Saturday, December 21, 2013

Krispy Kringles

Kringles are usually ring shaped and filled with a nut mixture but I find that preparing these delightful individual Kringles are perfect for breakfast on Christmas morning. Use your favorite preserves in these, mine just happens to be apricot. I urge you to make these the night before so that all that is needed the morning of chaos is a cup of coffee or a glass of milk and breakfast is over and the unwrapping can begin.

 

Believe it or not....

Wisconsin just proclaimed Kringles the official state pastry less than a year ago(June,2013)

The first Kringle known to have been made and referred to as such was for President Woodrow Wilson's wedding by a Danish baker named L.C. Klitteng

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sweetened, condensed milk or whole milk

1/2 cup cold butter or margarine

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk(or more)

1/2 cup apricot preserves

 

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until it resembles small peas. Stir in the milk and egg, mixing until combined well.

On a well floured work surface, transfer dough and knead only until it comes together and isn't sticky, adding flour if necessary. Roll out 1/2-3/4-inch in thickness. With a 3-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a glass dipped in flour frequently, cut out as many rounds as possible; set aside. Briefly knead the dough just until it holds together, roll out again and cut out as many circles as possible. Repeat until all dough is used. Divide dough discs into 2 equal piles. In the center of half the discs, mound a tablespoon or so of apricot preserves. Place a disc over the top and press around the perimeter to seal. Place the cutter over the filled Kringle and press to make perfectly round. Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet and repeat until all dough discs are used.

Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a rack set over yet another cookie sheet or large baking pan.

Mix the powdered sugar with the milk and either brush or drizzle icing over each of the Kringles while still warm. Let cool completely before serving.

 

Makes about 7 Kringles.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Only At Christmas


Although these recipes would be great during all the colder months(and maybe during the warm temperatures as well), they are great additions to your Holiday table or even as gifts for family and friends to take with them once they have finished and are ready to roll out.



Sugar Plum Jelly

Many of you may have the powdered form of pectin already in your pantry. And YES, you can substitute one for the other. Liquid pectin is used in preserve, jam and jelly recipes that require cooking first while powdered pectin can be used in the same recipes, even if you aren't cooking them. One tablespoon liquid equals 2 teaspoons powdered.

In the recipes below, each pouch is 3-ounces, or 1/4-cup powdered if using. Double this in the following recipe. While Certo brand liquid pectin comes in 6-ounce pouches, Sure Jell comes in 3-ounce pouches. I also use the pink box at times, which is called "Sure Jell Liquid Pectin for Less". This means that the pectin will set up with less sugar and no sugar commonly found in most jams, jellies and preserves. Use dry as you would wet pectin.

 

2 cups plum juice(Sunsweet brand makes a great one)

3/4 cup sugar

Juice of one large orange, strained

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2(3-oz)pouches liquid pectin*

 

In a food processor or blender, add the plums and apple juice. Pulse until plums are minced but still have small chunks throughout, about 10-15 seconds. In a large saucepan, bring plum/juice mixture, sugar, orange juice and grated orange zest to a boil over high heat, stirring almost constantly. . Stir in the pectin and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour into four half-pint jars. Seal with lids and refrigerate 6 hours, or longer, until set. I don't care for the uneasy spreadability of jelly so I always mix it up before using.
This is fantastic on any fruited quick bread or coffee cake, toast, English muffins or just plain ol' crackers.

 

 

Figgy Pudding Preserves

Although this recipe contains no figs, I substituted raisins. Many recipes call for this substitution in Figgy Pudding and if you want to stay true to the classic, use 1/2 pound fresh figs, trimming off both ends first before adding to food processor. Add, also, 1 tablespoon lemon juice. If using dried figs, boil 6 ounces in apple juice for 10 minutes, over medium heat, until starting to soften and plump. Remove from heat and let sit in hot juice for 1 hour. Add this to the food processor with candied ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Continue with recipe.

For a great, warm and homey taste and feel of "Yankeeville" during the Holidays, spread some of this comfort preserve on absolutely anything you desire.
 

2 cups apple juice

1 1/2 cup raisins

2 ounces candied(or crystallized) ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2(3-ounce)pouches liquid pectin

In a food processor or blender, pulse first 5 ingredients until ginger and raisins are pulp-like in size, about 1 minute. Remove to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the pectin and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and carefully ladle the jelly into four half-pint jars, leaving a half-inch space on top. Seal with lid and refrigerate until set, about 6 hours or longer.
Once this is set(as I do the Sugar Plum Jelly) I take a fork and mix it up a little so the raisins that may have settled on bottom while hot is mixed throughout evenly.

Super Easy Peanut Butter Snowballs

Peanut Butter and Jelly Snowballs

What a great little gift for the children at your Holiday table this year. heck, the adults may want to try to "take candy from a baby", but good luck with taking these delightful, children's treats away. With the perfect amount of peanut butter and jelly, and a sprinkling of snow over each, they are the perfect mouthful.

1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 cups(12 ounces) white chocolate chips*

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or oil

2-3 tablespoons jelly

1 cup shredded coconut



In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for about a minute or until very smooth but thick and pullling away from the sides of the bowl.
Form this mixture into balls the size of a quarter using a teaspoon. Place it in the palm of your hand and make an indent in the middle. Scoop a bare 1/4 teaspoon jelly into this indentation and fold over the peanut butter filling, sealing well. Place the filled peanut butter ball on a cookie sheet or plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm. You don't have to cover them.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 60 seconds, lightly stir and continue heating in 15 second intervals until completely melted. Remove balls from refrigerator and grab yourself fork. Plunge the peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate, roll around in it with your fork and lift out to gently shake excess chocolate off. Transfer to a plate or pan that has been lined with film wrap and continue with remainder of balls. If there is any chocolate left over, drizzle over the tops. Sprinkle coconut over the top of each while still wet from chocolate and rrefrigerate until chocolate is firm.


 
 

* You can substitute white candy coating without adding the shortening here as well, or use white chocolate squares, but you WILL need to use shortening or oil.

Makes about 20 small snowballs

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Crockpot Figgy Pudding

"Oh bring us a figgy pudding, and a cup of good cheer."
Original Figgy Pudding is a steamed dessert that resembles more a very firm mousse than anything. although you can steam this dessert in its' classic preparation, not many have the tools to do so. The ONLY other method of preparation that closely resembles the original intent of this English pudding is through the crock pot. Honestly! It comes out to an almost cake-like consistency while having that pudding-like texture. Its hard to put it into words but I think this variation is light, fluffy and packed with flavor and the almost melt-in-your-mouth body is superior to that of any other Figgy Pudding recipe you can find.

Originally, this classic added figs, breadcrumbs, pepper, almonds or walnuts, dates, raisins and a Hard Sauce. Dark rum was often added, as well, as you can add here if you like. Simply add 1/2 cup dark rum or 2 teaspoons rum extract.

 

1 cup milk

1 cup apple jelly*

1 cup dried figs, dates or plums(prunes), pitted and minced

1/2 cup dried cranberries, craisins or raisins

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 1/4 cup flour

1 cup fresh bread crumbs, rye, white, wheat

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 apple, peeled, cored, chopped fine

Red Currant Hard Sauce, recipe below

 

In a medium saucepan, add the milk, figs, cranberries and butter. Place over low heat. When it starts to simmer, let the figs and cranberries cook for 10-12 minutes, or until they are softened, mixing occasionally. Remove from heat to cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the remainder of ingredients(except Hard Sauce) until thoroughly mixed. Add the milk mixture and stir to combine. If there are lumps, that is perfectly fine.

Preheat crock pot on medium heat. Transfer the Figgy Pudding to crock pot, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until cake bounces back when touched on top. Serve with ed Currant Hard Sauce poured over the top of each serving. The Hard Sauce will thin out and "melt" over the warm Figgy Pudding..

 

Red Currant Hard Sauce

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup red currant jam, jelly or preserves

With a hand mixer or tabletop mixer, beat the butter on high for 1 minutes, or until it is very creamy and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and beat in a half cup of powdered sugar. Keep adding powdered sugar until it resembles peanut butter. Beat in the orange juice to thin out to the consistency of whipped cream. Hand fold the red currant jam so that it is streaked throughout. Use your favorite jam or preserves here as well or substitute real dark rum or rum extract to stay with tradition.



