Posted in late medieval, veganmofo 2009 with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2009 by hoveringdog


Yes, I fail at Vegan MoFo, but perhaps another recipe from the fourteenth-century Forme of Cury will make up for my lapse. This one is basically a fairly simple recipe for whole boiled garlic cloves. Sure, you’ll stink after this, but I promise it’ll be worth the stench. The original reads, “Aquapatys. XX.III. XV. Pill garlec and cast it in a pot with water and oile. and seeþ it, do þerto safroun, salt, and powdour fort and dresse it forth hool.” My method was to first brown the whole garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil, add water and bring to a boil, simmer until they’re tender.

The “powdour fort,” or “strong powder,” bit requires a bit more imagination. Powder forte was a blend of spices that occurred in quite a few medieval and renaissance recipes, but the exact composition is a little obscure. Samuel Pegge, the eighteenth-century editor of Forme of Cury, speculated that it was a mixture “of the warmer spices, pepper, ginger, &c. pulverized: hence we have powder-fort of gynger, other of canel [cinnamon].” It probably included also a few spices that are today a bit hard to find, such as grains of paradise, a relative of cardamom, and cubeb pepper, sometimes called Java pepper.

For this incarnation, I just blended up the warmer spices I had on hand: cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and loads of freshly ground black pepper. I added salt and a pinch of ground saffron, tossed the boiled and drained cloves in the mix until well coated, and then ate them spread on slices of baguette. The boiling really cuts the harshness of the garlic in case you’re a bit wary of eating whole cloves, and they become nicely creamy and spreadable. Good times.

Late Night Gruel

Posted in late medieval, veganmofo 2009 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by hoveringdog

Looks disgusting, I know. But forget oil painting or the printing press, this was the best thing ever to come out of the fifteenth century, perfect for when you’re laboring late on an autumnal evening over some tome of ancient lore:Late Night Gruel

Taylours. Take almondes, and grynde hem raw in a morter, and temper hit with wyne and a litul water; And drawe hit þorgh a streynour into a goode stiff mylke into a potte; and caste thereto reysons of coraunce, and grete reysons, myced Dates, Clowes, Maces, Pouder of Peper, Canel, saffron̄ a good quantite, and salt; and sette hem ouere the fire, And lete al boyle togidre awhile; And alay hit vp with floure of Ryse, or elles grated brede, and cast there-to sugur and salt, And serue hit forth in maner of mortrewes, and caste there-on̄ pouder ginger in þe dissh. (Harleian MS 4016)

The simplified, roughly translated version? Pour some almond milk in a small saucepan, add powdered cloves, mace, pepper, cinnamon, salt, a pinch of saffron. Throw in some raisins and chopped dates, bring the whole thing to a simmer for a bit. Then stir in a little rice flour. You don’t need a lot. I’d start with a tablespoon, maybe two, let it thicken for a minute, and then add more as needed. It turns into a gummy gruel fairly quickly. Stir in some sugar, sprinkle on some powdered ginger. Consume.

The end result is somewhere between hot cereal and a big steamy bowl of spiced cookie dough. It’s great in the morning as an alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat, or in the evening if your insomnia makes it difficult to tell your dawn from your dusk…

It’s a MoFo Monday

Posted in veganmofo 2009 on October 5, 2009 by hoveringdog

So today’s my day of the week to update the Vegan MoFo Headquarters with a round-up of recent MoFo posts. That’s my MoFo duty for the day done, so get your butts over there and check it out. But if you bothered to visit my blog today, I’ll still throw you a bone. Or a mushroom. Here, have a chanterelle:


Mofo Day Two (and I’m already behind)

Posted in veganmofo 2009 on October 3, 2009 by hoveringdog

Yeah, it’s way past midnight, but consider this my Friday MoFo post. Today, I bring you … fractal food!

Purple and Green

When I first saw romanesco, I was fascinated by its striking appearance, but figured it was just a gimmicky upscale cauliflower. But romanesco really does have its own distinct flavor. It doesn’t have that taste I associate with normal vanilla grocery-store cauliflower. It’s sweeter, almost buttery. Plus, it really is a damn fine thing to look at.

Fractal FoodAnd it’s quite possible the nerdiest vegetable there is.

I did a quick and dirty Google search—Sorry, not my usual standard of research, I know—for information on romanesco and mathematical patterns in nature and found tons of discussion online. And most of it, like this brief overview of non-Euclidean geometry by mathematics lecturer Mircea Pitici, is way over my head at 2AM on a Saturday morning. But Pitici’s overview talks about romanesco and crocheting, plus uses the wonderfully Lovecraftian phrase “non-Euclidean,” which makes it quite the nerd hat-trick in my book. Maybe someone can put it into small words that my sleep-deprived brain can comprehend…

Midnight MoFo is Go!!!

Posted in veganmofo 2009 on October 1, 2009 by hoveringdog

Midnight SnackI guess it’s appropriate that this MoFo thing is kicking off at midnight, since that’s when I do a lot of my cooking. I’d like to think that I’m a fairly enlightened bachelor: I knit and do needlepoint. I bake cupcakes. I keep a fairly tidy apartment. I shower at least once a day. I very rarely wear the same underwear twice between washings. I try to take care of myself. But my one big nemesis is eating regularly.

