FOOD HISTORY BLOG POSTS


COMPILING MY FOOD HISTORY WRITING

Food History Through Blog Posts
I am compiling a collection of food history blog posts to prepare for a possible book about this topic. In fact, I find the history of food fascinating. As a matter of fact, the history of food has far reaching consequences particularly in Colonial America.

Indians assist Pilgrims in first Thanksgiving
The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris, Photography Wikimedia Commons
The Consequences
Actually the consequences reach as far back as the American Revolutionary War fueling and supporting the establishment of a new nation, the United States of America.

In other words, this collection of food history blog posts illustrates the correlation between the establishment of American Colonial food stability and the birth of a new nation. In fact this period covers about 150 years.

Food Abundance Flourishes in the Colonies
Food-History-blog-posts
The Mt. Vernon kitchen garden, allowing Martha Washington to keep fruits and vegetables on the table year round. From MtVernon.org

TRADITIONAL FOOD PROCUREMENT, PREPARATION, AND PRESERVATION
There are three steps to establishing food stability. This post, summarizes all three. They are listed below.

TRADITIONAL FOOD PROCUREMENT
Illustrated above shows definitively how conducive the colonies were to cultivating produce and food stability. In the early days of emigration to the colonies, the Indians even showed them how to survive their first Thanksgiving. After that, preparation took hold.

TRADITIONAL FOOD PREPARATION
Traditional Food Preparation & Preservation: Introduction

Open Hearth Cooking
“Open hearth cooking is the oldest form of indoor cooking. Before cook stoves came into existence, fireplaces were commonly used. A cook knew how to prepare the fire for a day of planned cooking. The cook would rise early in order to start the fire for the entire day’s cooking.”
traditional-food-preservation
Open Hearth Cooking-Blennerhassett Kitchen-Fireplace and Utensils from Pinterest.com

TRADITIONAL FOOD PRESERVATION
Original Glass Jar Canning

Canning
The glass canning jar method of preservation was invented in 1810, before the Mason glass threading technique invented in 1850. Therefore the original method is considered traditional and pre-industrial. In fact, it was not until 1850 that the canning method we know and use today was invented by William Mason.
original-glass-canning-jars
What you need to can your berry favorite fruit jelly or jam. Don’t forget the berries. Supplies from internet sites.

TRADITIONAL FOOD PREPARATION & PRESERVATION
Traditional Food Preservation: Churning Cream into Butter

Butter
This is a dairy product that was both prepared from cream and preserved preserved from going bad. Using a churn, the lifespan of cream was extended by turning it into butter. That way cream had a much longer shelf like.
The amount of butter one needed would determine the size of the churn. Apparently this churn provided a large amount of butter for its owner.
traditional-food-preservation
Antique butter churn with hand crank-ebay.com
Although preserved foods like jam/jelly and butter may have been staples for the survival of early colonialism, they do display the fascinating direction of food preservation in Colonial America and beyond.

SOURCES & RESOURCES

Four Gardens at Mt. Vernon

The Pilgrims Had No Idea How to Farm Here. Luckily, They Had the Native Americans

Traditional Food Preservation: Glass Jar Canning

Traditional Food Preservation: Churning Cream into Butter

Churning (Butter)

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A Living Healthier Food Plan


Please note: This post has been written as more of a personal diary entry rather than a blog post with details that should apply to anyone else. It is the plan I aim to follow at this point of my life. In other words, it is designed for me by me. It is not a medical or nutritional recommendation for anyone else.

MY LIVING HEALTHIER DAY

My living healthier food plan is key to a good day. As mentioned in Part One, A Living Healthier Plan my day begins with at least 8 oz of filtered water. Next comes a supplement. Then perhaps some fresh fruit. Finally the morning meal is complete with a full breakfast.
living-healthier-food-plan
Fruit for Breakfast | The Adventures of an Epic Baker from epicbaker.com

