Food Wednesday 9/2/20 (1 article)
We are going to take just a quick moment, maybe two, to remember two of the most important dates in all of human history. Back on September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and WWII was underway. Back on this day in 1945, officials of the Japanese Government unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Forces aboard the USS Missouri and WWII was over.
There were a lot of things which went on between September 1, 1939 and September 2, 1945, the most important of which is the fact that the good guys won and saved the world. If you are interested in history, you can still walk the decks of the Mighty Mo at Pearl Harbor and stand right where WWII ended 75 years ago today. You will be impressed.
The USS Missouri is the last battleship ever built by the US of A and, at 870’, she is both beauty and beast. She was laid down in January 1941 and launched in January 1944. The senior senator from Missouri and his wife were at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the christening of the USS Missouri. Harry and Bess Truman would not have missed that for the world because their 23 year old daughter, Mary Margaret Truman, had the honor of breaking that Champagne bottle on the bow of Mighty Mo.
The Missouri fought at Iwo Jima and Okinawa prior to hosting the end of WWII and then fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. Nevertheless, Pearl Harbor is a long way away for most of us, and luckily for us there is another great battleship open for viewing a whole lot closer.
The USS Texas was launched in May 1912 and served the country well during WWI. At the start of WWII, the Battleship Texas escorted war convoys across the Atlantic and then shelled the beaches during the North African campaign. She pounded the beaches of Normandy beginning in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944 and then sailed to the Pacific Theater where she joined the Missouri to provide support at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
The Battleship Texas is the last of the WWI dreadnoughts still remaining and was the first battleship to become a permanent museum ship as well as the first battleship to be declared a US National Historic Landmark. You can go see her at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site and while you’re there, you can take a grand tour of the place where Texas became a Republic back on April 21, 1836.
If you happen to have an American flag handy and feel so inclined, today would be a most appropriate day to fly your flag.
Addie Broyles, the food editor of the Austin American Statesman, presents a “Recipe of the Week” every Sunday. On August 23, Ms. Broyles posted a story about a cookbook by author Cara Carin Cifelli entitled Vegan Buddha Bowls. Being sort of a country boy with a lean toward carnivore, I was at first more or less totally uninterested in what vegan Buddhists eat. But then I saw a recipe for peanut sauce. In this case, the sauce was meant for tofu, but we can forget that because peanut sauce will also salvage various meat recipes, particularly chicken when meals become more and more redundant and mundane during the ongoing pandemic. [We should, I guess, stipulate that yesterday was National Tofu Day in the UK. It was also evidently opening day of partridge season, harvest of which would at least provide a break from chicken].
The incomparable Ina Garten has a great recipe for peanut sauce, but because she’s Ina, she calls the sauce “Satay Dip”. The problem is, Ina’s recipe has 16 ingredients; the recipe in the Austin American Statesman has 6 ingredients and one of those is water. So we thought we would give it a try to salvage the overly repetitive serving of grilled chicken breasts. This stuff is good, it’s really good. So here is the simple, tasty recipe for peanut sauce courtesy of Cara Carin Cifelli;
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Stir everything up and serve with the meat or vegetable of your choice. The stuff is really good. If you have some left over, store in the fridge. You’ll probably need to add just a little liquid, whether a touch of water or more lime juice before you heat it for a few seconds in the microwave for another serving.
Still talking about simplicity, as you probably know, Ina has the world’s best recipe for “unbreakable Hollandaise”. However, if you want something to put on your green vegetable right now without having to make Hollandaise, you can whip up the “universal” dressing by combining 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and ½ cup of olive oil. Stir it all up and let it sit until you are ready to use. It’s not Ina’s Hollandaise, but it’s really good and really simple.
One more thing about simplicity along with a lament of why didn’t we think of that before. The other night we made a pot of roasted vegetable soup because we had a lot of vegetables we really needed to use up. So we cut up yellow squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, some small golden potatoes, carrots, onion and probably something else I have forgotten, put the veggies in a gallon storage bag, poured in some olive oil, salt and pepper, shook it up and poured the veggies out onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, then into a 350° oven for about 30 minutes. When the roasted vegetables came out of the oven, we put them in a big pot, added enough chicken broth to cover everything and let the broth simmer until we were ready to eat, about an hour.
