December 13th, St. Lucy's Day

 Night walks with a heavy step
Round yard and hearth,
As the sun departs from earth,
Shadows are brooding.
There in our dark house,
Walking with lit candles,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Night walks grand, yet silent,
Now hear its gentle wings,
In every room so hushed,
Whispering like wings.
Look, at our threshold stands,
White-clad with light in her hair,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Darkness shall take flight soon,
From earth's valleys.
So she speaks
Wonderful words to us:
A new day will rise again
From the rosy sky…
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
--Santa Lucia, Traditional Swedish Folk Song

St. Lucy's Liturgy
This post is obviously a little late, but I wanted to touch on it before the month was up.  Saint Lucy is a very interesting figure.  Her story is that she was a young woman in ancient Sicily during the reign of Diocletian.  A devout Christian, she converted her mother by curing her illness by praying at the tomb of Saint Agatha.  Her intended fiance, however, was unmoved, and betrayed her as a Christian.  Legends differ about the bowl she usually carries containing a pair of eyes.  In some versions, her eyes are removed as part of her torture by the local governor, in others, she plucks them out and gives them to her admirer,  begging him to leave her alone to worship God. 

Lucy comes from the same root word as light, and between her name and story, she is the patron of eyesight, including the blind.  While she is celebrated in many countries, receiving special devotion in Italy and Catholic parts of Switzerland.

It is in Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, however, that devotion to Saint Lucy took an interesting twist.  There, she has attributes that she doesn't have elsewhere, and still has a strong tradition despite centuries of Lutheran majority, and a strong secular modern culture. 

The oldest daughter in a house will get up before light, put on a white dress with a red sash, and wear a wreath with candles in her hair.  She then will serve hot drinks and breakfast to her family.  Processions, involving Lucy and her followers, children dressed in white, with silver crowns for the girls and tall pointed hats with stars for the boys, will go to schools, elder care centers, and other public places as well. 

White, red, green wreaths and candles...none of which belong to St. Lucy in her native Italy.  It's enough to make one think, "well, huh".  Especially since the 12th or  13th was the Solstice for many years in the old Julian Calendar.  What is the Scandinavian St. Lucy a memory of, exactly?  What did the Catholic tradition mesh with, and allow to continue?  Why are her little saffron buns often referred to as Kattr--cats?  At this point, St. Lucy makes me ask more questions then she answers, but the traditions linked to her--her light shining in the darkness--make this something worth further investigation. 
Recipe here.

There Never Was Such a Goose!

Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course -- and in truth it was something very like it in that house. Mrs Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah.
 In the past few days, I've learned a thing or two about goose.  In Victorian England, thousands of geese were marched from the countryside into the big cities in the month before Christmas.  They would be fattened one final time, then hung fresh in the butcher's windows just in time for the holidays.  Turkey, our modern favorite, on the other hand, was something of a delicacy.  Turkeys did not adjust well to the Old World, and were finicky, prone to illness.  Their feet were more delicate as well, and they were often fitted with special shoes to try and make the march into cities.  This means that the Cratchit's goose was most likely a very poor little creature, bought cheaply from a farmer and then fattened in their yard on what little they could spare, while the prize turkey Scrooge purchases for them was a massive feast, something only affordable by the elite and trend-conscious.  A princely gift for the family of his previously disregarded clerk. 

Now-days, though, the situation has reversed, and a buyer needs to be mentally prepared to spend more money for a 10 pound goose then you would a big turkey.  It's worth it.  Not only that, it's rich enough that everyone ends up having less.  Still, as frugal as I am, that was my biggest moment of self-doubt in our Yule experiment--will it all be worth it when we're scrimping to have this as our Yule feast? It was, in spades. Part of that cost is because geese DO NOT survive being factory farmed the way turkeys do.  They require much more care, and good conditions, so that means that higher cost means that you are 1) supporting a small farmer somewhere, and 2) buying a far more ethically-raised creature. 

Apologies for the poor quality of my phone.
The goose.  Proof I need a better roasting pan... Let it defrost in your fridge (will take 3-4 days), but bring to room temperature the day you're going to cook it.  Drain any liquid, and dry off the bird very well.

