History of Food

History of Food

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29, General Eisenhower, and Coca-Cola

This day in Food History….

- National Almond Butter Crunch Day
- Feast day of St. Peter, patron saint of fishermen, bakers, harvesters.

1943 General Eisenhower requested that Coca-Cola provide 10 portable bottling plants for U.S. troops overseas.

2005 The USDA confirmed today the first domestic case of mad cow disease.  The 12 year old cow was born in Texas and spent its whole life on the same ranch.

So I took a few days off from writing…no excuse…no reason…just needed a break…now – now break is over. Thank you for your indulgence…

What shall I write about today?  Not much tickles my fancy with the significances of food history.  I am a historian of sorts because I am a veteran, I guess it would be a good topic to discuss Eisenhower sending Coca-Cola to the troops overseas during World War II.

First, a short history (if that is possible) about Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola recipe was developed at the Eagle Drug a Chemical Company which was a drugstore in Columbus, Georgia.  The recipe was developed by Dr. John Pemberton (a pharmacist) in 1886. It was originally formulated with extracts of coca leaves (cocaine) and kola nuts.  That's where the name comes from. The first Coca-Cola was sold on May 8, 1886 at a soda fountain in Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, either by Pemberton himself, or by clerk Willis Venable. Pemberton sold a 2/3 interest in his company in 1887 for $283.29. Asa G. Candler another Atlanta pharmacist later bought the formula for $2,300, and when he in turn sold the company in 1919, it was worth $25 million.

Coca-Cola was first bottled in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1894 by August Biedenharn, but was this bottling was only local in scope.  Several years later in 1899, Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead, two Chattanooga lawyers, obtained rights to bottle Coca Cola in most of the U.S., except for Mississippi, New England and certain areas in Texas. The site where Coca Cola was first bottled in Mississippi is now the Biedenharn Candy Company Museum. The first 12 oz aluminum can was introduced by Royal Crown Cola in 1964. It wasn't until 3 years later that Coke started using the aluminum can. One 12 ounce can of Coca Cola contains approximately 45 mg. of caffeine.

Coca-Cola was originally marketed for its medicinal qualities.  This was a period of time when many patent medicines contained coca leaves or cocaine (an alkaloid extracted from the leaves), the most popular was 'Vin Mariani', invented by an Italian physician working in France, Angelo Mariani. Vin Mariani was widely imitated, and Pemberton at first produced an imitation of Vin Mariani before formulating his own concoction, Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola never contained much cocaine - and the amount was quickly reduced to almost undetectable amounts after a few years, when cocaine's negative properties started to become evident. (Estimates are the syrup contained 1 part in 50 million - that would be about 1/2 ounce in 25 million gallons of Coca Cola).  Since 1929 there has been no cocaine in Coca Cola. The leaves were still used for flavor, but the alkaloids were completely removed.

General Eisenhower and Coca-Cola plants

A key part of Coca-Cola’s history is that during World War II, the Company’s long-time leader, Robert W. Woodruff, said that every U.S. serviceperson should get a Coke for 5 cents, wherever he was.

And they did pay only a nickel – wherever they were – even though that meant sending portable Coca-Cola bottling plants around the world. Over 5 billion servings of Coca-Cola were distributed to U.S. troops during the War.

At the outbreak of World War II, Coca-Cola was bottled in 44 countries, including those on both sides of the conflict. But far from devastating the business, the war simply presented a new set of challenges and opportunities for the entire Coca-Cola system.

The entry of the United States into the war brought an order from Robert Woodruff in 1941 "to see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company." 

Did you know that General Dwight D. Eisenhower actually requisitioned 10 Coca-Cola bottling plants for U.S. troops overseas?

This effort to supply the armed forces with Coke was being launched when an urgent cablegram arrived from General Dwight Eisenhower's Allied Headquarters in North Africa. Dated June 29, 1943, it requested shipment of materials and equipment for 10 bottling plants. It asked for the following:
  • 3 million (filled) bottles of Coca-Cola
  • Complete equipment for bottling, washing and capping 3 million bottles twice a month
  • Sufficient syrup and caps for 6 million refills
Prefaced by the directive that the shipments were not to replace other military cargo, the cablegram also requested shipment of 3 million filled bottles of Coca-Cola, along with supplies for producing the same quantity twice monthly.

Within six months, a Company engineer had flown to Algiers and opened the first plant, the forerunner of 64 bottling plants shipped abroad during World War II. The plants were set up as close as possible to combat areas in Europe and the Pacific. More than 5 billion bottles of Coke were consumed by military service personnel during the war, in addition to countless servings through dispensers and mobile, self-contained units in battle areas.

But the presence of Coca-Cola did more than just lift the morale of the troops. In many areas, it gave local people their first taste of Coca-Cola - a taste they obviously enjoyed. And when peace returned, the Coca-Cola system was poised for unprecedented worldwide growth. From the mid-1940s until 1960, the number of countries with bottling operations nearly doubled. As the world emerged from a time of conflict, Coca-Cola emerged as a worldwide symbol of friendship and refreshment.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21 - June is National Soul Food Month

