Foodstuffs For Today, (And A Recipe!)

Tom Fitzmorris February 03, 2020 22:52 Almanac

Monday, February 3, 2020

Day One. Cheese Factory. Carrot Cake. Parsnips. Dr. Heimlich. Saint Of The Throat. Restaurant Awards. The Day The Music Died. Rockwell. 

According to the Maya, the world was created on this date in 3114 B.C.E.

Chronicles Of Cheese

On this date in 1815, the first factory making cheese for wide distribution and sale opened in Switzerland. Before then, cheese was the product of farmers, who usually made their cheeses with milk they produced themselves. This historic moment opened the way for the eventual emergence of cheese in an aerosol can.

Music To Drink Beer By

This is the day in 1967 when Jimi Hendrix recorded Purple Haze. Little did he know it would inspire a raspberry- flavored beer made in Abita Springs decades latter. He probably wouldn't have cared. Abita Brewery's Purple Haze beer remains one of its signature brews.

Food Calendar

It is supposed to be National Carrot Cake Day. Carrot cakes get a lot of attention because we all know carrots are good for us. The idea that it's therefore good for us--despite its sweet, gooey icing--gives us permission to eat twice as much of it. You can feel the good things and the bad things fight it out inside, to paraphrase Mark Twain. The most impressive carrot cake in town was at Smith and Wollensky, where one slice could feed a family of four. But you'll have to go to one of their other cities to get it, because they left New Orleans behind after the hurricane.

Edible Dictionary

baby carrotn.--Some small carrots really are harvested at a younger age, and are therefore smaller. But the overwhelming majority of little carrots you see in stores are actually full-size carrots that were damaged in harvesting, and whittled down to resemble a small carrot. There's nothing wrong with them, but they're no different in texture or flavor than big carrots. If there's no evidence of a stem, it's probably a "baby-cut" carrot, as the industry calls them.

Delicious-Sounding Places

Parsnip Creek is in the extreme northwest corner of Montana, a mountainous wilderness. Each of its three branches tumble down the slopes of 6139-foot Parsnip Mountain, running about five miles into Lake Koocanoosa. The lake is formed by a dam on the Kootenai River, and crosses the Canadian border. ("Koocanusa" is a made-up name (it won a contest) combining "Kootenai," "Canada," and "USA.") It's a sixteen-mile, rugged hike from the mouth of Parsnip Creek to Libby, where you can lunch at the Red Dog Saloon.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez: Carrot and parsnip tops are so closely related to parsley that you can use them for any parsley purpose. One day, I will include them in the sauce for oysters Rockefeller.

Deft Dining Rule #631: The only time a chef uses parsnips is when he's trying to create the illusion that you're eating something you can't get at home. Most of the time, though, it's not something you'd want to get at home.

Physiology Of Eating 

Dr. Henry Heimlich was born today in 1920. He popularized a method of saving a choking victim so well that the technique is now known as the Heimlich Maneuver. He published a story about it called "Pop Goes The Cafe Coronary" in 1974. Shortly after the article came out, a restaurateur used the technique to save a woman who was choking on a parsnip in a restaurant. The maneuver consists of putting one's arms around the choking victim from behind, holding a fist in the other hand. and giving a quick, forceful upward thrust to the abdomen right below the rib cage. This often dislodges whatever is blocking the air passages. It's not without risk, but it has saved many lives. 

The Saints

This is the feast day of St. Blaise, who lived in the third and fourth centuries and became widely venerated across Europe. He is the patron saint of Dubrovnik, Croatia, where the cathedral named for him is much visited. He is the saint whose intercession is called upon by those wishing not to have diseases of the throat. In Catholic churches everywhere, a blessing of the throat with two candles is given on this date. This is a blessing I always try to get because I want to continue talking and swallowing.

Annals Of Food Writing

On this date in 1946, Holiday magazine, a large-format, slick, beautiful travel publication, published its first issue. There was nothing comparable at the time, and it dominated the field for years. One of its most influential features was the Holiday Restaurant Awards, given annually and proudly displayed by restaurants that received them. In the 1970s, Holiday was merged into Travel to create a magazine that stopped publishing in 2003.

Music To Eat American Pie By

This is The Day The Music Died, as per the 1972 song American Pie. Early rock 'n' roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper all died today in 1959 on their way to a concert when their plane went down in Iowa.

Annals Of Food Art

Norman Rockwell was born today in 1894. He was most famous for his Americana-drenched covers for The Saturday Evening Post, but those paintings were so evocative of American culture that they've lived on long beyond the magazine. Rockwell's depiction of Thanksgiving dinner, "Freedom From Want," created the ideal for all Thanksgiving dinners, one that is still revered even by people who haven't seen the painting.

Food Namesakes

Football player Eric Curry was born today in 1971. . . Actress Joan Rice made her entrance today in 1930. . . Joanna de Bourbon, the queen consort to Charles V of France, was born today in 1338.

Words To Eat By

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."--Garfield the cartoon cat, by Jim Davis.


(The Only) Carrot Cake (Worth Eating)

1 stick salted butter, softened 

1 cup safflower oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

4 large eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups All-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 cups packed finely shredded carrots

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained (or an additional cup of carrots)

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

½ cup golden raisins (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Butter and flour 3 - 8 in. round cake pans.

  2. Beat butter, oil, and sugars for 2 minutes on medium-high speed of mixer. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Stir in vanilla. 

  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices; add to the mixer. Turn mixer on low and mix to moisten dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium and mix for about 1 minute until well blended.

  4. Add carrots, pineapple, walnuts, and raisins to the batter and stir until well mixed.

  5. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes until the cake tests clean with a toothpick. Cool 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later. Frost the cooled cake with your choice of buttercream. Enjoy!