A Bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne for $1.83 – Such a Deal for New Years!

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Music – “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” from Classic Christmas Party by Kay Kyser & His Orchestra. Released: 2012.

This is a copy of my post from December, 2013.  The prices have probably gone up!

1913 New Years Card

1913 New Years Card

Ah….imagine New Year’s Eve at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The glitz, the glam, the booze! Where the beautiful people go to see and be seen.

One hundred years ago this 2013 New Year’s Eve, fashionable and wealthy New Yorkers probably dined in style for a 1913 New Year’s Eve dinner at the hotel, most likely accompanied by the musical stylings of some band or orchestra, perhaps even the Waldorf Astoria Orchestra, although little information about the evening at the hotel on that date is available.

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City

They might have danced to the likes of popular 1913 songs like “Peg O’ My Heart” by Al Bryan, or “The International Rag” by Irving Berlin. Also popular in 1913 were “I’m On My Way to Mandalay” by Al Bryan and “Snookey Ookums”, by Irving Berlin. Oh, the excitement! The festivities! The dancing! The tuxedos and top hats! The champagne! The champagne!

I located a vintage menu from the Waldorf Astoria, and although not New Year’s Eve, was dated March 9th, 1913. One could assume that the prices a few months later, especially for New Year’s Eve, would have escalated accordingly, nevertheless, here is a selection of what was available on a 1913 dinner menu at the Waldorf Astoria. Just to put things into perspective, I included the 2013 equivalent prices, (if the same menu still exists, which I doubt), adjusted for inflation, and calculated using the 2013 CPI (Consumer Price Index):

Rack of Lamb, Renaissance
1913     $1.10      2013     $25.17

Galantine of Capon
1913    $ .75        2013     $17.16

Bisque of Clams
1913    $ .30       2013     $ 6.86

Venison
1913    $1.30      2013     $29.74

Venison

Venison

Roast Turkey

Roast Turkey

Roast Turkey with Giblet Sauce
1913    $ .65       2013     $14.87

Plum Pudding
1913    $ .30       2013     $ 6.86

Traditional Plum Pudding with Hard Sauce

Traditional Plum Pudding with Hard Sauce

Cherry Jubilee
1913    $ .30       2013     $ 6.86

Peach Melba
1913    $ .60       2013     $13.73

Peach Melba

Peach Melba

Moet & Chandon Imperial
Crown Champagne (bottle)

1913    $ 1.83      2013    $43.00

Champagne

Champagne

If our 1913 diner selected the soup (Bisque of Clams, $.30), Venison ($1.30), Peach Melba ($.60), and washed it down with a shared bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial Crown Champagne ($1.83 per bottle), add a bit more for a side dish of potatoes or another vegetable (about $.30), the grand total without champagne would be about $2.50. Sharing a bottle of champagne would add another $.45 to the tab, for a grand total of $2.95 for a luxurious dinner, with music AND dancing!

If our 2013 reveler selected the same items, if available,  Bisque of Clams ($6.86), Venison ($29.74), Peach Melba ($13.73), a side dish of potatoes or another vegetable ($6.86), the grand total without champagne would be about $57.19. Add on the glass of champagne, shared with friends, of course ($10.75), our 2013 reveler will have to spend at least $67.94 to enjoy the same meal as his 1913 predecessors did, and probably a good deal more.

I looked at the venue for next week’s New Year’s Eve bash at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. They are offering the “Peacock Alley Dinner Buffet”, on Tuesday, December 31st, 2013, commencing at 7:00 p.m. (with a maximum seating time of 2 hours per customer, thank you very much).

Peacock Alley Buffet at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City (undated)

Peacock Alley Buffet at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City (undated)

The buffet includes one (1) champagne toast (probably a thimbleful, but perhaps I’m being unfair), however, it does NOT permit access to after dinner dancing. Per adult, you will pay $275.00 plus a $16.12 processing fee to reserve your New Year’s Eve dinner. For that, you will have the privilege of grazing for two solid hours on whatever their buffet offers (for the full meal deal including dancing, you’d better be prepared to fork over $500 per adult – if you bring your aged 12 and under child, it’s a mere $200 per kid).

New Years at a fancy restaurant, ca. 1910 - 1913

New Years at a fancy restaurant, ca. 1910 – 1913

Imagine, though, if you were at the Peacock Alley Dinner Buffet on New Year’s Eve, 1913. You would have to fork out the princely sum of $11.68, plus $.68 handling fee for a wallet-busting $12.36. Your name better be Astor or Rockefeller to splurge like that! But music, dancing and revelry were probably part and parcel of the deal and I’ll bet party hats and favours were also included.

Well, I suppose it’s all relative, but you can bet that in 1913, if you didn’t have a wad full of cash in your pocket, you’d be out of luck paying for your New Year’s Eve dinner.  The earliest credit cards didn’t materialize in this country, for general use, until 1950, when Diner’s Club came out with their card, which could be used at participating restaurants.

