America’s First Cookbook

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Today in 1796, American Cookery was published. It was the first cookbook published in America and written by an American, Amelia Simmons. Not much is known about her. She’s referred to as an “American Orphan” on the title page, which isn’t terribly helpful. The first edition was published in Hartford, Connecticut, so some speculate that Simmons may have been from the area. And it appears the very first edition may have been self-published. Feeding America explores many of the questions about Simmons, but has few answers.

It was printed and reprinted for 35 years, with several people stealing her work and putting their own name to it, with some adding additional material. If you read through her biography, it appears that was happening from the very beginning and over the course of its thirteen additions. It’s 220 years old today.

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It’s divided into six sections. First, there’s a Preface, followed by “Directions for Catering, or the procuring the best Viands, Fish, &c.” The chapters that follow include “2. Roots and Vegetables — Beans — Fruits,” “3. Receipts — [Meats] — [Pies],” “4. Puddings — Custards — Tarts,” “5. Cake,” and “6. Preserves — [Boiling], with a short “Errata” at the end. It’s in the public domain and you can get a copy for your eReader at Project Gutenberg.

Near the very end of the book, in Chapter “6. Preserves,” there’s a short recipe for Spruce Beer.

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And here it is reprinted in more modern English:

For brewing Spruce Beer.

Take four ounces of hops, let them boil half an hour in one gallon of water, strain the hop water then add sixteen gallons of warm water, two gallons of molasses, eight ounces of essence of spruce, dissolved in one quart of water, put it in a clean cask, then shake it well together, add half a pint of emptins, then let it stand and work one week, if very warm weather less time will do, when it is drawn off to bottle, add one spoonful of molasses to every bottle.

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Also, the very first recipe under Chapter “5. Cake” calls for a quart of “new ale yeast.”

Plumb Cake.

Mix one pound currants, one drachm nutmeg, mace and cinnamon each, a little salt, one pound of citron, orange peal candied, and almonds bleach’d, 6 pound of flour, (well dry’d) beat 21 eggs, and add with 1 quart new ale yeast, half pint of wine, 3 half pints of cream and raisins, q: s:

Beer In Ads #1879: Thanksgiving Dinner


Tuesday’s ad is entitled Thanksgiving Dinner, and the illustration was done in 1947 by Douglass Crockwell. It’s #10 in a series entitled “Home Life in America,” also known as the Beer Belongs series of ads that the United States Brewers Foundation ran from 1945 to 1956. In this ad, a picture perfect Thanksgiving turkey is on the dinner table, but the it’s not complete. People wait in the wings to be seated until the most important job is done. The matriarch of the family is putting beer glasses down at each place setting, the final touch, before the holiday meal can begin. Just like at my house.

010. Thanksgiving Dinner by Douglass Crockwell, 1947

Patent No. CA2133272A1: Preparation Of Beer, Probably Samuel Adams Triple Bock

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Today in 1995, CA 2133272 A1 was issued, an invention of Charles J. Koch, though the “Applicant” is listed as Charles J. Koch, Boston Beer Company Limited Partnership D/B/A Boston Beer Company (The), A Massachusetts Partnership; General Partner, Boston Brewing Company, Inc., for his “Preparation Of Beer.” Here’s the Abstract:

High alcohol beer having a full, round flavor is prepared by employing as the yeast a wine or champagne yeast, and a sweetened wort.

While I can’t be sure, I think this is essentially for Samuel Adams’ Triple Bock, which was first released in 1994. While the patent wasn’t granted until 1995, it was filed in the fall of 1994, but the “priority date” listed is October 6, 1993. The “inventor” listed is Charles J. Koch, who was Jim Koch’s father, although under “applicant” the Boston Beer Co. is also listed. In addition, I recall Jim explaining that it was in fact Champagne yeast that was used to create the beer. So it certainly seems likely that they patented the process used to make that unique beer. I still have a few bottles of it in my cellar though the last couple I opened tasted a lot like soy sauce. To be fair, the bottles that were opened during an anniversary dinner that I was lucky enough to attend in Boston Beer Co.’s barrel room a few years ago were tasting quite good. Although the OCR errors make it difficult reading, it’s still interesting to see the thought process and how they went about it laid out. I may have to open another bottle soon.