The first step I took was to pierce the skin all over.  I used a very sharp knife, but something like a shishkabob  might work really well too; the goal is control, getting through the skin, but not cutting into the flesh underneath.  Like a tattoo artist, it's a painstaking process, but after the first 5 minutes or so, you start to get a feel for where has deep fat (like trying to poke a marshmallow), and where you're directly over the flesh or bone.  Don't forget to lift the wings!  Those are long wings, with a big fat deposit hanging out underneath--I can see forgetting down there leading to a huge chunk of very greasy meat.

Next, I used a dry rub.  I looked at over a dozen sites trying to decide whether to brine or not(as I do with my yearly turkey), and the picture I started to see was that while you *could* brine, it made the goose much more greasy, and no crisp skin.  On the other hand, if you were using a wild goose, brining seems imperative, as the meat is much drier and darker(also making the cooking time significantly shorter). There will be some weeping you need to dry off before you put on a rub.

I used the spices I would have used in a brine in my dry rub:

Goose Rub:

1/2 cup Kosher salt
1T cinnamon
2 t. clove
2 t. cardamom
2 t. white pepper
1 t. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 home-made candied orange peel (the dry kind I made last January, not the sticky kind), chopped fine or run through a food processor.  Try to scoop up some of the citrus-flavored sugar that ends up in the bottom of your container.

Rub the bird, inside and out.  You might want to wear a glove for that, because even though a goose is smaller then a turkey, it's long.  Very long.  By the time I got my handful of rub all the way up to the neck I wasn't sure whether I felt more like I was aiding a delivery or looking for Narnia.

Holy neck, Batman!
Roast at 350 F for 2-3 hours.  This is key, and I'm very glad I did it:  Start the bird breast side up,  after the first 45 minutes, drain out the grease and flip it back side-up.  Another 45 minutes, do it again, so that it's breast-up, and put foil over the breast meat.  That first draining I poured out so much goose grease I had to stop and get another pie pan!  This will mean crisp skin all over, and no super-greasy meat, essentially a substitute for a spit back in the old days.  Watch closely after that second turning...let your eyes and nose tell you when it's done, and check by cutting down into the point where the leg meets the body--no pink in the juices, at all, and it should be fairly easy to tweak the knife and disjoint the leg. 

Don't throw that grease away, either!!!  That is schmaltz!  I wouldn't go so far as to serve it on bread the way some Ashkenazi Jewish families do, but it is wonderfully flavorful. Let it cool, strain it, then refrigerate or freeze it (I poured it into a large mason jar).  Use a little bit to fry up potatoes, or saute veggies...there's a ton of flavor, so you don't need much at all. 

There is a trick to carving goose,  you can find here.

Other recipes of the night:

Wild Rice Dressing

Note:  I put prunes in this, and didn't like them at all.  They made the rice very sticky and gummy....too rich. Everything else about it was good, but I omitted the prunes.

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
Splash dry white wine or Fre
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cups wild rice blend
2 t. salt
fresh ground pepper
2 t. summer savory
2 t dried parsley
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 1/2 cups good chicken stock (preferably home made)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)

Cook apple and onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until caramelized.  Deglaze pan with white wine, add celery, stir and cook for a couple of minutes while wine soaks into the fruit and vegetables.  Add rice and seasonings, and raise temperature, stirring well.  When you start to smell a slight toasty smell from the rice, add vinegar and stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, simmering gently for about 1 hour, then resting for 10-15 minutes.  Keeps warm well moved to a casserole dish in the microwave.  Toss toasted nuts in before serving.  If used as stuffing, rather then just on the side, wait until the last half hour of cooking.

I also made Lussekatter, Sweet and Sour Saurkraut, Brussels sprouts (since my kids don't like saurkraut), and roasted carrots and turnips in the hot roasting pan while the goose was resting.  A common recommendation to go with goose is a dry white wine, like Riesling, if you are so inclined(although Brussels sprouts seem to be notorious for not pairing with anything, so I'd avoid those).  

