Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Michaelmas!

Saint Michael the Archangel,
Defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the
Wickedness and snares of the devil...

Today, September 29, is the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel. Popularly called Michaelmas, in the Christian calendar, all angels are honored on this day. Michaelmas is different from most other saints' days because it honors a spirit and not a human being.

To many, Saint Michael the Archangel, "Captain of the Heavenly Host," is best known as that dauntless spirit who vanquished his peer among the angels, Lucifer, once called "the Star of the Morning." Michael is a star of the love than conquers pride. Sometimes he is pictured as a winged angel in white robes, but oftener as the armed warrior on the errands of God, about his head a halo and under his foot the demon, prone and helpless. He was honored in Jewish tradition, and became the champion of Christian warriors as well, although in early ages he was also given the protection of the sick. Feast Day Cookbook (1951) by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger

St Michael's Day was celebrated as long ago as the 6th century. It is often associated with the beginning of autumn and traditional harvest festivals. One popular tradition included The Hunt for the Michaelmas Goose after which everyone would sit down to a feast. In England it was the custom to eat a goose on Michaelmas and to save the remains for Michaelmas Broth. Although highly unlikely, (the custom was much more ancient, and probably arose from geese being plentiful and in fine condition for the table, at the festival of St. Michael) legend has it that the custom of dining on goose on St. Michael's Day stems from Queen Elizabeth I. It is said, she was dining on goose when she heard the news of the defeat of the Spanish Armanda in 1588. In her joy and triumph she decreed that, "hereafter, goose should be eaten on this day."

Since geese were so plentiful and were now ready to be harvested, it's easy to understand why a goose became the traditional main course. However, there is a fascinating story that has become part of British folklore. Supposedly, Queen Elizabeth I dined at the ancient seat of Sir Neville Umfreyville, where, among other things, two fine geese were provided for dinner. The queen, having eaten heartily, called for a bumper of Burgundy; and gave as a toast, "Destruction to the Spanish Armada!" Scarcely had she spoken when a messenger announced the destruction of the fleet by a storm. The queen demanded a second bumper, and said, "Henceforth shall a goose commemorate this great victory." This tale is marred by the awkward circumstance that the thanksgiving sermon for the victory was preached at St. Paul's on the 20th August, and the fleet was dispersed by the winds in July. From Celebrating St. Michael's Day in Old Ireland

I discovered a late 19th century book online titled Observations on Popular Antiquities... which offers a bit more insight to this popular legend.

Douce mentions having somewhere read that the reason for eating goose on Michaelmas Day was that Queen Elizabeth received the news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada, whilst she was eating a goose on Michaelmas Day, and that in commemoration of that event she ever afterwards on that day dined on a goose. But this appears rather to be a strong proof that the custom prevailed even at Court in Elizabeth's time. We have just seen that it was in use in the tenth year of King Edward IV. The following passage from Gascoigne's Posies (1575) shows it to have been in practice in Elizabeth's reign before the event of the Spanish defeat — "
And when the tenants come to pay their quarter's rent,
They bring some fowl at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent,
At Christmas a capon, at Michaelmas a goose
And somewhat else at New-year's tide, for fear their lease fly loose.

During medieval times, Michaelmas was one of the important "four quarter days." The others included Christmas, Lady Day, and Midsummer Day. Financial accounts had to be settled and land owners "headed to the hills" for their respective payments. Those who needed to delay payment brought geese as presents to their landlords. Goslings at this time of year were said to be worthy meals as payment offerings.

Celebration of this holiday traditionally was symbolized with  glofe, gees, and gyngeuer.  The glove represented the open-handedness and generosity of the lord of the village, goose eaten for good luck in the coming year (“If you eat goose on Michaelmas day, you will never want money all year”), and ginger, believed to provide protection against infection.   The harvest feast paid the laborers for their boon work with meat, fish, ale and good bread. source
This notion, fram'd in days of yore, 
Is grounded on a prudent score; 
For, doubtless, 'twas at first designed 
To make the people Seasons mind, 
That so they might apply their care 
To all those things which needful were, 
And, by a good industrious hand, 
Know when and how t' improve their land."

Food for Michaelmas

Michaelmas is sometimes called Goose Day. When the Church reformed the Roman calendar in 1752, many of the activities associated with St. Michael's Day were moved forward to October 10 which is sometimes called Old Michaelmas Day. A famous Michaelmas fair is the Nottingham Goose Fair which is held during the first week of October. (link below)

The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,
Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.

And seems the last of flowers that stood,

Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.

