In October 1945, as the era of the Flying Boat came to an end, Foynes Airbase closed in order to make way for landplanes. A new airport was opened on the other side of the Shannon Estuary which is now known as Shannon International Airport. Joe Sheridan took his perfected recipe to the new airport restaurant where more and more travelers sampled its delights – among them, international travel writer Stanton Delaplane from San Francisco. Jack Koeppler, then-owner of the Buena Vista Café, made it his mission to introduce Americans to Irish Coffee. In 1952, Joe Sheridan accepted a position at the Buena Vista Cafe' in San Francisco and began serving the first Irish Coffees in America.
According to Buena Vista manager Michael Carden, it’s vital to use the traditional method. "You have to use actual heavy cream that is whipped to the perfect consistency and poured over a spoon in just the right way to get it to float on top (which takes a bit of practice). That way, you get the coolness of the cream and the hot of the coffee. That’s real Irish Coffee."

I'd call that, top-flight service:) Long Island’s Irish Coffee Pub makes Irish Coffee in the time-honored way, but substitutes brown sugar for the sugar cubes. It's simply delightful! (and the food is delicious:)

Slainte! (That’s "cheers" in Gaelic:)

1. Joe Sheridan’s Original Irish Coffee
2. Shannon Airport
3. Flying Boat Museum
4. John Mariani discusses Irish Whiskey
5. Irish Coffee Foam

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

National Pie Day

No soil upon the earth is so dear to our eyes

As the soil we first stirred in terrestrial pies.

Oliver Wendell Homes

National Pie Day, sponsored by the National Pie Council is "dedicated to the celebration of pie."  The American Pie Celebration began in 1986 to commemorate Crisco's 75th anniversary of "serving foods to families everywhere." According to a Favorite Brand Name Recipes soft cover booklet I have titled American Pie Celebration, copyright 1991, "Crisco pie baking contests are held at major state or country fairs in each of the fifty states." then, the winner of each contest represents his or her state at a national competition for the title of "Baker of the American Pie."

Fairy Pie

With visions of childhood come those luscious mince pies

so tender, so juicy, so sweet!

When brought from the oven what aroma would rise

Our tantalized nostrils to greet!

What a perfect day to share the contents of one of my favorite die-cut recipe booklets Fairy Pie. Fairy Pie was a promotional booklet which was offered upon receipt of 5 submitted red fronts cut from the packages of New England Condensed Mince Meat. There are no recipes in Fairy Pie, instead, a Mother Goose Tale reveals the children's desire for "a goody in the whole wide world in a single bite." I decided to try my hand at making an embedded booklet. Let me know what you think. I tried to make the pictures big enough so you could read the story. If you still can't see it good enough, I think you can click on one of the pictures and it will take you to the complete album.

Mince Pie: "Long before Francis Bacon wrote Mincing of meat in pies saveth the grinding of the teeth," mixtures of spices and liquor had been used to preserve perishable meats and fruits. By the seventeenth century Mince Pie had politico-religious connotations: at Christmastide, Cavaliers would bake rectangular coffins or crusts, for the spicy filling and often created monstrous affairs weighing over a hundred pounds; Puritans, however thought they detected in the pie's designs overt allusions to Christ's manger and the Magi gifts."
source: The Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking through the Ages
Apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze...

And, what would pie day be without at least one recipe for $100 Prize Apple Pie.

$100 Prize Apple Pie
One cup unsweetened pineapple juice (canned), six medium tart apples, one cup sugar, one tsp. vanilla, one tbsp. butter. Put sugar and pineapple juice on to boil, when mixture boils add apples, cook slowly uncovered until fruit is tender but whole; lift apples out carefully and lay in pie pan lined with unbaked pastry. Dissolve corn starch in two tsps. cold water and add to syrup, cook until it thicken, add vanilla and butter, pour over apples. Sut strips of pastry one-half inch wide, brush lightly with cream, place over criss cross over pie. Bake in hot oven, 450 degrees, for 10 minutes, reduce heat to finish baking to 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.
A Friendship Cook Book published by Mary Hammond Shaw, South Paris, Maine 2nd ed. April 1939

Aunt Chick's Pies is another interesting little book I have. The recipes in the book were compiled by Nettie McBirney, Tulsa's best know cook. Her article All I Know About Pie Crust was published in her column in October of 1935.

The booklet has about 150 recipes for everything from Cream Pies to "Very, Very Rich Famous Pies of Custard Nature." Aunt Chick's Pies is more of a promotional booklet for the pastry canvas she invented but, the recipes are timeless. Nettie McBirney was also instrumental in the evolution of the modern day cookie cutter. We celebrated National Cookie Cutter week in December with Aunt Chick. I'm going to see if the book is here or in PA. If it is here in NY, I will share. For now, I will leave you with a few pie links. 

1. Three-Apple Pie
2. Breakfast Pies (Breakfast Pies are now celebrated on National Pie Day 2009!
3. Syrup Pie

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Couch Potatoes a la Gourmet

Do you have a television in your kitchen? I was just wondering. You see, I don't. Never have, never will. I don't know anyone who does. However, that doesn't mean it isn't so. If you do, or you know someone who does, I would really like to know. Why? Well, today is the birth date of not one but two TV cooking personalities. Graham Kerr who was born on January 22, 1934 and Jeff Smith, also born on January 22 in 1939. Yes, it's true, The Galloping Gourmet and The Frugal Gourmet were both born on the same day. At first, I was going to explore television chefs and cooking shows in general. When was the first, who was the first, and quite frankly, why do they remain to be so popular? I had to "can" that because 1) I don't watch television cooking shows 2) I don't have a TV in the kitchen. It just seems to me that in order to be able to "follow" along, you would at least need one more pair of hands. I remember reading once that eventually food broadcasting would be more interactive. At the push of a button, we would have televisions in our kitchens with access to a broad scope of techniques and recipes. Who knows, a question could be asked and answered right from the stool of your kitchen counter. Perhaps, I'm really out of touch, perhaps, TVs are in the kitchen and everyone is chatting away except me. If that be the case though, then wouldn't televisions in the kitchen be replaced by computers? That! I could handle.

