1970’s Whole Wheat Banana Bread

cooling bread in pan for 5 minutes

I became a vegetarian during college in the early 1970’s.  When I moved to Tokyo six years later, I gave up this proclaimed role, because of my need to be open to all foods proffered by my Japanese hosts.

While abstaining from meat and fish, I searched for healthy alternatives in an array of natural food cook books.  There I found treasured recipes which I still use today; one was for this powerfully good, whole wheat banana bread.

Bananas have a long history.  Alexander the Great discovered them growing in the Indus Valley in 327 B.C.; they had been cultivated, however, in India since 2000 B.C.  Documentation dated in the 7th century shows that China was using them in abundance also.1

Portuguese explorers reported this same fruit in western Africa in 1482, where it probably had been grown for a long time; these Europeans adopted its local name Musa sapientum, which was originally given this fruit by Alexander the Great.  In 1496, Spanish conquerors found an intense cultivation of bananas in Tenerife in the Canary Islands.2

Nevertheless, the United States didn’t experience this tropical fruit until 1804, and then only in a limited way for the next 50 years; this delectable was imported infrequently, in such relatively small quantities as 300 stems, by sailing ships coming from the Caribbean or Central American ports.3

In 1830, during this early inactive period, Capt. John Pearsall brought the first full cargo of bananas, 1500 stems, to New York.  This man later became a N.Y. commission agent, specializing in the import of this prized fruit.  In the mid-nineteenth century, he went bankrupt when his shipment of 3,000 stems arrived too ripe to sell; big money was tied up in each of these loads, for then a “finger” sold at the exorbitant price of 25 cents wholesale.4   This was at a time when factory workers, consisting of women and children, were making between 25-50 cents per day.5

More and more cargoes from Honduras and Costa Rica were reaching New Orleans, New York, and Boston during the two decades before 1870, the year when large-scale banana traffic really began.  As the 70’s opened, the now more abundant bananas were sold, foil-wrapped, at a fair in Philadelphia for 10 cents a stem; it was the first time many of these fair goers had ever indulged in this delight.6

By 1885, 10,000 stem cargoes were being shipped from Jamaica in 10 to 12 days. Next, just prior to the turn of the century, this exotic fruit spread to inland America by rail express.7

Now, however, bananas are common and cheap; every American has experienced them, along with their familiar sweetbread.  This 45-year-old banana bread recipe is one of the best among thousands.  Here I have included grams, as someone recently requested that most accurate of measurements for my baking receipts; measuring in grams insures foolproof baking.   Nevertheless I can’t express how easy and certain this preparation is, even with cup measurements, for I could make it with my eyes closed.  Receive!

  1. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1995), pp. 18, 9, 41.
  2. Ibid., pp. 78, 18, 81.
  3. Ibid., p. 196.
  4. Ibid., pp. 217, 234.
  5. Stanley Lebergott, Chapter: Wage Trends, 1800-1900, The Conference on Research in Income and Wealth, The Trends in American Economy in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1960), pp. 449-500.
  6. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1995), pp. 283, 301.
  7. Ibid., pp. 320, 360.

wheat grinding attachment on a kitchen aid

Whole Wheat Banana Bread  Yields 1 loaf.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 25 min/  active prep time: 25 min/  baking time: 1 hr.

1 cup (136 grams) whole wheat flour  (Bob’s Red Mill is high quality.)

1/2 cup (64 grams) unbleached white flour  (May grind 1 cup organic, hard red spring wheat berries to make total 1 1/2 cups-204 grams-flour.)

1/4 cup (60 grams) cream* or milk, soured with juice from lemon ball

1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, softened

3/4 cup (165 grams) brown sugar, packed  (Organic brown sugar is preferable, which is available at Trader Joe’s, or may substitute a healthier 3/4 cup-95 grams-coconut sugar.)

1 large egg (51 grams)

1 tsp (7 grams) baking soda

3/4 tsp (4.26 grams) salt  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in health section of local supermarket.)

2 large or 3 small ripe bananas (375 grams), 1 1/4 cup  (May ripen these overnight by gently, but firmly, squeezing the whole banana, until meat is mushy under the skin; let sit at least 8 hours.)