Had home-made fruitcake for dessert.

`A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us.'
Which all the family re-echoed.
`God bless us every one.' said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

 Additional links:
Gordon Ramsey's take
A traditional Swedish Martinmas goose (PDF)

Apples, Pumpkins, and Turkey Stock

Starting to feel better...thank you everyone who has sent well-wishes, thoughts, prayers, etc, my way!

Normally, I'd break this up into three or four posts, but this is all fall-pertinent stuff, and now we're heading into winter, so I'm going to do one big post today on what's been going on in my kitchen.

Wild Gathering

I've had some very interesting experiences this fall.  Since I currently live in a more rural area, I noticed that there are a number of abandoned apple trees around my town.  They generally look around ten years old or older, and haven't been pruned in a very long time, which means that I often was gathering apples from what appeared to be water shoots from the graft, not from the main tree.  This led to an interesting discovery, which given the climate here makes sense:  most of the apple trees in question seemed to be small, tart, starchy apples for cider.

I also had my very first rose-hip gathering experience.   I had no idea they had such a great scent and flavor!  Unfortunately, the hips I'd gathered and seeded went bad while I was ill, and so that is something I'll need to try again next year.

Another goal for next year would be to try making crabapple jelly.  I used to wonder why old towns in Utah and Idaho had big, old, crabapple trees..after all, all they seemed to do was drop fruit all over the yard and attract deer.  It would seem, though, that they are an ancestor of many modern apples, and, while sour, are very nutritious!  Certainly something to try, although given their high vitamin C content, I want to do my homework and see if there's a tasty way to use them without cooking them. 


So, what does one do with a plethora of small, starchy apples?

The blog Bleeding Espresso caught my attention with a recipe for apple sauce, that can be cooked down longer into apple butter.  I left mine on the stove top a bit long, and so never tried the applesauce stage, but the recipe worked great for me.  Since I don't have a food mill, I used a blender, and there were no peel bits left...very thrifty!  While she simple quarters the apples, though, I went ahead and cut the center core out, since apple seeds contain a cyanide compound called amygdelin.  Better safe then sorry!

This apple butter recipe also calls for some vinegar, which led to a very interesting flavor.  I like it, as it seems to get away from the "overcooked" flavor of some apple butters, brightening it.  My husband jokes that it reminds him of an apple catsup, and wants to serve it next time we have pork chops!


I found a recipe that is one of the simplest things I have ever done for amazing results.  We went to a local pumpkin patch with family right before Halloween, and my Father In Law bought us some little pumpkins called Sugar Babies.

Now, I've tried making my own pumpkin puree before, and it was a disaster.  The big halloween pumpkins are bred for easy carving, which means thin walls and a rough, pulpy texture.

Not these!  I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to make my more expensive cans of pumpkin!

 Using a recipe from Cooking Like a Goddess, by Cait Johnson, I cut the pumpkins in half, and roasted them for 45 minutes in the oven.  The seeds were easy to scrape out, and then digging deeper scraped the flesh right out of the peel.
 I pureed it in small batches.  This took time and plenty of pauses for stirring, but left a very creamy texture.

 Look at that!

Final product:  I should have left more headspace, though, to freeze it(I didn't want to loose that beautiful fresh color).  No broken jars, thankfully, but I had some popped lids.  Those two pumpkins made three and a half jars of puree.

Now, I can use it to make pies, pumpkin butter, add it to cream sauces, soups, fillings for name it.  One of the simplest recipes for the greatest reward I have EVER made.

Turkey Stock

We did Thanksgiving slightly early at my house this year.  I have younger siblings who live nearby, and since we all go our separate ways for this holiday, I thought that it was a great excuse to do a turkey early, sort of a test run.

I do two stocks:  giblet stock while the turkey is brining (if you don't know what that means, go here, you will thank me!), and a stock with the bones and carcass after the meal for soup, etc, later in the week. 

Giblet Stock

The organs that come inside the bird(gizzard, heart, liver, etc.) Gently salt, pepper, and drizzle with olive oil, then roast in the oven at around 350-375 until browned nicely.

