Food Through History

Cockle Shells

"A loaf of bread", the Walrus said, "is chiefly what we need; Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed-Now if you're ready, oysters dear, We can begin to feed. By Lewis Carroll in "Through the looking-glass."

A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual Oyster Cloyster at the aquarium in Newport. It was great! I especially loved watching the jellyfish swim around but most of all I loved the food. It's impressive how many creative ways oysters can be prepared. My favorite was the deep fried oyster ice cream made by Chef Charlie Bradford of Local Ocean Seafoods of Newport.

Category: Food Through History
Posted by: Crystal

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The eggplant is a member to the nightshade family; its cousins are the tomato, green pepper and potatoes. Eggplants grew wild in India and reached Europe around the eighteenth century. Because eggplants are nightshades people believed the purple bulbous kind resembled the mandrake and must therefore be poison. They became known as mad apples and it was commonly believed to eat them would cause one to go insane.

The myths and legends surrounding eggplant are those of fear and superstition. Some scholars have identified eggplant as being the fruit described in the bible as the Dead Sea fruit. In this myth, fallen angels wandered by the Dead Sea in hunger and found purple fruits that looked delicious, but upon eating they discovered that the pulp had turned to ashes. The Jewish historian Josephus called the eggplant the “apple of Sodom”, and people believed the food unfit to eat. The fact that the eggplant grew along the Dead Sea was believed to be evidence of the existents of the mythical evil city of Sodom God destroyed.

In the Middle East Hindu’s also banned the eggplant, along with potatoes, onions, and garlic. They likened the plants to flesh foods. In fact, they believed that eggplants turned into meat: they had a reddish color, like blood; and a shape resembling a human head.

One Hindu sect has been known to ban eggplant not because the vegetable resembles the human head but the scrotum of a water buffalo. That’s not a very appetizing visual. Fortunately, this image changed and eggplant did eventually win its place not only at the table but in the medicine chest.

The eggplant contains phytochemicals which are non essential compounds proven to greatly enhance human health. These phytonutrients, which include phenolic compounds and flavonoids, act as antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals within the body and protecting cells from damage.

It is the pigment in foods that protect against cancers, heart dis-ease and age related muscular degeneration. The calyx part of the plant attached to the stem made into a tea is an old folk remedy for stomach cramps, calms smokers cough and mellows the effects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Powdered eggplant mixed with powdered cures pyorrhea and other painful disorders of the gums, rub this on the gums and leave it on until the pain subsides. This also stops tooth aches.

The eggplant has a significant amount of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, although it is not an excellent source of any of them. Still, with less than thirty calories for every cup, and because of the respectable fiber content of eggplant, this nightshade vegetable is an ideal food for those who enjoy eating healthy, interesting, low-fat foods. The nutrition in eggplant includes potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, and several b-complex vitamins. Magnesium has been proven to stop restless leg syndrome and helps cure insomnia.

Eggplant is bitter and can not be eaten raw; this weeks recipe is eggplant lasagna with home made noodles. Rick loved this.

Home Made Noodles

  • Egg Yolks And 1 Whole Egg, Whip This Until It Is Very Fluffy
  • Then Add 3 Tbsp. Cold Water And 1 Tsp. Salt
  • Mix In 2 Cups Of “Sifted” Flour, Any Kind
  • Roll Out To Desired Thickness On Floured Surface, Roll Up
  • Then Slice To About 2 Inches Wide And Hang To Dry


Eggplant Lasagna

  • Preheat the oven to 350*
  • Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish
  • 1 medium eggplant sliced and sautéed all vegetables until tender in ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 large diced onion 1 package frozen spinach thawed and rained
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 16 oz. can stewed tomatoes, not drained
  • ½ lb. mushrooms
  • ¼ head cabbage chopped
  • 2 carrots including green tops chopped
  • 4 large crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. each oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil
  • 1 16 oz. container of cottage cheese
  • 1 lb. grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese

Layer all ingredients starting with noodles then vegetables then cheese, bake for 40 minutes.