If I had to guess, I would think, cooking programs really gained popularity in 1960's. Julia Child's, The French Chef, made its debut on February 11, 1963. It wasn't the first cooking show on TV but it was most influential. The French Chef introduced French cooking to the United States at a time when it was considered expensive and not suitable for home cooking. The show was done live and videotaped from start to finish. Mishaps on the show were recycled into teaching lessons. The influence Julia Child's French Chef had was a telltale sign in supermarkets and groceries. They often ran out of the whole, fresh ingredients that were featured when an episode aired. I don't remember my mother ever watching Julia Child. I don't remember watching The French Chef either but, I suppose I wouldn't after all, I was only...For some reason, I do have a vague memory of The Galloping Gourmet (1969) and I definitely remember The Frugal Gourmet. I may have started and stopped watching TV cooking shows with the demise of The Frugal Gourmet. For my own sentimental reasons, I still have my library of Jeff Smith's books. I rarely refer to them for recipes but then, I rarely refer to any of my cookbooks for recipes. Even the set of Time-Life Foods of the World books I have, I rarely use. I have even thought about donating them to the new culinary school just finished in Riverhead. But, like the Time Life books, The Frugal Gourmet cookbooks offer such a wealth of historic information, I just never know when I might need them. I don't feel that way about the one lone Graham Kerr book I have.

There's no doubt that Graham Kerr knows his way around a kitchen. Kerr's father was a hotelier, so young Graham's playground was usually the kitchen of his father's London hotel. there, he mastered puff pastry by 10 and turned out ''good tournedos'' by 12. His formal culinary and management training began at age 15, when he became a manager-trainee at the Roebuck Hotel in England. He spent five years in the British Army as a catering adviser with a captain's rank, and returned to the hotel business to become general manager of England's Royal Ascot Hotel when he came out of the service. His TV show The Galloping Gourmet was not his first reflection on the screen. He had been on television in New Zealand, in 1958, and also starred in a successful cooking show called Eggs With Flight Lieutenant Kerr in Australia. His media career blossomed in the early 1960's when after sharing his recipes on the radio and in magazines a broader based book was published titled Entertaining with Kerr which is said to have sold out in its first eight days. In 1969, The Galloping Gourmet was produced in Canada by Kerr's wife Treena. It became so successful, that it earned Treena two Emmy nominations. Unlike Julia Child's shows, Graham Kerr's Galloping Gourmet was difficult to take too seriously. Although his demonstrations were also "performed" in front of a live audience, his antics were sometimes very distracting. Viewers must have liked it though. It is said that The Galloping Gourmet had 200 million viewers in 38 countries. A serious road accident in 1971 interrupted Graham Kerr’s career and, although he eventually made a TV comeback in the US with low-fat cookery and a Christian message, his British glory days were clearly behind him. source

It's probable time to clarify something. I'm not broadly entertained by television. Like most, I do have my favorite TV shows. CSI Miami, Don't Forget the Lyrics, Deal or No Deal and my very best favorite EVER! Sex in The City. Off hand, I can't think of any times where any of these characters or hosts have elevated the school of cooking to any great heights. Sex in the City may be responsible for bringing the martini back to life, but, I don't really consider that cooking. It's probably just my choice in programming. There must be other shows, besides the tantalizing Food TV shows, that inspire cooking rather than eating. Wait, let's mention sponsorship. Most cooking programs have commercial sponsors. I found the following information in a back issue (1993) of The New York Times. I make reference to this issue because it also states the debut of The Food Network.

The production team and hosts earn their money from sponsorship financing and sometimes from cookbooks sold over the air. The cost of producing a 26-week series varies widely depending on how ambitious it is. The general range is $250,000 to $1 million. In some cases, all of the budget goes toward production costs, with nothing paid to the host, whose profits are derived from book sales generated by the show. Better-known hosts, however, can sometimes command $100,000 or more for a series. source

This recipe for Crepes Fitzgerald, a specialty at Brennans, New Orleans, is from the above Graham Kerr Television Cookbook. (click to enlarge) I've been known to look up a recipe online rather than "hitting" the books or the TV. I even know the one recipe I look up more frequently than any other. It's white sauce. For the life of me, I can never remember the ratio. Should I put the TV in the kitchen in hope that one of the many "celebrity chefs" will just happen to be preparing Béchamel sauce that day? I would consider adapting my Mac to a shelf in the kitchen, however, I would still need another set of hands. Let's do a quick run through. I wouldn't need to turn to any screen to gather my ingredients. Butter, flour milk, got it. I know you have to melt the butter. Okay, I'm already stumped. How much flour to how much milk? I think I get confused because there's different ratios for different blends. There's thin white sauce or medium white sauce. Heck, I think there's even a thick white sauce. I think you use the thick white sauce when preparing croquettes but, don't quote me on that. Of course, I could refer to my Book of Sauces by James Peterson but, first of all, the book is huge! Second of all, it's in PA. Finally, I need it NOW! Don't get me wrong. The Book of Sauces by James Peterson is the best! I believe it won the James Beard Cookbook of the Year Award in 1991. Like I said, it is huge. I think there are over 500 pages, probably closer to 600. (mine is in PA remember:) You would think such a large book would be intimating but it isn't at all. As a matter of fact, it's quite inspiring. It really does get those creative juices flowing. I guess this is the perfect time to make an analogy. IMHO, Peterson's book could be compared to the kind of cooking show that should engross the viewer enough to "get those creative juices flowing." The photography in the Book of Sauces is quietly attractive and simply exquisite which makes for solemn entertainment. I, quite possibly, may be able to sit through a cooking show of such nature. The recipe below is for Pork Chow Yuk. It isa Chinese recipe from the above Frugal Gourmet Cookbook published in 1977.

My grand daughter Tabitha, who is 5, watches Rachael Ray when her mother lets her. Sorry, I don't know what the name of her show is. My grandchildren aren't big TV watchers either. I think they are "allowed" to watch maybe 1 hour of television daily. Most times, the shows Tabitha chooses to watch are Rachael Ray and Curious George. Noah, my grandson, nixes the Rachael Ray show and surprisingly sits quietly for the Curious George show. I must admit though, I am happy Tabi has discovered Rachael Ray because she has never had much of an appetite and I'm hoping watching Rachael Ray will stimulate that. Sound the alarms! That's it! I guess I needed to write it before I understood it, "Different shows for different folks". Which reminds, I did like the Great Chefs series that once hit the airwaves. I may even have a couple of the follow-up published cookbooks.