Put in a crock pot with:

Parsnip peels,
Bay Leaves,
Whatever seasonings you are using on the turkey.

It takes about 4-5 hours on low to make a rich brown stock.  I just leave mine going overnight, then strain it.

This stock makes for great gravy.  Just start with a roux (equal parts butter and flour) cooking in the pan.  When it's golden and fragrant, slowly stir in stock, then let thicken.  Season to taste, and add the turkey drippings when it's done.  Other great additions are caramelized onions and mushrooms.

Turkey Stock

Bones, leftover giblet stock, any scrapings from the bottom of the pan, and whatever herbs and aromatics you put inside the bird,

Peelings and bits from your meal, I had:
Onions, garlic, celery and carrots,
Parsnip peels,
Apple peels
Mushroom stems,
Lemon halfs
Leftover roasted pumpkin, garlic, and onions that had been a side-dish

*Whew*  And there you go!  Thank you for patience, everyone.  I hope that made up for it!

There Will be Savor Cakes!

This post was delayed, but I'm pleased to share an update. Elizabeth Marek successfully raised the money to build her Steampunk Savor Cakes cart in Portland!  Back in July I was lucky enough to do an interview with her, asking her about the cart.  The race between deadline and funds was close, which was a very big deal, since if she hadn't made the amount, Kickstarter rules she wouldn't have gotten any of her funding!  Thank you so much to anyone who read my blog and participated!!!

All the best to Liz.  Hopefully, we'll have an update direct from the cart someday!

The Steampunk Kitchen

The ModVic Stove, via Steampunk Home
I am, again, very sorry for how slow the blog is...I've mentioned it elsewhere, but I've been having some rather intense health issues recently.  Fortunately, we are starting to get some answers, so from here on, it's just figure out what to do. 

The Alternative Living Expo in Philadelphia
I've been developing a rather large collection of links lately to people who decorate in a Steampunk style in their homes.  Kitchens, in particular, make for a very interesting look, so I wanted to just take a moment and share links today.

The Alternative Living Expo in Philadelphia was held last March (and according to Doctor Fantastiques Show of Wonders, will be held again in 2012, so stay tuned!).  This past year it included the ModVic’s Back Home to the Future Show, which originally debuted at the Piers Village and Antique Show in New York last Fall. ModVic started as a husband and wife team working to both restore and modernize their beautiful Victorian home in Massachusetts.  What started as a work of love for them has become a full-fledged business.  Look here for their website, and more pictures of their breath-taking home. 

The blog, The Steampunk Home is another excellent resource, constantly scouring the web for new ideas.

Spice Rack from

Another great resource seems to be the "industrial" movement, taking items that were part of industry, and turning them into household items.  It's important to avoid shiny silver items meant for industrial (as in professional hotel or restaurant) kitchens, though, as that is heading in the wrong direction. 
From HouseBeautiful on Cottage-Style Designs

Other, more standard keywords that can be helpful in finding Steampunk ideas are "Modern-" or "New Victorian", and English Colonial. 
From DigsDigs on Modern Victorian Style

From Barn Light Electric
Susie Steiner of The Guardian on "Vintage Utility"

Ashmead's Kernel and Cox's Orange Pippin; Why Choose Heirloom, Apple Edition

Original picture removed, reasons to be disclosed eventually.  In the meantime, here's a bunny with a pancake on it's head.  

 When I was 15, I had a part-time job weeding for the nursery business of a family friend.  Her home was on land that had once been a part of the family farm, and included oddities like walking onions, red wheat still sprouting up in odd corners, and the most strange apple tree I had ever seen.  This gnarled old tree had small apples (before it started getting trendy to market them as "lunchbox sized") that were yellow-green with a small peach blush where the sun hit.  If you bit into one, it wasn't sweet!  It was starchy, almost like a potato, with a little sour-sweet after taste.  The texture, too, was different then any apple I had ever seen...denser.  I was fascinated by those apples, and got permission to take home a bucket full.

