A Dinner Party and a Hunting Knife or Two

Author Photo
By Janann Giles | Sep 27, 2012

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!

 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.  

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.