Posts Tagged With: Great Britain

The Wonder Dog

This story was based on two sources. First, my dad who served his country in World War II  did his basic training in Louisiana, He said soldiers would throw snowballs at the platoon ahead of them as they marched off to the mess hall. He must have told me this story when I was quite young as snowballs during a Louisianan summer didn’t bother me. Or perhaps I misremembered  the story. Second, someone, decades ago, told me how a resourceful officer came across some abandoned hot dogs in a shed food and in a moment of admirable economy served the dodgy franks to the men on the base. The rest of the story is my imagination.

* * * * * * * * * *

We won the war. We brought the Nazis to their knees, not some namby-pamby foot soldier who probably counted dodging Spam thrown in the mess halls as combat experience. Yes sir, it was me and the airmen of Okeechobee. Young man, I’m gonna tell you our story.

Okeechobee, Florida then was only known for its millions of bugs; huge bugs the size of baseballs. But it was there, in 1944, that the Army set up the 800th Bomber Group, captained by Henry Pizarro.

Well, we were out in the middle of nowhere in a state often forgotten by the rest of the Union. Supplies never did get to us in a regular manner. Sometimes we’d go weeks without any supplies. Sometimes, we got a lot of stuff we didn’t really need. One week they sent us one million scarves, and 22,187 bird feeders stamped “U.S. Army bird feeder, Red-Headed Woodpecker Only.” Antonio Cedeno, Army Head Scratcher First Class, scratched his head and said, “That’s army for you.” Oh, we also received eight hundred tons of papayas. It seemed that although our nation’s scientists were still failing with the general concept of refrigeration, they had miraculously found a way to refrigerate papayas several months ago.

Well, around August, we had run out of all food but papayas for two months, and no one wanted to eat bugs. Hell, the bugs had been biting us so much that some of us figured we’d be cannibals if we’d eat them. So, we approached Lieutenant Kelso, who was in charge of food supplies. Kelso said that he was mighty sick of papaya soup and papaya burgers. He said he’d raise heaven and earth to find some new food.

The next day we heard a terrible ruckus all around us. Every flea-bitten mutt in the flea-bitten state of Florida was barking, yelping, yipping, and scratching his balls. Sergeant Niekro went out to investigate. Apparently, Kelso planned to use these dogs to sniff up some food for us.

Well, I decided to follow the dogs. They headed away from the mess hall as even dogs get tired of papaya biscuits. Those mutts made a bee line toward the swamp where bugs felt particularly secure and ornery. Way in the distance I could make out that huge ominous, gray, metallic building so forbidding that even the chaplain called it “the Hut of Hell.” The Hut of Hell housed our chemical supplies, used oil drums, and various pleasant poisons.

Those dogs just ran to the Hut and barked something fierce. Kelso, opened the door and immediately the dogs keeled over in agony. Kelso doubled over and proceeded to vomit big yellow chunks of papaya loaf. Sure, it was up to me, Robert Carbo, the man with the big sniffer. I dodged a stream of papaya spew from Kelso and went inside.

As God is my witness, I have never seen so many hot dogs in my life. These hot dogs were arranged in huge columns. Each column was twelve feet long by ten feet wide and stretched at least fifty feet up to the ceiling. There were thousands of these majestic columns.

Well, perhaps not majestic, more like tons of decaying, larva infested, grayish-green beef shapes. How long had they been sitting in that metal building in Florida’s fine, humid, 120-degree weather? However, stench worse than Private Aparicio’s pits after a twenty-mile hike, prompted to me continue this thought outside. I wrenched my boots free from some hot-dog ooze and bolted outside.

I carried Kelso all the way back to the infirmary. Unfortunately, our doctor was away in Miami picking up popsicle sticks off the sidewalks as we had run through our last shipments of tongue depressors. Corporal Johnny Conigliaro, a quack in civilian life, prescribed a dose of deadly nightshade, a rather poisonous, purplish flower. Kelso nearly died from this treatment but did not complain, saying, “It’s worth risking death to eat something that’s not yellowish orange.”

A week later Captain Pizarro, arose from his desk and put on his papaya-woven flak jacket and walked to the mess tent. The cook had outdone himself with a gourmet feast. We started off with a snappy papaya fondue and a Waldorf salad where the apples, celery, walnuts, and mayonnaise were substituted with papaya, papaya, papaya, and papaya sauce. For the main course he regaled us with a choice of: barbecued papaya sandwiches on papaya bread with a papaya sauce or chicken cordon bleu, where instead of chicken, ham, gruyere cheese, breading, and butter, he substituted papaya, papaya, curdled papaya juice, papaya crumbs, and melted papaya. For dessert we could choose either the papaya balls or the papaya flavored ice cream made with creamed papaya instead of cream. We washed down this feast with good ol’ papaya juice.

