Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dancing On The Ceiling

Don’t think you can afford a pot racks like professional chefs have in their home kitchens? Well, now you can! Our pot rack, developed from the humble clothing rack, has been finely crafted in the thinnest aluminum, held together by the smallest rivets for minimum strength and security. If you don’t believe me, stand underneath while I load it up with cast iron pans! Attached to your ceiling by an ingenious strip of double sided tape, this pot rack will be a boon to your kitchen for years to come. All you have to do when in the middle of cooking a hot meal is to grab a chair from the dining room and stand on it to reach a ladle or colander. It couldn’t be easier! Order yours today!

Self assembly required. Must be 18 or older to order. Only $19.99 + S+H. Please, No C.O.Ds.

Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking Vol 1, 1972

Also from this book: Picnic on Tatooine

Monday, September 24, 2012

American Pastoral

The unopened bag of charcoal.
The two-inch thick steaks.
The lack of smoke or heat distortion coming off the grill.
The asbestos gloves.
The china plate too small for five steaks.
The BAR-B-Q toque and matching apron.
The gingham-check blouse.
The red knee-socks.
The lemon yellow dress and matching sweater.
The pumpkins.
The ornamental gourds.
The oversize bowl of fruit.
The chrysanthemums.
The shadows.
The man, the woman, the child.

Big Boy Barbecue Book, Tested Recipe Institute, Inc., 1956

Monday, September 17, 2012

Apple Soup

Once upon a time in America the only apples you could find, should you be looking, were gnarly, bitter, wormy crabs. When the first European settlers came over, they brought with them apple trees, but not being used to the new climate and soil, they did poorly. When you bring a brand new plant to an ecosystem you also need to think about how that plant will reproduce. The early settlers hadn’t considered a lack of honeybees for pollination when they packed their ships. So they brought honeybees and different apples and tried again until some survived, and again and again until more survived. Eventually, America had enough apple orchards to make cider for everyone to drink. No-one ate apples back then, as most apples were downright inedible. They made good cider though.

John Chapman, AKA “Johnny Appleseed” would collect apple pips from slush piles outside cider mills in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the autumn, and float them downriver to establish small orchards along the Ohio, which was then still the frontier. Once the settlers started moving west, and needed apple trees, his were mature enough to sell to them. Over time, the old world apple genes mixed with the native apple genes and produced hardier trees.

The original Golden Delicious tree in its protective cage.  (1931)
Thus did the Apple become American. Once in a blue moon the right combination of genes will produce an apple tree with delicious apples you can eat. This was the case with the original Golden Delicious tree, which grew in Clay County, West Virginia. Every Golden Delicious apple you have ever eaten comes from a clone of that tree.

The ABC of Jiffy Cookery, The Peter Pauper Press, 1961

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Breaking Eggs

Real chefs judge each other not by how well they can cook an elaborate dinner, but how well they can cook an omelet. This, the most simple of dishes, requires every real skill a good cook needs: confidence; the ability to cook an egg;  a light hand with seasoning; working with the right tools and heat; strong arm muscles to heft the pan while cooking, and to tip the omelet out at the end. If you’ve ever ballsed up something so simple, you’ll know how difficult it actually is.

Here’s the delicate flower of American cooking, Julia Child, showing us, in her inimitable way, how it’s done.

You can tell that the omelet is important because in her classic, Mastering The Art of French Cooking, she devotes many pages to breaking down each step, complete with illustrations. Note how the lady in this picture holds the pan. Now, go to your kitchen, and grab a pan just like it. That is, big and heavy. Hold it with one arm just like that.

Now, grab a plate.

Now, pretend you have a fragile omelet in there you have to quickly turn out, without breaking the omelet, the plate, the pan, or your arm.

Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Julia Child, Knopf, 1961

Also from this book: A Spot of (Batter) Bother
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