Category: Food Through History
Posted by: Crystal

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It is amazing to me that plants that are the most annoying and intrusive are the healthiest. One of the most tenacious is the blackberry, or commonly known as the bramble bush. Blackberries are an autumn fruit and if not harvested begin to decay in mid October. Mythmakers attributed this decay to the Devil who is said to have appeared on Old Michaelmas, or St. Michael's day, October 10th and cursed the plant. St. Michael was an archangel an archetype of Christ and it was on this day St. Michael defeated the forces of evil and banished the devil from heaven. According to legend, when the devil fell from heaven he landed in the bramble bush. This explains why the devil hates blackberries returning each year to spit or urinate on them causing them to die. The legend also warns that those who eat of this bush past this date will suffer disastrous consequences within a year's time.

In parts of Great Britain it is believed that witches cause the blackberry to whither.

Most traditions about blackberries are of ill omen, blackberries were considered fairy food and it was believed that anyone who ate them might well be doomed to remain in the fairy realm forever. Just touching this fruit would bring bad luck. These and similar legends were common to autumn as an explanation of the coming winter darkness and the long cold and baron land.

A recent study from the University of Oslo printed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition identified blackberries as containing the most antioxidants per serving of any of 1500 foods tested. In a study published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, scientists from USDA's Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that a compound in fresh blackberries arrested the development of skin tumors, reduced the growth of lung cancer cells and inhibited their spread to other organs. More research is occurring at universities around the world to identify the mechanisms at work that give blackberries their nutraceutical edge.

It's not surprising that blackberries are receiving recognition as the most healthful of all berries. Like the other members of the berry patch, blackberries are natural health foods long known for their medicinal values. Legend also tells us that if we pick these magical berries by the light of the full moon we will be protected from evil spells.


My favorite recipe for blackberries is cobbler.

Fresh blackberry cobbler

* 1/2 cup butter
* 2 cups self-rising flour
* 2 cups white sugar
* 2 cups milk
* 3 1/2 cups blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Once oven temperature is reached melt butter in a 9x13 inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, sugar and milk; batter will be slightly lumpy. Pour mixture on top of melted butter in baking pan. Do not mix butter and mixture together.

3. Drop blackberries into batter; if more crust is desired add less blackberries. Bake in preheated oven for one hour or until golden brown.


Blackberry Lore
Category: Food Through History
Posted by: Crystal

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Holy Rod or Nutting Day Hazelnuts or Filberts

HazleNutsOver the ages people around the world have developed numerous superstitions about hazelnuts, or filberts. Many of these beliefs stem from the fact that the hazel tree blooms twice a year, which accounts for the belief that the hazel tree symbolizes fertility. In Germanic lore, for instants, hazelnuts are considered symbols of immortality.

September 14 is the beginning of the nutting season. In the hedgerows and the woods the hazelnuts begin to ripen and break open; one must be careful not to pick the nuts while still green as the magical power of the tree streams into the nut at this time. To pick a green nut would offend the spirit of the tree. The nuts of the hazel tree symbolize wisdom and the branches make powerful wands and divining rods. A rod made from a Y- shaped branch was believed to possess supernatural powers of divination. The art of divining was called rhabdomancy this term is derived from the Greek rhapdos-rod and manteia-divination, and could find buried treasure.

Dowsing is the term used when searching for water, minerals and ore. Prospectors in some parts of the world still practice dowsing today. Sorcerers and wizards carried hazel rods, and in Greek myth Circe used her rod to turn men into swine. In Swedish myth the nuts themselves made people invisible.

In Greek mythology the two sons of Jupiter, Apollo, the God of harmony and Mercury the God of eloquence exchanged gift with which they would be empowered to provide a better life for humanity. Apollo received a lyre made of tortoise shell, whose tone would free the artistic spirit of mankind. Mercury got a winged wand made of hazel; its touch would enable men to express their thoughts by words. Ancient Romans revered the hazel tree and associated it with marriage burning torches of hazel during the wedding night to ensure a happy and peaceful union of the newly wed couple.

An old Victorian name for Halloween is Nutcrack night. On this night, old charms tell us to place a pair of nuts named after you and your lover, into a fire. If they burn to ashes together, you will have a long and happy relationship together. If the nuts crackle or jump apart, arguments and bickering can be expected. If one of the nuts catches flame and burns brightly, you can expect riches.

The ancients were correct in associating hazelnut with the heart. The hazelnut is magic; this nut protects, strengthens and gives the gift of a longer, healthier and happier life indeed, for they contain the second highest levels of Proanthocyanidin (PAC) of all superfoods. PAC?s are antioxidants that are twenty times more powerful than vitamin C, and fifty times more powerful than vitamin E. These antioxidants strengthen blood vessels, suppress platelet stickiness, reduce cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure and delay the onset of dementia. They also contain folic acid, copper, magnesium, oleic acid, B6, iron and phosphorous. They contain monounsaturated fat and anti-diabetic fiber. Hazelnuts keep your heart beating and loving longer, and I hope you love this recipe as much as my Rick does.

Hazelnut Stuffed Roasted Tomatoes

  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and chopped
  • 2/3 c. parmesan cheese
  • 3 TBSP. fresh chopped basil
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Cut tops off tomatoes and sprinkle salt inside each one then set open side down on a paper towel to drain. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl. Place tomatoes in baking dish and fill with mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes or until brown on top.


Category: Food Through History
Posted by: Crystal

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Onion Soup

Tears Of Joy

So, isn't it amazing that the things we love the most always make us cry? Everything, from old movies and lovers, to onions; and, I'll bet you didn"t know that the city Chicago means onion. The Great Lake Indians originally called onions She-Khe-Ony, so, I guess Chicago is the "Big Onion".

I love onion everything; onion rings, French onion soup, baked onions; they're fabulous cooked, boiled, grilled or raw.

In myth it is said that the Allium family which is garlic and onions sprouted from the devils footsteps as he fled the Garden of Eden (garlic from his left footprint, onions from his left). The onion was likened by some to a pearl; gold on the outside and white on the inside the ancients believed it symbolized oneness and unity.

Furthermore, the onion was spherical in shape, consisting of a series of orbs, one inside the other. To the ancient Egyptians and the Druids this structure suggested that the onion represented the universe. Because of this the bulbs were considered to be sacred. They swore oaths with their right hand on the onion, which to them symbolized eternity; a never ending succession of worlds upon worlds.

Plutarch wrote that Egyptian priests avoided onions because they believed that the onion plant budded as the moon waned and withered as the moon waxed. Therefore they associated the onion with evil. In myth the moon waned as the evil god Seth devoured the eye of Horus. Seth, the embodiment of chaos, threatened to destroy the forces of goodness and light and annihilate the world. People of other lands connected the onion with death gods and demons that lured people into states of un-consciousness or death.

Other ancient people believed quite the opposite; these believed onions and garlic protected them from evil. They rubbed garlic and onion juice in their eyes and ears or inserted garlic into their nasal passages. They also wore onions and garlic around there necks as protection from evil. It was also believed that the onion could revive the dead. In legend, onions stimulated strength, bravery and passion.

The fact is onions to protect us from many evil diseases.

They contain carotenoids, all B complex vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium. They improve kidney function, lower elevated blood sugar and are antibacterial. Half a cup of raw onions per day will prevent blood from clotting protecting us from hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure. Onions are great for breaking up mucus in the throat, lungs, and nasal passages.

They stimulate the adrenal gland and their concentrated sulphur and germanium compounds can be useful in treating cancer patients. Germanium acts as an oxygen transporter which also helps lung disease. Research has proven that onions, raw or cooked lowers cholesterol and acts as a natural antibiotic.

I could not cook without them; they are a base in most everything I cook. Today"s recipe is easy and so good. I made French bread from scratch for this and then the soup.

French Onion Soup

Thickly slice 4 large onions, break up with hands into rings.

Sprinkle onions with ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp raw sugar.

Cover and set aside for 10 minutes.

Melt ¼ cup olive oil and ¼ stick butter on medium high heat

Add onions and a pinch of thyme and 1 bay leaf

Stir well coating onions in oil, lower heat to medium, stir often for about 35 minutes until golden brown.

Add 1 tablespoon Sherry to deglaze the pan. Add 4 cups of water, 2 beef bouillon cubes and 2 chicken bouillon cubes. Simmer 10 minutes.

Toast one slice of French bread per bowl place on bowl of soup, top bread with one slice of Swiss cheese, broil until melted remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.


Crystal Hayes can be reached at

Onion Soup
Category: Food Through History
Posted by: Crystal

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