Friday, July 17, 2009

Wish Me Luck! (And Recipes!)

It's early, and I am about to go to bed. We are leaving Cuttlehouse at about 3:30 tomorrow morning, and will not arrive at our final destination until Sunday afternoon (local time). Yes, some time will be spent waiting in airports, but the vast majority of that time will be spent in the air.


And I won't be back here until, probably, the 27th. If all goes well.

So... If you are checking in and read this, I have two things to ask of you (especially if you are someone who has been here before, or plans to stop back here again):

1) Where are you? How did you find this blog? (the first because I note that google statistics shows me a number of people from the areas I am heading off to see, and I am curious; the latter just because I am curious. I suspect I know where the majority come from, but I could very well be mistaken.)

2) Can you get me a recipe? Seriously (and for both personal and academic reasons), I am looking for recipes. Specifically, I want old family recipes, especially if they are representative of whatever culture (from midwest US to middle east, from Nordic to Aboriginal, I don't care which culture!), and all the more especially if they have stories attached to them about the people who cooked and/or ate this food. No recipe is too strange, and no recipe is too ordinary, if it is (for instance) your great-great-aunt's favorite.

Take your time--I won't be back for over a week--but please, for the sake of my frail ego, don't let me come home to an empty comment thread! (If your family recipes are considered secret, you don't have to give the entire recipe, or you can email it to me and maintain plausible deniability.)

I am, perhaps uncharacteristically, perfectly serious about this request; I hope to use some of the recipes in a class I am teaching this upcoming Fall. Last semester, I only asked my students--I did get some nice recipes, for (among other things, just to show the variety) blood sausage, chitlins, and feta with watermelon. I shared with them a recipe for goat lung, which is not a family recipe, only because my family has a history of very bad cooks. My grandmother pan-fried spaghetti. Seriously.


Deepily, Sleepily
Digital Cuttlefish
Starting the countdown, to
Get on the plane;

Flying away from here
Hoping the week is not
Wholly insane.

In the words of Tim Minchin... "see you on the other side."


yoyo said...

have a great trip, I drop in occasionally from my magic intertubes box in the great down under. I can send you a number of favourite recipies from the mega mixed nationalities that are most australians. My family favourite is kangaroo (kind to the environment)in an orange and port sauce or one from my national background dutch irish indonesian which is a soft meatball with 7 flavour sauce. Let me know if any of these are what you are looking for, they are not purely 1 sole cultural group.

voodooKobra said...

Have fun.

To answer your first question, I have your site bookmarked. :P

Blake Stacey said...

I live, work and surf the Internet from the metropolitan Boston area. My family doesn't have a terribly large collection of heritable recipes, but my mother did pass down to me the secret of making berry bread.

I think we first met on Pharyngula.

Kaz Dragon said...

I'm from the UK, and I found your blog through Pharyngula. I thought it was interesting enough to put on my RSS reader :)

I'm sorry to say that I don't have any hand-me-down recipes, but I made a mean chicken korma last night and, as anyone from England will tell you, Indian cuisine is something of a tradition in Britain.

Tamsin said...

I'm from New Zealand, and found you through Pharyngula. I will give you my pavlova recipe, but I'll need to call my mum to check that it's correct first!

MizBean said...

Travel swiftly and safely.

I'm in Georgia, home of kudzu, peaches, and intolerance. I get goosebumps whenever I encounter Cuttleverse on Pharyngula, so decided to bookmark the sensation.

Being a Yankee by birth, I have a probably-German-in-origin recipe for cucumber salad. Or at least I will when I wrest it from Mom and/or Dad. Also the story that went along with the special salad slicer.

Benjamin Geiger said...

Yeah, I'm another member of the Pharynguhorde.

I don't have any old family recipes, unless you count PB&J, ramen, or "make-your-own-tacos". (The last one is exactly what it says on the tin: prepare a bunch of taco ingredients---meat, refried beans, miscellaneous vegetables, sauce, shells---and each person puts whatever they want on their own.)


I grew up in Georgia (Blairsville, specifically) and there's a reason I left as soon as I could. I'm still tied there, as most of my family still lives there. But I had to escape to Florida, which, in some ways, isn't much better. But that's where my dad lives, and the biggest difference is living in a relatively metropolitan area.