1 tsp (4.2 grams) vanilla

1/2 cup (62 grams) nuts, optional

Spray oil  (Pam coconut spray is best; our local Winco brand, however, makes this preferred spray for less than half the expense.)

Flour for dusting sprayed pan

  1. If using fresh ground flour, begin grinding 1 cup hard red spring wheat berries now (this berry makes a dense nutritious bread, which is extremely high in protein-one serving has the protein of an egg or 7 grams), see photo.
  2. Measure cream* or milk in a medium/large bowl; squeeze several squirts of lemon juice from a ball over surface; let sit until soured, about 10 minutes.
  3. Beat butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy; mix in sugar thoroughly; add egg, beating extra well; set aside.
  4. In a medium/ large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  5. When cream/milk is soured (cream will appear curdled more than milk), add bananas to bowl and mash well with a fork; blend in vanilla; set aside.
  6. Add alternately flour and banana mixtures to butter mixture.  When all is incorporated, mix in optional nuts.  Beat well.
  7. Spray a 9 x 5, or 8 x 4, inch loaf pan; lightly dust with flour; pour batter in prepared pan.  (This bread will be denser when made in the smaller pan.)
  8. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until bread responds, bounces back, when pressed with finger.  May also test with a toothpick; it is done when toothpick comes out, of soft area in crust, clean.  Do not over bake.
  9. Cool in pan for 5 minutes; then, remove and finish cooling on rack; see top photo.  Keeps well in refrigerator, wrapped in paper towel, and sealed in gallon size storage bag.
  10. This is a staple in my home!

1960’s Portuguese Pork

Portuguese pork roast

My gift of hospitality was birthed during my youth in the mid-twentieth century, for then I watched my mother host elaborate dinner parties.  As an excellent cook, she prepared glorious feasts, often with international themes; this 1960’s recipe for Portuguese pork blessed guests repeatedly.  While in college, I meticulously copied her treasured receipts and began my own journey, fostering nourishment of body and soul.

In 1982 God converted this inherent gift into my lifetime work; then, I began catering meals and teaching a profusion of cooking classes, utilizing researched historical recipes.  One of these classes was on my mother’s Portuguese foods, on which I expanded, incorporating the salad Ensalada Iberica and dessert Figos Recheados, my next weeks’ posts.

Slowing down, smelling the roses, feeding ourselves and others are important traits. In doing such, let us choose pleasure in even the simplest of foods, especially when someone else prepares them; thus, their charity reaches our hearts regardless of what is served.  Macaroni and cheese can thrill us, when made with love by a friend.

There is an element of courage, which results in unexpected joy, when we graciously receive ailments we aren’t sure of.  While living in Billings, Montana, a friend invited me to celebrate Easter with her.  Upon arrival I discovered we were partaking of rabbit; I was challenged in eating this, especially on this holiday!  Expressing gratitude, I bravely proceeded and found it palatable, as long as I didn’t concentrate on it being Easter.  Though I have never again experienced this meat, fond memories flood my mind whenever it is mentioned.

Let us be strong in both giving and receiving benevolent fellowship; use my series of proven receipts to host this cultural affair for your loved ones, or better yet invite someone newly acquainted.

In Culinary Artistry, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page note strong compliments to pork; among the most vibrant are vinegar, garlic, black pepper, oranges and onions-all of which are present in this detailed dinner.1   Enjoy my creative repast!

  1. Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 159.

chopping jalapeno peppers

Portuguese Pork  Yields: 8-10 servings.  Total prep time: 1 day plus 4 hours/  inactive prep time-for marinating: 1 day/  active prep time: 30 min/  cooking time: 3 1/2 hr.

4 lb pork loin roast

1 1/3 cups water

1 cup cider vinegar  (Trader Joe’s carries an inexpensive raw version, which has great health benefits.)

5 medium/large cloves of garlic, minced

3 tepino peppers  (If desired use jalapeno peppers, which are milder.)

Salt and pepper  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in the health section of local supermarket.)

1 cup sliced green olives  (May serve additional in a bowl at table.)

Baked yams  (Yams and sweet potatoes are different varieties of the same vegetable, they are interchangeable.)

