Driving Hogs

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The idea for today’s post came from the book, “Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South”, by Grady McWhiney. In the chapter on herding, he discusses driving free-range hogs to market saying, “Throughout the antebellum period Southerners drove enormous herds of livestock over long distances to market. Thousands of swine went east, north, and south each year along established routes.” He went on to share numbers showing more hogs were herded between 1866 and 1880 than cattle.

In 1820, Winchester, Virginia passed an act to the effect that citizens within the town could not keep hogs and let them go at will because doing so tended to spoil the water for human consumption. The act, however, did not limit a non-resident from driving his hogs through the town in order to get them to market, to butcher them, or to drive them from one plantation to another. – March 1st, 1761.

Just what was it like herding hogs? “The hog is one of the most difficult and unsatisfactory animals to drive and particularly so if an effort is made to force the animal or animals in question. On the other hand, hogs are very easy animals to lead if they are trained to it, and the best way to train them is to get them in the habit of following a man with some feed, which feed they get after they have followed him a certain distance.” This is an excellent example of how a thing was not hard to accomplish when one knew how, but in later years when the knowledge was lost tended to seem very difficult.

How many head could be driven at a time? For the answer to that we look at an account from an old retired farmer in Missouri. He noted seeing 2,000 hogs pass through Columbia on the way to St. Louis. They were divided into, “lots of convenient size. The drovers had long whips which they cracked as they went along”. Cracking the whips was accepted, but striking the hogs with the whip was not as it bruised the meat.

The gentleman claimed that ten miles per day was about the most that could be covered and except for the man in charge the drovers walked along with the herd. The man on horseback was responsible for riding ahead to procure corn to feed the hogs when stopped for the night.

Indeed, farmers often profited from the sale of corn to the hog drovers along established routes. Some farmers planted large fields of corn for this purpose and rode several miles out to meet with the drovers to negotiate the price of said corn. “It is said that the soil of Teay’s valley [W. VA] was worn out by continued cultivation of corn to supply the demand of hog traffic”.

“It was generally the depth of winter during the hog-driving season”, and the drovers found lodgings at a tavern or a farmhouse, most having a room set aside for the use of such persons. When the rivers were frozen hard enough the hogs were marched across at other times they were ferried across.

“The present generation is little aware of the long distances which hogs used to travel during the thirties and forties of last century [1830-40]”, up to the use of the railroads. The railroads eliminated the need to drive large herds but did not bring about an instant end to hog driving because small farmers who could not afford to ship by rail had no choice but to continue to drive their hogs to market.

The books of a Kentucky man were examined and quoted in a book published in 1838 showing the number of animals that had passed his door headed South in 1835. There were 4,716 horses, 1,951 mules, 2,485 beeves, 2,887 shoats, 1,320 sheep, and 69,187 hogs.

As one would expect, the extreme heat and humidity of July and August was noted to make the process more difficult and sometimes the condition of hogs that had been herded some distance at that time of year suffered.

A Cincinnati paper contained an article on pork coming in for slaughter saying that farmers sometimes banded together, each having his own hogs intermingled in the numbers being driven to market, while others chose to sell their hogs to drovers who resold them upon reaching Cincinnati. The greatest danger in combining animals in this way was the spread of disease from sick animals.

Who was doing the driving? In short, just about anybody. Numerous sources depict boys and men of various stations taking the job of driving hogs in order to make wages. Horace Greely noted women doing hard work around farms including driving hogs to and from market. Even the military got into the act of driving hogs as evidenced by a letter from G. W. Randolph, Secretary of War, to General Marshall asking if his cavalry could be employed in driving hogs out of eastern Kentucky [Nov. 12, 1862).

With the introduction of refrigeration, driving hogs to a major market was no longer necessary as they could be processed in smaller numbers wherever needed. While Hollywood isn’t likely to depict a hog drive in a movie, I think we’ll all agree it was big business, as much so as herding cows. ©

SOURCES:
Guilford, William Sumner. “California Hog Book”. 1915. San Francisco.
“Transactions of the Illinois State Agricultural Society”. 1870. Springfield.
Henning, William Waller. “The Statutes at Large”. 1820. Richmond.
Missouri Dept. of Agriculture. “Bulletin”. Vol. 20. Nov. 1920.
U.S. War Dept. “The War of the Rebellion”.
“The Cultivator”. May 1843. Albany, NY.
West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey”. “Fayette County”. Vol. 2. 1919.
“The Wool Grower and Magazine of Agriculture and Horticulture”. August 1851.

Pears: Preserved for Winter

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The pears from my tree have been made into preserves to go on peanut butter sandwiches, ice cream, in oatmeal, or whatever other way I decide I want them. The recipe is pretty simple – 16 cups finely chopped ripe pears, 10 cups sugar, juice of 1 lemon or slices of ginger to taste, and 1 – 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple. Combine, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer until it thickens. That should take about an hour.