David said...

I see you take the view that the first line of a double dactyl should not be wasted. I think of the "higgledy-piggledy" double dactyl form as junior varsity. Keep up the good work.

diffident, reticent
Thomas A Edison,
marked by his teachers
as addled and fey...

they have all slouched to ob
scurity, Edison
lighting their way.

have a good trip.

David said...

A recipe for cuttlefish

Digital cuttlefish
Serves up a subtle dish—
Sacred jackassery
Pickled in rhyme;

spicy ingredients:
blinkered obedience
in ¾ time.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

I enjoy your site. Above is one of my favorite summer treats. And healthy too!
I make it for my wife who loves to have it for lunch several days in a row.

Podblack said...

Missing you - a few quasi-dramas, a few non-dramas, but a lot of things that pale in comparison to the knowledge that you're just slightly closer in proximity across the ocean I can see from my city. :)

I recall I've sent you a few recipes before - I'll dig some more out if you wish!

Podblack said...

Cat ladders!!

The hour of said...

Good luck! I'm in Evansville, IN, and I've been reading ever since you won the song lyrics ('old-time religion' parodies) contest on Greta Christina's blog.

As for recipes... I'm from Texas, and I loves me some homemade tex-mex. Check out for some good ones (not my blog, but definitely home cooking I recognize). However the item I make the most is not a family recipe (yet). It's from a trip I took to Jamaica... as a christian missionary (obviously my outlook has undergone some radical changes since then). Over the course of our 10 days there my companions and I grew addicted to Jamaican patties (which are derived from the Cornish Pastie). They're savory meat pies with a little bit of kick. They're street food, easy to carry around, travel and reheat well, can be made in large batches and frozen.

pastry crusts, store bought or home made
ground beef
minced onions
beef broth
bread crumbs or smashed crackers
turmeric (or curry powder)
salt, pepper, and spicy seasoning of choice (fresh minced peppers are also an option)
1 egg

If making crusts, use a standard flaky pie crust recipe, but add a teaspoon or so of turmeric (opt. dash of red pepper powder) for color and flavor. Shape into 6" rounds. I usually make about 10 at a time, which will use a little over a pound of beef. If buying crusts, get the refrigerated 9" flat crusts and cut them in half.

sautee onions with a little oil in large pan. Add hamburger and brown. Add turmeric, thyme, salt, pepper, and any spicy seasoning desired (I use about a teaspoon of the first four, and half a teaspoon of ground red pepper) while meat is browning.

Once meat is browned, add broth or stock and bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup of each). I don't drain the fat because it's tastier to let the crumbs soak it up, but you can do that before adding broth if you want. Ultimately you want it to look mealy and moist, but there should be no liquid pooling. If there is, ad more crumbs until it's soaked up. Make sure everything is throughoughly mixed and take off heat.

Spoon meat into pie crusts and fold in half, using fork or finger to crimp the edges, and arrange on a greased baking sheet. Beat the egg and brush lightly on top of each patty crust, then bake in oven in the vicinity of 375 F until crust is golden and flaky (15 min?). Allow to cool and then eat with fingers.

This is also a fun recipe to customize and experiment with, once you have it down. It's delicious with shredded chicken, ground pork, different spices, more vegetables etc.

Have a good trip (and yay for the Tim Minchin reference, I adore him)!

Nichole said...

/another pharyngulite raises its hand/

fish sauce:

white fish
red bell pepper
olive oil
dried oregano

in the regular fashion. heaven on pasta.

MizBean said...

Here's the family recipe for Creamy Cucumber Salad I promised in my earlier comment.

Serves 4.

5 good-sized peeled cucumbers (organic's good-not so bitter)
1/4 cup vidalia onion
salt, pepper, sugar
1/3 cup salad vinegar
1/4 cup good cream

The key to this recipe is to slice the cucumbers and the onion paper thin. We had a special slicer that looked like an old-fashioned washboard that was just right.*

Combine sliced cucumbers & onions with salt & pepper to taste, a dash of sugar, and the vinegar. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours (not too long or it gets soggy).

Just before serving, toss in the cream.