  1. Place water and vinegar in a 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 3 pan (3 quart baking dish).
  2. Mince garlic, add to vinegar mixture.
  3. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon, chop fine, and add to vinegar mixture (see photo).  Note: be sure to wash hands thoroughly, as burning will result from touching eyes if you don’t.
  4. Place pork in marinade and marinate in refrigerator for at least 24 hours, turning roast halfway through, at about 12 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Before placing in oven, turn roast again, salting and peppering the top well.  Bake for 1 3/4 hours; then, turn roast for the last time; once more, salt and pepper the top well.  Bake for another 1 3/4 hours.  Proceed immediately to next step.
  6. Wash yams and pierce several times with a fork.  Cover with foil; place top of foil on potato, where sealed, face-up in the oven while baking; this keeps juices from leaking.  Start baking these at the same time you begin roasting the meat; bake for about 3 hours, as the oven is only set at 300 degrees.
  7. When cooking is complete, remove roast from oven, cool for 15 minutes.  Toward the end of this time, take yams out of oven and place on plates; next, cut pork in thick slices and arrange on dishes; top with sliced olives.  (It is good to serve additional olives in a small bowl at table.)
  8. This pork is superb with the Portuguese salad Ensalada Iberica and dessert Figos Recheados, my next weeks’ posts.

1880’s Minced Cabbage

cooked minced cabbage

Along with last week’s post on escalloped salmon, I discovered this elegant, easy minced cabbage in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which was originally published in 1880 by Washburn-Crosby Co.  Its successor General Mills reprinted this worthy account in the twentieth century.  This latter company, however, is better known for publishing recipe books under the pseudonym Betty Crocker, who, unlike our illustrious 19th century writer Miss Parloa, never existed.

In 1921, before this transfer of title, Washburn-Crosby was first to use the name “Betty Crocker”.  At that time they were inundated with 30,000 entries in a contest promoting Gold Medal flour; many of these participants asked questions on baking.  Washburn-Crosby discerned that the replies would promote more influence if signed by a woman; thus, the inspiration for this sham, which was derived from the surname of a retired company director.1

General Mills continued in this tradition, after it was created in 1929, when it merged Washburn-Crosby with 26 other U.S. flour mills.2   This, then the world’s largest flour mill, initially portrayed this fictitious authority as a gray-haired home-maker in 1936; her image was frequently revised throughout the last century, as Betty Crocker was used as a major brand name for their various products.3

It is jarring when we learn the falsehood of long accepted traditions, like the authenticity of this established person, for truth is fundamental to our stability.  We implicitly search for verity in all things, cooking included.  Rejoicing occurs when a good source for teaching the basics is found, such as that required for food preparation and the execution of life present in my writings.  Indeed, the trust generated here grows into a comprehensive application upon many areas of our existence.

My prayer is that we will come to rely on my receipts, preparing them with the ease with which they are intended.  They may look lengthy at times, this is because I spell out shortcuts with care, for my blog is like going to cooking school.  Quickly we learn my simple, creative techniques; thus, we are able to adeptly use these recipes.

This effortless minced cabbage comes with the height of freedom.  Enjoy!

  1. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), p. 434.
  2. Ibid., p. 456.
  3. Ibid., p. 488.

chopping cabbage in a food processor

1880’s Minced Cabbage  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 30 min/  active prep time: 10 min/  cooking time: 20 min.  This is adapted from a recipe in Miss Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, (Boston: Estes and Laurait, 1880), reprinted by General Mills in the 20th century.

Note: this is best when made ahead and reheated just before serving.

1 1/2 lb green cabbage

2 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is ideal for quality and flavor here; avocado oil is also good; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in health section at local supermarket.)