It goes without saying that if you are going to have soup or chili or beans or peas or greens or whatever, you are also going to have cornbread. As stated before on lots of occasions, our cornbread is really simple, but really pretty good too. We use 2 cups self-rising cornmeal, 2 eggs, 3 scunches of sugar to 1 scunch of salt (I guess you could, in this case, substitute “teaspoon” for “scunch” and be OK) along with about 2 cups of buttermilk if you have it or whole milk if you don’t. You probably won’t need the full 2 cups of liquid to make a loose batter. We typically grate some cheddar or Monterrey jack to add to the batter.
On this particular night, however, I was lazy and didn’t want to grate cheese. We had a container of Austin Slow Burn Medium Green Chili Queso, so we put probably a couple of tablespoons of that in the batter. If we make cornbread using 2 cups of self-rising corn meal, we make it in a 10” cast iron skillet which has been sprayed with cooking spray. If we halve the recipe as we usually do since there are only two of us, we make it in an 8” cast iron skillet. Don’t forget to spray your cast iron with cooking spray before use because it makes clean up so much more simple. Preheat the skillet in a preheated 400° oven for about 5 minutes, remove the skillet, pour in the batter and put it back in the oven for about 20 minutes. It may be necessary to turn the oven to “broil” for the last minute to make sure the top of the cornbread turns golden brown.
We’ve been making cornbread for a long time, but the addition of that Austin Slow Burn Green Chili Queso made the best cornbread we can remember. If you don’t have any Green Chili Queso, just melt some American or Velveeta cheese and add to your batter. It really makes some great cornbread.
September is a pretty huge food month. We’ll start, of course, by mentioning that September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, so designated by Senate Resolution 294 introduced by Senator Jim Bunning from, where else, Kentucky back in 2007. SR 294 recognizes that bourbon has officially been “America’s Native Spirit” since 1964 and is the only spirit native to the US of A. The Resolution goes on to honor all those Kentuckians who have been distilling bourbon since the early 18th century and all the contributions they have made since.
September is also California Wine Month. It’s kind of funny that at the onset of Prohibition on January 16, 1920, fewer than 100,000 acres in California were devoted to vineyards. When the 21st amendment was ratified in December 1933 which ended Prohibition, the California grape acreage had increased to over 600,000.
So how in the heck did those clever Californians sell more grapes during Prohibition than before Prohibition? Because during prohibition, the California wine makers were selling grape juice in bottles with the warning that the contents of the bottle could ferment and turn into wine, the label then going into great detail on what not to do lest the contents indeed turn into wine.
September is National Rice Month. Rice is pretty important because it is the main staple for over ½ the folks on earth. Of the 8 billion people currently on earth, give or take, more than 1 billion are involved in growing rice which is probably the reason over ½ the rice grown is eaten within 8 miles of where it is grown. Americans on average eat 24 pounds of rice per person per year. Asians eat around 300 pounds of rice per person per year. The French eat about 10 pounds per person so they evidently have other stuff they turn to instead of rice.
I had no idea that Arkansas produces more rice than any other state of the union. Thanks to foodreference.com, we know that Arkansas produces almost half of the American rice crop. The next five top producers are California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and then Texas which ranks all the way down in sixth place. It is, however, some consolation that Texas basmati or “Texmati” is the best rice grown on earth.
September is also National Wild Rice Month. Rice and wild rice are both grasses, but they are not related to each other. Go figure. Lots of food aficionados pretty much think wild rice hung the moon. I kinda like it, but it’s never going to replace that Texas basmati when it’s time for fried chicken, rice and gravy. While we’re here, I guess it is appropriate to mention that September is Whole Grains Month.
September is National Potato Month, so we could just call September National Carbs Month. Potatoes are the fourth most important crop in the world behind only wheat, rice and corn. The real upside is that potatoes are a lot easier to grow and need a lot less water than wheat, rice and corn.
September is National Vegetable with a Head Month, more commonly referred to as National Chicken Month. The whole world eats chickens and it turns out that all those chickens eaten all over the world are all descended from the red jungle fowl of India and Southeast Asia. Along about 2000 BC, some really smart folks found out you could domesticate red jungle fowls which, over time, saved a lot of effort by not having to chase the things down. Now fully 95% of all the restaurants in the US of A have some sort of chicken dish to offer on the menu. The majority of the other restaurants are probably vegetarian or vegan establishments, having not yet received the message that chickens are vegetables with heads.
September is National Biscuit Month. My Grandmother, like everyone’s Grandmother, made the best biscuits on earth. We have friends that make the best biscuits on earth. We used to try to make great biscuits and finally came upon a recipe which is not only easy, it makes totally acceptable biscuits and there is absolutely no mess to clean up. Our recipe is secret, but we call it “Pillsbury Grands”.