* or 1/2 cup molasses

Sugar Plums

The Sugar Plum Tree
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?

'T is a marvel of great renown!

It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea

In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;

The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet

As those who have tasted it say)

That good little children have only to eat

Of that fruit to be happy next day.

 

When you 've got to the tree, you would have a hard time

To capture the fruit which I sing;

The tree is so tall that no person could climb

To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!

But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,

And a gingerbread dog prowls below--

And this is the way you contrive to get at

Those sugar-plums tempting you so:

 

You say but the word to that gingerbread dog

And he barks with such terrible zest

That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,

As her swelling proportions attest.

And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around

From this leafy limb unto that,

And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground--



Hurrah for that chocolate cat!

There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,

With stripings of scarlet or gold,

And you carry away of the treasure that rains

As much as your apron can hold!

So come, little child, cuddle closer to me

In your dainty white nightcap and gown,

And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree

In the garden of Shut-Eye Town

 
Reprinted from Poems of Childhood. Eugene Field. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1904

What child hasn't heard of at least the beginning stanza of this classic poem? The numbers are dwindling, I am afraid, as well as the number or people who have actually had the enjoyment of the taste treat associated with this story.

True Sugar Plums were so-named because, although not actually 'sugared plums', the original recipes used raisins or dried plums, otherwise known as prunes. Raisins were held together with nuts of various types and other dried fruits and rolled into small truffle-like balls They were a hit with youngsters and oldsters alike many generations ago. Without altering the original too much, try The Yankee Chef's version of this Christmas sweet the way your forebears tasted them, with only a couple of extra touches to round off the textural experience.

Today's recipes use the food processor or blender to finely mince all the ingredients, but I think that method muddles the flavor too much and gives it a monotone texture.......Blah! By simply chopping the ingredients by hand, the taste is fantastic and you can actually distinguish the different flavors all "rolled up into one". Adding granola is a great touch as well, but if you happen to have some granola-type cereal on hand, even the nut-laden variety, by all means this is a nice alternative too. Refer to NOTE for extended list of various alternatives to use.

1/2 cup raisins, left whole or chopped

1/2 cup granola

1/2 cup dried banana chips, crushed

1/2 cup candied green cherries, chopped

1/2 cup dried plums(prunes), orange-scented, chopped

1/2 cup candied red cherries, chopped

1/2 cup orange marmalade

1/2 cup honey

 

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients well with damp hands or use gloves(latex that is-work gloves won't work so well here). This may be best accomplished if you have a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. With your hands still slightly wet from water, mold into small balls, pressing tightly to mold. Place on a large platter and let air dry for an hour to dry the outside and make less sticky. Cover and keep until needed at room temperature. For a 'sweet and salty' flavor, sprinkle some kosher or other large-grained salt on top of each Sugar Plum.

 

NOTE: You may also substitute the following or use some imagination to form that perfect Sugar Plum, I promise Santa will love it just the same. I use candied fruits here because it adds that special flavor and extra holding power. Use all dried ingredients if desired. Try dried apple slices, candied pineapple(both yellow and green), crushed walnut, pecans or slivered almonds, golden raisins, dried apricots, candied or grated lemon or lime peel, candied citron or shredded coconut.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Round Robin of Egg Nogs

Round Robin of Egg Nogs

Below, find an extra thick recipe for everyone to enjoy this Holiday season. Don't be turned off by the addition of a boxed pudding mix, no-one has to know. I find that the recipe below is so much more tasty than any other "Shortcut" Egg Nog recipes. I have also given you an array of flavors to work with during that special time with family and friends, and hope you find the cheer and salutations appropriate for an occasion to be celebrated with this great Yuletide beverage.

 
Basic Egg Nog

4 cups milk
1(3.4-ounce) box vanilla instant pudding
1 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In large bowl, whisk half the milk with pudding mix until smooth, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the remaining milk, egg substitute, vanilla and nutmeg until very well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with whipped cream if desired before serving.

 

For Gingersnap Egg Nog, add 1 teaspoon dried ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup molasses with egg substitute, along with the vanilla and nutmeg. Or, to make an adult Gingersnap Egg Nog, stir in 2 ounces Ginger-flavored liqueur found just about everywhere believe it or not.




For Sugar Cookie Egg Nog, buy some large sugar crystals, which can be purchased at any supermarket. Wet the rim of each glass with corn syrup, by pouring some in a shallow plate and tipping each serving glass rim into the corn syrup, letting excess drip off holding the glass upside down. Then dip the wet rim into a shallow plate of large sugar crystals, coating well. Leave the glass in the sugar for 1 minute before continuing with other glass. Place in refrigerator until ready to fill. Sprinkle some finely crushed sugar cookies over the top of each drink if desired.

Pumpkin Pie Egg Nog: Whisk in 1/2 cup canned pumpkin with the pudding mix, adding another 1/2 cup with the egg substitute with 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, use 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger and 1/4 teaspoon dried, ground cloves. Omit the nutmeg in recipe.




Apple Pie Egg Nog. This would be an adult beverage when you add 2 ounces apple brandy, apple pie liqueur or apple-flavored liqueur.

 

Vanilla Bean Egg Nog. Cut 3 vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the egg nog before stirring and refrigerating. Cut each scraped pod in half to float on top of each glass of Vanilla Bean Egg Nog.





Caramel Egg Nog. This is simply accomplished by stirring in 3/4 cup jarred caramel sauce into the finished egg nog before covering to refrigerate. Mound each glass of Egg Nog with whipped cream or drizzle some caramel over the top and down the inside of the glass before serving.

 

Candy Cane Egg Nog. For a nonalcoholic drink, whisk in a teaspoon peppermint extract before refrigerating. For an adult beverage, stir in 2 ounces peppermint schnapps and decorate both with a candy cane for a swizzler or crush some candy canes with a little sugar in a food processor or blender to sprinkle on whipped cream mounding each serving.

 

Divinity Egg Nog.

There IS a way of safely enjoying whipped egg whites in a drink or dessert. Let me show you how. Make a double boiler out of a stainless steel bowl over an inch or so of gently simmering water, over medium-low heat. Before adding the steel bowl over the water, whisk together 1 tablespoon water with a large pinch of cream of tartar. Add 2 egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk very well and set on top of simmering water. Have a food grade thermometer handy. Grab a rubber spatula and constantly fold the egg whites into itself while it is heating up. After about a minute, insert thermometer. It should read 160-degrees F. If it doesn't, continue heating until it does. Once the temperature has been achieved, immediately remove bowl from stove, turn heat off and beat with hand-held mixer, on high, until it has cooled and thickened to stiff peaks.

Either fold this into prepared Basic Egg Nog(I used Butterscotch Pudding mix here) or dollop a mound on top of each serving sprinkled with ground pecans. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

THE Yankee Chef vs. Yankee Chef

I have been asked a few times if I am part of a restaurant in Milford, New Hampshire called Yankee Chef. John Sullivan, owner and chef at Yankee Chef has a gem of a restaurant and I would never take away anything from him. He is culinarily spot on when it comes to comfort food and the preparation thereof. Visit him online at http://www.yankeechef.com/.


But having said that, I am THE Yankee Chef. Visit me at http://theyankeechef.com/. I can see where the confusion lies very readily, especially when John calls himself the Yankee Chef. I have great admiration for him and his restaurant but that subtlety of how THE is used is what differentiates us two. His is a building by the name Yankee Chef, and I am that towering figure of a man called THE Yankee Chef(had to make light of it somehow).

 So whenever you want to find out more about me and my recipes, don't ever forget to add the word The. Confusing? Slightly!

Why did I even bother to write about this on my blog? So that John knows(as well as everyone else who had been wondering)that I have nothing but admiration for him and his restaurant, but I am not the same nor do I work there.

Hope everyone is having a great Holiday season so far and I will have something very exciting to report within the next 5 days. Just haven't said anything up to now because it seems as though every time I mention something good is about to happen, it gets derailed, postponed or simply eliminated. This way, I don't have to explain anything to anyone.....yet!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Take 2.....ROLLING!!