  1. Chop cabbage either by hand or, more quickly, by using the slicing attachment to a food processor.  If using a food processor, cut cabbage in slices that will fit in its feeder (see photo).  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan, in which you have placed a small piece of cabbage.  When it sizzles, add rest of cabbage and stir well to evenly distribute oil; cook until vegetable is limp, stirring frequently.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  3. Make roux in a small sauté pan: melt butter over medium heat, add flour, and stir vigorously with a wire whisk.  Cook only until mixture is a light brown, about 30 seconds; remove from heat and set aside.
  4. When cabbage is soft, add salt and stir well.
  5. Blend roux from step 3 into vegetable, cook until consistency of cabbage is somewhat thickened, stir frequently.
  6. When done, remove from heat.  May serve immediately or, better yet, enhance its flavor by letting it sit; when it sits, the cabbage juices form in bottom of pan.  Use a wooden or plastic cooking spatula to loosen the fond (carmelized pan drippings and browned bits, which add great flavor); stir these juices and the loosened fond into cabbage (see top photo for finished product).  Reheat just before serving.

1880’s Escalloped Salmon

ingredients for escalloped salmon

Miss Parloa blessed us with escalloped fish in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which Washburn-Crosby Company published in 1880.  This company’s successor General Mills brought these proven receipts back to America by printing an edition in the mid-twentieth century.  Both these companies are known for their production of Gold Medal flour, which they successively produced; thus, this product has been on the market for nearly two and a half centuries.

This 1880’s cook book was one of many written by Miss Parloa, who was an important figure in the gastronomical world of her day.  As director of the Boston cooking school, she became famous for her Boston Cooking School Cook Book, which was forerunner to the renowned Fanny Farmer Cook Book.

In this first above account, she taught “modern” techniques and included 93 “essential” utensils for the kitchen, which boasted of such items as an apple corer, melon mold, and squash strainer.  Her writings catered to the affluent, for she recommended that a dinner for twelve need cost no more than $25, this at a time when an unskilled worker made about $1 per day.1

In her preface to this book, she set forth her desire to give clear, complete, and concise directions, but these were vague compared to our present standards.  Her instructions, however, had far greater detail than those found in the contemporary cook books of her day.

This recipe required five pounds of fish to sustain a family of six at a meal, in contrast to providing for twelve guests at a dinner party, as these hospitable affairs were always profuse in delectable dishes.  My directive only calls for one pound of salmon for four people, because this is a rich food for our relatively sedentary bodies; in these former days people were highly active, requiring many more calories than we do today.

As with this outmoded receipt, things call for adaptation; we must learn to adjust to the required needs of any given time.  Our living God perpetually covers us in all instances of unforeseen change, bringing healthy modification, if we ask believing.

There are truths in his word.  When overwhelmed with trouble, our heartfelt cries go out to our Father: “Do I have what it takes to counter this storm?  How do I do this?”  As we quiet our souls, clear answers come; next, we proceed to follow our heart’s unction with our determined movement.  Victory always follows when we heed this inner voice carefully!

At times the process is slow; thus, patience is critical to success.  It is necessary to listen for “the winds in the mulberry trees”.2   Like these air currents in trees, which are constantly varying, our circumstances also rapidly change; therefore, we need to be very flexible when we receive guidance as such.

This is a joyful race we are running!  Nothing is too difficult for us.  We simply align our hearts to the “recipe” our Father is dictating at each turn, purposing to not be alarmed when our five pounds of fish becomes one pound, or with equal intention, staying calm when it reverses back to five pounds.

Recently I enjoyed escalloped salmon with friends I hadn’t seen for a long time; our reunion was marked with excellence in both fellowship and food.  This dish is a winner for special occasions, especially when served with next week’s entry 1880’s minced cabbage.

  1. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), p. 310.
  2. The Holy Bible, King James Version, 2 Samuel 5: 22-25.

baked escalloped salmon

1880’s Escalloped Salmon  Yields 4 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 15 min/  active prep time: 45 min/  baking time: 30 min.  This is adapted from a recipe in Miss Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1880), a facsimile of this was printed sometime in the 20th century by General Mills.

1/4 cup bread crumbs  (May purchase these, or grind 2 slices of stale bread in a dry food processor; make extra, as these freeze well; for stale bread, leave it out for about 8 hours.)

1-1 1/2 lb salmon fillet  (A minimum of 1 lb is needed if fillet is boneless and skinless, more if there are bones and/or skin.)

1 tsp salt, or more to taste  (Real Salt is best for optimum health; available in health section of local supermarket.)