*And herein lies the drama behind this dish. Evidently the slicer was a gift or hand-me-down or heirloom from the pater's parents, supposedly to the new bride. When bride & groom became opposing parties in a far-from-amicable divorce, the slicer carried the burden of animus on both sides. He said it was his, she hers; he absconded with it like a thief in the night (or the bright Florida day, I forget which). It's the only thing she still raises hackles about, some 25 years later.

MizBean said...

Mr Geiger:

Thanks for the shoutout. How odd that I should end up in the Bible Garrotte when I hypothetically had the whole country to choose from. Wenatchee, WA was my preference, but, like you, I had family to answer to. At the time, Ma&Pa, though not together, were both in JAX (a pit, no doubt), and neither could countenance my leaving them. I've lived in 4 of Florida's major areas, and in some ways I actually prefer GA. At least here the crazy is uniformly quantifiable, unlike the unpredictable, multi-layered insanity that obtains in the Sonshine State.

MizBean said...


Jesus Christ, but I wish I'd been at your camp. Way more interesting than the Girl Scout camp where we just put one another into trances

Anonymous said...

Another erstwhile Pharyngulite here (although I rarely wade through all the comments anymore since the Crackergate reader explosion).

I just dropped a link to here from the comments at The Hope Chest (you really should check out the linked post for some vintage doggerel political satire). Maybe you'll pick up some readers from outside the pharyngulosphere.

I'm in Ohio now, but have lived at one time or another in every state between the Ohio river and the Great Lakes. So I've experienced the full gamut from A to B.

Regarding old family recipes, I'm visiting my parents in a week or so, and I'll try get you the recipe for "Aunt Hazel's Brownies." It's a very old recipe, and in no way resembles modern cake-based brownies. The provenance of the recipe is unclear, although I think it hails from Iowa and points west. In any case, it's more of a time-bound than a geographically bound recipe, in that it was codified before the definition of brownie was settled.

I can't eat them any more (diabetes), but the recipe deserves to be kept alive for those whose pancreases still function optimally.

dan1737 said...

I'm in Michigan and found your site looking for recipes that include goat lungs. You refer to one but it's not here. Can you share it?

A family favorite that I didn't realize was somewhat uncommon til I was an adult was oxtail soup. Brown oxtails, remove, saute some diced onions, carrots, and celery. Put the oxtail pieces back on the pot, add some water (and thyme, black pepper, & bay leaf) and simmer for a few hours. It's good like that but even better is to add some barley for the last hour. If there's any left over, it becomes a thick stew the second day, a good reason to only make this in batches big enough to ensure there will be some for the second day.

advertisinglies said...

I found this blog through PZ's site and I have a family recipe for you, if it isn't too late to share. It's a depression era dumpling recipe, very simple with few ingredients, which I learned from my dad who learned it from his mom. I don't know if it originated in the Midwest, but my family is from Iowa.


Chicken broth
A splash of milk (if you have it, not crucial)

Set the broth to boil on the stove. I usually use bullion and make broth and these are good with vegetarian broth as well, but you have to add a bit more salt.

The amount of eggs dictates how much flour you use, but the recipe does not increase or decrease equally. It's one of those 'go by how the batter feels' situations.

Crack the egg or eggs in a bowl and add flour in small increments, stirring completely between each contribution.

Continue to add flour until the batter is thick, but not flaky or too dry and not so thick that it balls up. If the batter becomes too thick, add a splash of milk if you have it, water if you don't.

When the broth is boiling, drop spoon fulls of batter into the broth. I like medium sized dumplings, but the size is up to your preference.

Let the dumplings boil for a minute or two, then turn the burner down to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the dumplings from the broth with a slotted spoon and salt and pepper as desired.

Mrs. D4 said...

I got to your site following links on skeptic sites about evolution and creationism/nonsense. I live in Georgia, but grew up in North Carolina. I have a great barbeque recipe, NC style, as opposed to Texas style.
However, we usually never share it with anyone outside the family. If you are on another continent, though, I could probably get away with sending it to you.
Having gathered material for teaching lots of classes, I am sympathetic to your need for material. If recipes from the Appalachain Mountains interest you, feel free to contact me.