Yup, I was on a roll with 2 videos in one day....but nooooo. here is another shortened career for one and the beginning of a new one for yet another. Hence the picture.

New England Johnnybread Salad

Want an easy and flavorful salad this Holiday season or any time of year? This Yankee inspired salad is a great entrée as well, but especially suited to prevent you from eating too much turkey or ham during those gut-busting meals with family and friends.

1 box (8.5 ounce) corn muffin or corn bread mix
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
3 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and julienned*
1 green onion, sliced thinly
4 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 green, red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
Sausage Dressing, recipe below

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Stir muffin mix, eggs and milk until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake 18-20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and it springs back in the center when touched. Remove from oven to cool completely. Cut cooled cornbread into cubes; set aside.

In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons butter or margarine and melt over medium-high heat. Add green onion, green pepper and julienned tomatoes. Grill, stirring frequently, until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the3 cornbread cubes and continue cooking until cornbread is starting to crisp, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare Tangy Sausage Dressing. While Dressing is cooking, toss spinach, mushrooms and cornbread mixture in a large salad bowl. Pour Tangy Sausage Dressing into bowl of greens and toss. Evenly divide among serving bowls and serve immediately.

Tangy Sausage Dressing

1/2 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage links
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup.ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce

Slice sausage links into 1/4-inch slices. Add to a large skillet, over medium heat, and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about 2-3 minutes, turning each slice over. With a slotted spoon, remove cooked sausage to a dish; set aside.

Return skillet to heat and add remainder of ingredients. Bring to a boil. stirring to lift up sausage fonds from the bottom of the pan, and let reduce slightly, about 4-5 minutes. Add the sausages back into the skillet, mix well.

Enough for 4-6 servings

*Of course you can also simply added chopped, fresh tomatoes on top of salad when serving.

Take One.....ROLLING!!!!

I have two new posts I am adding now because I HAVE TO!! While doing my first videos in many months, I had a "friend" that just couldn't keep out of the shots. So what do I do? Scrap the videos and use them as a basis for two recipe posts for the Holidays.  had fun throughout the day because he was having fun....a Joy indeed!!!
You will find the appropriate picture along with these recipe on my site in the next day or two, but enjoy the thought of making this, and enjoying what I went through, I did.

Pear-Gingerbread Cobbler

I have given you a decision to make below. Do you stick with the Yankee version of an Apple Cobbler or spread your wings all the way down south and use pears? Regardless, be assured that the New England taste of home will be quite prevalent with the topping of Gingerbread as opposed to the classic sweetened dough topping. With snow right around the corner and the merriment of the season on its' heels, you will find the aroma of this dessert so enticing, it will be gracing your cozy home into the New Year.

Gingerbread Cobbler Topping, recipe below
Cobbler Filling:
5 cups diced, fresh pears or apples
1/3 cup sugar2 tablespoons cornstarch1 tablespoon lemon juice1 teaspoon cinnamon1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
 
Prepare Gingerbread Cobbler Topping. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients well. Transfer to an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan. dollop tablespoons of Gingerbread Cobbler Topping over the top, staggering mounds to represent a cobblestone street. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cobbler dough is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the topping comes out fairly clean. Remove from oven to cool slightly before serving.
This dessert is best a day old and reheated to enjoy.

Gingerbread Cobbler Topping

2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients well. Add the remainder of ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Set in refrigerator at least 15 minutes.

 


 


 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Blameless

First off, I want to apologize for not contributing to my blog as much as I have in the past. With my new website, I simply haven't had the time to sit back and just plain write on a personal level. I am also not the kind that enjoys talking about myself or even writing on a personal level, but there are more people than I thought that enjoys reading Those types of posts.

I titled this post Blameless because it does lead into the theme of this discussion, albeit in a round about way. My Dad, the second Yankee Chef, Jack Bailey(1938-2001) and I talked about so much on our down time. He was the only one I could sit down with and really discuss subjects that were thought provoking and just plain fun. Anything from extra-terrestials to food to love to.....anything really!

I remember before he passed he told me that he was glad he wouldn't be around much longer because our country was fast becoming a "blameless society". He was referring to a many different things(we having just had one of those special chats that lasted many hours) but mostly about how more and more people were 'entitled'. If you didn't like the word Christmas, you could easily have it expunged from a schools curriculum. If you walked out into traffic and get hit, YOU could sue and win, regardless if YOU were the one breaking the law in the first place. You could be in a deplorable social condition, but expect the government to take care of your needs without attempting to improve your own life.

This list goes on and on, and new laws are being enacted and passed based on these desires, making our world seem as though more and more of our freedom is being taken away every day. And in essence they are, all because of those who declare themselves blameless.

I recommend a few things, as did my Dad. If you don't like the word Christmas, you don't have to! The word Christmas is simply a way of people to exude their love of the season and to spread merriment. Regardless if you believe Christ was born and should be celebrated during this time of year, others do. Offended? You shouldn't be offended, because others have joy in their heart! If I believed in any other religion and expressed my joy that conformed to that religion, I would NEVER expect everyone to agree with me, but it certainly would never cause me to bring others down to make myself feel better(and I do believe there is a psychological term for that).

Take a look around you and notice those in need. I can tell you first hand that there was a time in my life that is both embarrassing and hurtful. I was homeless, no (or very little) food and just plain distraught. I didn't have the best home even when I worked, at times. BUT...I tried. I always had a great work ethic and I truly tried. There were times that I let liquor rule my actions in the way of truly understanding the meaning of responsibility. All I cared about was partying and having fun. And I suppose it is ingrained when you are younger, regardless of what your parents taught you. BUT.....I never blamed anyone else other than myself. I didn't go around saying "The economy is bad" or "There isn't a job around that pays enough". I preach all the time even today that I would shovel horse&*#% if I had to in order to put food on the table .  Those times were MY fault because of MY bad choices, not because of anything or anyone else!

You wouldn't believe how many people I have hired over the years that WERE homeless. Heck, I even went to the homeless shelters personally to hire, only to be told no one would work for minimum wage or under a certain amount. There were times when I had to walk to work, ride a bike to work and hitchhike to work(and my father did at his low points in life as well). I have had employees quit after hiring them because they couldn't find a ride to work when they lived a mere mile away.

But having said all that, there are families out there that truly need help. What touches me the most is the families that have children. I simply cannot bear the thought of a child going without the necessities of life, even the non-necessities, such as a present, toy or amusement. To me, even those are necessities! To grow means to expand your mind as well, and without the happy thoughts of playing with that special toy while young means just as much as not having a roof over your head.

That's why I do things that I never NEVER tell anyone. I have no desire to put the emphasis on my book selling or publicity when it comes to helping others. The only time I do so is to increase sales of an item to help raise funds, It's Just That SIMPLE! It's not about me and will never be.

And one more thing. I will always believe in the mantra, "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all!". Certainly opinions can never be controlled, nor should they ever be. But when someone employs their time demeaning others with no cause or spending their time trying to degrade, humiliate or otherwise harm someones integrity or life, I feel bad for them. Shouldn't they focus on doing good and helping others? The end result of the former is self-fulfillment in a twisted, ego maniacal way that shows that you think of yourself as "holier-than-thou", while the advantage of the latter is not only helping those in need and feeling good about yourself in a righteous way but it shows others that you have a heart, are level-headed and caring. Let's get our values together and stop thinking of ourselves as BLAMELESS.

If you want personal fulfillment, take the lead! There are things you can do that simply shows what kind of person you are. Pick up the phone and call someone you know has a "tough life" and simply talk to them. Get a $5 dollar card from a fast food restaurant and give it out to someone that's homeless. Go to a homeless shelter and offer your time or maybe pick up a few things to drop off at that same shelter. Buy an inexpensive bouquet of flowers to drop off at a nursing home. Ask them to give them to someone whose birthday or special event is at hand. If you are going to the park with your children, call a relative that doesn't have a vehicle but has children, and offer to bring those children along as well.

