|Crack a Yolk
In response to the increased demand for plant-based options we are dedicating our garden this year to egg plants. Since this is a new adventure for us, we are taking extra precautions such as padding the ground in case the eggs fall off of the branches to minimize breakage. We were very fortunate to have located a Dyed Egg Plant that we hope will bloom in time for Easter! We look forward to picking the eggs throughout the season allowing for the freshest product possible. Our menus will feature Deviled Egg Plant, Scrambled Egg Plant and for those who enjoy a bite to eat on the go we will be working on Egg Rolls as well. If any of you have tips for growing egg plants, please let us know as we are excited to eggs-plore this skill!
Down the Rabbit Hole
In our ongoing quest to deepen our understanding of different food ways, discovering these data bases was like entering a time machine or transporter. Suddenly, we were in Missouri in the 1920’s planning family dinner, traveling through Peru seeking the best ceviche or perusing a menu from a coveted seat in New York’s finest restaurants in 1890. Even the ads in the community cookbooks are informative and fun.
Community Cookbooks: An Online Collection of the Library of Congress. This fascinating and easy to use research guide can be filtered by place or time. Starting in 1860 and ending in 1929, the time groupings are in ten or twenty year increments and the place groupings are Midwest, Northeast, South and West. The community cookbooks were almost always the work of women and represented a range of voices and variations on recipes of popular dishes. Studying these texts, it is “possible to trace some of the widespread social and cultural effects of immigration, expansion, urbanization and industrialization through the ingredients and methods, kitchen equipment and household hints, advertising and recipes”. There are clear regional specialties but train travel and fairs carried new ingredients and local favorites to other parts of the country, and as women’s roles changed and modern appliances became available, convenience crept into recipes that once started from scratch.
The New York Public Library’s menu collection ranges from 1840 to the present and at approximately 45,000 recipes is one of the largest in the world. About a quarter is now digitized and can be accessed at NYPL Digital Gallery. Items are continually added with the goal to transcribe the entire collection. The information is available to everyone and of particular interest to researchers such as chefs crafting period menus, writers of historical fiction setting a table, or culinary historians. There are a lot of delicious possibilities from this database of dishes.
The Sifter is another remarkable effort to make historical cookbook data searchable and meaningful. It is as ambitious as the other projects, a labor of love but a harder slog. Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, the site’s creator, was a neighbor of Julia Child in Cambridge. Child lent Wheaton some old cookbooks in the 1960’s, and coupled with her previous culinary history studies this led her to build a structured method to her research which started by hand and many years later became digital. The Sifter is comprised of 5,000 historical cookbooks from Harvard’s University’s Schlesinger Library and others. Wheaton suggests that Sifter, like a Swiss army knife, is multi-faceted and one can understand “how dishes became popular, ingredients, cooking techniques, what foods certain societies ate until it became taboo (hint: peacock), where certain foods came from and much more”. An advisory board of friends of food history and rotating members of the Oxford Symposium on food and cookery oversee the work and it will be populated by its users. All are welcome.
Tasteatlas and A to Z World Food are less scholarly but offer an introductory look at favorite dishes from around the world, where to eat them and etiquette. There is information on beverages and ingredients as well. Together the sites cover a lot of ground and for the more ambitious reader, there are lots of recipes to explore.
Red-dy or Not
Recently, I read about some relatively new American aperitifs produced on both coasts and their use of the natural dye, carmine, to create their bright red color. Carmine is extracted from the cochineal, a tiny insect the size of a peppercorn. The insect feeds on the juice of the prickly pear cactus prevalent in Mexico, South America, and the southwest U.S. The dye’s history originates with the Incas and Aztecs and was popularized by Cortez and the conquistadors becoming one of the New World’s most valuable exports prized for it use in dyeing textiles.
In the 20th century, carmine began to be used as a natural food dye and was found in a lot of foods including snacks, sausage, and artificial crab. It is often labeled as natural red dye 4. For decades, Campari was colored by the dye but changed to artificial coloring in 2006 citing the “uncertainty of supply of the natural colorant.” Until mid-2012, Starbucks used it in its Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino but switched to lycopene, a natural tomato- based extract, after protests from its clients.
The new craft distillers chose to use the natural dye after much consideration. Their focus is on all natural. They eschew the “funky” tastes of synthetic products as well as artificial products derived from petroleum. The producers appreciate the traditional aspects of the natural dye as well as the fact that it does not add flavor or aroma. Carmine is also FDA approved and by law must be labeled.
Harriet’s Book Picks: Truffle Hound: On the Trail of the World’s Most Seductive Scent with Dreamers, Schemers and Some Extraordinary Dogs by Rowan Jacobson
Rowan Jacobson’s latest book, Truffle Hound: On The Trail Of The World’s Most Seductive Scent With Dreamers, Schemers And Some Extraordinary Dogs is a deep and delightful investigation into the truffle world which began for Jacobson in Italy during peak truffle season. His world exploded after a sniff of a white truffle unhoused from its glass cover.
“I have smelled lots of yumminess before, but this was different. It was not the warm, cozy scent of chocolate chips baking. Nor was it mouthwatering. It was hardly a food scent at all. It was more like catching a glimpse of a satyr prancing across the dining room floor while playing its flute and flashing its hindquarters at you. You think, What the hell was that? And then you think, I have to know.”
Jacobsen explores truffles through the lens of history, culture, business and science as well as the life of truffle hunters and their dogs. Pigs were the original companions in the woodland searches but they often consumed their unburied treasures and thus, were replaced by loyal well-trained dogs. Dogs have a powerful sense of smell with a hundred times more olfactory receptors than humans and the ability to pinpoint the source of the smell.
Jacobsen’s journey unearths more than truffles as he wades through the mystique and tricks of the trade. He learns that many guided truffle hunts are staged with pre-buried truffles, that most truffle products are created with chemically produced smells and that Italian and French truffles often come from other countries. In fact, much of the story covers his travels in Istria, Hungary, Spain, England and North America and truffle cultivation. He even meets a Maryland veterinarian who has planted 1,500 trees on his parents’ MD farm with the hopes of cultivating truffles.
The Truffle Hound includes a primer on nineteen truffles (the dirty dozen and the scruffy seven) encouraging the reader to reach beyond the two most famous types, recipes for the lucky holders of truffles, a great resource section and a bonus tale of the Joriad, an annual truffle dog competition that takes place in Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Korean Fried Pork Ribs with Pickled Cucumber & Daikon Relish
by Chef Dylyn CoolidgeRibs
2lb pork ribs
½ cup spicy mustard
Salt & pepper
MethodCut ribs into single bones – rub with mustard, salt, pepper
Place in a pan with a rack on the bottom, pour 1 inch water in pan – cover with aluminum foil – cook at 350 degrees for 3 hours – let cool for 1 hour wrapped.
1/4 cup gochujang
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
Mix all together
Cucumber & daikon relish
1 each English cucumber – julienne
1 cup daikon radish – julienne
1 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp minced parsley stems
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp salt
MethodMix all together and let ferment for 1 day.
AssemblyRub pork bones with marinade – dredge with cornstarch – fry at 350 degrees for 3 minutes. Click here for a printable version of this recipe.
by Katelyn West
April 1, 2022
April 2022: Springing Forward