Eating them out of hand was, obviously, not very pleasant, but when cooked or dried in rings, all the mellow flavor came right out.  If I'd known how at the time, it would have made rich and creamy applesauce, especially paired with a more tart variety...and so began my awareness that there was something else out there, more then what could be bought at my local supermarket.

 What is an Heirloom plant?

Whether choosing produce at your local farmer's market, or picking species to grow in your own backyard, more and more people today are choosing old varieties, often referred to as Heirloom plants.  Here's how it works:  in the 30's-50's, as shipping fruit and vegetable across the continent became more common, growers began to hybridize plants looking for traits that would insure their plants were the market king.  While during the Nineteenth Century (and earlier), you would find lots of different local varieties sold, chosen by the grower based on factors like climate and soil conditions, and by the buyer based on what they wanted to do with the produce in question, by the 50's only two or three shipped varieties could be found in the average market. 
Slow Food USA

 The registry on Orange Pippin has more then 2,500 varieties of apples(out of as many as 15,000 varieties once grown in America).  They come in all shapes and sizes, range in color from yellow and green to bright red, to so dark they're almost black (take a look at the Arkansas Black if you don't believe me).

On the other hand, while super markets are slowly adding more varieties, by the 1950's it had boiled down to three:  Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith.

Why are Heirloom's better?  Weren't those types chosen for a reason?

The common grocery store varieties were chosen for a reason:  they have a large cellular structure that acts like packing peanuts, i.e. lets them ship with minimal bruising.  They are also large, have a bright, easily recognizable color(which marketing has found looks more visually appealing, leading to brand loyalty), and have a high yield (many fruit from a given plant). 

Black Oxford
The downside?  They don't taste as good because of that large structure.  There's also some evidence that growing for size and shape reduces the nutrition. As anyone who's made the fatal mistake of trying to make a pie with Red Delicious apples can tell you, having the right apple for the job is vital, too. 

In addition, all the the common grocery apples often pose problems for the home grower.  They are bred for areas like Washington State, and won't get enough cold hours during the fall and winter in the South (where a Winesap, or Victoria Limbertwig would shine), and they aren't hardy enough for my neck of the woods, like a Russian Alexander or a Tioga from Minnesota. 

Where can I find Heirloom apples?

While many grocery stores are doing their best to get in on the act by keeping more varieties, many of the best are going to be disappointing when picked green and shipped while they ripen.  Trust me, you will be happier if you buy local!  Apple season is going to start once the weather cools down, watch for carts, roadside stands and farmer's market stands.  Talk to the person you're buying from; ask what they would recommend, and buy some for eating, and others specifically for cooking and preserving.  If you're particularly daring, and have the equipment for applications like brewing, try your hand at cider!
A list of apple events from Saveur

Starting apple season with a hunt in mind lends a sense of adventure to the cooling air and changing colors of autumn.  Who knows what treasures are waiting if you look?  Your taste buds will thank you!

For a great Heirloom catalog, I would strongly recommend Trees of Antiquity.  They just sent me their winter catalog, and are starting their 2012 pre-orders now, so hurry if you're interested!

If you have an heirloom apple tree, and need to identify it, your local chapter of Slow Food USA can often help.

"Cajun" Ham Stock This Week

Ham bone from a Sunday baked ham (as well as all the drippings in the bottom of the pan)
Chicken bones from hot wings

Carrots, garlic, onion, celery

Tops of fresh and roasted peppers
Corn cobs
Tomato tops

A few whole peppercorns
Bay leaves
Category: 1 comments

Book Review: Last Dinner on the Titanic

"I well remember that last meal on the Titanic.We had a big vase of beautiful daffodils on the table, as fresh as if they had just been picked.  Everybody was gay, and people were making bets on the probable time of this record-breaking voyage." 
                                                             --First-class passenger Lady Duff-Gordon

I have owned this book for about ten years now, and still smile when I dust it off.  As my experience with cooking grows, I find that different parts of it speak to me.  This time around, I've pulled it off the shelf for a very exciting reason:  my local Steampunk group, The Innovative Society of Victorian Irregulars, has decided to do a Titanic dinner as our big spring event next April.  With good reason, too.  The evening of Saturday, April 14th, 2012 will mark the 100 year anniversary of the last meal served on the Titanic, which met it's infamous demise at 2:20 am on April 15th, 1912. 