I am imploding with ideas as to how to help those less fortunate but I really can't spend all day telling you. Just stop and think. Do what you think is right and good. And always bear in mind that if you are fortunate to have a good life(and that doesn't mean rich...just have what you need is a good life) there are many that simply can't feed their kids. They can't take them to a park, they can't buy that special stuffed animal for that child or they can't seem to break that cycle.

 'Nuff said!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Different men have different opinions.....

.....—some prefer apples, some onions
                                            An Indonesian proverb.

Onion Skins, very thin
Mild winter coming in.
Onion skins thick and tough,
Coming winter cold and rough.
                                             An old, New England, weather adage



With the Holidays fast approaching, we will be enjoying a variety of flavors and learning as we go along. My favorite chef, Julia Child, once said that she could not imagine a world without onions and I must whole-heartily agree. One of the most intense debates, believe it or not, is the differences between onions. You will see simply the word onion in many recipes and it would be good to bear in mind some of the major differences between these garlic-cousins as we prepare meals fit for family and friends.

Onions have been enjoyed, culinarily speaking, as long as they have been used for cure-alls! When cooked in a sweetener(caramelizing), these pungent bulbs have been given as a sore throat remedy and has been said to lessen the effects of the flu right up until the early 20th century.

Simply cut an onion into 1/4-inch slices and cook over medium heat with a tablespoon of oil. After 15-20 minutes of stirring and cooking, they will be lightly browned.
Now add 2 teaspoons granulated sugar and continue cooking an additional 5 minutes until they are golden brown. I love adding some great balsamic vinaigrette dressing drizzled over the top before adding to a grilled steak.

To neutralize the effects of dog bites and as a hair-growing tonic were just two of the benefits of onion juice  many farmers relied on during the 18th and 19th century in  New England.

Backing up a bit though, we find that General Ulysses Grant, commander of those "damned Yankees" during the Civil War, ordered onions to be supplied to his soldiers on the front lines because he believed they would cure dysentery. During this time, digestive disorders and liver ailments were given a reprieve by the housewives of the fighting men through the consumption of onions.

And backing up a few hundred years and beyond, the early Chinese added onions to tea for flavor AND overall good health.

It was many thousands of years ago that the Egyptians and Israelites enjoyed the taste of 'the bulb', as did ancient Greeks and Romans. .

Many folk remedies from days gone by have been shown to be of value lately, with all the research being funded around the world to alleviate illnesses and maladies the natural way. Onions are no exception. Although it would take the consumption of a small onion a day, they do contain flavonoids. These compounds act as an antioxidant, which are natures way of killing cancer(see my post on Breast Cancer.

The most powerful flavonoid found in onions is quercitin. Quercitin is found in shallots, yellow andred onions, but not in white or green onions. This flavonoid has been found to thin the blood, lower cholesterol(while elevating the HDL cholesterol), inhibits stomach caner and is on the front lines when it comes to battling hay fever, asthma, chronic bronchitis, atherosclerosis, many different infections and diabetes.

It has also been shown that some prescription drugs have the same effect as onions when controlling diabetes. It works by competing with insulin for the breakdown in the liver, which in turn, increases the life span of insulin.

As for the antibacterial properties of onions, there is much written by our ancestors and scientists alike. Onions destroy, I don't mean fight or help fight, but destroy many disease-causing pathogens, including E. coli and salmonella. The also reduce food-borne illnesses caused by microbial contamina, hence its' powerful antibiotic nature.

And lastly, but certainly not least, is the heart protection onions give to us. Some studies have shown that onions have surpassed wines' effectiveness when it comes to protecting your heart. Lowering cholesterol, inhibiting hardening of the arteries, help in maintaining blood pressure and aiding in the elasticity of blood vessels are the effects of onions on the healthiness of your heart.


 

 

Yellow Onions:

These are called cooking onions in the kitchen and are the most common onion in the chefs' repertoire. Used in soups, stews and sauces, yellow onions are perfect for caramelizing.

Spanish Onions:

A little milder tasting than yellow, these are often eaten raw on burgers, salads and sandwiches. It is not recommended you cook with red onions because of the lack of pronounced flavor it lends to any given dish that is cooked, but spread them chopped on a hot dog and it is a bite of perfection.

 

White Onions:

Second only to red onions, the mildness of these are used mainly in Mexican recipes and are interchangeable with Bermuda onions.

Sweet Onions:

Vidalia, Texas 1015, Maui and Walla Walla are the most popular in this category. Most often eaten raw because of their sweetness, they are only available during the spring and summer for a meager couple of weeks. Make sure you purchase them as you need them, since their shelf-life is much shorter than all other onions.

 

Red, or Purple, Onions:

Very high in cancer-fighting flavonoids, these are often eaten raw and are slightly sweet.

 

Green Onions:

Known generally as scallions, chives, spring onions and leeks, these green onions have thin white bulbs with green tops. Also known as scallions, chives or leeks, green onions have slender white bulbs and green tops. Used extensively in Asian cooking, they are also great eaten raw.

Pearl Onions:

These very small, round white onions are used widely in stews and side dishes because they hold their shape very well in a crock pot and simmering. They are chosen to be pickled above all other onions because of this ability to hold its' shape. .

Shallots:

The French use shallots in many dishes and are gaining distinction in fine restaurants everywhere. They have a pinkish skin with a slight garlic flavor and are perfect for sauces and salad dressings.

 

 

 

 

When choosing whichever bulbous onion to use, remember to chose those with no soft spots and minus a strong smell. They are not kept well stores anywhere else than in a cool, dark and well-ventilated area. Do not refrigerate or store in plastic.

FYI: What is it that causes your eyes to tear and burn when cutting into a fresh onion? Allinase. This compound is also found in garlic and is a chemical that is present for only one purpose. To prevent herbivores at bay. Once an animal(or human)bites into garlic or an onion, allinase is released, thus causing irritation.

 

Monday, October 7, 2013

October. Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or.....The Month of Love!

I am so at peace with myself because of my personal involvement with breast cancer awareness. I strive everyday to get the word out about those who have succumbed to this dread as well as those who are currently fighting. But the fight has only begun. I can't believe how much we are hearing, and learning, about the possible breakthroughs in understanding this disease. The more we understand it, the better equipped we are in controlling and, soon, the annihilation of breast cancer.
Our world that we take for granted, I truly believe, holds the key to not only breast cancer, but other types of cancer and sicknesses. Something as simple as going out in the sun and picking a quart of blueberries is a great example. The better you feel about yourself, as well as the stress relieving action of enjoying life, the better equipped you are emotionally to deal with whatever is thrown your way.
If you were to go outside in the sun for just 10 minutes, you would soak up almost 5000 IU of vitamin D. Now I know that by not using sunscreen and getting more than 2-3000 IU per day would be harmful in other ways, high levels of vitamin D and calcium may offer some protection against the most aggressive type of breast cancer, but has shown to only be beneficial to premenopausal women.
Then when you sit down to enjoy natures blueberries, that's when you are rewarded again!(read below under blueberries) Blueberries are on everyone's list of superfoods, cancer-fighting superfoods to be exact. But let me back up just a tad.

When you read the following history and thoughts about breast cancer, it is remarkable that in many ways, breast cancer is treated much as it was many hundreds of years ago. On the other hand, our knowledge, which eventually will lead to a cure, is leaps and bounds more profound when it comes to understanding both friend and foe of this pink ribbon affliction than once was.





The Edwin Smith Papyrus is the oldest known treatise on bodily trauma, including the treatment of breast cancer. It describes 48 traumatic injuries to a human body and how to properly treat them. FYI, did you know that this papyrus is the first manuscript to mention the word 'brain'?
Anyway, some think it may have been written much earlier then the accepted date of 1500 B.C., and "re-scribed" at a later date. With regards to breast cancer, it tells the reader to cauterize the spot where the tumor was "palpable".



A thousand years later, Hippocrates mentions that the excess of black bile in any part of the body would produce cancer. At the time, it was widely accepted that the body was composed of four fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. In ancient Egypt, cancer was thought to have been caused by the Gods, which is why their treatment involved magic spells and talismans.




About 200 A.D., Galen describes cancer as an excess of black bile as well, but further states that some cancers are more dangerous than others. He opted to use opium, sulphur, licorice and other ointments for the relief and cure for cancerous tumors.

