Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-10-21 Jersey’s Obscure Ice Cream Treat

For you ice cream purists, you may think this New Jersey creamery has lost it’s ever loving mind!

But for lovers of the Taylor ham (or pork roll as some call it) the confection is an “Only in Jersey” sweet treat.

photo credit: Gastro Obscura by Tony Mangia

Made at the Cow’s Brow Creamery, this “tayham” treat starts with 2 1/2 pounds of the beloved state sandwich filler that, once caramelized, baked, pan-fried, and tossed in cinnamon-sugar forms the salty spine of the fresh ice cream. Along with the base of cream and egg custard, the staff mixes in local maple syrup and chewy challah bread, resulting in a breakfast of ham, and French toast, in a single scoop.

Used with permission by Atlas Obscura
Windy Brow Farms

The sweet and salty treat is only available during certain times, so check to be sure before visiting the creamery. Along with other regional favorites such as sweet corn and honey, cranberry creamsicle, and tomato pie, this line-up is going to be rotated along with the special pork roll ice cream as part of the summer offering.

If you go, check the Windy Brow Farm website for summer hours before you head out.

The Cow’s Brow Creamery is located at 359 Ridge Rd. Fredon Township, New Jersey, 07860.

Curious minds want to know: What is the J food? Well, I had a hard time with that one, so Jersey is what I came up with, besides, I just had to share this crazy ice cream flavor!

Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-09-21 Indigenous Foods

I=Indigenous Foods are Coming to Stores and Cafes Soon

I am so intrigued at discovering more and more about Indigenous foods and how they are making a place in the world by way of researchers, cafe owners, and farms that are starting to get the word out and the world ready.

Too long have the Aboriginals and other indigenous peoples been held down, or held back from capitalizing on their native “bush tucker” (Foods found in the wild like fruits, nuts, wallaby, and swamp turtle) and sharing it instead of hiding it from the world. These are the foods that have sustained Aboriginal communities for millennia.

The University of Queensland and the Australian Research Council recently launched the Training Centre for Uniquely Australian Foods, it’s aim being to expand the scope of Australia’s native food agriculture business, thereby creating new cash crops in Indigenous communities.

Indigenous Australians have been greatly undervalued for their skills, culture, and traditional knowledge due to the legacy of British colonization, which was designed to mirror Britain’s society yet in doing so, created education and employment systems that were foreign and often outright hostile to Indigenous Australians. This caused high unemployment rates, particularly in remote areas without access to education or job training.

The new center wants to highlight those very things with the farms they are helping establish, which will be owned and operated by Indigenous people. The profits will then be spread throughout their communities. The center has a research team who specialize in social science, natural science, and law. They work with an Indigenous enterprise group of which Robert Dann is a member.

As one of the world’s oldest civilizations Indigenous people have a history stretching back 60,000 years. They have a cuisine consisting of 5,000 native food species, yet only 18 of these have been commercialized. Dann wants the world to know more about delicious foods like the boab nut that they have known for centuries.

Cockburn Ranges, Gibb River Road
Inside of a boab nut.

He has been enjoying recipes made with the boab nuts since childhood and has now turned those recipes into a business. What is a boab nut? They come from the boab tree with it’s bulbous trunk and spindly branches. The nuts are the size of a cantaloupe, which — once broken open — reveal white kernels which are then boiled and made into a porridge with sugar. The broth from the boiled nuts is also made into a drink similar to iced tea. With the help of the center, he has learned how to market his recipes and has branded his Boab-nut-infused drinks Bindam Mie.

Another collaboration between the center and an Indigenous community led to the introduction of a green plum the people have been eating for 53,000 years, which the scientists say could become the latest “super food”. It might become one of the key sources of income for these Indigenous communities in Arhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Initially, the team was seeking out the well-known Kakadu Plum, when the Indigenous people showed them the more superior plum. Now the team is working to learn the nutritional properties and commercial value, because according to Dr. Sultanbawa, it is one of the healthiest native foods ever discovered in Australia. High in folate, fiber, and protein not to mention lots of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, its also delicious! It’s said to taste like a pear.

Not yet ready to be sold, investors are still interested. Once the center finishes the work on the green-plum project, the fruit will become the 19th Australian native food produced commercially. It will join fruits like, desert lime, finger lime, bush tomato, Kakadu plum, lemon aspen, pepperberry, quondong, and riberry. Also herbs such as gulbarn, jilungin,anise myrtle, river mint, saltbush, sea parsley, peppermint gum, pepperleaf, and strawberry gum.

The doctor states that the center wants to help produce and sell native foods while utilizing Indigenous knowledge which must be respected, as they know best how to grow and use these foods. This makes the Centre different from other ventures that have tried to exploit Indigenous resources and knowledge with limited direct benefit to Indigenous communities.

Dann’s business has succeeded tremendously with the center’s help. His brand produces peach, lemon, and original flavored boab iced tea which can be purchased directly via his website and also in Western Australian stores. His customers appreciate the simple, natural ingredients used to make the drinks, nothing but water, boab powder, fruit extract, and organic agave nectar. Bindam Mie also sells ginger beer, boab powder and syrup.

Indigenous women harvesting boab nuts/ Dann at a cultural event.