1 cup whipping cream*, or half and half

1/8 cup water

1 tbsp flour

1/8 tsp white pepper, or more to taste

Steamed rice, cooked according to directions on package

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (if preparing ahead, wait and preheat oven 1 hr &10 min before serving).
  2. If salmon fillet is large, cut in pieces that will fit in a 3 quart saucepan.  Place in pan and cover with water, to which you have added 1/2 tsp salt; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook until center of thickest part of salmon is opaque, when pierced with a fork.  Remove from liquid and cool.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  3. If preparing your own bread crumbs, grind 2 pieces or more of stale bread in dry food processor, pressing pulse button repeatedly until crumbs are fine.  Set aside, freeze extras.
  4. Heat cream over medium heat in a small saucepan, only until a soft boil is formed, stir frequently, and watch carefully.
  5. While heating, dissolve flour in water.  Watching cream carefully, turn heat down to medium/low, as soon as it barely boils.  Stir is flour mixture with a wire whisk and cook, beating frequently, until sauce is thick.  Season with 1/2 tsp salt and white pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings; set aside.
  6. Start rice, following directions on package (wait if you are preparing salmon ahead).
  7. Butter a small, 1 quart baking dish; place a light layer of sauce in bottom of dish.
  8. Skin and carefully de-bone fish, placing bite-size pieces in baking dish on top of layer of cream.  When all the salmon is thus prepared, press down on fish to make compact; cover the top with the remaining cream sauce.
  9. Just before placing this in oven, spread bread crumbs on top of sauce.  If a skim has formed on top of cream, gently break apart with a spoon, making surface wet again, so crumbs can stick; then, bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven to meld all flavors.  (If you are making this ahead of time, place dish in refrigerator; top with breadcrumbs just before baking, being sure to break up skim on top of cream first; cook for 1 hour in preheated oven; start rice when you place salmon in oven.)
  10. Serve with 1880’s Minced Cabbage, which is next week’s entry.

1880’s Philadelphia Clam Chowder

mincing clams

mincing fresh razor clams

This great chowder is adapted from a recipe in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which was originally published in 1880, by Washburn Crosby Co., the makers of what we now know as Gold Medal flour. I have a facsimile of this, which was printed in the mid-twentieth century.  (This collection also includes my all-time favorite oatmeal cookie, which I will share at a later date.)

I have enlarged upon this 19th century creation by adding such flavor/texture enhancers as garlic, onion, celery, and unpeeled potatoes.  Miss Parloa calls this receipt ‘Philadelphia’ clam chowder; it introduces the technique of straining the clams, thus lending a delicate touch to the fish soup.  I am not a big fan of clam chowder, but I love this because of its mellowness!

There is much to be said about the distinctive flavors of shellfish and fish.  Harold McGee shares this apt science in his treatise On Food and Cooking.  He teaches why ocean and freshwater creatures vary so greatly in taste, the former having a much stronger bite.

Ocean water is about 3% salt by weight, while the optimum level of all dissolved minerals inside of animal cells is less than 1%.  Consequently ocean creatures need to balance this substantial salt mineral that they are breathing in and swallowing; they do this with amino acids, amines, and urea, which their bodies produce.

Behold, these substances have different flavors!  For example the amino acid glycine is sweet, while glutamic acid is savory; shellfish are especially rich in these and other amino acids.  Unlike shellfish, finfish rely heavily on the amine TMAO,  which is largely tasteless, for processing salt.  Sharks, skates, and rays make ready the salt water with a slightly salty and bitter urea.  However, this urea and the amine TMAO are converted into stinky substances, by bacteria and fish enzymes, in these respective, dead, ocean-dwelling fish; thus, once they are killed, their meat tastes and smells powerfully bad with age, while that of their freshwater relatives doesn’t.

Freshwater fish have a gentler effect on our taste buds, because the water they live in is actually less salty than that of their cells; therefore, they do not need to accumulate these pungent amino acids, amines, or urea, which their ocean-dwelling cousins require to process the dissolved mineral salt.

