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The Hobby - Food

A Pip of a Name

I love libraries.  I have stated this on more than one occasion but and this is a big BUT a Kindle Fire appeared in my stocking this Christmas.  It wasn’t love at first click but I’m warming up to the glow from the fire.   

Sherlock Holmes resizedI’m fairly certain any statistician worth his or her data would have me reading a romance novel or a cookbook but they would be wrong.  The genre for 2013 appears to be detective novels – starting with the complete Sherlock Holmes series of stories.  As I read, I can guess the killer early on in many of the tales because I have now seen the same plots repeated and slightly updated on CSI, Law and Order, NCIS etc.  Science may have progressed but the plots remain the same.  

Yes, I do remember the theme of this blog is food.  Food is about to come in play with my ramblings. A feature I’m enjoying in my electronic reading is the ability to highlight a word and have a definition appear.  Admittedly some of the words used by Sherlock Holmes aren’t in a modern dictionary but I’m surprised how many are.  Take “ulster” for example.  When I see the word Ulster I immediately think of Ulster Knife Works – manufacturers of the first Girl Scout knife but when Sherlock tosses an ulster on before leaving Baker Street I’m pretty sure he’s not wrapping a knife around his neck. A quick tap on the screen and I now know about an ulster overcoat.  

The “pip” is more interesting and luckily it is food oriented.  In one story a client came to see the great detective Holmes and told the tale of an envelope being opened and five orange pips dropping out. I was fairly certain from the passage that a pip was an orange seed.  A tap on the tablet’s screen and yep, I was correct, except the definition said “like an orange seed.”  

Pomegrante pipsOther fruit have seeds too. Now I had the nagging thought “are those fruit seeds called pips as well or do only oranges get this odd little name?” A further search revealed that my thinking was correct. Many other fruit have pips; especially pomegranates.  The entire inside is nothing but pips.   

 Still further research led me to quite a few definitions for “pip” with none really related to the others.  Pips are also the dots on dice or if you’re in a verb sort of mood a pip is also what happens when a baby chicken breaks out of its egg shell.  It pips at the shell.  

DiceOranges, eggs and dice – now we’re talking breakfast with a side game of craps.  No that’s wrong: maybe I’ll use the dice to play Monopoly.  

 I’m enjoying Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because he’s so descriptive.  His killings are intriguing and he immerses you directly into his century with his descriptions of people, unfortunately less so with food.  My thought is that food is so commonplace to an era that it needs no description.  His readers could easily visualize statements such as: He ate a pickled egg or the roasted goose was laid on the sideboard.  It takes more for a reader to visual the “baddie”.  No matter the decade to bring reality to the story and give the reader a clue a villain needs large dirty well-worn hands (to pick up the pickled egg) or a have a permanent sneer on his face (as he surveyed the plump goose).  

 I have not given up my love for the library.  I can wander, touch and feel books in the library. The room is mine to explore and my local librarians have such intriguing books on the browser shelf.  On a tablet I need a starting point before I begin scrolling for titles.  Currently I’m working on finding a happy balance between my two reading sources.  You can be sure though whether its paper or electronic there will be food somewhere in whatever I read.   

A Dinner Party and a Hunting Knife or Two

The holiday are coming and with it the search for new recipes to serve at holiday parties.  I’ve been in a fall mood this week and randomly looking through cookbooks.  I believe I have found a cocktail that will amaze and astound your guests.  Imagine sweeping out of the kitchen, tray filled with cocktails for each guest.  They wait in anticipation for your toast; but before you salute the evening or special guest you let them know about your newest cocktail sensation:  Prune Eggnog!

Joy of Cooking 1943 The best thing I could say when I saw that recipe was ptooeeyucky*@!  and few similar words.  I’m not sure that I have yet gotten the taste of that sound off my tongue.  Yes, it was from a legitimate cookbook, in fact one of the great standards; Irma Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking.  It was the 1943 edition which might explain some of the odd food combinations.

What caught my eye as I was skimming through the book was actually the first recipe.  It’s what people would immediately see so I’m sure she put her best food forward.  The category was cocktails (non-alcoholic) and the first recipe for a dinner party was a Tomato Juice Cocktail.  I’ve never been served tomato juice at a dinner unless it had vodka and a celery stick in it so this was a surprise.  Also surprising was the amount of time spent to create this drink.   A hostess would need to start early to have these cocktails ready for her guests:

3 ½ cups tomatoes

½ cup water

1/ slice onion

1 stalk celery

½ bay leaves

3 sprigs of parsley

Simmer those ingredients for 30 minutes then strain.

Season the liquid with

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. sugar

Chill – because you want to serve it thoroughly chilled.

Sounds like V-8 may have gotten their inspiration from Irma.  

Tomato Juice cocktail 

She also had recipes for pineapple, orange or apricot eggnog but the prune drink made me skip quickly to a new chapter; hopefully with recipes I might like to try. 

 We’ve all been at a friend’s house for a cookout and decided to help a bit with the baked beans.  You know the drill, sneak in a bit more ketchup, mustard or even Worcestershire sauce.  By the time everyone at the party has had a turn in the kitchen you have some great tasty beans.  In addition to bacon and the above listed ingredients Ms. Rombauer added chopped celery to her beans – interesting – actually sounds good to me. 

 I never met Irma Rombauer or her daughter Marion Rombauer Becker who provided artwork for the cookbooks and took over editing when her mother was unable to continue.  The member of the family I have met is Ethan Becker.  A Renaissance man, Ethan continues his family cooking legacy. He attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris but acknowledges he really learned how to cook from his mother. In certain circles Ethan is better known for his love of the outdoors.  He has designed quite a bit of gear for outdoorsman including survival and combat knives.  His knives originally were sold under the Becker Knife and Tool brand but now are manufactured and sold by Ka-Bar Knives.

I met Ethan Becker at a knife show where it seemed odd to be discussing The Joy of Cooking while men dressed in camo rushed by to find the perfect knife for field dressing a deer.  The man was charming and just as happy to talk cooking as hunting knives.  What a delight.  This was two years ago and I wasn’t aware of that Prune Eggnog recipe or I would have asked him his opinion or if he ever tried it.  Perhaps I’ll see him at the same show next year; if so I’ll be prepared with the cookbook in hand to ask his opinion on that concoction.

Any odd recipes out there that you have tried and actually liked.  I'm in the mood to try something new.  No prune juice though.