Monday, May 18, 2009

Olive Oil Pickles?

And gathered here, lest they should go to waste
Some things you find, delightful to the taste.

For some reason, I just can't stop thinking about the simple batch of Holy Oil Maryann whipped up over @ Find La Dolce Vita. It got me to thinking. The recipe stirred a memory I have about Olive Oil Pickles. What! You never heard of Olive Oil Pickles? First, let me tell you, not only are they heavenly, they also freeze quite well. I found out about the useful freezing tip by shear accident but, that is a story for another day. Thankfully, I did find a link which also includes a recipe for Olive Oil Pickles and how to freeze them, just in case you too are curious. Yes, I know it's way to early to be thinking about preserving summer's bounty but, I missed Pickle Week this year and you don't want to wait until you're in a pickle to try this recipe. Yes, it's a wee bit outdated but hey, somethings just never go out of favor. I think Maryann's Holy Oil will adapt quite well with this recipe and bring it into the 21st Century!!!

Olive Oil Pickles
One dozen small cucumbers peeled and sliced, 1/2 doz small onions sliced, scant half cup salt sprinkled over them. Let stand 2 hours, then drain. Turn over them 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 pint vinegar, 1 teaspoon celery seed, 1/2 cup mustard seed.
Mrs. H.S. Mowry (Thimble Club Cook Book undated (inscribed date 1911)

Olive Oil Pickles
Cover four quarts sliced cucumbers with boiling hot water and when cold drain and cover with a weak brine. Let stand over night. In the morning drain. Then add one-half teaspoon each of cloves, allspice and celery seed, two teaspoons cinnamon, one-half cup Larkin Olive Oil, one-half cup sugar, one-half cup mustard seed, one dozen onions and cold vinegar enough to cover thoroughly. Mix well and can.
Mrs. Chris. Christensen, Garner, Iowa. (Larkin Housewives' Cook Book)

"See" you all when I return. Have FUN!!!!

1. Olive Oil Pickles using Saccharine

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's Barbecue Month!!!

With years of barbecuing under our belts, I'm sure everyone has their traditional Memorial Day Menu sitting on the coals waiting to be fired up. I thought it might be just the perfect time to share some barbecue recipes from these darling note cards from my collection. They were designed by an artist at Red Farm Studio in 1953. It seems, greeting card manufacturer, Red Farm Studio is still in business and still has many freelance illustrators submitting work on a regular basis. So far, I found Liz Trostli and Courtney Autumn Martin who share their creations online. Unfortunately, I wasn't thrilled with the Red Farm Studio website but, I did find a tidbit of info which is below.

For over 50 years, Red Farm Studio has been a widely recognized name in the greeting card and stationery industry. Our story begins with a single artist painting in a studio on a farm (can you guess the color of the farm?) in Reading, Massachusetts. Red Farm Studio was born and we soon outgrew our "life on the farm". The company moved to Rhode Island in 1957.

Wishing you all a thoughtful and safe Memorial Day!

revised May 2013

1. Definitions, Distinctions, and Things to Remember
2. May is National Barbecue Month
3. All Abut Charcoal
4. Gas Versus Charcoal: Which Is Better for Grilling? (@ Chow)
5. Charcoal vs. Gas? Which is better for the environment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Day of Marshmallow Fluff!

I did a rather detailed post about the invention of Marshmallow Fluff for Inventors' Day back in 2008. I must confess, it does have quite a "gooey" history. Oh yes, I included a few recipes also. If you're interested in that post, I will leave the link in the resource section of this post. Right now, I'm just going to share a few more Marshmallow Fluff recipes with you from The "New" Yummy Book of Marshmallow Fluff Recipes which is undated. You see, it was on May 14, 1920 that Durkee and Mower formed a partnership in the manufacturing of Marshmallow Fluff. It says so right at the Marshmallow Fluff website.
On May 14, 1920, a small article appeared in the Lynn, Massachusetts, Daily Evening Item announcing that two young men, H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower, both graduates of Swampscott High and veterans of the United States Infantry in World War I, had formed a partnership in the manufacture of Marshmallow Fluff...The origins of Marshmallow Fluff actually go back to 1917. Before WWI, a Sommerville MA man named Archibald Query had been making it in his kitchen and selling it door to door, but wartime shortages had forced him to close down. By the time the war was over, Mr Query had other work and was uninterested in restarting his business, but he was willing to sell the formula. Durkee and Mower pooled their saving and bought it for five hundred dollars. Having just returned from France, they punningly renamed their product "Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff" but "Toot Sweet" didn't stay on the label for long. The situation of "no customers, but plenty of prospects" didn't last long either...

Since the The "New" Yummy Book is undated (probably from the 1930s) and Fluff no longer comes in cans, I thought it best to share some recipes from the 9th edition of the book which is available online for downloading. Had I a bit more time, I would have gotten in touch with the company for recipe adjustments because many of the recipes in the previous editions are not the same. Perhaps, next year. You can always try your hand with the previous post I did below:) Just remember, 1 tablespoon of Fluff equals 1 whole marshmallow.
Marshmallow Fluff Recipes
Rocky Road Pie
1 quart chocolate ice cream, softened
1/2 c. chopped peanuts
1/4 c. chopped semisweet-chocolate pieces
1/2 c. Marshmallow Fluff
1/4 c. chocolate syrup
1 9-inch prebaked Graham Cracker Crust
Directions: In large bowl mix ice cream with peanuts and chopped chocolate. Spoon Marshmallow Fluff and chocolate syrup into ice cream swirling gently to create a marbling effect. Spoon into prepared shell. Freeze until firm. Makes 8 servings.
Fluffernutter Pie
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 c. cold water
3 T. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. Marshmallow Fluff
2 c. heavy or whipping cream
1 Chocolate Crumb Crust
Directions: In medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup cold water and gelatin; let stand 1 minute. Cook stirring constantly, until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, vanilla and remaining water. Beat in peanut butter and Fluff. Chill until mixture mounds when dropped from spoon. Fold in whipped cream. Turn into crust; chill until set. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Both recipe books have a variation of a Penuchi recipe. Just in case you have never heard of Penuchi, here's an explanation.
Penuche (modern edition)
3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. light cream
1 T. light corn syrup
2 T. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. Marshmallow Fluff
Grease 8-inch square baking pan; set aside. In large saucepan over medium heat combine sugar, cream and corn syrup. Heat to full boil, stirring constantly. Cover and cook over medium heat 3 minutes. Uncover and cook to 235 soft-ball stage (when a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a ball which flattens on removal from water). Add butter or margarine and cool, without stirring, until lukewarm (110 comfortably warm). Add vanilla and Fluff, beat with wooden spoon until thickened and begins to loose some of its gloss. Turn into pan; cool. Makes 1 3/4 pounds.
Penuchi (1930s edition)
2 cups brown sugar
3 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbs. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt
Directions: Mix dry ingredients, stir in milk. Cool slowly until it forms a soft ball in water (234 degrees) Remove from heat, add vanilla, butter, and Fuff. Beat until creamy. 2 tablespoons peanut butter may be added just before taking from the range. This candy is also nice if 1/4 cup of Durkee Mower's Sweeco is mixed with the sugar. If Sweeco is used, add an extra 1/4 cup milk. *Fluff keeps candy from drying out--Fluff makes candy moist and mellow!
1. Fluffing with Inventions

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Harry's Bar; Less is More?

