Recipe and commentary from The Big Food Manual and Survivalist Flourishing Guide
This one came from a California cook book I got in the mid 1980s for subscribing to the L.A. Times. (I was a naïve graduate student at the time, which explains why I subscribed to the L.A. Times.) This is an excellent Halloween dish, but be sure that the pumpkin flesh is cooked before your pull it from the oven and serve it. That can take awhile, depending on the pumpkin. The stew is also good without the pumpkin. The variation comes from the season that Marica grew huge Banana winter squash in the garden.
ARGENTINIAN BEEF STEW IN A PUMPKIN SHELL AND VARIATION
2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 Tbsp oil
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 cup dried apricots
3 white potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups beef broth
1 large pumpkin
Salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup dry sherry
1 16 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
Cook meat with onion and garlic in oil until brown in large skillet or Dutch oven. Add tomatoes, green pepper, salt, black pepper, sugar, apricots, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and broth. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325o and carve top off pumpkin. Scoop out seeds and membranes. Brush inside of pumpkin with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste. Stir sherry and corn into stew and spoon into pumpkin shell. Place pumpkin in shallow pan with sides and bake 1-2 hours, checking for doneness of pumpkin flesh after the first hour. Place pumpkin in a large bowl and serve, scooping pumpkin flesh along with stew into individual bowls.
Replace pumpkin with scooped out shell of a large winter squash (keeping some of the squash flesh in the shell).
We ventured off the farm and traveled to and from Arkansas earlier this week.
Some thoughts about what we saw along the way…
I thought there was a lot of cotton around here. I was mistaken. The Mississippi delta has a lot of cotton.
Cotton farmers work on Sunday.
The HWY 82 bridge is far better than the HWY 49 bridge, which is a two freaking lane bridge across the freaking Mississippi River. According to my calculations using Google Earth, the distance across the river on 82 is 0.44 miles. On 49 it is 0.57. The difference may not seem like much to you, but trust me… . I will never cross on 49 again. Never. Even though it’s one third of a mile longer, I’d sooner take the M bridge. (Plus, I’m pretty sure the ladies’ room in the Conoco on the Mississippi side had cameras in the ceiling.)
Roundabouts are dumb. More on this later.
Roundabout related: College presidents in Arkansas wield too much power.
Quitman County (Mississippi) just didn’t look all that poor to me. Jonestown, in Coahoma County, did.
And some questions…
If they can grow tons of cotton in the delta, why don’t folks have veggie gardens? We were on back roads traveling through tiny towns– just collections of houses, really– and I swear, I did not see a single garden patch. I know it’s late in the season, maybe fall crops don’t do well in the delta…, but I didn’t see any signs of gardens. [I tried to find data on food stamps by county and came up with nothing other than that 39.9% of the population in Quitman County is below the poverty level.]
And on a lighter note, is it possible to over-do thematic decorating?
There are a lot of pretty sights out here. This is certainly one of them.
The first fall we lived here was exceptionally wet. You can’t pick and bale cotton in the rain and mud.
From what I can tell, this has been a good year for cotton. Some cotton farmers are beginning to pick and bale. The bales are about the size of– maybe a little smaller than– train cars. They sit out in the fields until a field is completely picked, and then they get loaded up on large trucks.
Contrary to what most people think, Mississippi– at least the parts we frequent– is a pretty clean place. There’s just not a lot of trash along the road side. What there is comes mostly from stuff blowing out of pickup truck beds. (In fact, there are radio and t.v. ads reminding people to not pitch trash in their truck beds for this reason.) If, however, you visited Mississippi soon after cotton picking time, you would think it’s filthy! What you’d identify as trash, though, would be cotton– cotton that’s blown off the bales as they travel down the highways.
I have more thoughts on cotton in Mississippi, but I’ve lost the context in which I first wrote them. I’ve got my cracker-jack research assistant– my son-in-law– (back-)tracking. If he comes up with anything, I’ll post later. But to give a hint, I calculated that if all of the cotton grown in my county went to make T-shirts, there’s enough to make 4,000,000 100% cotton T-shirts.
As I posted yesterday, there’s an article up at NRO about what a great place The South is. It’s gotten a bit of attention in the part of the World Wide Web that I frequent. Here’s Glenn Reyonlds response:
To be honest, we’d rather word didn’t get out. Stay away! In fact, I need to point this out: The South is a cultural desert, across which ride Klansmen on horseback and NASCAR fans in F350 Dually pickups. The cultural center is Wal-Mart, and the occasional tailgater before a lynching. Gunshows are disdained as the domain of pointy-headed intellectuals, because they also sell books. No, really, that’s all true — stay away! For the love of God, stay away!