First we pick

First we pick

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The end result

The end result

Review of AT&T internet and home phone. THIS IS NOT A HISTORICAL POST.

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My internet and home phone were installed July 3rd, today is July 29. The installer strung a cable across my property (on the ground, not on poles), across an adjacent farm road (on the surface of the road, not lifted over the road), and up the main road to a connection box promising to return within a maximum of 2 weeks to bury said cable. I knew when he left we’d seen the last of him and sure enough the cable is still across the farm road with tractors and farm equipment, pick-up trucks pulling heavy loads of cattle, etc. driving over this cable dozens of times a day, every day. I’m surprised this cable isn’t already cut on rocks and gravel and the next time it rains and I get nothing but static I may well find out that it is already worn through.

When I called customer service I immediately knew I was speaking with someone physically sitting at a desk outside the U.S. After trying twice to explain the situation and the customer service agent having no clue what the situation was, or why it was a problem, I asked to speak with someone who could speak English well enough to understand what I was saying. She summoned her supervisor, Chris, who was little better. I asked him where he was and his comment was they are in the Philippines. I have nothing against anyone from the Philippines, but there are two things very wrong with this scenario.

First, while able to speak rudimentary English, the agent was totally unable to comprehend what I was saying enough to understand the problem and that I wanted it remedied. It took me 20 minutes on the phone before her supervisor came in and finally understood the situation enough to put in a work order. I think both of them thought I was just fortunate to have internet and phone regardless of how shoddily it was installed whereas I am opposed to having heavy equipment driving on the cable to my devices dozens of times per day.

Second, when the unemployment rate in this country is at an all time high and the economy is completely in the toilet, why can’t AT&T (and other companies) employ Americans at home in the U.S. to man these customer service lines? Outsourcing these jobs is a direct affront to the American people who want to work for wages and support their families. AT&T – you do not deliver what you promise and if being scored between a low of 1 and a high of 10, right now you’d get about a 2 at best.

UPDATE 8-6-14. I received a call from a repairman this morning saying he was there to bury the cable. He wanted to tunnel under the concrete driveway – which is the OPPOSITE DIRECTION from the way the cable has to be run. It is laying there on the ground, all he has to do is walk from the house and follow the cable to wherever it meets the box up the road. How did this man possibly decide to dig the trench for the cable in the opposite direction??? Having this installed was obviously a mistake, but one I’m now roped into until the contract expires.

Summer Heat

Summer is a fine time of year, but I grow weary of the humidity of July and August. I long for the cool breezes that make breathing easier and being outdoors more relaxed. I’d say just about another two months and it should be more tolerable and I can get on with some outside chores that are put on hold until the weather cooperates. Even these guys are moving rather slowly right now with last Saturday’s temps reaching triple digits.

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A Quick Look at FOOD ADULTERATIONS©

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The simplest definition of an adulteration in food means something in it has been replaced with a cheaper filler which may or may not be bad for us, but which certainly is not worth the price we’re paying for what we think is contained within the product. Papers were advising of the adulteration of foods by the mid-1700’s, and by 1820 Fredrick Accum penned a full volume on the adulterations of food. – “A Treatise on Adulterations of Food, and Culinary Poisons”. 1820. London.

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The following are just a few products which may be in your pantry that aren’t what they seem.

1. Ground red pepper is often used to flavor ginger snaps. Stauffer’s ginger snaps, and probably many others, especially cheaper brands, use ground red pepper to boost the hot spiciness of their ginger snaps. The pepper is less expensive so profits are boosted for the companies that use it. Stauffer’s is honest enough to put it on the label instead of hiding it under the ubiquitous, “natural flavor”. Archway’s “spices” could be anything.

2. Wasabi is difficult to grow and expensive plus because it is not oil-based, its flavor begins to diminish as soon as it is prepared unlike chili peppers. Except for that sold in specialty grocery stores and very high-end restaurants, Wasabi sold in the U.S. is actually a mixture of horseradish, mustard, green food coloring and probably starch. Remember that and read the ingredients when comparing prices of various brands. The same goes for products such as Wasabi peas or Wasabi sauce – if horseradish is listed in the ingredients, there is little to no actual wasabi in the product.

“Sushi sonic 100% real powdered wasabi, 1.5 ounce jar a source of authentic powdered wasabi (Wasabia japonica), and blended with horseradish and mustard for Sushi Sonic 46% Real Wasabi Powder, giving sushi lovers the chance to experience genuine wasabi flavor and health benefits while still having that eye-wateringly pungent taste and aroma they expect in their favorite condiment. Traditionally used as a condiment with sushi, wasabi is also a lively addition to sauces and dressings. To prepare, mix a sufficient amount of lukewarm water with a small quantity of wasabi powder to form a smooth, thick paste. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.” On Amazon.com this product sells for $7.95 or $5.30 per oz.

