Don’t frack with mein Bier / mon fromage!!!

What would we need to say here? Hmmm…can’t actually think of anything.

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More on Rowan Wine

Today I continue with Rowan Wine.

In Estonia they make what appears to be a fortified Rowan wine, and Rowan schnaps are quite popular, as in the River Cottage recipe.


Oddly, the only recipe for Rowan Wine that I have been able to locate in an old cookbook comes from 1902. The second edition of The “Queen” Cookery Books, no. 3 Pickles and Preserves by S. Beatty-Pownall, has Rowan Wine and Rowan Whiskey.

Rowan Wine

Gather the rowan berries when they are ripe, on a dry day, and put them into the mash tub with just enough boiling water to cover them. Let it all stand, covered, for three days, then draw off the liquid without disturbing the crust, into a pan, then add to it 1lb. of the best cane loaf sugar, or sugar candy crushed small, for each gallon of the rowan liquor, and stir it well together until thoroughly dissolved, when it must be poured into a cask and left to work for a week, keeping the cask well filled up all the time (this is a most important point and one that applies to every form of home-made wine); when it ceases to work, and is perfectly still, bung it down tightly and let it stand for six months when it will be fit to bottle. (84)

This recipe is similar to many wine recipes I have seen in manuscript cookery books from the 18th and 19th centuries. I have never seen a recipe for Rowan wine or jelly in any of those books.

I plan to look for more of this history of Rowan wine and beer in future posts, but today I must go back to grading!

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Rowan Berry Wine

It occurs to me that I should include a post on Rowan Berry Wine. Like most fruit wines, today Rowan Berry Wine is made with a base of grape juice, flavored with the berries. Back in 2011 River Cottage forager John Wright included a recipe in his series on Homebrew from the Hedgerow drinks in the Guardian. He included this nice picture of the wine and berries…Rowanberry-wine-007

The berries of the mountain ash have long been used to flavor beer and wine. This recipe is for a Rowan wine without the grape base, probably an older version.

Sorbus aucuparia, the European Mountain Ash, or Rowan, is not the only member of the genus that has good fruit for wine making. The Sorbus americana, can be transformed into Rowan wine the same way.

Another modern version of Rowan Berry Wine calls for the addition of apples. This makes sense given that apples are the traditional accompaniment in Rowan Berry Jelly.

Rowan Ale was apparently once popular in Wales, and may have been brewed in Ireland more recently under the name “Red Biddy.” Historic brewing has the only detailed modern recipe I’ve seen in this thread from some years back…

I do not have easy access to Rowan trees in my hot, dry climate. Has anyone made or drunk Rowan Ale or Wine?

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Simple Meals

I was talking with a friend the other day about favorite simple meals and we landed on the old standby, beans. Beans are among the oldest cultivated human foods, the recipe I am going to give you is for an old bean breed–The Anasazi Bean. Image

Stories about the origin of these beans vary. The most popular account says that archaeologists were able to spout beans they found in a pot at a dig…but local gardeners no doubt helped bring viable stock to the market.

Whatever their origins, Anasazi beans are delicious, like a Pinto bean, only better. My recipe is certainly not one that the ancestral Pueblo people would have made…

Anasazi Beans

1 1/2 cups dry Anasazi beans, soaked in hot water for a while

2 Red Bell peppers, roughly chopped

2 Poblano peppers, roughly chopped (sometimes called Pasilla peppers)

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 Ham Shank, cut into pieces by the butcher unless you have a good cleaver and like that sort of thing…

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground Ancho chilie

A couple of sprigs of fresh Oregano

Ground Black pepper

A dash of salt, the ham is salty so go easy on this.

Put the whole thing in a big casserole of some sort, I use one of theseImage

Put it in a 300 F oven and let it go for a few hours. Cover it for the first two, then take off the lid and stir gently once in a while so that it develops a nice crust.

I serve mine with sour cream mixed with cilantro and lime juice. It is nice with corn bread.

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Rose wine


This lovely rose wine was a Mother’s Day treat. Rose is a perfect summer wine, especially the dry French versions. It pairs nicely with many light summer foods, it’s refreshingly cool, and it isn’t too expensive. Perfect.

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Dear Superprofessors: This is how a labor market works…

For my friends in California…food for thought!

More or Less Bunk

I know I’m late to the party on this, but that letter to Harvard’s Michael Sandel from the San Jose State (SJSU) Philosophy Department really is quite wonderful. I’m going to try to take up its implications with respect to academic freedom and shared governance over at the Academe blog as soon as I get my grading done, but what I want to discuss here is the way that those nice folks in California actually called out Sandel, not just their administrators.

You can see this most clearly at the very end of the letter:

“We respect your desire to expand opportunities for higher education to audiences that do not now have the chance to interact with new ideas. We are very cognizant of your long and distinguished record of scholarship and teaching in the areas of political philosophy and ethics. It is in a spirit of respect and collegiality…

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Back to Work

With the conference over now I can get back to work. In addition to the piles of grading and general catch up with class preparation, I have become concerned about using my institution’s LMS. I find the whole idea of a Learning Management System distasteful to begin with. How is an interface that delivers content and communication supposed to manage learning? And why would we want it to? I do think it may manage the creative and intellectual property of those of us employed by the institution, however, and I find that disturbing as well. So I have decided to host my own website that will house my courses and other things as yet to be determined. Thus far I have blogged anonymously…who knows, I may even move this over to the new site!

Has anyone out there had experience hosting their own courses and such? I have been reading ProfHacker posts and learning what I can.

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Today I heard a great talk by Anthropologist E. N. Anderson about an early globalized cuisine in medieval China. At the end of the talk he reflected on how ideas like authenticity and tradition play out in the realm of food and cuisine. Lots of ink has been spilled on authenticity, so I will skip that here. What really made me think was his discussion of tradition. Among other things, he pointed out that some foods or food rituals become tradition almost immediately (think about how children may take something done at one or two holidays as a necessary and deeply traditional element of it, or how new foods that establish themselves may become almost instant traditions, think tomatoes in Italy or China). I am still processing the great papers I heard today, but I thought it would be fun to share some of this with you.

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Traditions and Transformations Conference

I am sorry for the blog silence recently. I am organizing a food studies conference that takes place next weekend and it has eaten all of my time. Check out the details at

I will be back to food and history here soon…

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What is an ice cream parlor?

How do you define an ice cream parlor? Check out this recent National Geographic “Top Ten Places to Eat Ice Cream.” This post on Restaurant-ing Through History has some good information about the history of ice cream parlors in the United States.

I have always thought an ice cream parlor is different from an ice cream stand or somewhere that just sells ice cream from a counter to be eaten on the street. An ice cream parlor has to have tables, dainty preferably, where one can eat one’s cream out of a little dish…So here is my current thinking. Ice cream parlors grew out of fancy confectioner’s shops in the 18th century where customers could eat their frozen novelty on site if they did not want to take it home for a tony dinner party. Soon coffee houses were also selling ice cream, as were some of the urban pleasure gardens. It seems as though some of the pleasure gardens of New York were patronized primarily so that customers could eat ice cream. Finally, there were ice cream saloons. Huge ice cream parlors where many many customers could gather to imbibe their favorite frozen treat.

There are, however, a few oddities. For example, were there ice cream parlors in Italy? All of the examples I have given so far are from England, America, and France. Yet Italy is the home of ice cream. Many sources agree that Italians were the vendors of street ice cream, that they started ice cream parlors all around the world. But I cannot find a trace of evidence that there were ice cream parlors in Italy before the 20th century. That doesn’t mean they weren’t there.

If anyone knows about the history of Italian ice cream parlors, please let me know!

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