Captain Pizarro surveyed the yellow-orange expanse and announced that we were going to eat those hot dogs or die. Pale-faced Lieutenant Kelso staggered to his feet to voice his support before pitching forward into a huge bowl of papaya-bisque soup. Corporal Conigliaro timidly suggested that eating rotting hot dogs might kill us, or worse, give us diarrhea. Sergeant Gagliano put both of his powerful hands on Conigliaro and volunteered the Corporal for the honor of tasting the hot dogs.

Conigliaro said that although he was aware of the immense honor, he was reasonably sure that army regs stated that a certified medical doctor had to test all suspect foods. He was only an unregistered quack and so, respectfully declined.

It appeared that some stupid health regulation written by some desk-bound, pencil pusher in the Pentagon was going to deny us this wondrous, alternate source of food. However, our Sarge immediately volunteered Private Romero, a veterinarian, to taste the frankfurters.

Bilko accepted the assignment but said that he was such a good vet that he could determine the quality of the franks just by looking at them. He headed straight to the Hut of Hell, stopping only at the infirmary to put on a gas mask. Moments later he returned, ashen and trembling, stating that they were safe to eat. Though I did hear him mumble as he headed back to his tent hot dogs should not display internal movement. The other airmen just heard our cook announce hot dogs for tomorrow’s lunch.

Around eleven o’clock cookie started boiling the franks. Fortunately, a strong wind from the south blew the fumes away from the camp toward the town of Lake Harbor. About that time in an unrelated incident, Bert Taylor, a tea tester from that town, suddenly pulled his own head off and died.

We all lined up at the mess tent to eat our hot dogs in shifts of one hundred which was also the number of gas masks on hand. Well, the first shift manfully ate their hot dogs and immediately fell to the floor suffering from violent convulsions. Then Private Owchinko’s stomach burst open flinging his guts all over the mess hall. Soon, everyone’s guts erupted just like cooking popcorn. Owchinko turned his hideously contorted face toward me and said, “Dang, at least it wasn’t papaya.” He then died with a look of complete serenity on his face; well, at least as serene as one could get with an exploded stomach.

We carried the men outside and buried them properly. We put on all their tombstones, “He wouldn’t eat papaya.” Since bullets were scarce at our base, we gave our departed comrades ten hot-dog salutes. Most of these franks exploded in air giving off the same noise as rifle shots. However, some didn’t explode until they hit the ground. One hot dog, in particular, landed on a latrine and exploded, scattering its contents for hundreds of yards. Private Franco noted that the smells of the latrine improved the smell of the hot dog. However, Captain Pizarro displayed true genius when he stated these franks could be terrible weapons of war.

We drifted along in papaya hell until we received orders to fly over to Europe. The Germans had just broken through our lines in a massive offensive now known as the Battle of the Bulge. Disaster loomed and every airman was needed. We armed our bombers with our hot dogs, which now had been rotting for an additional four months in the hot, humid Hut of Hell.

Our 800th Bomber Group arrived just as the Germans seemed poised to overrun the heroic defenders of Bastogne. None of our infantry or armored divisions could get to them in time. None of the other bomber groups could get off the ground due to bad weather. However, we could and we did.

We bombed the hell out of those Nazis. A Tiger tank can take a direct hit from a Sherman tank just twenty yards away and drive away only mildly annoyed, but just one hit from our franks just ripped those tanks to bits. Down they fell, ton after ton of freedom franks. The foul, poisonous vapors from the exploding dogs suffocated the supporting German infantry. Our hot dogs created a huge hole in the German lines into which poured General Patton’s troops. Patton, that glory hog, claimed full credit for the American victory at Bastogne.

However, we knew better and so did many others. In fact, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain praised us saying, “This was their finest meat product.”

Doctor Paul De Lancey

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My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

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Peanut Butter

American Appetizer

PEANUT BUTTER

INGREDIENTSPeanutButter-

4 cups roasted peanuts (1 cup then 3 cups)*
2 tablespoons peanut oil (½ tablespoon at a time)
½ tablespoon honey
¾ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon sugar

* = 4 cups peanuts weigh about 1 pound. Purchase peanuts with the skins still on for added flavor and fiber. Buy skinned peanuts if you prefer a smoother peanut butter. And, oh gosh, buy shelled roasted peanuts. It takes forever to shell enough peanuts to make this recipe; just as long as a lecture in theoretical economics lasts..

SPECIAL UTENSILS

blender
mason jar

Makes 1½ cups. Takes 10 minutes.

PREPARATION

Add 1 cup peanuts in blender. Blend on lowest for about a minute or until the peanut bits are the size you desire. (People’s preference for the chunkiness of their peanut butter and the power of their blender vary considerably, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on the blending.) Remove and set aside.