He enjoys seeing the Indigenous people getting a proper chance to make some money from their native foods. The only prior commercial experience Dann had was collecting Kakadu plums and selling them with a friend to a health-food company. Now he is creating employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians in the Kimberley, paying them 414 per kilogram for the boab nuts they gather in the wild.

He says, “There are so many amazing native foods that no one really knows about, only us [Indigenous people.] Now we are starting to show them to the world.”

I’ll be speaking more on Indigenous foods in future posts when I showcase some of Australia’s newest eateries, like The Lillypad, which I will talk about on the 12th.

Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-08-21 Meet Hercules

No, I am not speaking of the Hercules we all know from classical mythology. I want to introduce you to one of the earliest American chefs, in fact, George Washington’s executive chef! Meet Hercules, a slave from 1770 to 1797.

This photo is Public Domain, shared by Atlas Obscura
An artist’s rendering of the infamous Hercules-possibly the work of Gilbert Stuart

It might have been a long day in the executive kitchen, but when it was over, chef Hercules hit the streets of Philly in his finest looking for the place the fashionable people were known to congregate, on Market Street. His attire was different than any other slave, but this revered chef had a flair for fashion and knew what he wanted, which is how he became one of the most famous chefs in the early American republic.

He stepped out in his blue velvet-collared coat, shined buckles on polished shoes, while atop his head, the enslaved cook wore a tricorn hat, and a long watch-chain dangled from the side of his black silk pants. A gold-headed cane firmly in hand, he drew considerable attention as strangers gawked and those known to him bowed. They admitted he was the dandiest, most polished gentleman of the time.

Historians are as enchanted with him today, which is a testament to his charisma and culinary skills. The author of Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine, Kelley Fanto Deetz, says Hercules might have been the first celebrity chef in America. His culinary skills and status were recognized nation-wide, and he was a very confidant, proud man. “He demanded perfection from his staff in the presidential kitchen and he commanded attention and respect from the public as well– something unheard of for enslaved laborers of his period.” she writes.

Although the history is sketchy about when exactly Washington moved him from his house slave to the kitchen, Washington’s 1786 diary entry mentioned him as a cook and within three years, he promoted him to head chef.

Hercules was very precise and disciplined, mastering cooking techniques and skills such as hearth cooking, according to Adrian Miller, author and James Beard award winner who wrote The President’s Kitchen Cabinet.

Cooking in a fireplace was his biggest skill according to Miller, who added that he would have had to learn how to tend a cooking fire, what utensils to use, how to change the elevation of cooking vessels hanging in the fire to get the desired cooking effect, and how to cook in warm ashes. He also ran an orderly, sanitary kitchen and his underlings knew they were in trouble if they didn’t meet his exacting standards.

He was known to be mild-mannered outside the workplace, but possessed surprisingly iron discipline, shining the most at dinners Washington hosted for members of Congress says Washington’s adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis, who wrote a memoir many decades after his father’s death.

In it he also stated that these dinners Washington hosted would be hectic and crowded affairs, but under Hercules, it was orderly as his underlings flew in every direction trying to execute his orders, while Hercules seemed to possess the power of ubiquity, and to be everywhere at the same moment.

Whatever specialties Hercules perfected were unfortunately lost to history, but Deetz speculates they were probably “typical colonial fare, kicked up a notch.” Foods like oyster stew, braised fish, custards, puddings and fresh breads. All he knows is they made Hercules famous and even his leftovers were a hot commodity.

He reportedly made decent money as well, which he put to good use on his fashionable clothes, enabling him to enter prominent social circles and garner a great amount of respect. He behaved like a freeman, and enjoyed popularity and fame, eventually paving the way for his escape. That’s a story for another day.

Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-07-21 Gazoz

The Israel Breakfast–Photo Credit Atlas Obscura

In Israel, mixologists are bringing back a nostalgic summer sipper called Gazoz.

Back in the early 20th century, a glass of gazoz was a simple drink made up of soda water mixed with sweet fruit syrup. Recently, however, Tel Aviv’s Benny Briga helped revive and update the almost forgotten beverage, keeping the soda and injecting the drink with fresh flavors from seasonal ingredients.

Gazoz is a flavored fizzy water geared toward quenching summer thirsts. Depending on what’s seasonally available, contemporary gazoz might feature a mix of fruit, herbs, spices, and homemade tinctures. By marrying partially fermented berries, citrus fruits, apples or other fruits with vinegar, you first make the shrub (not the bush). This and other flavorings like ginger, cardamom, chili pepper, or juniper form the base of the drink, displaying an array of organic pigments through the added soda water.

Today’s gazoz are made more attractive by the fresh herbs placed atop the mixture, blossoming from the glass like a bouquet. It barely resembles the old version anymore, yet to the nostalgic, it still provides a satisfying sip of the past.

To try it in the states (since going to Tel Aviv is out of the question for most of us), it’s available at the Studio at Freehand New York. 23 Lexington Ave., New York, New York 10010.

Writing Prompts

One-Liner Wednesday 04-07-21 Allergy Sufferers Rejoice!

photo Credit: The Daily Tonic

Live dirtier, eat cleaner!”

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. If you would like to join in on the fun, you can follow this link to participate and to see the one-liners from the other participants.

Find out where this quote comes from and how to fight those seasonal allergies on today’s The Daily Tonic.

if you’re interested, let me know and I will forward the newsletter to your email, I can’t seem to share a link.

One-Liner Wednesday