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The Cooks Palate Blog

Entries in recipes (5)


National Food Day

Once again I missed National Food Day.  Since it seems to be driven by schools, I probably missed it because our children have finished school.  According to the web site there were 3,200 events around the country.  The web site says “Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.” 

The event was created by The Center for Science in the Public Interest. Food day takes place annually on October 24 and 2012 was the second anniversary.

National Food Day's charter is to:
•    Promote safer, healthier diets
•    Support sustainable and organic farms
•    Reduce hunger
•    Reform factory farms to protect the environment and farm animals
•    Support fair working conditions for food and farm workers

The founding non-profit, CSPI, produces the Nutrition Action Healthletter, which has almost 1 million subscribers nationwide and this has become the main source of funding for the organization. CSPI does not take any funding from corporations or government. Some foundations support Food Day as well.

I reviewed the advisory panel and found that aside from 11 politicians, the only names I recognize are Jane Fonda and Alice Waters.  I have eaten in Alice Waters Chez Panisse restaurant and of course, I know who Jane Fonda is.  There are a total of 78 advisors on the panel which seems like an enormous group.  The list of Food Day events is very impressive.  There are many free local events that teach food preparation that are centered around farms and farmers markets.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the recipes interested me.  I will be watching their site for updates, but thought I would share this information in the meantime.


Making Vintage Family Recipes

During the holiday season everyone has food memories of special meals from past holidays.  Mom was always the best cook in the world.  I wish I could have her stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc., etc....You fill in the blanks.  We all wish we could re-create a dish from childhood memory that we fondly remember.

The problem is we can never get it just right.  We have to remember that Mom didn’t have a Cuisinart, or a blender, or a microwave, or many of the kitchen tools that we take for granted today.  So to start with, if we want to recreate a vintage recipe, we have to use the vintage tools that were in use at that time.  If you Google vintage kitchen gadgets, you will find that you are not alone in vintage cooking interests.  There are a plethora of sites dedicated to vintage gadgets.  You just have to remember which ones Mom used.

Once you have the proper utensils, you are faced with another obstacle.  Many of the ingredients we take for granted today weren’t available when Mom was cooking our favorite dish.  Forget the sour cream and agave.  The best way to re-create the dish is to get your hands on the actual recipe and see what the specific ingredients were.  If you can’t get the recipe, check with other family members to see if they remember specific ingredients.

My wife Tracy is very fortunate because she has several family cookbooks.  One, by her aunt Mari is  hand typed in a three ring binder.  I just glanced at it and saw that it was written in 1981 and references recipes from at least 80 years ago.  Another cookbook, The Galley Guide, was written by her grandfather in 1923 for cruising yachtsmen. It is a goldmine of information about vintage recipes and the cooking techniques from that period.  The book was in continuous print until 1958 and sold about 100,000 copies.  

Please share your vintage recipe stories during the holidays this year. We'd love to hear from you.


Happy Cinco de Mayo

As the holiday Cinco de Mayo is almost upon us, I will do my part by suggesting some appropriate recipes for the festivities. Cinco de Mayo is one of the most interesting American holidays.  Most Americans are under the mistaken belief that Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican Holiday.  Indeed it is celebrated in the state of Puebla where the 4,000 Mexican soldiers defeated 8,000 French soldiers who had not lost a battle in 50 years, but most of Mexico ignores it.  Cinco de Mayo was created by Mexicans and Latinos living in California during the civil war.

As with any holiday the most important recipe is for the drinks.  The first is a cucumber and basil Margarita.  This recipe is from La Verdad, a Mexican restaurant in Boston.  La Verdad is called the best Mexican restaurant in America by Bon Appetit.  The second is Sangria from Miguels.  Miguels, in Marblehead Massachusetts, was legendary for their Sangria.  I have spoken to many people who went to Miguels and I believe I am the only one who has this recipe.  After about 20 years of secrecy I am now prepared to share this recipe with the world.