EAT BREAKFAST

It is easier to explain what breakfast is not for me than what is. There are so many for what is healthy. Meanwhile there are very few that are not. So this should be a no brainer. For example, the typical working person’s start to the day is the adrenaline rush of giant coffees and a carbo bomb.
living-healthier-food-plan
The carbo bomb shown in this shutterstock photo, coffee and empty carb, ‘white food’ calories.
Protein with Breakfast Is Good
Ideally for me a breakfast with some protein is good. Actually, I aim to eat sort of a reverse diet. In fact it is known by the saying, ‘eat breakfast like a king (or queen). Lunch like a prince (or princess). Finally, eat dinner like a pauper’.
living healthier food plan
Image of healthy breakfast from saga.co.uk
Protein with Lots of Vegetables at Lunch Is Good
So I try to include a protein at breakfast. Then protein, vegetable and even a healthy carb for lunch. Finally an early dinner and a snack if necessary before bedtime. Even though I don’t follow it exactly, I prefer to eat my big meal closer to the middle of the day or afternoon. In fact, we like this arrangement a lot.
living-healthier-food-plan
A healthy main meal from pngall.com
Eating Later in the Day
Another suggestion is to not eat anything after 8 pm at night. Unless I am famished, this is another part of our living healthier food plan. Throughout the day, I include my supplements and am religious about taking certain prescribed medication before bed.
living-healthier-food-plan
Eggs and Cheese Photography by David Munn from FineArtAmerica.com
Snacks Are A Challenge
Finding healthy snacks is a real challenge for us. Therefore, one of the changes I am attempting to make is to stay away from sugary snacks and help Phil (my husband) to do the same.
Nuts and Chocolate
For example, some kind of protein is preferable to a sugary snack. Personally, I love peanuts and pistachio nuts. Phil loves cashew nuts.

living-healthier-eating-plan
Baked Apple Recipe from simplyrecipes.com
Fruit As Well as Vegetables : Fresh, Cooked, or Even Dried
Fresh fruit, fruit cooked without sugar or even dried fruit without chemicals are other options. Even include certain ‘controversial carbs’ like a baked potato (White or sweet). Certain oils and ghee are like the cherry on top of the sundae. Popcorn is a favorite of Phil’s. In addition, dark chocolate made with monk fruit is very satisfying and does not spike blood sugar.
Raw Cheese
Let’s not forget cheese, made from raw milk as much as possible. At times I have eliminated dairy. But since discovering the digestive value of raw milk cheese, I like to include it in my food plan.
living-healthier-food-plan
Just A Handful Of Nuts May Help Keep Us From Packing On The Pounds As We Age from npr.org
WHAT FOODS I SHOULD FAVOR
I have eaten according to many dietary systems over my life. At different times, different systems have worked best. Therefore I want to record what is the latest find.
Ayurveda
This is an ancient system that determines what foods are best to eat according to one’s body type as well as the season. Banyan Botanicals has an excellent test to determine body type and imbalances. Then I can figure out what foods are best for me to eat according to my doshas, any imbalances, and the seasons.
living healthier food plan
Why Is Ayurveda Important? from Himalayanyoganepal.com
Genopalate
This is a fascinating system. It requires an analysis of DNA results from Ancestry or another company. But it is based on chromosomes not geneology. Somehow it works. In fact when I first started following it, I definitely found an increase in my energy level. I have even created a looseleaf binder of the preferred foods in all their categories.
living-healthier-food-plan
Crack your DNA Code and Unlock a Healthier You from www.genopalate.com
But as often happens, I have not been diligent about continuing. That is because I like too many foods that are not listed on it. Therefore I tend to fall back into the foods I like. Part of my living healthier food plan is to resume it as much as possible.

WHAT IS YOUR FOOD PLAN?

I am eager to hear what food plan you follow. Please write your response at the VERY bottom of the page below this “The Alison D. Gilbert Website & Blog Comment Policy”.

We welcome relevant, intelligent, on topic comments. We love to start conversations about shared interests.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting..

SOURCES & RESOURCES

Just A Handful Of Nuts May Help Keep Us From Packing On The Pounds As We Age September
Top Healthy Food | 13 Foods That Are Super Healthy
Banyan Botanicals
Genopalate
Maharishi AyurVeda Products
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Traditional Food Preparation & Preservation: Introduction

colonial-food-prep


COLONIAL LIFE
Traditional Food Preparation and Preservation existed centuries before the modern conveniences we rely on today. Without even thinking about it, we can take for granted how relatively easy it has become to procure, prepare, and preserve food to support our nation.

Yesterday and Today
Therefore the contrast between that time’s efforts and today’s is what makes this topic so fascinating. In fact, it is most important that we not overlook this information. Here is the reason why.
food-security
The four gardens at Mt. Vernon from MtVernon.org a-upper garden, b-kitchen garden, c-botanical garden, d-fruit garden and nursery
Food Security
Specifically, it was not that long ago that our survival depended upon local food procurement, its preparation and preservation. Once these essentials were established, a relatively short period of time was needed to fight our mother country and start a nation of our own. In fact this seems to have taken only about 150 years.
Political Independence Follows
Documentation of this is the time of the first settlers, the Pilgrims in 1620 and the Declaration of Independence in 1776. As a result, political history and food stability seem to support each other in fostering our new nation.
traditional-food-preservation
Open Hearth Cooking-Blennerhassett Kitchen-Parkersburg WV-Fireplace and Utensils from Pinterest.com