JUNE 21 - Today in Food History
- National Peaches & Cream Day
Today is one of those days in food history that seems boring – nothing of significance in relation to food occurred on this day.  We all have been so looking for the beginning of summer, perhaps that is significant enough.  It doesn’t help me in regards of what to post about for June 21. 
You might recall that I addressed the topics that are designated for each month – in addition to separate daily designations.  I have discovered that June is National Soul Food Month
Soul food cuisine consists of a selection of foods traditional in the cuisine of African Americans. It is closely related to the cuisine of the Southern United States. The descriptive terminology may have originated in the mid-1960s, when soul was a common definer used to describe African-American culture (for example, soul music).
Soul food derived from prized southern dishes during the American slavery era. Soul Food was mostly known as Southern or comfort food, and is now the foundation for bringing back memories of family dinners and special celebrations. This method of cooking also introduced the foundation from which many popular dishes are made from today. Between 300 -1619, the first group of Africans landed in America in Jamestown, Virginia. African American slaves were farmers, cattle raisers, and fishermen and introduced several plants and seeds to plant such as black-eyed peas, okra, sweet sorghum, and watermelons as part of American’s crops and foods.
The slaves created their own meals from the leftovers that their masters did not eat. They often exchanged recipes verbally with each other which led to the development of African American cuisine. This was how many of their foods were gathered for their meals.
The term soul food became popular in the 1960s. The origins of soul food, however, are much older and can be traced back to Africa—and to a lesser extent, to Europe, as well. Foods such as rice, sorghum (known by Europeans as "guinea corn"), and okra — all common elements of West African cuisine — were introduced to the Americas as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. They became dietary staples among enslaved Africans. They also comprise an important part of the cuisine of the American south, in general.
Many culinary historians believe that in the beginning of the 14th century, around the time of early Euro-African exploration, European explorers brought their own food supplies and introduced them into local African diets. Foods such as corn and cassava from the Americas, turnips from Morocco, and cabbage from Portugal would play an important part in the history of African-American cooking.
When the Europeans began their African slave trade in the early 15th century, the diet of newly-enslaved Africans changed on the long journeys away from their homelands. It was during this time that some of the indigenous crops of Africa began showing up in the Americas.
European enslavers fed their captive workers as cheaply as possible, often with leftover/waste foods from the plantation, forcing slaves to make do with the ingredients at hand. In slave households, 'vegetables' consisted of the tops of turnips, beets, and dandelions. Soon, African-American slaves were cooking with new types of "greens": collards, kale, cress, mustard, and pokeweed. They also developed recipes which used lard, cornmeal, and offal; discarded cuts of meat such as pigs' feet, oxtail, ham hocks, pig ears, hog jowls, tripe, and skin. Cooks added onions, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf as flavor enhancers. Slave owners provided their slaves with the poor parts of the pig such as the small intestines: chitterlings/"Chitlins" were a dish of poor people in medieval England and the name was adopted by the African-Americans through their European slave owners. Some African-American slaves supplemented their meager diets by gardening small plots given to them for growing their own vegetables; many engaged in subsistence fishing and hunting, which yielded wild game for the table. Foods such as raccoon, squirrel, opossum, turtle, and rabbit were, until the 1950s, very common fare among the (then-still) predominantly rural and southern African-American population.
Although their love for cooking included pork, sweet potatoes, collard greens, and spoon bread, breakfast was considered the most important meal of the day. A typical breakfast consisted of hoecakes and molasses.
During that time in history, young girls learned to prepare traditional foods such as fufu, which is made with vegetables and pounded yams. Fufu was often served with soup, stew, or roasted meat. The native foods were yams, vegetables, rice, and groundnuts. Africans were also very skilled in frying, roasting, grilling, boiling, and steaming their foods. They also had special talents preparing wild game, and planting small gardens including wild greens and fruit. Women often worked 16 to 18 hours in the fields then prepared one-pot meals for their family.
Cooking was mostly done on open pits or fireplaces with large swing black pots and big irons cast skillets and were prepared by black cooks. Cooking on open pits is now used as grills.
The slaves did not use measuring cups or cooking devices. They had no cookbooks or formal training in cooking. They had no one to learn from except each other.
It was a great challenge for them to create good food with primitive tools and very limited ingredients. They also cooked such foods as biscuits, baked beans, a variety of breads, and barbecue.
They used large amounts of fat, sugar, and salt to season their foods because it was readily available. Salt was also used as a preservative since there was no refrigeration or other methods to keep food cool.
When testing their food for doneness, they used their own senses, and when they felt the need, they added a pinch of seasoning to enhance the flavor of their dish. They knew by their instinct when their food was done as many cooks know today. That’s also why you see many recipes that read "a pinch of salt and pepper" or “bake until golden brown.”
Cajun and Creole were also a familiar style of cooking and included such popular dishes as jambalaya, bread pudding, desserts, dirty rice, gumbo, and red beans and rice.
During that time in history, black cooks verbally exchanged recipes as they remembered them and today many Southerners still cook without a recipe, just by simply remembering main ingredients and adding seasonings and spices to their taste. This way of cooking has produced many great cooks.
By the end of the Civil War, Black Americans cooked on cattle farms and were pioneers as farmers and survived off the land. During these hard and difficult times, they adapted their own cooking habits and techniques and formed many new ones along the way.
In the 1960‘s, Southern-style cooking by Black Americans was renamed “Soul Food” in honor of black cooks who prepared food during the slavery era. It was also a reminder that these cooks paved the way in the development of African American cuisine - now soul food.
Today, people from all walks of life, young and old, enjoy soul food cuisine. Soul food is also prepared in many households in America for family gatherings and special celebrations. The foundation for soul food was laid many years ago, and today and it continues to be a living tradition through the revival of virtually many restaurants across the country that serves and celebrates soul food.
Being a Midwest girl, I can’t help think about how the lines between soul food and the food I grew up with are oh so similar.  Whatever the case may be, I looked forward to Sunday dinners at my home in Missouri, it was a epitome of soul food cuisine.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20 - Ice Cream Soda Day

JUNE 20 - Today in Food History

- National Vanilla Milkshake Day
- Ice Cream Soda Day

1861 Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins was born. He discovered what we now call 'vitamins,' essential nutrients needed to maintain health.
Ice Cream Soda Day
Today there is an actual reason that it is Ice Cream Soda Day.  June 20, 1874: It was a hot day in Philadelphia. Robert Green ran out of cream he used for his sodas. He borrowed some ice cream from a neighboring merchant and, with a little experimenting, created the ice cream soda we know today.
Green quickly sold his concoction, eventually combining vanilla ice cream with a choice of 16 flavored syrups. It was soon copied by other vendors and spread rapidly along the parched East Coast.
His own account, Green, published in Soda Fountain magazine in 1910, states that while operating a soda fountain at the Franklin Institute's semi-centennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1874, he wanted to create a new treat to attract customers away from another vendor who had a fancier, bigger soda fountain. After some experimenting, he decided to combine ice cream and soda water. During the celebration, he sold vanilla ice cream with soda water and a choice of 16 different flavored syrups. The new treat was a sensation, and soon other soda fountains began selling ice cream sodas. Green's will instructed that "Originator of the Ice Cream Soda" was to be engraved on his tombstone.
There are at least three other claimants for the invention of ice cream soda: Fred Sanders, Philip Mohr (in 1782 at Fulton and First Streets in Elizabeth, NJ), and George Guy, one of Robert Green's own employees.

Some areas viewed sodas as requiring control since so many teenagers were attracted to it. They prohibited its sale on Sundays in the Bible Belt and some banned it outright.  The solution was to serve ice cream, called sundaes, which denoted “soda’s day of rest.”
An ice cream soda or ice cream float is made by adding soda pop or seltzer to ice cream. Some people add flavoring, like chocolate syrup, or a little milk. However you make it, as soon as the soda hits the ice cream the results are fizzy, frothy, tasty bubbles.
Regional names
In Australia and New Zealand, an ice cream soda made with CocaCola or PepsiCola is known as a "spider." Other spiders are usually known by their flavour, as a "lime spider" or an "orange spider".
In Scotland (mainly on the west coast), it is usually referred to as a "float." "Coke" is often used generically to refer to any cola in the United Kingdom, while "soda" is usually taken to mean soda water.
In Guatemala, Costa Rica and Colombia it's called Vaca Negra (Black Cow), while in Puerto Rico is referred to as a "blackout."
In Alecrim, a city in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, it's called "Sputnik".
In the United States, an "ice cream soda" typically refers to the drink containing soda water, syrup, and ice cream, whereas a "float" is generally ice cream in a soft drink (usually root beer).

Do you know how it works? 
It's basically the same as what is going on with the Mentos and Soda Fountain, except not as messy. You are knocking the carbon dioxide in the soda out of solution. Bubbles of air in the ice cream provide nucleation sites around which carbon dioxide bubbles can form and grow. Some ingredients in the ice cream lower the surface tension of the soda so the gas bubbles can expand, while other ingredients trap the bubbles in much the same way as small amounts of protein in seawater trap air to form seafoam. 
Fantastic Old Fashioned Ice Cream Soda 
    1/4 cup milk
    3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
    1 cup vanilla ice cream (or 1 large scoop)
    club soda (cold) or seltzer water (cold)
    canned whipped cream (optional)

    1.  Pour the milk into one tall 16-ounce glass.
    2. Stir in syrup.
    3. Add in ice cream and enough soda water or selzer to fill almost to top of glass.
    4. Top with whipped cream if desired.
    5. Serve with a long spoon and a big straw.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19 - National Martini Day

1912 The United States government adopted an 8-hour work day. (I’m still waiting!) 1931 The first commercial doors operated by a photoelectric cell were installed on the swinging doors between the kitchen and dining room of Wilcox's Pier Restaurant in West Haven, Connecticut.
 1941 General Mills introduced 'Cherioats.' The name was changed to 'Cherrios' in 1945. 1978 Garfield, the lasagna eating cat was born. He was brought into this world by cartoonist Jim Davis.
1987 Ben & Jerry Ice Cream introduced a new Ice Cream flavor, Cherry Garcia.