Prints available from
If you have an interest in Edwardian food, this book has it all.  It very clearly states when it knows a particular dish was served (and when their choice is educated guesswork), and the directions are precise.  Menus are included for the A La Carte restaurant, the First Class Dining room, Second Class, and Third Class (which,  with a lunch menu of vegetable soup, roast pork with sage and pearl onions, green peas, boiled potatoes, plum pudding, and oranges, ate better then the average American household).

From the Titanic Historical Society site.
The other joy of this book is the plethora of pictures, notes, music suggestions, and copies of actual bills of fare, baggage claim tickets, etc. from the Titanic or it's sister ship, the Olympic. 

If planning a party, the Appendix is singularly useful, including advice on Edwardian customs,  proper invitation ettiquete, what to wear, and table settings.  There is also a fascinating grouping of mini-biographies, allowing you to assign guests the persona of a specific guest if so desired.

RMS Titanic First Class Dinner Menu
April 14, 1912

Hors D'oeuvre Varies

Consomme Olga

Cream of Barley

Salmon, Mousseline Sauce, Cucumber

Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farcie

Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes

Green Peas

Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes

Punch Romaine

Roast Squab and Cress
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
Pate De Foie Gras

Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs
French Ice Cream

This, of course, was followed by fruit and cheese, as well as cigars in the smoking room for the gentlemen (whew!).  Obviously, a shortened version is sufficient for most groups...

Something else to keep in mind is that part of what was considered impressive about the Titanic was that it was state of the art for the era.  In the kitchens, massive refrigeration unites, ovens, and stoves meant that cooks were capable of pulling off all of the same tricks as the finest restaurants of the day.  What a thrilling thought for the technophile!

While I would suggest getting the book, due to the plethora of additional useful information, recipes can be previewed at these sites:

La Belle Cuisine

Eras of Elegance

The Titanic guide by Donna Pilato

And for a very interesting provisions list, go here (the scale of it is boggling).


The usual:  Onion and garlic peels, carrot tops, celery.

Chicken bones
Pork neck bones from the butcher's
Skins and seeds from roasted red peppers
More sweet potato peels
Apple peels
Leftover caramelized onions
Tomato tops
Cauliflower ends
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Oh My God, They Killed Locutus!

Locutus v3.0 is no more.  A year ago I detailed the defeat of the original's multicellular colony devastated by bad planning, early morning, and the hint of chlorine in our tap water.

Locutus 2.0 and 2.5 were both dispatched by negligence rather then wonton cruelty.  Yes...two in a row.  The first molded, the second I dried out while trying to prevent my previous mistake.  This is one way keeping a sourdough start was much, much easier in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The air was always slightly humid, even inland.

Now, 3.0 proved a very interesting mistake.  Why, you ask?  Because I discovered that adding honey instead of sugar to a starter is a fatal error.  At first, it seemed like a great idea:  I've been trying to cut down on processed sugar, so honey was what was readily available.  It's concentrated, so I thought that only a half cup or so in addition to more flour and water would help add some zip to the yeast that was getting bogged down in my whole wheat flour. 

Not very not so.

Turns out honey is antibacterial, so much so that some doctors have been studying using it to treat antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.  How?  They're not entirely sure, but it seems that at least one aspect of this ability is that one of the natural enzymes from the bees is similar to hydrogen peroxide. In fact, honey was a common remedy up until the invention of penicillin.  
From InfoBarrel

Wow...ok, then.  That would explain why my bread didn't rise very well, and tasted like alcoholic dirt with a side of vinegar.  Never making that mistake again.  While there are many recipes that call for a little honey, I've noticed now it's usually mixed in at the end.  Lesson learned.