UPDATE: Reader Phil Manhard emails: “I wish to add that we have fire ants, sinkholes, red tide, shark attacks, huge and regular brush fires, sandspurs, sunburn, hurricanes (though, unexpectedly!, none in the last couple of years). Yes, for the love of God, stay far away!”
And the chiggers. Beastly critters you want no part of. Stay in Massachusetts!
And we are ever so unworldly– which reminds me of a story.
A friend, I’ll call him T, used to live in a very nice older subdivision in Memphis– large trees and big lots separated by fences. T was very good friends with M, a Brit. M is one of the snottiest, most arrogant, insufferable human beings I’ve ever met– Brit or otherwise. How T & M became friends I will never understand.
Anyway, M was visiting Memphis and T had him over for a cookout. T’s neighbor was in her yard, across the fence. As T tells this story, his neighbor was a first-class busy body (as a lot of Southern women are). So she hollers over the fence, “Hey, ya’ll,” and T is obligated to introduce M.
She proceeds to chat it up with M, finally asking, “Where y’all from?”
To which M, in his snotty, most arrogant, insufferable British accent, replies, “Oxford.”
The neighbor gets a funny look on her face and says, “Funny. Ya don’t sound like yur from Mississippi.”
Oxford, Mississippi is so backward it still has phone booths!
I’m a Jersey boy. I was born there, went to high school and college there, and assumed I’d spend the rest of my life there. But though I loved the people and food, the Jersey Shore summers, and short rides through the Lincoln Tunnel to Broadway shows and Madison Square Garden, I gave it all up and moved south. Very far south. I’m not alone.
And he likes it here! Funny part? He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.
As of this writing there are 35 comments. A significant number of them are from long-time Southerners asking him to pipe down. Shhhh. Be quiet. We don’t want damned Yankees coming down here and Yankifying (i.e., liberalizing) The South. I didn’t feel the need to comment because I feel the same way. It’s bad enough that credentialed smart people are crossing county lines to get their kids into my county’s good school system. The last thing I want to see happen to Mississippi is what I saw happen in North Carolina. So Lee, hush up.
All in all, it was a good article. BUT, this was his set-up:
The economic and cultural forces driving this migration south have been ignored by the press. And by the Obama administration. So I figured this Jersey boy who now calls Oxford, Mississippi, home could explain why. This Yankee turned good ol’ boy could explain the pull — no, the tug — of the South.
[My emphasis.] Oxford turns Yankees into good ol’ boys? I suppose that’s possible if you are from Jersey, land of no left turns.
I do actually have a soft spot for Oxford. But Oxford is Mississippi only insofar as Oxford really is in Mississippi. Which is why I love Mississippi. Go Dawgs.
If you don’t know what the Egg Bowl is without looking, stay where you are. Go Dawgs.
Radish Daikon Miyashige White Organic Heirloom Seed
60 days. Young shredded daikon radishes are often used in sushi, but their light, crunchy, slightly spicy flavor is a unique addition to many other dishes. Mature daikon is pickled or cooked; add to stir-fries or soups. Daikon is a “winter radish,” requiring a longer time to develop than spring radishes, and cool temperatures to mature the edible root. To grow successfully, sow in mid- to late summer or early fall. This packet plants three 5 foot rows.
Let’s think this through. Fifteen feet of 7″ radishes is A LOT. Fortunately, if stored in a cool dry place, radish seeds have a shelf life of about five years. (More information of seed storage longevities here.)
In Chicks with Guns, Lindsay McCrum has created a cultural portrait of women gun owners in America through photographs that are both beautiful and in a sense unexpected. The book examines issues of self-image and gender through the visual conventions of portraiture and fashion, but the guns are presented here not as superimposed props but as the very personal lifestyle accessories of the subjects portrayed. And it defies stereotypes often associated with aspects of the popular culture of both guns and women. Like the 15-20 million women gun owners in this country, the women we meet in Chicks with Guns ( their portraits are accompanied by their own words), reside in all regions of the country, come from all levels of society, and participate seriously in diverse shooting activities. The women here are sportswomen, hunters, and competition shooters. Some use guns on their jobs and some for self-defense. They may not all be classically beautiful, but in these photographs they all look beautiful, exuding honesty, confidence, poise, power and pride. They are real women with real guns that play a part in their lives. By focusing her camera respectfully on this particular aspect of the American scene, gun-wielding women and girls, Lindsay McCrum sheds new light on who we are in America today.
There is no such thing as LESS than 10 items. The number of individual items that are smaller than 10 are counted in whole numbers: 1-2-3… 9. When you count such items– those that we’ve already stipulated can only be counted by whole numbers, — “equal to,” “more than,” and “fewer than ten,” are the only grammatically correct ways to make comparisons.