I'm a bit late getting this post up today. I wish I could say it is because I'm recuperating from my visit to the legendary Harry's Bar in Venice, but alas, dear visitors, that would be a lie. I am, however, recovering from a long and arduous return trip from Pennsylvania. Whew! I made it. Thankfully, there was a satisfying bottle of Pindar Merlot waiting to greet me when I got home. After I got to the unpacking, I curled up in my favorite chair, wine in hand and skimmed through a copy of the Harry's Bar Cookbook that I brought back with me from Pennsylvania. Many of you already know, I find cookbooks quite relaxing and the Harry's Bar Cookbook not only filled the need to be whisked away to the "World Famous Venice Bar," it also quenched my appetite for simplicity with a touch of aurora. One needs these things every now again, don't you think?

Did you know, there has been a Harry's Bar in Venice Italy since May 13, 1931. I know this to be true because it is stated by the author, Arrigo Cipriani on page five of the book. Arrigo (Italian for Harry) is the son of Giuseppe Cipriani one of the founders of the discriminating Venetian bar. You may be surprised to discover the "menu" of luxury restaurants and hotels the Cipriani corporation now owns including the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center.

Harry's Bar opened for business on May 13, 1931, and if all the customers who now say they were there on opening day had actually been there, the bar would have had to be as big as Piazza San Marco. It became successful right away. From the beginning--in 1931 and 1932--the European aristocracy (the jet set of the time) would come to Venice every year, and they started coming to Harry's Bar as soon as it opened. It became the smart place to be, so it was always full of famous people.

There's no denying, Harry's Bar is steeped in history and like many legendary watering holes, there are generations of stories to tempt every palate. Some in which are discussed in the book and anecdotes which are unraveled via the internet.

"Ernest Hemingway was a regular; when he wasn't picking a fight with Sinclair Lewis or drinking all Venice under the table, he would take a case of wine to his room and stay up all night writing, leaving the empties in front of his door to be picked up the next morning. It was in Venice that Hemingway wrote Across the River and into the Trees a few years before he won the Nobel Prize. Orson Welles was another frequent customer; big as an armoire, he would devour shrimp sandwiches by the dozen and wash them down with two bottles of iced Dom Perignon. Generous but disorganized, he often forgot to pay the check. (excerpt from Arcade Publishing's summary of Arrigo Cipriani's book) Harry's Bar;The Life and Times of the Legendary Venice Landmark (source)

The number of illustrious patrons to Harry's Bar is priceless. They have included Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, inventor Guglielmo Marconi, Charlie Chaplin, Truman Capote, Orson Welles, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Princess Aspasia of Greece, Aristotle Onassis, Barbara Hutton, Peggy Guggenheim, and Woody Allen absent of Marshall McLuhan? However, many of the stories are disguised on the menu of Harry's Bar. For instance, when it comes to the story of Carpaccio, the plot thickens. Carpaccio, thinly sliced raw meat, usually beef, tuna or veal, was invented at Harry's Bar by owner Giuseppe Cipriani in 1950. Usually served as an appetizer, Beef Carpaccio was named after Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio whose paintings often featured deep rich red and white colors. It was personally prepared for Countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo, a friend of Giuseppe's, when she requested a meal which did not include cooked meat. It is said, her doctor had advised her to avoid cooked meats. The perfect finishing touch for Carpaccio is a dressing of mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice; Carpaccio Sauce.

...However, carpaccio also has its origins in Piedmont, where for centuries people have eaten “carne all’albese”. This is traditional carpaccio, served with lemon, garlic, salt and pepper (and maybe a little truffle), whereas the swanky Venetian version included mayonnaise, lemon Worcester sauce. (source)

Classic Carpaccio is made up of beef. Although, Harry's Bar is said not to freeze the beef for thin slicing, I have had great success with previously freezing the beef for the thinnest possible slivers. Today the term Carpaccio refers to any very thinly sliced food with any number of condiments. A recipe for Salsa Carpaccio is included in the book. Since the book suggests using home made mayonnaise, I have included that scanned recipe also. (click to enlarge)

They say, Venice is for grown-ups and the Piazza San Marco has been called "The drawing room of Europe." A Pilgrimage to Harry's Bar, will more than likely unveil the optimum circumstances concerning the Bellini. As the author states, "It's Harry's Bar--we mustn't forget; it's not Harry's Restaurant. The Bellini has been the bar's most popular drink since Giuseppe Cipriani created it sometime in the 1930's. According to the author, "It didn't have a name until he christened it in honor of the artist for the big Giovanni Bellini exposition in Venice in 1948. The Tiziano Cocktail is a variation of the Bellini, though grape juice is substituted for the peach juice. I'm not quite sure whether it too was named in honor of another Italian painter, Tiziano Vecelli. From the book:

A Tiziano is a Bellini made with grape juice instead of peach puree. It is a special grape juice made from uva fragola, the same grapes that are used to make strawberry wine, a local specialty that is not even sold in stores. Use 1 part chilled grape juice to 3 parts chilled Prosecco.

I'd like to finish this post with a few more notes concerning Ernest Hemingway. He is mentioned in the Harry's Bar Cookbook quite often and I suppose for good reason. He was a regular customer at Harry's Bar and just so happens to be one of my favorite authors. There is a "discreet" ambiance of Hemingway noted in the drink called The Montgomery which is Harry's Bar's version of a dry martini. "It was named by Hemingway in honor of the British general who, he claimed, would fight the enemy only if he had 15 soldiers to their one." Reference is also made to Ernest Hemingway in the section titled Talking About Caviar.

Ernest Hemingway began to frequent Harry's Bar in the forties. One day he came and asked my father if he could find him a 4-pound tin of caviar to give as a birthday present to a Venetian countess who had told him she adored caviar. This countess was famous for her stinginess. Once she had given a beautiful silver chandelier to a friend who was getting married. he wrote her a thank-you note saying how grateful he was for the present. He was, in fact, delighted to have it back, it being one of a pair he had once given her. My father managed with some difficulty, to get the caviar for Hemingway. Two days later the countess herself came into Harry's Bar and asked my father if he needed any caviar, as she had a large tin that she wished to sell.

The international reputation of Harry's Bar lives on today. However, for those non-globetrotters like myself, The Harry's Bar Cookbook not only offers us a refreshing glimpse of the classics, it rewards us with simple restoration found in the straightforward recipes garnished with gossip and chitchat, worthy of a local glass of wine and a meandering evening in a favorite chair.

FYI: Tomorrow is an important day in Marshmallow Fluff history. I'm going to try to share some recipes from a Fluff book I brought down from PA tomorrow.  Just in case I don't get to it, here's a link to a few scanned recipes (including one for Fluff Pie) from the The Yummy Cookbook from when I was Fluffing with Inventions on Inventors' Day last year. (Don't worry, I checked the links, they aren't stale:)

1. Pindar Merlot
2. Venetian Style Italian Food
3. A Hemingway Adventure
4. Across the River and Into the Trees (Synopses & Review @ Powell Books)
5. How Carpaccio is Traditionly Made

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Limerick Day: Pickles, Popcorn and more...

I wouldn't dream of serving a literary meal on Limerick Day. I will however, try to brighten the day by bringing some kickshaws to your daily table. I figure why not? There's no need to rehash the biography of Edward Lear. Albeit, that particular website is short, concise, and darned with Lear prospective. For instance, did you know Edward Lear was not only a writer of "nonsense verse" he was also a professional painter and according to Audubon House one of the greatest ornithological artists of his time. He was even commissioned as drawing master to Queen Victoria. Today, May 12, [1812] is the day of his birth and that means it's Limerick Day. Limerick Day celebrates the birthday of Edward Lear!

"What is a Limerick," you ask? I know they're meant to be funny. I also know they are often the very first poems learned and memorized by young children. Hickory Dickory Dock, anyone?