So in almost 2000 years, advancement of understanding and treating breast cancer was slow and still not completely understood. But this is to be expected without advancements in equipment in which to look at cancer on a genetic or molecular level.

In 1680, a certain French physician by the name of Francois de la Boe Sylvius thought that black bile excess was not the culprit, but that the lymphatic system was to blame, with another French doctor going even further by offering that certain glands and nerves, when mixed with lymph vessels, caused cancerous tumors.

It seems as though cancer research was heading in the right direction until a few other doctors and "learned" men in the early 18th century, began to argue that breast cancer was caused by a lack of sex, while others said it was the severity of the sex act alone, that caused this disease. Curdled milk, mental disorders, childlessness and idleness were also being tossed into the cause and effect arena during this time.
It wasn't until the mid-1750s that Henri Le Dran, another French doctor suggested removing the lymph nodes up into the armpits, along with the tumor, would treat breast cancer. This option, however, was not(as far as this author has determined) utilized during this time because of the lack of proper medicine for sedation, but it was attempted by two other French physicians about 1750.

In the early to mid-19th century, surgery was becoming an option for the removal of tumors and lymph nodes because of the understanding of antiseptics and anesthesia. By 1882, when the first radical mastectomy was performed by William Halstead. But the one downfall to this procedure was that more often than not, both breasts were removed instead of just the diseased one. But this form of treating breast cancer would be barely altered for the next eight or nine decades. Even until my mother dies, she underwent a radical mastectomy in 1978. I remember Mom saying that it was her choice to have it done because many women were choosing not to have such a body disfiguring procedure. The disfigurement involved the chest area as well as swelling and pain even after the mastectomy.




It wasn't until 1976 that radiation or chemotherapy was recognized as an alternative to mastectomy, so that by 1995, less than 10 percent of breast cancer patients opted for a mastectomy.

Now the good news. Did you know that some studies show that a third of all cancers, including breast cancer, are linked to a poor diet? When I mention a poor diet, I don't mean junk food or the obvious snacking done late at night. I mean the intake of cancer-fighting foods were being neglected. Although there may be correlating data linking a high-fat diet to aggressive types of cancer, it is far more important to alter your eating habits to fight this disastrous enemy and antioxidants are the number one line of defense. In addition to their fill of nutrients, antioxidant rich foods are able to kill free radicals that occur as a result of our digestion. These free radicals cause cell damage if not kept under control, so consider the foods listed below as the neighborhood posse.

The Yankee Chef has compiled a list of the top ten super foods that are the highest in the  cancer-fighting army. I am not telling you to overindulge. Simply keep these foods in mind when you are shopping. Regardless if you are a survivor or currently battling this affliction, do what you can to jump on the "love myself" bandwagon!




1. Wild Blueberries. With 1 cup of these berries, you are packing away over 13,500 total antioxidant capacity. Many lists will have you believe that red beans are higher than the blueberry but this is a misnomer. The most prolific red bean, the red kidney bean or pinto bean yields less capacity than does the wild blueberry.
At the Beckman Research Institute in California, researchers applied blueberry extracts to very difficult cancer cells(triple-negative) and found that after six weeks, the mice that received the extract had tumors that were almost three-quarters smaller than the size most often associated with this particular type of cancer.
Ranking the highest of any food to destroy those pesky free radicals, they also contain caffeic acid, catechin, chlorogenic acid, epicatechin, ferulic acid, gallic acid, kaempferol, myricetin, maringenin, p-coumaric acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, pterostilbene, resveratrol, quercetin, and ursolic acid, many of which reportedly having anti-cancer properties.

                                    Yankee Red Beans and Rice(courtesy of theyankeechef.com)

2. Red Beans, including kidney and pinto. Having the antioxidant capacity of between 11,000-13,230 for a half-cup, these little gems are a machine when it comes to fighting breast cancer. Red chili bean and the Mexican red bean are the highest of all red beans when it comes to anthocyanins, an antioxidant component. By incorporating these beans in soups, salads and entrees, you are getting the benefit of anthocyanin in the great numbers. If you want a little less of that starchy flavor, try Adzuki and kidney beans. Just remember that not all beans are high in antioxidants. Most of the health benefits of beans(as other fruits and foods) come from their coloring, much the same way beta-carotene which gives the carrot it's orange color or the lycopene in the tomato. The brighter the color or darker the hue, the more valuable its' cancer-fighting nutrients are.


3. Blueberries-cultivated. With a 1-cup serving containing over 9,000 total antioxidant capacity, it was found that out of 10 different berry extracts, the flavonoids of the blueberry decreased the proliferation of breast cancer cells, inhibits mammary caner cell proliferation in mice and also inhibiting cultured cancer cell growth int he laboratory. . Did you know that blueberries also contain a good source of resveratrol? Resveratrol has been shown to increase the effects of radiation, aromatase inhibitors and Taxol, a chemotherapy drug.

                                          Cranberry Kisses(courtesy of theyankeechef.com)

4. Cranberries. At almost 9,000 per one cup of whole cranberries, how can you just enjoy these fruits only at Holiday time?


5. Artichokes. At almost 8,000 per cup of hearts, cooked artichokes have three different cancer-fighting molecules. A phytochemical found in artichokes has been found to interfere with estrogen receptors and also inhibits inflammation of certain cancerous growths. 



Find, below, another list of the best cancer-fighting foods universally recommended for the annihilation of free radicals. Although their numbers will not correspond with the above foods, their fierce fighting style is just what the body needs to overcome free radicals.




Broccoli/Brussel Sprouts. Usually referred to as a super foods when it is mentioned along with breast cancer with the highest amount of isothiocyanates. The isothiocyanates detoxify and fight cancer to the bitter end. Other foods that belong in this category are watercress, white and red cabbage*, kale, kohlrabi, horseradish, cauliflower and bok choi.



Garlic. Garlic is loaded with allyl sulfur, a compound that fights breast cancer by reducing the risk of cancer cells to begin with. Garlic also continas allicin, which is one of the most potent antioxidants found in Mother Nature. Onions also contain these antioxidants, but in a smaller scale. Make sure if you are using fresh garlic cloves, always let it rest a few minutes after peeling and chopping to allow these compounds to fully form.

Beta-Carotene. I know, not a food group but I made this decision based on a food group. Carrots, pumpkin, apricots, peppers, and various bright orange fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids(with beta-carotene being one) which has been shown to neutralize free radicals. Beta-carotene has the strongest muscle when it comes to any carotenoid fighting cancer. It is known that too little beta-carotene has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.
Another carotenoid is the fierce lycopene. This is found mainly in tomatoes(lycopene giving the tomato its' distinctive red color) and is known to hunt down and neutralize free radicals. Food for thought, so to speak, though. Fresh tomatoes do not have nearly the lycopene content as do cooked tomatoes, such as in various tomato sauces. So pile on the spaghetti sauce, and other tomato sauces, in order to fully feel the lycopene wrath.
Leafy greens as spinach as well as eggs, corn and some citrus fruits contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two types of carotenoids, that help fight cancer but in lesser form.

Mushrooms. You don't often hear of mushrooms and antioxidants in the same sentence but I will tell you that according to one research that was reported in the International Journal of Cancer, scientists found that by eating at least a third of an ounce of fresh mushrooms every day lowered the likelihood of developing a tumor by up to 64 percent, amazing!! That is because mushrooms contain linoleic acid, which has been shown to slow down the production of estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer.

Grapes, Red to be exact. I have mentioned resveratrol above under blueberries but neglected to mention that red grapes contain this powerful antioxidant as well. Green grapes are sadly lacking in the compound. Pay close attention the grape skins. this is where resveratrol is mostly concentrated, along with the seeds. So when buying grapes, enjoy the crunch and the satisfaction.




White Tea. Catechin, a flavanoid, is a powerful antioxidant. Research is being done as we speak with antioxidant compounds found in tea, but it is speculated that catechin may have an ability to fight cancer at all stages. From inhibiting development of tumors to completely completely blocking carcinogens involved in cell proliferation. Already Staph infection and E coli have been shown to be repressed in their growth when introduced to catechin. Dark chocolate and apples have catechin in much smaller doses as well.


