Testing a Gadget: Jiffy Fries

In this video, I test a gadget that purports to make tasty, crisp fries in the microwave.  I also injure myself so badly that I have to see a sports medicine specialist on Tuesday, so…. yeah, that’s a thing that happened.
Here’s the TV advertisement:

Episode 12: Spam Upside Down Pie (1945)

In this episode, we explore the history of Spam while making Spam Upside Down Pie. This episode also takes a look into why it’s so popular in the Philippines, Hawaii, and Korea.

The original recipe was published in Life Magazine during World War II.  The recipe is not only fun to make: it’s also easy to make!
One layer of sliced Spam and one layer of biscuits.  Ultimately, I used three canisters of mini-biscuits for this recipe.
Layer number two.  Small pieces of Spam are sprinkled between the layers of biscuit.
A third layer of biscuits is added, and it goes into a 425 degree oven.
A little bit over cooked.  The recipe calls for it to be baked 45-50 minutes.  This is about 35 minutes into baking.  I probably should have taken it out of the oven at 30 minutes.
Served with beer cheese and garlicky peas.


Ty Matejowsky.  SPAM and Fast-food “Glocalization” in the Philippines.  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/155280107780154088

CBS News.  As Food Prices Soar, So Do Sales Of Spam.  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/as-food-prices-soar-so-do-sales-of-spam/

Erin DeJesus. A Brief History of Spam, an American Meat Icon http://www.eater.com/2014/7/9/6191681/a-brief-history-of-spam-an-american-meat-icon

Gothamist.  Spam is making a comeback at hip NYC restaurants.  http://gothamist.com/2014/04/01/spam_brooklyn_hipsters.php

Lucy Williamson.  Why is Spam a luxury food in South Korea? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-24140705

Rachel Laudan The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage https://www.amazon.com/Food-Paradise-Exploring-Culinary-Heritage/dp/0824817788

Spam Website: http://www.spam.com/

The Hormel Website: http://www.hormelfoods.com/

The SPAM Man.  New Yorker Magazine: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1945/08/11/spam-man

Episode 11: The Joys of Jello

In this episode, I cook three savory Jell-O recipes and talk about the rise and decline in the popularity of Jell-O salads through the twentieth century.  The recipes are Gazpacho Salad, Cucumber Sour Cream Salad, and Tuna Salad. It was an interesting experiment.
Jello Classic Recipes 1.1.jpg
Jell-O Classic Recipes (2002) contains the recipes for the Gazpacho Salad and Cucumber Sour Cream Mold from this episode.  It also contains many sweet recipes that look quite lovely.
DSC_0114 1.1.jpg
Gazpacho Salad from Classic Jell-O Recipes (2002).
DSC_0130 1.1.jpg
A slice of Gazpacho Salad.
Jello Classic - Tomato Gazpacho 1.1.jpg
This is the picture of the Gazpacho Salad from the book.  I think mine looks just as nice.
DSC_0111 1.1.jpg
The Cucumber Sour Cream Mold from Jell-O Classic Recipes (2002).  The combination of the lime Jell-O, sour cream, and mayonnaise give it a very odd color of green.
DSC_0127 1.1.jpg
A slice of the Cucumber Sour Cream Mold
Joys of Jello_0001 1.2.jpg
The Tuna Salad Recipe is from Joys of Jell-O (1963)
DSC_0118 1.2.jpg
Tuna Salad from The Joys of Jello (1963) in the shape of a lobster.
DSC_0131 1.2.jpg
A tiny slice of Jell-O Tuna Salad.
Joys of Jello
The Tuna Salad Recipe from The Joys of Jell-O (1963).
DSC_0123 1.1.jpg
Jell-O shots make everything better.  These are made with 1 package of sugar-free lemon Jell-O, 1 cup of boiling water, 1/2 cup of whisky, 1/2 cup of unsweetened iced tea, and 8 maraschino cherries.
A Jell-O banquet fit for a queen: Iced tea Jell-O shots, Cucumber Sour Cream Mold, Gazpacho Salad, and Tuna Salad.
Jello brings dozens of answers
The back and front cover of Jell-O Brings Dozens of Answers (1928).  It is the oldest Jell-O recipe pamphlet in my collection.
Jello brings dozens of answers 1.1
A special offer for Jell-O molds from Jell-O Brings Dozens of Answers (1928)
Quick, Easy Jello Wonder Dishes
The back and front cover of Quick Easy Jell-O Wonder Dishes (1930).  The second oldest pamphlet in my collection.
Joys of Jello 2.2.jpg
An advertisement for Jell-O dessert flavors and Jell-O for Salads flavors from The Joys of Jello (1963)
Salad Flavored Jello.jpg
An advertisement for Jello for Salads from Family Circle, May 1965.  Sourced from http://www.midcenturymenu.com/2012/07/jell-0-has-put-salad-flavors-in-gelatin/
New Joys of Jello 1.1.jpg
This copy of The New Joys of Jell-O (1973) was a gift from my Secret Santa.  It inspired this episode.
Jello Gelatin Salad Selector 1.1.jpg
The Jell-O Gelatin Salad Selector (1980).  This recipe book was created to encourage people to prepare Jell-O salads that would go with meat dishes.
Jello Gelatin Salad Selector 02
Each page of the Jell-O Gelatin Salad Selector has one recipe on the main page and a wheel that spins to reveal four additional recipes.  These recipes are supposed to pair well with meats such as ham, pork chops, chicken, and roast.  At the time this recipe book was published, Jell-O was experiencing a decline.  This book was designed to help people re-consider Jell-O as an accompaniment for meat dishes and not just for desserts.