The limerick, whose name comes from the town in Ireland, is a five-line joke of a poem...Edward Lear is the best known of limerick writers, and some say he invented the form, but there are many anonymous limericks that date back further than Lear’s time (the 19th century).(source)

Below is an example in celebration of International Pickle Week. Don't tell me you didn't know pickle week is lurking in the month of May. Let me explain. First celebrated in 1948, International Pickle Week usually spans two full weekends and includes Memorial Day weekend. Yes, I know there are seven days in a week, It seems International Pickle Week has 10 days. Sponsored by Pickle Packers International, who promote the idea that pickles are the world's funniest vegetable, some say International Pickle Week marks the discovery of the pickle in India over 4,000 years ago. Here's a link just in case you need some clipart for Pickle Week. I won't be posting for Pickle Week. I'm heading to Idaho on May 18th to attend my grand-daughter's dance recital and my grandson's graduation from nursery school. But, more about that another day. Here's a limerick for Pickle Week and one from Yours Truly:) (Keep in mind, I'm no Lear:)

There was a young fellow named Perkins

Who had a great fondness for Gherkins

He went to a tea

And ate twenty-three

Which pickled his internal workins

~Edward Lear~
A diet of five (For Louise)

Keeps her alive (as she pleas)

Dressed light and zany (do not divulge)
Mustn't eat many (You know ol' midrift bulge)

Laughter the dessert should contrive (A pop, no a crack, Whew! just a sneeze)

Nonsense Cookery

"...they dined on mince and slices of quince which they ate with a runcibile spoon"

The following recipe for Crumbobblious Cutlets is from The Complete Nonsense Book by Edward Lear, edited by Lady Stachey, copyright 1912. There's a chapter in the book titled Nonsense Cookery. It begins on page 193 in the online edition, which is copyright free.

Extract from "The Nonsense Gazette," for August, 1870.

OUR readers will be interested in the following communication from our valued and learned contributor, Prof. Bosh, whose labours in the fields of culinary and botanical science are so well known to all the world. The first three articles richly merit to be added to the domestic cookery of every family: those which follow claim the attention of all botanists; and we are happy to be able, through Prof. Bosh's kindness, to present our readers with illustrations of his discoveries. All the new flowers are found in the Valley of Verrikwier, near the Lake of Oddgrow, and on the summit of the Hill Orfeltugg."

My first thought was to include a recipe titled To Make Gosky Patties but when I got to the part of beating the pig, thought not. However, if you follow that link, you will not only find the recipe To Make Gosky Patties, you will also encounter a few other "experimental subjects" ambushed by Katerina la Vermintz. The recipe To Make An Amblongue Pie wasn't quite as violent. I'm just not accustomed to "4 & 20" pies and pigeons, I suppose. I really wanted to include something, anything! This recipe is actually amusing. With a dollop of creativity perhaps, possible. Leave out the hair-brush. Oh wait, that was the pattie recipe. It just beats the heck out of me what Crumbobblious Sauce might be. Maybe you can figure it out.

To Make Crumbobblious Cutlets
Procure some strips of beef, and, having cut them into the smallest possible slices, proceed to cut them up still smller, eight, or more perhaps nine times.

When the whole is thus minced, brush it up hastily with a new clothes brush, and stir round rapidly and capriciously with a salt-spoon or a soup ladle.

Place the whole in a saucepan, and remove it to a sunny place, say the roof of the house, if free from sparrows or other birds, and leave it there for about a week.

At the end of that time add a little lavender, some oil of almonds, and a few herring-bones; and then cover the whole with gallons of clarified Crumbobblious sauce. When it will be ready to use, cut it into the shape of ordinary cutlets and serve up in a clean table-cloth or dinner napkin.


One of the greatest rewards when skimming by wire is, you can do it all by yourself. No one will ever be the wiser. Whip yourself up some finger foods and take a gander at the story of the Four Little Children Who Went Around the World. Come on, don't tell me you haven't wanted to spurtle things up with a Spork a Runcible Spoon and a theevil. On second thought, best leave the actual operation of the runcible spoon to the The Owl and The Pussy-Cat. However, knowledge of Portable Utensils is a must. You just never know when you might be invited to a banquet.

O! My aged Uncle Arly!

Sitting on a heap of Barley

Thro' the silent hours of night,--

Close beside a leafy thicket:--

On his nose there was a Cricket,--

In his hat a Railway-Ticket;--

(But his shoes were far too tight.)
Uncle Arly
~Edward Lear~

In his book on Edward Lear, available @ google books, Peter Levi states, Lear was a good bug hunter, he had been interested in the subject since childhood." Edward Lear also enjoyed a good game of cricket. What a perfect opportunity to share some Cricket Cookery. No, not the bugs sillies, although I do have a cookbook titled Cooking with Insects, I'll save that for another day. This children's book of twenty-eight whimsical recipes for easy-to-make dishes is presented in verse form and gleefully tuned to popular songs. For instance, Grand Slam Chicken on page 30 is cooked to the tune of Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Cricket Cookery was published by Pauline Watson and the editors of Cricket Magazine. Published by Random House in 1977, the charming illustrations were done by Marylin Hafner.  

Decisions, decisions, decisions, everything looks and sounds so "Lear." What's a girl to serve for Limerick Day? Grand Slam Chicken, Dumpty Devilled Eggs (prepared to the tune of This Old Man, Oh Banana Bread (Mixed to the tune of Oh, Susanna or Oh, My Darling Sugar Cookies (mixed to the tune of Clementine.) I decided on Rainy Day Popcorn just because...(click to enlarge)

1. A Taste of Nonsense
2. Edward Lear by Peter Levi @ google books
3. Never Mind the Pussy Cat the Ornithological Art of Edward Lear (exhibit)
4. Irish Food Page Limerick Ham
5. More Fun with Dr. Seuss

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

My daughter, Michele sent me the following "letter" that she found online a few years back. I wish I could give credit to the person or place in which it came but alas, it didn't come with any...I saved it and would like to share it with my visitors today. Yes, I was a "mean mom" and proud of IT!!!

Mean Moms
Someday when my children are old enough
To understand 
The logic that motivates a parent, 
I will tell them, as my Mean ole Mom told me: 
I loved you enough . 
To ask where you were going, 
With whom, 
And what time you would be home.
I loved you enough 
To be silent 
And let you discover that your 
New best friend was a creep.  

I loved you enough 
To stand over you for two hours 
While you cleaned your room, 
A job that should have taken 15 minutes. 

I loved you enough 
To let you see anger, 
Disappointment, and tears in my eyes. 
Children must learn that their parents 
Aren't perfect.
I loved you enough 
To let you assume the responsibility 
For your actions even when the 
Penalties were so harsh 
They almost broke my heart.
But most of all, 
I loved you enough . . . To say 
NO when I knew you would hate me for it.
Those were the most difficult battles of all. 
I'm glad I won them, 
Because in the end 
You won, too. 

And someday when your children 
Are old enough to understand 
The logic that motivates parents, 
You will tell them.
Was your Mom mean? 
I know mine was. 
We had the  meanest mother in the whole world! 

While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we 
Had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. 

When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, 
We had to eat sandwiches. 

And you can guess our mother 
Fixed us a dinner that was 
Different from what other kids had, too.
Mother insisted on knowing 
Where we were at all times. 
You'd think we were convicts in a prison. 
She had to know who our friends were, 
And what we were doing with them. 
She insisted that if we said 
We would be gone for an hour, 
We would be gone for an hour or less.
We were ashamed to admit it, 
But she had the nerve 
To break the Child Labor Laws 
By making us work.  
We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, 
Learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, 
Empty the trash 
And all sorts of cruel jobs. 
I think she would lie awake at night 
Thinking of more things for us to do.
She always insisted on us telling the truth, 
The whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 
By the time we were teenagers, 
She could read our minds 
And had eyes in the back of her head. 
Then, life was really tough!
Mother wouldn't let our friends 
Just honk the horn when they drove up. 
They had to come up to the door 
So she could meet them. 
While everyone else could 
Date when they were 12 or 13, 
We had to wait until we were 16
Because of our mother 
We missed out 
On lots of things other kids experienced. 
None of us have ever 
Been caught shoplifting, 
Vandalizing other's property 
Or ever arrested for any crime. 