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James Beard 2016 Semifinalists Announced

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The 2016 semifinalist nominations for the James Beard Awards were announced Wednesday, and the good news is there are quite a few beer professionals among the nominees for “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.” If you’re not familiar with the prestigious food awards, here’s how the James Beard Foundation describe their annual awards. “Covering all aspects of the industry — from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more — the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America.” Until very recently, the awards were almost exclusively food and wine-centric, but more recently “beverage professionals” has slowly been expanding to include craft beer and spirits, too. It’s been nice to see the prejudice against beer in the food, cooking and restaurant world finally beginning to slide away. Too slowly, perhaps, but still … it’s about time and nice to see.

The list released Wednesday is the semifinalists. On March 15, a smaller list of finalists will be announced from among the semifinalists and the award winners will be announced May 2. In the category “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional,” six of the twenty semifinalists work in the beer world. Last year it was five and the year before there were seven beer professionals nominated. Hopefully, many of them will make the cut next month. Here’s the beer people for this year:

  • Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
  • Wayne Carpenter, Skagit Valley Malting, Burlington, WA
  • Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Evil Twin Brewing, Brooklyn, NY
  • Jim Koch, The Boston Beer Company, Boston
  • Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME

Congratulations to all the semifinalists. It’s a great list, all deserving, though I’m especially pleased to see Vinnie Cilurzo, who’s a friend and neighbor.

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Pizza Hut To Offer Beer Selection

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Last month, The Street reported that the Pizza Hut chain has remodeled several of their 6,000+ restaurants, and “plans to remodel roughly 700 of its U.S. stores a year through 2022 in the new format.” The newly refurbished Pizza Huts will continue to have the company’s ” trademark red and black colors, albeit with deeper hues” and will also “feature wraparound windows, outdoor seating and yes, a drive-thru.”

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All well and good, so far, but so what, you may be asking. Pizza Hut has also added beer and wine service at the remodeled locations, and plans to add alcohol to each refurbished restaurant. Frankly, I didn’t realize they didn’t serve beer already. Pizza and beer are pretty much a perfect pairing, as iconic as peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese and tomato soup. The more I think about it, almost every pizza place I can name also serves beer, both chains and the small mom and pop pizza joints. How many brewpubs serve pizza? Lots of them, with many even specializing in it.

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Why I bring this up is because the wackos at Alcohol Justice tweeted their displeasure at this idea, with this. “Now Pizza Hut wants to sell booze too bit.ly/1PkIwe1 What’s next…wine tastings at Toys-R-Us?” That’s what’s known as a false equivalence, one does not follow from the other. It is, in effect, a bullshit argument. One is a restaurant, and a type of restaurant that typically does carry beer and wine. The other is a toy store. There’s no link whatsoever, nothing that would make this in any way logical. It’s AJ making a mountain out a molehill, as they so often try to do. It’s just absurd.

They idea that a pizza restaurant serving beer and wine is cause for alarm is absolutely laughable. It’s harder to think of one that doesn’t already serve beer then come up with all of those who do. Several times I’ve gone with Porter’s basketball team and his little league baseball team to a Mountain Mike’s or Straw Hat Pizza after a game with the whole team and their parents. Many pizzas are ordered for everyone, with pitchers of beer for the parents. That’s the very definition of family-friendly, with something for everyone. Not once has there been a problem. But in AJ’s worldview, beer at a pizza joint with beer is the same as booze being served at a toy store. But now I’m feeling hungry. I’ve got plenty of beer. I wonder if it’s too late to order from Pizza Hut? They just opened one in our town, and I definitely want to support their decision to upset Alcohol Justice.

Alice Cooper And Chicken And Beer, Oh My!

