Hoppin’ John, or Dashing Myths Galore

(Due to a foul up with WordPress and dates, this post appeared on December 30. I was not finished with it yet!  But now I am!) Black-eyed peas, a gift to the New World from Africa. These beans were there as early as 1659 at St. Louis, now present-day Senegal, but they actually originated in North Africa, in…

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From Velouté to Casserole: A Question of Green Beans, Amandine, and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

I didn’t mean to write about Campbell’s soup. You see, I started out pondering a super French soup recipe, Velouté aux Champignons. Somehow I ended up contemplating Campbell’s canned Cream of Mushroom Soup, definitely not one of Antonin Carême’s sauces mères or Mother Sauces (velouté, espagnole, allemande, béchamel)! Though you could argue that Campbell’s soups…

Are Pole Beans Like Cows? A Crashing Tale

Pole beans are sort of like cows. If you keep milking a cow, she produces milk. Likewise, if you keep picking pole beans, the plant keeps producing. Pole beans are not like bush beans, which render up a crop and then die back. I call them pole beans, but some people call them flat beans…

Eat a Meal of Solidarity: Haiti’s Sos Pwa Rouj

As in a nightmare wrought by Quentin Tarantino, I watched the horrors unfolding in Haiti after the earthquake. Hands tied, unable to help in any major way, I turned to my pantry, memories of the lovely Haitian women who cooked for us stepping into my mind, smiling, images of hope for Haiti's future. Here's a…

At the Tables of the Monks: Daily Fare (Part III)

Fermentation provided a number of foods on the tables of medieval monks. Beer, cheese, wine, sausages all result from fermentation processes. While it is true that medieval monks invented none of these foods originally --- the Romans made cheese, wine, and sausages and Norsemen enjoyed beer --- the monks, after the fall of Rome, guarded…

The Washington Post on Best Cookbooks (Gifts) of 2008

An interesting and REAL list (for the most part) of cookbooks for serious and not-so-serious home cooks. Some of the 18 titles anointed and blessed  by The Post include: A Platter of Figs, by David Tanis (So popular right now that it can't be had from any of the big online --- or local ---…

Election-Day Menu: Food from Our Greatest Presidents

Hands down, my vote for the greatest presidents we've seen in this country goes to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. John Kennedy might have been a truly great president, but he died before he could prove his mettle, though his stand against the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis counts…

BARACK OBAMA’S CHILI AND JOHN McCAIN’S RIBS

Barack Obama's reply to a reporter who asked him in March 2008 what was his favorite dish to take a potluck: Chili. He said that, "I've been using this chili recipe since college and would bring it to any potluck. I can't reveal all the secrets, but if you make it right, it's just got…

Home Cooking, More Necessary Than Ever

When I got home from the grocery store the other day and turned on the computer to read my Google Reader news feeds, several "food-is-getting-expensive" articles popped up: Web wire with "Rising Food Prices---Gather Your Family Back Around The Dinner Table," about Martha's Vineyard restaurateur Carol McManus's new cookbook, Table Talk: Food. Family. Love. A…

Yin-Yang Beans

Yin-yang beans, also called Calypso or orca or black calypso beans (Phaseolus Vulgaris), resemble nothing more than the ancient Asian symbol of "yin-yang," even to the point (no pun intended) of the eternal black dot. The beans take 70-90 days to produce "fruit." According to gardening catalogs, these hyrbids grow to be fifteen inches high.…

White Beans with Cream, Prosciutto, and Parmesan

Autumn teases you, you know, with its chilly mid-September mornings, urging you to dream of sitting outside on cool evenings, wrapped lightly in woolen shawls, a bowl of hot bean soup nestled in your hands, a glass of Pinot Grigio resting on the small table next to you. Dreaming of a stone cottage in Italy's…

CHILI DAYS ARE A’COMIN’: AN ODE, OF A SORTS

"Open some cans of chili - mighty good." -Toots Shor's recipe for chili- Chili, the stuff of tall tales, legends, grudges, and just plain cussedness. If you earned a buck for every chili recipe ever cooked, fantasized about, or pirated, you'd probably beat Bill Gates at the money game. Not much appeals more to American…