The popular saying to eat goose on the Feast Day of St. Michael is only one of the many rich customs associated with Michaelmas. The customs and celebrations surrounding feast days are an essential part of the Christian tradition. Many times an entire meal is shared to its last detail in symbolic meaning. Customs and recipes for traditional dishes are handed down from generation to generation. For instance, celebrating St. Michael's Day in the Celtic tradition may include Michaelmas Pie. (the quaint custom of hiding a ring in the pie led to the expectation of marriage in the coming year.) St. Michael's Bannocks or Saint Michael’s Cake. In the traditional ceremonies in Scotland, all guests, together with their family, were required to eat the large, scone-like cake entirely before the night was over. Traditionally the Struan Michaels (Struan Micheil) was not allowed to touch metal while cooking.

It was, till of late, an universal custom among the islanders, on Michaelmas-day, to prepare in every family, a loaf of cake of bread, enormously large, and compounded of different ingredients. This cake belonged to the archangel, and had its name from him. Every one in each family, whether strangers or domestics, had his portion of this kind of shew-bread, and had, of course, some title to the friendship and protection of Michael."(Macauley's History of St. Kilda)
Michaelmas Day was always observed in the Celtic Calendar, and Struan Michaels and Beltane Bannocks entered as much into the calculations of the Highland housewife as do Shrove-tide cakes and hot-cross-buns elsewhere. They were prepared somewhat after this fashion. The first sheaves of the harvest were taken, dried, and ground into meal with the quern. Then the housewife took some eggs, butter, and treacle, mixed them up, and into the mixture put the new meal, making a dough. On the stone slab forming her hearthstone she put some red hot peats, and when sufficiently heated swept it clean. On this the dough was placed to cook with an inverted pot over it. During the process of cooking it was often basted with beaten eggs, forming a custard-like covering. Finally, after the cake was cooked a small piece was broken off and cast into the fire. Why? The housewife did this in order to safeguard herself and her household against the Evil One. After reserving some of the Struan for the use of the household, she went round the neighbours in triumph and gave them a bit each, there being usually a great rivalry as to who should be the first to grind the new meal and get the Struan ready. The first to do so was generally understood to have the best crops through the coming year...Folklore published by the Folklore society of Great Britain (1903)

Another ceremony practiced in Scotland during this time was Carrot Sunday. On the Sunday before the Feast Day of Saint Michael, Scottish women went into the fields to dig up wild carrots, Queen Anne's Lace. If they found carrots that were twisted or forked, they were delighted with the gift of the earth, which was thought to bring luck and fertility. In the fashion of a more modern day Sadie Hawkins Dance, a woman offered the coveted forked carrot bunch to her intended tied with a red ribbon.

In parts of Gaelic speaking Scotland where extreme Calvinism had less early influence Michaelmas (29th September) was an important feast day seeming to acquire the rituals associated in earlier times with Lughnasadh, particularly horse racing and sports, as well as the gathering of carrots by women and their distribution at a Michaelmas dance. source

In Cooking for Christ, Florence Berger (1949) states that waffles baked in a Gaufrette Iron, St. Michael's Guafres are traditional for Michaelmas Day in France. I found an American version of St. Michael's Waffles online.

In some parts of Europe, especially Germany, Denmark, and Austria, a special wine called "Saint Michael's Love" (Michelsminne) is drunk on this day. Germans also believed they could foretell the weather from the breastbones of the Michaelmas goose — a belief that traveled to America with German immigrants, and still exists today among the Pennsylvania Dutch. In Italy, gnocchi is the traditional fare and the aster amellus or Italian Starwort is the original plant dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.

In the Middle Ages Michael became in Normandy the patron of mariners. His shrines were built in high places, facing the sea, and Mont-Saint-Michel on its rock is the greatest example of devotion to him, a place of pilgrimage a thousand years ago as it still is today. In the early days much food was sold around the shrine "bread and pasties, fruit and fish, birds, cakes, venizens," according to an old description. The fare is simpler today but a visitor to Mont-Saint-Michel will eat a famed and favorite dish; Omelet of Mere Poulard.

St. Michael is the patron saint of artists, hat-makers, grocers, knights, mariners, policemen, radiologists, the sick, and soldiers. St. Michael the Archangel is also the universally recognized patron saint of the paratroopers around the world. There are also superstitious folk lores associated with the feast day of St. Michael. According to an old legend, blackberries should not be picked after this date. It is believed that the devil was banished from Heaven and as he fell from sky he landed in a blackberry bush. He cursed the bramble and made it unfit for human consumption. Legend has it that each September 29th he renews his curse and therefore one must not pick blackberries after Michaelmas. 