For all of those revelers celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Waldorf Astoria, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy (but only for 2 hours).  The rest of us will probably be eating pizza and having just as much fun.

Happy New Year!

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Who Stole the Cranberries?

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Music – “Fruitcake Rag” from Big Mama by Funky Butt. Released: 2005

Having spent the last 23 years of my life in New Mexico, I now feel qualified to comment on the differences between holidays in Canada and holidays celebrated in the USA.  First of all, Americans (well, at least some of them) celebrate “Columbus Day“, on the second Monday of October. Calling this day “Columbus Day“, however, has recently fallen out of favour. Although Christopher Columbus is regarded as having “foundAmerica, the country was already populated by indigenous people, who were subsequently annihilated in large numbers by European colonists wanting to claim the land for themselves.

“Uh oh…looks like somebody got here before us. The King and Queen will NOT be pleased!” (Photo Credit: http://www.envisioningtheamericandream.com)

However, as every Canadian worth his or her salt knows, the second Monday in October is THANKSGIVING! Of course, there are a million ways cultures in Canada celebrate the holiday, but the dyed-in-the-wool Canucks partake of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. One thing I have learned living in New Mexico: it is nigh impossible to find fresh cranberries on “Columbus Day“.

No way you will find these in New Mexico on Thanksgiving Day (aka “Columbus Day” in this country) (Photo Credit: http://www.dreamstime.com)

One year, there was an exception, and the cranberry gods were good to me. That, however, was an anomaly. I have learned to buy and freeze, although the texture 12 months later suffers somewhat in the translation. The good people at Ocean Spray tell me that they start harvesting cranberries in early October, so I don’t know why they can’t manage a small shipment to New Mexico, for “Columbus Day“. I shall have to take them at task for that oversight.

Now, speaking of “Thanksgiving” (the American one), just about everybody has heard of “Black Friday“, that day of unbridled sales, short tempers, long queues (that’s “long lines” in Canuckspeak) and great bargains galore. Not to be confused with “Black Tuesday“, which marked the disastrous fall of the New York Stock Exchange on October 29th, 1929. Even Canadians know about “Black Friday“, and have even recently been staging some on the day after American Thanksgiving. But, I ask you, how many Americans are familiar with “Boxing Day“?

(Boxing Day in Canada)
“I’m so sorry that I took the last big screen TV. Will you be OK?” (Photo Credit: http://www.usatoday.com)

It follows the day after Christmas (which both Amercuns and Canucks acknowledge to be December 25th) and December 26th is the equivalent of “Black Friday“, except, Canadians, being ever so polite, do not push, shove or otherwise tackle other bargain hunters, even apologizing if they take the last item in stock (“sorry!“). “Boxing Day” is common in the commonwealth countries, and there are several schools of thought as to the origin: in Feudal times, it was customary for the land owners to “gift” their peons leftover Christmas food on the day after the big eat-down, in (obviously), boxes. Another school of thought suggests that Anglican parishes collected money and food in their churches on Christmas Day, which were subsequently distributed to the poor on the following day in (obviously), boxes. So, there you have it.

There are some things in New Mexico, which I never witnessed in all of my years in Canada (some should not be mentioned here!). The lighting of thousands of luminarias, which are votive candles placed in paper lunch bags, filled with sand, and lit on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Luminarias in Old Town, Albuquerque, on Christmas Eve. Never saw these back home in Canada! (Photo Credit: http://www.tripadvisor.com)

Residences and businesses alike sport them, but alas, technology has diminished the excitement of lighting each candle…..it’s a lot easier to just plug in a chain of plastic replicas, linked together, although the thrill is gone. No peering out the window to see how many have to be relit after the wind dies down or how many were catapulted across the street into your neighbour’s yard, which is now on fire. That’s progress.

At least in southern Ontario, where I grew up, I never saw a tumbleweed, although I know they are prevalent in the western provinces. New Mexico, being a desert, has an abundance of these huge, spiny creatures and they pile up against fences, in parks, on the sides of highways and any open space. There was an enormous one growing in the front yard of our residence, when we moved in 2015, but I was ill-versed in the proper way to dispose of it. Armed with a shovel and a lot of pull (they have very deep roots when they are still growing), I grappled with it for some time before it gave up. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize was that the stems exude a very caustic substance, which combined with scratches on my arms from wrestling with it, caused an extensive and long-lasting rash.

“We are the pick of the crop for the Albuquerque Tumbleweed Snowman!” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

But, in New Mexico, the locals use the same analogy as “if you have lemons, make lemonade“. In Albuquerque, every year, employees of the Water Authority scour the local terrain for the biggest and best tumbleweeds, which are then assembled on a large steel frame, spray painted white, and adorned with appropriate facial appendages….even a knit red scarf and a pipe are included. The 12 foot tumbleweed snowman stands at attention on the side of I-40 just west of the city limits. A+ to recycling!