June 19 - National Martini Day
The martini is a cocktail made with gin and vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. Over the years, the martini has become one of the best-known mixed alcoholic beverages. H. L. Mencken called the martini "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet" and E. B. White called it "the elixir of quietude.”
Although there are many variations, in modern practice the standard martini is a mix of gin coupled with dry vermouth usually in a five-to-one ratio. Shaker mixing is common due to influences of popular culture, notably the fictional spy James Bond, who sometimes asked for his vodka martini to be "shaken, not stirred". However, stirring has a long history. Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) prescribes stirring for all its martini recipes. Somerset Maugham's opinion was that "a Martini should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously on top of one another".
The martini was originally made with sweet vermouth. A person who wanted a "dry martini" asked for one made with white vermouth. Until World War II the standard proportion was 1 part vermouth to 3 to 3 ½ parts gin. These days the dryness of a martini refers to the amount of vermouth used in the drink, with a very dry martini having little or no Vermouth.  A wet martini has a significant amount of vermouth added.  A dirty martini contains a splash of olive brine or olive juice.
The exact origin of the martini is unclear. Numerous cocktails with names and ingredients similar to the modern-day martini were first seen in bartending guides of the late 19th century.  One theory suggests it evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez served at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco sometime in the early 1860s, which people frequented before taking an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez. Alternatively, the people of Martinez say the drink was first created by a bartender in their town. Another theory links the first dry martini to the name of a bartender who concocted the drink at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City in 1911 or 1912.
But it was Prohibition and the relative ease of illegal gin manufacture that led to the martini's rise as the predominant cocktail of the mid 20th century in the United States. With the repeal of Prohibition, and the ready availability of quality gin, the drink became progressively dryer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18. June is National Papaya month

June 18 is National Cherry Tart Day, International Picnic Day and International Sushi Day
1865 Edmund Ruffin died. He was a pioneer in the study of soil chemistry in the U.S.
1892 Macadamia nuts were first planted in Hawaii.
1897 Juliet Corson died. Librarian, cookery teacher and writer, founder of the New York Cooking School in 1876. Her books include 'Cooking Manual' (1877), 'Twenty-five Cent Dinners for Families of Six' (1878), and 'Miss Corson's Practical American Cookery' (1886).
1898 Atlantic City, NJ opened its Steel Pier (boardwalk). The world-famous Steel Pier had 9 miles of food, beverages, concessions, amusements, concerts, etc. Ed McMahon, of the Johnny Carson Show and Publisher's Clearing House fame, was a barker on the pier in his youth..
1913 Robert Mondavi was born. A leading Napa Valley vintner.
1964 The African Groundnut Council was founded in Dakar.
1993 So-called 'killer bees,' Africanized honey bees, have reached Tucson, Arizona; a small dog was killed from a bee attack. Their original source was Brazil, where African bees were imported for experimental cross breeding.

This day in food history had nothing that tickled my fancy to investigate and post about.  Besides daily acknowledgements of food history, routinely each month as specific designations.  In reviewing the options for June, I discovered that June is National Papaya Month.  Since I am a Midwest girl, I did not experience the papaya fruit until I left the Midwest, left the Navy, and moved to South Florida.  Even now, in Connecticut, the papaya is mostly integrated into our everyday cuisine.  So, why not now, I thought I would learn about papaya.

Papaya is believed to be native to southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. It is now present in every tropical and subtropical country.  Papayas have exacting climate requirements for vigorous growth and fruit production, requiring warmth throughout the year and will be damaged by light frosts. Brief exposure to 32° F is damaging and prolonged cold without overhead sprinkling will kill the plants. Cold, wet soil is almost always lethal. Cool temperatures will also alter fruit flavor. Papayas make excellent container and greenhouse specimens where soil moisture and temperature can be moderated.

Because not everyone is aware of how to purchase a papaya or how to cut it – I figured I just cut to the chase providing “Just The Facts” (as Joe Friday from Dagnet would say).
Papayas come in various shapes and sizes: the Hawaiian variety are smaller and are pear-shaped, while Carribean and Asian papayas are long and large, 

When shopping for a ripe papaya, look for skin that is turning from green to yellow. Parts of the papaya may look bruised - this is normal. You should be able to press your thumb into the flesh. If it's too soft or mushy, or if it has a sweet smell to it, the papaya is overripe. If you buy a firmer, green-skined papaya, it will ripen within approx. 1 to 3 days on your counter.

Papaya was called "fruit of the angels" by Christopher Columbus, and for good reason. One of nature's wonders, fresh papaya improves digestion and prevents heart disease, arthritis, lung disease, and eye disorders. And with it's antioxidants, flavoniods, plus loads of vitamins and minerals, papaya will help you fight off cold and flu viruses and help keep you healthy through the winter. Papaya is high in: vitamins C, A, K, E, plus magnesium, folate, beta carotene, and lutein, and more.  If you cut open a papaya it truly resembles the inside of a pomegranate. (FYI – in Greek mythology the pomegranate was regarded as the fruit of the gods).    (The difference between the interior of the pomegranate and the papaya is that the seeds of the papaya is not the fruit of the fruit – the meat of the fruit is the fruit…with the pomegranate the seeds are used as the fruit).

In cutting the papaya, rinse the fruit under cool water to remove any dust or dirt. (You'll be peeling off the skin and discarding it, so this step isn't an absolute necessary).  Place the papaya on a cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the papaya in half lengthwise. If your papaya is ripe, this should be easy to do.  Open up the papaya and separate it into two sections. Using a large spoon, scrape out the seeds. The easiest way to do this is to hold the papaya over the garbage can (or a bowl, if you plan to use the seeds), and scrape downward. Try not to cut too deeply with your spoon, or you may lose quite a bit of the fruit. 

Papaya seeds have a peppery flavor to them, and can be used for salad dressings and other purposes, if desired.  You can now enjoy the papaya fruit by digging into it with a spoon. Or create papaya "mellon balls" with a mellon ball scoop OR an ice cream scoop.  To make papaya wedges or cubes, you will need to peel the papaya. The easiest way to do this: Hold the papaya vertically and run your knife downward along the skin in long slices. Again, try not to slice too deeply, or you will lose a lot of the fruit (or use a vegetable peeler).  Alternatively, you can cut the papaya into slices and use a knife to peel the skin off each slice.  turn the papaya over and simply slice into wedges - as thickly or thinly as you like.

Papaya wedges are great to serve for breakfast (they look terrific on the side of a plate of eggs and toast!). Or use them to make a tasty papaya salad, there are numerous recipes on the internet.  If you'd rather have cubes of papaya fruit, simply turn the wedges on their sides, and slice into cubes or chunks.  Squeeze a little lime juice over the papaya (about 1 Tbsp) - this brings out the tropical flavor of the fruit (my husband won't eat it any other way!). Or combine your fresh papaya with other fruit in a fresh fruit salad.  Another way to eat papaya – which is my absolute favorite – is to puree the fruit and make ice cream with it.  It is refreshing, almost the point of having a sherbet texture.
To Store Papaya: Store leftover prepared fruit in closed containers in the refrigerator. Fresh Papaya will keep anywhere from several days to 1 week, depending on how ripe.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

An intermin posting

apologies to eveyone...I just discovered that the ability to post comments on my blog had been turned off. i have resolved this issue. again, apologies to all readers... Respectfully, Carol

June 17 and Cheeseburger in Paradise

As with every day there are numerous topics I could discuss.  First, I have realized that I am selling my readers short because I am neglecting other important days in food history.  Therefore, beginning today I will be changing the format a little bit on my blog postings. 
June 17, 2012
Today is - Eat Your Vegetables Day and National Apple Streudel Day. 
1239 King Edward I of England was born (ruled 1272-1307).  His coronation feast included 278 bacon hogs, 450 pigs, 440 oxen, 430 sheep and 22,600 hens and capons.
1870 George Cormack, the creator of Wheaties cereal, was born.
1872 George M. Hoover arrived in Dodge City.  He was the second settler there, and opened the first business, a saloon of course.  Whisky was 25 cents.
1903 Ruth Graves Wakefield was born.  Inventor of the Toll House Cookie, the first chocolate chip cookie, at the Toll House Inn near Whitman, Massachusetts in the 1930s.