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Today is the birthday of American rock singer and songwriter Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948- ). Apparently early in Alice Cooper’s career, there was an incident at a 1969 show in Toronto that helped to create his bad boy persona and get him noticed in the world of rock and roll. That became known as the Chicken Incident, and there are different versions of it that have been told, with this one coming from Wikipedia.

Alice Cooper’s “shock rock” reputation apparently developed almost by accident at first. An unrehearsed stage routine involving Cooper, a feather pillow, and a live chicken garnered attention from the press; the band decided to capitalize on the tabloid sensationalism, creating in the process a new subgenre, shock rock. Cooper claims that the infamous “Chicken Incident” at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival concert in September 1969 was an accident. A chicken somehow made its way onto the stage into the feathers of a feather pillow they would open during Cooper’s performance, and not having any experience around farm animals, Cooper presumed that, because the chicken had wings, it would be able to fly. He picked it up and threw it out over the crowd, expecting it to fly away. The chicken instead plummeted into the first few rows occupied by wheelchair users, who reportedly proceeded to tear the bird to pieces. The next day the incident made the front page of national newspapers, and Zappa phoned Cooper and asked if the story, which reported that he had bitten off the chicken’s head and drunk its blood on stage, was true. Cooper denied the rumor, whereupon Zappa told him, “Well, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you didn’t do it.”

Blueiskewl also has another account, with some additional context. Stemming from the infamous chicken incident, at some time in the 1970s, Cooper managed to be in the same room as Colonel Sanders — Harland David Sanders — the founder and face of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a connection not lost on Cooper.

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A perplexed Colonel Sanders posing with Alice Cooper, who’s holding a beer, sometime in the 1970s.

During an interview which was taped for a showing of the film Super Duper Alice Cooper in 2014, Cooper answered a question about his meeting Colonel Sanders in the 1970s.

“Here comes this nice old man in a white suit,” said Cooper. “Suddenly I realize that this is the Hannibal Lecter of chickens. I have the death of exactly one chicken on my hands, and this guy has a score of 10 billion. Yet everyone loves this guy, and hates me for being a chicken killer! The irony of the two of us being in the same room at the same time was not lost on either me or the Colonel.”

And in yet another one by Interviewly, he talks about tying the two together.

What can you tell us about meeting Col. Sanders? Did he bring chicken?

There was an INCREDIBLE thing that happened in the early 70’s! Somebody threw a chicken onstage, I threw the chicken in the audience, the audience tore it to pieces, and then in the newspaper the next day the headline read “Alice Cooper tears chicken to pieces.” It’s the most notorious story about Alice Cooper that’s been going on forever. And I thought “it just one chicken and I didn’t even kill it, the audience killed it, so I thought why not take a picture with the mass murderer of chickens Colonel Sanders?” so to me it had a sense of humor to it. I mean, one chicken for me, seven BILLION chickens for Colonel Sanders. And yet I’m the villain. I would say if you interviewed the chickens they would be more terrified of him than me.

Unfortunately, I can find no specifics about exactly when or where this meeting took place. It looks like it was in someone’s house, or maybe a hotel, but no one seems to know for sure. Perhaps it’s better to leave it mysterious and enigmatic. If it weren’t for the photos, we may not believe it every actually happened.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what beer it was? 19702 and with a foil neck and probably label. It’s not Michelob and it doesn’t strike me as a Lowenbrau. It might be something more local or regional, but given that we don’t know the location that’s not much help. It doesn’t look like the Colonel joined Cooper for a beer.

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Beer Syrup

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I’ve made pancakes substituting beer for the water, I’ve enjoyed Kentucky Breakfast Stout, once with beer pancakes. And I’ve had beer that tasted rather sweet, like maple syrup, too. But it never occurred to me you could make the pancake syrup with beer. And it looks fairly easy. I recently ran across an article about The Art of Making Beer Syrup in Outside magazine, and apparently bartenders have been making them for years to use in special cocktails. Given that the only cocktail I almost ever order is a gin & tonic, hopefully you’ll forgive my cocktail ignorance. Apparently it’s just water (or any liquid) reduced, sugar added.