THE THREE P’s of FOOD

Procure, Prepare, Preserve
Long before electricity and then renewable energy were available to power even our simplest daily modern survival needs like refrigeration and freezing, early settler of North America had to make due with comparatively primitive systems to obtain, prepare, and preserve food.
Food Stability
Therefore one can see that even though people made due in this new land, it took a time to stabilize life in the colonies. As a cultural aside, and at the other extreme for those who could afford to do so, the opportunities in the culinary arts grew quite a bit. In fact, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had slave chefs who were European trained.

traditional-food-preparatation-preservation

Past Preserved
Some of the traditional ‘three P’ of the food systems do still exist today. Actually they survive both as hobbies and records of history. But it is essential to remember their origins. That is their necessity for survival that could ultimately fuel the colonies to fight for the birth of a new nation.
traditional-food-preservation
Experience the beloved tradition, Christmas at Biltmore, when America’s Largest Home®, Antler Hill Village, and the entire estate are at their most enchanting: beautifully bedecked for the holidays.

HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS & MUSEUMS
Fortunately, historical foundations throughout various states have been established so that these methods of traditional food preparation, preservation, and daily life are remembered and even practiced for posterity.

Just to name a few:
Rockhall Museum, Lawrence LI, NY
Bethpage Village Restoration, Bethpage, NY
Mt. Vernon, VA
Williamsburg, VA
Monticello, VA
Blennerhassett Historical Foundation
Biltmore Mansion, Asheville, NC

TRADITIONAL METHODS
Procurement included:
hunting
fishing
trading
agriculture
bartering

Preparation included:
open hearth cooking (fire)
smoking
drying
salting and spicing (pickling)
fermentation
cream churning to make butter and buttermilk
Preservation included:
jar canning
smoking
drying
salting and spicing (pickling)
root cellar storage
burying in ground
burying in fat in a barrel
fermentation
cream churning to make butter and buttermilk

SOURCES & RESOURCES

Greenfield Village: Daggett Farm

African American Foodways Cooking Demonstration

Open-Hearth Cookbook: Recapturing the Flavor of Early America

What Is Open Hearth Cooking

George Washington’s Mt. Vernon Kitchen

Four Gardens at Mt. Vernon

Hearth and Home: Women and the Art of Open Hearth Cooking

Vintage jars

List of open-air and living history museums in the United States


colonial-food-prep

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Traditional Food Preservation: Churning Cream into Butter


traditional food preservation

Traditional Food Preservation
One ways to preserve food is to churn cream to make butter. Historically, cream was the perishable food. Churning cream turned it into butter. But time and technology have provided a major change.

Instead of using a machine to churn, the cream was churned by hand. No need to go to the gym when one worked the arms with this traditional task.
traditional-food-preservation
Antique butter churn with hand crank-ebay
Traveling Back in Time

Actually, many other traditional food preservation systems existed then as well.
They are options even today although they may not be the most efficient ones.
But for anyone interested in a taste of the past, these options can be like a trip back in time.

Two descriptions follow this. In fact, they include videos for making butter the traditional way.

 

 

 
Making butter from (perishable) milk/cream-Video One

Making Butter from (milk/cream) Here is another video about making butter the old fashioned way. Making Butter served two traditional purposes. The first is preserving a perishable liquid, cream into a solid, butter. Another is creating a delicious fat that can be flavor other foods. In fact, adding herbs provided extra special flavor.
Traditional Food Preservation
Butter mold making equipment is available at Amazon.com
Butter Decoration
Homemade butter could have two purposes. They were for domestic use while the other was for commercial sale. Although a special design or pattern made it more appealing, branding was the the primary purpose to identity a butter-makers at a local, community market. Think of it as a branding pattern like labels are today(1).

Making butter from (perishable) milk/cream-Video Two

Butter Branding
Modern butter is branded by its packaging. On the other hand tradition butter branding was a pattern applied directly to the block of butter itself. A wooden carved mold was used to create the impression.
traditional-food-preservation
Butter branding-individual butter pattern and modern butter label
These topics are part of my Traditional Food Preservation Blog Post Series. Their discussion takes place in past and future preservation posts.
smoking
drying
salting
burying in ground
burying in fat in a barrel
root cellar storage
jar canning
SOURCES & RESOURCES

(1)Alice Ross Hearth Studios, Workshop at Rock Hall Museum, Long Island NY, Butter decoration/branding explanation