Because I tend to be a Parrothead – (Parrot Head or Parrothead is a commonly used nickname for fans of Jimmy Buffett. "Parakeets" or "Keets" is the term used for younger fans of Jimmy, or children of Parrotheads).  I decided to investigate the history of the song 'Cheeseburger In Paradise' by Jimmy Buffett.  On this day in 1978 this song peaked at #32 on the charts.
"Cheeseburger in Paradise" is a song written and performed by Jimmy Buffett. It appeared on his 1978 album Son of a Son of a Sailor and was released as a single, reaching #32 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Cheeseburger in Paradise" has become one of Buffett's best-known songs and was selected as the first track on his greatest hits album Songs You Know by Heart.
According to Buffett's Margaritaville web site, the myth of the "cheeseburger in paradise" was inspired by a boat journey Buffett once took in the Caribbean.  Buffett said of this song: "The myth of the cheeseburger in paradise goes back to a long trip on my first boat, the Euphoria. We had run into some very rough weather crossing the Mona Passage between Hispanola and Puerto Rico, and broke our new bowsprit.  The ice in our box had melted, and we were doing the canned-food-and-peanut-butter diet. The vision of a piping hot cheeseburger kept popping into my mind. We limped up the Sir Francis Drake Channel and into Roadtown on the island of Tortola, where a brand new marina and bar sat on the end of the dock like a mirage. We secured the boat, kissed the ground, and headed for the restaurant. To our amazement, we were offered a menu that featured an American cheeseburger and pina coladas.”
According to the lyrics found on the vinyl sleeve, Buffett sings "cheeseburger is Paradise" twice throughout the song. It is unclear whether he is actually saying in or is, but "cheeseburger is Paradise" can clearly be heard during live performances. Whether this is a fact for the studio version hasn't been confirmed.
 Also, another lyrical-confusion is in the second chorus, during the line "medium rare with Münster would be nice"; the line is commonly mistaken as mustard instead of Münster.
This song has become so popular, that in 2002, Buffett's company Margaritaville Holdings LLC licensed the name of the song to OSI Restaurant Partners as the name of the Buffett-themed Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant chain. As of 2006, the restaurant has 38 locations in 17 states in the United States. A Cheeseburger in Paradise is a menu item at Buffett-owned Margaritaville Cafes located in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean, as well as being on the menu at his sister Lucy's restaurant "Lulu's" in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 16, 1893 The Birthday of Cracker Jacks

There are any number of topics that could be discussed with this posting.  It is National Fudge Day.  Normally I would gravitate to fudge - I am a chocaholic. However, once I saw that it is the birthday of Cracker Jacks and this being one of my favorites - there was no way I was going to ignore this important day in one my favorites and in my small little world.

Cracker Jacks were started in America, but with a German immigrant named Frederick William Rueckheim.  He was employed on a farm with the goal of saving $200.  With this money he started selling popcorn that was made by hand method with steam machinery.  He sold the popcorn on 113 4th Avenue in Chicago, now known as Federal Street.  He started this entrepreneurial venture in 1871.  His target market was the workers who were rebuilding from the Great Chicago Fire destruction.  
Then in 1873 Rueckheim bought out his partner, Brinkmeyer.  With this buyout he brought his brother, Louis from Germany to America.  The company was now called F.W. Rueckheim  & Bro.  The Ruekheim duo bought candy-making equipment which started marshmallow and other confections to their business venture.  Between 1875-1884 the business moved five times with them settling with a three-story brick building at 266 South Clinton Street.  In 1887 this building was destroyed by fire. In 1893 the brother duo made combined peanuts, popcorn, and molasses.
1893 the first World's Fair in Chicago - called the World's Columbia Exposition which opened to show the world what progress Chicago had made since the fire of 1871.  The Ruekheim brothers decided to cover the popcorn with molasses.  The concept was billed as Candied Popcorn and Peanuts." People at the Worlds Fair didn't like the stickiness and the harness of the early Cracker Jack. With this public dislike, Louis made a formula that made a great molasses coating that was crispy and dry. This secret formula is still a secret in the Cracker Jack Company today.  
Legend has it that a customer or salesman tried the Rueckheim concoction and exclaimed  "That really a cracker - Jack!"  Actually the words "cracker jack was a slang expression in the 1890's meaning "something very pleasing."  The brother duo loved the name "Cracker Jack" so much their trademarked the name under F.W. Rueckheim & Brother of Chicago.  Their slogan was "The more you eat, the more you want" which was also copyrighted that year.   Up until 1899 Cracker Jack was sold in large tubs.  At this time the company started selling it in boxes.  This packaging method was invented by Henry Eckstein - who was part owner and partner.  He invented "waxed sealed package" which was moisture proof packaging.  This enabled Cracker Jacks to be massed produce and sell it worldwide.  
The 1908 song called Take Me Out To The Ball Game, written by Jack Norworth, vaudeville entertainer and songwriter, with the line, "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks"  immortalized Cracker Jacks. The song was first performed by Norworth's wife, soprano Nora Bayes, at the Ziegfield Follies and, by 1910, was a staple at all big league ballparks in America. The cry, "Getcha' peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jacks!"is still heard at sporting events and carnivals in America.
There wasn't always a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks. In 1910, coupons were included in the boxes which could be redeemed for prizes. It wasn't until 1912 that children's prizes (miniature books, magnifying glasses, tiny pitchers, beans, metal trains, etc.) were place in the boxes. The company slogan was "a prize-in-every-package." 
Fred Ruekheim's grandson, Robert (who died of pneumonia at the age of eight), was put on the box in his sailor suit with his pet dog Bingo. They called him "Jack the Sailor." Changes were made the outside of the boxes to have red, white, and blue stripes to show their patriotism during World War I.  In 1919, they became registered trademark logos.

 Cracker Jack Jingle

What do you want,
When you gotta eat somethin',
And it's gotta be sweet,
And it's gotta be a lot,
And you gotta have it now?
What do you want?

Cracker Jack!

What do you get,
When you open the top,
And look inside,
And smack your lips,
And turn it over,
And spill it out?
What do you get?

Cracker Jack!

Candy-coated popcorn, peanuts, and a prize...
That's what you get in Cracker Jack!

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15 - Key West Conch Fritter Day

This is interesting....there are people in this world who do not know what Conch, no less Conch Fritters are.  Since I lived in Florida for so long, I have to tell you I have had Conch Fritters many times and I absolutely salivate every time I think about them. 

Conch is a common name that is applied to a number of different medium to large-sized sea snails or their shells. The term generally applies to large sea snails that have a high spire and a siphonal canal (comes to a point at both ends of the shell).

True conches are marine gastropod molluscs. There are also many species often called "conch" that are not in the species Second in popularity only to the escargot for edible snails, the meat of conches is used as food, either eaten raw, as in salads, or cooked, as in fritters, chowders, gumbos, and burgers. All parts of the conch meat are edible. However, some people find only the white meat appetizing.

Conch fritters are a seafood dish popular in and around the Caribbean islands, particularly around the Bahamas. A large sea snail, the meat of the sea conch is sweet and palatable. It is quite tough and difficult to remove from the animal’s shell, however. The fritters are made using finely chopped conch meat mixed with a batter made from flour and egg, and then deep fried in oil.

Unfortunately conch is relatively scarce and even endangered in some waters. Neither is there a large conch farming industry, so fresh conch meat is not widely available. Since conch meat is often compared to sweet clam meat, however, it may be possible to substitute chopped clams for chopped conch if fresh conch is not within reach.

Fritters are a popular preparation for conch meat for a number of reasons. Since the conch is a type of snail, the meat comes hidden inside a large, thick shell that can be time-consuming or difficult to penetrate. This can mean, especially for the home cook, that it takes a lot of effort to retrieve a fairly small amount of meat. Conch fritters suspend pieces of conch meat in a batter, usually along with chopped vegetables, so a little bit of meat goes a long way. Chopping up the meat for conch fritters also solves another inherent problem, which is that conch meat is usually quite tough and benefits from being cooked in small pieces.