Outside’s recipe is so simple, even I could probably make it:

For best results, pour your favorite beer into a pan and slowly simmer over low heat until it reduces to two-thirds of its initial volume. Then add in an equal proportion of raw brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Pour liberally over your favorite breakfast food and wait for your insulin levels to spike.

The Good Booze blog suggests adding “a few whole cardamom pods” and “one small vanilla bean, split” to give it a little more flavor. It looks like any beer could work, although malt-forward beers seem better suited than hoppier ones, but certainly some experimentation is in order.

Allrecipes also has their own recipe, and a bar in San Francisco, The Fifth Floor (which is closed now, and reborn as Dirty Habit) used to make a drink they called Hops & Dreams, using a syrup made from Anchor Steam Beer.

And one entrepreneurial soul is trying to start the Beer Syrup Company to make commercial beer syrups.

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Beer Birthday: Lucy Saunders

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because beer is food: in cooking, at the table, and by the glass …

So begins the website of beer cook Lucy Saunders, whose birthday is today. Lucy has done much to promote both cooking with beer and enjoying food with beer through her books and other writings. She’s a treasure, in more ways than one. Join me in wishing Lucy a very happy birthday Lucy.

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At the beer bistro in Toronto for Stephen Beaumont and Maggie’s wedding reception.

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Lucy with Stacy Williams, Brand Manager for Gambrinus, at the Hot Brands reception at the NBWA Convention, when it was in San Francisco a few years ago.

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During CBC in Austin, Texas in 2007, at the Moonshine bar for an event with Lucy for her book, Grilling with Beer. Here, Lucy with three contributors to her book, myself included.

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Lucy with Vinnie Cilurzo at the GABF brewers reception in Denver in 2006.

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Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie Carey, co-owner of Monk’s, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters, also co-owner of Monk’s at the Canned Beer Dinner several Junes ago.

Beer Birthday: Sean Paxton

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Today is the 43rd birthday of Sean Paxton, a.k.a. The Homebrew Chef. Sean is a mad alchemist in the kitchen and puts on some wonderful food and beer spectacles. Plus he’s a terrific homebrewer, an even better human being and a great friend. Join me in wishing Sean a very happy birthday.

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At this year’s Great American Beer Festival in 2008. Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef, Sean and Dave Keene, from the Toronado, in the convention center.

Sean Paxton, with his daughter Olivia
Sean with his daughter Olivia at the Pliny the Elder release earlier this year.

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Working with nitrogen at the 11-course Belgian Brunch, or Blunch, held at the Toronado.

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My wife, Sarah, with Sean after the 10th annual beer dinner at the Northern California Homebrewers Festival held at Lake Francis Resort in Dobbins, California.

Matt Bonney, Stephen Beaumont, Sean Paxton, Pete Slosberg & Rick Sellers
Matt Bonney, Stephen Beaumont, Sean, Pete Slosberg & Rick Sellers at the Bistro for the Double IPA Festival this year.

Randy Mosher and Sean Paxton
With Randy Mosher at the world’s biggest beer dinner at CBC in Chicago.

Patent No. 4053653A: Method Of Obtaining Lupulin-Rich Products From Hops

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Today in 1977, US Patent 4053653 A was issued, an invention of Junjiro Miyata and Yasushi Kikuchi, assigned to Asahi Breweries, Ltd., for their “Method of Obtaining Lupulin-Rich Products from Hops.” Here’s the Abstract:

A method of obtaining lupulin-rich products from hops, which comprises: subjecting frozen hop cones to coarse crushing by a first crusher equipped with a screen having width of openings in the range of 6 – 15 mm and sieving fragments of crushed hops passing therethrough to obtain a first lot of lupulin-rich product as accumulated beneath the sieve; and then subjecting the portion which passed over the screen of the sieve to recrushing by a second crusher equipped with a screen having narrower openings than that of the first crusher a screen having width of openings in the range of 3 – 6 mm, and sieving fragments of recrushed hops passing therethrough to obtain a second lot of lupulin-rich product as accumulated beneath the sieves.
The method is performed on hops and particles thereof maintained in the frozen condition.

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