For the last recipe I went to the experts.  The wine and spirits wholesalers of America named the Mayahuel as the Judges Choice winner at their convention in 2010.  (IACP eat your heart out.  This is the convention I want to go to).  Mayahuel is named for a “complex of interrelated maternal and fertility goddesses in Aztec Mythology”.  Huh?  She is basically the goddess of Agave.

I hope you have a happy and prosperous Cinco de Mayo and I hope you enjoy the drinks. Viva el Cinco de Mayo! 


Homemade Dog Food

I know I usually write about cookbooks, cooking, recipes or restaurant adventures, but I am going to digress a little by special request and discuss dog food.  Tracy and I have two Toy Fox Terriers, Duke and Lucky.  When we call the pack, they are collectively known as “LuckyDuke” (one word).    Our friend and book cover designer, Suzanne Brown, has a friend with two pugs, one of which has a problem with chewing it’s feet.  It is almost certainly a food allergy.  Through no fault of my own, I was forced to learn more than I ever wanted to know about dog food allergies and how to treat them.

A little history.  When we went to pick up Duke from the breeder, (better markings) we found out that no one had taken Lucky and he was going to be an orphan.  It was an “aaawwww moment”.  Tracy and I looked at each other and said “aaawwww” and took the poor orphan, hence the name Lucky.  When we took the dogs in for their first shots, the nice lady vet said that they were taught in veterinary school to never, NEVER, NEVER, name a dog “Lucky”.  Through Lucky, we have learned about broken toes, stitches for dogs and have even had the pleasure of meeting a doggie ophthalmologist.  Lucky climbs trees in the back yard to see over the 6 foot fence.  Then we noticed one day that he no longer had fur on his feet or lower legs.  He had chewed it all off.   It must have been very difficult since he had two of his front teeth knocked out.  He is nothing if not determined.

We took him to the vet and got potions and salves and pills.  Nothing worked.  I did some research online and found out that it was almost certainly a food allergy.  We tried buying exotic dog food.  Stuff like salmon or buffalo.  It didn’t help.  Finally in desperation I made up my own recipe.  His feet cleared up right away, but Duke died.  Just kidding.  Duke loved it also.  Fortunately after about 6 months we were able to switch him back to regular dog food and the allergy has not re-appeared.  I hope it works for Suzanne's friend’s dogs also.  The recipe follows.


My Super Bowl XLV Meal Quandry

I am supposed to prepare the victory banquet for the New England Patriots triumphal march to this years’ Super Bowl XLV victory.  Something went wrong.  It could not have been Tom Brady’s fault.  It was the fault of the grumpy, frumpy guy that coaches the Pats………….Belicheck.  Why in the world was he so cautious during the entire fourth quarter?

So here I am, looking for a good recipe for humble pie.  I am finally resigned to the fact that I will be watching Green Bay and Pittsburgh battle it out in the XLV Super Bowl, for a crown, that every football fan in America knows, rightly belongs to the Patriots.  I had planned on celebrating by roasting a beef tenderloin and having roast beef sandwiches on Iggy’s wonderful slider rolls from Whole Foods.  That sounds much too elegant for a game between Green Bay (cheese) and Pittsburgh (Heinz Ketchup, Clark Bars, Klondikes, Iron City Beer).  I am almost sick at the thought of chicken wings, nachos, chili and pizza.

Right now, I seem to be looking at Mac and Cheese, with ketchup on top, washed down with Iron City Beer.  So as you can see, I am going to need some help.  I know that the discerning readers of this blog must have some food thoughts on this years’ Super Bowl menu.

So here’s what I need to know from our readers:

1.    What are you having on Super Bowl Sunday?
2.    What should I be eating on Super Bowl Sunday?

When answering these questions, it is important that you keep in mind:
1.    My state of mind after the Patriots debacle.
2.    The indigenous foods (ugh) of the respective cities.

There will be a prize for the most creative use of indigenous foods, and for the best overall menu.  The winner will receive a free coupon redeemable in our online store. So help me out here....