Most recipes for conch fritters begin with diced conch as well as diced onion, celery, and sweet bell pepper. Other seasonings such as garlic, cayenne pepper, or hot pepper sauce are also common ingredients used to flavor, but not overwhelm, the conch meat. Eggs and flour are added to the diced ingredients to form a thick, gooey batter full of chunks of conch and vegetables. Spoonfuls of the batter are dropped into very hot oil and allowed to fry on one side until brown, then flipped over and browned on the other side.

Once they are taken out of the frying oil, conch fritters are usually drained on towels to remove any excess oil before serving. The fritters are generally accompanied by some sort of dipping sauce, which can have several variations, but is usually a spicy mayonnaise-based sauce. 

Tartar sauce is also a plausible option for dipping the conch fritters.  In my opinion – they are best eaten without Tartar sauce and accompanied with a frozen Margarita.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14 - Flag Day, Wisconsin, Chicken Marengo

Today I am taking a little different turn with my blog....

Today is Flag Day in the United States.  

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'.
Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.
Today is National Strawberry Shortcake Day.  This is a delicious dessert that I will discuss at another time.    Flag Day has it's roots in Wisconsin.  There are several state symbols of Wisconsin's that are edible.  These include sugar maple (tree), muskellunge [aka muskie] (fish), white tailed deer (state wildlife animal), dairy cow (state domesticated animal), honeybee (state insect), milk (state beverage)and maize [corn] (state grain).
There is another historical recipe that plays a part of making June 14 significant in the history books.  You probably didn’t learn about this in high school in history class. 
On June 14, 1800 Chicken Marengo was supposedly created by Napoleon's Swiss chef to commemorate the occasion of Napoleon's victory over the Austrians in the Battle of Marengo on this day. Chicken Marengo is a French savoury dish, so named for being the dish that Napoléon Bonaparte ate after the Battle of Marengo.
The Battle of Marengo was fought on 14 June 1800 between French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte and Austrian forces near the city of Alessandria, in Piedmont, Italy.
According to tradition Napoleon demanded a quick meal after the battle and his chef Dunand was forced to work with the meager results of a forage: a chicken (and some eggs), tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, olive oil, and crayfish. The chef cut up the chicken (reportedly with a sabre) and fried it in olive oil, made a sauce from the tomatoes, garlic and onions (plus a bit of cognac from Napoleon's flask), cooked the crayfish, fried the eggs and served them as a garnish, with some of the soldier's bread ration on the side. 

Napoleon reportedly liked the dish and (having won the battle) considered it lucky. He refused to have the ingredients altered on future occasions even when his chef tried to omit the crayfish.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ice Cream, President Washington & June 13, 1789

On June 13, 1789  Elizabeth "Betsy" Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, first served ice cream to George Washington at the White House. The story is that this was the highlight of the dinner party was ice cream.  After this introduction to ice cream, it was often served at the White House presidential Thursday dinners.

This historical interpretation is somewhat disputed.  The other side of the story was General Washington had been "mighty displeased" with the very first dish of ice cream served by Mrs. Alexander Hamilton. To say that Washington had "screamed over the ice cream" was somewhat of an impish exaggeration of the toothless General's pained reaction which was hardly more than a stifled yell, a quick intake of breath caused by the cold dessert on his unprotected gums.

You see, by the time he became president, George Washington had lost almost all of his teeth. Because of constant pain constant from ill-fitting dentures, he had to eat soft foods (like fish and hoe cakes) throughout most of his adult life. Contrary to popular belief, George did not wear a set of wooden dentures. Instead, a talented Virginia dentist named John Greenwood hand-crafted his dentures with elephant ivory, hippopotamus tusks, and parts of human and donkey teeth.
This is speculation, but perhaps – as many people at the time, General Washington used Laudanum (also known as Tincture of Opium) to numb his gums so he could enjoy ice cream.  Although his gums would be sensitive, it seemed he really enjoyed the frozen dessert treat.  Interesting enough there is an entry in General Washington's ledgers that revealed he bought a "cream machine for ice" at Mount Vernon.  

And all this time you thought Dolly Madison was responsible for introducing General Washington to ice cream.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12 - National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

In researching daily topics there are times I hit a dead end and really have to research!  But surprisingly, when it came to Peanut Butter Cookies I had no idea that Peanut Butter Cookies had such a rich and noted history.   

The idea of nut butter, peanut butter being one of the various nuts used to make nut butter had emerged about 1885, but was not yet publicly available. Nut butter was used in commercial candy making. This was a recipe that was the precursor of the Peanut Butter Cookie. The recipe has one tablespoon of butter and no other shortening. It said to “pound or chop one cupful of peanuts.”  The low fat quantity suggests the chopped peanuts made up the rest of the shortening. Early confirmed peanut butter cookies used one tablespoon shortening, lard or butter and 3 tablespoons of peanut butter. The rest of the ingredients listed, with the exception of a higher amount of peanuts. is similar to the early peanut cookies which used peanut butter. It remains unknown who developed the “Peanut Cookies” recipe, but many can be attributed as contributors.

Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book (1902, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) published the first cookie recipe with peanut butter. She had a chapter devoted to “Nuts” in which she explained how to process them. Under it was “Peanut Butter”, “Peanut Meal” and “Peanut Wafers” (page 535).

In the March 16, 1913 issue of the Reading Eagle (Pennsylvania) was an article, “Some of Mrs. Wilson Favorite Recipes: The President’s Wife Gives Hints on Cooking” It was a list of cookie recipes one was “Peanut Cookies”. The recipe called for peanut butter and was a slightly richer recipe than Mrs. Rorer’s Peanut Wafers. This was followed in the November 15, 1913 issue of The Saskatoon Phoenix (Canada) with an article titled, “Jessie Woodrow Wilson, Soon To Be Wed, a Famous Cookie Maker”. Included in the article was the same list of cookie recipes that was listed under Mrs. Wilson’s article, wife of the president. The two newspapers used the high status of President Wilson’s wife and daughter in publishing their cookie recipes to increase sales. The increased sales and the status of the two women popularized the “Peanut Cookie” which used peanut butter. These early Peanut Cookies called for “1 tablespoon of shortening, 3 tablespoons of peanut butter”.  In it peanut butter was substituted for some of the shortening.

Two years later in 1915, the Larkin Company of Buffalo, New York who produced their own peanut butter, published the Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book (1915). In it was the “Special Peanut Cookies” recipe which used Larkin Peanut Butter. It was sent into the Larkin Company by Mrs. G. W. Parrins, Lyons, N.Y. The Special Peanut Cookies recipe was the same recipe that Mrs. Wilson and Jesse Wilson favored. Likely the recipe had been republished in other newspapers in the region.

The earliest use of the term “peanut butter” in a cookie recipe was found in the Newark Sunday Call of Newark, New Jersey on September 19, 1913. The recipe was titled “Prune Peanut Butter Cookies”. This recipe called for brown sugar instead of white sugar, and a large quantity of fat ½ cup shortening and ¾ cup peanut butter to a ratio of 2 cups flour. Although it used prunes in the recipe it is interesting to note this was the forerunner of the modern Peanut Butter Cookie. It used a high ratio of shortening and peanut butter combined, and brown sugar. Some modern Peanut Butter Cookie recipes still use the same ratio of shortening to peanut butter.

In the 1916 Anglo-Chinese Cookbook compiled and edited by Mrs. R. Calder-Marshall & Mrs. P. L. Bryant, two American named ladies and published in Shanghai, China. The ladies included recipe Peanut-Butter Cookies which makes it the earliest pure peanut butter cookie recipe with the name. This was a popular cook book as it was printed in the English language and Chinese language. The Peanut Butter Cookies were listed under “American Cookies”.

