duck-fat

When The Apocalypse Actually Comes

All the preppers who go ‘I have a year’s worth of food in my basement!!!’ “WE ARE PREPARED”

(1 year 3 months later)

Preppers “WE ARE STARVING PLEASE HELP US”

Me, munching on some roasted maple seeds and crickets fried in duck fat, stirring a wild and cultivated vegetable and rabbit soup “Goddamnit how did you find my cave this is friends only go away.”

Culinary History (Part 36): Preserving

In medieval Europe, protein foods such as meat & dairy could only be eaten fresh during summer and autumn.  In the winter and spring, they would be smoky or salty, because this was the only way to stop food from going off.

Any meat that wasn’t eaten straight away after killing the animal was salted – layered up with huge amounts of salt in a large wooden cask.  This expensive to do – in the late 1200’s, 2d of salt was necessary to cure 5d of meat – so only good-quality meat was salted.

Pork took salt the best.  The Elizabethans had bacon, ham, salt pork, and gammon (the hind leg after being dry-salted or brined).  There was also souse – a pickled mixture of all the leftover bits except the squeak.

Glazed gammon.

Beef was also salted to make salt beef.  One version of salt beef was Martinmas beef, prepared around the feast of Martinmas (November 11th).  The beef was well-salted, then hung in the roof of a smoky house until it was well-smoked.

There is an urban myth that medieval cooks used spices to disguise the taste of gone-off meat, but this is not true.  Spices were too expensive to waste on bad meat, but they were used to make the salt meat taste less harsh.

Milk was preserved as well as meat.  In the East, it was curdled & fermented into yoghurty foods and sour drinks, such as the Kazakh kumis (a fermented liquor made from mare’s milk, used as a drink and medicine).

Kumis.

In the West, it was turned into cheese and butter, both highly-salted for preservation.  In Aelfric’s Colloquy (late 900’s AD), the “salter” says that “you would lose all your butter and cheese were I not at hand to protect it for you.”

Their butter was extremely salty.  Butter today has about 1-2% salt, but they had 5-10x that amount.  According to a 1305 record, 1 pound of salt was needed for only 10 pounds of butter.  This would be disgusting to eat, and the cooks had to spend a lot of effort washing salt out of butter to make it edible.

Fish had to be salted, too.  The Scottish kipper (salted, pickled, or cold-smoked herring) was not invented until the 1800’s.  But before that, there was a kind of cured haddock produced near Aberdeen, smoked over peat & decayed moss.  They were called Bervies (also Buckies & Smokies? or were they a different type of fish/process?)

Salted cod.

Salted/pickled fish was a staple European protein food, especially on Fridays.  Even before the Classical era, there had been a good trade in salted fish – first from Egypt and Spain; then from Greece and Rome.  In the Middle Ages, salt herring came from the North and Baltic Seas, where it was a major industry.

Salt herring is not easy to produce, because it goes off so fast.  It should be preserved within a day (preferably less).  In the 1300’s, the manufacturers developed techniques for salting herrings on board, and this made it a lot faster.  The fish were re-packed when they got back to shore.

The Dutch were exceptional at this, which may have been one of the reasons they dominated the European market.  Their herring-gutters could process two thousand fish an hour when at sea.  Because they did it so fast, they accidentally left behind a part of the stomach containing trypsin (a chemical which speeds up the curing process).

Only eating fish preserved and not fresh would have been very monotonous, and there are many jokes about this.  In A Pleasant Comedie, called Wily Beguilde (Anon, 1606), one character says to another, “You dried stockefish, you, out of my sight!”

A “red herring” was a rather smelly cured fish which had been double “hard-smoked” and salted.  It is now a literary term.

Sweet preserved foods were much nicer to eat.  In the Mediterranean, the most common way to preserve fruit & vegetables was to dry them.  In this way, grapes became “raisins of the sun”, plums turned into prunes, and dates & figs shrivelled up and became sweeter.  During Biblical times & earlier, juicy fruits & vegetables were either buried in hot sand, or laid out on trays or rooftops.  The hot sun easily dried them out.

In Eastern Europe, the sun was less hot, so they had to develop more complicated methods.  From the Middle Ages, special drying-houses were built in Moravia (CZE) and Slovakia.  A drying-house was a room heated by a stove below it, with many wicker handles inside to hang the fruit on.

The English nobility had “stillrooms”, cool rooms where servants bottled fruits, candied nuts & citrus peel, distilled spirits, and made jams, marmalades (originally from quinces) and sweetmeats.

Candying had many alchemical superstitions and “secrets”.  For example, walnuts should be preserved on St. John’s Day (June 24th). Fruits for preserving were picked just before ripening, because they held their shape better that way.  Preserving was a kind of magic, like embalming the dead, of holding back decay.

Hannah Wolley’s The Queen-Like Closet (1672) gives a recipe for “The best way to preserve gooseberries green and whole”.  They were soaked three times in warm water; then boiled three times in sugar syrup; and finally boiled once more in a fresh sugar syrup.