It was all her fault.
Now that we have left home, 
We are all educated, 
Honest adults. 
We are doing our best to be mean 
Parents just like Mom was.
I think that is what's wrong with the world today. 
It just doesn't have enough mean moms!
Mother's Lifetime Recipe
2 heaping cups of patience
1 heartful of love
2 handsful of generosity
dash of laughter
1 headful of understanding
Sprinkle generously with kindness.
Add plenty of faith and mix well.
Spread over a period of a lifetime.
And serve everybody you meet.
~Seasoned With Love~

Friday, May 8, 2009

Military Wives Cookbook Give-A-Way Winner!!!

Thank you to everyone who left all their heartfelt comments on Monday, May 4th for the Military Wives Cookbook Give-Away. It has been a wonderful experience sharing these days for Military Spouse Appreciation Day with you and taking a moment to remember those who keep us...I found this letter and thought I would share it with you. Before I announce the winner, why not take a moment to read through the comments left by the entries here...Thank you to everyone who visited for sharing your stories. It has been an enlightening experience that I truly appreicate. The winner is below...

Letter to a military spouse

While I have never had the pleasure of meeting you or your husband, I felt the need to write you and express a very deep feeling that I have in my heart.

I, as a person, am not brave. I do not tackle things head on, as I hate confrontation. I will travel 100 miles out of my way just to avoid a conflict. I am an American woman that has no idea what is going on in the military other than what I hear on the news.

I have never had to let go of someone so that they could go fight for people that they didn't know, people that sometimes do not appreciate or understand what they are fighting for.

I have never had a sleepless night of worry because of a report that another bomb has exploded and I still haven't heard from my husband.

I have never had to wait for months on end to hold the one that I loved so.

I have never had to tell my children that daddy wasn't coming home tonight because he was so far away fighting for something that they aren't yet old enough to understand.

I have never had to hold my head high and suppress the tears as I hear that it will be at least another six months of separation before my loved one gets to come home.

I have never had to deal with a holiday away from the one that I thought I would share every day of my life with.

And I have never had to feel the panic rising in my heart at the sound of a ringing phone or knock at the door for fear that it is the news that everyone is terrified of getting.

For the reasons listed above, I can not tell you that I understand how you feel. I can not tell you that you must be strong. I can not say that you shouldn't be angry, because you "knew what you were getting into when you married a military man". I can not say these things because I have never had to walk in your shoes.

What I can say for certain is that because of your unselfish acts of bravery and your husbands willingness to stand up for those who see him as "just another soldier" - - I will never have to walk in your shoes.

I do understand that as a military wife you are expected to uphold a certain amount of control, but I never understood how you could do it, until now. I have figured out that you are not like other women. You are of a special breed. You have a strength within you that holds life together in the darkest of hours, a strength of which I will never possess. The faith you have is what makes you stand out in a crowd; it makes you glow with emotion and swell with pride at the mention of The United States of America.

You are a special lady, a wonderful partner and a glorious American.

I have more respect for your husband than I could ever tell you, but until recently I never thought much about those that the soldier leaves at home during deployment.

Until this moment I could never put into words exactly what America meant to me.

Until this moment, I had no real reason to.... Until I heard of you.

Your husband and his military family hold this nation close, safe from those who wish to hurt us...but you and those like you are the backbone of the American family. You keep the wheels in motion and the hearts alive while most would just break completely down. Military families make this nation what it is today.

You give us all hope and you emit a warming light at the end of a long dark tunnel.

Because of you and your family...I am able to be me. I am able to have my family. I am able to walk free in this great land. Because of you and your family, I can look ahead to the future with the knowledge that life is going to be okay. Because of you and your family, I can awake to a new day, everyday.

I realize that you are a stronger person than I will ever be because of these things and I just wanted to take the time today to say thank you to you and your family for allowing me that freedom.

I will never be able to repay this debt to you, as it is unmatchable. However, I hope that you know that no matter where you are...what you are doing...what has happened today...or what will happen tomorrow...Your husband will NEVER be "just another soldier" to me.... And you, dear sweet lady, will never be forgotten.

You are all in my prayer's everyday and I pray that God will bring you back together with your loved one safely.
May God Bless You!
(Author Unknown)

The Winner

I used the Random Integer Generator to pick the lucky winner of the Military Wives Cookbook. Here is the comment left by Nic Please get in touch with me Nic so I can send you and your wife the copy of the book and...thank you:)

Nic said...
Wow - I've been in for 18 and my wife for 19; and who would have thought I'd first learn of spouses day on a cooking blog! Guess that's my first thing learned.

But, my real 'learning' was more from reflection on the rest of your post and the other comments. I noticed that while it's hard to see someone go away, we've actually got it better than in the past. We don't have rations books (I have some of my grandparents); and unlike grandma in WWII and my mom in vietnam, we can call and use the internet, instead of waiting and hoping for a letter... while reading newsprint of thigns that happened days or weeks ago. It's still by no means easy - but with a 24 hr news cycle and better communications; we're at least not waiting 'as long' for word from the one's away. Having folks gone is a big dark cloud, and this little bit of lining does not change that... but it is a small help.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Free Cook Book Update: Barbecue Recipes

It sure was difficult choosing a recipe from the Military Wives Cookbook. You may just want to check my post for yesterday to find out how you can win a free copy. Oh, you didn't know I was having a Free Cookbook Give-Away! Hurry back...

Military Wives Cookbook

At first, I was going to post the recipe for Peach Nectar & Basil Lemonade found on page 27. Perfect for the beginning of National Herb Week which began on May 3rd. And, so refreshing too! However, the Herb of the Year for 2009 is Bay Laurel. I browsed through the Military Wives Cookbook, or should I say, I b..r..o..w..s..e..d. There's much to see you know. I finally decided on Santa Maria Style Barbecue recipes. A GREAT combination of recipes for Barbecue Month, Salsa Month, and Salad Month all in the month of May. Perfecto!

As an admitted "Air Force Brat," the author, Carolyn Quick Tillery, had the opportunity to travel all over the world. When she and her husband were reassigned to the central coast of California, she rediscovered the Barbecue Capital of California, Santa Maria. Mrs. Tillery shares a brief history of the Santa Maria Style Barbecue on page 204 in the Military Wives Cookbook. Rather than repeat it here, because I dying to share her recipe, I found the unique story of the the barbecue born and bred on the central coast of California online. (I left The Story of the Santa Maria Style Barbecue below also:) Not only does the town of Santa Maria have its own distinct style of barbecue, it's copyrighted in order to prevent commercial establishments from advertising their barbecue as the "real thing." Yes, indeed, by the Santa Barbara County local Chamber of Commerce. Hold your horses, there's more! Traditionally, Santa Marians also have their own cut of meat; the Tri Tip. What, you never heard of the Tri Tip? Quite frankly, neither had I. There could be a reason. The Tri Tip Steak, which also happened to be quite inexpensive, had its beginnings in Santa Maria. A former butcher by the name of Larry Viegas, shared the story of triangle steak, that's another name for it, with Via Magazine back in 2003.

Viegas, a former butcher and barbecue cook extraordinaire, had come armed with diagrams of a cow and a well-rehearsed argument about tri-tip, a triangular cut of meat found on the bottom edge of a top sirloin. This flavorful portion, which weighs in at 2½ to three pounds, perfect for a family barbecue, came into vogue in the late 1950s. Considered a stepchild of sirloin, tri-tip had previously been discarded or cut into chunks for stew, but when it was roasted whole, barbecue magic happened. It is now the choice of Santa Maria's home barbecue chefs, although, as I would learn later, something of a controversy surrounds the use of tri-tip.

