Mysterious Food on the Internets

Wed, Dec 10 • 0

twinkiesDaily Lunch is a japanese site detailing one obsessive artist’s lunch box, and their artistic creative presentations.

How frozen pizzas are made. What’s in a twinkie?

(Amazing. Twinkies have been around for 78 years! They’ve been around as long as the Chrysler Building, in New York, and Betty Boop. Here are more events from 1930.)

The Last Meal on the Titanic – The Other Classes

Wed, Apr 16 • 1

What the second and third class passengers on the Titanic ate.

As an aside and an update to the last entry about the Titanic, some people who saw it were wondering what the other people on the ship were eating. The 2nd Class Dinner Menu for April 14, 1912 lists :

Baked Haddock
Sharp Sauce
Curried Chicken & Rice
Spring Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Turkey, Cranberry Sauce
Green Peas
Purée Turnips
Boiled Rice

Boiled & Roast Potatoes
Plum Pudding
Wine Jelly
Cocoanut Sandwich (sic)
American Ice Cream
Nuts Assorted

Aside from the coconut sandwich, nothing is particularly unusual or foreign from food most of us would still eat today.

As for the 3rd class passengers, they apparently didn’t have a separate menu for all of their meals. A surviving copy indicates they were offered:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, porridge and milk, smoked herrings, jacket potatoes, ham and eggs, fresh bread & butter, marmalade, Swedish bread, tea and coffee.

(Jacket Potatoes is another name for normal baked potatoes. Fannie Farmer said, in 1918, that Swedish bread was a kind of yeast risen coffee cake, shaped into a braid or a ring, and flavored with almonds.)

Dinner: Rice soup, fresh bread, cabin biscuits, roast beef and brown gravy, sweet corn, boiled potatoes, plum pudding, sweet sauce and fruit.

Tea: Cold meat, cheese and pickles, fresh bread and butter, stewed figs and rice, and tea.

Supper: Gruel, cabin biscuits and cheese.

(Gruel is a hot, wet mixture of some type of cereal, wheat or rye flour, and also rice, boiled in water or milk, similar to oatmeal. According to Technology of Biscuits, Crackers and Cookies, Second Edition, by Duncan Manley, (2000), cabin biscuits are thin butter cookies, usually flavored with vanilla, but not a lot of sugar. )

You may also be interested in reading about what the first class passengers on the Titanic were eating.

Cookbooks I’m Liking

Tue, Apr 1 • 0

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson. Many interesting and unique recipes. Fergus is known for his use of products that many of us wouldn’t consider eating … innards, marrow, etc. I’ve tried a couple of the recipes, including marrow bones. One thing that has sort of thrown me, though, is his recipe for brine, which is a simple one, made of 1 part superfine sugar to 1¼ parts sea salt, plus herbs and spices like juniper berries, bay leaves and peppercorns. The thing is, he suggests keeping the brine, and using it over and over… “a nurtured friend, whose character should improve with time and should give delicious results.” (I started a conversation about this over on Serious Eats. Just about everyone there said they thought that brine was too cheap to keep and considering the fears of bacterial growth, Fergus is nuts to keep it.) All that aside, this is a great cookbook for reading about recipes you probably won’t find in many other recent cookbooks. Offal cookery is a dying art.

The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater by (obv.) Nigel Slater. Sort of a Luddite food blog. Nigel kept a diary of all the things he made in a year, and along the way, you really get to know him, and the way he leads his life, in rural/suburban England. Though Nigel does give recipes in his book, he doesn’t seem to be a cook that consults them, cooking in a more intuitive way. He also focuses on cooking seasonally, and so it’s an interesting read in that regard.

These and more cookbooks I use and recommend …

Steel Cut Oatmeal

Sun, Mar 16 • 0

I’ve been using a tiny little one-serving crockpot to make my morning breakfast this past week. It’s turning out pretty well. ¼c steel cut oatmeal, 1¼c liquid, and a pinch of salt. Plug it in and let it sit all night. I’ve been putting dried fruit in, along with a splash of fruit juice. I tried putting chopped pecans in, but I think they’re better when you add them in the bowl before you eat it. I find the end result does require a little sweetener, so I add a tablespoon or so of maple syrup. It’s definitely a little tricky to clean. To help in this end, as soon as I scoop out the oatmeal, I fill the little crock with water, because once the oatmeal dries, it might as well be cement. Others, I’ve heard, use a little souffle ramekin, slightly smaller in diameter than the crockpot.

Update, 4/11/08 : I’ve settled on a standard recipe. 1/3rd plus 2T of oats, plus 1¾c of water, a pinch of salt, and a small handful of Trader Joe’s dried orange-flavored cranberries in the little crock pot. I let it sit overnight, and in the morning, I line the bottom of the bowl with black raspberries, and I cover it with the oatmeal, and I add a splash of grade-b maple syrup to slightly sweeten it. As for cleaning the little crockpot : as soon as I empty it, I take a butter knife and slide it underneath the band of browned oatmeal that forms over the heating element. It’s sort of a game to try an make it all come off in one long piece. I imagine I could eat it, but I just toss it out. The the remainder of the residue left in the little crock is easily cleaned out with a little water. According to the label on the oatmeal, this quantity of it is heart-friendly and more apt to help you lower your cholesterol.

Ruhlman on Chicken Stock

Wed, Feb 6 • 1

On The Splendid Table (a public radio program that I listen to on podcast), their guest, Michael Ruhlman, suggests an unusual way of making chicken stock. He recommends putting the aromatic vegetables in only at the last hour. He says that by putting them in at the start, they overcook and fragment, clouding up the stock. But, more importantly, after all that time, they’ll soak up too much of the precious liquid. Makes sense to me. I’ll have to try it next time.

Here’s a link to The Splendid Table’s website where they have his recipe for veal stock — a magical elixir that he claims will allow an ordinary cook to be an extraordinary one.

The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen by Michael Ruhlman.

The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine

Mon, Dec 24 • 0

book cover : scavenger’s guide to haute cuisineI found this to be a surprisingly readable book. The author, Steven Rinella, is a writer for sports magazines, and he and his friends spend much of their free time hunting and fishing. When he got a copy of The Escoffier Cookbook, it started him on a year-long quest to create a fabulous feast for his friends using wild game and products he scrounges up over the course of a year. With detailed information about his successes and failures (including the dreaded food poisoning), as well as the prosaic and interesting adventures he has to get the goods for his feast, I had a hard time putting the book down. He goes above and beyond what most of us would ever imagine doing for a holiday feast. While the author does relish in his intimate knowledge of exactly where his food comes from, this book is definitely not for the squeamish. And, make no mistake, there’s not a single recipe in this book. An excerpt from the book’s second chapter can be read on

The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine, by Steve Rinella.

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