Even though people had no idea why these methods worked, they succeeded in preserving most of the time.  It wasn’t until the 1860’s, when Louis Pasteur discovered the micro-organisms that made food & drink go off, that we found out.  People believed that the reason was spontaneous generation, with mysterious invisible forces causing mould to grow.  In reality, it’s microbes such as bacteria, yeast and fungi that cause good fermentation for wine & cheese, and toxic fermentation when food degrades.

Drying works as a method of preservation because bacteria need moisture to grow in, and so when the fruit dehydrated, they mostly die off.  Pickling in vinegar works because microbes prefer alkaline conditions, and the acid stops mold from growing.

There wasn’t much innovation in preserving, because mistakes could be deadly.  From the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 1800’s, the only innovation was conserving meat in a layer of fat/oil – used in potted meats and duck/goose confit (salt-curing a piece of meat, and cooking it in its own fat).

Duck confit.

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Hey everyone! So good to see you again. Sorry for not being around last week, but I’m here now and we’re moving right along with everyone’s favorite thief, Kurama. This dish is long but so worth it. Remember: Everything you chill in this dish must reach a temperature of 40 degree fahrenheit. before you serve it. If you don’t have Rose Petal Extract, add some rose water or Rose Syrup instead! I will be posting duck, sauce and Knife skill tutorials soon! 

5

Spicy Pepper Steak…again! All properties concerning the food in this video is property of Nintendo. Watch it here.

For Marinade:

  • 3 TBL Spicy Elixir or Sriracha
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 TBL lemon juice
  • 2 TBL shallots
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 duck breast
  • 1 steak
  • 4 oz. mushrooms
  • 4 oz. red peppers or red jalapeños

To make marinade: in a blender, place soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, shallots, pepper and Spicy Elixir (or Sriracha). Blend until smooth.

Score the fat side of a duck breast so that it renders fat. Slice the edge of a steak so it doesn’t curve up when cooking. Place each in their own zip top bag. Pour in one third of your marinade into each bag. Seal and allow to marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

In another bowl, combine mushrooms and peppers. Toss in the rest of your marinade. Place on skewers. Once your meat is done marinading, remove it from it’s marinade and pat dry. Crank up your favorite grill to high.

Once grill is hot, slap on your steak and your duck breast, fat side down. Turn your meat and cook after about five minutes, depending on what temperature you want your meat cooked to. Once meat is cooked to desired temp, remove to clean plate to cool. As it cools, place your mushroom and pepper skewers on the grill and cook, turning every 2 minutes until lightly charred.

To serve: slice up meat and serve with charred mushrooms and peppers, and a light green salad.

Buy: Zelda Breath of the Wild, Zelda Toys+Plush
Perpetual Motion 1/1

I planned on writing this anyway but decided to kill two birds with one stone. Written for a fanfic challenge on Facebook for @wildwingsuz and her group in response to a photo prompt (A swing by a pond/lake) but also included is conversation prompt #19 for the anon who said the prompt “I’m okay”……..”You don’t look okay”……..”Well stop fucking looking then” sounds ‘totally Scully-esque’.

I agree wholeheartedly and this is the result.  

Set during Revival and also recounts events pre IWTB


PERPETUAL MOTION

We had first discovered this place when we had already been living in the farmhouse for several months, happening upon it one fine Spring day when we finally began to properly explore the land that surrounded us on all four sides; the warmth of the weak sunshine tempting us to walk farther than we had during the frigid winter months where really,  we had been far too preoccupied in trying to find a way to heal the wounds we had inflicted upon each other  amid the confusion and uncertainty of our time on the run, than in venturing outside to map out our domain.

We knew there was a lake somewhere on the property – the real estate deeds had spoken of just such a thing – rather grandly called ‘Pioneer’s lake’- I’m guessing it was a man made relic of times gone by.

I’m not sure I would have called it a lake though because although large enough to house a small wooden dock which creaked ominously even under Scully’s slight weight, to me it was nothing more than an over-sized pond complete with a family of fat brown ducks who squawked an indignant warning amidst much ruffling of feathers at the pair of interlopers who had disturbed their quiet sanctuary.  And sanctuary, as it turned out, was a pretty good description for this cool green oasis because from the minute she set eyes on it, Scully fell instantly in love.

To see her truly happy for the first time in months twisted and pulled at something deeply primitive that lay slumbering inside me and which I had thought had been quieted forever; namely my need to protect her, to give her whatever it might take to quiet the demons which plagued her so mercilessly and which had forced me to make the decision to finally stop running before I lost her forever.

We had found ourselves in a small town in Nevada in those final few weeks;  sparsely populated, it had enough amenities to make life a little easier.  No longer moving constantly as we had right at the very beginning we had, for the previous year or so, settled – if you could call it that – in similar non-descript places for just long enough to find some paid employment to boost our rapidly declining finances; a few weeks at a time where we found something cheap to rent and stopped to catch our breath.

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Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

Mary Oliver, “Straight Talk from Fox”