You can see that different shellfish and fish supply our mouths with unique experiences.  Seawater varieties use a diversity of amino acids, amines, and urea to balance the salt in their cellular systems; these differing substances boast of wide variety of powerful tastes.  Their freshwater counterparts, which don’t require these salt equalizers, are bland by comparison.1

Miss Parloa counters the strong flavor of clam chowder by straining the clams, removing their excess liquid, which has an abundance of the above mentioned amino acids.  I take this illustrious chef’s simple inspiration and provide an even richer experience, with additional textures and mouth-watering thrills.  You’ll like this delicious, yet mild, chowder!

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984, 2004),  pp. 188-189.

Philadelphia Clam Chowder  Adapted from a recipe in Miss Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Silver Dollar City, MO: Washburn-Crosby Co., 1880).  Yields: 8 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 30 min/  active prep time: 30 min/  cooking time: 1 hr.

Note: you may make 2/3’s of this recipe, if you don’t have large enough pots for the makeshift double boiler (see step 1 for photo and directions).

1 1/2 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best.)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

6 ounce drained weight minced clams, or 3-6.5 ounce cans, strained  (May use 6 ounces fresh razor clams, chopped fine, see top photo.)

2 stalks celery, chopped fine

3 tbsp parsley, chopped fine

1 lb potatoes, unpeeled, cut in small pieces

5 large cloves garlic, minced  (May use 3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s for easy prep.)

1 1/2 quarts milk

1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is best; available in health section of local supermarkets.)

1/2 tsp white pepper, or to taste

  1. make-shift double boiler

    make-shift double boiler

    Heat coconut oil in a 4-quart pot that will sit inside a slightly larger pot to make a double boiler.  See photo.  (If you don’t have two large pots, you may make 2/3’s of the recipe to fit in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan, which in turn will rest over boiling water in a larger pot.)

  2. When a small piece of onion sizzles in oil, add the rest of the onions and sweat (cook until translucent).  Remove from heat when done.
  3. Fill larger pot 2/5’s full of water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Meantime melt butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Add flour and stir constantly with a wire whisk, cook until light brown in color, set aside.
  5. Spray celery, parsley, and potatoes with inexpensive, effective vegetable spray: fill a spray bottle with a mixture of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide; spray vegetables and let sit for 3 min; rinse really well.  Meantime go to next step.
  6. Drain canned clams in a colander.  If using fresh razor clams, drain and chop fine (see top photo).
  7. Chop all vegetables and garlic; add to cooked onions, which have been removed from heat.
  8. Add milk, clams, salt, and pepper to the pan of vegetables.  Fit this smaller pan into the larger pot, so it sits above the boiling water (see photo).  Watch water level while cooking to make sure water doesn’t boil dry.  Cook chowder until potatoes are soft, about 50 minutes.
  9. Beat in roux (butter/flour mixture) with a big spoon, cooking 5 more minutes, or until soup is thickened.  Stir constantly.
  10. Adjust seasonings and serve.  You may freeze leftovers.  When you heat thawed chowder, it will be of a thinner consistency.  If desired, you may thicken with a small amount of roux-about 1 tbsp of melted butter cooked with an equal amount of flour.  This amount will be adequate to thicken 4 leftover servings; see step 3 for details on thickening with roux.
  11. I am passionate about this soup!

Serungdeng Kacang

serungdeng kacang

serungdeng kacang

The condiment serungdeng kacang first completed my food in the early 1980’s, when I was catering historical events in Billings, Montana.  In those days, I sought recipes that allowed me to offer thematic meals from diverse cultures and times. To my joy, I discovered a host of receipts from Indonesia; thus, I presented an Indonesian rijsttafel to my eager audiences.

I loved to act in my youth and knew the Billings’ theatrical community well.  As an aside, actors often make a living in the restaurant business; they are adept at waiting tables.  Then my creative dinners needed both excellent service and improvisation.  An incredible fit was made with my Billings’ thespian friends; thus, I frequently employed them in my catered dramas.

My favorite memory, using this partnership, was a fundraiser for the Billings’ Children’s Theatre: I presented an authentic Moroccan dinner, for a staged “Night at Rick’s Place”.  The five winning tickets from those auctioned off-each with their three guests-were transported back to World War II in the theatre’s upstairs; this large room had been converted into Rick’s Place, from the movie Casablanca.  It was furnished with a bar off to one side of the restaurant, which consisted of five tables of four, clothed with white linen.  The city’s leading actors peopled the bar scene.  More of these, dressed in tuxedos, served the unsuspecting partakers in this suspense.