What happened later is as they say, history! "Visitors and workers transferring from Vandenberg Air Force Base slowly spread the word. "People from the (San Joaquin) Valley were coming over here and buying it by the case and taking it back for barbecuing," Viegas recalls. To this day, Santa Maria Style Barbecue Draws Foodies From Around the World.

The triangle cut of meat was typically used for ground beef or sliced into steaks until the late 1950s. A quick trip to The Magazine for the National Barbecue Association goes into a side of detail, thanks to Laura Mohammad.

A Santa Maria, Calif., butcher remembers the beginnings of the tri tip. Larry Viegas is quoted on the Santa Maria Elks Lodge 1538 website about his observing a Safeway meat manager in the late 1950s save a small piece of meat that was about to be wasted, and experimenting with it. He found that the piece of meat – at 90 cents a pound as opposed to top sirloin at $1.90-$1.95 a pound – was surprisingly tender.

It would not find its renown until the manager, Bob Shutz, who had dubbed the piece of meat “tri tip,” opened his own meat market and began promoting it. The tri tip became a favorite in Santa Maria, and news spread throughout the state over the next two decades.

Using select pieces, Vickers trims the fat and cooks the tri tips at 225 F for two to two-and-a-half hours, making them rare to medium rare. He likes to use hardwood oak and a little hickory. Some pit masters will cook on medium-hot coals for 30-45 minutes, making the meat rare to medium-rare. “It’s like cooking a big, thick sirloin steak,” he says. The tri tip weighs three pounds. A trimmed tri tip runs about $3.77 a pound in California and is easily available there. “It’s hard to find outside of California,” says Vickers, although a good butcher can order it for you.

Okay, as we have often discovered "traditional" ingredients often get ground into a round-up of legends. Santa Maria Style Barbecue is not without its beefs. Some say Tri-Tip is not the authentic choice of beef and that boneless top sirloin is just as "barbecueable." Others say "Santa Maria Style" barbecue is usually used in reference to the seasoning and cooked whole on a rotissere. Most agree on the complimentary side dishes which are usually, garlic bread, Santa Maria Pinquito Beans, Santa Maria Salsa, and Santa Maria Macaroni and Cheese. Actually, Mrs. Tillery doesn't quite say it like that. Here are her words from The Military Wives Cookbook.

Traditionally, Santa Maria-style barbecue consists of top block sirloin, which is seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cooked slowly over native red wood coals. The main course is served with tossed salad, beans, salsa, French bread toasted on the pit and then dipped in garlic butter, and sometimes macaroni and cheese...Although some purists may protest its authenticity, you may also use smaller tri-tip cut. Also known as a bottom cut, no one knew what to do with the triangular cut until a Santa Maria butcher used the now legendary seasoning and placed it on a rack in his rotisserie.

The Recipes

I found a source for Pinquito Beans online and also a Santa Maria Style Pinquito Beans recipe which the contributor notes that they are usually only available locally. While I was at it, I thought I would also leave a link for Santa Maria Style Salsa. (May is also National Salsa Month )

I'm going to include the Santa Maria Style Barbecue recipe from The Military Wives Cookbook as it is written in paragraph form in the cookbook. I am also going to scan the recipe for Santa Maria Style Macaroni and Cheese from the book. (click to enlarge) If you haven't already seen the details on how to Win a free copy of The Military Wives Cookbook, I left the link below along with a few additional resources. There's one link below, which offers a driving route in search of the best fund raising barbecue. Supposedly the best places to find a tasty Santa Maria Style Barbecue. If you're wondering what to make for dessert, pop on over to Coco Cooks. Courtney whipped up the Old Fashioned Banana Pudding recipe from the book AND, She's having a Military Wives Cookbook Give-Away too. Enjoy!

Santa Maria Style Barbecue
Combine 1 tablespoon of salt with 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt. Traditionally, oak-wood logs are placed in a pit with moveable grate. However, backyard chefs can also use charcoal mixed with oak-wood chips. The fire should be hot but not blazing. Place your hands two or three inches over the grill. If you can count to ten before removing your hand then the fire is ready.

Tips for Success: Do not trim the fat before putting the meat on the grill. If cooking more than one cut and using steel rods, alternate fat and lean sides for an even distribution of the juices.

Otherwise, place meat on grill and adjust so meat is 2 to 3 inches from the coals. Sear the lean meat part of the meat over the fire for the first 5 to 10 minutes to seal in the juices. Move the meat to 6-8 inches from the coals. Then flip over to the fat side for another 35-45 minutes. When juice appears at the top of the meat, it is time to flip it again. Cook to the desired degree of doneness (130 degree for rare)

Finally, it is important to slice tri-tip against the grain, the long way, not across the triangle. It will not be uniform, but it will be more tender. This cut of meat is best when served immediately after cooking.

FYI: Not only is Janet @ Dying for Chocolate celebrating Cinco de Mayo today. It's National Hoagie Day, National Chocolate Custard Day, and the birthdate of "The Father of American Gastronomy" James Beard. <-this is my post for James Beard last year)

1. Free Military Wives Cookbook: 200 Years of Traditions, Recipes and Remembrances Give-Away
2.The Story of the Santa Maria Style Barbecue
3. The Magazine for the National Barbecue Association (PDF file)
4. Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip Barbecue Cooking (Jake's Barbecue Seasoning Rub)
5. Susie Q's Brand Santa Maria BBQ
6. Santa Maria Style Barbecue Restaurant Reviews
7. Fund Raising Suggested Route
8. History of the Hoagie (thanks to Foodimentary my new favorite tweeter:)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Free Cookbook Give-Away!!!

It is with great pleasure and excitement that I seize this opportunity to offer my visitors a chance to win a Free copy of The Military Wives Cookbook. As most of you know, I'm not in the habit of doing cookbook reviews on this blog. However, there are a few reasons why I have chosen to do my first requested review.

Military Wives Cookbook

The first is quite simple. I LOVE cookbooks. Above all, I treasure cookbooks which embrace "traditions, recipes, and remembrances" such as those anecdotal stories found in The Military Wives’ Cookbook: 200 Years of Tradition, Recipes and Remembrances by author, wife, mother, attorney, researcher, and cookbook writer, Carolyn Quick Tillery. The vintage photographs tracing the history and unique contributions of American military wives are the frosting on the cake.

The next reason is pretty obvious. Friday, May 8th is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. What do I do @ Months of Edible Celebrations? I try to commemorate an occasion with cookbooks, recipes, and tasteful morsels of historic events. Instinctively, I said yes to Carrie from Sourcebooks Inc. when she contacted me about offering The Military Wives Cookbook in honor of Military Spouse Day. However, I have another person to thank. Courtney, from Coco Cooks. Courtney was more than neighborly when she suggested to Carrie that she contact me about offering the Military Wives Cookbook. Thank you Courtney:) (Update Military Spouse Day May 8th) I shared a few Santa Maria Style Barbecue recipes from the cookbook here and you should go see the "gorgeous" Old Fashioned Banana Pudding Courtney whipped up from the book. 

Finally, not only is the Military Wives Cookbook flavored with all the binding ingredients of a classic cookbook, it offers us all an opportunity to reflect on the courage and strength as told by those battle scarred families left at home. Miraculously, they manage to "balance the responsibilities of maintaining home and hearth, raise a family, manage businesses, and continue to support the war effort." More often than not, military families are consistently uprooted awaiting the next deployment. Below is an excerpt from an interview Carolyn Quick Tillery had with Kathryn Rem of the State-Journal Register in November of 2008. (There are also a few recipes included from the book)

"The American military family averages a move every two to three years. Spouses often collect recipes and give them to someone else. She adds her own twist and gives it to someone else. That person adds a secret ingredient and gives it to someone else. These recipes evolve as they find their way around the world and to the American table," said Tillery, a third-generation military wife.

