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2/24/09

Forgive me.

This has to be the (ok fine *one of the...*) weirdest post ever.
But, two things happened:
The venerable Jetson Green featured us on the home page of their site...
and
on twitter, the subject of crock pots came up, discussing the fact that they are SO energy efficient they only take about the energy of a light bulb to cook.

I'm gonna combine these subjects, and throw in a few more twists.
: )

Even before I was an ardent solar cooker, I loved to cook.
Now I was a late-blooming chef...
In my 20's a bunch o' boyz from Italy (as in, really from Italy) finally cried "sacrilege" and forced me to learn a basic marinara sauce when they, in my East Village New Yawk apartment, could no longer stand to see this Southern Gal, hungry and in mid-sentence, absentmindedly open a can of condensed cream-o-mushroom soup and eat it, lukewarm, with a spoon.
Their mommas sent in recipes, with a little about their family history in each one. I learned to cook.

I've embraced food since then.
And I have the Italian Moms' handwritten recipes carefully bound, so the old ways will, even if they have to be passed through some skanky Virginia Southern Girl way, survive.

Now this whole crock pot topic on twitter reminded me of some fantastic resources. My favorite is collecting vintage cookbooks, picking them up at yard sales and thrift stores. I have shelves full of great, down-home recipes from the days before microwaves where budget-minded farmers passed on thrifty, delicious culinary secrets. I cherish the old "foreign food" cookbooks- their recipes are true to the cultures, and you quickly recognize the use of how local, seasonal ingredients are critical to defining their culture.

In the 90s, trollin' around the internet, I discovered some fantastic online resources.
So, twitter people, here are some great sources for recipes from my old school internet days.

Please remember that I never follow directions. I'm a bandit, y'know...
A smidgen here, a dash o' something there...
But these are some great crock pot sources/recipes I've tried, and you can then search the base domain to find others if you're vegan, etc.:
  • http://www.recipesource.com/main-dishes/crockpot/ The SOAR database has been compiling great recipes from many cultures and communites for ages. Check 'em out.
    • Fave crock pot recipes include: (You'll have to look 'em up on title as they've switched links since I, long ago, printed 'em out:)
      • Chicken & Wine / Dumplings, Martha Sheppard, Oct 1996
      • Brunch Casserole, Nancy Miller
      • Braised Beef In Crock Pot, AWilson
      • Cauliflower and Potato Curry (Vegan)
      • (Basically you're getting good stuff at SOAR- I tried many recipes & loved 'em! Full of cultures and communities!!!)

  • Red Wine Mushroom Ragout: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Red-Wine-Mushroom-Ragout-1628 My handwritten notes say, "I added potatoes, did in crock pot the night before (minus tomatoes) then cooked with tomatoes the next day in crock pot."
  • This one's for Leah, my sistah who is a naturopath in Portland and dared me to bring up aspic: Oh yes, aspic: Ham Mousse In Sherry Aspic: (popular in the '60s I hear...and still doin' QUITE WELL in the south thank-you-very-much...)
Now, there was this super site, World Wide Recipe Chef, to whom I subscribed.
It was twitter/blogs for food before there was twitter.
Or blogs. Blogs didn't exist.

World Wide Recipe Chef was sent out via email. This guy (and all the people that contributed to it from all around the world) stands in my heart. What he did was combine recipes with people's oral history: people wrote down their stories and memories to submit with their food.

Each month The Recipe Chef would have a theme, and would also open it up to readers for their contributions and stories. If you enjoy reading, cookin' and learnin'... I highly recommend The Recipe Chef. It's been a long time, but I suspect he's still going strong. : ) Try him out!!!! If you enjoy learning about other people and their cultures and traditions, all in stories with a recipe to match, this guy's for you. : )

I can't begin to tell you all the contributions and stories the readers sent in with fantastic recipes from all over the world *with their stories* So what are ya waitin' fer? If you enjoy people, cooking, and local history passed on to others, then this is a good site for you!

One theme led to the following contribution, which I have carried with me... awhile.
Please listen.

A Recipe For Om Fried Rice:
Please direct any questions about this recipe to the author.
From: Ted Parker

Biographical Note: Ted Parker, male, 52. Bichon Friese, Collie, one old cat. Doing my second twenty years as a weapon system analyst (specializing in command and control communications systems), presently working the Patriot missile system contract. First twenty years was as an Army officer (military intelligence and staff type assignments). Oregon State University, 1969, History and Naval Science. Pretty much grew up at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. This recipe comes from an earlier period in my life:

Om Fried Rice (Korean)

In an earlier incarnation, I once spent a very long year in Korea. Up near the Demilitarized Zone, just outside a little village named Tongduchon. I was in the Army, then, a brand-new First Lieutenant assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division;

Second to none,
First to run,
We won't fight,
And you can't make us.

Korea was not a good place to be, then. Vietnam was just winding down. We had an Army almost as divided as the country was at that time. A lot of racial tension. A lot of rancor between the officers and the enlisted men - although neither of us wanted to be there. I think we all felt that we had somehow stepped off the face of the earth. That we were forgotten.

I lived in the Bachelor Officer's Quarters. Cinderblock building, tin roof. Needing paint and repair. Eight by ten foot room. A small cot, a small desk, a couple of steel lockers. Very BIG speakers and a nice stereo receiver. Turntable. Huge Teac reel-to-reel tape deck. Showers (and, during the day, laundry room) down the hall. I paid a houseboy eight dollars a month to clean my room, wash my clothes and shine my boots every day.

Right across the small street was the Officer's Club. Home away from home... Bar/Lounge. Mailroom. Barbershop. Theater. Officers Open Mess (where you ate when you had to). And the little snack bar, tucked into a corner (where you ate when you could afford it). Nearly everything in our small lives, under one small roof.

Mr. Ho ran the snack bar. Little old Korean guy, spoke maybe ten words of English. Made incredible Om Fried Rice:

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1/3 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 small onion, diced
1/3 cup diced ham
1/4 cup peanut oil
hot pepper oil to taste
very coarsely ground black pepper to taste
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rice in as little water as possible. Drain and let stand for a couple of hours.

To a large frying pan or griddle, add a generous splash of oil. Saute carrots briefly, dousing liberally with hot pepper oil - this dish should make you sweat a bit. Add onions and saute until translucent (still just slightly crunchy). Add ham and heat through. Add rice and toss thoroughly to mix. Salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer fried rice to a plate; keeping warm. Lightly beat egg and season with salt and coarse ground pepper to taste. Add oil to pan if needed. Pour in the beaten egg and swirl in the pan, making a large and very thin disk. When the top glazes, carefully fold (like a pie crust) and remove from pan. Carefully unfold the fried egg over the rice on the plate, like a tent. Serve immediately. Serves 1 (appropriately).

When you have eaten your Om Fried Rice, go out into the garage.
Listen to some bad music on a radio station that just barely comes in.
Watch a rerun of an old movie (must be black and white) on a small-screen television. Turn the power off about halfway through your movie. Drink at least half a bottle of cheap booze, then crawl out to the storage shed in the back yard. Go to sleep, knowing that the Om Fried Rice was probably the best thing to happen to you all week.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Mr. Parker, I will drink lukewarm Pabst Blue Ribbon in your honor this weekend.
Thank you for sharing a moment in your life that, for me, captured an era in history.
In the end, it's about the people.
Isn't that what the internet is about, any-hoo?
And thank you, Jetson Green, for following our story.

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