The 12 foot tall tumbleweed snowman at the side of I-40 just outside Albuquerque. Re-cycling at its best. (Photo Credit: http://www.KRQE.com)

Despite the fact that there are several cultures that use “mincemeat“, both sweet and savoury, my attempts at Walmart last week to procure some bottles of the sweet stuff met with puzzled looks from the shelf stockers. “Mishmeat ?” queried one young lady. “Mincemeash ?” queried another.

My query about mincemeat had some Walmart employees perplexed. (Photo Credit: http://www.walmart.com)

A third stocker was pointed out to me, who was apparently the authority on such esoteric items. She directed me to a Christmas display, full of candies, sugar cookies, and the like, and in the midst were a few bottles of sweet mincemeat. It was a learning experience (perhaps for the other shelf stockers).

 

I had never heard of “Zozobra” before moving to New Mexico. As far as I know, there is no Canadian equivalent. “Zozobra” is the 50 foot marionette effigy known as “old man gloom” and is burned every September at the Fiestas de Santa Fe. “Zozobra” means “anxiety” in Spanish and the burning of Zozobra is a way for the celebrants to alleviate the stresses and worries of life, watching them burn away in the night. Sounds good to me, except that we should have one at least a couple of times of year. By the time September rolls around, the stress levels are too high!

“Zozobra”, AKA “Old Man Gloom” burning at Fiestas de Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bring the marshmallows! (Photo Credit: http://www.mikeandmollyshouse.com)

Holidays aside, “Canadian” stuff, which I have never seen in New Mexico include Butter Tarts, Poutine, milk in plastic bags, nor is there any sign of a Tim Horton’s, Harvey’s Hamburgers or Swiss Chalet.  Some other things I’ve never seen in New Mexico around the holidays:

The”Bouche de Noel” cake (Yule Log) is a Canadian tradition. (Photo Credit: http://www.communitycuisine.com)

Tobogganing is a Canadian pastime (in the winter!), but I’ve never witnessed it in New Mexico. (Photo Credit: http://www.alamy.com)

Plum Pudding is another Canadian tradition at Christmas, but you’d be hard pressed to find one in Albuquerque. (Photo Credit: http://www.hongkiat.com)

Holiday “crackers” were always a feature of a Christmas and New Year’s celebration. When the ends of the cardboard tube are pulled, a kind of cap gun snaps, producing a wisp of acrid smoke. Inside are small candies, a paper hat, perhaps a fortune and riddles. (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

Ice skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa is a huge event in winter (I’ve never even see ice on the Rio Grande!) (Photo Credit: http://www.ottawatourism.ca)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never seen a Butter Tart in New Mexico, unless I make them myself. (Photo Credit: http://www.canstockphoto.com)

No Swiss Chalet here (they don’t know what they’re missing) (Photo Credit: http://www.canadiandaily deals.com)

No Tim Horton’s, either. (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, when push comes to shove, there is one common theme that binds Canadians and Americans together at one holiday. Fruitcake! Fruitcake is the symbol of Christmas feasting, whether you like it or despise it. My spouse adores it. I can choke down a piece once a year.

Ah, the beloved (or despised) fruitcake, the tradition that binds Americans and Canadians together. (Photo Credit: www. pinterest.com)

So, “Canada” is not really an international country, despite the fact that many Americans seem to think so (so does the Post Office and the IRS). Who knew that, despite our numerous differences, it would be fruitcake that binds us together (you may interpret “bind” in any way you prefer)!  But, next year, can someone please arrange for some fresh cranberries for “Columbus Day“, in Albuquerque, so that I can celebrate Thanksgiving properly?  It would be appreciated.


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The Curious Case of the Mulish Microwave – Part 2

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Music – “Microwaves (Are Watching You)” from Microwaves (Are Watching You) by Randy Rainbow. Released: 2017

 

“It should just pop right out…..hmmmmm.” (Photo Credit: http://www.youtube.com)

Well, the dust has finally settled after the mega kitchen remodel (mostly on every piece of furniture outside of the kitchen!)  From start to finish (with the exception of a tile problem, which is being resolved as I write this), we endured 18 days of smashing, ripping, crashing, banging and all of the other myriad sounds emanating from a kitchen in the process of being demolished.

Part of the old kitchen, with the doors removed.  The microwave lurketh.

This does not include, however, the intervening 6 weekend days in between work days, in which we were essentially held hostage in the sense that the kitchen was a barren wasteland, nor does it include approximately 5 days pre and 5 days post,  for me to “deconstruct” the contents of my kitchen and pack them up, and the “reconstruction” phase, in which I emptied all of those packed cartons and assigned the contents to their spots in the new kitchen (I have a lot of “stuff”).  I think this is what is akin to people saying, “….once in a lifetime event“, which I most heartily endorse.

As we had no kitchen sink, no stovetop, no dishwasher, and no oven, for several weeks, we “camped” out using a small wet bar adjacent to our family room.  Trying to do dishes in an 8″ by 10″ sink is not fun.  Luckily, loving to cook, I had a good selection of back-up appliances to cook with, so we weren’t entirely roughing it in the wild.

