Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cooking History

Culinary historian and cookbook author Mary Gunderson combines her passions for history, food, and cooking to serve up an appealing blend of award-winning cookbooks, presentations, and classroom activities. Her website History Cooks bills itself as the place for people who love history & food, and her work is so distinctive that she coined a term for it: paleocuisineology, which means bringing history alive through cooking. Gunderson, who lives in South Dakota, dives into primary historical documents to unearth the foods and recipes that graced tables and tents in bygone eras. She's written about the "cuisine" of the Corps of Discovery in two tantalizing and fact-filled books that will inspire teachers, parents, and kids to tuck in for hours of fun and learning. The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark: Recipes for an Expedition (History Cooks, 2003) includes the sophisticated cuisine that Thomas Jefferson enjoyed as well as the savory wild game, hominy, and plum tarts the Corps members dined on along the trail. Cooking on the Lewis and Clark Expedition is part of the series Exploring History through Simple Recipes (Capstone Press, 2000). The books, written in consultation with a curriculum consultant, are designed for kids in grades three through six.

"Lewis and Clark wrote about food almost every day," says Gunderson. "There are really nice moments in the journals about the food on the trip, then there are things that are startling to us today," such as reports that each Corps member ate 10 pounds of meat each day. (Gunderson thinks it was more like five.) "Food really does help tell the story of where they were, culturally and geographically. It helps tell the story of the trip across the continent," she says. Using food as a "time machine," she recreates the tastiest of the Corps members' meals - many of them inspired by Hidatsa and Mandan Indians - such as corn with sunflower and black beans. And she wouldn't dream of leaving out Charbonneau's famous Buffalo Boudin Blanc.

History Cooks

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Spice of Life

Grilling? If that T-bone simply isn’t hot enough, try adding some Bone Sucking Hot BBQ Sauce and see it sizzle all the way to the plate. The online store,, calling itself "The World's Largest Spice Store", can help make your next barbecue as spicy as you want it. From Mad Dog BBQ Sauce to Fire in the Hole Hot Sauce, has it all. Cooking may require a bit of work, but shopping at is easy, fast and efficient. Our full range of spices, sauces, dips, gravies and snack foods make it simple to find any ingredient. "If a customer wants something we don’t carry, all they have to do is ask us and we’ll find it," says Daniel Turkette of American Spice. "We believe in being a full resource." Known as The World’s Largest Spice Store because of their extensive array of products, American Spice is also committed to freshness and quality. "When you buy from other vendors, there’s a good possibility the spices have sat there for six months or more before they were sent out," explains Turkette. "We package and blend everything in house, meaning the spices you order are the freshest they can be when they arrive on your doorstep." From ginger root imported from the Far East to hot chilies grown in Argentina, carries it all, and in all sizes, including bulk. Mustards, soup bases, gravy mixes, dried fruits, rubs and marinades, are all featured on the site, along with traditional seasonings. "Our selection is varied and excellent in quality," says Turkette. "Our customers continually compliment us on our products."

American Spice

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Cajeta on the Menu

For foodies, the world these days resembles a smorgasbord of gastronomic delights ripe for the picking, from low cost airlines shuttling them to wherever the next 'it' country is, to booming urban restaurants fusing everything from Japanese with Chilean to Brazilian with Indonesian.

Mexico contributes to our multicultural palatte 'cajeta', a flavoured, syrupy sauce made from burnt goat's milk and sugar. Fans pour it over ice cream, on bread, crepes, cookies, fruit, etc. Which has led to cajeta-flavoured candy in the form of lollipops, soft candy and wafers. Two of the leading producers are Coronado and Sevillanas, manufacturing various kinds of goat's milk-based treats: candy bars, lollipops, cajeta cookies and candy spread. Tasty, no? Hershey's has launched a candy specifically for the Hispanic market, boasting "sabor a chocolate blanco con cajeta." Their gaffe was that cajeta has a very different meaning in other South American markets, referring to a certain part of a woman's anatomy. You can buy some samples from MexGrocer, a bilingual online grocery store for hard-to-find, authentic Mexican foods. We could just see goat milk lollipops becoming THE hot new candy for the summer of 2005, and someone, perhaps you, is going to get rich from it!