Broadway arts resulted!  Numerous brawls took place in the bar; the Gestapo arrived; guests were pick-pocketed, and on and on…Talk about fun.

My part was the researched Moroccan meal.  That afternoon, after weeks of cooking, I showed up for the final preparations in the theatre’s limited kitchen. Behold, the limits escalated upon my arrival-the stove wasn’t working!  The true test of my creativity came.  However, God’s grace broke through: makeshift occurred as a call went out and citizens brought in hot plates.  The meal came off triumphantly: I, in a Moroccan dress, told the innocent company the colorful history as each dish was served.

I repeated this dinner numerous times in my career, but this show never again reached the thrill of its original occurrence.  That night in Casablanca best exemplified what I did with my work then.  Now my food history presentations entertain larger audiences.  Still guests participate in dinner-theatre-type-events. They engage by eating authentic foods; I, dressed in period costume, narrate their careful story.

Today my grand affairs mostly involve Northwest history, for which I was trained in graduate school.  However back in the 80’s and 90’s, I presented other cultures and times in my gala occasions.  Among these many thematic experiences was an Indonesian rijsttafel, which is a banquet of delicacies from this southeast Asian republic, formerly known at the Dutch East Indies.

Serungdeng kacang is a condiment for rice dishes in these ethnic feasts. My particular recipe comes from Java, one of the many islands in Indonesia. These coconut crumbs, spiced with onion and garlic, are spread liberally over the rice portions, in addition to a variety of other garnishes.

Serungdeng kacang has multiple, inventive benefits: it is also compatible with Indian curries; acts as a delicious hors d’oeuvre; and, my favorite, it provides the crowning touch to salads!  Keep this enhancement to tossed greens on hand. Make a double batch and keep it in a sealed storage bag.  The beauty of this topping lasts indefinitely.

simple mincing of onion

simple mincing of onion

Serungdeng Kacang  Yields: 3 cups.  Total prep time: 1 hr/ active prep time: 30 min/ cooking time: 30 min.

6 tbsp yellow onion, minced  (You will need a medium/large onion; follow directions below for simple mincing-see photo.)

6 medium/large garlic cloves, chopped fine

2 tbsp sugar  (Organic cane sugar is best; available at Trader Joe’s and Costco.)

1 tsp salt  (Real Salt is important; available in the health section of local supermarkets.)

1 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is the best for flavor and quality.)

2 cups unsweetened coconut chips  (Available in bulk at our local Winco, or in a 12-ounce Bob’s Red Mill package at local supermarkets.)

1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

  1. An easy way to mince onion is to peel it, leaving the root on; next, score it by cutting slices close together across the top one way, going 3/4 of way down into the onion; then, turn it and cut slices the other direction (see photo).  When onion is prepared thus, shave the minced pieces off the end of it with a sharp knife.
  2. Start by measuring 6 tbsp of minced onion; save rest of onion for other cooking.  With a mortar and pestle mash onions, garlic, sugar, and salt.  When this is a thick puree, set aside.  (See mortar and pestle in photo.)
  3. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium/low heat.  Place a piece of the coconut in oil; when it turns brown, oil is ready for cooking.
  4. Meantime mix together coconut and onion mixture in a large bowl.  Make sure coconut is completely coated.
  5. When oil is hot, add coconut mixture; stir well to coat coconut with oil; cook 20 minutes, or until golden brown in color and slightly wet.  Stir every 5 minutes, so as not to burn.  (Let it cook for full 5-minute increments, however; this allows for the coconut to brown.)
  6. When coconut is light golden brown, add the peanuts and cook for another 5 minutes; stir twice now.  Note: it will get a darker brown and drier, as it cooks more with the peanuts and then cools in the pan.
  7. Remove from heat and be sure to cool in skillet; this completes the drying process.  (See top photo for finished product.)
  8. Keep in a sealed storage bag, lasts for months.

Medieval White-Dish

White-dish

white-dish

Here is a bird’s eye view of a 14th century nobleman’s kitchen, as was common during the reign of King Richard II.  It consisted of a large, separate structure with many fireplaces built along the walls, each with its own cooking area.  At least one fireplace was large enough to roast a whole ox.  A raised open hearth was situated in the center of the kitchen.