Our “kitchen away from kitchen”, during the demolition.

The old kitchen was the original, built on-site, when the house was constructed in 1970.  Some of the plywood cabinet doors were warped (much to our cat, Tux’s delight!), all of the shelves were fixed and there was wasted space in dark, faraway and inaccessible places in some of them. In addition, there were two tacky flourescent lights, reminiscent of a stroll through Walmart. The kitchen had to go, including the old double-ovens.

The old double ovens were literally falling apart and had an impossible inside width of 15 inches! Time to go.

 

 

One of Tux’s favourites of the older cabinets…it was sufficiently warped that he was very skilled at opening it frequently to have a look-see. He subsequently passed on this knowledge to his brother, Shadow.

 

 

 

Which brings me, now, to the microwave, that obstinate, mulish, stubborn techno-marvel, which refused to budge from its’ comfortable little niche above my cooktop, wedged between cabinets.  It was there, when we moved into our residence in January, 2015, and, according to popular wisdom, it was a 1990’s model.

Demolition in progress. The microwave is still hanging on the wall to the left.

Having spent a goodly number of years in situ might account for its intractable and tenacious hold on the kitchen wall, even in the midst of chaos, when everything around it was being torn asunder.

“It won’t budge!”

“Hmmmm…most perplexing”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still hanging on…

“It just HAS to come off of this wall!”

The microwave, last bastion of the old kitchen, reluctant to be moved.

Three collective contractor heads (whose anonymity is preserved here) pondered the situation, and failing to budge it, destruction went on around it, until it was left hanging starkly alone on the wall, which had previously been filled with old, worn, and warped cabinets.  The mulish microwave was not going down without a fight.

Eventually, but not without a fight, it gave up its secret and was finally freed.

Gone at last, but not for long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were a few other surprises in the old kitchen.  Two nicely mummified mice were found wedged between the back of a floor cabinet and the wall in a cardboard trap, a couple of old coupons for cigarette promotions, ca 1970, and a slew of assorted seeds, which came cascading down from the hole left in the ceiling, when the old flourescent fixture was removed.  If there were any active critters up there at the time, their fate is now sealed.

Seeds of unknown origin, which were lurking above the old flourescent light fixture

In addition, what the contractor initially thought to be a faux-brick plastic backsplash turned out to be real brick.  Like the mulish microwave, it was also determined to stay in place.

What was thought to be a faux brick backsplash (easily removable), was, in fact, real brick. So reluctant was it to surrender, the whole backsplash had to be sawed out from the rest of the wall.

 

Sawing out the “faux” brick backsplash.

The new cabinets duly arrived and were subsequently put in place, but the mulish microwave now had to be reinstalled.  Once again, it took the collective heads and brute force of several contractors to replace it.  The tolerances on either side of the new cabinets were negligible, so it was a real struggle to get it back into its home.  Still stubborn, it fought back with some obstinacy.

The arrival of the new cabinets

However, at long last, it was over.  Shiny new cabinets with soft-close doors, a Lazy-Susan, slide out trays and more, a brand-spanking new Corian countertop, a new oven (wider than 15 inches), a re-installed stove top and dishwasher, new sink and faucet, new lights, fresh paint and of course, the mulish microwave back in place, we were finally up and running just in time for Thanksgiving (the Amercun’ one).  Only one more hurdle to go:  soon, the finance man cometh.

The new kitchen.  Mulish microwave restored to its original glory!


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The Curious Case of the Mulish Microwave

Stay tuned….after the kitchen remodel is over!

“It should just pop right out…..hmmmmm.” (Photo Credit: http://www.youtube.com)

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Ever Eaten a Dublin Lawyer?

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Music : “Food Glorious Food” from On Top Of Spaghetti by Juice Music. Released: 2008.

Attorney jokes aside, there is probably a law on the books against eating Dublin Lawyers. However, apparently there is no such law in France, as you can easily eat “avocat”, which translates into both “lawyer” and “avocado”. “Je suis avocat” means “I am a lawyer”, versus “Je suis un avocat“, which means “I am an avocado”. Take your pick.

So, what then, is a “Dublin Lawyer“? According to Georgina Campbell, author of “Good Food from Ireland“, a Dublin Lawyer is a rich dish of lobster, butter, double cream and Irish whiskey. Whew!

One version of a Dublin Lawyer (Photo Credit: http://www.alamy.com)

Another version of a Dublin Lawyer, probably more tasty (Photo Credit: http://www.ahealthylifeforme.com)

 

 

 

 

 

How about digging into “Skirts and Bodices“? Monica Sheridan, in “My Irish Cook Book” indicates that “Bodices” is the local name for pickled spareribs, akin to the boned bodices grandmothers used to wear. The “Skirts” are the trimmings cut away from pork steak. So there you have it: Skirts and Bodices.