In the recipe book The Tenth Muse author Sir Harry Luke, offers a recipe for Goose for Saint Michael's Day. I have scanned the recipes below.

1. Michaelmas Menu
2. Recipes for the Feast at the Hunt for the Michaelmas Goose
3. Michaelmas Goose with Traditional Potato & Apple Stuffing @ Star Chefs
4. Observations on Popular Antiquities...
5. Celebrating St. Michael's Day in Old Ireland
6. Nottingham Goose Fair History
7. Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain (1895) p.372
8. Catholic Family Vignettes
9. Feast Day Cookbook (online)
10. Customs and Beliefs from North East Scotland
11. Solid Gold Carrot Cake
12. Folklore (Folklore Society book online @ google books)

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Welcomed Award

It's the little things, don't you think? Well, I've finally gathered myself since my return trip from Idaho and have gotten back to blogging when I posted for National Honey Month. I hadn't planned on posting today because I'm still trying to catch up to October who is knocking at the door. Then, it happened. Lidian over at Kitchen Retro honored me with my very first ever BLOG AWARD! I was truly gushing with excitement. I've been tugging with myself and quite frankly, thinking perhaps, I should cut down on my postings. I tend to get carried away sometimes and although I've been trying to control my"wordiness", it just seems to overflow. The “I Love Your Blog” award from Lidian could not have arrived at a better time. For that, I thank you Lidian. I have enjoyed my visits to your corner of the blogsphere immensly.

I wasn't quite sure what my next move should be after receiving this boost of encouragement. Of course, I wanted to display it with the immense pride I felt but was unsure of whether anything else was required. I checked around a bit and found a compiled list over at Frugally Retro a blog I had never visited before and look forward to dropping in on again. Here are Julie's suggestions:

1. A winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate up to 7 other blogs.
4. Put links to the nominated blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the nominated blogs.

Although I have only been blogging for almost a year, (October is my 1 year blogaversary:) I've been a long time web browser. It never ceases to amaze me as to the amount of dedication, knowledge and creativity "ordinary" people share selflessly on the internet. IMHO, bloggers have enhanced this harvest of experiences into a cornucopia of feasts. My hobby is collecting cookbooks. So naturally, to my mind, bloggers who LOVE cookbooks are certainly those where I feel most comfortable. I don't think of myself as a foodie but must admit I tend to lean more toward food related websites. I especially like to visit those blogs which offer recipe triumphs as well as misfortunes. I'm in awe of the amount of food related travel, both home and abroad, and the detail and frankness shared in some bloggers personal lives. It is sometimes a culinary escape enjoyed as the icing on the cake; delectable, sweet and not quite forbidden. The paths the world has taken throughout history that have lead us to what we now find in our refrigerators, simmering on our stoves, baking in our ovens and filling our cupboards have always been my passion. Those blogs which offer insight to those chosen roads will always be a stopover for me.

Like Lidian, it would be difficult for me to limit myself to 7 blogs I love. My first reaction was to enjoy my award and leave it at that. Then, I got to thinking. The “I Love Your Blog” award made my day. I don't really want to impose on anyone and yet, I find the need to accept and pass a long... if for no other reason but to thank others who have been encouraging and yes, sometimes critical of my blogging endeavors and whose blogs I also LOVE. I'm only including five simply because 5 is my lucky number! Once again, thanks Lidian. Louise.

A Blustery Day

You would think the words which would remind me of my glorious trip to Idaho would be love, family, and cotton candy. No, dear visitors. The first word that comes to mind is...blustery. I don't know if anyone realizes it, I certainly hadn't, Idaho is at times, very windy! "Grammy, can I come outside with you while you drink your coffee"? my early rising grand-daughter, Tabitha asked the first morning of my visit. "Grammy's on her way in" I replied through the crack in the door focused on her cute little button nose. It sure is a blustery day. She looked at me with a cryptic glance and instantaneously began to laugh. Winnie the Pooh says that she giggled. I grabbed my coffee and the Mickey Mouse blanket I was using as a wind shield and made way my back into the house. "Whew! It sure is windy out there..." By the time I made my slippers do the walking to the entrance of the door, Tabi was back gleaming with her infectious smile and her favorite Pooh Bear. It seems so long ago that she was but half the size of the golden glowing icon of Hundred Acre Wood.