And lastly, but not least, are oils. Taboo you say? Olive oil(as well as olives themselves), along with walnut oil, wheat germ oil and other vegetable oils contain antioxidants. Although very low in antioxidants, you don't think I would add them here unless there was another reason do you? Well, there is! These oils also help you absorb oil-soluble antioxidant vitamins on other foods. These include, but not limited to, Vitamins A, D, E and K.  Vitamin E enhances your body's ability to use Vitamins C and A and other fatty acids and is an antioxidant as well. So when you add 2 and 2, you get a higher number....understand?



* Red cabbage contain glucosinolates. Glucosinolates reduce breast cancer risk by blocking dangerous substances that can cause cell damage and tumor growth, also helping to eliminate carcinogens. Choose red cabbage with the brightest leaves and never NEVER overcook cabbage. You receive the best caner-fighting benefits by eating raw or lightly cooked. Glucosinolates are very water soluble and can be completely lost in cooking. 

                                                         As only Leonardo can paint


It is not only instrumental that we all eat well but feel well eating. As I have always said, when our minds are happy, our bodies laugh with them. Let me give you some great adages about the glory we call women. Some deep and pondering while others just may have you chuckle.

There is no such thing as an ugly woman.  ~Vincent Van Gogh

Women get the last word in every argument.  Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.  ~Author Unknown

The average woman would rather have beauty than brains, because the average man can see better than he can think.  ~Author Unknown

There is in every true woman's heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.  ~Washington Irving, The Sketch Book

Whether they give or refuse, it delights women just the same to have been asked.  ~Ovid

Of all things upon earth that bleed and grow,b A herb most bruised is woman.  ~Euripides, Medea



Under his forming hands a creature grew,
Man-like, but different sex; so lovely fair
That what seemed fair in all the world, seemed now
Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained,
And in her looks; which from that time infus'd
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before,
And into all things from her air inspir'd
The spirit of love and amorous delight.
She disappear'd, and left me dark; I wak'd
To find her, or for her ever to deplore
Her loss, and other pleasures abjure:
When out of hope, behold her, not far off,
Such as I saw her in my dream, adorn'd
With what all Earth or Heaven could bestow
To make her amiable: On she came,
Led by her Heavenly Maker, though unseen,
And guided by his voice; nor uninform'd
Of nuptial sanctity, and marriage rites:
Grace was in her steps, heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love
.    ~John Milton, Paradise Lost

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"T'aint worth wrappin' 'round my fingah!"

Yup, we all have our regional dialects, some are less dominant while others are so noticeable, "they ah spurted out faster 'n we kay'ah to notice". Although many people have told me to neglect trying to cover it up, I am always(now that I have taken some national spots)trying to pronounce my R's and get rid of that nasally twang often associated with Yankee speech. To me, listening to myself on-air or through the media, I sound like a back-woods cook. Not to say I am not proud of everything I stand for as well as my ingrained speech patterns, there are just times that I wish I could simply pronounce just one R.
Regardless, take a moment and look at some of the terms and "Yankee-isms" from days gone by that your forefathers and mothers unmindfully mumbled, much the same way we pay no attention to what we say today. (Great Keezer's ghost, my Yankee-ism's are really thicker 'n fiddlers in Hell I noticed after rereading all of my posts.)


My friend, Tim Sample, is a great resource as well with regards to our way of life, speech patterns and especially Yankee humor and story telling. You can find him at http://timsample.com/, on YouTube and he has a multitude of books you can take a peek at through Barnes and Noble and other sites and stores. His resume is extraordinary and lengthy, with a stab at national exposure  many times over as well. I initially wanted Tim(and he had agreed) to write some New England stories for my cookbook, The Yankee Chef, but my editor thought the 760 pages was a tad too heavy so I am hopeful my next cookbook will contain some good ol' Yankee humor as only Tim Sample can do.





 In the meantime, enjoy these long-forgotten terms. I have included only a few of the ones I remember my Dad telling me. And as the post title says, these aren't worth wrappin' 'round my fingah, but it is nice keeping them from being furgottin'!

Caught. "The milk was "caught" before it was burned."
On the mending hand or Able to set up and eat a few porridges. A convalescent. "My grandmother is on the mending hand".
Spandy. Shortened from Spic and Span, clean.
Thatchy. If the cream cheese or milk tastes "thatchy" it was because the cow ate thatch, a long, coarse grass that prevalently grew in slat marshes of old.
up in your bean water. Agitated, angry opr simply lively.
Black as zip. Extremely black(my father used this phrase as long as I can remember)
Bluer 'n a whetstone. Sad or dejected.
Boozefuddle. Liquor
Dust yer back. To win at wrestling. "I'll dust your back if you want to wrestle."
Thick as fiddlers in hell. Very abundant
Like haulin' a hog out of a scaldin' tub. Very difficult
Herrin' choker. A Prince Edward Islander or native of any of the Down-east, Canadian provinces.
Don't know enough to lap salt. Extremely stupid
He ain't no bigger 'n a pint of cider. Very small
Prayer handles. Knees
Hot as a red wagon. Very drunk.
Slacker 'n dishwater. Very unkempt or dirty.
Slower 'n a jull-poke. Extremely slow.
Taller 'n a slackpole. Very tall.
Wee-Waw. Very loosely built or unsturdy. "That barn you raised is a wee-waw".
Jorum and Boozefuddle. A jug of liquor.
Gorim. Clumsy or foolish acting. "Jasper's kid is a mite gorim".
Cling John. A small rye cake
Last at Pea time. Hard up, desperate. "Widow Bailey has been last a pea time since her husband died".
Gander Party. A gathering of men only.
Cape Cod Turkey. Very obscure but it has come to mean any cooked, stuffed fish. It may have begun around Thanksgiving time, when some Cape Cod fishermen had a bad year fishing and could ill-afford turkey for their Holiday repast. Fish was their natural replacement, so stuffing and baking it in lieu of the turkey gave rise to Cape Cod Turkey.
Pot Luck.Originally meaning a some cabbage and corned beef, it was known as such as early as 1780. this should deter anyone from giving a Corned Beef and Cabbage the distinction of Irish origination. It is known that the Irish immigration didn't begin until over 50 years later.
Thank'ee Ma'ams. My Uncle Stan Demuth used to say that all the time as he was driving his car over a two quick hills, which in turn felt as though the inside of your stomach felt as though it was coming right up through your throat. Originally, to prevent a hilly road from being washed away in heavy rain, it was the custom long ago to make a series of barriers(little bumps similar to speed bumps of today) that would turn off any sudden current of water that may be rushing down a certain road. These barriers would give an emphatic jounce and a twist to a wagon that was descending. From the involuntary motion of the head nodding in an affirmative manner(much as you would speaking to a lady in those days) while going over these barriers gave rise to the phrase. And one would always say , "thank'ee ma'am" as you went over. 



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Taking a Breather




   I have been so busy with my second book, judging, appearances and book signings, I have been neglecting one of my only solace-rendering past-times.....reading. So I grabbed some very old manuscripts, recipes, stories and notes that my father had written before he died and I started reading them. Then I began to think that I should add some old time dishes that our grandparents, great grandparents and ancestors used to subside on and put them online so that they will never be forgotten.
   Some of us calm our nerves and relax by watching television while others take a walk or simply sit and think. I(like my father) love to "remember when...". Even though I don't personally remember these dishes, I have made them time and time again(I truly was meant to have been born many generations ago)
    I do love to think of how my parentage were huddled in their crude cabins in the middle of Bailey Hill with only the fire from the hearth casting its illumination. I love pondering how meals must have been so comforting and satisfyingly odoriferous. Granted we would snub our noses at homemade, real butter now and using leaf or hogs lard is a serious 'no-no' now, but the flavors and aromas of real food surely calmed the rowdy children and soothed the savage husband.
   Let me give you a few old-time dishes you may or may not have heard of. Food that was the energy giver for those hard working folks. People who didn't need to exercise to stay fit, but whose exercise was their daily chores and necessities of living.