As for honey, it turns out there are places selling very expensive antibacterial honey online, but why do that unless you're treating something you should be seeing a doctor for?  Unless treating a child under the age of one (due to a slight risk of botulin toxin in improperly stored honey), raw local honey seems to be a safe and effective way to prevent infection on topical applications, especially bacterial or fungal infestations, or issues like acne

Learn something new every day.

For more advice on resuscitating your own sourdough starter, look here, and at this very helpful blog post entitled The Day the Starter Died

On that note:

Late Summer Stock

Starting to get hints of early fall flavors in the stock pot this week.Yay! I adore fall flavors, and have been looking forward to them.

Beef bones

The usual (carrots, celery, onion, garlic)

Green pepper tops
Sweet potato peels
Corn cobs
Spinach stems
Tomato tops
Used lemon halves
Zucchini ends
Category: 2 comments

5 Reasons Every Vintage Foodie Should Try Bountiful Baskets

5)  It's easy.  If you aren't familiar with Bountiful Baskets, here's the deal:  it's a co-op.  Every Monday, you sign in on the website, and place an order.  There's a small charge the first time you do it, so that they can buy a new pair of baskets.  Other then that, though, it's the same every week--$15 plus a small handling fee for a regular basket, $25 for organic.  There are sometimes additional items you can purchase, too, like a Mexican basket, or bread.  You print out your number, and on the listed time and day, go pick up your produce.  You're asked to come early and help when possible, at least every two months or so. Try it once, get over the "new and scary", and you'll be hooked.

The Bountiful Basket Facebook Page

4) It's frugal.  While I buy a couple of vegetable items at the store or farmer's market (berries when in season, the holy trinity of onions, celery, and carrots), my single, basic basket is enough produce for our family of four(two adults, a Kindergartener and a toddler) for an entire week, often with some to spare. If any leftovers start getting too ripe, I make jam, or put them in the stock pot.  Everything gets used.  For the first time in a very long time, my kids are able to eat fruits and veggies whenever they want a snack.  About $50 worth of produce for $15.

A basket posted by the author at Bunches and Bits--check out everything she did with it!

3) You support local farmers, and small business. A lot of the produce at the grocery store is shipped from half-way around the globe to get to your table.  A bag of grapes from Chile are more expensive, require more chemicals to get to you without spoiling(often ones that are illegal in America), and has required the use of a lot of fuel(traveling by boat, truck, etc,etc).

A lot of effort goes into making the produce travel as little as possible.  Since I live in Idaho, I often get local Idaho potatoes, fruit from Utah or Oregon, and veggies from California, but if you're in a different part of the country, you might get a completely different basket.What you get, though, has to be in season because of the effort for local produce.

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2) It helps you eat seasonally.  Farmers grow different varieties depending on the market, and when it comes to shipping long-distance, fruit and vegetables that have a lot of flavor often lose.  Eating seasonally helps make it easy to figure out what will be fresh, ripe, nutritious, and full of flavor.  It has been the way our ancestors ate for millions of years.  It also seems to encourage my children to try new things(can't eat nothing but apples if we only have them in fall), and makes when we DO have a particularly loved fruit or vegetable that much more special. 

To say The Toddler is excited for apple season is a bit of an understatement.  World Community Cookbook.

1) It will make you grow as a cook.  Signing up for Bountiful Baskets has forced me to plan the way we eat differently.  It used to be that I would plan out meals, weeks in advance.  Now, I wait to see what I got in the basket, then go shopping later on Saturday, with a week's plan based on meals that compliment my produce and make the best use of it.  Instead of eating variations on the same meals, I look for ways to adjust favorites, and learn technique that is applicable across the board, rather then a set recipe.  For example, I got another head of cauliflower this week, and still haven't used up all of the last one--it's time to look around online, flip through my vintage and historic cookbooks, and rise to the occasion! 

Spicy Cauliflower with Sesame from 101Cookbooks

Who is this Escoffier Guy Anyway?

It is almost impossible to discuss late Nineteenth Century food without talking about George Auguste Escoffier. But why?  Unless specifically looking for a recipe for Peaches Melba, it is almost impossible to find specific recipes tied to his name. 

The reason lies in organization. 