The following year in 1917 “Query #3803. – Recipe for Cookies made with Peanut Butter” was answered in the Boston Cooking School’s American Cookery magazine (Vol. 21, No. 8, March 1917, p. 636). It was named “Peanut Butter Cookies”. This recipe is a combination of the earlier recipes but it too retained the low quantity of shortening as well as using less shortening to more peanut butter.

In 1918, three war time Peanut Butter Cookies recipes were published.  The Farm Journal published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had an article “Patriotic Women Will Use these New Recipes” (Vo. 42, No. 7, July 1918, p 26). “Peanut Butter Cookies (sugarless), require six tablespoons of fat, one fourth cupful [4 tablespoons] peanut butter, …”  In this recipe there is more fat than peanut butter. The recipe came from a farm journal, farms had access to butter and lard that the general public did not have, hence the increase instead of decrease in fat as is seen in the other war time recipes. It brought the concept of a higher ratio of shortening / peanut butter seen in an earlier recipe to more readers. The other two war time recipes utilized peanut butter much more heavily for the shortening.  Peanut butter apparently was more readily available than other shortenings during the World War I.

The quantity of shortening to peanut butter was not the only issue being worked out. How to shape the cookie was also of importance.  In the August 27, 1917 Reading Eagle a lady contributed three different peanut butter cookie recipes.  “Peanut Butter Cookies – make a soft dough and pat rather than roll out.” “Peanut Butter Drop Cookies – Drop in small spoonfuls on greased baking sheet”. “Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies – shape into balls”. In the July 25, 1917 Robinson Constitution it read, “This Recipe Sounds Good” “Peanut Butter Cookies – Chill, roll thin, shape”  The Newburgh Daily dated April 22, 1918 had “Peanut Butter Cookies – Shape the cookies with a small cutter”. Five recipes each with a different way to handle and shape the cookies. The “drop” and “ball” versions are thick lumps of raw cookie dough. Neither of the recipes said to flatten the lumps, whereas the other recipes called to flatten the dough by rolling or patting.

The fork was originally used to flatten a cookie very thin in lieu of rolling the dough. In time, the fork’s purpose changed. Cookies were often served at ladies functions where presentation was as important as taste. The imprint that the fork left on the cookie made a desirable decorative pattern. Sometime in the 1930’s the criss-cross pattern became the hallmark of the Peanut Butter Cookie.

The changes that came about in the 1930’s perfected the Peanut Butter cookie. But not every cook book author followed suit immediately. The Boston Cooking School Cook Book’s 1936 edition listed “Peanut Butter Cookies” under “Sugar Cookies”. The cook book used a simple way of converting a basic sugar cookie recipe into numerous different types of cookies. It said to substitute peanut butter for the butter. The modern “Peanut Butter Cookies” recipe appears eleven years later in the 1947 edition as a distinct cookie complete with an illustration on how to decorate it with a fork.  Today (2011) Peanut Butter Cookies are still made the same way: half white granulated sugar and half brown sugar, equal quantities of shortening and peanut butter and pressed with fork to form a criss-cross pattern.

On a personal note - my mom and I spent many hours in the kitchen baking.  I make not be a wonderful chef, but I know how to bake.  Peanut Butter Cookies are one of my comfort foods.  Why?  It was the first recipe my mom shared with me in baking cookies.  Thus - trully a comfort food  food for me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11 is Royal Hot Dog Day

In June 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England visited America.  In Washington, the couple was treated to all the formalities one would expect from a State Visit. There was an afternoon reception at the British Embassy, followed by a formal evening of dining and musical entertainment at the White House.

On their second day, sightseeing of DC filled the day of the King and Queen.  After two days in Washington, the royal couple accompanied the Roosevelt's to their home in Hyde Park, New York. There they enjoyed the simpler things in life. In contrast to the formal State Dinner at the White House, dinner at the Roosevelt's home.  The dinner was described to the press as a casual dinner between the two families.

Even more informal was the following day's event - an old-fashioned, American-style picnic which included the following menu items: Virginia Ham, Smoked Turkey, Cranberry Jelly, Green Salad, Sodas, Beer and Hot Dogs,

The next day, news of the picnic made the front page of the New York Times, under the headline, “KING TRIES HOT DOG AND ASKS FOR MORE.” While the King reportedly ate his hot dog by hand like an American, the Queen daintily cut hers with a knife and fork.

Hence, Royal Hot Dog Day.

Corn on the Cob Day - June 11

There is so information available about corn, I am striving to primarily focus  my post to just corn on the cob.  Although this is my goal, undoubtedly there will be some crossing the lines and the broader topic of "just corn" will spill into this post.  

Corn, aka maize is really a grass. Or more correctly, a grain that comes from a grass. Corn was domesticated by the Aztecs and Mayans in prehistoric times. Over the years the popularity of corn spread throughout the Americas due to it's variety of uses and ability to grow in distinct climates. 

Corn on the cob (known regionally as "pole corn", "cornstick", "sweet pole", "butter-pop" or "long maize") is a culinary term used for a cooked ear of freshly picked maize from a cultivar of sweet corn. Sweet corn is the only variety of maize eaten directly off the cob. The ear is picked while the endosperm is in the "milk stage" so that the kernels are still tender. Ears of corn are steamed or boiled, usually without their green husks, or roasted with them. The husk leaves are in any case removed before serving.

The most common methods for cooking corn on the cob are boiling, roasting, and grilling. Corn on the cob can be grilled directly in its husk, or it can be husked first and then wrapped in aluminum foil. When oven roasting, cooking the corn in the husk directly on the rack is recommended. When roasting or grilling corn on the cob, the cook can first peel the husk back to rub the corn with oil or melted butter, then re-secure the husk around the corn with a string.  Corn on the cob is normally eaten while still warm. It is boiled or grilled. It is then often seasoned with salt and buttered before serving. Some diners use specialized skewers, thrust into the ends of the cob, to hold the ear while eating without touching the hot and sticky kernels. 
Common condiments and seasonings for corn on the cob include butter, salt, and black pepper.

Fresh corn on the cob is not only fun to eat, it’s healthy as well. And even better, most kids love to eat this delicious summertime vegetable.  Without butter, a small ear of corn has about 65 calories while a large ear has about 125 calories.

There has always been those who have said that eating corn on the cob lacks etiquette.  Lillian Eichler Watson, in a 1921 etiquette book, described corn on the cob as "without a doubt one of the most difficult foods to eat gracefully." She added that "it is entirely permissible to use the fingers in eating corn, holding it lightly at each end; sometimes a napkin is used in holding it." Sometimes, however, a short sharp knife would be provided that each diner could use to cut or scrape the kernels from the cob for later eating. She described this as "by far the most satisfactory method" of eating corn on the cob.  Some etiquette books recommend salting and buttering the corn a section at a time just before eating that section, which helps to minimize the mess on the diner's face and hands. Butter dripping down the diner's chin and kernels getting stuck in-between teeth may be a source of embarrassment for the dining experience.

On a personal note...I am from the Midwest.  In the Midwest we throw etiquette out the window when eating corn on the cob.  Since I have relocated to the Northeast I have been using corn cob holders (skewers) to eat corn on the cob.  You may ask why.  Well, my husband is a Bostonian and I think that he uses them because it is more over a regional preference. 

National German’s Chocolate Day - June 11

When you hear of a German chocolate, the first thought is that Germany is where the cake originated – hence the name. This is one of those food items where the name is a bit deceiving, however. German chocolate cake gets its name from an ingredient it uses: German’s Sweet Chocolate.

This chocolate was originated by the Baker’s Chocolate Company (now a subsidiary of Kraft Foods) in the mid 1850s and was named after its creator, Sam German. The story of the chocolate says that a misprint in a newspaper that included the recipe for the first German Chocolate Cake simply left out the “s” on the name, and this is why the chocolate is often known simply as “German.” The chocolate is similar to a semisweet chocolate, but has higher sugar content to it. This means that recipes that use it tend to be a little bit sweeter than ones that don’t. 