Noah is not without his own rendition of the needs that must be tended to in such turbulence. "Grammy, when you're done with your coffee, can we go see Tabi's sunflower? Okay, bear with me, I need to fill you in on the story of the sunflowers. I sent the kids sunflower seeds to plant in Idaho for summer's bloom. They hadn't moved into their new house yet but, Michele (my daughter) tried her best to "grow" a green thumb and help plant the seeds in pots on the window sill in their temporary apartment. In the eyes of the children, her efforts were more than successful. As you can see in the Mammoth Sunflower picture shown:) When they got into the new house, the kids encouraged Michele to plant the sun thirsty sunflowers. To her dismay and the kids gleeful joy, the sunflowers struggled to thrive. Now, as I was saying, Noah wanted to go check the plants to see if the one possible bloom could manage to evolve. We drafted our way over to the canal where the sunflowers are planted with the gusts of winds giving us a turbulent boost. "Grammy, Noah tugs.

"It's opened! "It got pollination."

"Pollination!" I said enthusiastically.

"How do you know about pollination, I questioned."

"The Bee Movie" he replied.

"I've never seen the Bee Movie, "I informed him.

"When we get it back from Devin, we can watch it" he answered triumphantly. "Bees make pollination."

The conversation was over as far as 4 year old Noah was concerned. It continued in my mind. I suppose, I was just not prepared for my young grandson to enlighten me with a word like pollination. Noah took the picture although, a bit worried a gust of wind would upset the bees.

From: Winnie The Pooh and the Blustery Day
Written by: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
Performed by: Sterling Holloway [Pooh]

Hum dum dum ditty dum
Hum dum dum

Oh the wind is lashing lustily
And the trees are thrashing thrustily
And the leaves are rustling gustily
So it's rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubtedly
It looks like a rather blustery day, today
It sounds that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubtedly
Looks like a rather blustery day today

1. National Honey Month: A Beekeeper's Lunch
2. Cooking with Pooh!
3. Eeyore's Snack Page 
4. Classic Winnie the Pooh Cake

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

National Honey Month: A Beekeeper's Lunch

Here is amber honey sweet
In a crystal bowl
Sun kissed food the fairies eat
Nectar for the Soul
Ann Fairbairn

I know, beat me with a wet noodle. My posts have been a bit lacking the last couple of weeks. Well, I'm back! I'll spare you the details. Suffice to say, I've been as busy as a bee the last couple of weeks but I'm now back in the hive and just in the nick of time. September is... National Honey Month! Good thing it's a monthly celebration. I don't think I could have "beared" to wait until next year to celebrate.

Honey, You're Amazing

Centuries before man ground wheat into flour, refined cane sugar, or canned fruits and vegetables, man was a hunter of wild honey and a keeper of bees. Discovered by food-foraging prehistoric man some eight to ten thousand years ago, honey became the first sweet know to man. Ancient stories and legends speak of it as the nectar of the gods. A rock painting on the wall of a cave near Valencia, Spain, made many thousands of years ago, shows a Stone Age man hanging by grass ropes and surrounded by angry bees as he takes a honeycomb out of a hole in a cliff and puts it in a basket. Ancient carvings along the Nile include pictures of bees. Ruins in Turkey dating from 6500 B.C. contain the remains of hives made of clay and of coiled straw. Woven baskets, thought to have been used as hives, dating from 3000 to 2000 B.C. have been found in Egypt. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher referred to it as "dew distilled from the stars and the rainbow." The lore of the honeybee and the uses of its stored honey have been favorite topics since the beginnings of written mythology and history. Perhaps those mystified by its goodness and the lack of knowledge of its production raised honey's astounding level to that of sacred worship, source of medication, sign of purity and a symbol of strength and vitality. Honey bees, are perhaps the most intensely studied of all insects.

Unlike men, honeybees have never faltered in their design for organized living. shuffled about by men and their civilizations, bees live as they did thousands of years before Christ. They continue to build perfectly engineered six-sided cells with wax oozed from their own bodies; to convert larva from worker bee into queen if needed; to feed and caress and even die for their queen; to air-condition her nursery; to houseclean; guard her entry; and at last to graduate into nectar-gathering workers...Even as man robs her of her harvest, the bee continues to be the main source of pollination for over fifty of the vital agricultural crops without which his dinner table would indeed be poor. Even as man shifts her from field to meadow to orchard, she continues to provide him with a delectable, natural sweet that is second to none in flavor and in the variety of ways it may be used. Even as man kills her with deadly insecticides, surviving bees continue to provide a food gaining in ever-widening usage by a health-conscious nation. Cooking With Honey very informative down home recipe book by Hazel Berto (1972)
"The only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey
and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it."
"Winnie the Pooh in A.A. Milne's 'The House at Pooh Corner