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Assembly Line "Home" Cooking

When it comes to dinner, consumers want it all: active, individual lifestyles AND sit-down family dinners, preferably combined with convenience AND authenticity. Which means the food and beverage world is forever coming up with innovative, wholesome yet effortless ways to feed busy singles and families; from healthy ready-to-heat meals to online grocers such as FreshDirect. Now, add to this equation services like Dream Dinners, Dinner Helpers and Let's Dish.

How it works: the Dream Dinners of this world eliminate the hassle of planning and preparing meals, by facilitating cooking sessions in professional kitchens where customers assemble 12 to 24 healthy family meals and then take the entrées home in coolers, boxes or laundry hampers to freeze/store/cook and eat. The service cleverly takes care of time-consuming activities like grocery shopping, chopping and dicing, and cleaning up. Dream Dinners charges USD 200 per 12-meal session for 4-6 people, or 24 meals for 2-3 people, while Dinner Helpers charges USD 179 for 12 meals. An entirely new way of preparing a family's monthly food-supply, and one that would go down well with busy households in Europe, Asia-Pacific and anywhere else where time is the new currency!

Dream Dinners
Dinner Helpers
Let's Dish

Monday, March 21, 2005

Blogging the New Kosher

There used to be many adjectives to describe kosher food; "bland", "boring", and "restrictive" were high on everyone's list. Things have changed, in part due to advocates like Kosher Blog, which spreads news of new restaurants and new products. The rules haven't changed a bit, but the food most certainly has. It's still kosher and for those who wish, still glatt kosher, but creative cooks and food packagers have added taste to the qualities that "kosher" has always promised. This blog is based in the Boston area, but covers kosher matters nationwide. It offers many great recipes and online and mail-order sources for the products discussed. Since this is an open blog, there are also lively discussions on everything covered.

Kosher Blog

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Learning How to Share

At Taste Everything, the idea is simple. Food can be a wonderful part of life. A growing legion of people in the world think of every meal as an opportunity for a great experience. And yet, sometimes it seems like an ever shrinking number of people make great food. TasteEverything is dedicated to the idea that the more people share their great experiences, the more likely it is that the people who make great food will prosper and increase in number.

Taste Everything

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Recipes for Student Success

Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World The Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World 4-volume set provides comprehensive coverage of the foods and recipes of approximately 75 cultural groups from more than 60 countries - from Algeria to Vietnam. Entries provide 10-15 recipes for each group and include data on the agriculture and dietary habits as well as an overview of each group's nutrition and health. Arranged alphabetically by country, entries also describe both traditional and modern methods of preparing and cooking foods. For each country/group, the Encyclopedia covers foods of the group; foods for religious and holiday celebrations; geographic setting and environment; history and food; mealtime customs; politics, economies and nutrition; and more. Value-added features include lists of sources for further study, including cookbooks and Internet sources; sidebars covering related material, including definitions of specific terminology or descriptions of the evolution of a particular cooking method/custom; and both general and recipe indexes.

The Thomson Gale Student Resource Center provides researchers with full-text, which allows students to access entire articles that meet their search criteria without having to follow up on index-only or abstract-only results. The Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World has beeen added to their collection.

Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World
4 Volumes, Reading Level Grades 7-10, 7 1/2" x 9 1/2, 800pp
ISBN 0-7876-5423-X, Saunders Book Company
Features: Black and White Photographs and Maps, Table of Contents, Further Study, Web Sites, Sidebar Information, Glossary, Timeline of Dietary Customs, General and Recipe Indices

Friday, March 18, 2005

Eating Architecture

Eating ArchitectureThe contributors to this highly original collection of essays explore the relationship between food and architecture, asking what can be learned by examining the (often metaphorical) intersection of the preparation of meals and the production of space. In a culture that includes the Food Channel and the knife-juggling chefs of Benihana, food has become not only an obsession but an alternative art form. The nineteen essays and "Gallery of Recipes" seize this moment to investigate how art and architecture engage issues of identity, ideology, conviviality, memory, and loss that cookery evokes. This is a book for all those who opt for the "combination platter" of cultural inquiry as well as for the readers of M. F. K. Fisher and Ruth Reichl.

