Monday, November 30, 2015

Feeding the Revolution, A History

The family of a Tuskegee Institute professor, circa 1920s

I have been reflecting on recent death of African-Americans in the news and the depiction of African-Americans in films. Monolithic images of African-American as subservient, poor, and victims as a long history in Hollywood films like The Help. Long before the black lives matter movement of today, there also existed abolitionist movements involving Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and black women who lead maroon communities. At the turn-of-the-century organizations such as the Tuskegee Women’s Club in Alabama, started in 1895, organized anti-lynching movements as well movements to improve the eating habits of African Americans.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Remember the Salvation Army

Growing up my father would say, “If it wasn’t for the Salvation Army, my family would have never survived the Depression.” The Salvation Army is a London based ministry that William Booth started in 1865 to reach out to the poor in London. During my Dad’s youth the Salvation Army provided food relief to needy families. So give your time and or your money this holiday season.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Do You Pray Before or After Eating?

White Family Photo circa 1940s (Courtesy of Nancy White) 
I have complex memories of Thanksgiving as a child because I overate to the point of excruciating pain.  I would pray (and had not been a religious child) “Lord please take away this pain and I promise I won't overeat next year.”  This ritual of gluttony and repentance went on for years! Today I am a person of prayer and I am often asked to pray before we eat. “Lord give us the wisdom and restraint to eat until we are comfortably full” has become a new ritual in my life.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Thanksgiving Theory

Grandma opie far left and me in her lap circa 1964 
When close my eyes I can see the mountain of food that Grandma Opie would put on my plate on Thanksgiving Day: gorgeous slices of turkey, cornbread stuffing, rich turkey gravy over the top of both of them, green beans seasoned with hammocks, candied yams with mini marshmallows on top, collard greens, a deviled egg, and homemade cranberry sauce on the side. My Thanksgiving theory is grandma gave large portions because she grew up poor with only the ability to dream of a plate full of food like the one she gave her grandchildren.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Day Shows

Our Suggested Thanksgiving Day Show mp3 downloads with recipes 

All Sides with Ann Fischer, Thanksgiving Tips and Recipes: [Listen Now]

Splendid Table’s Thanksgiving Special: [Listen Now]

Eat Feed’s Thanksgiving Special: [Listen Now]

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Monday, November 23, 2015

The Sweet Potato Harvest

Sweet potato bank for storage, 1908 (courtesy of the Library of Congress)
I love sweet potatoes! The anthropologist and writer Zora Neale Hurston was born in Alabama but grew up in Florida. The Sweet potato and hog had been staples that marked her birth.  She was born in the winter, the time of the year in which Southerners harvested sweet potatoes, butchered hogs, and shared the abundance of what they raised with family, friends, and neighbors.  

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes With Apples Recipe

Sliced cooked sweet potatoes
Sliced raw apples

Add just enough hot water to cover bottom of dish; the apples and sweet potatoes do not take up liquid. Bake covered in a moderately hot oven (375 degrees Fahrenheit) 30 to 40 minutes or until apples are tender.  If desired, uncover the dish, and top with crushed dry breakfast cereal or bread crumbs mixed with a little fat.
Atlanta Daily World; Sep 16, 1949.

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Fred Opie's New Book
     Zora Neale Hurston on Florida Food

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Friday, November 20, 2015

What Causes A Video to Go Viral?

Cutting pies and cakes in 1940 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Yesterday our food service staff at Babson College in metropolitan Boston did a special Thanksgiving meal; they did a great job! I and other faculty participated by cutting and serving cakes and pies. We had chocolate cake and chocolate cream pie, apple pie, pecan pie (one of my favorites), and pumpkin pie - but no sweet potato pie! Most of my readers may know about the Patti LaBelle fan's sweet potato pie video on Facebook that went viral.  Had the popularity of that video been the enjoyment of African-American, LGBT, or southern buffoonery. Or had been thousands enjoying a yet discovered talented singer/comedian share his love of sweet potato pie? I related to his passion for a great slice of sweet potato pie and wished I had been slicing and eating some yesterday. Perhaps the video went viral in part because others could relate to the food pleasure he expressed? A spokesman for Walmart's bakery and deli division shared that she is having a challenge obtaining enough sweet potatoes from the farm they source from to meet the demand for the pies in its stores. If you have seen it (and warning it contains profanity) What's your explanation for so many views?

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Herkimer Kitchen

Glazed carrots, recipes below
At Herkimer County Community College (Herk) I was student athlete (lacrosse player) renting an apartment and cooking my own meals in 1981 and 1982.  I remembered shopping on a limited budget at the town’s Great American Super Market. I’d cut out food coupons and coming up with creative ideas for inexpensive meals. Back then I ate a lot of meat. I quickly learned that turkey parts, especially the wings could be purchased cheaply.  I also prepared inexpensive side dishes such as corn bread, biscuits, cabbage, sauteed green beans, corn on the cob, turnips and carrots. I developed a really good recipe for glazed carrots and glazed turnips that make perfect Thanksgiving table side dishes. 

Glazed carrots and or turnips:

3 cups of diced carrots or turnips; steam until soft but still crunchy (I use a pressure cooker which is fast and preserves the vitamins and nutrients
1/3 cup of brown sugar
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of sea salt
Table spoon of Grated orange peel
1 teaspoon of pectin
4 teaspoons of butter or butter substitute
1/3 cup of orange juice.
Directions: bring the juice and butter to slight boil then add salt, seasoning, and pectin. Lower the heat and let it cook (about 3 minutes) until the sauce gels. Stir in steamed vegetables and let cook for a minute and serve.

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Glazed Carrot Recipe:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Peanuts and Food Preparation, A History

Brazilian vatapa, this and other recipes below
November is peanut butter lover's month! The Brazilian stew vatapa above contains peanut butter as one of its ingredients. Peanuts are indigenous to Brazil. The Portuguese introduced them to West and Central Africa in the fifteenth century. Seeing an economic opportunity, African farmers began planting them in their fields and selling them to those provisioning ships for long journeys. In Africa peanuts became import staples used in various ways in the kitchen, but particularly in stews and soups. Historically Bahia, Brazil had the greatest concentration of enslaved Africans imported into the colony. The demographics insured that the regions cuisine had a strong African imprint, this is the case with vatapa. 

Vatapa Recipe

2 tbsp. peanut butter
1 lb. cooked shrimp
8 oz. loaf of French or Italian bread
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups of coconut milk
1/2 cup palm oil (or olive oil as a substitute)
Season with dry onion powder, parsley, and ginger

Combine all ingredients (except shrimp) into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Pour into a sauce pan and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the shrimp and cook an additional ten minutes. Serve with brown basmati rice.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Spicy Hot Indonesian

Spicy pad Thai, recipes below
November is National Pepper Month! In Dutch colonial Indonesia (1800-1942) elites warned Dutch settlers not to eat the local spicy foods sold on the streets insisting that they had harmful effects on the liver and would destroy one’s digestive system. Since the end of colonial rule, elitist prejudices against spicy foods abated a bit. But one still sees that haute cuisine remains almost exclusively Eurocentric in most former colonial societies with elites still relatively cold toward spicy foods that street venders sell. President Obama lived in Jakarta, Indonesia with his mother S. Ann Dunham and step father Lolo Soetoro from age six to ten. His mother, an anthropologist, did field work there. 

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