Roland Wasabi paste in the tube contains no actual wasabi according to the ingredients list on the product, “horseradish and soybean oil”, and while it isn’t listed in the ingredients, it obviously has green coloring. It averages $1.41 per oz. Compare that with S&B brand on which the ingredients are listed as “horseradish, lactose (milk), rice bran oil, sorbitol, salt, water, natural flavor, turmeric, xanthan gum, citric acid, artificial color (FD & C Yellow #5, FD & C Blue #1)”. It still contains no actual wasabi, and look at all those “nice” artificial colors and mysterious ingredients lumped under “natural flavor”.

3. Orange juice listed as “all natural 100% juice” is actually flavored with a product extracted from oils and orange essence. You may ask why bottlers need to flavor natural orange juice with orange oils. Large vats of freshly squeezed orange juice are stored for up to a year after removing the oxygen from the container and removing the oxygen removes the flavor along with it. According to Alyssa Hamilton, researcher and writer, the same folks who develop fragrances for perfume companies develop the flavor packets that go back into the juice to flavor it before it is packaged and shipped to markets. Yum. If you’ve ever considered why your family may favor one brand over another when it’s all supposed to be 100% juice it is because the flavor packets differ from one manufacturer to another, some sweeter, others more tart. Want real orange juice as Mother Nature made it? Squeeze your own.

4. Do you purchase some of the more expensive varieties of juice such as mango, passion fruit, or Trop50’s Pomegranate Blueberry juice? Save your money, there is more apple juice in many of these products than the more expensive fruits. Why? It’s simple – apple juice is cheap filler and the label can still read, “100% juice”. The bulk of juices on the market contain apple juice. The Illinois State Food Commissioner wrote in 1908, “Apple juice is the cheapest of the fruit juices used in the manufacture of jellies and jams”, and the same goes for juice.

Grape juice and pear juice are sometimes added to more exotic and more expensive fruits as fillers and still meet the criteria for 100% juice. While grape, apple, or pear juices aren’t necessarily harmful they could be for someone allergic to apples, grapes, or pears. More importantly why would you pay more for an exotic juice that is still largely apple?

“OCEAN SPRAY, 100% CRANBERRY JUICE, NO SUGAR ADDED, Ingredients: Filtered Water, Grape Juice Concentrate and Cranberry Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).” Because grape juice is listed in the ingredients before cranberry juice, the larger part of the product is grape despite the name on the bottle.
Did you know that Tropicana whose juice is billed as a healthy natural beverage, is owned by the soft drink giant and sugar-peddler, PepsiCo? They don’t own, but partnership with, Dole and so have their finger in the pot, so to speak, for Dole brand fruit juice as well.

“DOLE, MANGO LIME FIESTA, Ingredients: Filtered water, Apple Juice Concentrate, White Grape Juice Concentrate, Mango Juice Concentrate, Lime Juice Concentrate, Clarified Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors and Ascorbid Acid (Vitamin C)”. On this label we see that apple and grape are the primary ingredients although it is sold as mango.

Perhaps the word “Fiesta” entitles Dole to substitute cheaper ingredients so let’s look at another of their products. “DOLE, JUICE, CHILLED PINEAPPLE ORANGE BANANA, Ingredients: Filtered Water, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Apple Juice Concentrate, Orange Juice Concentrate, Banana Puree, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and Natural Flavors. We still have a juice made up largely of apple juice in which apple is not included in the name.

Welch’s isn’t above misinforming shoppers about what is in their juice either. Their 100% Juice, white grape strawberry contains apple juice, as does their white grape peach. Read the labels!

Incidentally, in closing, PepsiCo shelled out $1,716,300. in opposing California Proposition 37 which would have mandated labeling on products containing genetically modified crops – think about all that high fructose sweetener in soft drinks and juice or fruit juice drinks the next time you purchase one of their products. Because of the added high fructose corn syrup, studies have shown that 80% of processed foods contain GMO’s.

MORE ON GINGER ALE©

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This post may be considered a prequel to the previous post on making ginger ale as it will explore the earliest origins of what became one of the most popular drinks of the 20th century.

In the 18th century Ginger Beer was, “among the most popular drinks in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. This Ginger Beer was put up in stone bottles, and in order to mature it, several weeks’ storage was required before it could be sold for consumption”.

About 1850 a beverage was introduced which by reducing the aging process produced a clear beverage [ginger beer was cloudy] that still offered, “the pungent…taste and warmth-giving to the stomach”. Many found the clear product more pleasing in appearance but the flavor was less stable, a condition that would be remedied with perfecting the carbonation process. It was during this early period that bottlers began boosting the spicy flavor of their products for storage by adding, “chillipods”.

Supposedly the first Ginger Ale was exhibited at an exhibition in London in 1851. It was alcoholic and not particularly well received until through the addition of chili peppers to boost the flavor and ridding it of albuminous matter which fermented in storage and sometimes caused a gelatinous consistency , a clear and flavorful beverage emerged. The alcohol content was then, “trace”, and ginger ale, now billed as highly temperate, began a journey toward unbelievable popularity in 1852.