The essays are organized into four sections that lead the reader from the landscape to the kitchen, the table, and finally the mouth. The essays in "Place Settings" examine the relationships between food and location that arise in culinary colonialism and the global economy of tourism. "Philosophy in the Kitchen" traces the routines that create a site for aesthetic experimentation, including an examination of gingerbread houses as art, food, and architectural space. The essays in "Table Rules" consider the spatial and performative aspects of eating and the ways in which shared meals are among the most perishable and preserved cultural artifacts. Finally, "Embodied Taste" considers the sensual apprehension of food and what it means to consume a work of art. The "Gallery of Recipes" contains images by contemporary architects on the subject of eating architecture.

Edited by Jamie Horwitz and Paulette Singley, MIT Press, May 2004
ISBN 0-262-08322-1, 8 x 9, 380 pp

Eating Architecture

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Purveyors of Fine Salt

Specialty Salts were a "hobby" of Cooking School of Aspen, until two years ago, when the school first hosted the talents and expertise of Colman Andrews, editor-in-chief of SAVEUR Magazine. Colman sampled the school's Danish Smoked Salt, was taken with its flavor and its history, and, in the April 2002 issue of Saveur titled Smoky Crystals, introduced it to home and restaurant kitchens across the country. As a result, cooks began to look to Cooking School of Aspen for its unparalleled collection of specialty salts. In an effort to provide its customers with the finest product available, the school created Salt Traders, the sole focus of which is to seek out and import the finest, most unique salts from around the world, and make them available for purchase.

Different salts, because of their widely varying crystalline structures, bring varying qualities to all sorts of food. Fleur de sel, for example, is better on chocolate cake than even icing, but sel gris will ruin that same cake. This doesn’t make sel gris a bad salt. There’s nothing better sprinkled on broiled, buttery prawns than moist and crunchy sel gris. And just because it’s great on chocolate cake doesn’t mean fleur de sel is necessarily the best salt for all baked goods. A flaked sea salt from South Africa or Maldon salt from England is much better than fleur de sel when sprinkled on focaccia just prior to placing the batter in the oven. Nazuna sea salt from Japan makes salmon taste like it was caught the very same day. The presence of Mexican benequenes de Ixtapa would hardly be noticed on the same piece of fish. There’s no better salt, however, for homemade tortilla chips, than Mexico’s benequenes de Ixtapas. Likewise, the salt to sprinkle over raw vegetables, particularly thick slices of a Jersey tomato in August, is Peruvian pink or Ittaca d’or from Sicily. In the winter, however, when sticking to more tender roasted root vegetables, opt strongly for the Australian Murray River salt flakes, which deliver a light crunch and salty burst which fades away on the palate like shaved ice.

Salt Traders
Cooking School of Aspen

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Folks and Their Medicine

For more than fifty years, folklorists associated with the University of California, Los Angeles have systematically documented beliefs and practices relating to folk medicine and alternative healthcare. In order to make the data more readily available to the worldwide community of researchers and medical practitioners, the Online Archive of American Folk Medicine was established in 1996 under the direction of Dr. Michael Owen Jones, a professor of folklore and history at UCLA. Dr. Hand, students, and colleagues began to amass data for the Archive of American Folk Medicine in the 1940s. The project originated with Hand's editing of materials that eventually were published as two volumes of The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore (Duke University Press, 1961, 1964). Hand extracted information from the writings of medical practitioners dating to the late 18th century. He also obtained data from scientific journals, popular magazines, newspapers, and historical sources (diaries, travel accounts, treatises on plants and animals) over the past 200 years. More than 3,200 published works served as sources for archive holdings. Other materials derive from field collections in archives at UCLA, Detroit University, Pan American University, Berkeley, Sacramento State, and the University of Oregon. While most of the information concerns ethnic and regional groups in the U.S., there is also data from Europe, Latin America, and parts of Africa and Asia.