How to Make Butter the Old Fashioned Way

traditional food preservation


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Traditional Food Preservation: Glass Jar Canning

food canning jars history


INVENTION
An original glass jar canning method begins with a story that is 200 years old. The technique was invented in 1810(1). A (competitive?) inspiration by Napoleon Bonaparte began in 1795 also brought results 15 years later with metal cans.(2)

The original glass jar had no thread to grip a metal closure onto it. Required instead was sealing with paraffin wax since the canning system had no other means of closure. The paraffin wax seal could last for up to about six months.

glass-jar-canning
ebay antique food canning jars with paraffin wax for 1810 sealing technique

food-canning-jar-historyauthor’s note related to this post

Progression
Actually, about 50 years later in 1858, John L. Mason (of mason-kerr-ball jars) invented a threaded lip jar along with a two piece sealing lid. The result of this invention allowed for a vacuum seal that was essentially sterile. Thus a long lasting storage system became available. Documentation and directions about this is much easier to find in future writings.

3-canning-situations
Quote from ‘Home Canning with Paraffin Wax’
Paraffin Wax: Short Term Method
As a temporary sealant mentioned above, paraffin was available. But for long term storage, a paraffin seal was not the safest way to seal a jar. Mold could form if the seal was not air tight.

Traditionalists like Homestead Tessie like this old fashioned method. She scrapes mold off the top of jam so as not to waste the entire jar. ‘Waste not, want not’. Traditional canning is part of her intentional homestead lifestyle.

original-glass-jar-canning
What you need to can your berry favorite fruit jelly or jam. Don’t forget the berries. Supplies from various internet sites.
Dangers Due to heat and cold, expansion and contraction also posed a liability. Lastly, botulism and even death were extreme, out of the ordinary, possibilities. But this wax technique was adopted by Survivalist Preppers for dire circumstances. It is demonstrated in the video below.

Canning Food for Survival with Wax by Paul Helinski

Keeping Traditions
Originally paraffin was the only seal available with jar canning as shown in the video above. It is a system that can be used ‘if the grid goes down’. Once safer methods were available, wax was not necessary. In spite of this, there is more to the story.

Actually, this traditional system is still practiced today. It is demonstrated in the video below. The author also explains why she likes to use it.

Preserving Grape Jam Using Paraffin Wax Keeping Traditions

There are other blog posts in this series that reveal traditional food storage systems. They include:

smoking
drying
salting
burying in ground
burying in fat in a barrel
root cellar storage
cream churning to make butter and buttermilk
jar canning
SOURCES & RESOURCES

(1)Home Canning with Paraffin Wax

(2)A Brief History of Canning Food

Canning 101: Why You Shouldn’t Can Like Your Grandmother Did

What is modern homesteading?

Jam jar clip art

food canning jars history

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American Food History: High on the Hog

 

AMERICAN FOOD HISTORY

Definitive American food history narratives are presented in the book by Jessica B. Harris as well as in the video series by Stephen Satterfield based on the book.

The titles of both are High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America. This blog post focuses on this phenomenon.

JESSICA B. HARRIS American culinary historian, professor, cookbook author and journalist
food-history
Queens-Born Jessica B. Harris Receives James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEPHEN SATTERFIELD African-American food writer, producer, and media entrepreneur.
american-food
Stephen Satterfield is Changing the Way We Tell Stories About Food

THE VIDEO: High on the Hog

Video of American Food History, High on the Hog

FOOD HISTORY FAVORITES
Actually, I have several favorite anecdotes from the ‘High on the Hog’ story. The yam versus sweet potatoes story is one of them. In fact, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same.

yams
Yams are not the same as sweet potato but confusion about them exists
sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are often confused with yams but they are not the same

In fact, yams do not even grow in this country. They grow in Africa. On the other hand, the US is home to sweet potatoes. So if you see something in the US named yams, it is not from the US.

The food history narrative reflects the music narrative in Rumble, the history of 20th Century American Music. Both bring fascinating insight into the cultures of American music and food history.

TRACING MORE AMERICAN CULTURAL HISTORY

Tracing the slave trade to America reflects additional cultural history. It is actually the transformation of African American food to American food.

This adds to the rich musical history of America. It is detailed in the blog post, RUMBLE in a previous post.

 

Video of American Music History, Rumble

Please watch both of these videos to get an educational and entertaining understanding of these cultural histories. I highly recommend them.

SOURCES & RESOURCES

Queens born Jessica B. Harris Receives James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award
The History Makers: Jessica B. Harris
Oldways: Jessica B. Harris, PhD.
Stephen Satterfield is Changing the Way We Tell Stories About Food
Whetstone Magazine on Facebook
Whetstone Magazine Website
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