Escoffier began his career at 13, as an apprentice in his Uncle's restaurant in Nice, France.  At the time, French cuisine was dominated by the ideas of Marie-Antoine Careme (June 8th, 1784-January 12th, 1833) who had served as head chef for the future George IV of England, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and Baron James de Rothschild.  

Careme was the original chef to write down french cuisine.  He meticulously organized it, for example writing down sauces by "Mother" Sauce:  Bechamel, Veloute, Espagnole, Hollandaise and Mayonaise, and vinaigrette.  To this day, if you know how to make each of those sauces, you can make any other sauce based in European cuisine...they are all variations on those five!  He also was famous for breathtaking edible centerpieces (an important part of great dinners of the day), and for being the first to heavily illustrate his cookbooks, giving chefs an end result to aim for, rather then just directions. 

A menu in Escoffier's hand, from the blog Les Recettes de Lous la Vache
Escoffier took Careme's ideas, the ultimate in French cuisine for almost one hundred years, and improved them.  Instead of simply encouraging cooperation between portions of the kitchen, he seems to have been inspired by Edwardian modernization in other fields.  The kitchen under Escoffier became a well-oiled machine, meticulously organized to turn out dishes in courses, requiring a feat of communication and skill in the kitchen. This method was called Service a la Russe, and was impressive in that hot dishes were served pipping hot, and cold dishes cold, as soon as they were wanted, rather then the impressive display of previous generations, which made room temperature dishes more advantageous, since there was no knowing when diners would get to a particular item. It's also the basis of fine meals today, starting with an appetizer (designed to prepare the pallet for what will follow), then soup, salad, and so forth.  He was known for his great attention to detail, often working up menus personally, based on the tastes of the diners

The Hotel Ritz, opened by Ritz and Escoffier in 1898
An excellent example of Escoffier's influence would be the menus served on the Titanic, as well as the famous hotel restaurants for the Ritz and Savoy hotels.  In fact, Escoffier and Cesar Ritz were friends for many years, both seeking to reform and modernize their professions.  This relationship may have also influenced Escoffier's invention of the a la carte restaurant, allowing diners to choose their meal for the first time.  In essence, the way modern food is presented, served, and handled in the kitchen, we owe to George August Escoffier.  An for this reason, many groups hold yearly dinners in his honor to this day. 

For a more detailed biography, look here.  

A translated compilation of Escoffier's writing is available from Amazon here

This Week's Stock

Bones from two roast chickens

The usual:  garlic and onion peels, carrot ends, celery

Basil and cilantro stalks

Hot pepper tops
Green and red pepper tops,  and seeds
Summer Squash ends and peels
Bay leaves from the roast chicken
Tomato ends
Chard stems
Green onion ends and tops
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Why Choose Heirloom? Zapotec Tomatoes, Baby!

Zapotec from White Flower Farm
We are at the end of tomato season, so hurry and get your favorites before the weather turns cold and they go back to being mostly cellulose and water.

What to choose?  Heirloom is a huge buzzword in certain circles, but for a good reason!  Before the Beefsteak was king due to size and shippable structure, there were hundreds of different types of tomatoes in this country!  Seeds would be saved and passed down within a family, keeping a particular variety alive. Not only that, the store verities are bred for very specific growing conditions(usually in CA), often leading to heartache on the part of the home gardener.  If you doubt me, just take a drive around my short-summer Idaho town and see all the tomatoes that are *almost* ripe, with fall on the way.  Choosing heirlooms from your area instead helps your hard work succeed!

Here are a few of the beautiful species now making a comeback!

Borsalina F-1 from Seeds of Change
A Stripped Stuffer from the blog Gone To Seed

Black Seaman from Seedman's
Aunt Ruby's German Green from Swallowtail Garden Seeds

While many stores (especially trendy ones like Trader Joe's) are trying to get in on the act by selling packs of heirloom tomatoes, don't fall for it!  Just like the other tomatoes on the shelf, they will have been picked green, then ripened in the warehouse to keep them from being bruised or gotten by bugs.  They will not taste as good as those grown locally by a small farmer. 
Recipes from She Knows