Ever wonder what your great-grandmother did when she got a headache, or what soldiers in the American War of Independence did to help heal their wounds? You can use UCLA's Online Archive of American Folk Medicine to find out. The result of more than 50 years of research, the archive stresses that the information listed is not valid medical advice nowadays. It records as many additional details for each listed treatment or belief as possible, so you can search by type of healer, ethnicity of the treatment, and the geographic origin of a particular piece of data, as well as more obvious categories like condition and method of treatment. We liked the rosemary and rum concoction for treating measles and the North Carolina tradition of burning the father's hat when the first boy is born to a family. Oh and your great-grandmother may have worn a nutmeg around her throat to cure her headache, in case you're still wondering.

Online Archive of American Folk Medicine

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Helen Nearing's Random Acts of Cooking

Simple Food for the Good LifeFifty years before the phrase "simple living" became fashionable, Helen and Scott Nearing were living their celebrated "Good Life" on homesteads first in Vermont, then in Maine. All the way to their ninth decades, the Nearings grew their own food, built their own buildings, and fought an eloquent combat against the silliness of America's infatuation with consumer goods and refined foods. They also wrote or co-wrote more than thirty books, many of which are now being brought back into print by the Good Life Center and Chelsea Green.

Simple Food for the Good Life is a jovial collection of "quips, quotes, and one-of-a-kind recipes meant to amuse and intrigue all of those who find themselves in the kitchen, willingly or otherwise." Recipes such as Horse Chow, Scott's Emulsion, Crusty Carrot Croakers, Raw Beet Borscht, Creamy Blueberry Soup, and Super Salad for a Crowd should improve the mood as well as whet the appetite of any guest. Here is an antidote for the whole foods enthusiast who is "fed up" with the anxieties and drudgeries of preparing fancy meals with stylish, expensive, hard-to-find ingredients. This celebration of salads, leftovers, raw foods, and homegrown fruits and vegetables takes the straightest imaginable route from their stem or vine to your table.

"The funniest, crankiest, most ambivalent cookbook you'll ever read," said Food & Wine magazine. "This is more than a mere cookbook," said Health Science magazine: "It belongs to the category of classics, destined to be remembered through the ages."

Helen Nearing Helen Nearing left city life with her husband, Scott nearly sixty years ago to move first to Vermont and then to their farm in Harborside, Maine. The Nearings' food and living philosophies have provided the guidelines for many who seek a simpler way of life. Among Helen Nearing's numerous books is  Loving and Leaving the Good Life, a memoir of her fifty-year marriage to Scott Nearing and the story of Scott's deliberate death at the age of one hundred. Helen and Scott Nearing's final homestead in Harborside, Maine, has been established in perpetuity as an educational progam under the name of The Good Life Center.

Simple Food for the Good Life: Random Acts of Cooking and Pithy Quotations
ISBN: 1-890132-29-2, 6 x 9 Paperback, 309 pages, Chelsea Green Publishing, 1999

The Good Life Center
Chelsea Green Publishing

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Magic of Kraut

Readers of Eastern European heritage will no doubt be intimately familiar with that wonderful delicacy known as sauerkraut. This site is certainly one whose time has come, as more and more people discover the joys of fermented cabbage in its many incarnations and variations. One interesting little-known fact about sauerkraut is that it is an excellent source of lactobacilli (even more so than yogurt) and vitamin C. Visitors looking to experiment with sauerkraut will find a number of helpful recipes here, such as one for classic kraut balls, reuben dip, country ribs and kraut, and kraut quiche. Lest one think that sauerkraut can only be used in entrees, there are a number of dessert recipes that feature sauerkraut, including one for sauerkraut custard pie. The site is rounded out by a few fine extras, such as a sauerkraut chat discussion room and a place for visitors to add their own recipes.

Sauerkraut Recipes

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Raw Food

From Atkins to the Zone to more organic eating lifestyle philosophies such as Macrobiotics and Vegetarianism, it seems that the health food industry never runs out of newer, better 'diets'. Thankfully, the latest craze in health food, 'Raw Food', is a genuinely natural and effective dietary path to achieving a healthier mind and body. As the first retailer of raw foods in America, "High Vibe" has been a pioneer in this movement. Visit their brand new site for an introduction into the philosophy behind the raw food diet, which is said to promote increased vitality, a more youthful appearance and a sense of overall well being. The site also has a section filled with 'live' recipes, a list of upcoming events and seminars, as well as a range of customized products for those who are currently on the high vibe.