Did you know, honey never spoils. The acidic pH level of honey prevents the growth of many bacteria. There are so many fascinating qualities of honey one doesn't know where to begin. Here are just a few I've gathered in my travels. I've left a few links for you to explore further below.
1. Honey was the most-used medicine in ancient Egypt.
2. Ancient Egyptian citizens paid taxes with honey.
3. Honey has been used since Egyptian times for cosmetic purposes.
4. Honey is full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes.
5. Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including water.
6. Honey is a natural “humectant” which means it attracts and retains moisture. (the reason why honey baked goods stay fresher longer)
7. Honey speeds the healing of open wounds and also combats infection.
8. Honey is a natural, unrefined food. It is the only un-manufactured sweet available in commercial quantities.
9. A honey bee must tap 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.
10. The average worker honey bee makes 1 1/2 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
11. Babies under 12 months old should not consume honey.

On the average, Americans eat about one pound of honey each year. Most is extracted from the comb before it is sold, and the comb is re-used by the bees. In simplistic terms, the color of new honey is determined by the nectar obtained from the various flowers visited by the honey bees. The flavor of honey can be as complex as the hive that shelters it. Region, weather, season and the aromatic substances found in the sweet nectar's of herbs, fruit blossoms, garden flowers and wildflowers all contribute to the "bouquet" of the honey much like a bottle of fine wine. In recent years, honey tastings have emerged as a venue for experiencing the exciting options specialized honey offers. Some people are as particular about the color of their honey as they are regarding its flavor. Spring honey may tantalize your taste buds in a more subtle way then say perhaps, a fall nectar which may have a stronger flavor with a hint of spice. White clover honey is rather greenish yellow in color where honey made from buckwheat is almost a reddish brown. A favorite of mine is heather honey from Scotland which is most often a reddish light amber. Although, I do hold a place in my heart for the Thyme Honey my daughter, Michele brought back for me from Greece. Thyme honey has a creamy brown color and a robust flavor. I've found when it comes to honey, the darker the color, the stronger the taste. You can find an interesting encounter with thyme honey at Laurie's blog which also includes a Cinnamon Honey Tart recipe. Another blog you may want to visit is Culinary Types. T. W. shares a "glorious summer afternoon" on the North Fork of Long Island at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn. He's all "a-buzz" about his honey tasting experience.

Honey is the sweet, sticky fluid which bees make from the nectar of flowers. Honey is not the same as nectar because the double sugar in nectar is changed chemically while it is in the bee's honey sac. Each molecule is split into two molecules of simple sugar: one of dextrose and one of levulose. (Levulose has been called the queen of sugars. It is almost twice as sweet as cane sugar, and besides its sweetness, it enlivens the human senses to impart what almost can be called a flavor.) Then the bees put this freshly made honey into the cells of the comb where it is allowed to "ripen," and air is fanned over the open cells until about half of the water evaporates. Then each cell is sealed with a cap of beeswax. The beekeeper uncaps the filled honeycombs, usually with a steam or an electrically heated knife, places them in an extractor, and by centrifugal force has the honey removed from the cells.

"All candy calls for flavor sweet
And honey therein can't be beat."

Honey's petals of flavor have not always been as popular as we would imagine. There's a wonderful article by Kathy over at The Food Company Cookbooks blog which demonstrates the Corn Products industry's need to reinforce their place in the "sweet" market. Karo, a popular sweetener used by homemakers even today was highly touted by such leaders as Marion Harland who was respected for her work in the field of Domestic Science and Home Economics. Naturally, the American Bee Journal had something to say about her endorsement. Visit Kathy to see their response. 

Since honey comes in various forms, it is important to pick the appropriate form when you wish to combine honey with other ingredients. Most are familiar with liquid honey, which is extracted from the honey comb by straining or some other method. Honey in this form differs from comb honey only in the absence of the wax comb. Comb honey is sold with its edible comb intact just as the bees have stored it. It is said, the Egyptians offered honeycombs to the gods as a precious gift of loyalty and consoling. You can eat comb honey just like chewy candy it's a sort of "Nature's Bubblegum." Some people just chew it until the honey is gone and remove the wax, others just eat the entire comb, honey and all.