Add remaining 3 cups peanuts, ½ tablespoon oil, and honey to blender. Set blender to lowest setting that works. (A weak blender will just make plaintive whirring noises and do nothing if it’s on too low a setting. Gradually decrease the speed of the blender to low as it becomes more and more to blend. (I think I can. I think I can. ) Blend on low setting until mixture becomes quite smooth. (The oil should be coming out of the peanuts.) If mixture is too dry to spread, add another ½ tablespoon oil and puree again. Repeat as needed with oil until mixture is easy to spread. Add salt and sugar. Fold in salt and sugar with wooden spoon.

Store in refrigerator. It should be good for 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the seal of the jar used for storage. I prefer mason jars. Oil might rise to the top over time. Simply mix the oil back into the peanut butter with a wooden spoon.

TIDBITS

1) Each American eats seven pounds of peanut butter a year. It’s a federal law dating back to the drafting of the Constitution. Georgia simply would not sign the great document unless its mighty peanut industry was protected. After much negotiation, the states agreed on seven pounds per person per annum. Georgia signed and America had a basis for strong government

2) Some people spread out their required peanut-butter consumption evenly over the entire year. This comes out to .3068 ounces per day. To achieve such precision, people need sophisticated scales. This need explains why American kitchen scales are the envy of the world. Indeed, NASA uses these scales in its space programs.

3) Other people eat all their peanut butter in one day. Pause and reflect.

4) Americans could fill the Grand Canyon with all the peanut butter that eat in one year. This actually happened on April 1, 2000. It was a glorious occasion with millions of loaves of bread being flown and trucked in. Thousands and thousands of trucks that normally hauled crude oil were converted to dispense grape and strawberry jelly. And the toasters! Oh, they were everywhere. People said nice things to each other except, of course, for those with peanut butter stuck to the roof of their mouths.

5) Unfortunately, this happening could not become an annual event. Many tourists, especially those from countries with low peanut-butter consumption, insisted of seeing the Grand Canyon in its peanut-butter free glory.

6) We also cannot forget the frenzied riot that took place between the smooth-peanut-butter fanatics and the chunky-peanut-fanatics. Culinary historians still shake their heads when they contemplate how close America came to civil war. It certainly affected the presidential election.

7) Speaking of presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter grew peanuts. Mr. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Two peanuts growers, one Independence writer. We can conclude from this that every other peanut grower in America would write a Declaration of Independence.

8) Or can we conclude this? Thomas Jefferson declared independence from Great Britain. Jimmy Carter couldn’t do the same; we had already severed connections from the mother country.

9) So, who could have Mr. Carter declared independence from?

10) From America. Jimmy Carter could have penned a declaration of independence for Georgia from the United States. He didn’t, of course, but it was a near run thing.

11) In 1980, American lawmakers mindful of the horrifying carnage of the War Between the States in 1861-1865, passed a law requiring all peanut farmers to sign an annual pledge not to make their state secede from the Union.

12) Or at least to grow onions as well. No onion farmer has ever written anything advocating independence. Onion farmers are a rather down to earth sort of folks. Thank goodness.

– Chef Paul

LutheranCookbook

My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World,  and my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, are available in paperpack
or Kindle on amazon.com

The cookbook is also available as an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

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Bean and Bacon Soup

American Soup

BEAN AND BACON SOUP

INGREDIENTSBean&BaconSoup-

1 pound dry navy beans (4 cups)
4 cups water
1 pound bacon
1 medium carrot
1 celery stalk
1 yellow onion
1 garlic clove
1 pound tomatoes
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon thyme
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Makes 6 bowls.

SPECIAL UTENSIL

Dutch oven

PREPARATION

Put navy beans and water in large pot. Bring to boil on high heat. Turn off heat, cover, and let beans stand in hot water for 1 hour.

Get busy while beans are standing. Cook, fry bacon on medium-high heat in Dutch oven until crispy. (Contemplate image of beans standing at attention.) Remove bacon and put on paper towels. Remove all but ¼ cup grease from Dutch oven. When cool, crumble bacon or cut it into ½” squares.

Dice carrot,  celery, onion, and garlic clove. Puree tomatoes. Sauté carrot, onion and garlic at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Add bay leaf, celery, tomato puree, paprika, salt, thyme, chicken broth, and Worcestershire sauce to Dutch oven. Drain beans. Add beans to Dutch oven. Bring to boil on high heat. Stir frequently. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with bacon.

TIDBITS

1) According to culinary lore, Lord Sandys once asked two chemists from Worcestershire to recreate an Indian sauce. Why Lord Sandys didn’t ask two cooks instead is a mystery. Anyway, the two great men’s effort resulted in a particularly malodorous liquid; it might have stunk worse than lutefisk. The chemists moved the stinky sauce to the basement. Why didn’t they just throw it out? Years later, they tasted it again. These men truly did not fear death. But it tasted great.