It wasn’t imported into the U.S. until 1866, but within the year it was being manufactured in New York by Henry Downs. – “American Bottler”. Vol. 30. April 15, 1910.

In 1845, that gelatinous consistency was further described as, “a thick, slimy consistence”, in drinks that were given an effervescent quality by injecting carbonic acid, the common process for the time. The thickening of contents was common regardless of which bottler produced them and occurred when flavored with lemon instead of ginger. – “The Annals and Magazine of Natural History”. Vol. 17. Jan. 1846.

A hundred years ago ginger ale was described as having a hold on the American people which far surpassed any other, “of the so-called soft drinks”, one which had been established as a, “stand-by”, and was bottled by every maker of such beverages. The addition of chili peppers had become a hotly contested issue by the turn of the 20th century prompting hearings to determine whether their use was required in labeling.

“But ginger ale, to be worthy of the name, must have certain qualities which are indispensable. First, it must be absolutely pure. By that, we mean that it must be exactly what its name implies. It must be made of ginger, not a mixture of capsicum or any other harmful substances as a substitute. Made in this way it is the ‘Prince of Beverages,’ always assuming that it is bottled with pure water.”

In other words, the classic warmth of ginger was being replaced with much cheaper but just as warm peppers. Lack of honesty in labeling is nothing new. Pepper soda doesn’t sound as appetizing as ginger ale and bottlers who chose to use only genuine ginger wanted their products distinguished from those with adulterants. Makers of pure ginger ale billed it as drinkable in any quantity, by those of any age, and at any time of day with no injurious effects.

Definitions of various terms regarding ginger ale were published in “Brewers Journal” in July 1922 under the title, “The Ginger Ale Controversy Settled”.

“Ginger Ale Flavor, Ginger Ale Concentrate, is the flavoring product in which ginger is the essential constituent, with or without other aromatic and pungent ingredients, citrus oils, and fruit juices.

Ginger Ale is the carbonated beverage prepared from Ginger Ale Flavor, sugar (sucrose) syrup, harmless organic acid, potable water and caramel color….

Ginger Ale with Capsicum Flavor is the water-soluble product obtained from ginger and capsicum, with or without other flavoring substances. The predominating flavor of the product is that of ginger.”

Manufacturers who used capsicum and color to make ginger ale were instructed to post those ingredients on the labels, “with as large type as ‘Ginger Ale’”.

Let’s conclude with some of the ways Ginger Ale and Ginger Syrup were used throughout the 20th century.

GINGER ALE RECIPES were published throughout the 20th century. The following were taken from “The Northwestern Druggist”. Aug. 1922.

Ginger Drake
1 oz. pineapple syrup, 1 oz. lime syrup, 5 oz. carbonated water, 3 oz. domestic ginger ale. Mix the syrups, add the carbonated water, and then float the ginger ale on top of this.

Ginger Soda
2 oz. ginger ale, 1 oz. lemon syrup, 1 oz. orange syrup, slice of orange, slice of lemon, 8 oz. carbonated water. Mix the syrups, then add the carbonated water and ginger ale and mix again. Decorate with slices of orange and lemon.

Orange-Ginger
1 oz. orange syrup, 4 oz. ginger ale, 3 oz. carbon ated water, sprig of mint. Mix the syrup with the carbonated water and ginger ale, add the sprig of mint, and serve.
Canada Dry Ginger Ale advertised three different ways to use ginger ale in “Life” magazine in April 1958, the first of which was mixing ginger ale and cold milk in a 1 to 1 ratio. The next was to heat 2 cups of ginger ale to boiling and stir in fruit flavored gelatin, mix, and refrigerate to produce, “Bright ginger flavor and livelier carbonation” in gelatin. Lastly, ginger ale was poured into a tall glass and topped with ice cream to make a float.

Using ginger ale in gelatin wasn’t new though as recipes had been published for some 30 years or more by the time Canada Dry’s advertisement appeared in print.

In 1919, Helen Moore included a whole chapter on drinks made with ginger ale and the remainder of the book was also liberally filled with drinks and punches in which ginger ale or ginger syrup was, if not the star, a major player in their production. Among them were what I described in a previous post as one of our favorites – white grape juice and ginger ale over ice. “Put one pint of white grape juice, and one quart of ginger ale on ice until very cold. Mix together when ready to serve”.

Interesting mixtures included ginger and cider, pineapple, eggnog, lemon and sarsaparilla, grape and pineapple, etc. – “Uncle Sam’s Water Wagon”.

For a bracing winter beverage the “Confectioners’ and Baker’s Gazette” recommended combining 1 oz. of ginger syrup with ¼ of a large lemon, and filling the mug with hot water. – Jan. 10, 1915.

More Soda Varieties

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Several people dropped a line saying they liked the article on making our own Ginger Ale I will add a few additional recipes. Any of them may be tweaked to your preference. We like combining 100% juice with club soda which requires absolutely no work. Our favorites are probably cranberry or white grape.

