Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hamburger Steak During the Great Depression


 Photo above courtesy of the Library of Congress

May is national hamburger month. During the Great Depression WPA writers collected a wealth of sources on eating traditions around the country including eating hamburgers. Sources on the Bowery Street and Third Avenue, a section of Manhattan in which the very poor occupied, provide culinary descriptions of “huge restaurants that catered to the underprivileged.” In these places restaurant owners served the “less honored cuts of beef inexpensively.” Hamburger steaks represented one of the most common menu items. They are described as “not too full of flour,” meaning that chefs cut the ground beef used to make hamburgers with fillers.  You could get a hamburger steak, “with roll, coffee or tea, for a dime; a plateful of onions is five cents extra” in an eatery in which $.20 had been the average price of a meal during the Great Depression.

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Great Depression Food History: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Great+Depression

WPA America Eats Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=America+Eats

Eating While Poor Series with Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Eating+While+Poor

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Stumping and Eating in Indiana

Butcher in Quincy, Florida, circa 1920Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory)
Today is the Presidential Primary in Indiana. This year no candidate can a afford to not pay attention to the state and no candidate serious about winning it can blow off attending a stumping and eating opportunity either at Dyngus Day or Solidarity Day in South Bend. Politicians get to meet and greet voters attracted to the gatherings which features kielbasa sausage, hard-boiled eggs, kluski noodles, and ham at Dyngus Day and barbecued chicken at Solidarity Day. Polish immigrants introduced the Dyngus Day celebration to South Bend at the turn of the century. African-American leaders decide to create their own stumping and eating event in 1971 calling it Solidarity Day. Both events are essential and happen shortly before primary day elections. In 1968 Democratic candidate Bobby Kennedy attended Dyngus Day making it a must event for politicians ever since. At one time it had been a democratic institution but today one finds candidates from both party attending.  If you look hard you'll find that most states have a similar food and campaigning event.

Sausage and Hominy Deluxe Recipe
Ingredients
1 pound bulk sausage
1 No. 2 1-2 can Hominy
2 cups canned tomatoes (drained)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons green pepper cut fine
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Buttered bread crumbs

Method
Brown sausage in a skillet. Add other ingredients in place and place in a buttered casserole. Sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs and bake 45 minutes and 400° oven
Atlanta Daily World January 20, 1940

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Stumping and Eating and Recipes:
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Barbecue History and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Barbecue+Through+the+Lens+of+History+

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Alabama Barbecue History

White BBQ sauce on apple brined chicken, recipes below  
May is National Barbecue Month! Here is a great barbecue discussion from the Alabama State WPA Records from the Great Depression. In Alabama no barbecue was considered done unless the meat was “saturated with blistering sauces.” Cooks repeatedly basted the barbecuing meat for hours until it was an “aromatic brown,” Good barbecue in short is meat cooked slowly and frequently basted. What is unique about Alabama is the states trade mark white mayonnaise based barbecue sauce that Big Bob Gibson created in Decatur, Alabama. The story goes that in 1925, Gibson started selling barbecue out of his backyard and the demand for his product eventually led to start of a family owned barbecue restaurant that is still open today. Attached is a link to several Alabama white barbecue sauce recipes followed by an oral history Big Bob’s barbecue on video.

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Barbecue History and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Barbecue+Through+the+Lens+of+History+

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WPA America Eats Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=America+Eats

Alabama Barbecue Sauce Recipes: http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/cat/2015/


Friday, April 29, 2016

Food in Beyoncé’s Lemonade Album

Mother Morton fishing in 1905 (Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory)
Shortly after the release of Beyoncé’s Lemonade album, my wife received a call from a local TV news show asking her to come and explain why it had become such a cultural phenomena (see the link below). My wife, who is the pop-culture critic and hip professor in our marriage, encouraged me to interpret the food, New Orleans settings, and antebellum and African religious theme in the album. In her commentary on the album, the brilliant writer Dream Hampton noted references to anthropologist and WPA writer Zora Neale Hurston whose work I have been studying. Hurston collected a story in 1930s New Orleans about a black religious leader in the lower 9th ward named Mother Seal. The residents of this part of the city had a fearful historical memory of flooding that predates Hurricane Katrina.  Mother Seal told her followers to put their faith in her and come and enjoy her blessed fried fish which would protect them from the flood. She told those who would listen, God “put oars in the fishes’ hands. Eat this fish and you needn’t fear the flood no more than a fish would.” Look for other food history stories and recipes inspired by Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

Fried Porgies Recipe
Ingredients
2 pounds porgies
Salt and Pepper
¼ pound sliced bacon
Lemon slices
Instructions
Clean and wash porgies, season with salt and pepper, roll them in flour and fry in bacon fat. Before frying fish, fry sliced bacon until it is crisp and golden brown. Remove bacon and rain on brown paper until it is needed. When the fish have been browned on both sides and thoroughly done, arrange on a serving platter, garnish with the crisp bacon and four slices of lemon.
Elizabeth D. K. Dooley, Puerto Rican Cook Book (1948) 

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New Orleans Foodways and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=New+Orleans

Zora Neale Hurston Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Zora+Neale+Hurston

WPA America Eats Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=America+Eats

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Langston Hughes on Gardening In Kansas

Collard Greens With Dumplings, recipe below

Born in 1902, Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and several other Midwestern communities at the turn of the century. In his autobiography he talks about his aunt and uncle Reed who kept a family garden stocked with among other items collard greens, peas, corn, and apples. Hughes recalled that his aunt cooked wonderful “greens with corn dumplings” along with “fresh peas and young onions right out of the garden,” he says. “There were hoe-cake, and sorghum molasses, and apple dumplings with butter sauce.” You can purchase many of the produce plants mentioned here as organic and heirloom starter plants for your family garden for between $3.00 and $4.00 dollars. Here is a Kansas greens with corn dumpling recipe that goes well with this story.

