Wednesday, November 26, 2014

President Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Détente


I came across a source that describes how a Thanksgiving détente occurred during the Civil War (1861-1865)  on a day like what later became a federal holiday under FDR. Union and Confederate cooks came together to agree on a “standard” Thanksgiving Day menu. One source described it as a “most imposing stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, turnips, [and] pumpkin” pie. Since the start of the war, Confederates used black slaves to feed their troops and on the battlefield. About 1863, Lincoln’s army began incorporating African-Americans in the war effort as “laborers, teamsters, [and] cooks” only.  Lincoln gave the order for black troops to fight as armed soldiers after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation late in the war and did so in large part as a military measure.

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Turkey Stories and Recipes:
 http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Turkey


Pie Stories With Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Pie

Civil War Series With Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Civil+War

Tony Kushner on Lincoln: [Listen Now 28 min 43 sec]  http://www.npr.org/2012/11/15/165146361/kushners-lincoln-is-strange-but-also-savvy

Historian Eric Foner on Lincoln: [Listen Now 52 min 27 sec] http://wosu.org/2012/allsides/abraham-lincoln-and-the-american-civil-war-2/

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mac and Cheese, A History

Mac and cheese, recipes below (image from http://allyskitchen.blogspot.com)
Macaroni and cheese became popular in nineteenth century Europe where it  appeared on menus as Macaroni with cheese, Macaroni au Parmesan, Macaroni a la creme, Macaroni a la Napolitaine, Macaronia l’Italienne, and Baked macaroni. At the turn of the century, Italian immigrants to North America introduced pasta to their neighbors and co-workers. Then Italian entrepreneurs who saved up enough money to do so started grocery stores that sold pasta. These entrepreneurs later converted some of these groceries into part store and part eateries that served inexpensive Italian pasta dishes. During the Great Depression FDR’s National Release Agency distributed free cheese as part of its food relief programs. The dish made it on the menus of boarding houses, trains with dining cars, and other popular eating spaces. 

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Mac and Cheese Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Mac+and+cheese

Turkey Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Turkey

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sweet Potatoes and Molasses, A History

Molasses whipped sweet potato, two recipes below
During the antebellum slave owners provided slaves an allotment of corn meal, salt pork, sweet potatoes, and sometimes molasses depending on the region of the south. The former South Carolina slave Henry Brown remembered receiving molasses as a part of his insufficient amount of weekly rations. “A peck o' co'n, t'ree pound o' bacon, quart o' molasses, a quart o' salt, an' a pack o' tobacco was given the men. The wife got the same thing but chillun accordin' to age.” Guest at the 2009 inaugural luncheon had among other dishes Molasses Whipped Sweet Potato. Thus sweet potatoes, which slaves planted in their subsistence farms and also received as rations along with molasses, have come a long way. 

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Sweet Potato Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Sweet+Potatoes

Molasses Stories & Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=molasses+recipes

Holiday Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Holiday

Roasted Orange Molasses Sweet Potatoes:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Remembering Father Divine

Cook at Father Divine Mission, Harlem 
Father Divine (aka the Reverend General Jealous Divine and aka George Baker) operated budget cutting integrated restaurants in his Peace Center and Nazareth Missions that fed people for very little during the depression. In contrast to most African-American urban clergy who avoided such sermons, Father Divine talked about conversion, but he also denounced racism and the inability of a country blessed with material abundance to feed its citizens. I interviewed Dorothy M. Evelyn who was born in Harlem in 1924. She went to Divine’s Peace Centers for meals on many occasions. Evelyn remembers that for “ten cents and fifteen cents you get fried chicken, corn bread, macaroni and cheese . . . It was southern cuisine. Most of them must have been southerners because that’s what they cooked.” She goes on to say, “Yes sir, for fifteen cents you could . . . get [an] all you could eat" meal which included fish and meat.

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Lenten Season Series with Related Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Lenten+Season

Great Depression Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Great+Depression

Midwest Eats! Foodways of the Great Depression: [Listen Now 1hr 24 min 30 sec] http://www.wbez.org/story/midwest-eats-foodways-great-depression-87148

Photographing Father Divine: [Listen Now 19 min 29 sec] http://wunc.org/post/photographing-father-divine

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ecuadorian Foodways

Encebelloado de pescado (image courtesy of Laylita's Recipes ), this and other recipes below
Speaking of indigenous foodways in Guayaquil, Ecuador in early 1700s, Captain Jorge Juan Antonio De Ulloa of the Spanish Navy writes, “The first course consists of different kind of sweetmeats, the second of high-seasoned ragouts; and thus they continue to serve up an alternative succession of sweet and high seasoned dishes . . . The coasts and neighboring ports abound in very delicious fish, [which] . . . constitute a considerable part of the food of the inhabitants of Guayaquil.” One finds “very large and fine lobsters, of which they make delicious ragouts,” which they season . . . with Guinea pepper, which, though small, is so very strong” says the Captain. He adds, the “person, not accustomed to it, suffers either way. If they eat, their mouths seem in a flame; if they forbear, they must endure hunger, they have to overcome their aversion to this seasoning; after which they think the Guinea pepper the finest ingredient in the world for [seasoning] their food. Here is a recipe for encebollado de pescado, a popular fresh tuna soup made with cassava, olive oil, onions, garlic, cilantro, and limes from Guayaquil.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Oral Histories and Foodways