German's Chocolate is a dark baking chocolate created by the Walter Baker & Company employee, Samuel German (hence the name), who developed the chocolate in 1852. He thought this type of chocolate would be convenient for bakers as the sugar is already added to it. It is sweeter than semi-sweet chocolate and contains a blend of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, flavorings, and lecithin. Baker's sells this chocolate which can be found on the baking isle of most grocery stores.
Contrary to popular belief, German chocolate cake did not originate in Germany. Its roots can be traced back to 1852 when American Sam German developed a brand of dark baking chocolate for the American Baker's Chocolate Company. The product, Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate, was named in honor of him.
As you enjoy German chocolate, and German chocolate cake rest assured in your new found knowledge that German's Chocolate and German's Chocolate cake, the man who developed this chocolate was a Mr. German -- it has nothing to do with Germany.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

National Black Cow Day - June 10

Today is National Black Cow Day. Prior to researching what a Black Cow is, all I knew what it was one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite groups - Steely Dan. 
 Black Cow lyricsI never knew what the last two lines of the song meant....

"Drink your big Black Cow
And get out of here."

Also known as a "black cow," the root beer float is traditionally made with vanilla ice cream and root beer, but can also be made with other flavors. With smooth vanilla ice cream, coppery root beer, and frothy foam, a root beer float is an all-American classic.

 Frank Wisner, owner of the Cripple Creek Cow Mountain Gold Mining Company, had been producing a line of soda waters for the citizens of the then-booming Cripple Creek gold mining district. He had been trying to create a special drink for the children of Cripple Creek and came up with an idea while staring out at his properties on Cow Mountain on a moonlit night.

Root beer was manufactured, bottled, and sold starting in 1880, and legend has it that thirteen years later, the root beer float, which is sometimes referred to as a black cow, was first invented. After glancing out the window late one night, Wisner, was inspired to float a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of his glass of root beer.  The origin of the name "black cow" has always been of interest to food and beverage experts and allegedly dates to August 1893 in Cripple Creek, Colorado. 

The illumination of the full moon allowed him to glimpse the snow on top of nearby snow capped Cow Mountain  The reminded him of a dollop of vanilla ice cream floating on top of the mountain.  As he told the story later, he was inspired by this view to hurry back to his bar and add a big scoop of vanilla ice cream to the one soda water he produced that the children of Cripple Creek seemed to like best - Myers Avenue Red root beer - and served it the very next day. The drink was an instant hit. Originally named "Black Cow Mountain", the local children shortened this to "black cow". Wisner was known to say many times in his later years that if he had a nickel for every time someone ordered a black cow, he'd have been a rich man.

The definition of a black cow varies by region. For instance in some localities, a "root beer float" has strictly vanilla ice cream; a float made with root beer and chocolate ice cream is a "chocolate cow" or a "brown cow." In some places a "black cow" or a "brown cow" was made with cola instead of root beer. In some areas, for example, Northeastern Wisconsin, "black cow" is said to mean a root beer float where the ice cream and root beer have been mixed together.  In New England, often root beer is substituted with birch beer.  Birch beer is a carbonated soft drink made from herbal extracts, usually from birch bark. It has a taste similar to, but stronger then root beer.

In the United States and Canada, the chain A & W Restaurants are well known for their root beer floats.  In 2008, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group introduced its Float beverage line. This includes A & W Root Beer, A & W Cream Soda and Sunkist flavors which attempt to simulate the taste of their respective ice cream float flavors in a creamy, bottled drink..

Since it is National Black Cow Day..."Drink your big Black Cow...And get out of here."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day - June 9

So many people combine Strawberries and Rhubarb.  While it is extremely popular causing Rhubarb to also be called the "pie plant” there are two aspects I am compelled to disclose:

1)  I do not like Rhubarb (but I try to write impartially about topics)

2)  Rhubarb is actually a vegetable.  Yes, it is true! This makes Strawberry Rhubarb Pie one of the rare (tasty) pies that combine fruits and vegetables.

Rhubarb is a very old plant. Rhubarb, botanically-known as Rheum rhabarbarum, comes from a combination of the Greek word Rha for the Volga River, and the Latin word barbarum, for the region of the Rha River inhabited by non-Romans. The popular edible species, Rheum rhaponticum, originated most likely in Mongolia or Siberia. It was introduced to Europe by Italian botanist Prosper Alpinus in 1608 as a substitute for Chinese Rhubarb whose roots were used medicinally.

The Italian botanist Prosper Alpinus introduced the more popular edible species to Europe in 1608. People did not recognize it as a food plant and cultivate it as such until 1750 in Germany.  Ben Franklin is credited for bringing rhubarb seeds to the North American east coast in 1772. Europeans also introduced rhubarb first to the New England region in the 1820s where it became a popular ingredient for pastry and pie fillings. Sometime in the nineteenth century it made its way south and became very popular among southerners. This sweet and tangy treat was first made popular during the early 1800's, about 30 years after Benjamin Franklin introduced rhubarb, nicknamed "pieplant," to the East Coast.  In the late 1800's, rhubarb was brought to Alaska by the Russians and used as an effective counter-agent for scurvy. By the mid-1900s, its popularity was firmly entrenched in the New England states where it was used as pastry and pie fillings and also to make homemade wine. 
Few people realize that rhubarb is actually a vegetable, but with a little sugar, it pairs perfectly with strawberries, which are in season and ready for picking.  Rhubarb pie is a pie which is particularly popular in those areas where the rhubarb plant is commonly cultivated, including Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the New England and Upper Midwestern regions of the United States. Besides diced rhubarb, it almost always contains a large amount of sugar to balance the intense tartness of the plant. Rhubarb pie is often eaten together with ice cream. In Canada and the United States, strawberry rhubarb pie is a popular late-spring pie, generally combining the first strawberries of the season with the last of the rhubarb. 

June 9 is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day.  What better way to celebrate the onset of summer than to make this sweet and tangy treat.  Don't worry...you don't have to save any for me...just enjoy....

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chicken Tetrazzini Day - June 8

Who would have thought that there was an actual Chicken Tetrazzini Day?  As a matter of fact, in this world of FoodTV with all the different food programs making all of this different foods - Chicken Tetrazzini is a dish that doesn't appear to be thought of about much these days.  As a registered dietitian, I have had to plan many facility menus.  There comes a point that menu planning become tedious.  That is when recipes like Chicken Tetrazzini are remembered.  

As a person who never goes tired of learning about the cultural impact of foods, the history of food, and the food anthropology - researching the history of Chicken Tetrazzini was enlightening. Let me share a little about what I have learned so that we all can remember this entree and learn about its history.  

Surprisingly I learned that this dish was named after a person.  Who would have thought - a person with the last name of Tetrazzini.  This dish was named for famed Italian opera soprano Luisa Tetrazzini.  Luisa Tetrazzini (1871-1941), called “The Florentine Nightingale,” was a world-renowned opera star who was a favorite of San Francisco audiences. Chefs often named dishes for prestigious clients at their restaurants.  

But just what chef she inspired remains in doubt. One theory has the chef at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City, Mr. Pavani, creating the dish to honor Luisa Tetrazzini’s January 1908 New York debut singing Violetta in La Traviata. It is likely she stayed at the Knickerbocker at Broadway and 42nd Street; many opera singers in that period did, and in fact Enrico Caruso became a resident, moving his family there to be near the Metropolitan Opera. Although the Knickbocker no longer exists, one can still find a locked door at the Times Square subway station platform with the name Knickerbocker above it, where at one time a stairway led from the subway up to the lobby of the hotel.

A few historians claim that master French chef George Auguste Escoffier invented Chicken Tetrazzini, but it is not mentioned in his cookbooks. Sources say that a recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini appears in the Christian Science Monitor in October 1908, and in the Chicago Tribune in 1911. Various other people claim their relatives invented it at the turn of the 20th century. Yet another claim to the recipe is James Beard, who believes that the dish was created at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco by Chef Ernest Arbogast. It is possible he created Chicken Tetrazzini in 1904 when Tetrazzini sang to great acclaim in San Francisco and was featured in daily articles in the San Francisco Chronicle. Or maybe Arbogast gave the dish its official name after the 1908 New York debut when Tetrazzini had a second triumph in San Francisco. 