References for this episode:

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse (1747) – Available from Archive.org

The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer (1931 facsimile edition) – Amazon.com link

The American Woman’s Cook Book (1939) by Ruth Berolzheimer – Amazon.com link

A Social History of Jell-O Salad: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon by Sarah Grey.  http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/08/history-of-jell-o-salad.html

Jiggle It: The History of Gelatins, Aspics and Jellies by Nate Barksdale http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/jiggle-it-the-history-of-gelatins-aspics-and-jellies

Episode 10: Bananamole and Banana Daiquiri (1977)

In this episode, I make two recipes from The 2-in-1 International Recipe Card Collection published by Random House in 1977.  On the front side of the cards in this collection, there are recipes for mixed drinks and on the back there are recipes for hors d’oeuvres. I’ll be using recipe card number 208 which is in the rum section.  This card has three recipes, but I’m only going to make two: the banana daiquiri from the front of the card and bananamole from the back.  While preparing my ingredients, I talk about the history of the Cavendish banana and some of the issues with the global demand for this particular variety.

The 2-in-1 International Recipe Card Collection for Mixed Drinks and Hors D’Oeuvres published by Random House in 1977.


The ingredients for Bananamole in all their glory.
The 2-in-1 International Recipe Card Collection for Mixed Drinks and Hors D’Oeuvres published by Random House in 1977.
Preparation daiquiri
Ingredients for the Banana Daiquiri.  Needs more banana.
Banana Daiquiris are scrumptious.

Episode 9: Shakespeare’s Birthday Meal (1596-1597)

800px-ShakespeareTo celebrate Shakespeare’s 452nd birthday and the 400th anniversary since his death, I cook up two dishes from his era and talk about the food eaten during the Elizabethan/Jacobean periods. The recipes from this episode come from The Good Housewife’s Jewel by Thomas Dawson, originally published in 1596.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace from my 2006 trip to Stratford-upon-Avon.

The recipes I made are pease pottage and chicken in a caudle.  The foundation of both recipes came from Thomas Dawson’s The Good Housewife’s Jewel, but I did make alterations.  The recipes in the book were very vague so I was mostly winging measurements.  Below are the closest approximations that I was able to manage.  You may need to adjust the recipe to suit your needs.

 The Good Housewife's Jewel

Pease pottage
Pease Pottage

Pease Pottage

1/2 cup dried split yellow peas
1 1/2 cup water
2 carrots (sliced)
1/4 head of cabbage (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 leek (white parts only, diced)
2 tablespoons tart kombucha
pinch of ginger
pinch of cinnamon
pepper to taste
1/2 cup ham (diced)

Put the peas and water in a slowcooker on high/medium high.  Let cook for 5 hours.  Add the other ingredients.  Cook for an additional hour or two.  Serve with malt vinegar.

Chicken in a caudle 1
Chicken in a Caudle.  I had some trouble the the caudle.

Chicken in a Caudle
2 tablespoons dried barberries
2 tablespoons dried currants
4 prunes quartered
4 ounces wine (or a little more since my pie was dry)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
1/2 egg yolk
1/2 cup cooked chicken
Red wine vinegar

1/2 cup rye flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
enough water to bring everything together (probably around 4 tablespoons)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Simmer the barberries, currants, prunes, wine, and spices in a small sauce pan until the fruits are softened and some of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat. Slowly whisk in the egg yolk so it doesn’t curdle. Add chicken and let sit.

While the fruits are cooking, prepare the crust. Combine the flour and butter. Slowly add the water one teaspoon at a time until the crust holds together without crumbling. Separate the dough into two balls – one consisting of 2/3 of the mixture and the other 1/3 of the mixture. Roll out the larger ball until it is about 7″ in diameter. This will be the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining dough until it is about 3″ in diameter. This is the top crust.

Take a drinking glass or tumbler that is about 3″ in diameter and cover the outside of the class with plastic wrap. Place the glass, bottom down, in the center of the bottom crust. Carefully shape the dough around the bottom of the glass working the dough about 2 inches up the sides of the glass.