The Military Wives Cookbook

I stumbled upon an article published at the Military Spouse Network titled Military Spouses Get a Taste of Marine Life which lead me to a blog post at SpouseBUZZ titled I'll Take "Wasted Time" For $200, Please. Reading through many of the articles and blog posts really hit home for me. You see, although my biological father was a Merchant Marine, who died when I was very young, I barely remember living with my mother and brother in Galveston, Texas. Much like the women who share their stories in The Military Wives Cookbook, I have faint recollections of related stories. Unlike today's military wives, my mother seldom knew where my father was or when he might be home. I know my mother learned to become self reliant and my grandmother told us stories about the hundreds of socks and scarves she knitted for "the boys." Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, I don't remember much else.

The Military Wives' Cookbook is a hardcover 333 page book measuring 9-1/4 x 7-1/4. It is divided into six sections which are preceded by United in Spirit a dedication from an unknown author, a personal foreword by the author which is flavored with "cherished childhood memories" as a daughter of a career officer in the United States Air Force and, the introduction which is perhaps, my favorite section, besides the recipes, of course. Here we are "formally" introduced to the women, through whose eyes the stories are told and whose recipes are shared. Anna Warner; The Heroine of Groton, Molly Pitcher, Margaret Corbin, Martha Washington and others are depicted during the American Revolution. The War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the women "warriors" of the Civil War are represented. Below is what Carrie sent me from the book's press release.

The Military Wives' Cookbook is a collection of recipes, anecdotal stories, and vintage photographs tracing the history and unique contributions of American military wives. Beginning with an Independence Tea Party featuring the foods served by the women of Edenton, North Carolina, at a party on October 25, 1774, it recreates the scenes and foods that recount the stories of the commitments and sacrifice that military wives have given the nation for more than two hundred years.

Presented in menu format, each chapter includes a story related to the recipes of the period (“A Colonial Thanksgiving” and “Christmas in the Confederate White House”) and feature foods from around the world, including places like Morocco, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Japan, and Korea.

The six sections are:

  1. Teas and Coffees
  2. Buffets, Brunches, and Lunches
  3. A Taste of Home: Dinner Family Style
  4. Alfresco Dining
  5. Over There: An International Affair
  6. Home for the Holidays and Other Celebrations

Today, is a wet and dreary day in New York so I have chosen to skip the Tea and Coffee section and share a menu from section two, Buffets, Brunches, and Lunches.(click the image to enlarge)

Hearth and Home: A Soup Kitchen Party
Young wives far from home found great comfort and fellowship in the company of other military wives. By 1898, America had become an empire. It was during this period that the women's club movement was born in the civilian sector of American Life. Military wives soon joined the movement. These clubs were both social and service organizations. They raised money for worthy community causes, they joined book clubs and sewing circles, or they came together simply to entertain themselves with popular games. They met in homes for breakfast planning meetings and for business and social luncheon buffets. The tradition continues to this day. A favorite entertainment style was the buffet. Military Wives Cookbook

The Give-Away

It seems I have misplaced Carrie's email concerning where visitors might be able to purchase the book should they so choose. I'll be contacting her later this evening and leave that informations for you tomorrow. I checked over at the the Sourcebooks website but it didn't seem to be loading in Safari. The cookbook is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon which also has five star reviews.

If you would like a chance to WIN! the book for free right here, the details are fairly simple. Let me first say though, not only would The Military Wives Cookbook make a wonderful addition to your reading cookbook library, it would also make a wonderful gift. I have a senior citizen friend that I take shopping each week. She's 89 years young. She often tells me about her challenges raising six children and working a full time job while her husband was in the service during WWII. Despite gasoline rationing, food rationing, working and raising a family, she still managed to volunteer her time to the war effort. Amazing!!! I really think she would relate to the stories and the photographs. Heck, I think she would even reminisce about some of the recipes, especially the Red Velvet Cake recipe:) Tomorrow, I will share a few of the recipes with you. For now, the details.

At first I was going to offer this book simply by asking visitors to leave a comment. When I started doing a bit more research, it dawned on me how little I actually knew about the sacrifices military families endure. I realize everyone is busy in their own lives and in these economic times it is sometimes difficult to stop and thank those who enable us to enjoy our freedom each and every day. As Mrs. Obama so eloquently stated at Arlington National Cemetery, for Women's History Month:

[Military families] They are mothers and fathers who have lost their beloved children to war. They are husbands and wives keeping the family on track while their wives and husbands are deployed, on duty.  They are grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers who are taking care of children while single moms or dads in uniform are away.

So, what I would like you to do is discover something you didn't know about the life of our military families or share a brief personal experience in the comment section of this blog anytime up until May 8th; Military Spouse Appreciation Day. You can begin your search with the links I have left on this blog post or do a quick search in google. I will randomly (using the random generator) choose a winner Friday @ 3:00 PM. and announce the winner immediately. I'm curious as to what you will discover and look forward to your comments.

Military Spouse Day was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan on April 17, 1984. The Military Wives Cookbooks would be an indefectible salute to a military spouse so if you know someone be sure and tell them about this free give-away. I know how much you would like to have the cookbook all to yourself but how wonderful would it be to pass the plate...

A Proclamation
Since the early days of the Continental Army, the wives of our servicemen have made unselfish contributions to the spirit and well-being of their fighting men and the general welfare of their communities.

Throughout the years, as the numbers of our married men and women in uniform have grown and as their military missions have become more complex and dispersed, their spouses have made countless personal sacrifices to support the Armed Forces. In many instances, they subordinated their personal and professional aspirations to the greater benefit of the service family. Responding to the call of duty, they frequently endured long periods of separation or left familiar surroundings and friends to re-establish their homes in distant places. And there they became American ambassadors abroad.

As volunteers, military spouses have provided exemplary service and leadership in educational, community, recreational, religious, social and cultural endeavors. And as parents and homemakers, they preserve the cornerstone of our Nation's strength -- the American family.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 23, 1984, as Military Spouse Day, in recognition of the profound importance of spouse commitment to the readiness and well-being of service members on active duty and in the National Guard and Reserve, and to the security of our Nation. I invite all the Armed Forces, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, the Departments of Defense and Transportation, the Governors of the several States, the chief officials of local governments, and the people of the United States to observe this day in an appropriate manner.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 17th day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighth.
Ronald Reagan

1. Military Spouse Network
2. Obama's Military Spouse Day Proclamation

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy Dandelion Day!!!

Why am I excited about Dandelion Day? Because, I LOVE dandelions!!! What? No one digs dandelions. Well, I do and I'm proud to announce it to the world. Although, I hope my new neighbors in Pennsylvania don't read this blog:) I don't think I've gotten off to a good start with some of them. You see, when I first bought the house two years ago, I wasn't able to make that five hour ride as often as I wanted to or perhaps, as often as I should have. I wish I would have remembered to bring the pictures down to New York with me because it's hard for me to describe what my lawn looked like the first year I didn't make it back up in time for Dandelion time. I never did get to see the lawn filled with those golden glows of sunshine. However, I did make it up in time to a lawn of white balloon puffs. It looked like it snowed in the middle of May. Oh my goodness, seed balloons were everywhere. Did you know one dandelion plant has an average of about 150 seeds per flower, and an average of 16 flowers per plant. You add it up, I'm horrible in math:) I'm thinking my lawn of puffballs were dispersed by the wind to every manicured lawn in the neighborhood.