Another possibility is that the dish was premiered after Tetrazzini gave her famous outdoor Christmas Eve concert in 1910 before an estimated quarter of a million people at Lotta’s Fountain. That concert came about when two New York impresarios began feuding over which controlled her New York opera contract. When they attempted to get an injunction to prevent her singing in any theater until their legal squabble was settled, Tetrazzini, who loved the worshipful audiences in San Francisco, headed to the City vowing to sing in the streets if she had to.One final aside: Besides both claiming Chicken Tetrazzini, the Palace and Knickerbocker hotels also share an artist---Maxfield Parrish. The Palace still features the mural The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and the Knickerbocker had Old King Cole.
So this unknown day, to commemorate this often forgotten dish, is a reminder, a reminder to think about all the foods we used to eat and maybe, just maybe getting back to the roots of of our dining cuisine...our comfort foods.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day - June 7th

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” This is the lyrics of a 1927 song entitled ICE CREAM by Johnson, Moll, & Kingas sung by Walter Williams, and the members of Warring's Pennsylvanians.

If ever anyone needed an excuse – today ice cream lovers and connoisseurs of chocolate (like me!) have one today. Glory be today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!

There are few things that separate human beings into categories: Cat versus dog people, morning versus night people, and then there’s chocolate versus vanilla people. While chocolate ice cream does come in second to vanilla in terms of ice-cream popularity, doesn’t mean it takes its position lightly.

Why do we call it "ice cream?"
Centuries ago people started making refreshing summer-time desserts by taking sweet cream (the richest part of milk) or custard (egg-based puddings) and cooling them down with ice. The chillier the cream, the more solid the product. In sum: the first "iced creams" were so named because the appellation described the process. Seasonal fruit flavors predominated. Different words were used in other languages. Before modern refrigeration mostly wealthy people had access to ice (and by association, iced cream) in the summer. This made ice cream a rare treat. It was not until the late 19th century "ice cream" was consumed by Americans across all socio-economic levels. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the first print occurrence of the word "iced cream" as in 1688. The term "ice cream" shows up in 1744. That corresponds approximately with the time when "modern" ice creams were first manufactured treat until mass modern technology punched in.

19% of Americans say they eat ice cream in bed. 3% eat ice cream in the bathtub.

In the early days of television mashed potatoes were used to simulate ice cream on cooking shows. Real ice cream melted too fast under the heat from the lighting. More ice cream is sold on Sunday than any other day of the week.

The history of chocolate on or before Mesoamerica. Chocolate, the fermented, roasted, and ground beans of the Theobroma cacao, can be traced to the Mokaya and other pre-Olmec people, with evidence of cacao beverages dating back to 1900 BC. Chocolate has been so valuable in history the Aztecs even used it as currency.

Chocolate ice cream did exist in the 18th century. However, it was the exception, not the rule. Most period iced creams were flavored with fruit. Earliest print refernce is from a French cookbook, c. 1768.

Although vanilla is the top ice cream flavor in the U.S., followed by chocolate – today Chocolate Ice Cream is it’s own royalty for having this special day to be king – alas as chocolate ice cream might say, “It is good to be King” even if it is only one day a year.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

National Iced Tea Day or National Iced Tea Month??

In reading twitter posts today there was mention that today was National Iced Tea Day.  I quickly searched the internet and really could not find a lot of confirmation.  Last year (2011) National Iced Tea Day was June 10.  I also found out that the entire month of June is designated as National Iced Tea Month.  Going along with the premise the government takes - the larger level of government makes the decision, i.e. Federal government overrides local government - discussing National Iced Tea Month for June takes precedent.  This way Iced Tea will be discussed without missing a beat.

Tea has an impressive history stretching back 5,000 years, iced tea has a history stretching back only as far as the discovery of preserving ice.  

Popular lore has iced tea being discovered by accident in the early twentieth century.  Documents can date the use of iced tea in the seventeenth century. In 1795, South Carolina was the only colony in America producing tea plants. It was also the only colony (later state) to produce the plant commercially. The plant arrived in the late 1700s thanks to French explorer and botanist, Andre Michaux. Michaux brought many showy plants to South Carolina during this time to satisfy the tastes of wealthy Charleston planters.

Once the plant arrived, accounts of iced versions of tea began to appear almost immediately in cookbooks of the day. Both English and American cookbooks had recipes for tea being iced to use in cold green tea punches. Heavily spiked with alcohol, these punches were popular and made with green tea, not black as iced tea is made today. One popular version was called Regent's Punch, named after George IV, the English prince regent in the early nineteenth century.

The first version of iced tea was printed in 1879. Housekeeping in Old Virginia published a recipe by Marion Cabell Tyree calling for green tea to be boiled then steeped throughout the day.

In 1884, the head of the Boston Cooking School printed a recipe for presweetened iced tea calling for cold tea to be poured over cracked ice, lemon and two sugar cubes. This printing was the first printed records of "sweet tea." Southerners will be surprised at thi since sweet tea has been known as a southern tradition.

Many other accounts of iced tea exist prior to 1904 when many historians mistakenly believe iced tea was invented. While it has been shown that the beverage had existed for a century prior to the World's Fair in St. Louis, Richard Blechynden concluded that an iced version of his free hot tea would be more appealing on a summer day.

The popularity of iced tea skyrocketed and the beverage became immediately well-known and eventually common throughout all of North America. Today, iced tea comes in many variations. It is served sweetened, primarily in the southern states, and served black in most others.

Until next time....I am off to have a sweet iced tea.

June 6 - National Applesauce Cake Day

National Applesauce Cake Day is a day to enjoy a cake that uses applesauce as its main flavoring. These cakes are most traditionally made as a bundt cake, but they can also be made as cupcakes for convenient single servings.The origins and history of this holiday are elusive.

Applesauce dates back to the middle ages, applesauce cake is thought to have it's origins in the early 1900s. During World War I, applesauce cakes were promoted to be patriotic as they used less butter, sugar and eggs. By the end of the century, they were touted as a more healthy alternative to traditional cake as the applesauce could be substituted for shortening in some sturdy butter cakes.

With the modern day goals to decrease fat in foods and improve the nutritional content of baked goods applesauce can be used to replace fat in recipes.  Applesauce is a useful fat-replacer in many baked goods. Using applesauce instead of butter or oil adds fiber and reduces calories in cakes, muffins and breads. And, because of its water content, applesauce will also keep your baked goods moist and fresh longer. A quart of homegrown and homemade applesauce is also much more frugal than even the cheapest store-bought vegetable oil.  A decent resource of how to use applesauce versus oil in a cake:  applesauce to replace oil in recipe guidelines.

The Etymology of the word  Applesauce
by 1739, American.English, from apple + sauce. Slang meaning "nonsense" is attested from 1921 and was noted as a vogue word early 1920s. Mencken credits it to cartoonist T.A. ("Tad") Dorgan.  History suggests the word was thus used because applesauce was cheap fare served in boardinghouses.

The Etymology of the word  Cake
early 13c., from O.N. kaka "cake," from W.Gmc. *kokon- (cf. M.Du. koke, Du. koek, O.H.G. huohho, Ger. Kuchen), from PIE root *gag-, *gog- "something round, lump of something." Not related to L. coquere "to cook," as formerly supposed. Replaced its Old English cognate, coecel.  Originally (until early 15c.) "a flat, round loaf of bread." Let them eat cake is from Rousseau's "Confessions," in reference to an incident c.1740, when it was already proverbial, long before Marie Antoinette. The "cake" in question was not a confection, but a poor man's food.