Chess Pie, recipes below
Lamenta D. [Watkins] Crouch was born in 1947 in Greenbay, Virginia, in Prince Edward County, about ninety miles from Richmond. During her childhood she ate alot of meals in other people’s homes as the daughter of a father who served as a local pastor and a pastor at several churches out of town. For dessert southerners in Virginia served Lamenta Crouch and her family pound cake, chess pie, and “very rarely apple pie.” I had never heard of chess pie before the interview. There are many theories of where the name comes from (English for cheese or custard type pies or a southern pie chess where folks stored pies) but know one really knows. Please share your comments, recipes, and stories about chess pie below.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brining, History of A Turkey Preparation

Smoked and jerked turkey, recipes below (image from Caribbean smokehouse  www://caribbeansmokehouse.com)
Brining is an ancient tradition in which people across the globe used salt, water, and spices to conserve meat long ago before the advent of refrigeration. It’s submerging the turkey in a bucket with a ratio of iced water, salt, and spices. The process of osmosis hydrates the turkey meat making the final result delightfully seasoned and juicy.  Brining reduces the cooking time to about 2 hours, seasons the meat, and produces a tender and moist turkey that melts in your mouth. Another preparation is a southern family recipe that uses a pillowcase to make a seasoned juicy bird. Remember your bird is ready when it's cooked to 165 degrees. 

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Turkey Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Turkey


How to Brine Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiSfKDiUavo


Brining:  http://bbq.about.com/od/turkeybrinerecipes/Turkey_Brine_Recipes_Brining_makes_Turkey_juicier_and_more_tender.htm


Pillow Case Turkey Recipe: http://gardenandgun.com/article/delta-pillowcase-turkey

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Family Thanksgiving Recipes and Oral History

Corn bread, this and many other Thanksgiving recipes below
 What we eat on special occasions like Thanksgiving Day tells a great deal about our family history including where we migrated from and how our income and education has changed over generations. For example Nineteenth century travel accounts tell us that in the U. S. South whites of Scots-Irish,  German, and and French origins who lived and worked in close proximity to Native Americans and enslaved African from West and Central Africa often ate the same inexpensive delicious dishes that they developed in response to their economic status and access to food. Regardless of class most homes had corn (an American grain) in one shape or another on their table such as corn bread. Moreover the majority enjoyed wild game such as turkey, greens, sweet potatos (an American tuber) black eyed peas (an American legume) and rice (an African grain). Today no holiday table for people with southern roots would be complete without many of these foods.  

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Corn Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Corn

Turkey Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Turkey

Sweet Potato Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Sweet+Potatoes

Black Eyed Peas Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Black+eyed+peas

Rice Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Rice

Friday, November 14, 2014

Africa in Culinary Context, Smoked Fish

Ceebu Jën (rice and smoked fish), recipe below 
The British explorer Harry Hamilton Johnston visited the Congo River region just after the Berlin Conference of 1884; European empires in Berlin discussed how to colonize Africa without fighting each other. Hamilton  writes, "it is a most common sight to see [the] Ba-yansi people . . . on a great sandbank in the middle of the river, smoking . . . newly-caught fish over immense wood fires.” Johnston goes on to say, "I have often bought and eaten these smoked fish" and "they are delicious—yes, emphatically delicious.” Below is smoked fish and vegetable recipe from the same region.

Ceebu Jën (rice and smoked fish) recipe

Ingredients
Stuffing mixture (roof or roff):
2 chopped green, yellow, or red sweet peppers
1 chopped scallion or onion
1 minced garlic
1/3 cup of fresh parsley, bay leaf, or cilantro
Salt to taste
Hot chili peppers to taste

Sauce and vegetables
1 cup red palm oil (substitute a vegetable oil)
2 chopped onions
Medium sized piece of dried smoked fish, such as cod or herring
3 pounds of whole cleaned sea bass, haddock, or halibut fish steak
1 can of tomato paste
4 whole tomatoes
1 or more chopped carrots, cassava, potatoes, or yams
1 hot chili pepper
Add a bit of fruit vegetables such as chopped squash, eggplant, zucchini, and okra with the ends removed
2 cups or more of brown rice

Method
Prepare the roof (or roff) by combining the stuffing mixture ingredients and grinding them into a paste, adding a little oil or water if needed. Many cooks include what seems to be an essential in Africa: a Maggi cube. Cut deep slits into the fish (but not all the way through) and stuff them with the roof mixture. Heat the oil in a large pot. Fry the onions and smoked fish for a few minutes and then remove the fish and set aside. Stir the tomato paste and a cup of water into the oil in the pot. Add the root vegetables and tubers and the hot chile pepper. Add water to partially cover them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or more. Add the leaf and fruit vegetables, place the fried fish on top of them, and continue to simmer for an additional twenty minutes or until the vegetables are tender. The fish and all the vegetables and set them aside, keeping them warm. Remove a cup or two of the vegetable broth and set it aside. Add the rice to the vegetable broth. Add water or remove liquid as necessary to obtain two parts liquid to one part rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on very low heat until the rice is cooked about twenty minutes. It should stick a little to the bottom of the pot. Find the hot chili among the vegetables. Combine it to the reserved vegetable broth in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Remove and discard the pepper and put the sauce into a dish or gravy boat. When the rice is done turn the pot over onto a large serving platter. Scrape the crust from the bottom of the pot over the rice. Arrange the fish and vegetables over and around the rice. Garnish as desired. Serves 4 to 6 people.