I know for sure there were some complaints registered with the town because this last time up I went to the planning department to apply for a permit for a new shed and the man on the planning board said, "oh, you're the lady with the un-mowed lawn." "My lawn is mowed" I replied. "It wasn't a few years back" he said. "I know because I had to go down there and calm the neighbors down." Whew! that was before I moved in. The house had been vacant for two years and the relatives of the former owner were worse than me when it came to lawn maintenance. Needless to say, I try to make it up to PA as often as humanly possible as soon as the weather breaks. I'll probably find out how I'm doing next weekend as the neighborhood is having a town wide yard sale and I have cordially be invited. I must say, I find this all rather amusing. The house in PA is in a pretty rural area (rural to me anyway) I mean there are vegetable farms, dairy farms and Amish buggies all around me. Yes, I live on a main rural road but it seems to me the dandelions were probably there first.

The dandelion puffs her balls,
    Free spinsters of the air,
Who scorn to wait for beetle calls
    Or bees to find them fair;
But breaking through the painted walls
    Their sisters tamely bear,
Fly off in dancing down, which falls
    And sprouts up everywhere.

Oh the lowly dandelion, why does it get so abused? Perhaps, it needs to go by one of its alternative names. Irish Daisy is nice. What about, Lion's Tooth? That may keep the lawnmowers away; Growl! (the edges of the leaves have teeth that are supposed to resemble those of a lion, hence, its name Leontodon meaning lion's tooth.) Perhaps, a global name, lovingly applied will raise it to grandeur. Puffball:) Do you know your Dandelion folklore? (To blow the seeds off the dandelion is to carry one's thoughts to a loved one:) Look at this video. I found on You Tube. I mean really, what's not to love about Dandelions?

Time Lapse Opening of a Dandelion
It is said that if you can blow all the seeds off with one blow, then you are loved with a passionate love. If some seeds remain, then your lover has reservations about the relationship. If a lot of the seeds still remain on the globe, then you are not loved at all, or very little...Other folk names, like face-clock and tell-time refer to the custom of telling the time by blowing the white seed (the number of blows required to rid the clock of its seeds is supposed to be dependent on the time of day.) or to the plant's more authentic diuretic qualities, preserved in such names as piss-a-bed and the French pissenlit.

Dandelion Virtues

In the Language of Flowers the dandelion represented The Rustic Oracle in 1852. I have an edition of The Rural Wreath; or Life Among The Flowers edited by Laura Greenwood and published in 1855. In that book, the dandelion is described as the flower of Coquetry. (flirtation and frolic) The book I have is as fragile as its contents but, perhaps, I will get to share it with you next year on Dandelion Day.

The Dandelion is the most common of flowers. It is found in the four quarters of the globe, near the pole as beneath the equator, on the margin of rivers and streams as well as on sterile rocks. It serves the shepherd instead of a clock, while its feathery tufts are hig barometer, predicting calm or storm. The globes formed by the seeds of the Dandelion are used for other purposes. If you are separated from the object of your love, pluck one of those feathery spheres, charge each of the little feathers with a tender thought; turn toward the spot where the loved one dwells; blow, and the aerial travellers will faithfully convey your secret message to his or her feet. If you wish to know if that dear one is thinking of you, blow again; and if a single aigrette is left upon the stalk, it is a proof that you are not forgotten.

Have you really ever considered the virtues of a dandelion? I know it's sometimes difficult. All we ever hear about dandelions is how annoying they are and what a nuisance they've become. I sometimes think people just think it's "cool" to plot against them. I've been straying off the path of my regular blog visits to some other food blogs that I don't normally visit. (I look for blogs to add to my search engine when I only have a few minutes online. I have a feeling that will be slowing down now that I have joined the twitter community) Anyway, everywhere I go the anticipation of spring beckons with hope of this year's future crops. Even the April issue of Gourmet Magazine confessed to "forcing spring a bit" with their lovely cover filled Strawberry Mascarpone Tart. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm quite aware of the scars of a severe winter in more ways than one but, dandelions are everywhere, glistening for the picking. You know, there's a farmer's saying that goes something like this; When dandelions bloom late, expect a dry summer. I don't know about your neck of the woods but here in New York and in Pennsylvania, summer isn't looking too dry if the farmer's lore is right.

Dandelion Recipes

The Dandelion was intentionally brought to the "New World" from Europe for its food and medicinal value. Although dandelions are classified as a bitter herb, it has been used as a vegetable since ancient times. Young dandelion leaves, which can be eaten as a salad, contain twice as much calcium as spinach, more vitamin A & E than broccoli and they contain high quantities of iron, riboflavin, and lecithin. Dandelions improve the appetite, stimulate the immune system, the stomach, liver and gall bladder. Dandelions are used to treat kidney and liver disorders. Externally the white milky juice found in the entire plant is said to have medicinal properties. Dandelion "milk" is used to treat skin disorders, including warts, eczema and as a repellent for mosquitos.

Dandelions have been used as a high nutrient food, applied in cases of dyspepsia, as a mild laxative, to increase appetite and promote digestion. The latex is excellent for getting rid of warts (apply 3 times daily for seven days)...Dandelion was used by Arabian physicians in the 10th-11th centuries. It was mentioned in Welsh herbals in the 13th century. It is prominent in Gerard`s Herbal (1597) appearing throughout herbals from the 16th to 18th centuries. Eclectics of the 1800`s and the early 1900`s also listed Dandelion as a major herb. This genus has been listed in Chinese medicine since the Tang Materia Medica (659 AD). It has had a significant history of use in Ayurvedic medicine also. Dandelion appears in the ethnobotanical literature of over a dozen North American Indian tribes, even as far afield as the Aleuts of Alaska. Its application is very broad but dermatological, analgesic and gastrointestinal problems seem to be prominent uses. source
Gypsy Wart Recipe: Gather dandelions, including the flower heads stems, and leaves, squeeze them, and apply their milky juice to the wart or corn. Leave it there to dry. Application should be made 2 or 3 days in a row. Herbs and Things Jeanne Rose's Herbal pg. 208

Dandelion petals are also edible. They are used in the making of Dandelion Wine and can be used as an edible garnish. Dandelion Tea is quite refreshing and healthy too! Have you ever experience Dandelion Coffee? I'm a huge fan of chicory coffee. Dandelion coffee has a deep robust flavor much like chicory coffee. You just take the dandelion root, clean it off real good, don't peel it, roast it until it is a deep colored brown and grind it up and use like coffee. I've heard it's best to harvest the root in the autumn for in the spring the roots are almost flavorless. How inexpensive can that be? Of course, you must make sure you are using the purest of the harvest. No pesticide laden lawns, golf courses or high traffic areas. I've heard of a commercial variety of Dandelion Coffee and with a quick search online, not only did I find the developer's blog, I also found his commercial site which includes recipes. Let me know if you try it. For now, I'll continue to process my own.