BLACKBERRY
1 to 1 ¼ cups sugar
1 cup water
2 cups frozen berries (blackberries, raspberries, elder berries, etc.)

Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, simmer about 10 minutes, stirring if needed. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain out the solids and discard. Refrigerate the syrup.

To use: Fill a glass with ice, add syrup and fill with club soda. Start with 2 or 3 Tablespoons of syrup, and if you want the flavor stronger add more to taste.

RHUBARB
1 ½ cups chopped rhubarb
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water. Make as above, simmering the mixture about 15 to 20 minutes before straining it.

STRAWBERRY
2 cups hulled strawberries (or blueberries)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

VANILLA SODA
2 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean, split

Combine ¼ cup of water and the sugar, heat until it caramelizes. Add 2 cups water, the lemon juice, and the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a boil, simmer 5 minutes, and remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour. Discard the vanilla bean. Bottle and refrigerate.

ORANGE
4 tablespoons orange zest, quickly blanched in boiling water and drained. Discard the blanching water and use fresh water for the recipe.
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Strain before bottling and refrigerate.

COLA
The zest of 2 oranges, 1 lime, and 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1 small piece of star anise pod, crushed
½ teaspoon food grade dried lavender
1 Tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar

Combine water with zests, and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and discard the solids.

Stir the sugars together and whisk them into the syrup with the vanilla. Refrigerate.

To use: Over ice, add ¼ cup of syrup with 1 cup club soda or to taste.

FLORAL SYRUP
2 cups fresh rose or violet petals (be absolutely certain there are no pesticides or other chemicals on them)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar or 1 cup each sugar and honey

Combine, simmer 20 minutes. Strain. Cool. Refrigerate.

APPLE MINT
1 quart apple juice
1/3 cup honey or raw sugar
¼ cup mint leaves, washed, drained

Bring to a boil, simmer until reduced to about 2 cups. Remove and discard the mint. Refrigerate syrup.

VANILLA CREAM SODA SYRUP
1 oz. pure vanilla extract
3 pints simple syrup
1 pint of cream

Bring to a boil, simmer about 5 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate. For the simple syrup combine equal parts of sugar and water, bring to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes. Refrigerate until needed.

WATERMELON (requires no cooking)
6 cups watermelon, seeded, chopped
4 Tablespoons Confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt.

Puree ingredients in a blender or food processor. Strain. Refrigerate the syrup. To use: combine syrup and sparkling water to taste and serve over ice. (You can try this with cantaloupe).

Experiment with whatever flavors you like and let me know if you have a favorite. – Blissful Meals yall, THF.

GINGER ALE: Home-made Goodness©

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Often in life there is good news and bad that can go hand in hand, in this article we’ll first discuss the disadvantages of drinking soda but then we’ll look at how to make a healthier alternative. It still contains sugar so remember, “All things in moderation”.
The terms ginger beer and ginger ale can be confusing. Authors have sought to define the two for over a hundred years. Apparently neither necessarily refers to an alcoholic content, although ginger beer can contain alcohol – up to 11%. The difference in intensity of the ginger flavor can vary with either.
Years ago I used to make the alcoholic version with yeast which went well up to a point. I hadn’t yet adopted the philosophy, “If it ain’t broken don’t fix it”, and decided to amp up the alcohol content by increasing the yeast. Can I tell you how big a mess exploding ginger beer makes? Now I prefer a non-alcoholic version and love the ability to prepare it from ginger syrup one glass at a time.
The Canada Dry folks, like many others, do not list the flavor ingredients on the label, instead, they lump everything under the title, “natural flavor”. That doesn’t sound bad until you realize that anything that comes from a plant or animal (any part of it) can be considered “natural”.
Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations says:
“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
By their definition a lot of things we’d never choose to eat can end up in our food or drink. Look up ingredients such as castoreum and you’ll see what I mean. Chances are a food or drink flavored with artificial vanilla, strawberry, or raspberry contains castoreum lumped in with other ingredients under the catch-all name of “natural flavor”. It is an exudate from the castor sacs of mature beavers, quite possibly mixed with beaver urine as the glands are located between the beaver’s pelvis and tail.
There are so many loop holes in food labeling just about anything could be lurking in the food on our plate or the soda in our glass and the FDA would be OK with it.
Ingredients on the label of Canada Dry ginger ale are carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate, “natural flavors” and caramel color. Since I haven’t observed their process, I cannot say with any certainty, but I suspect the ginger they claim to use is dried and not the fresh version as I find no need for caramel coloring with the recipe I drafted. See photo.
The dangers of high fructose corn syrup are too well known to need clarification so let’s skip to the innocuous term “caramel color”.
Rather than inundate the reader with foreign chemical terms, let’s look at what the Center for Science in the Public Interest has to say about the caramel color found in soft drinks.
“In contrast to the caramel one might make at home by melting sugar in a saucepan, the artificial brown coloring in colas and some other products is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. Chemical reactions result in the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats”.
In government studies on the dangers of 4-Mel found in caramel color it was noted that it caused cancer in mice and it was found to be “possibly” carcinogenic in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. For those who say the amount is negligible, I ask, why have any at all if you can produce a beverage at home that has none?
One bad nasty ingredient in your soda may be considered “safe”, but at the end of the day if we could peruse a total of all the bad nasties we’ve consumed within a 24 hour period and see how high the combined totals are, maybe we’d all be more diligent in eliminating them from our diets.