Collard Green Recipe
Ingredients
1 bunch of greens: collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, or chard
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt, depending on the saltiness of your stock
Liquid smoke or smoked paprika

Method:
Wash the collards good in plenty of slightly salted water, strip the leaves off the steams, discard the steams and cut the greens into small pieces. Start out with 3 bunches which will serve 6 people, they are big but they cook down like spinach. I steam mine in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes until the fibrous leaves are easy to eat. Steaming preserves the water soluble vitamins that are killed when you just boil the greens down like most of my ancestors have done for years. Remove the collards from the pressure cooker and save the water to make the pot-licker or stock. Season the water with 3 cubes of vegetable bullion, dried bay leaf, dried red pepper flakes, little vinegar, and some honey. Had some smoked paprika or a little liquid smoke which most grocery stores sell if you like that smoked meat flavor (the traditional recipe calls for a smoked ham hock or a hunk of smoked fat back). The pot-licker is full of vitamins and great seasoning for the greens Sauté the steamed greens with chopped onions and garlic in olive oil with your preferred seasonings like pepper, salt, etc. Add sautéed greens to the pot-licker and let them marinade for 30 or more minutes.

Corn Dumplings Recipe
Ingredients
1 cup of organic white or yellow, fine or medium cornmeal
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup hot pot-licker
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped scallions or onion (optional)
Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir in pot-licker, a little at a time, to make smooth batter that is stiff enough to hold together. Vigorously stir in the egg, then fold in the scallions or onions. Let the batter rest for a few minutes. Makes about 20 dumplings.

Traditional Stock
6 pieces of vegan or regular bacon 10 cups water 2 vegetable bullion cups. In a pressure cooker, place the bacon and cover with the water. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. You should have about 8 cups of stock. Drop the batter by the teaspoonful into the simmering stock. Cover the pot and cook until the dumplings are firm and cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Serve with greens and hot sauce.

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Gardening Series with Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Gardening

The Best of Langston Hughes Food Stories With Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Langston+Hughes

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stumping in Eating in Key States

President Gerald Ford campaigining at a farmers' market in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1976 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
No candidate has won the presidency since 1960 without capturing two of three states: Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.  As a result, canidates has spent considerable time in Pennsylvania doing rallies and stumping and eating at ice cream stands, barbecues, coffee houses, and farmer's markets throughout the state. As the following podcast illustrates, connecting with voters through food is a tested strategy. Stumping and Eating in Ohio [Listen Now 27m 5sec]: https://soundcloud.com/thedinnertablewithfredopie/stumping-and-eating-in-ohio

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pennsylvania Shoe Peg Corn

Corn Fritters, recipe below
Today is the presidential primary in the state of Pennsylvania. Historically Pennsylvania Dutch country has been noted for what's called shoe peg corn. It's a corn described as white, sweet, gentle, and perfect for making corn fritters.

Shoe Peg Corn Fritter Recipe
Serves four

Ingredients
4 eggs
2 cups fresh, canned or frozen corn off the cob
1 teaspoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Instructions
Separate four eggs and add to slightly beaten yolks 2 cups corn. Add 1 teaspoon flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper. Beat the four eggs until stiff but not dry. Fold them lightly into the yolks and corn mixture. Cook like pancakes on a hot griddle or using a heavy cast-iron skillet with butter. Serve hot off the griddle on heated plates do not stack. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing
Chicago Defender, August 15, 1968

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Pennsylvania Pie History

Shoe Fly Pie, this and other recipes below (image from http://notsohumblepie.blogspot.com)
Tomorrow is the presidential primary in the state of Pennsylvania. Today’s story is rooted in the origins of Pennsylvania Dutch foodways which began in 1730s Lancaster, Pennsylvania with the arrival of the Anabaptists-Mennonites, the Amish, and Brethren, all Christian groups fleeing religious persecution in Germany and Switzerland. They traveled to the Americas on boats with food that would keep on the long voyage across the Atlantic. The food staples they brought on the boats became the basis for shoe fly pie: molasses, flour, brown sugar, molasses, salt, lard, and spices. They disembarked in North America in the fall and arrived in William Penn’s (1644-1718) Pennsylvania after the harvest season. The pie developed out of practicality; they had little to nothing else to eat until the spring. The pie has its roots in the old British Treacle Tart. More like a coffee cake with a gelatinous molasses bottom, the pie is most often today served warm with whipped cream on top and served with coffee.
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Stumping and Eating and Recipes:

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Shoe fly Pie Recipes: 

http://notsohumblepie.blogspot.com/2010/06/winning-pie.html

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cooking Fish in 1930s New Mexico

Fish Fry, 1948, (Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory)
As on most Fridays we do a fish story because historically that's what observant Christians ate on the last day of the week day. WPA sources tells us that in the 1930s New Mexicans tended to season fish heavier than other parts of the country. For example, cooks making fried fish dipped white fish in salted flour or cornmeal and fried it until brown, then served it with a sauce of garlic and onion, tomatoes, chili, marjoram, vinegar, salt, and chopped green olives. Similarly a fried piece of cod fish one served with a mixture of chili and garlic; fried shrimp came with chili sauce. A preparation for making a baked fish called for stuffing a white fish with heavily seasoned beaten eggs, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, onions, and parsley. After stuffing the fish bake or broil in a greased dish. 

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Selling Food at Candlestick Park

Vendor at ComiskyPark in 1926 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
As part of our ongoing series fanfare which looks at stadium food which turn to the venders experience. Host Fred Opie interviews San Francisco native Charles Ellis who reflects on his experience as a ninth grade food vendor at the old Candlestick Park for Harry M. Stevens Inc. 

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