Ambrosia, ca 17th century-mid-19th century. When we think of the word ambrosia today, some type of fruit salad mixed with a dairy product and topped with coconut comes to mind. Back a few generations, ambrosia(literally meaning food of the Gods) was simply corn. Generally it was the dried and milled corn that was deemed such.
   Hasty Pudding was made with dried corn(henceforth referred to as cornmeal). And although many of us have heard of Hasty or Indian Pudding, not so many knew that it was an absolute sin for it to be the least bit lumpy. My father used to say that it was originally made with milk and eggs and a "trifle of Muscovado sugar or Portorique molasses". Brown sugar sauce was generally made to top it off, which was just melted brown sugar.
   Back in the day, Indian pudding wasn't the insipid recipe many chefs use today, but nicely stirred, well-boiled without any two particles sticking together. People, also, don't know to to classically enjoy this dish as well. A spoon should be dipped into milk before it lifts the pudding to the mouth. This keeps it from sticking not only to the spoon, but to the inside of your mouth. It was meant to be enjoyed one spoonful at a time, each bite completely separated from the next.
   And do you think the Italians were the first to enjoy polenta? No, no, no, no! Eating hot Indian or Hasty Pudding was just as often seen in our homesteads of old as was cutting it when cold and grilling it in lard the next day. It is often written that when fried in fresh butter of cows who only ate clover, this meal was fit for a king.

Milk Porridge, ca 17th century-late 19th century. First water was boiled. Cornmeal was then added through ones fingers(acting as a type of coarse strainer) and the other hand was gripping a wooden paddle, stirring as the cornmeal was added to the water. When the corn was added, and the lot stirred for a time, fresh milk directly from the cow was very slowly added. It is said that you should not add the milk until you could see your nose reflecting off the surface of the cornmeal/water mixture.

Corn Biscuit, ca 18th century-late 19th century. This was an Indian luxury, and was made with one pound of butter, one pound of sugar, ten eggs and a pint of new milk, with just enough cornmeal to mold it into thin cakes. Sound familiar? It is now known as Pound Cake!

Whitpot, ?-mid-18th century. A very thin Indian Pudding, baked in a very slow oven(low temp) so that the milk, eggs and molasses formed a jelly throughout the entire pudding.

Herring Sticks, ?-late 19th century. From mid-May to mid-June, the herring run was on in all of New England in days gone by. Many old texts referred to Cape Cod herring as an alewife. Often called a "poor mans fish", it was freely gifted each year by the town to each child born within the township limits. Many townships actually enacted legislation ordering just such a gift!
  The herring was so plentiful that townships were not able to eat or locally sell them, so they were shipped to larger cities. One older lady, in her journal from New Hampshire, relates "I do relish a nice fresh herring with my breakfast".
   Salting and smoking was the norm to help keep a family fed through the lean months. Before salting or smoking, however, they were strung on sticks. The sticks were for the most part whittled from cedar, stripped from the old cedar, split rail fences everyone had around their property. The cedar sticks were passed through the gills of the fish with a dozen or so strung on each. On many New England roads, the lettered signs on the fences used to read, "Herring  10 cents a stick".

Lobster Stew. Now of course many, if not all, of us have heard of Lobster Stew, but would you like to know how to truly make it the old-fashioned way? The correct way? A little trivia first. Lobster Stew was almost always accompanied with a couple of sour pickles.
   Begin with the tomalley. Saute it in an equal amount of butter in a thick cast iron skillet for 5  minutes. Add the cooked and picked lobster meat and every bit of juice that came from the cooked lobster as you were shelling it. The ratio between lobster meat and juice should be about 50-50. You don't ever, EVER, add salt or pepper to lobster stew! Old cooks and housewives used to relate that lobsters got plenty of salt and seasoning from the ocean it lived in. I tend to agree!!
   Leave this stew on a hot fire for 5 minutes, then push it back to a cooler part of the stove to come down from boiling to a bare simmer for about 15 minutes. While still barely simmering, slowly(and they did mean SLOWLY) add your milk. Housewives say to "trickle" the milk into the stew, while constantly stirring. Add  rich cream after the milk has been added. When the stew blossoms out suddenly into a rich salmon pink under your spoon, you can know that the stew has been made properly and is now to remove from all heat sources and let cool for a hours . My father used to say that cooling the stew was just as important as making it. The flavor increases drastically. True lobster stew wasn't meant to be consumed when it is made, but rather cooled for many hours then reheated to enjoy.  As if.....

Muslin Toast, 18th century-mid-19th century. This was a favorite supper dish of many Yankee families. Now remember that dinner(or the noontime meal) was the heartiest of all repasts during the day, while supper was just enough food to hold you over until the table was laden for breakfast. Muslin Toast was a type of rye shortcake, the size of the skillet, that was grilled in sweet homemade butter on each side until very crispy. As each side was crispy, it was cut off and set aside. This was repeated until you had about 7-8 thinly crisped slivers of shortcake, with the last slice being grilled. All these crispy slices were then placed in a bowl of hot, thickened and salted milk.


My how times and appetites have changed. I loved looking back and I think I will continue this post within the next few days.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Just in time for Labor Day!

Ordinarily I would be posting recipes on my new website, theyankeechef.com, but my webmaster told me to stay the hell off it. Apparently I was doing more harm than good. All I can say in my defense is that my 15 year old wasn't there to help me with it. (Pretty sad huh? A grown man needing his young son for help[ with the computer?!)
I gladly relinquish that tedious job, but at least I can still post here once in a while. And besides, I don't need to edit so heavily here on my blog.

My father used to regale me with a story about his grandfather cooking corn. He told me that Frank(his grandfather) would wait by the woodstove for the pot of water to boil, when the corn was ready for picking. When the water started vigorously boiling, he would grab a couple of rags and grab the pot. Wasting no time, he would bolt out the back door with that dangerous pot of boiling water and head for the corn row. Setting it on the ground, Grampy Frank would rip off the corn silk and leaves and bend that stalk over so that the ear of corn would be submersed in that pot of water. It was only then that he would cut the ear from the stalk and continue on to as many as he could fit in that pot.
When full, he would then run back to the house and place that full pot of fresh corn on the cob back onto the stove to continue cooking till done.
Now don't laugh, there is some science behind this. Corn on the cob almost immediately begins to lose its natural sugars the moment it is picked, converting it to starch. So who do you think had the sweetest corn for supper those nights?
These recipes may sound a little out of the ordinary, but I assure you that one of them will be to your liking. So git the napkins out and commence to dripping butter down your chin.




Corn on the Cob with Garlic-Herb Butter
The perfect combination of that garlic flavor will compliment any protein dish you will be enjoying with your corn on the cob.


6 ears fresh corn on the cob, cooked
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Parsley

Allow butter to come to room temperature. Mash garlic with a a mortar and pestle or simply use a sturdy fork so the garlic is mashed. It doesn't have to be lump-free however. . Beat butter with a hand-held or table top mixer until light and airy. Add the garlic, cayenne pepper and whatever amount of dried or freshly chopped parsley you desire. Continue beating until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until needed to slather on your hot corn on the cob.





Milk-Poached Corn on the Cob
By far, my favorite way to enjoy corn on the cob. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the milk does something to this corn that simple water cannot!


6 ears fresh corn on the cob, broken in half if desired
1 quart milk
2 cups water*
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

Place the milk, water, butter and corn in a large pot with tight fitting lid. Place the pot over medium heat until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to medium low and gently simmer corn for 20 minutes. Remove lid every few minutes to rotate corn if it isn't completely submerged in the poaching liquid. Remove from heat and serve up straight from the liquid.

* or use 1 1/2 quarts low fat milk




Sweet and Salty Corn on the Cob
Hey!!!Don't cringe yet. Give it some thought. The corn is sweet and with the tiny little bit of honey mixed in with the butter, it can only heighten the taste of the corn. And about the bacon. It was just an item that popped into my head and I sure am glad I gave it a whirl. This is delicious, even after the third ear.

6 ears of fresh corn on the cob, cooked
1 stick butter or margarine
3 tablespoons honey
1 strip bacon, cooked and crumbled*

Let butter come to room temperature. With a hand-held or tabletop mixer, beat the butter on high for about 2 minutes, or until it is light and airy. Slowly beat in the honey until well incorporated. Add the bacon and continue beating until mixed well.Transfer to a bowl and cover to refrigerate until needed.