For the first time ever, viewers were watching over the shoulders of the Great Chefs as they worked and chatted, explaining their techniques, the secrets of how they work their magic. To set the mood, the background music featured jazz and other artists, from the Dukes of Dixieland to Charlie Byrd, Bobby Short, Bela Fleck, and Kapono Beamer. source

I'd venture to guess, Food TV will probably always remain an avenue of cooking relations. As the British say, before there were celebrity chefs, there was Marguerite Patten. And even before her, England had concocted recipes for TV success. There was Fanny Cradock, Philip Harbin, and a host of others.

There have always been cooks on television. The very first, in 1936, was Moira Meighn, author of a guide to Primus stove cooking entitled The Magic Ring for the Needy and Greedy. A year later, the restaurateur Marcel Boulestin launched the first ever TV cookery series, but the Second World War put a stop to all that. source

Here in the US, we've had our senses touched by quite an assortment of TV personalities. Dione Lucas was the first woman featured in a cooking show on television. Her cooking show To The Queen's Taste was broadcast from 1948 to 1949 from her New York restaurant, The Gingerman. She had another show in the 1950s. Silly me, I should have mentioned "The Father of American Gastronomy," James Beard. James Beard had a TV cooking show which premiered on August 30, 1946. I know, I should have given him top billing. Now, a cooking program with James Beard as host, I could definitely handle that; on the television, on the computer. I'd even put a TV in the kitchen for him! There have been many TV cooking hosts and by no means are the following the complete list. We've had Alma Kitchell, In The Kelvinator Kitchen, (1947-1948) the Mystery Chef, Chef Tell, Madeleine Kamman in Madeline Cooks and "Cooking in America" with the late New York Times columnist Pierre Franey.


  • 1) Graham Kerr's Jambalaya
  • 2) Nathalie Dupree 's blog
  • 3) Celebrity Chefs
  • 4) TV Chefs Through The Decades (British)
  • 5) Sex in The City Martinis
  • 6) A Day With Television (Time Magazine January 19, 1948)
  • 7) Top Ten TV Chefs: Present and Past

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Refrigerator Coined?

The preservation of ice and the economical use of it, depend on the application of principles so nearly similar, that a treatise on ice-houses ought to lead to an understanding of the construction and use of Refrigerators (this being the most appropriate term I have thought of for the machines...) Thomas Moore

A cold front is a coming... We've been pretty lucky here in New York. So far, we've had a minimal amount of snow on Long Island and the future months are looking, well, a little less chillier then those I remember as a child. Like most, we are trying to conserve this winter so when I turned down the heat last night, I wasn't too thrilled to leave my nice warm bed to enter into the "ice-box" this morning (the rest of the living area.) We don't have a very large place out here on the east end. Actually, it's quite confusing, I don't really "live" here but, I'm sure my house in PA is just as cold if not colder. I'm sure no one is visiting to hear about the weather but it does lead me to my next block of information...

Today, is the birth date, of the man who first chanted the word refrigerator. Yep, the term refrigerator was coined by a Mr. Thomas Moore who was born on this day in 1760. As in most culinary inventions, the refrigerator has quite a long and active history. I suppose you could say, it all began with nature. Before mechanical refrigeration systems were introduced, people cooled their food with ice and snow. Notice the statement below where it states, "Thomas Moore coined the term "refrigerator" and patented it." As I sifted through the many web pages concerning refrigeration, I slipped upon quite a few interesting proclamations. But, it is difficult to put my finger on the exact patent date for the refrigerator as a whole. I'm going to leave this search up to you by providing some additional links below.

In 1803, Maryland native Thomas Moore coined the term "refrigerator" and patented it, which single-handedly put a huge twist on the agricultural business. Thomas Moore lived about twenty miles outside the city of Washington, for which the village of Georgetown was the market center. On his farm were dairy cows whose milk was churned into butter and taken to market to be sold. Moore devised an icebox out of a cedar tub which was insulated with rabbit fur, filled with ice, and wrapped in a piece of sheet metal so he could transport his butter at a cooler temperature. He was on the right track, for in the warmer months of the year, Moore noticed that people would pass up his competitors butter, which had softened up and often times melted, for his butter which was wrapped up and came in individual bricks. source

As a cookbook collector, I must confess, the coolest "ice harvesting" came from this website below. If you're like me, you will really enjoy the insight revealed in the rest of the short but interesting article.

In 1860 no less an authority on Richmond’s past than Samuel Mordecai wrote: "The lovers of comfort and cool beverages are indebted to Mrs. R’s (Mary Randolph) ingenuity for the invention of the "Refrigerator," as she called it. The first one was constructed according to her plan for her own use. It was said that a shrewd Yankee who was an inmate of her house for a few days, to whom she showed it, carried the invention with him, perhaps obtained a patent, and it soon got into general use.”

She described her contrivance in her well-known 1824 cookbook, The Virginia House-Wife. Who was that “shrewd Yankee”? Was it Thomas Moore of Baltimore? He is credited with inventing the refrigerator in 1803 source

Thomas Moore was born to Quakers James and Amy Barnes Moore on January 19, 1760. He was a farmer, an engineer, an inventor, and an intimate friend of Thomas Jefferson. In a letter dated June 21, 1802, Thomas Moore invited Thomas Jefferson to view this new "refrigerator." In a patent signed by Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State Madison, a new industry was born. Please note, I couldn't find much to validate the claim to the formation of the National Agricultural Society not even in this article that appeared in the New York Times, October 23, 1879, which of course, is after his death in 1822.

Thomas Jefferson named Thomas Moore to lay out the National Road from Cumberland to Ohio. Moore engineered the Erie Canal, the state road from Buffalo to Albany, the Aqueduct Bridge over the Potomac, and the James River & Kanawha Canal. With brothers-in-law Isaac Briggs and Caleb Bentley he laid out the mill town Triadelphia. Perhaps his greatest exploits were in agriculture. He developed new plowing and fertilizing techniques and created the National Agricultural Society. source

IMHO, Thomas Moore appears to have invented more of a thermos box which certainly could be labeled the first domestic icebox. In An Essay on the Most Eligible Construction of Ice-Houses. Also, A Description of the Newly Invented Machine Called the Refrigerator, published in 1803, Thomas Moore makes it perfectly clear that he is a farmer first "as the height of my ambition is to become a good practical farmer.."

I STATED in a publication which circulated through several newspapers in the United States, that I had no pretensions to the discovery of new principles in the construction of the Refrigerator. The particular mode of applying some before known and understood, is all I claim as my invention; the untility of which has been fully proved during the last summer.

WHAT I have to observe on the keeping of ice is merely an attempt to carry improvements already begun a step further than I have yet heard of. I have apprehended, the reason why the art has not progressed faster, is because no one has yet fully investigated the principles upon which it depends; or, if this has been done by individuals, they have not favoured the public with a knowledge thereof. This is my present object, and for reasons which will hereafter appear, I prefer going through it, before I enter on the subject of Refrigerators. excerpt

Culinary historian Alice Ross has a wonderful collection of recipes in her Hearth to Hearth article at the Journal of Antiques and Collectibles. She discusses, Ice Harvesting, The Ice Industry and Ice in the Kitchen. Eliza Leslie wrote that an icebox was a convenience "no family should be without. The icebox gave individual homes and city residences a means of keeping food cold. The ice cutting industry was one of the major business enterprises in 18th and 19th century Boston. Ice cut in New England was packed onto insulated ships and transported across the globe. Yes, a cold front is on the way and thanks to those like Thomas Moore, I don't have to go outside and begin the ice harvest.

You may be wondering why I didn't include a refrigerator recipe booklet in honor of today. Well, truth be known, they are all in PA. Well, the house warmed up quite nicely so, I took a slide over to one of my favorite blogs; The Food Company Cookbooks where Kathy just happened to share her recipe booklet Kooling with a Kelvinator. Food Company Cookbooks is the first blog I ever left a comment. I was so excited to find it then and am more than delighted to have revisited it today. Here's a glimpse:)

Could there possibly have been a more welcomed new household item than the electric refrigerator? First used commercially, then by the wealthy, this marvel of convenience started making its regular appearance in U.S. households by the early 1930s. source

Perhaps, now, I'll "bake" a refrigerator cake or how do you say; an ice-box cake:) which I found at the Smitten Kitchen. People! you must see this Wafer Wonderland Cake. Now I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy and ice is the very last thing on my mind:)

FYI: March is Frozen Food Month. I found this gem in an article published by Frozen Food Digest in March of 1955.

"A vast underground freezer warehouse carved out of solid rock near Kansas City, Kan., is opened by Inland Cold Storage Company. It has capacity for 2,500 carloads of FF, and is called the "World's Biggest Natural Icebox." source


  • 1. Refrigerator History
  • 2. Early Days of Refrigeration
  • 3. Thomas Jefferson Letter
  • 4. Maryland Firsts
  • 5. The Complete Essay of Thomas Moore (this page is difficult to read as it is in HTML format)
  • 6. The Ice King
  • 7. Ice Harvesting U.S.A
  • 8. Food Company Cookbooks
  • 9. Frederick Jones: Truck Refrigeration

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bread Toast Wonder

Stop the Slicers!

Here's a crumb for you. On January 18, 1943, commercial bakers stopped selling sliced bread after Claude R. Wickard, Secretary of Agriculture, banned the sale of sliced bread in the United States until the end of WWII.
Within a year after America's entry into World War II, factories were producing armaments instead of civilian products like automobiles and electrical appliances. Shoe manufacturers made boots for the U.S. Armed Forces. Silk and nylon went into parachutes instead of women's stockings. Shortages of metals, rubber and sugar quickly appeared as Pacific supply routes fell under enemy control. (source)
Claude Raymond Wickard served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1940 to 1945. Claude R. Wickard was born on his family farm in Carroll County, Indiana. He graduated from Purdue University in 1915, with a bachelor's degree in agriculture, and was chosen as "Master Farmer of Indiana" in 1927 for his improvements in stock feeding and farming. During World War II, Claude Wickard headed the War Foods Administration, promoting increased farm production as a matter of patriotism. His slogan was "Food Will Win the War and Write the Peace". As a wartime Secretary, Wickard supervised the rationing of consumable and usable products vital to the war effort. He developed and administered programs which enabled the American farmer to produce enough food to feed the country, its armed forces and most of its allies. Well aware of his job's importance, he noted during a radio broadcast that "the way we manage our food supply will have a lot to do with how soon we win the war." By 1945 America's level of food production was high enough to make the difference between life and death for many people in the war-torn countries of Europe. (source)
First of the food orders can serve as an example. This order was designed to bring about economies in the distribution of bread and rolls. It provided for elimination of consignment selling to prevent waste, for simplification of labeling to conserve printing plates, inks, and papers, for the enrichment of all bread and rolls to bring the nutritive value to a fixed minimum standard, and for various other economies in the process of manufacture. source (Food Distribution Administration-PDF file)
Basically, the job assigned to the Food Distribution Administration (FDA) was to formulate and carry out programs that would result in the food produced on American farms being available at the place it was needed, at the right time, and in the proper form. Of the total war time food supply management job, the segment for which the FDA was responsible began when the food left the farm until the food ultimately reached the consumer. The Agricultural Part of the War Program included many aspects much too many to discuss here. We want to blog Sliced bread! However, it should be noted, by September of 1943 the Secretary of Agriculture, made an appearance before the House Committee on Agriculture, where he spoke about the serious farm labor shortage predicting 8-10 million men would be in the armed forces by the end of 1943. He projected, "Agriculture will lose one million persons from its work force between July 1, 1942 and July 1, 1943'. Consequently, the wartime Secretary, called for more "women, older people, and children to be "drafted" into farm labor. There were many belt-tightening measures on the homefront during World War II. Families were encouraged to produce their own food with Victory Gardens. Meat rationing gave birth to the "Trumanburger," a fried patty of mashed baked beans. And nutritionist Ansel Keys designed the portable, healthy if tasteless "K-rations" that were eaten by GIs around the world.

Why was sliced bread banned you might ask? I couldn't find a direct link as to the banning of sliced bread. Popular opinion seems to think it was because of the wheat used in the bread. I may have to disagree. I think it had to do more with the conservation of metal. Perhaps you will agree when you read about "The Slicer" below. I also found an article published in Science Magazine that may offer some insight. I am including the resource below as there is also an article titled, "The Study of War Metals" published in the same edition.

Less wheat, more meat; also more vegetables, eggs, dairy products, vegetable oils; steady on cotton and tobacco. This in a nutshell is the array of goals for American farmers in 1943, as summarized in the annual report of Claude R. Wickard, Secretary of Agriculture. It is quite different from the agricultural aims of the last war period, when all the accent was on wheat. Ever since 1918, wheat has been produced in excess in this country, and with the war-caused total eclipse of export markets it has been piling up. The national carry-over as of July, 1942, was 633,000,000 bushels, to which the year's huge crop of about 984,000,000 bushels was added. The total is enough to meet all our bread needs for two years, even if no wheat at all should be harvested in the meantime.

The Slicer

Sliced bread was "born" on July 7, 1928. The "father" of the bread slicer is Otto Frederick Rohwedder. Otto Frederick Rohwedder started working on his bread slicing machine in 1912. The first prototype machines were not well received by bakers, who told Rohwedder that his invention was useless, as sliced bread would too quickly go stale. Not to be under cut, Otto went back to the drawing board to come up with a better solution. After several failed attempts, a successful version was conceived in 1928. A machine that neatly sliced the loaves into uniform slices and wrapped the freshly-sliced loaf in waxed paper, which kept in the moisture, and therefore kept the bread fresh. He had successfully designed a machine that would slice and wrap the bread. According to an article published in The Chillicothe, Missouri Constitution-Tribune dated July 7, 1928 a story of the new machine's first use at M. F. Bench's Chillicothe Baking Company, was published.  According to the story, Mr. Bench assisted Rohwedder in the fine tuning of the new bread slicing machine. The massive metal unit, was approximately five feet long and three feet high. The baker's success led Rohwedder to display his bread-slicing-and-wrapping machine at trade fairs, and by 1930 the first large commercial machines were in use. The innovative bread product was launched under the name Wonderbread. The American public embraced sliced bread, toast consumption skyrocketed, and by 1933 over 80% of bread sold in the USA was pre-sliced and wrapped. The phrase The best thing since sliced bread was also coined at this time. source

The Wonder

In 1925, the Continental Baking Company bought the The Taggart Baking Company which was on the verge of launching a new 1.5 pound loaf of bread. Inspired by a Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Speedway, the vice-president of the company solved his dilemma as to what to name this new 1.5 pound loaf of bread. Impressed with the sky filled of balloons, he achieved a solution for the name he would give to his bread and Wonder Bread soon became a national brand.

The Continental Baking Company altered the course of bread forever in the 1930s when it introduced sliced Wonder Bread. Sales were slow at first as suspicious consumers were reluctant to accept a pre-sliced bread, but convenience overruled apprehension and soon everyone wanted sliced Wonder Bread on their dinner table.
During the ‘40s, Americans were forced to tighten their belts and the Continental Baking Company did its part to support the war effort. Metals become so precious that the blades for the bread-slicing machines are no longer available. Unsliced bread is again sold on grocery store shelves.

The Toaster

By 1930, sliced bread and the introduction of the automatic toaster had increased consumption of toast at the breakfast table. The history of the toaster as an appliance can be traced back to 1905. I have provided additional information in the resource section below. Early toasters were not truly automatic. They substituted electrical resistance heat for the heat from a fire or stove. The person desiring the toasted piece of toast was responsible for turning the toast and taking it out when it was done. Most of them had some sort of door or lid that had to be opened to turn the slice of bread over so that it could be toasted. The die-cut pamphlet pictured is for the "Hotpointer" Automatic Electric Toaster, Circa 1935, model #No.129T41 marketed by General Electric. The booklet doesn't really offer much information about the production of the toaster but, it does include a few recipes and also a pretty good look at how to operate it which I have provided in the scanned pictures which will enlarge if you click them. It appears that Hotpoint had its beginnings with a single product in 1905. Actually, there is a discrepancy as to whether Hotpoint was the first. As I said before, the history of the toaster as an appliance can be traced back to the same date, 1905. I will have to save that blog information for another day. In the mean time, here's another crumb of note. Hotpoint actually called their small appliances "servants" recognizing that such gadgets were quite convenient.

  • 1. We Stand United and other Radio Scripts
  • 2. Use It All; Wear It Out; Make It Do; or Go Without!
  • 3. Agricultural Supplies for War Claude R. Wickard (a brief article)
  • 4. Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages
  • 5. Science Magazine
  • 6. Manual for Army Bakers (this reference was used during WWI)
  • 7. Wheat History
  • 8. History of the Toaster
  • 9. The Toaster Museum

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Blogging Ben

While preparing to celebrate Benjamin Franklin's birth date today, a spark went off in my head. In his wildest creative, enterprising, inquisitive, imagination, would Benjamin Franklin ever have dreamed that the likes of me would be "blogging" about him. Of course, my first instinct was to discuss Benjamin Franklin's favorite foods or his many contributions to the culinary world (The first shipment of rhubarb was sent to the United States from London. Benjamin Franklin sent the plant to, John Bartram in Philadelphia) or the fact that "The Apple A Day Man" was quite the promoter of healthy eating. In Poor Richard's Almanac, Franklin encouraged the eating of citrus fruits, including oranges, limes, and grapefruits. He coined the phrase "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" and touted the advantages of fruit in helping to maintain the gums and skin.

Vegetarian & Healthy Foods

When Franklin was about 16, he "digested" a book written by one Tryon, recommending a vegetable diet which he vowed to adhere to. He did, more or less, for the next three years, but he did "fall off the wagon" for brief spells throughout his life. In his autobiography, he often pleads for moderation in eating: "Be temperate in Wine, in eating, Girls, and Sloth, or the Gout will sieze you and plague you both." The following excerpts are from his autobiography:

"When about 16 years of age I happened to meet with a book, written by one Tryon, recommending a vegetable diet. I determined to go into it. My brother, being yet unmarried, did not keep house, but boarded himself and his apprentices in another family. My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chid for my singularity. I made myself acquainted with Tryon's manner of preparing some of his dishes, such as boiling potatoes or rice, making hasty pudding, and a few others, and then proposed to my brother, that if he would give me, weekly, half the money he paid for my board, I would board myself. He instantly agreed to it, and I presently found that I could save half what he paid me. This was an additional fund for buying books. But I had another advantage in it. My brother and the rest going from the printing-house to their meals, I remained there alone, and, despatching presently my light repast, which often was no more than a bisket or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins or a tart from the pastry-cook's, and a glass of water, had the rest of the time till their return for study, in which I made the greater progress, from that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension which usually attend temperance in eating and drinking."

Off the Wagon

"I believe I have omitted mentioning that, in my first voyage from Boston, being becalm'd off Block Island, our people set about catching cod, and hauled up a great many. Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution of not eating animal food, and on this occasion consider'd, with my master Tryon, the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had, or ever could do us any injury that might justify the slaughter. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had formerly been a great lover of fish, and, when this came hot out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanc'd some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, "If you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you." So I din'd upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet. So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do." (source)

I could hardly control my excitement when I tumbled across a website full of Ben Franklin's Favorite Foods. That's just a tasting of what I would have shared had I not had that darn light bulb go off in my head. I need a drink!

In 18th Century France, potatoes were deeply unpopular. However, French pharmacist Antoine Augustin Parmentier promoted the potato as a potential solution to French farming difficulties. Franklin advised Parmentier to hold a banquet at Les Invalides with potatoes in every single dish, including desert. Franklin attended, as guest of honor, and wrote a very favorable review.

"Receipt for the Bite of a Mad Dog"

"For the Bite of a Mad Dog, for either Man or Beast: Take six Ounces Rue clean picked and bruised, four Ounces of Garlick peeled and bruised, four Ounces of Venice Treacle, and four Ounces of filed Pewter or scraped Tin. Boil these in the Space of an Hour, then strain the Ingredients from the Liquor. Give eight or nine Spoonfuls of it warm to a Man, or a Woman, three Mornings fasting. Eight or nine Spoonfuls is sufficient for the strongest; a lesser Quantity to those younger … Ten of twelve Spoonfuls for a Horse, or a Bullock; three, four, or five to a Sheep, Hog, or Dog." (source)

Once, Franklin became outraged by the negative English opinions concerning American food that he encountered in London. He took a patriotic pride in using “our own Produce at home” rather than being dependent on foreign imports. He published a long treatise as "Homespun" extolling the virtues of American cooking and foodstuffs:

"Pray let me, an American, inform the gentleman, who seems ignorant of the matter, that Indian corn, take it for all in all, is one of the most agreeable and wholesome grains in the world; that its green leaves roasted are a delicacy beyond expression; that samp, hominy, succotash, and nokehock, made of it, are so many pleasing varieties; and that johny or hoecake, hot from the fire, is better than a Yorkshire muffin – But if Indian corn were so disagreeable and indigestible as the Stamp Act, does he imagine that we can get nothing else for breakfast? – Did he never hear that we have oatmeal in plenty, for water gruel or burgoo; as good wheat, rye and barley as the world affords, to make frumenty; or toast and ale; that there is every where plenty of milk, butter, and cheese; that rice is one of our staple commodities; that for tea, we have sage and bawm in our gardens, the young leaves of the sweet hickery or walnut, and above all, the buds of our pine, infinitely preferably to any tea from the Indies … Let the gentleman do us the honor of a visit in America, and I will engage to breakfast him every day in the month with a fresh variety."  n

Blogging Ben

From the age of 12 until about 39, Benjamin Franklin worked in the publishing business. At age 42, he retired from publishing and turned to scientific studies. IMHO, he would have jumped at the chance to join the world wide web of blogging. After all, the first lending library in America was established by Benjamin Franklin. Isn't the internet the library of the world? Aren't our blogs mere diaries of our adventures?

A frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links.
a mixture of what is happening in a person's life, what is happening in the world via assorted paths of media, unique to the people. A Platform, an online diaries where the diarist keeps an online journal.
Almanack (Almanac)
entertaining little books of information and entertainment, literary curiosities.
Almanacks were very popular books in colonial America, with people in the colonies using them for the mixture of seasonal weather forecasts, practical household hints, puzzles, and other amusements they offered.

The Beginning

Perhaps, the future will reveal "Blogs were very popular online diaries in the 21st century in American History. Americans used them for a mixture of seasonal forecasts, practical household hints and recipes, puzzles, amusements, entertainment and as a platform to "speak their minds."

In his is eagerness to acquire literary reputation, young Ben Franklin submitted an anonymous essay to his brother's newspaper. His brother had begun to print a newspaper in 1720 or 1721. It was the second that appeared in America, and was called the New England Courant. The only one before it was the Boston News-Letter.

I was excited to try my hand among them; but, being still a boy, and suspecting that my brother would object to printing anything of mine in his paper if he knew it to be mine, I contrived to disguise my hand, and, writing an anonymous paper, I put it in at night under the door of the printing-house. It was found in the morning, and communicated to his writing friends when they call'd in as usual. They read it, commented on it in my hearing, and I had the exquisite pleasure of finding it met with their approbation, and that, in their different guesses at the author, none were named but men of some character among us for learning and ingenuity. I suppose now that I was rather lucky in my judges, and that perhaps they were not really so very good ones as I then esteem'd them. (Chapter 2)

"It is hard for an empty sack to stand up-right"

At the age of 26, Ben Franklin published the first edition of his Poor Richard's Almanac. Franklin started writing the material using the pen name of Richard Saunders. The fictional Poor Richard was supposed to be an unschooled but an experienced philosopher of life.

In 1732 I first publish'd my Almanack, under the name of Richard Saunders; it was continu'd by me about twenty-five years, commonly call'd Poor Richard's Almanac. I endeavor'd to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand, that I reap'd considerable profit from it, vending annually near ten thousand. And observing that it was generally read, scarce any neighborhood in the province being without it, I consider'd it as a proper vehicle for conveying instruction among the common people, who bought scarcely any other books; I therefore filled all the little spaces that occurr'd between the remarkable days in the calendar with proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality, as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing virtue; it being more difficult for a man in want, to act always honestly, as, to use here one of those proverbs, it is hard for an empty sack to stand up-right. source
"If you would not be forgotten, As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worthy of reading, Or do things worth the writing."

Ben Franklins reflects:

I considered my newspaper, also, as another means of communicating instruction, and in that view frequently reprinted in it extracts from the Spectator, and other moral writers; and sometimes publish'd little pieces of my own, which had been first compos'd for reading in our Junto. Of these are a Socratic dialogue, tending to prove that, whatever might be his parts and abilities, a vicious man could not properly be called a man of sense; and a discourse on self-denial, showing that virtue was not secure till its practice became a habitude, and was free from the opposition of contrary inclinations. These may be found in the papers about the beginning of 1735.
In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all libelling and personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful to our country. Whenever I was solicited to insert anything of that kind, and the writers pleaded, as they generally did, the liberty of the press, and that a newspaper was like a stagecoach, in which any one who would pay had a right to a place, my answer was, that I would print the piece separately if desired, and the author might have as many copies as he pleased to distribute himself, but that I would not take upon me to spread his detraction; and that, having contracted with my subscribers to furnish them with what might be either useful or entertaining, I could not fill their papers with private altercation, in which they had no concern, without doing them manifest injustice. Now, many of our printers make no scruple of gratifying the malice of individuals by false accusations of the fairest characters among ourselves, augmenting animosity even to the producing of duels; and are, moreover, so indiscreet as to print scurrilous reflections on the government of neighboring states, and even on the conduct of our best national allies, which may be attended with the most pernicious consequences. These things I mention as a caution to young printers, and that they may be encouraged not to pollute their presses and disgrace their profession by such infamous practices, but refuse steadily, as they may see by my example that such a course of conduct will not, on the whole, be injurious to their interests.
*Unless otherwise noted, most of the information pertaining to Benjamin Franklin was gleaned from his autobiography and interpreted by me for the purpose of this day.
revised October, 2015

1. Ben Franklin's Online Autobiography
2. Ben Franklin’s Favorite Foods
3. The first shipment of rhubarb (link expired)
4. Franklin Stove by Inventor Benjamin Franklin
5. The History of Blogging
6. Homebrew Recipes of our Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Prohibition, Gin & Ginger-Ale

"Prohibition began on January 16, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect. The backbone of the prohibition movement began with the temperance crusaders of the nineteenth century. Clergymen, politicians, business leaders, and social reformers grew concerned about the nation's health, morality and economic prosperity, and blamed society's increased drinking for the deterioration of these morals. Mirroring the progressive belief that the individual must sacrifice for the betterment of the rest of society, the 18th Amendment was ratified. One year later, prohibition became law. With the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, the Federal Government was able to ban the production, manufacturing and transportation of alcoholic beverages in the entire nation."(source)


Quite honestly, I don't really want to get into the politics of the prohibition era. It has been well documented in the alcoves of American history. From the 1920's until 1933 when the 21st amendment was repealed and ended prohibition, some Americans simply "adapted" and capitalized on the government's attempt to stamp out the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Many saloons became soda fountains or luncheonettes. Restaurants and hotels catered more to families while speakeasies became more popular and numerous as the Prohibition years progressed. Although the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol was illegal in the U.S., it was not illegal in surrounding countries. Distilleries and breweries in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean flourished as their products were either consumed by visiting Americans or illegally imported to the U.S. When one door closes another one opens. Such was the case with the Roaring Twenties. Enterprising Americans set new records for the consumption of alcoholic beverages, many soft drinks were used as mix mask additions. Canada Dry Pale Dry Ginger Ale was one such addition. Launched in 1904, Canada Dry was made available in New York City by 1919. Two years later, a Canada Dry plant was opened in New York City.

There's no doubt that the pleasant qualities of ginger ale made it the perfect mixer to mask the taste of home brew during prohibition, and for Canada Dry the Roaring Twenties literally roared with success. The range expanded during the 1930s to take in tonic water, club soda, Collins mix and fountain syrup under the Canada Dry name.(website)

Canada Dry may have come into vogue during Prohibition as a mixing agent but unlike Canada Dry which was a dry, less sweet ginger ale Vernor's was a "golden" sweet ginger ale.

Prohibition killed golden ginger ale. In the 1920’s Americans were visiting illegal speakeasies in droves, and the cocktail was at the height of fashion. Many soft drinks were used as a mix with alcohol, and there was even one specifically made to mix with alcohol. It was called "dry" ginger ale (colorless, almost tasteless, and less sweet than golden ginger ale). During prohibition, dry ginger ale became immensely popular. However, golden ginger ale quickly fell off in popularity, as all forms of ginger ale would become associated with liquor in the non-drinking public’s mind.source

Surprise! I never knew there were two "kinds" of ginger ale. Did you? Wiki did.

Ginger ales come in two varieties: golden ginger ale and dry ginger ale. Golden ginger ale, dark colored and strong flavored, is the older style. Dry ginger ale was developed during Prohibition when ginger ale was used as a mixer for alcoholic beverages as the strong flavor of golden ginger ale was undesirable. Dry ginger ale quickly surpassed golden ginger ale in popularity, and today golden ginger ale is an uncommon, and usually regional, drink. Vernors, Blenheim, Chelmsford, and Red Rock are brands of golden ginger ale, while Canada Dry, Schweppes and Seagram's are major brands of dry ginger ale. source

Vernor's Ginger Soda

The Vernor Recipes die-cut booklet pictured is unfortunately undated. It is another example of the popularity in die-cut advertising promotions. Although it measures about 5 inches, it's primed with recipes using "Deliciously Different" Vernor's. Foreword:

Vernor's Ginger Ale is "deliciously different" and such complete refreshment in itself, that is seems to be "gilding the lily" to suggest its use in concocting mixed drinks and other delicacies.
There are, however, so many delightful recipes which are made more delightful by the inclusion of Vernor's that we have prepared this little booklet to acquaint you with a few of them.

I actually had a difficult time picking out a recipe to include today. The pictured recipes are Vernor Punch and Vernor Julep (the pages are really in better condition than they appear & will open larger in a new page.) As expected, there are a few beverage recipes but, to my "delight," there are also recipes which use Vernor's as a cooking ingredient. There's Vernor's Chicken Salad, Frozen Pineapple Salad, Apples a la Vernor and more. The one I decided on is Baked Ham a la Vernor.

Boil Ham until tender, discarding water. Remove skin and excess fat. Rub liberally with brown sugar and stick cloves into ham. Place in baking dish, adding contents of one or two bottles of Vernor's Ginger Ale according to size of ham, sufficient to baste. Bake in slow oven until ham is heated through (one to two hours), Baste every 15 minutes.

James Vernor, Sr. was born in New York and moved to Detroit Michigan as a young boy. He was a pharmacist and druggist who invented Vernor's ginger ale in 1866. He also served as Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States during World War II.