High Vibe

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

FI, FA, FAO for Food and Nutrition

During the past few decades, there has been an increased concern over food safety and quality and human nutrition across the globe. A number of large international organizations have begun to bring their expertise and knowledge to the Web, and this site, developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is a good resource of information on these (and other) topics. The site includes a section on human nutrition, where visitors can view detailed country-level nutrition reports and national reports and strategies to combat the ever-growing problem of nutritional deficiencies. The food safety-and-quality area contains information about the capacity-building of food control systems and programs at the national and local level, along with scientific assessments of food safety. The site also contains a link to a very helpful portal that deals with international issues surrounding food safety, animal and plant health.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Sustainable Cuisine

Sustainable CuisineA small book with a large message, Sustainable Cuisine White Papers is a collection of 39 essays on the link between food quality, environmental issues and culinary traditions. An eclectic group of chefs, farmers, food writers, environmental experts and others offer food for thought that is all at once whimsical and real.

The book has received many rave reviews. "These are great little testimonials that show us that a sustainable life is both necessary and delicious." -Alice Waters, Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA. "This isn't about charming ethnic cuisines, but a serious examination of how to feed 6 billion people without harming the people or the planet." -Patricia Corrigan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "A wonderful book! It inspires and guides us to be sustainable, touching every aspect of our lives." -Nora Pouillon, Restaurant Nora, Washington, D.C. "Most important, readable, little green book with a big green agenda." - Saveur Magazine

ISBN: 0-9675099-0-4, 4.5 x 7.75 Paperback, 190 pages
Earth Pledge, 2000-01-15

Earth Pledge

Monday, March 07, 2005

Hello Mushroom, Hello Fungus

Stuffed, sauteed, or floating in a creamy soup, mushrooms are a delicacy reserved for the most discerning of taste buds, like those on the tongue of Aaron Sherman. Sherman has taken his love of fungi to new extremes with a Web site on which he records his mushroom-seeking walking tours of the greater Boston area. While most people are familiar with your garden-variety edible fungi, Sherman explores the toxic and exotic varieties he finds in parks and forests. Follow him and other fungi aficionados as they archive their nighttime pursuits of the often misunderstood mushroom. Be sure to visit the Gallery, which boasts some remarkable photographs of these fascinating non-plants.

Aaron's Mushroom Journals

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Baking from the Heart

Baking from the Heart Inspired by the annual fundraising bake sale of Share Our Strength, a nationwide anti-hunger organization, this volume contains 100 recipes for cookies, brownies, cakes and other sweet treats, contributed by an impressive array of 54 American culinary standouts. The editor, Michael Rosen (Midnight Snacks; Cooking from the Heart) convinced such well-known pastry chefs as François Payard, who launched Manhattan’s Restaurant Daniel with Daniel Boulud, and nationally renowned dessert teacher Maida Heatter to supply recipes for their enticing versions of bake sale fare. A biography of the contributing chef accompanies each recipe, along with tips for making the recipe bake-sale friendly, should that, in fact, be the goal. Easy-to-follow entries range from indulgently homey, like Joanne Chang’s Homemade Oreos®, to intriguing, like Jimmy Schmidt’s Black Walnut Pound Cake with a Ginger-Black Pepper Glaze. This is a warmly rendered, appealing collection.