*Turkey bacon works very well here too.



Monday, August 19, 2013

FYI on Lobsters, Maine Lobster!


Although nobody can determine exactly how many live lobsters it takes to make a pound of meat because you need to take molting into consideration, it can roughly determined.. Generally speaking, during the winter time, when lobsters are at their fullest of flesh, it takes about 4 1/2 pounds of live lobsters to get a pound of meat. In the late summer, when lobsters have shed(molted), it takes about nine 1-pound live lobsters to get a pound.

There are approximately two cups of lobster meat in one pound.

To hold a lobster correctly without feeling the "pinch", simply hold it at the end of the carapace where it joins the tail.

To pack lobsters for traveling, put them in a Styrofoam or insulated outer box packed with ice. To prevent lobsters from coming into contact with the fresh water, ice should be enclosed in plastic bags. Cover lobsters with seaweed whenever possible, this will insure them to be alive at least a day of traveling.

You can keep live lobsters for about 15 hours under refrigerated conditions, although most will survive for at least 24 hours. Keep them damp with a wet cloth or a layer of seaweed. Do not store live lobsters in fresh water or enclosed in plastic bags.

In Maine, lobsters are less expensive from the end of August to the beginning of November because this is when most lobsters are harvested.

The difference between a hard-shell and soft-shell lobster is when the lobster outgrows its shell. It molts and discards(or sheds) the old shell. It then has a soft shell and is called a "shedder" or soft shell. As the lobster feeds, its shell hardens, and it adds meat to its body. Soft-shell lobsters have less meat than hard-shell lobsters, but their shells also weight less. Since you buy lobsters according to their weight, they are about the same in terms of price. It should be noted, however, that hard-shell lobsters usually survive longer in the refrigerator than one that have soft shells.

  It is okay to eat a soft-shell lobster and some people prefer them because, as they say, the meat is a little sweeter and they don't need any tools to crack them apart.

  A lobster molts about twenty-five times in the first 5-7 years of their lives. After that, they molt less often, about once a year. After a molt, it takes months for a shell to harden and fill in again with meat.

Lobsters increase  in weight about 20 percent after they shed.

  How much water to boil a lobster? Put one to two inches of water in the bottom of a pot to steam lobsters, or allow 2 1/2 quarts of water per lobster if you want to boil them. You don't have to use salt water, but some chefs believe lobsters taste better if you add salt to the water or use seawater, which contains about 3 percent salt.

A lobster is done when you are able to pull out an antennae easily.

  A live lobster is generally a greenish-brown color when alive because of many different color pigments called chromatophores. When it is cooked, these pigments are masked except for astaxanthin, which is the background red pigment.

  The tomalley functions like a combination intestine, lover and pancreas in the lobster. Some people(this chef included) think this is the best part of the lobster.

  The black vein in the tail is generally removed before eating. It won't hurt you, it is simply the intestine where part of the digestive system is. The taste is slightly unpleasant but not readily tasted.

  The red part you sometimes see inside a lobster is the roe or unfertilized eggs which have not been extruded. It is called "coral" and many people find this very tasty.

There are NO parts of the lobster that is poisonous.

A lobster drops a claw as a defense mechanism, but grows another over a couple of years.

Here are some common terms(both new and old-school) to describe the size of lobsters.

1-pound: chickens
1-pound to 1 1/8-pound: heavy chickens
1 1/4-pound: quarters
1 1/2 to 1 3/4-pound: selects
2-pound: deuces or 2-pounders
2- to 2 1/4-pound: heavy selects
2 1/4- 2 1/2-pound: small jumbos
Over 2 1/2-pound to ab out 4-pound: jumbos

Large lobsters have the same textured meat as smaller. However, cooking a lobster for too long can make it tough, so make sure you only cook lobster until the meat is done, regardless of the size.

Maine lobster is NOT found only in Maine! Homarus Americanus is found on the east coast from Newfoundland to North Carolina.

A crayfish is NOT a baby lobster. It is related but they live n fresh or brackish water whereas lobsters live only in saltwater.




  You can microwave a whole lobster quite easily. Simply plunge the tip of a knife between its head and first segment while on its belly. The lobster may show signs of movement for a few minutes.
  You can, if desired, take a skewer and run it the length of its tail to prevent curling. Arrange lobster in a casserole dish or other high sided microwave-safe dish, add 1/2 cup hot water and cover tightly with film wrap, poking a few holes with a fork throughout the top in order to vent some of the steam. Microwave on high, turning over after 6 minutes for a total time of between 10-12 minutes, or until the antennae pulls out easily.

  To cook lobster tails on your grill, run a pair of kitchen scissors along the underside of the tail, removing this softer shell. Insert a skewer between the remainder of the upper shell and the meat, to prevent furling while cooking. Place tails with the shell side down on grill grates set in the high position. Grill for 5 minutes over medium heat. Turn tails during cooking, grilling the other side for 6-7 mintues. Return tails to shell side down position and baste meat with melted butter mixed with lemon juice if desired, but watch out for grill flame-ups.

  Lobsters DO have teeth, but they are in its stomach. The stomach is located a very short distance from the mouth, and the food is actually chewed in the stomach between three grinding surfaces that look like molar teeth called the "gastric mill".

  Many, MANY, people have asked me "How do you tell a male from a female lobster?" You simply turn the lobster on its back and look at the first pair of swimmerets. If it's a male, the swimmerets are hard and bone-like; they are soft and feather-like in the female.





Ol' Barney Beal
  One can't talk about lobsters without mentioning a certain Barney Beal. he is larger than life now and apparently was when he was alive as well. many folklore's and legends are just that, but with Barney, it is true.He existed, lived on and around Beal's Island, Maine and was as tough as they came(next to Ol' Gus Bailey that is).
  His feats of strength are stuff of legend but the stories are indeed true, although some may have compounded on that legend.  Here are a couple to enjoy.





  It seems that Barney Beal was on one of his trips along the coast in his freighter. He stopped at Rockland and, while standing on the dock, he became involved in an argument about any man, there, that could lift a 1200-pound anchor which lay on the dock. Several tried it but no one could move it. Then someone turned to Barney and asked him to try. he declined until a man standing nearby said that he would be him five dollars that he couldn't lift it. Well, Barney couldn't let a challenge like that go by, so he accepted. He walked over, bent down, and lifted the anchor clear of the dock.
  When it came to paying off the bet, the fellow backed out. Barney said, "That's all right." he reached down, raised the anchor again, walked it to  the edge of the wharf, and dropped it--right through the bottom of the boat belonging to the man who had refused to pay off the bet!
As told by Olive Coffin, Steuben(1963)
Northeast Archives #62031


  Well, tall Barney Beal weighed about 325 pounds and was just about six feet seven inches tall. He would sit down in a common kitchen chair and drum is knuckles on the floor.
One time he came to Bill Cummings' store here in West Jonesport, and Porter told him he could have what flour he could carry out of the store in barrels. So Barney picked up one barrel and put it on the counter, got another barrel under his arm, and then got the one on the counter under the other arm and took them out the door and down to his rowboat.

Wendell Beal, West Jonesport(1963)
Northeast Archives #15251


                                                              Barney Beal's Home




Barney Beal's Last Great Feat
  Barney Beal was known far and wide for his strength, and it was his strength that killed him. He often would hook his fingers in the front of a dory and pull it up the beach. He was living on Pond Island, in Milbridge Bay, at the time of his death, and this is what caused it.
  He had some in from tending his traps. He got out at the low-water mark, putting the painter of the boat over his shoulder, and started up the beach. As he dragged the dory over the seawall, he broke a blood vessel in his heart and died instantly.

Charles Beal, Milbridge(1963)
Northeast Archives #62030


  As proof of his life and  death, The Yankee Chef has seen Barney's death certificate, The death certificate for Barney Beal indicates he died at 63 on February 1, 1899 of a heart problem

  Tall Barney’s home near Barney’s Cove, Beals Island, Maine. Tall Barney built the house himself in 1873 with the help of his son John, 15 years old at the time. According to Avery Kelley, a great-great grandson of Barney, it was built with lumber that came off a vessel that went ashore.