Although this is a skirt and bodice, it is completely inedible (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

Fancy some “Punchnep“? No, there is no alcohol in it. “Nep” was an old name for root vegetables such as parsnips or turnips, according to Theodora Fitzgibbon, in “A Taste of Wales in Food and in Pictures“. I assume the “punch” comes from the fact that the vegetables are beaten with butter and cream. Ever dined on a “Bookmaker’s Sandwich“? According to Theodora Fitzgibbon, in “A Taste of Ireland“, it is essentially a steak sandwich on a long crusty loaf, akin to a submarine sandwich (or Po Boy, or Hoagie, or whatever you want to call it).

A “Bookmaker’s Sandwich” (Photo Credit: http://www.chindeep.com)

Is this the kind of “Bookmaker” who eats the “Bookmaker’s Sandwich”, or is it the “other” kind of bookmaker? (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

I wonder if he eats “Bookmaker Sandwiches”? (Photo Credit: http://www.alamy.com)

It pays to know your Tiddley Winks from your Kiddleywinks. As a child, I used to play Tiddley Winks and I think they still manufacture them.

The game of tiddleywinks (Photo Credit: http://www.youtube.com)

Kiddleywinks, however, stems from “kiddley”, or kettle broth, a sort of whatever-you-have-in-your-kitchen soup, with the addition of winkles or periwinkles, a shellfish. Vida Heard in “Cornish Cookery” says that Kiddleywink soup “…had to provide something to fill alcohol-enfeebled stomachs and at a minimum cost“. According to Wikipedia, Kiddleywinks is also known as Kiddlywink and is an old name for a Cornish beer shop or beer house, which became popular after the 1830 beer act. They were licensed to sell beer or cider by the Customs & Excise rather than by a Magistrate’s Licence which was required by traditional Taverns and Inns.

Ever eaten “Kidneys in their Overcoats“? How sensible.

Is this kidneys in their overcoats? (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

I think these are the true kidneys in their overcoats of fat (Photo Credit: http://www.neilcooksgrigson. blogspot.com)

In Ireland, is there a “Champ” of “Boxty“? Is that the winner of a boxing match? No, “Champ” is similar to mashed potatoes, with milk, salt, pepper, butter, and chives. “Boxty” is a tad more difficult to explain. According to Georgina Campbell, “Boxty” falls into three categories: bread or cakes (“boxty on the griddle”), pancakes “boxty on the pan”), or boxty dumplings. All contain potatoes and milk.

Which one is the champ of boxty? (Photo Credit: http://www.aiba.org)

Aha…here is the real champ! (Photo Credit: http://www.recipes.sainsburys.co.uk)

 

 

 

Contrary to popular belief, there are no rocks in “Glengarvie Rock Cakes“, according to author of “Highland Fling Cookbook“, Sara Walker. Rather, these small cakes, when out of the oven, will have little lumps sticking out all over them. Care to take a wild guess what “Achiltibuie Skirlie” is? (hint: it has onions and oatmeal in it and Achiltibuie is a small village on the west coast of Coigach in the Highland region of Scotland). What about “Katt Pie“? (note: no cats were harmed in the making of this dish).

One just has to ask about “Thunder and Lightning“. According to Vida Heard, “Thunder and Lightning” is the “…name given to splits eaten with a spreading of treacle...” Well, that certainly clarifies things, doesn’t it?

The inedible form of Thunder and Lightning (Photo Credit: http://www.naperdesign.com)

A tastier form of Thunder and Lightning (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

 

 

 

 

Ever fancied a “Veiled Country Lass“? Now before you get all worked up, it’s a sort of trifle made with bread crumbs, raspberry jam, and baby food apple puree.

Will the real Veiled Country Lass please stand up? (Photo Credit: http://www.creativefan.com)

Poor Knights” contains bread, jam, cream, egg and milk. The origin of this name is unknown, at least to this writer.

Now, being Canadian, I took objection to the recipe for “Canadian Salad” in “Cooking in a Bedsitter” by Katharine Whitehorn. The recipe: “Two tomatoes and an orange sliced up and covered with a dessertspoon of tomato ketchup mixed with a little of the orange juice“. No self-respecting Canadian would ever make such a concoction, I’m certain, and it certainly doesn’t appear in any of the many Canadian cookbooks I have in my collection.

But, no matter where you go, no matter what culture’s food you are sampling, there is probably one universal recipe that everyone can relate to. Katherine Whitehorn refers to it as “Spam Fritters“. Need I say more?

“Of course I eat Spam Fritters. Doesn’t everyone?” (Photo Credit: http://www.townhall.com)

And so, readers, I leave these recipes for you to interpret: “Brithylla Chig Moch“, “Golwythau cig dafad“, and “Tafell o gig llo rhost“. Have fun!

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Life in the Desert – Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly !

THIS POST WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON 09/07/2014

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Music – “Don’t Sit On a Cactus” from Don’t Sit on a Cactus by Joel Frankel. Released: 1997

It’s that time of year around New Mexico, when the Prickly Pear cactus fruits begin to ripen to their luscious deep red colour and you only have one chance a year to make Prickly Pear Jelly. So, don your elbow high leather garden gloves, long-handled barbecue tongs and a couple of paper bags and trip carefully through the cactus in your yard!

When I first moved to New Mexico in 1994, I didn’t realize that those beautiful fruits that ripened on our cactus in the fall were edible. The second year, I caught on and made my first batch of jelly. Over the past few years, even though all cacti species are drought tolerant / drought resistant, even our 20-year-old Prickly Pear patches suffered and produced very little fruit. This season, however, there were enough fruits to whip up a batch of jelly, and so I did just that.

The recipe I used, “Prickly Pear Jelly” is from “Fruits of the Desert” by Sandal English, published by The Arizona Star in 1981. The book contains recipes for a multitude of desert fruits, berries and seeds, including numerous pages for using cactus fruits. The recipes are gathered from readers of the newspaper and the recipe I used was contributed by Gloria Thomasson of Tucson, AZ. The instructions follow below the photos:

NOTE:  for this season (2017), I used a different approach.  I blanched the fruits in boiling water for about 2 minutes, then speared each with a fork, and peeled.  This way, the skin comes off easily, without any of the million tiny prickly spines.  Then, I just followed the rest of the steps, above, however, I didn’t need to strain through cheesecloth this time.  Just a strainer to capture the seeds.  Much easier in the long run, but more labour intensive!)

Gather and wash 3 quarts of fruit, using gloves and tongs. Place the washed fruit into a large 6 quart kettle with 3 quarts of water. Cook for 20 minutes (I cooked mine for about 40 minutes, due to the altitude adjustments needed). Briefly remove from the heat and mash the fruits with a potato masher. Strain the juice through several layers of cheesecloth.

Although the recipe indicates that you should be able to obtain about 8 cups of juice, it wasn’t enough, so I proceeded with another batch in order to get enough juice.

Measure 4 cups of juice into a large kettle and add juice of ½ lemon and 3 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil. Add another 3 cups of sugar and bring to a boil again, stirring until it reaches a full boil. Add 2 packets of liquid pectin (or 1 bottle) and continue cooking over high heat for 15 minutes (I cooked mine for 30 minutes)(In addition, I located an article in an old edition of The Albuquerque Journal, about making Prickly Pear Jelly. The author indicates that Prickly Pear fruits, like pineapple and kiwi, contain enzymes, which can cause the proteins in gelatin to break down. Sure enough, my jelly was not truly at the point of being able to gel, so I added 2 additional teaspoons of granulated pectin and this seemed to do the trick) Although the recipe indicates that the 4 cups of juice makes 6 glasses of jelly, my fruits were not as juicy, I think, and my two batches of 4 cups each made a total of 7 jars of jelly.

After all is said and done, the jelly with all of that sugar, is not surprisingly, extraordinarily sweet, although you can still taste the prickly pear fruit through the sugar. Next time, I’m going to cut back on the sugar or use a substitute, such as blue agave nectar and adjust the recipe accordingly.

Whoever said that nothing worthwhile grows in the desert was just plain wrong!


My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

Posted in Cookbooks, Cooking, Cooking Technology, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vintage Cookbooks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“You’ve Had Worse Things in Your Mouth”

Music – “Eating People” from In My Dreams by Michael Ross. Released: 2016.

CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC

Anyone who has done any writing, especially a book, knows that the title of the book will either make or break the contents. Let’s face it: “How to Cook Chicken” or “Vegetarian Cooking” are pretty hackneyed and are bound to draw yawns. A catchy title is essential and cookbooks are no exception.

A brief internet surf turned up some intriguing cookbook titles, which I must add to my collection. Weird is wonderful, right?

There is “You’ve Had Worse Things in Your Mouth“, by Billi Gordon (born Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr.), who, according to Wikipedia, is “an author, television writer, neuroscientist and formerly an actor and model”. Wow, talk about being diversified! Gordon is the author of three works of non-fiction: including “You’ve Had Worse Things in Your Mouth Cookbook“, “Eat This Book: The Last Diet Book“, and “Your Moon Is in Aquarius but Your Head Is in Uranus” Hmmm.

“You’ve Had Worse Things in Your Mouth”, by Billi Gordon. (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, there is “The Gay Kitchen” by James Woodward Sherman, published in 1926 and details the adventures of a set of kitchen utensils.  There was also a sequel, “Out in the Kitchen“, published in 1927.  What were YOU thinking?