Comb honey: is raw pure honey sections taken straight from the hive – honey bees’ wax comb with no further handling at all. It is the most unprocessed form in which honey comes -- the bees fill the hexagon shaped wax cells of the comb with honey and cap it with beeswax. You can eat comb honey just like a chewy candy. Because the honey in the comb is untouched and is deemed to be pure, honey presented in this form comes with a a relatively higher price tag. Liquid honey: has been filtered to remove fine particles, pollen grains, and air bubbles, and heated to melt visible crystals after being extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force or gravity. Because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, its uses are diverse. It is used as a syrup for pancakes and waffles and in a wide variety of recipes, and it's especially convenient for cooking and baking. Cream honey: which is also known as whipped honey, spun honey, granulated honey, or honey fondant, would be an excellent alternative to liquid honey. As the crystallisation process has been controlled very precisely, cream honey does not drip like liquid honey, has a smooth consistency and can be spread like butter. source

Honeycomb Tasting

Honey tasters are in every nectar producing area of the world. The best example of honey tasting is standing in the apiary (beeyard) eating comb honey right out of the hive! Most of us will not have that opportunity but we can enjoy the many different honeys that are available. There is more labor needed to keep the different kinds of honey separate, so expect the gourmet honey treat to be a little more expensive. There are many more varieties of honey that are wonderful and qualify as a gourmet honey. However there just is not enough production of the special nectar to export any of the delight past the community it was produced in. That does not mean that a honey taster can’t ferret out these elusive finds! Good hunting! excellent resource

Yes, dear visitors, honeycomb is edible. Some insist honeycomb is the best way to eat honey. Others use it as a folk remedy for allergies. Beekeepers are traditionally said to recommend it highly and as a result honeycomb is often referred to as "beekeepers lunch." You can eat it with a spoon (though it is a little waxy) or you can put it in tea. Honey comb is completely harmless to swallow although remember it does contain wax. Honeycomb is said to make your skin radiant which already offers more than swallowing chewing gum:) As a matter of fact, I have even found a few ideas using the honey comb in recipes where the honeycomb is used as an ingredient. Here's a simple one from the Food Network called Honey Pots de Creme. My Easy Cooking Blog has another dolloped honey comb dish called Honey and Pear Pudding. In some recipes, the beeswax in the comb replaces the butter or other fats normally used in the preparation of the recipe. Take a look at these Low Fat Comb Honey Muffins from abroad. Another intriguing recipe comes from Bill Granger a TV food personality from Sydney, Australia. His "something sweet" recipe for Ricotta Hotcakes with Honeycomb Butter is found across the web. I'm just not sure whether the honey comb in his recipe is for cut comb honey or honeycomb candy. Personally, I think either would be quite interesting. I have included a few more recipe links below which include comb honey as an ingredient. You can find fresh honeycomb at gourmet stores or online. One of the resources available online, is Marshall's Farm Natural Honey in California. Helen Marshall provides a most interesting "honey & cheese tasting" plate called Honeycomb & Blue Cheese Plate. The recipe also includes a list of other recommended cheeses. I have left a link for the farm and the recipe below. Another online resource for comb honey comes from Savannah Bee Honeycomb.

"When you want your honey just the way the bees made it, Savannah Bee Honeycomb is for you. Filled with honey equalling the life's work of two bees, each golden cell brims with the concentrated nectar of thousands of rare and remote Georgia flowers. When you eat Savannah Bee honeycomb with wine and cheese, you think dreams can come true. When you spread it on a hot piece of buttered toast, you think it's happening right now."

Through the years, I have managed to accumulate quite a collection of honey recipes books. Most of them were published by the American Honey Institute which I was surprised to discover doesn't have a website online. I did find The National Honey Board online which also has a wealth of information. I was especially interested in an article titled Honey as a cough suppressant for children over 12 months old published by researchers from Penn State College of Medicine. It should be noted, National Honey Month is sponsored by The National Honey Board. I sifted through some of the honey booklets that I have and was delighted to discover another recipe which uses comb honey as an ingredient. The title of the booklet is Honey Recipes for sweets, for energy, for conservation. The copyright date is 1942 and as mentioned, it was published by the American Honey Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. It's pictured to the left. The recipe I have chosen is Chocolate Covered Comb Honey. It's really quite simple.
comb honey
hot water
Let comb honey remain in refrigerator 24 hours before using. Cut comb honey into pieces about 1/4 inch long and 1/8 inch wide with knife that is dipped in boiling water. Place pieces on trays covered with waxed paper; chill 30 minutes. Coat with dipping chocolate. Drop a nut on each piece. It is necessary to have dipping chocolate at proper temperature (about 70 to 75 degrees) when coating.

For those of you who are still skeptical about trying comb honey, I have also included scanned recipes for Honey Cocoa Syrup and Lemon Honey Jelly. Just click the image and enjoy!

FYI: The term "making a beeline for", describes the shortest and quickest route the nectar-gathering bee follows to return to the hive.

1. National Honey Month
2. Introduction to the Honey Bee
3. Dances with Bees (Bees can communicate to other bees the distance, direction, quality, and quantity of a food source with a unique dance.
At PBS, you can see the wondrous bee dances.

4. About Comb Honey (a bit nervous about eating the comb, check out these brave kids)
5. Why You Must Experience the Taste of Honeycomb
6. Honeycomb: Now What? (Chocolate & Zucchini blog)
7. Marshall's Farm Honeycomb
8. Ireland, the land of milk and honey
9. Why Honey is Not Vegan
1. Ricotta Hotcakes with Bananas & Honeycomb Butter
2. Honeycomb and Cacao Nib Mignardise (scroll down)
3. Pyramid of honeycomb parfait with a passion fruit dressing (from caterersearch.com)
4. Pikelets, Honeycomb & Crème Fraîche Served with Fresh Figs, Honey and Mint
5. Blackberry Farm’s Honeycomb-Glazed Pork Loin with Kale & Onions
6. Honeycomb & Blue Cheese Plate
7. Baked Honey Custard for Rosh Hashanah @ Baking History

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Happy Birthday "Uncle Sam"

Old uncle Sam come there to change
Some pancakes and some onions,
For lasses calves, to carry home
To give his wife and young ones. ”
Father & I Song (stanza 10)
(early version of Yankee Doodle Dandy 1789)

One of the most recognized National symbols of the United States of America is depicted as a tall thin elderly man with white hair and a goatee. Draped in a blue tailcoat with red and white striped trousers and a tall hat with a band of stars, Uncle Sam proudly flaunts the colors of the American flag. The iconic symbolic image of the United States is said to be associated with a man by the name of Sam Wilson who was born on this day, September 13 in 1766. Yes, dear visitors, legend has it that Uncle Sam, the character, was indeed inspired by a true to life person who sold meat to the U.S. Army during the war of 1812.

Samual Wilson

What else do we know about Samuel Wilson? Well, we know Sam Wilson was a leading hometown citizen of Troy, New York. We also know "Uncle Sam" Wilson was a man of great fairness, reliability, and honesty, who was devoted to his country. According a biography of Samuel Wilson no longer available online, I learned,  "Sam Wilson was was born in Arlington, Mass., on September 13, 1766. His childhood home was in Mason, New Hampshire. In 1789, he and his brother Ebenezer walked to Troy, New York." There is much debate as to the origin of Uncle Sam; the person, the myth and the nickname. The most noted discrepancies appear to be rooted in Indiana and New York. As a matter of fact, it eventually took an act of congress to resolve the dispute. On September 15, 1961, Congress passed a resolution that recognized Samuel Wilson of Troy, New York as the inspiration for the symbol Uncle Sam. John F. Kennedy signed the bill. On that date, the 87th US Congress passed the following Congressional Resolution: "Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives that the Congress salutes Uncle Sam Wilson of Troy, New York, as the progenitor of America's National Symbol of Uncle Sam."

Perhaps, we should step back a moment and review an article written by Albert Matthews in 1908. Since it is a PDF file, I will highlight some of the article below.

Arising in obscure ways, often originating in derision or abuse or satire, sometimes repudiated by those to whom they are applied, at other times adopted in spite of the ridicule, the origin of nicknames is singularly elusive, and there are few words or phrases of which it is more difficult to trace the history. Moreover, nicknames are almost invariably associated in the popular mind with some person or place or thing having a similar name; and so a problem already difficult is made doubly so by the necessity of attempting to obtain information about very obscure persons. The history of nicknames usually follows one general course: those who, at the time of origin, perhaps know the real explanation, fail to record it, and then, a generation or so having passed by and the true origin having been forgotten, a series of guesses is indulged in...In Yankee, Brother Jonathan, and Uncle Sam, we Americans have perhaps more than our fair share of national sobriquets; and we are, so far as I am aware, the only nation to the government of which a sobriquet has been given in distinction from“the people. For while Uncle Sam has occasionally been applied to us as a nation, its use is almost wholly restricted to our government.

"Uncle Sam' a synonym for the United States?

Today, the image of Uncle Sam is a symbolic name standing for the government of the United States of America. Historians are not certain where the image of Uncle Sam originated, or who (if anyone) he was named after. Some say he is actually an adaptation of Brother Jonathan and even earlier National symbol.