GINGER BEER. Oct. 2, 1824. “The Chemist”.
“Take three-quarters of an ounce of pounded ginger, half an ounce of cream of tartar, and one pound of lump sugar, (if any person does not like it very sweet, a less quantity of sugar may be used) and five quarts of water; boil the ginger in the water about half an hour, and then pour the whole on the sugar and cream of tartar. When nearly cold, put a table-spoonful of the best yeast on a piece of toasted bread, and add it to the mixture. When it has worked about twelve hours, or somewhat longer in cold weather, bottle it in stone bottles, and be careful to tie or wire down the corks, or they will fly out. In about three or four days it will be fit to drink, and will form a pleasant, refreshing summer beverage”. [The days of home-made yeast are relegated to the past for most of us so I’d suggest starting with a lesser amount of yeast and tweaking the recipe a little at a time until you are happy with the results.]
I read several versions of Ginger Syrup, many of which were described as being very spicy and because I wanted a light refreshing beverage rather than something that would numb my taste buds, I came up with my own version.
GINGER SYRUP
1 generous cup of sliced or coarsely chopped fresh ginger, peel it or not as you like
2 ½ to 3 cups sugar, raw sugar if you like
4 cups non-chlorinated water
Pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a nonreactive pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 30 to 45 minutes (You should have about 3 cups of syrup). Remove from the heat and allow it to cool. Strain out the solids. Place the syrup in a covered container and refrigerate.

To use: Fill a glass with ice and add the ginger syrup with club soda (1 part syrup to 2 parts soda or to taste) and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice if you like. I find it quite refreshing and tasty without the lemon.
I then dredged the ginger slices in sugar and popped them into a low oven (about 250 deg.) until they were dry but still chewy (2 to 3 hours). I’ll use the candied ginger in recipes or nibble on it as is.
See: ConsumerReports.org and http://www.cspinet.org/new/201102161.html.

AMERICAN CHICKEN BREEDS ©

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In 1917, the Dept. of Agriculture included in the American class of chickens the Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, Java, Dominique, Rhode Island Red, and Buckeye. Plymouth Rocks included these varieties: Barred, White, Buff, Silver, Penciled, Partridge, and Columbian. The Wyandottes included White, Buff, Silver, Golden, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Columbian, and Black. Javas were either Black or Mottled. The Rhode Island Reds could be Single Comb, or Rose Comb.

It should be noted these are breeds that originated in the U.S., some older breeds were classed as English or other.

They were considered “general-purpose” breeds because they were good for both egg and meat production. All of them layed brown-shelled eggs, had yellow skins and shanks free from feathers – traits desirable in table fowl at the time. They were considered fairly good foragers.

They matured faster than meat breeds, but not as quickly as some of the breeds considered only for egg production. They were noted as good sitters and good mothers. “Where they are kept, natural methods of incubation and brooding can therefore be used”.

“The Plymouth Rock has been for years the most popular breed in the United States. The Barred Plymouth Rock was the original variety and was developed in the United States, various lines of blood being used in the making. It is probable that the Dominique, the Black Cochin, the Black Java, the Brahma, and the Pit Game were used for this purpose. The size and type or shape of all the varieties of Plymouth Rocks are supposed to be identical. In general the breed may be described as a good-sized, rather long-bodied chicken, with fairly prominent breast and good depth of body, showing when dressed a well-rounded, compact carcass. This breed has a single comb and yellow legs, bill, and skin. The standard weight of cocks is 9 ½ pounds; of hens, 7 ½ pounds; cockerels, 8 pounds; pullets, 6 pounds. They are layers of good-sized, brown-shelled eggs, and are reputed especially as winter layers.

The Barred Plymouth Rock…is by far the most popular general-purpose or farm fowl. This variety has so long been a favorite with the general public that the barred color is generally associated with quality in table fowls. The Barred Plymouth Rock plumage is a grayish white, each feather of which is crossed by dark bars which are almost black. It is desired that these bars should be as even in width, as parallel, as straight, and as well carried down to the skin as possible. Each feather should end with a narrow, dark tip. The barring in the hackle and saddle is narrower than in other sections. The alternating dark and light bars give a bluish cast or shade to the general color, which should be even throughout the surface. It is common for solid black feathers or feathers which are partly black to occur in practically all strains in this variety, but this should not be taken as a sign of impure breeding. Black spots are also common occurrences on the shanks, particularly in females, but this does not indicate impurity.