“Fewer” modifies a noun that can be subdivided into whole number increments, even though those increments could be further divided into smaller whole number increments. I have one cup of sugar. You have two. You have more than I. I have 1 1/2 cups. You have 3/4 C. I have twice as much sugar as you do.
On the other hand…
“Lesser” modifies things that really are not describable in terms of whole numbers.”This glass is less full than that one.”
I do not expect this blog to get a whole lot of traffic. But I do hope that some who I cajole into stopping by, will. In this post, I’m talking to you.
I know I’ve asked a lot of you over the years. Thank you. If you could get the fewer than/lesser than thing and spread it around, I would appreciate it. I’m not asking that be grammar Nazis, just that you help me maintain some standards. 🙂
Croquembouche, from The Creative Cooking Course (1982), edited by Charlotte Turgeon,
Weathervane Books, New York, p223
Mr. Big Food has just finished the desserts section in The Creative Cooking Course, a cookbook that weighs seven pounds. By the time he’s finished with the book, he’ll have spent nearly a year working through every page, culling every recipe deemed fit for his Big Food Manual and Survivalist Flourishing Guide. He’ll type each recipe or tidbit of information into an individual Word document. I do not believe this is the most efficient strategy– you should see the structure of the folders under the main “Recipes” folder!– but with more than 15,000 recipes, it’s too late for him to change his strategy.
I’m not going to post the recipe for this beautiful dessert but please click on the photo to enlarge. Those thin threads are spun sugar. The book contains instructions for making spun sugar. Those are creampuffs, with butter rosettes defining each individual puff.
Mr. Big Food was excited to show me this particular photo this morning. Our wedding cake was a croquembouche. 🙂 We then skimmed through the desserts section, looking at the pictures. We are talking about some serious cooking and baking here. Does anyone these days do this sort of thing– in their own home? To me, 1982 doesn’t seem that long ago, and yet looking at those pictures of steamed puddings, fondant trimmings, and Christmas frozen custard cake, it seems worlds away.
Today is the day! Not that there’s anything special about today, but today is the day I decided to dig up the sweet potatoes. And of course, today is the day I didn’t look at the radar. We’ve already had two or three downpours. Not the best weather for pulling sweet potatoes which need to cure in the sun for a day or two. Oh well.
has a different look from the other darker-skin varieties. It is a white-skinned, cream-fleshed sweet potato that cooks up drier than other sweet potato varieties. O’Henry’s leaves are green and heart shaped. It’s large tubers grow in a compact cluster underneath the plant helping to make harvesting easier. O’Henry has a high yield potential and also stores well. Excellent taste.
I don’t know yet about storage, but everything else is true. There are about half as many again still in the ground, so I’d call that a high yield.
This year, I planted my slips– I think about eight or nine of O’Henry– in a rectangular planter in front of the house. We have two such planters; another variety is in the second. Sweet potato foliage is beautiful. Indeed, the sweet potato vine that folks plant as greenery in large planters really is a sweet potato– same species, different variety. (Note to the prepper/survivalists out there, the tubers of the sweet potato vine, while not as large as a variety bred for eating, are edible.) I had several reasons in addition to appearance for planting them in planters. First, I hoped it would be much easier to harvest the potatoes. It is. Second, I hoped the deer wouldn’t come so close to the house. They did. But another great thing about growing sweet potatoes is that even if deer strip the plants of almost all their foliage, it will grow back and the potatoes aren’t affected.
Planting and growing sweet potatoes is remarkably easy.
From New Hope Seed Company’s site:
Several months of warm weather are required to produce the sweet potatoes biggest tubers. Northern growers can benefit from using black plastic to warm the soil for about 3 weeks prior to planting. Sweet potatoes should be planted in a ridge (raised row) to provide drainage and allow for root expansion. Space ridge about 3 1/2 feet apart with plants set 1 foot apart.
Upon receipt of your slips, placing them in a jar of water until you are ready to plant will perk them up, allow you to wait until weather conditions are perfect for your area, and give you time to prepare your soil.
Please note: Your plants may appear severely wilted which is normal, there maybe leaves that appear rotten or slimy and this is also a natural occurrence, just remove the slick or slimy leaves and place your plants in a jar of water as discussed earlier. Sweet potatoes are extremely tough and resilient plants and once livened back up will take off and grow well.
Keep transplants moist after being set in the field and water before the soil dries. Weed control will be necessary until the vines meet between the rows.
The photo shows sweet potato slips.