The history of Brother Jonathan involves an inquiry into an. alleged English poet of the seventeenth century; a London coffee-house of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries named Jonathan’s; Jonathan Hastings, a tanner who lived in Cambridge early in the eighteenth century; Jonathan Carver, the noted traveller; and Jonathan Trumbull, the distinguished Governor of Connecticut.’ source: Albert Matthews; 1908

Although, Thomas Nast, a prominent cartoonist of the time, had a hand in how Uncle Sam looks today, one of the most famous portrayals of Uncle Sam was the “I Want You” World War I Army recruiting poster painted by James Montgomery Flagg an illustrator and portrait artist best known for commercial art. His image of Uncle Sam was shown publicly for the first time on the cover of the magazine Leslie's Weekly, on July 6, 1916, with the caption "What Are You Doing for Preparedness?" It should be noted, Flagg once said he stood as his own model for the recruitment poster in order to save money. The poster was used during World War I and later in World War II.

During the War of 1812, Samuel Wilson was a businessman from Troy, NY that supplied the U.S. Army with beef in barrels. The barrels were labeled "U.S." When asked what the initials stood for, one of Wilson's workers said it stood for Uncle Sam Wilson. The suggestion that the meat shipments came from "Uncle Sam" led to the idea that Uncle Sam symbolized the Federal Government and association stuck. In 1961, Congress passed a resolution that recognized Samuel Wilson as the inspiration for the symbol Uncle Sam. source

The story connecting the portrait of Uncle Sam with "Uncle Sam" Wilson (Samuel Wilson) is said to have first appeared in print in 1842. But, as the legend goes, Samuel Wilson was suppose to have been owner of a meat packing plant which was contracted to send canned meat provisions along with other barrels of stamped beef to troops during the War of 1812. It seems to be a long time in between for Mr. Wilson. There's a wonderful article written by Cecil Adams at the Straight Dope website which sheds some light on this notion and the timeline.

Before considering the Samuel Wilson story, let us see what the history of the term Uncle Sam has actually been. For sixty-six years the statement has been repeated that the nickname arose at the outbreak of the war of 1812, varied occasionally by the assertion that the term originated during the Revolutionary War. Both statements are incorrect, as the term is not known to have been used until the war of 1812 was half over; but the nickname certainly did originate during that war. Moreover, for a year or so it was avoided by those who favored- the war, and was employed only by those who opposed the war. Hence the term was at first apparently used somewhat derisively... source: Albert Matthews; 1908

The theory that business man Samuel Wilson, his employees and the American forces in the war of 1812 sparked the events leading up to the nickname of the federal government of the United States of America remains a celebration of American patriotism still displayed at a yearly parade on the birthday of Samuel Wilson in his hometown of Troy, New York. I for one do not want to grinch these beliefs. Do you? I'm aware that I have left you sort of in limbo about the conclusion of Mr. Matthews' article. I have done this on purpose. If you are still curious as to the outcome of the Uncle Sam mystery name, I do suggest you read the PDF file (link below) which is really not too long, and contains many newspaper citations and published prose. It's actually quite fascinating. As for me, I just want to share some recipes ==) :-)=

Some visitors may be familiar with the Are You Eating Right? Uncle Sam recipe booklet which I pictured to celebrate Sylvester Graham's birthdate back in July. Since that post was more about s'mores and moon pies, I didn't really get a chance to share the enclosed recipes. The leaflet is actually an advertising premium for Durkee Margarine produced by the Durkee Famous Foods Company of Ohio. Although it is undated, it does make reference to The National Nutrition Conference held in Washington in May of 1941. I'm sure it had to do with the state of food rations which were being exercised during the war. I thought you might find it interesting to view how Durkee Famous Foods interpreted the American Model Menu.

As for the recipes, there are only four included. The rest of the leaflet is enclosed with Durkee free gifts which you can receive with the saved coupons found on the Durkee Margarine package. Since it fit quite snugly on the scanner, it is also pictured below.

I've chosen the recipe for Vegetable Chipped Beef Platter since Sam Wilson was allegedly a beef purveyor. For those of you not acquainted with Chipped Beef follow the link. Although chipped beef is not one of my old time favorites, it sure is quick and easy to prepare. I also like the inclusion of cabbage in the following recipe. Enjoy!
Vegetable Chipped Beef Platter
4 tbs. durkee's Margarine
4 tbs. flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup dried chipped beef
1 large or 2 small heads cabbage
Prepare chipped beef sauce by melting margarine and stirring in flour until smooth. Add milk and cook over hot water 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chipped beef. Arrange wedges of cabbage, that have been cooked 15 minutes on large platter. Arrange cooked whole carrots in spke formation at ends of platter. Season vegetables well with melted Durkee's Margarine and pour chipped beef sauce over all. Garnish with parsley. Serves 8.

1. Meet the Real Uncle Sam
2. Symbols of the U.S.A.
3. The Straight Dope: What's the origin of Uncle Sam?
4. Thomas Nast
5. Uncle Sam by Albert Matthews (1908)