There is a decided tendency for the males of this variety to come lighter in color than the females, and for this reason breeders are usually obliged to resort to two separate matings, one for the production of males of standard or exhibition color and the other for the production of females of standard or exhibition color. This system of breeding is known as double mating. In mating for males of exhibition color a male of about standard color is used with medium dark females, or those two or three shades darker than females of exhibition color, in which the barring is as distinct and as narrow as possible, showing a clear-cut line between the black and white bars. This mating is known as the cockerel mating, because it produces a greater percentage of exhibition or standard-colored males, while the females produced are too dark in color for exhibition, but are suitable for continuing this line of breeding. In mating for females of exhibition color, females of about standard color are used with a medium light male or one that is two or three shades lighter than males of exhibition color, but which shows distinct barring and as strong barring in the undercolor as can be obtained. This mating is known as the pullet mating, because it produces a greater percentage of females of exhibition color, while the males produced are too light for exhibition, but may be used to continue this line of breeding.

The White Plymouth Rock…is the second most popular variety of this breed. All the characteristics of the White Plymouth Rock are supposed to be identical with those of the Barred Plymouth Rock except color…the White Plymouth Rock tends to run somewhat larger in size, and the type is a little more uniform and a little better than that of the Barred Plymouth Rock. In color the White Plymouth Rock should be a pure white throughout, free from black ticking and from any brassiness or creaminess.

The Buff Plymouth Rock is distinguished from the other Rocks by the color alone, which should be an even shade of golden buff throughout. Shafting, or the presence of feathers having a shaft of different color from the rest of the feather, and mealiness, or the presence of feathers sprinkled with lighter color as though powdered with meal, are undesirable. As deep an undercolor of buff as it is possible to obtain is desirable. There is a great difference of opinion as to what constitutes desirable buff color, some favoring the lighter color, approaching lemon, while others favor a much darker buff, approaching red. The important point is to have the shade as even as possible over the entire surface.

The Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock is one of the new varieties. Its plumage is distinctive and very beautiful. In general, the plumage of the male consists of a silver white top color, extending over the shoulders and back, the hackle and saddle striped with black. The rest of the body plumage, including the main tail feathers and sickles, is black. The wings when folded show a bar of black extending across below the shoulder. Below this the wing shows white, due to the white on the outside of the secondaries. In the female the general trend of color is gray, with delicate, distinct, concentric penciling of dark on each feather except the hackle, each feather of which is silvery white with a black center, showing a slight gray penciling, with the main tail feathers, which are black, with the two top feathers showing some penciling. The color of the plumage is practically the same as that of the Dark Brahma.

The Partridge Plymouth Rock is also one of the newer varieties of this breed. The coloring of this variety is very attractive and is practically the same as that of the Partridge Cochin and also of the Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock, except that the white of the Silver Penciled is replaced by red or reddish brown.

The Columbian Plymouth Rock, a variety of comparatively recent origin, is very attractive in coloring and has proved quite popular. In general the color is white, the hackle feathers being black with a narrow edging of white, and the main tail feathers black, the tail coverts being black with a distinct white lacing. The wings also carry some black on the primary and secondary feathers, which is almost hidden when the wings are folded. The color of this variety is practically the same as that of the Light Brahma.

The Wyandotte is a rose-comb breed and is characterized as a breed of curves. The body is comparatively round and set somewhat lower on the legs than the Plymouth Rock. It is inclined to be a looser feathered breed, and its general shape and character of feathering gives it an appearance of being somewhat short backed and short bodied. The Wyandotte is a breed which also was developed in the United States, and has become very popular. The Silver Wyandotte was the original variety, and it is generally believed that the Dark Brahma, the Silver-Spangled Hamburg, and the Buff Cochin played a part in its origin. It is somewhat smaller than the Plymouth Rock, the standard weight being, for the cock, 8 ½ pounds; hen, 6 ½ pounds; cockerel, 7 ½ pounds; pullet, 5 ½ pounds. The hens are fairly prolific layers of brown eggs, are reputed to be good winter layers, and the breed as a whole makes a fine table fowl. The young chickens do not tend to have the same leggy stage which is characteristic of the Rocks and most of the other general-purpose breeds, and the breed is therefore well suited for the production of broilers. Like the Plymouth Rock, all the varieties of this breed are yellow legged and yellow skinned, which adds to their market popularity.

In the Silver Wyandotte…the male has a silver-white back and saddle, the hackle and saddle feathers being striped with black. The feathers of the body and breast are white, each laced with a black edge. The main tail feathers are black. The fluff is a slate color with some gray mixture. The color of the female shows white feathers laced with black over the entire body except the hackle, which is black laced with white, and the main tail feathers, which are black, and some black in the wings, while the fluff is slate mixed with gray. The color combination and the character of markings of the Silver Wyandotte make this a very attractive variety.