Fill the bottom crust with the filling and place the top crust on the pie. Crimp the edges so a seal is formed between the top and bottom crust. Poke a 1/2″ hole in the center of the top pie crust.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Drizzle red wine vinegar into the hole until it is full. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.

This is best served cold.

Chicken in a caudle 2
Shakespeare’s Birthplace from my 2006 trip to Stratford-upon-Avon.  This is the back entrance.  If I’m remembering correctly, this is the entrance to the gift shop.
Shakespeare’s birthplace from my 2006 trip to Stratford-upon-Avon
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (Shakespeare’s wife’s family home) from my 2006 trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. This is the front entrance.
This is the back entrance to Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

Episode 8: Ham and Bananas Hollandaise (1973)

In this episode, I make a recipe from the McCall’s Recipe Card Index called “Ham and Bananas Hollandaise” and talk about the history and science of hollandaise.  You can probably predict how the recipe turned out.  This episode is a cautionary tale about the follies of recipe card authors.

Learn from my mistakes: do not make this recipe.
But if you do make the recipe, please share your experience on my Facebook page.
They look so innocent sitting there in their baking dish.
After 15 minutes in the oven, there is little hint of what a monstrosity this dish actually is.
A puddle of banana flavored water started to form under the banana.  It was the banana weeping about what became of its life.

Episode 7: British Wartime Rations (1943)

In this episode, I make three British wartime recipes: Ohio Pudding, Savory Potato Cakes, and Chocolate Truffles.  I also talk about British rationing during World War II and why the program was successful.

Suggestions for Wartime Dishes
The Chocolate Truffles and Ohio Pudding came from Good Eating: Suggestions for Wartime Dishes
Eating for Victory
The Savory Potato Cakes came from Eating for Victory: Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations
The savory potato cakes were baked in the oven and then browned in a frying pan.
The chocolate truffles were very squishy and difficult to roll into balls, but they were packed with chocolaty flavor.
The Ohio Pudding was steamed in a bain marie in the oven.
The Ohio Pudding before it was turned out onto a plate.
The Ohio Pudding was not particularly good after resting in the refrigerator for a few days.

Episode 6: Colcannon (1915)

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I make Colcannon, talk about the history of potatoes in Ireland, sing a little folk song, and discuss a vegetarian cookbook authored by a man named Dr. Thomas Allinson.

The recipe that I use is from a book titled Dr. Allinson’s Cookery Book Comprising Many Valuable Vegetarian Recipes which was originally published in 1915.  It is available for download on Project Gutenberg here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/13887

To steam the colcannon, I placed a piece of aluminum foil over the colcannon, pressed it down against the colcannon in the bowl, and then rolled the excess foil up so that it created a sort of “lip” around the outside of the bowl.  Another piece of foil was laid on top of the first layer of foil, and a string was tied below the “lip” to hold the foil in place.  The bowl was then placed in a water bath that had been preheating in a 300 degrees Fahrenheit oven and steamed for one hour.
The colcannon did not come out of the bowl cleanly, so I had to reconstruct it to the best of my ability.  It reminds me of Weird Al’s mashed potato volcano from UHF.

Episode 5: Baked Macaroni and Cheese (1973)

In this episode, I celebrate my annual Macaroni and Cheese Day by making a delicious batch of baked macaroni and cheese from the 1973 McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection.  This episode discusses the possible origins of cheese, how cheese has changed through the ages, a little bit of science, some archaeology, and Charlemagne’s reaction to blue cheese the first time he ate it.

You can’t go wrong with a slightly patriotic recipe card collection in which there’s a recipe for a clown ice cream sundae!

Baked Mac and Cheese 1

Baked Mac and Cheese 2

The finished dish.  I forgot to take a picture until after the first serving was extracted, but it’s better than nothing.

Learn more about the prehistoric cheese strainer:

Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking:

Episode 4: Apple Bread from the Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library (1971)

Recorded on Superbowl Sunday, Lisa makes an embarrassing confession as she bakes Apple Bread from the Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library.  While cooking she talks about the difference between enriched bread dough and having inclusions in the bread.  She also talks about the history of Betty Crocker and theorizes why recipe cards indexes became so popular in the 1970s.

Apple Bread 1 Apple Bread 2

The original recipe card.  I would reduce the baking time just slightly.  My apple bread was a little over baked even though I only baked it for 30 minutes.


Turning the bread out onto a plate was a bit scary, but it came out ok.  If you make the dish, remember to run your knife around the perimeter of the cake to help separate it from the baking dish.


My apple bread doesn’t look nearly as nice as the one in the original picture, but I blame that on it being a bit over baked.


It may not be pretty, but it sure is delicious.  I couldn’t remember the name of the apple I used when I recorded the episode, but I checked later.  They were gala apples.  They had a slight tartness which worked well with the sweet caramel.