If you’re going to sit down with some great biscuits, you’ll probably reach for the butter and the honey. September is National Honey Month. Honey was probably the first sweet treat humans ever had. Egyptians were partaking as long ago as 2500 BC and honey found in the Pyramids has been deemed by folks who know about such things as still edible. Personally, I’m going to take their word for it. Nevertheless, honey, along with salt and sugar are things that seem to stay good just about forever.
We had a real scare regarding honeybees in 2007, because in that year 1/3 of all honeybee colonies in the US died off due to a viral infection. That, together with the fact that more and more people are spraying plants to ward off bad bugs which also kills good bugs like honeybees, has quite a few folks worried about the long term well-being of honeybees. Meanwhile, enjoy your biscuits and honey while you can because September is Better Breakfast Month.
September is National Hazelnut Month as well as National Papaya Month. I’m afraid I don’t know much about either hazelnuts or papayas, but I do know that it’s also National Mushroom Month, so we’ll go there.
Mushrooms are a fungus. There are lots of kinds of mushrooms, but only a very few are edible so unless you know what you’re doing, it’s really essential to let professionals inform as to what can be eaten and what cannot. Once again, those ancient Egyptians discovered mushrooms were a great food item. The French found out about mushrooms in the early 17th century, began harvesting them from local caves and the world has not been the same since. Americans were a little slow to catch onto mushrooms, failing to embrace the fungi until the late 19th century.
September is National Food Safety Month which brings us to the burning question can food be safely cooked while still in the can? OK, I’m pretty sure that is not what National Food Safety Month was meant to address, but evidently a lot of people are now putting unopened cans of food in their “Instant Pot” type pressure cookers, pressing “Pressure Cook” and after 30 minutes, the results are “amazing”. My Grandmother used to drop a can of Eagle Brand Milk in boiling water and in about 45 minutes, we had the best caramel I have ever tasted.
But food safety experts say don’t cook food in cans. I worry about the cans blowing up. Food safety experts worry about some of the metal in the can leaching into the food as it cooks. So let’s not cook food while it’s still in the can.
In the UK, September is Sourdough September launched in 2013 to “help everyone worldwide discover that life’s sweeter with sourdough”! Who knew the Brits took their sourdough so seriously? So get out there and bake you some GENUINE sourdough. Support small independent bakeries which bake GENUINE sourdough and say no to sourfaux (sorry, that’s what the copy says). Join sustainweb.org/realbread/membership/ and join in the Real Bread Campaign. You can, of course, also make a donation to the Real Bread Campaign at the website.
Speaking of the United Kingdom, the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight 2020 begins September 5 and extends through September 20 during which Scotland’s unmatched reputation for food and drink will be celebrated with all due enthusiasm. We can do our part by stocking up on some of that great Scotch Whisky.
OK, we were supposed to talk about Vesuvius eruptions, Pliny the Elder and other things today, but we ran out of time, so we’ll undoubtedly get to them next week. If not, for sure the week after. Maybe.
Now let’s get to the deals and semi deals of the week, again starring only Randalls:
USDA select bone in ribeyes in the “value pack” are $5.97/pound, limit 2 packs.
26-30 count shrimp are $5.97/pound, sold in 2 pound bags for $11.94/each, limit 2 bags.
Whole fresh salmon fillets are $5.77/pound.
Blueberries are $1.77/pint, limit 4 pints.
Strawberries are $1.77/pound, limit 4 pounds.
Freshly ground 93% lean ground beef is $3.97/pound.
Grass fed boneless ribeyes and New York strips are $12.99/pound.
Grass fed beef tenderloin is $14.99/pound.
USDA prime boneless New York strips are $13.99/pound.
USDA choice beef brisket is $2.99/pound, sold whole in the bag.
16-20 count peeled and deveined shrimp are $7.99/pound, sold in 2 pound bags for $15.98/each, limit 2 bags.
Signature Farms fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts are $2.99/pound.
5 pound bags of red potatoes are $2.99/each.
If you have heard about the relatively new cooking hit known as wood pellet grills, be advised that Randalls has a variety known as “Z Grills” which is going for $199.99 with a free grill cover “while supplies last”. That’s about 20% of what you’ll pay for “name brand” wood pellet grills and represents a great opportunity to get some inexpensive experience.
Wood pellets for your new wood pellet grill, or you’re old wood pellet grill for that matter, are $9.99 for a 20 pound bag.
That is all I can recall at this time. See you next week.