Once you have established a first crop, you have your own slips. Not all of the sweet potato roots will produce tubers big enough to peel. Save those in a cool, dark place. When spring rolls around, set them outside in box or tray. Water them occasionally. After a while, they will begin to sprout, like old (real) potatoes do. Treat those sprouts as slips. Alternatively, just plant those old roots and water regularly until you see the plant popping out of the soil.
Sweet potato plants are almost indestructible. Once the plants are established, they don’t even need to be watered. No pests. Never had a problem with disease.
Mr. Big Food knows a thing or two about learning and memory. I once knew something about mammalian growth and development. To watch Rocky gnaw ferociously on his chew toy because he’s teething, and to see him learn to associate my feeding our geriatric dog with getting in his box for a treat (so he doesn’t mess with Suzy’s food) are delightful parts of my day. Now if he’d just get over his shoe fetish… !
(Not sure that long sentence is grammatically correct, but you get the idea.)
100 days — The fruits are dark green with darker green stripes. They are oblong and blocky with sweet, bright-red flesh and a high sugar content. Holds long at maturity. Developed at the University of Iowa for upland soils and for resistance to fusarium wilt and anthracnose (race 1). Although once popular, it has become quite rare. Iopride was developed by Lewis Peterson of the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State.1
From my experience growing this melon I think this is one of the easiest melons to grow. In all the years I have grown it, it has never failed to produce a crop. I have had extremely wet as well as dry and hot seasons, and when others failed, this one always came through for me.
Melons average 25 to 30 pounds and normally have a lot of 40 pound ones. It has a good fruit set.
I started a previous post by quoting The Meal Planner’s Creed from Meta Given’s (1958) Modern Family Cookbook. That post ended with the question:
When did doing things you want to take pride in become drudgery?
The question relates to “the drudgery of _________ ” [fill in some aspect of creating and maintaining a functioning comfortable home].”
I’ve come across this phase several times in the past few weeks within the context of “X released women from the drudgery of Y,” where Y was something that wouldn’t really fall under the definition of “drudgery,” to begin with.
Well! Lo and Behold!
I’m using bing to search for “drudgery” just now (I’m looking for something very specific) and I see this:
By drudgery, I mean work that in itself is not pleasant, that has no immediate effect in stimulating our best powers, and that only remotely serves the purpose of our general advancement.
I click, and am taken to
The Gains of Drudgery from The Making of Manhood (1894) by William James Dawson
But the gains of drudgery are not seen only in the solid successes of life, but in their effect upon the man himself. Let me take in illustration a not infrequent case. Suppose a man gives up his youth to the struggle for some coveted degree, some honour or award of the scholarly life. It is very possible that when he obtains that for which he has struggled, he may find that the joy of possession is not so great as the joy of the strife. It is part of the discipline of life that we should be educated by disillusion; we press onward to some shining summit, only to find that it is but a bastion thrown out by a greater mountain, which we did not see, and that the real summit lies far beyond us still. But are we the worse for the struggle? No; we are manifestly the better, for by whatever illusion we have been led onward, it is at least clear that without the illusion we should not have stood as high as we do.
Read the whole thing and come back. I’ll let this stand alone, even though I’ve not posted my watermelon picture– which is where I was headed.
A dear old friend once commented that we “have a lot of crappy old stuff.” True. Our Big Life is filled with crappy old stuff– especially books. From one old cookbook:
The Meal Planner’s Creed from The Modern Family Cookbook by Meta Given
(J. G. Ferguson Publishing Company, Chicago. 1958. p2)
Question. Why do authors continue to include the word “modern” in book titles– especially cookbooks, books on decorating, fashion, and so forth? I know here “modern” modifies “family” but what family isn’t modern? Oh. Those that have a lot of crappy old stuff.
So there’s no need to click to enlarge:
The Meal Planner’s Creed
The health of my family is in my care, therefore– I will spare no effort in planning the right kinds of food in the right amounts.
Spending the food dollar for maximum value is my job, therefore– I will choose from variously priced foods to save money without sacrificing health.
My family’s enjoyment of food is my responsibility, therefore– I will increase their pleasure by planning for variety, for flavorful dishes, for attractive color, for appetizing combinations.
My family’s health, security, and pleasure depend on my skill in planning meals, therefore– I will treat my job with the respect that is due it.
The first thing I wonder is, why a creed? The Modern Family Cookbook also has creeds for Shoppers and Cooks. What is a creed? According to Webster’s New School and Office Dictionary (1962), a creed is a “brief statement of belief.”