“The Gay Kitchen” by James Woodward Sherman, 1926. (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

 

“The Jewish-Japanese Sex & Cook Book and How to Raise Wolves” by Jack Douglas (Photo Credit: http://www.pleatedjeans.com)

Jack Douglas was an American comedy writer who wrote for radio and television while additionally writing a series of humor books. Among them are “The Jewish-Japanese Sex & Cook Book and How to Raise Wolves“, published in 1972.  Apparently, it is a humourous account of the authors’ venture with his Japanese wife, 2 sons and 2 pet wolves in suburban Connecticut, and then later, after moving to Canada.    I don’t really understand the full meaning of his cookbook title, but I guess I won’t find out, either.  Currently, the book is a collector’s item and ranges in the several hundreds of dollars for a copy.  Jack will never grace my cookbook shelves, I guess.  Some of his other books include “Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver “(1960), “Shut Up and Eat Your Snowshoes” (1970) and “Going Nuts in Brazil” (1979).

 

“Cooking with Poo” (Photo Credit: http://www.lolriot.com)

Now, I have to admit, that if I had not investigated the title of the cookbook “Cooking with Poo“, I would have thought it too perverse (but there’s no accounting for taste). The author, Saiyuud Diwong, is nicknamed “Poo”, which is the Thai word for “crab”. She runs a cookery school in Bangkok’s Klong Toey slum and won the “Diagram” prize for the oddest book title of the year (year unknown).

The other “Cooking with Pooh” cookbook. (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

 

“Let’s Play Hide the Sausage” (Photo Credit: http://www.badSENTINEL.com)

Now, what cook wouldn’t want a copy of “Let’s Play Hide the Sausage” on his or her bookshelf?  These sausages must be so revolting and disgusting that they must be disguised in a dish.

 

 

 

 

I’ve heard of “Cooking for Cats“, “Cooking for Dogs“, “Cooking for Husbands“, and more, but this is the first time I came across “Cooking for Raccoons“. Well, raccoons are known to be very fastidious about their food, cleaning and washing it thoroughly before consuming it, so I hope the author indicates detailed preparation techniques to satisfy even the most jaded raccoon palate.

“Cooking for Raccoons” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

“Eating People is Wrong” (Photo Credit: http://www.omnivoracious.com)

 

 

 

 

Well, duh, unless you were a member of the Donner Party, most people would subscribe to this tenet that “Eating People is Wrong“, don’t you think? But, I guess it depends on how desperate one is. Garlic can masquerade the taste of just about anything.  Alternately, anything is edible if its chopped finely enough.

 

No better way than to claw your way into acceptance into MENSA than to buy this book and put it to good use…!

“Raise Your I.Q. by Eating Gifted Children” (Photo Credit: http://www.sadanduseless.Om

 

“Eating Children” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

 

As in the book about improving your I.Q., eating children seems to be a good way to get brain smarts!

“The Dead Celebrity Cookbook” (Photo Credit: http://www.abebooks.com)

This might be a book with recipes from dead celebrities, or, it could be cooking with dead celebrities (see: “Eating People is Wrong”, above)

“Cooking to Kill!” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

No comment about this one!

I look forward to locating some of these great cookbook titles to add to my collection.  If anyone comes across any more weird and wonderful cookbook titles, please do share!

Wow…recipes from a serial killer! (wonder what the ingredients are?) (Photo Credit: http://www.pastemagazine.com)


My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

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Holy Habanero! It’s HOT in Here!

Music – “Who Stole The Hot Sauce?” from Who Stole The Hot Sauce? by Chubby Carrier. Released: 1996

CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC

I’m not the only one with a predilection for hot sauces. There are millions of us out there. On 12/05/2013, I posted “From Acid Rain to Zulu Fire….we LOVE Hot Sauces!” and since then, my own collection of hotter-than-hell sauces has been accumulating (well, I had to keep up with the cookbooks, which now number 6,013!) I have 90 at the moment, with a probable combined lethal dose of about 10 gazillion Scoville units!  Capsaicin is the substance, which makes peppers hot.  In the early 1900’s, Wilbur Scoville invented a system to rate the “Heat” of the different types of peppers. In the test, peppers were rated with what was called “Scoville Units.” The rating system became known as the “Scoville Heat Scale.”

The number of hot sauce manufacturers has also grown.  A surf around the web will turn up multiple hot sauce vendors, with literally thousands of hellish sauces to choose from. Who could resist? The sauces are not only tasty, but usually have lavishly designed, colourful labels advertising the contents. Could you possibly turn down a bottle of “Area 51 – The Hot Sauce that Doesn’t Exist“? Or “Professor Phardtpounders Colon Cleaner“?  What about “Toxic Toad“, “Spontaneous Combustion“, “Da Bomb” or  “Death Nectar“?

 

Just two of many books published on hot sauces.