2) Okay.

3) Worcestershire sauce is made from fermented fish. Fish contains glutamates. Glutamates improve your mood.

4) Beer is made from fermented grain. Fermented grain improves your mood.

5) There are lot more establishments selling beer than ones offering fermented fish.

6) Or even lutefisk.

7) Oh my gosh, further research suggests that tidbit 1) is actually true and that L&P still make their sauce that way. I guess fermenting fish is pretty much like aging wine. Who knew?

8) In 1919, Worcestershire sauce was advertised as a way to grow beautiful hair.

9) I would think rubbing Worcestershire sauce on your head would make you smell like steak. Dogs would love you.

10) A famous photo from 1938, shows dictator Benito Mussolini and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain alongside one of Lea & Perrin’s bottles.

11) It’s quite unlikely Mussolini rubbed the steak sauce on his head. The despot was entirely bald.

12) For Worcestershire sauce rubbed onto a man with a full head of hair isn’t visible. Oh sure, you can smell it, but you’re never quite sure if you’ve pinpointed the location to the right person.

13) On the other hand, Worcestershire sauce, or any other brown sauce for that matter, would have been quite evident on Mussolini’s bald dome.

14) One can imagine the rulers of Ethiopia and Albania pointing at the Italian dictator’s sauce-smeared head and laughing.

15) Mussolini would have wanted revenge for these insults. As a dictator, he could get it too. So, Benito had his armies conquer these countries.

16) Hitler saw how easy these conquests were and in 1939 invaded Poland. Great Britain and France declared war in response. And so, World War II began.

17) This is a cautionary tale. Always use good manners. Never make fun of people. The welfare of the world is at stake.

– Chef Paul

Please check out Paul De Lancey’s books on Amazon.com.4novels

or visit his website www.lordsoffun.com for signed copies.

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Beef Stroganoff

Russian Entree

BEEF STROGANOFF

INGREDIENTS

12 ounce bag egg noodles

1 pound sirloin tip
1 small onion
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons butter total(3/4 tsp. here, 3/4 tsp. later)
1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2 teaspoons butter total(3/4 tsp. here, 3/4 tsp. above)
3/4 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon parsley

3/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons sour cream
SPECIALTY POWER

heat vision

PREPARATION

Prepare noodles according to directions on package or boil for 7 minutes or until noodles are tender. Drain water from noodles with colander.

Cut sirloin into 1-inch squares. Sprinkle salt, mustard, pepper, and pepper on sirloin squares. Mince onion. Melt 3/4 tablespoon butter in saucepan. Stir in flour, blending constantly until sauce thickens.

Use heat vision superpower, or even burner, to melt 3/4 teaspoon butter in another saucepan. Add olive oil. Add sirloin squares and onion. Use medium-high heat to quickly brown sirloin and onion. Combine sirloin and onions with the above sauce. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes.

Add beef broth, sour cream, and white wine. Cook on medium-high heat until the entire mixture is hot. Stir constantly. Serve over egg noodles. Yum.

If you are pressed for time, pans, or space, you can instead add all ingredients at once to one pan. You still need to be diligent about stirring. You might want to taste the mixture as you add sour cream since you might prefer to use more or less than is specified here. Also, more cream makes a richer sauce, while less saves calories.

I would like to stress again: cook with what’s handy. Ground beef substitutes for sirloin tip, chicken broth for beef broth and bouillon for broth, and most pasta for egg noodles.

Remember, you are not only a great chef, but an adventurer and explorer as well. Excelsior!

TIDBITS

1) My first attempt at stroganoff came from a recipe which mistakenly substituted tablespoons of salt for teaspoons of the same. Ugh.

2) My favorite author in Middle School was Jules Verne. In addition to penning the famous 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, he also wrote Michael Strogoff.

3) I visited the Jules Verne museum in La Rochelle, France.

4) La Rochelle was once the main seaport for herring canning.

5) I don’t like herring. The rest of my family does. We all like stroganoff.

6) My great-great-great-grandfather, Napoleon, invaded Russia in 1812. He lost. Three years later, nearly all the European powers sent him packing to Saint Helena where he died on my birthday.

7) I have never invaded Russia or any country for that matter no matter how small. In 1993 I was invited to visit Kiev, in nearby Ukraine, by a man who ran a Christian radio station there.

8) In the 1800s, Russia tried unsuccessfully to wrest control of India from Great Britain.

9) Indians speak Hindi and eat a lot of curry.

11) I attempted to make curry in grad school. Unfortunately my ability to read Hindi was, and still is, remarkably deficient. I believe I used ten to twenty times the correct amount of curry. I am only now conquering my fear of curry.

– Chef Paul

4novels

My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World,  and novels are available in paperpack or Kindle on amazon.com

As an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

Categories: cuisine, food, history, humor, international, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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