In the Golden Wyandotte the general color scheme is the same as in the Silver Wyandotte, except that the white of the Silver variety is replaced with red and reddish brown. Like the Silver Wyandotte, the color and markings of the Golden are very attractive.

The White Wyandotte is undoubtedly the most popular variety of this breed. The color is white throughout, and should be free from any brassiness or creaminess or black ticking.

In the Buff Wyandotte the color should be an even shade of buff throughout, being identical with that of the Buff Plymouth Rock.

In the Black Wyandotte the color is black in all sections, showing a greenish sheen, free from purple barring. The undercolor is lighter, somewhat on the slate order.

In the Partridge Wyandotte the color is the same as in the Partridge Plymouth Rock. In the Silver-Penciled and Columbian Wyandottes…the color is the same as in the corresponding varieties of the Plymouth Rocks.

The Dominique is also one of the oldest of the American breeds. The Dominique color is associated in the minds of people throughout the country with the barnyard fowl and is frequently confused with the Barred Plymouth Rock color. The Dominique is somewhat smaller and somewhat slighter in body, with a tail somewhat longer and sickles more prominent, than the other American Breeds. This breed has a rose comb and yellow legs and skin. The hens lay brown-shelled eggs and are good table fowls, although somewhat smaller than the other general-purpose breeds. The standard weights for this breed are: Cock, 7 pounds; hen, 5 pounds; cockerel 6 pounds; pullet, 4 pounds. The pure-bred Dominique is not extensively kept at the present time in the United States.

In color of plumage the Dominique has a general bluish or slaty cast, the feathers in all sections being barred throughout with alternate, rather irregular dark and light bars. The markings somewhat resemble those of the Barred Plymouth Rock, but are less distinct, and lack the clean-cut character of the Plymouth Rock barring. Like the Barred Plymouth Rock, each feather should end with a dark tip. The Dominique male may be, and often is, one or two shades lighter than the female. Slate undercolor occurs throughout.

The Java is one of the oldest breeds developed in the United States. In general this fowl tends to be long in body and broad in back. The comb is single, and the legs of the Black variety are black, or black approaching yellow, while those of the Mottled variety are yellow and leaden blue. The color of the legs detracts somewhat from the fowl for market purposes. The skin, however, is yellow. The hens are good layers of brown-shelled eggs, and the fowls are suitable for table purposes. This breed is not very commonly found at the present time. The standard weights are: Cock 9 ½ pounds; hen, 7 ½ pounds; cockerel, 8 pounds; pullet, 6 ½ pounds.

There are two varieties of Javas, the Black and the Mottled. The color of the Black Java is black throughout, with a greenish sheen on the surface plumage. Purple barring is undesirable. In the Mottled Java the plumage is a mottled black and white throughout, the black being more plentiful than the white. The undercolor of the Mottled Java is slaty…

The Rhode Island Red…is one of the newer breeds which have been developed in this country. At the present time it bears an excellent reputation among the farmers and is kept very extensively throughout the farming districts. The breed originated in Rhode Island, where it was developed by the farmers engaged in poultry raising. The Malay, Buff Cochin, Buff Leghorn, and Wyandotte are said to have been used in its development.

In type the Rhode Island Red has a rather long, rectangular body and is somewhat rangier in appearance than the Plymouth Rock or the Wyandotte. The hens are prolific layers of brown-shelled eggs, and the breed makes a very suitable table fowl, having yellow legs and yellow skin. The Rhode Island Reds have enjoyed an excellent reputation for hardiness, which, in the main, they have well deserved. The standard weights for this breed are: Cock, 8 ½ pounds; hen, 6 ½ pounds; cockerel, 7 ½ pounds; pullet, 5 pounds.

There are two varieties of the Rhode Island Red which are identical in color and type, but one of which has a single comb and the other a rose comb.

In color the Rhode Island Red is a rich, dark red, approaching a mahogany. It is desired to have this color as even as possible over the entire surface. There is a tendency, however, for the hackle and the lower part of the saddle of the male to be lighter in color than the back and shoulders. The main tail feathers in both sexes are black, and the wings also show some black. In the hackle of the female there is also a slight ticking of black. The undercolor of all sections should be red, and free from a dark or slaty appearance, which is known as smut.

The Buckeyes are an American breed of comparatively recent origin. In type they approach somewhat to the Cornish, being erect and broad-breasted. The standard weights are: Cock, 9 pounds; hen, 6 ½ pounds; cockerel, 8 pounds; pullet, 5 ½ pounds. This breed has a pea comb, which doubtless comes from the Cornish blood used in originating it. The hens lay brown eggs. In color Buckeyes are mahogany bay, which is slightly darker on the wing bows of the males. The flight and tail feathers often carry black as well. The undercolor should be red, except in the back, where a bar of slate is desired.

Source: Farmer’s Bulletins. #806. April 1917. Pages 1-18.

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