ASIDE: I have several old dictionaries– I think if you’re going to wonder what I’m wondering, you should make some effort to be in the same time frame. I should have referred to a dictionary older than 1958, but unfortunately, my dictionary collection has gaps. I’ll look for a crappy old dictionary from the ’40s and ’50s next time I’m out. Note that this is not the #1 definition given at dictionary.com. It is decidedly different.
A meal planner believes four things about herself. (I’ll not go PC here. It was 1958. Women did the meal planning. End of story.) She believes she is responsible for her family’s health, her portion of the family budget, her family’s food experiences, and their security and pleasure! That is a lot of responsibility. But it’s her job and she’s going to respect it. And what’s more, when she finishes planning and shopping and gets down to the business of cooking, she’s going to
… take pride in doing an outstanding job of cooking.
IMHO, the our county and culture would be a lot better off if we had more “modern” families.*
Next, I wonder why there aren’t more modern families? It isn’t hard to think ahead seven days. It’s certainly more efficient to go to the grocery store once a week rather than stopping in nearly every evening after work. And why not take pride in something as fundamental as food preparation? But how many folks do this? Honestly, these days, who actually plans a week’s worth of meals, shops for the menu, and takes pride in cooking?
But we like crappy old stuff!
Finally, I wonder about drudgery. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed several references to the drudgery of housework… how liberating it was to be released from said drudgery… etc. And I wonder about this. It’s not just this particular cookbook, or cookbooks in general, or books dealing with other household/housewife issues. I have books on farm, machine, car, gun maintenance, repair and so forth– clearly written for men– that have the same tone. This is what you do. Do it right. Take pride in it. From Mack M. Jones’ Shopwork on the Farm (1945):
With the increased mechanization of farms, it has become necessary for the successful modern farmer to be proficient in the use, repair, and maintenance of mechanical equipment of various kinds. … Although the farmer needs to be an unspecialized mechanic, rather than specialized mechanic, he should nevertheless be a good one. He should be thorough and systematic. Slovenly or slipshod methods have no more place on the farm than in other business or occupations. Machinery that works well, gates that open and shut easily, and buildings and fences that are orderly and in good repair not only save time and money for the farmer, but contribute to morale and the pride of ownership.
(My emphases. There’s that word again, modern.) Same themes as the creeds. I can only think of two things that explain drudgery and the absence of any sense of drudgery in the quotes I’ve posted. It is possible that meal planning and tending to fences is drudge work, and that everyone knew it back in the ’40s and 50s. Talk of care, responsibility, morale, pride– all directed at individuals, no less!– is just talk intended to make the poor drudge worker feel better about him or herself. Trash collection is vital– vital!– to a healthy community. Be the best you can be!!
Or, it could be wives and mothers, husbands and fathers, actually did work to become better at some aspects of home life they enjoyed less, or didn’t do as well, as others. As a practical issue, who buys a cookbook or is given one as a gift? I’m not referring to coffee table cookbooks, but rather to those like The Modern Family Cookbook which is replete with nutritional requirements and information in addition to menus and recipes. Who buys a book loaded with diagrams detailing how to do everything from roof construction to knot tying? People who want to do something better. People who take pride in what they produce and do– whatever it may be.
When did doing things you want to take pride in become drudgery?
I love the photo at the article site. This is the first thing I’ve stumbled upon from the Food Renegade site and it looks interesting. I’m a little put off by the repeated use of the word, “sustainable,” though. But I’ll keep my brain open.
My take on the question? “Rights” talk is metaphysical talk. I don’t do metaphysics. So I get around the whole issue of rights by just saying to folks who assert that I do or do not have a “right” to do X:
I don’t want to be told what to do/eat/say/think/feel. etc. Get out of my garden and kitchen, and stay away from my bookshleves. And while you’re at it, get out of my life.
(Don’t think I’m an anarchist, though. There are rules.)
There’s a BIG difference between telling what to …, and discussing the merits of doing … . The difference is choice. That’s what the linked article is about.
This is not a good photograph.* I took it behind a window. But still, if you zoom in you should be able to see four Odocoileus virginianus, white-tailed deer. Two are does, the other are fawns– they were probably born this spring.
Why the post title? Look carefully. Between the two cedar trees is an expanse of chicken wire. On the chicken wire are a bunch of clothes pins that we use to attach pieces of paper to the wire. Behind the chicken wire is an embankment. That’s our shooting range! I can see it from my desk about 85 yards away.
Note that “food” is a label. I will return to this in November.
*If you are interested in amateur photography, check out Kat Landreth’s blog, Pare and Focus. I’m working through her tutorials and ebook (I’ll try to find the link, she sent me a draft). Pare and Focus: Her photography career started because she wanted to take great pictures of the food she prepared. She’s an excellent cook.