If it weren’t for the social aspects of the Internet, getting to share my food and photos with the world’s netizens, I probably wouldn’t cook all that much. Preparing anything fancier than tofu and rice just doesn’t seem worth it if you don’t have the opportunity to share, even if only virtually. And I just forget to eat properly, sometimes for a day or two at a time, and when the hunger finally catches up to me, it’s usually late at night when I don’t feel particularly inclined to cook anything ambitious, much less drive to the 24-hour grocery.

It’s times like those that having a decent store of various flours and other dried goods comes in handy. The other night, I found myself once again facing an empty stomach and an empty fridge, and managed to throw together some hushpuppies. If you’re not familiar with hushpuppies (and if you’re reading from outside the US, you’re probably not), they’re basically little deep-fried nuggets of cornmeal-based batter. Traditionally, they often contain eggs and dairy, but as often turns out, those can be left out without really affecting the final taste or consistency.

These I just made with cornmeal, salt and pepper, a bit of garlic powder for flavoring, a little wheat flour to bind it all together, and plain old water, all deep-fried in corn oil until golden brown. I don’t measure anything, since it’s pretty difficult to screw this one up. Oh, and they’re especially good with Black Panther hot sauce, but what isn’t?

No more lazy bloggering: It’s Vegan MoFo III

Posted in veganmofo 2009 on September 29, 2009 by hoveringdog


So, for the third year running, the vegan blogosphere is going to be blogging like mad for Vegan Month of Food. Isa Chandra Moskowitz came up with the idea back in 2007, and this year it’s going to be massive: At last count, over three-hundred blogs have signed on to participate this year. Isa explains the general concept:

The idea is to write as much as you can for the month of October about vegan food. The blog entries can be about anything food related – your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu – you get the idea. There is no strict guideline for how much you have to write, but we shoot for about 20 times a month, or every weekday.

If you’re interested in participating, head on over to Cake Maker to the Stars , where Kittee is going all insane Web 2.0 with links to the MoFo RSS feed, flickr group, twitter twibe, all kinds of nifty bells and whistles. Over on the Post Punk Kitchen, a discussion forum has been set aside to talk about themes, events, cooking challenges, all kinds of greatness to get the ideas flowing.

I’ll be doing round-ups of the participating blogs on Mondays, and I’ll keep you posted on what blogs to hit up for the other days of the week. So head on over to Kittee’s blog if you want to participate. Only a couple days until this shiznit gets underway! And feel free to steal the banner image for your own vegan blog, courtesy of Katie from Don’t Eat Off The Sidewalk.

For me, all of this means I need to get cracking on some cooking and bloggering. Truth is, most of what I cook is pretty damn boring. Hell, some nights it’s just a few handfuls of almonds or some PB&J. So this month, I’ll have to get my ass in gear. Counting down to Thursday, eek!


Posted in miscellanea with tags , , , on September 6, 2009 by hoveringdog

So Galen wasn’t too keen on purslane. In his work De alimentorum facultatibus, he dismissed it as a fairly useless weed: “Some people use purslane as food, but what little nutrition it does provide is watery, cold, and viscous,” adding that it’s only useful property was remedying “sensitivity of the teeth through its lenitive viscosity.” In the twelfth century, Hildegarde of Bingen was even less impressed: “Purslane is cold. When eaten, it produces mucus and bile in a person. It is not beneficial for a person to eat it.” And in the twenty-first century, yours truly wrote, “STFU, old people, purslane is awesome!” Fresh Purslane

No, seriously, it’s true. Turns out that purslane is one of the best terrestrial sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids. In Queen of Fats : Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them, Susan Allport describes how “this ordinary plant, a weed in most of the world’s eyes, has an alpha linolenic acid content four times that of cultivated spinach,” which, I might add, is especially important for those of us who don’t eat our fishy friends.

And purslane is extra awesome because the stuff grows damn near everywhere. You may well have uprooted the edible weed from your flowerbeds or the cracks of your driveway without having known its value. Its ubiquity, in fact, made it a useful food for American frontiersmen. Ann Chandonnet in Gold Rush Grub: From Turpentine Stew to Hoochinoo describes boiled wild purslane among the foodstuffs eaten along the trail by those en route to the California gold rush. Likewise, it was also a useful food for the privileged proto-freegan and faux-frontiersmen Henry David Thoreau, as he described in Walden; or, Life in the Woods: “I learned from my two years’ experience that it would cost incredibly little trouble to obtain one’s necessary food, even in this latitude; that a man may use as simple a diet as the animals, and yet retain health and strength. I have made a satisfactory dinner, satisfactory on several accounts, simply off a dish of purslane (Portulaca oleracea) which I gathered in my cornfield, boiled and salted.”

Guess I shouldn’t criticize old Henry. My purslane was foraged from the produce aisle of the local co-op. But the pickling, that I did my own damn self, using a recipe from Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling. I stripped the leaves and made a simple salad with olive oil and red wine vinegar, and pickled the stems with dill and garlic. The verdict? Tasted like pickles. Omega-3 awesome pickles. And now that I know what the stuff looks like, I might have to keep an eye out for it in the wilds of Olympia…