"Most historians credit James Vernor as the inventor of ginger ale. His trade expanded at such a rate that he soon abandoned his drug store and went into the manufacturing of ginger ale on a full time basis although he was very proud of holding Michigan Pharmacy License #1 as long as he lived". source


Gilbey's Gin die-cut

I couldn't resist slivering along with the Prohibition theme:) This die-cut booklet advertising Gilbey's Gin is also not dated. When I first got it, I thought it may have been from the 1970's but further research would not confirm that time frame. "Someday" I will try again to date it but, for now, I thought I would blend it in to the theme of Prohibition. It appears that Gilbey's Gin is still in production and is quite popular as an ingredient in mixed drinks. I have provided a link below if you would like to delve into the history of Gilbey's Gin. I also came across a website that enlightened me to the symbolism of the dragon on the front of the bottle. "The dragon on the front of the bottle is called a Wyvern, a mythical winged animal with a long association with London, the home of dry gin". (source)

(a dragon site) The origin of the word wyvern comes from thirteenth-century word wyver, which in turn is derived from the French wyvere, which means both "viper" and "life." (source)

An ad from 1957, proclaims Gilbey's Gin "The one gin distilled in 11 countries and served around the world," (source) while an article published in the New York Times published on June 7, 1994 campaigns for lemons and limes dueling it out with colored plastic cocktail swords. sourceGilbey's Gin Die-cut

1. The History of Vernor's Ginger Ale 
2. Vernors Ginger Soda
3. Prohibition Remembrance Day
4. Prohibition Era Wine Recipe
5. If by whiskey
6. Speakeasies
7. Making Ginger Ale At Home
1. The History of Gilbey's Gin
2. Kiss Off recipe (recipe using Gilbey's Gin)
3. Wyvern (definition)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oatmeal Revisited

January is...National Oatmeal Month.

Today I would like to share a rather unusual oatmeal recipe book from my collection. First, we should probably talk a bit about die-cut advertising cookbooks. Like most cookbook collectors or any other collector for that matter, organization is of the upmost importance. With the exception of the die-cuts, I have my cookbooks organized by category. All of my soft cover promotional cookbooks including the die-cuts are held in protective acid free sleeves and put in binders. Hardcover cookbooks are displayed on library shelves.

One of my favorite cookbook reference books is titled Vintage Cookbooks and Advertising Leaflets by Sandra A. Norman and Karrie K. Andes. It's a Schiffer Publishing book copyright 1998 and lovingly inscribed by both authors. Vintage Cookbooks and Advertising Leaflets "is an in depth, pictorial review and price guide which includes more than 850 color photographs of cookery pamphlets and advertising memorabilia from the 1860's to the 1950's". For our purpose, I would like to highlight what Karrie and Sandra "define" as die-cut advertising cookbooks.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s the printing industry developed a new technique for producing attractive books. First marking an outline of a product or an illustration on wooden rollers, printers then inserted thin blades on the outline, which cut out shapes on paper. The end result was a recipe booklet that caught the consumer's attention, helped with product identification, and promoted sales.
Basically, these advertising books were in the actual shape of the product they were promoting. I am always in search of additional die-cut recipe booklets although, they are indeed difficult to find, usually expensive, and I do have quite a few so it is often hard to find one I don't already have. I think they are now publishing cookbooks that are also "shaped" but quite truthfully, I don't care for them.

The Quaker Rolled White Oats recipe book which I have pictured here is also in this reference book. This is what Karrie and Sandra had to say about the Quaker Oats Company.

The Quaker brand of oatmeal was created by The Quaker Mill Company in Ravenna, Ohio in 1877. The company merged with The German Mills American Oatmeal Factory and together were renamed The Consolidated Oatmeal Company in 1886
This little bit of information may seem trivial but in the case of this particular recipe booklet, (which is undated) it allows me to narrow down the time frame of publication. I don't have any intentions of offering this book for sale but, if I did it would be an important factor in price. A Quaker Rolled White Oats advertising die-cut with the inscription on the bottom that read MFD by The American Cereal Company rather than Made By The Quaker Oats Company (as this one has) would date it much earlier probably around 1894. Whereas my die-cut is probably from around 1910. We continue with Karrie and Sandra's remarks.
Due to financial difficulties, Consolidated went out of business two years later. In 1888, the partners, Henry Parsons Crowell, Robert Stuart, and Ferdinand Schumacher, were instrumental in the merger of seven of the largest oatmeal millers in the United States. They named the business The American Cereal Company.
Karrie and Sandra continue to inform us of the numerous steps taken by the company before finally becoming The Quaker Oats Company in 1901. Of course, this dates the pictured book after 1901. One more bit of "trivia" that the authors privy us to is...
In 1897, a huge Quaker sign was posted on the famous White Cliffs in Dover, England. Incoming ships could see the sign as far as three miles. This advertising stunt was very successful due to negative publicity. It took an act of parliament to get it removed.

Can you imagine what a sight that must have been:) I wouldn't be sharing this book with you if I didn't include at least one recipe. Actually, what I'm going to do is give you this recipe for Quaker Health Soup below and also a scanned picture of recipes for Quaker Tomato Soup, Quaker Oats Muffins, Cream of Oatmeal Soup and Quaker Oats Griddle Cakes. Now remember, these recipes are from 1910. That makes them 100 years old in 2010! Give them a try, it's only oatmeal and your family may just like the feeling of eating like they did in he "golden" days:)

Quaker Health Soup
6 cups highly seasoned white stock
1/2 cup Quaker Oats
2 cups scalded milk
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. flour
salt, pepper, cayenne
Process: Bring stock to boiling point; add oats and simmer one hour; rub through sieve and strain through one thickness of cheese cloth; add milk and bind with butter and flour cooked together; bring to boiling point; add seasoning to taste.
Here's a little "diddy" from the first page of the Quaker Oats booklet pictured.
It is the mission of this booklet to teach the housewife the rare possibilities of Quaker Oats as an article of daily diet. A great many are not aware of the variety, the daintiness and withal the wholesome simplicity and economy of the dishes suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinner
January is also National Hot Tea Month. Since I may not get to celebrating Hot Tea Month this year, I do want to include this little bit of information and also steer you toward the links below for National Hot Tea Month.
According to George Leonard Herter in his book Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, Genghis Khan and his army did most of their traveling substaining themselves on one tablespoon of butter per day in hot tea. The butter they carried with them was aged and had a nut-like flavor. Here is the recipe for Tea Genghis Khan.
Tea Genghis KhanBring your pot of water just to the tremor before actual boiling occurs. Remove the pot from the heat and quickly add two level teaspoons of tea for every cup. Stir the tea into the water as rapidly as possible. Let it stand just 3 minutes. Strain the tea leaves from the brew and drink at once. ghenghis put a level teaspoon of butter into the tea just before drinking it. This is not, of course, necessary.