Baking from the Heart: Our Nation's Best Bakers Share Cherished Recipes for The Great American Bake Sale (A Share Our Strength Book to Fight Hunger), 304 pages, 9.1 x 7.7 x 1.1 inches, Broadway, ISBN 0767916395

Share Our Strength

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Seeds of Controversy

The news that Monsanto, the notorious GMO company has purchased Seminis has received little attention from the media other than the financial pages and a few seed industry and anti-globalization web sites. But then again, why should it? How many consumers – of food or seed – have even heard of Seminis? And yet, as Seminis spokesperson Gary Koppenjan said, “If you've had a salad, you've had a Seminis product." It is estimated that Seminis controls 40 percent of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20 percent of the world market—supplying the genetics for 55 percent of the lettuce on U.S. supermarket shelves, 75 percent of the tomatoes, and 85 percent of the peppers, with strong holdings in beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas. The company’s biggest revenue source comes from tomato and peppers seeds, followed by cucumbers and beans. What does this mean for consumers? “You have to ask yourself why Monsanto would decide to buy this seed company,” was the thought first shared by Rob Johnston of Johnny’s Selected Seeds, “Their Roundup herbicide patent is expiring, so their future profits are in the biotech traits…I think they’re going to push and see if consumers will accept it.” C.R. Lawn was less certain, feeling that Monsanto would not be bold enough to try and sell such technology to consumers and farmers, particularly after GMO wheat was recently shelved because of the lack of perceived public acceptance. There is also speculation that if Monsanto can slowly start building the GMO vegetable-fruit market, then the debate over GMOs will become a moot point, as they will have made their way onto the plate and thus gained acceptance (or at least acquiescence). For more on this topic, the Seed Alliance is sure to keep their eye on the issue.

Seed Alliance

Friday, March 04, 2005

Food as Cultural Symbols

Cultural markers can be found in the form of clothing, jewelry, architecture, art, and religion. The importance of food as a cultural marker is often undervalued. The Weird Foods from around the World site aims to rectify that as it appreciates food as a modern cultural symbol. What one society deems fine cuisine, another society considers barbaric or eccentric. While many North Americans may balk at the notion of devouring insects as a meal, insects are common fare in many other parts of the globe. Conversely, those living in parts of Asia tend to view cheese, and particularly blue cheese, as repulsive. This site is a fascinating culinary romp around the world, chock full of weird food facts with a smattering of peculiar recipes to tantalize the taste buds.

Weird Food

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Food Dictionary

Would you string someone up on a galantine, or serve it for dessert? And what exactly is a lychee? The Epicurious Food Dictionary at saves amateur chefs from having to eat their words with its searchable dictionary of more than 4,000 food terms, from abbacchio to zabaglione.


Coming for Dinner

What do you get when you mix a seasoned chef with a self-proclaimed Internet geek? Well, you get Luke Knowland and his extremely cool, down-to-earth online cookbook that both desperate bachelors and culinary artists alike will find useful and interesting. Luke's passion for cooking as well as continuing pressure from his well-fed friends prompted him to create his very own virtual cookbook. It contains refined recipes such as Petrale Sole as well as more down-home dishes like Dirty Rice and even the infamous Southern concoction known as "Turducken". Bon Appetite!

Coming for Dinner

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Buzz on Bees, a great resource for both amateur and professional apiarists, was created by Barry Birkey, a Web designer, remodeling business owner, and beekeeper. A stand-out website feature is the Plans section, which contains downloadable plans (with images) for a variety of beehives, honey extractors, pollen traps, an Apidictor, and more. The site contains many relevant news stories, and opinion articles, as well as links to suppliers of bees and beekeeping equipment in Australia, Europe, Canada, South America, South Africa, and the United States. The site includes a Bulletin Board with multiple forums, links to apiary discussion groups, and a page of annotated links. The site also contains hyperlinks to Beekeeping Journals and U.S. Beekeeping Associations.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Spice of Life

As Spring and Summer start to promise longer days and ever-hotter nights it's the right time to think about the various delights afforded by creating spicy meals for friends and family. One place to turn to is the Spicy Cooking website, which prominently features a variety of helpful spicy recipes drawn from the various corners of the world, including recipes from Thailand, Mexico, and India. The site also features some nice articles on the benefits of spicy cooking, including a nice piece on capsaicin. In brief, capsaicin is a colorless compound (found in a number of hot peppers) that serves as the source of the heat in hot peppers. Some of the recipes to be found on the site include those for tasty lamb curry, shrimp del diablo, and Rosaís frijoles refritos.

Spicy Cooking