Dandelion is generally regarded as safe, but some people report allergic or asthmatic reaction to this herb. Dandelion is a member of the Asteraceae/Compositae family, and people that are allergic to chamomile, chrysanthemums, yarrow, feverfew, ragweed, sunflower, daisies, or other members of the Asteraceae family, may be allergic to dandelion as well. Dandelion is not recommended for patients with liver or gallbladder disease because of the traditional belief that dandelion stimulates bile secretion, although there are no studies of animals or humans that support this belief. source
Dandelion Tea: Pour a pint of boiling water on to an ounce of mature dandelion leaves, or sliced root, and infuse for a quarter of an hour. Drink at intervals during the day. Culinary & Salad Herbs Eleanor Sinclair Rohde; Dover Books 1972

It's best to harvest dandelion greens before the flowers appear. If not, they may be tough and bitter. Simply cooked, quickly like spinach and harvested fresh, they are quite appetizing. Tender dandelion leaves are cut from the roots, washed well in cold water and then boiled. Bring a large pot of water to a full boil and by the handful gently add the greens. They should not be cooked too long, just until wilted (2 or 3 minutes.) It's a good idea to change the water once or twice to reduce bitterness. Drain and run cold water over to stop the cooking. Squeeze as much moisture out as possible especially if you are going to freeze them as they freeze surprisingly well much like Swiss Chard or Spinach. If serving immediately, use them in your favorite recipe, sauteed with garlic in oil is one of my favorite ways but, you can also use the mixture the same way you would use spinach, mustard greens or swiss chard. Some serve dandelion greens with butter and vinegar. Others prefer to cook the dandelion leaves with a little salt pork, or bacon, and serve them with sour cream dressing. Dandelion leaves can be blanched and used raw as a salad. Blanching is said to improve the flavor. Usually the young leaves and unopened buds are eaten raw in salads, while older leaves are cooked. Dandelion salad is very popular in France and Switzerland. The French also make creme de pissenlits which is actually Cream of Dandelion Soup and in Switzerland, Dandelion Syrup is served over pancakes or waffles. Both are absolutely delicious! I have gathered a few recipes for you to experiment with while you are waiting for the signs of spring. Perhaps, once again, the greens are right outside your door.

The recipe below is from a book titled Lithuanian Customs and Other Ethnic Cookery by The Knights of Lithuanian Anthracite Council. (1997) I had it previously posted on my AOL website back in the late 1990s.

Lithuanian Dandelion Wine
3 quarts Dandelions
2 1/4 lbs. sugar
2 lemons
1 orange
3/4 lb. raisins
1 tsp. grape tannin
1 gal. water
yeast and nutrient
The above recipe for Dandelion Wine includes very explicit instructions. It states that the flowers must be gathered fresh on St. George's Day April, 23. St. George is the Patron Saint of England the guardian of animals and the Patron Saint of scouting. They must be picked off the stalk and put into a large bowl. One does not need to pick off the petals; use the whole heads. Bring the water to the boil, pour over the dandelions, and leave for 2 days, stirring each day. Keep the bowl closely covered. On the third day, turn all into a boiler, add the sugar and the rinds only of lemons and orange. Boil for 1 hour. Return to the crock, and add the juice and pulp of the lemons and orange. Allow to stand until cool, then add wine yeast and tannin, and yeast nutrient, since this is a liquor likely to be deficient in desirable elements. Let it remain closely covered for 3 days in a warm place, then strain into fermenting bottles and divide the raisins equally amongst them. Fit trap. Leave until fermentation ceases and rack when wine clears.

Dandelions are food for many insects and wild animals. Bees love dandelions so please leave some for them when harvesting. As a matter of fact, a quick poultice can be made from the leaves and stems of the dandelion plant and applied to a bee sting. It is said this remedy will ease the discomfort of the sting. Sometimes called Peasant's Clock, the dandelion flower opens early in the morning usually between 5 or 6 a.m. They close each evening between 8 and 10 p.m. They are sensitive to weather and will close like an umbrella when a storms a brewing.

The nectar or pollen of the flowers primarily attracts long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, and bee flies. Among the bees, are such visitors as bumblebees, honeybees, Mason bees, Halictid bees, and Andrenid bees. The foliage of Dandelion is eaten by many kinds of insects, including the caterpillars of several species of moths. Most of these moths are polyphagous, as their caterpillars will feed on a variety of low-growing plants. In the Eastern states and the Midwest, only the Goldfinch and the English Sparrow eat the seeds to any significant extent. While the foliage is somewhat bitter, it is eaten occasionally by various mammalian herbivores, including livestock, rabbits, groundhogs, and deer. source
Dandelions can be beneficial to a garden ecosystem as well as to human health. Dandelions attract beneficial ladybugs and provide early spring pollen for their food. In a study done at the University of Wisconsin, experimental plots with dandelions had more ladybugs than dandelion free plots, and fewer pest aphids, a favorite food of the ladybugs. Dandelions long roots aerate the soil and enable the plant to accumulate minerals, which are added to the soil when the plant dies.

Some of the proven ways for Dealing with Dandelions may be easier than you think. As an alternative to pesticides, you can prevent them from taking over your lawn (if you or your neighbors insist) by keeping your lawn healthy, physically pulling them out (why not have a dandelion harvesting party:) or by using the least toxic control such as corn gluten or vinegar.

One final note, please be sure to check all of your own resources before using any recipes or remedies you are not sure of. I am here to celebrate Dandelion Day, not to give advice. I know I'm beginning to sound a bit repetitive but I don't want anyone to forget the Free Cook Book Give-Away I will be announcing on May 4th. See ya then...

P.S. The top image was harvested from The National Park Service.

FYI: Did you see Janet's post for National Truffle Day which also happens to be today. I love truffles just as much as I dig dandelions!

1. Wild About Dandelions
2. Dandelion Jelly
3. How to Have Fun with Dandelions
4. It’s not a weed – it’s medicine!
5. Dandelion Recipes
6. Eggs Rockefeller with Dandelion Greens and Hollandaise
7. Red Potato and Sautéed Greens Salad (A Straight from the Farm Original)
8. A message Board of Dandelion Recipes (I had to include this link since the above dandelion wine recipe is included:) I guess someone found it useful:)
9. Make a Rubber Band from a Dandelion
10. Remembering Dandelion Day

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day

I've just returned from Pennsylvania, yes, sadly I had to leave the Doves & the Robin I posted about yesterday:( I'm very tired and have a pretty full day tomorrow. As much as I would LOVE to celebrate May Day with you, I'm afraid it will have to wait until next year.

A Poem for May
'Tis merry May the birds are gay,
The orchards are in bloom,
The bees alight on blossoms bright
Are burdened with perfume,
Bright golden sunbeams kiss the sands
By azure lake and sea,
And where the rock-ribbed mountain stands
May wakes her melody.

Oh fragrant May, oh flowery May,
Bright queen of all the year,
To you I bring my offering,
To me you are most dear.
~A. R. Annable~
American Cookery May 1920

Some of my regular visitors will remember me mentioning my AOL website I had way back in 1999. I was delighted to find a recipe I posted back then for May Day from American Cookery Magazine; May 1920. I had the recipe on this computer and thought I would include it for today.

May Queen Cake May Day Cake Recipe
1/2 Cup butter
1 Cup sugar
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Cup sour cream
2 Cup pastry flour
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 c finely shaved citron
1. Cream butter and sugar.
2. Add 3 beaten egg whites.
3. Dissolve baking soda in a little water and add to sour cream.
4. Add sifted pastry flour, nutmeg, and citron. Last add the remainder of egg whites.
5. Bake at 350 degrees in a pretty shaped tin until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (around 30 minutes) and frost with any white icing.
Directions for Maypole: Use a striped candy (candy cane) to which narrow ribbons have been attached at top. Drape the ribbons into small Maybaskets arranged around the cake. Candy baskets would be more appropriate. Baskets of straw or paper, filled with fruit nuts or candy will give great pleasures to the May Queen and her maids.

Thankfully, I posted the May Food Celebrations last year @ my other blog where you will also find a dishful of surprises including a recipe for Brioche of Strawberry a la Hedgehog. If you scroll down to the post below where I have the May Food Celebrations second page, it's all about salads and dressings. There's also a salad recipe poem from 1867! Oh, you did you know, May is National Salad Month!!!

May was a busy month for me last year. At Tasteful Inventions (my other, other blog:) I celebrated the "birth" of CheeriOats. (Cheerios)
I'm hoping to be back to regular posting on Saturday which happens to be Dandelion Day and Comic Book Day. Oh, I may as well mention the Comic Book Day Recipes I also posted last year. Don't forget to drop by May 4th for the FREE cookbook give-away details!

Wishing you baskets full of happiness this May Day, Louise