Etsy Kitchen Histories: What to Grill Today

grillingThis is a Dixie Dog

My latest Etsy article is essential a rant about the historic gender bias in grilling–with recipes!  Read it here.

Yes, it’s a pet peeve of mine — it’s gotten to the point where I threaten anyone who approaches the grill. But it’s not just personal paranoia. Do a search for “vintage barbecue” on Etsy and you will find men — cookbooks adorned with images of men grilling; photos, aprons, and even grilling utensils emblazoned with images of men. So what’s the deal? Why, historically, is cooking in the kitchen the realm of women, but grilling outdoors the realm of men?

DSCF5864The Dixie Dog is a hot dog stuffed with peanut butter and wrapped in bacon.

The Gallery: Fiery Poker Heats Up Hot Buttered Rum

Tom and Jerry, eggnog’s hot and spicy cousin, is the subject of my most recently blog post for Etsy–you can read it here.  Although the drink was invented in the 1840s, it had an inexplicable return to popularity in the 1940s.  While trying to uncover the reason, I came across this full-age add for The Rums of Puerto Rico, from LIFE magazine, February 23, 1953.

The above gathering is clearly very manly.  Below, a few cocktail suggestions using the “Greatest Winter Drink,” rum.  The full-page ad can be viewed here.

Handmade, Chicken-Flavored, Marshmallow Peeps

A pretty miserable Peep.

As a teenager, I was obsessed with Marshmallow Peeps.  I would wait until after Easter and then descend upon Target to buy box after box of marked-down peeps, just pennies apiece.  As an adult, I can no longer devour peeps with quite the same enthusiasm, but they still fascinate me.  They represent some aspect of my personal history: a yearly spring awakening, marked by yellow and pink confections appearing faithfully on the store shelves.  The peeps eagerly peeked out from cellophane wrapped boxes, promising to be lovable and delicious.

Peep History

Marshmallows were originally made from “Marsh Mallow,” a plant whose roots produce a sticky, white, mucilaginous substance that can be whipped with egg whites and sweetened.  This treat was popular in France in the early 18th century.  By the end of the 19th century, the marsh mallow had been replace with gelatin. I have never been able to find fresh marsh mallow, but if I ever do, I’m going to make “original” marshmallows.

Sam Born, the founder of “Just Born,” the company that makes marshmallow peeps, arrived in New York via Russia in 1910.  Like many other Jewish immigrants, Born went in to the candy business.  Candy was cheap to make and easy to sell, the perfect start-up for a new immigrant looking for work.  In fact, many American candy companies were founded by Eastern European Jewish immigrants, in including Tootsie Roll and Double Bubble.

Born opened his first retail location in Brooklyn in 1932, and in the 1950s, acquired a candy company called Rodda that produced a line of marshmallow Easter peeps.  Despite the fact that the company’s owners are still observant Jews, they are copacetic with the decidedly non-Kosher peeps.  “We see no conflict in offering a non-kosher brand or one that is so associated with Easter. We are a candy company for everyone,” said Ross Born,  Bob Born’s son (source).

Making a Hand-Made Peep

When marshmallow peeps were first produced, they were entirely handmade.  Each peep was squeezed out of a pastry bag one at a time; they were sugared and the eyes were hand-painted, and then the marshmallow chicks were left to dry.  Each peep took 27 hours to produce from start to finish.   Now, automated peep-making machines churn out several thousand peeps a day–each one takes about six minutes to make.  Watch this video–it’s awesome when the shoot the eyes on.

After I read about the original, labor-intensive Peeps, I wanted to try making a Peep on my own.  I just took a marshmallow making class at the Brooklyn Brainery, so I was inspired to creatively flavor my Peeps.  But what flavor should a chicken shaped marshmallow be??

I used Alton Brown’s marshmallow recipe, and replaced the water with–you guessed it–chicken bouillon!  I wanted a delicious, sweet and savoury, chicken-flavored Peep!  I followed Brown’s recipe, but something went wrong: I don’t know whether I cooked the sugar too long, or it’s because I used chicken bouillon instead of water, but my end result was less like marshmallow fluff and more like taffy.

I tried to squeeze it out of a pastry tube, and this is what I ended up with:

My second try was slightly better, and I formed it into one misshapen Peep.  I sprinkled him with yellow sugar and dotted his eyes on with a toothpick covered in vanilla extract.

He tasted just like ramen noodles.


Cornell Chicken

The other day, I was at the New York Slow Food Cook-Off in beautiful Long Island City. There, Rub chef Scottie Smith spun me a yarn about the Cornell Chicken:

“As far as I know, it’s New York State’s only native Barbecue; and it originates from Cornell University, hence the name. In the 1950’s, there was a surplus of chicken. So the USDA tasked Cornell University to find a way to use the surplus of chicken. So professor Bob Baker actually came up with the recipe, and just released it in the newspapers and everything and people used up all the chicken.
And then Bob Baker ended up taking that recipe, and making millions of dollars at the New York State Fair every year, and you can still get Bob Baker’s Chicken up at the state fair every year.
…It’s just a marinade of eggs, vegetable oil, cider vinegar, poultry seasoning, a little salt and pepper. It’s pretty simple but it really brings out a lot in the chicken. Tastes pretty good once it’s been grilled up.”
Dr. Baker also invented the chicken nugget. He “published his chicken nugget recipe in the 1950s as unpatented academic work, while McDonald’s patented its recipe for Chicken McNuggets in 1979 and started selling the product in 1980 (wikipedia).” I have been unable to find the original nugget recipe on the internets.
Watch the video below to learn all you’ll ever want to know about Cornell Chicken. The original recipe is below, released by Cornell after Baker’s death in 2006. It’s a simple sauce, but it seems to be a real winner.

Cornell Chicken
Cornell University, The Cornell Daily Sun
1 cup cooking oil
1 pint cider vinegar
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 egg

Beat the egg, then add oil and beat again. Add other ingredients, then stir. The recipe can be varied to suit individual tastes. Makes enough for 10 chicken halves. Leftover sauce can be stored in a glass jar and stored in a refrigerator for several weeks.

Baker suggests that to cook chicken broilers, you need a hot, non-flaming fire. Broilers should be placed over the cooking fire after the flames are gone. Use this barbecue sauce as a basting material, he suggests. During cooking, the sauce should be brushed on the chicken every few minutes.