A few months ago, I found a bottle called “Obama’s Last Day – Jan. 20, 2017“, which I have not yet sampled. The other day, I located http://www.hotsauce.com, which has a HUGE selection of hot sauces and related items. I found “Dump Trump Habanero Hot Sauce” there and he is now sharing the shelf with “Obama’s Last Day“. A kind of quirky co-existence. I have not yet sampled “Hazmat“, or “Road to Hell“. Also from http://www.hotsauce.com I ordered a bottle of “357 Mad Dog Hot Sauce – This Sauce Will Blow You Away” and is listed as 357,000 Scoville units. It comes with a warning tag, which also includes the following admonishment: “If I give this product as a gift, I will make the recipient fully aware of the potential danger if used or handled improperly” Geez!  I can think of one or two “recipients” I’d just LOVE to give this to as a gift without advance warning! (none of them are friends)

As long as we love to torture our mouths and digestive systems with these tasty, but HOT, HOT, HOT sauces, they will keep on comin’.  Go ahead…spice up your life, but remember, a little goes a very-long-way!


My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

Posted in Collecting, Collections, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food Fads, Food Trends, Guinness World Records, Hot Sauces, New Mexico, Uncategorized, Vintage Cookbooks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Significance of 1,391,361

There is a property located on N. 179th St. in Miami-Dade County, Florida, with an assessed value of $1,391,361.

In the fiscal year 2010, the adopted expenditures for “Personal Services, Area Agency on Aging”, in Prince William County, Virginia, was $1,391,361.

If, today, you were exchanging 1,190,469.33 Euros for American Dollars, you would receive $1,391,361.

1,190,469.33 Euros equals $1,391,361 US dollars today (Photo Credit: http://www.reference.com)

 

 

 

 

And, in 2012, in the State of Georgia, lotto draw sales for Mega Millions was $1,391,361.

$1,391,361 in Mega Millions were sold in Georgia in 2012 (Photo Credit: http://www.gamblegeek.com)

So, what does all of this have to do with my blog on cookbooks?  Well, only a bit of trivia. The database I use (www.collectorz.com) has a tool to indicate the number of pages in my current cookbook collection and it is currently 1,391,361 pages.  Heck, that’s a lot of pages and a lot of recipes!

“1,391,359; 1,391,360; 1,391,361…GEEZ!” (Photo Credit: http://www.dreamstime.com)

The number of books in the collection now stands at 6,013.  That’s about the same number of books damaged by monsoon floods in Phoenix a week or so ago, at the Burton Barr Central Library!  Fortunately, they have a lot of other books left for borrowers.

It is estimated that if $1,000,000 in US one dollar bills were stacked one on top of the other, the stack would be approximately 358 feet high, or the equivalent of a 30 to 35 story building.  Heck, my 1,391,361 pages could outdo that!

A stack of 1,000,000 of these is 358 feet high! (Photo Credit: http://www.istockphoto.com)

 

 

 

 

Perhaps I should shoot for the height of the Empire State Building (1,250 feet), but I’m going to need more bookcases!

“I’m nearing the height of the Empire State Building, Stan!” (Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com)

“Some ditzy lady decided she was tired of her 6,013 cookbooks and hired us to shred them for recycling” (Photo Credit: http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com)

 

 

Posted in Collecting, Collections, Cookbooks, Cooking, Cooking and Social History, Guinness World Records, Uncategorized, Vintage Cookbooks | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From Albania to Vietnam, but where are you, Pitcairn Islands?

CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC

Music – “Pitcairn Island (from “Mutiny On The Bounty”)” from Mutiny On The Bounty (Original Soundtrack Recording) by Marlon Brando. Released: 2011

Quick quiz: what do these 126 countries have in common?

Albania,  Algeria,  Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia,  Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guam, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR China, Hungary, Iceland, India,  Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia….

Photo Credit: http://www.alamy.com

…..Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau SAR China, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Réunion, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Saint Maarten, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam.

Give up? Amazingly enough, WordPress statistics indicate that in the nearly 4 years since I started my blog, viewers have visited my blog from all 126 of these countries. I have cookbooks from many of these locations in my collection, and I wonder what the readers were searching for when they read my posts….a mention of their homeland, their cuisine, perhaps some familiar photos I have taken over the years from a few of these places, which I have visited?

Now, if only someone from the Pitcairn Islands would have a look. I have a copy of the only cookbook ever published there, by Irma Doreen (Warren) Christian, a descendant of Fletcher Christian of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame.  Irma died on Pitcairn Island, in 2016 at the age of 89.

Portrait of Fletcher Christian (Photo Credit: http://www.findagrave.com)

Irma Christian, a descendant of Fletcher Christian, on Pitcairn Island (Photo Credit: http://www.theroguephotographer.com)

Flag of the Pitcairn Islands (Photo Credit: http://www.en.wikipedia.org)

Pitcairn Island Cookbook by Irma Christian

Perhaps internet access is a bit tricky on Pitcairn Islands.  After all, it really is out there! But, it just goes to show that cookbooks and conversations about food are truly a global phenomenon!

 

Pitcairn Islands (Photo Credit: http://www.wikitravel.com)


My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

Posted in Collecting, Collections, Cookbooks, Cooking, Cooking and Social History, Food Trends, Guinness World Records, Uncategorized, Vintage Cookbooks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments