Monthly Archives: March 2014

Check out my review of Thomas J. Craughwell. Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brûlée

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Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to AmericaThomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America by Thomas J. Craughwell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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We are pleased to announce

The 1718 Project is pleased to announce that our first volume, The Petticoat Rebellion: A Culinary History of French Colonial Louisiana is now available as a FREE download from the iBookstore, Project Gutenberg, and the http://1718neworleans.com website. Other electronic venues and a print version will soon be available as well. Please download a copy as soon as you can and Bon Appétit.

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Three Blogs in One

http://1718neworleans.com

Self-Publishing and Self-Editing, Part III

St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, 2014. iTunes Producer reads “Uploaded package to the iTunes Store”. We are almost there, in the olden days I could now say my book is at the publishers. But it is not the olden days and while the book is in fact at the publishers that doesn’t mean it will be published in short order. Meanwhile, I am on pins and needles waiting for the OK to come in and for The Petticoat Rebellion to appear in the iBookstore.

So in the meantime, I cannot market, so I am updating the social media pages. I have decided to focus on five venues. First and foremost, the 1718 New Orleans website, then the Facebook page, then the LinkedIn page. In addition to these three, serious work will be undertaken to update and activate more fully the Goodreads page/account and the Project Gutenberg account and whatever they may require for their program. In the midst of all this activity The Petticoat Rebellion also has to be converted from an iBook into an e-book. I will be doing this activity through a very helpful website and publication called Unruly Guides. The centerpiece of this process is an application called Sigil. Never fret, though, this process will be well-documented through this blog. Once the e-book conversion is completed, then submission to Kindle, Smashwords, and Project Gutenberg will be undertaken.

At now, like I don’t have enough to do, research and writing on Volume 2 progresses. To wit…

Doing History

Academic historians spend years pouring over documentary evidence isolating their research data and verifying their information. Unfortunately, this is about where their production levels off. On the scale of Information Architecture, data is followed by information is followed by knowledge is followed by wisdom. It is only in the lecture hall and, hopefully, in the books produced by the historian where said historian can rise to the level of knowledge and wisdom. However, communication in the classroom and sometimes even the books always seems to be bogged down by all the discussion of data and information. Reading histories written in the 1800s and before, then post-Von Ranke in the late 19th and early 20th century, and then continuing on to those written in the later 20th century, a definite pattern can be seen to emerge. Unfortunately, it is a pattern of devolution. The early historians, even going back to Herodotus, communicate at the level of knowledge/wisdom. During much of the 20th century historians communicated at the level of data and hopefully, occasionally, rising to information. Those of us trained in the late 20th century are possibly breaking out of this mold.

Now at the beginning of the 21st. A return can be seen to be re-evolving from the previous “scientific” histories into a more
?enjoyable? type of historical presentation. It is at this juncture where information is being transformed into knowledge that I strive to place my work. For those interested in following the information, the 1718 website has a link to the Project’s bibliography. The iBook/e-book also contains footnotes that links to or references entries in the bibliography. It is my hope that by choosing a mixture of historical fiction (i.e. stories of cooks and cooking in New Orleans during the 18th century); adding the recipes that would be generated by the available foodstuffs and kitchen activities, filling in with actual recipes from 18th-century French cookbooks; and finishing with historical essays that supply factual backgrounds to the stories and recipes; that the combination takes the reader from information to knowledge. I do not go so far as to state that reading these books will lead to wisdom, but I can only hope that my readers see the difference between the fictional and historical entries and take away, not only a knowledge of what this Tricentennial is celebrating but more importantly, a feeling, or an understanding, of what the early settlers of New Orleans and Louisiana had to deal with and SUCCEEDED IN DEALING WITH thereby creating the unique culture that we celebrate today.

To this writer, a retired teacher an active scholar, this is what DOING HISTORY is all about. Enjoy the study, make the recipes, and Bon Appétit. And to La Nouvelle Orleans and it’s culture which created us, Joyeux Anniversaire !!!

Recipe:

One of the glories of Creole Cuisine is its simplicity. Especially in considering 18th Century Creole Cuisine, where official records are quick to chronicle all of the shortages and suffering in the colony, thankfully, there were always enterprising settlers ( and their “creole” descendants) to supply the kitchens and markets of the capital and surrounding settlements (see The Petticoat Rebellion, ch. 18). Where the official colonial records note scarcity and want , private records of the time consistently mark “imported luxuries lavishly spread on carved oak tables: olive oil, brandied fruits, anchovies and invariably, coffee which the Creoles served in spectacular quantities. People ate remarkable amounts of chocolate, considering that it was expensive and hard to come by. . . . a formal dinner {was described} with “many courses”and “many spices”,which was nevertheless followed by desserts”seemingly without end.” Cakes was served at every party;The guests divided up the leftovers and brought them home in their lanterns which might not be needed for light because many parties broke up after dawn.The pastries so generously distributed were not cheap, {wheat} flour was of course in short supply, “ (Vella, pp. 30-32)

This following recipe should be noted for its incredible simplicity. The only extravagant ingredients would be the coconuts and vanilla. The “spice” would have been brought in by smugglers from one of the many ships which traded in the trans-Caribbean Spanish/French/British/Dutch commercial network. Spices, such as vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon, made their way to the Gulf and Caribbean from the Pacific ports of Mexico and New Spain (Petticoat Rebellion, ch. 18). And in reality, the following dessert recipe can skip the vanilla without much detriment to its enjoyment. I have no proof, but I would be willing to say, that good old custard, that is the mixture of milk and eggs and sugar or sweetener probably goes back to time immemorial. Creoles throughout the Caribbean, South America, and the Gulf Coast call this variation on custard-Flan.

Tante Suzanne* (See the 11/5/13 blog entry) in preparation for a family feast (like the one described above) and having acquired some coconuts† and vanilla beans from her market sources proceeded to create her Flan as follows:

CARAMEL SAUCE: (first known use of the French word caramel was 1658)
Mix a cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of light cream, 4 tablespoons butter, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until it gets thicker. Add 1 tablespoon crushed vanilla seeds and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat, cool slightly and pour the sauce into a baking dish. Let it cool and thicken some while you mix the custard.

FLAN:
In a heavy saucepan pour 3 pints of milk and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 5+ tbsp. sugar and continue simmering 10 to 15 minutes, or until milk has reduced to 3 cups. Strain. To this boiled down (condensed) sugar milk add a pint of coconut milk, some coconut flakes, another pint of of fresh milk, and four or five eggs (depending on size). Mix all of these together very well. Pour the custard slowly over the caramel sauce and bake in a moderate oven for about an hour or so until the custard sets.

† The coconut is not indigenous to tropical America; it was introduced to the Caribbean and the Atlantic coasts of the Americas in the 16th century. By the end of the 17th century the coconut was well established in Jamaica, but did not become an important plantation crop until the middle of the 19th century.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20061005/eyes/eyes2.html

Whether or not the markets of New Orleans had coconuts in the 1700s is problematic. They were introduced to the Caribbean environment during the 1500s and 1600s, However in San Domingue, {after 1665} “More cattle, and slave agricultural holdings, coffee plantations and spice plantations were implemented, as well as fishing, cultivation of cocoa, coconuts and snuff”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Domingue

If Tante Suzanne access to them in San Domingue or Louisiana she could have used them in this Flan recipe. They are not technically required for this recipe but if you have a romantic streak in you may want to include them.

http://1718neworleans.com

 

 

 

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52 Hours 23 Minutes and Counting.

Self-Publishing and Self-Editing: Part Two

The book is written. The book is edited. On Sunday morning March 9 we loaded iTunes Producer with all the necessary files to publish our work in the iBookstore. We press the submit button. Twelve hours later, nothing had happened. Twenty-four hours later iTunes Producer is still spinning. I wrote to Apple*. I went into the chat rooms. I discovered that perhaps iTunes Producer 3.0 was buggy and flaky. That it often hanged. So I stopped the upload after some twenty-five or so hours. I trashed iTunes Producer 3.0. I downloaded iTunes Producer 2.9.1. And I started the upload again Monday morning 9 AM or thereabouts. Monday night 9 PM, iTunes Producer is still spinning.

Take note, one thing that 25 years of teaching children and 30 years managing computers and networks as a paid IT person has taught me nothing, if not patience.

Screenshot

Screenshot of the interminable upload

So I decided to let iTunes Producer continue spinning for the duration. Most fortunately, something actually happend, the activity screen is letting me know that things are finally being done if at a snail’s pace.

It’s really sad, for years upon years I was an Apple Mac evangelist. I took much abuse for being such a person. But always Apple products”just worked”. It’s sad to see them come to a pass where Apple products simply don’t work a lot of the time. IBooks Author is a nice program-oh, I’m dating myself it’s a nice APP- in general many of Apple’s products do work maybe not as well as they should. But think of this. Steve Jobs often referred to and spoke of the intersection between the humanities and technology that represented the intergral part of Apple’s mission. Now, by any and all accounts I am a humanities scholar. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always been drawn to the Macintosh and it’s “walled garden”. Now in that context, here is someone who spent his adult life teaching history, unable to do the research that he so desired to do, finally having a chance to read history and write history. I am proud to say that at 62 years old I have written a history book. Imagine the anticipation, the joy, the wonder of compiling that book in order to publish. Now imagine 48 to 72 hours after pressing the publish button to not have done anything. Sure the processes continue, sure, I really expect them to come to an end at some point. But it is disappointing.

Today I should be blogging about how you can now access my book at the iBookstore, how you can download it as a PDF from my website, how you can see the product of years of research and writing and editing. But can I do so, NO.

*I wrote to Apple. Here is there reply to the question about the length of uploads at my DSL Internet speed:

Hello Jon,

I’m following up with you in regards to uploading your iBook. I understand that you have a DSL connection with an upload speed of 384 KBPS, and you’re upload has a .iba file of 45MB, and the .itmsp file is 36MB. There’s no set amount of time it takes for a book to be uploaded that we can provide, as it depends on the speed of your internet connection. 

Please let us know if you have any questions or need further assistance. We’re happy to help.

>>>>>>>>>>>>Didn’t he just say he knew my Internet connection speed? Maybe I should have started worrying when I read his spelling of the possessive  pronoun for “you”?

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