Bake metes (baked foods) were concocted in an oven, prepared first with a blazing fire, getting its brick walls red hot.  Cooks placed the pies, custards, and pastries in the hot oven, after they swept out the ashes.  These items baked, behind a closed door, until the oven was cool.

Bakers, however, made breads in separate buildings in larger kitchens, such as that of King Richard II.  The stoves in these bake houses were often 14 feet wide.

Our king was extravagant; he daily entertained over a thousand guests.  There is record of a very large shopping list for a banquet he gave on September 23, 1387. His overseer included 14 salted oxen, 2 fresh oxen, 120 sheep, 140 pigs, 120 gallons of milk, and 11,000 eggs, among taxing quantities of other items.

These feasts were held in the castle’s great hall.  Here the king and special guests sat on a raised platform, or high borde.  The lesser guests assembled at tables that paralleled the side walls.  The backless benches, on which they sat, were called banquettes; thus we got the name banquet for such affairs.

Cooks in many of these kitchens prepared white-dish, or blank-mang.  It was a popular dish in England, as well as on the Continent, during the Middle Ages. Chaucer’s chef made this receipt.  Our poet wrote in his “Prologue” to the Canterbury Tales (c.1386):  “For blancmange, that made he with the best.”

I am indebted to Lorna Sass for her documentation of this information in To the King’s Taste (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975).  Below is my version for her delicious, historical recipe.  Its preparation is easy with my introduction of 21st century appliances  Can’t encourage you enough to try this.  It’s a palate pleaser!

Next week I will be making the connection between these medieval foods and our “renaissance” happening right here in Tualatin, Oregon.

White-Dish is adapted from a recipe in Lorna Sass’ To the King’s Taste (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975).  Yields: 4-6 servings.

2 large chicken breasts

2 1/2 cups water

1 1/4 tsp salt  (Real Salt is best, available in health section of local supermarket.)

1/2 cup raw whole almonds

1 cup brown rice  (I like basmati rice, available at Trader Joe’s.)

3 tbsp butter

4 tsp brown sugar, packed down  (Sucanat  evaporated cane juice, may be substituted; this is close to what they used in the Middle Ages.)

3 tbsp anise seed

1/4 cup sliced almonds

  1. In a tightly covered medium-size saucepan, over medium heat, boil chicken in water, to which 1/4 tsp salt is added.   Boil for about 10-15 minutes.  Be careful to not overcook.  Check meat by cutting with a sharp knife; center should be slightly pink.  (Meat will be cooked more later on.) Remove chicken from broth; set aside both broth and meat.
  2. To make the almond milk, grind 1/2 cup whole raw almonds in a 11-cup, or larger, food processor. Pulse repeatedly until almonds are a fine powder.  (A blender or Vitamix will also work; add 2 tbsp of ice water to nuts, before grinding, if using either of these.)
  3. With food processor running, slowly add two cups of broth through the feeder tube on top of the processor.  (You may have to add water to make 2 cups of liquid; if perhaps you have extra broth, be sure to save this.)  Let sit for 10 minutes.  This makes almond milk.
  4. Put almond milk in the saucepan.  Add remaining 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp butter, and sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Add rice, cover,  and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer gently for about 40 minutes, or until rice is soft.  Watch carefully so rice doesn’t cook dry; gently check bottom of pan with a fork, being careful to not stir rice.  Add more broth, or water, as needed.
  5. Meanwhile dice chicken into 1-inch cubes.  Set aside.
  6. In a small sauté pan, cook almond slices in remaining 2 tbsp of hot butter.  Watch carefully, sautéing only until light brown.  Salt them lightly and set aside.
  7. Crush anise seed using a mortar and pestle.  May also grind in a DRY food processor by pulsing lightly.  Set aside.
  8. Add chicken when rice is soft; stir, and cook about 5 more minutes, or until meat is hot.  Watch moisture in bottom of pan, so rice doesn’t burn, add water or broth as needed.
  9. Serve garnished with buttered almond slices and crushed anise seed.  SO GOOD!