Archive for October, 2007

A Stranger Stood At The Gates of Hell

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Guest Post by Lewis Sharrard Author Unknown

My dead grandfather wrote typed today’s post for me. I was planning on exploring the history of margarine by tracing its definitions through 150+ years of dictionary definitions, thereby demonstrating that historically, margarine has not been a vegetarian product, and moreover the “spreadable butter” butter-canola oil mix that has recently been introduced to the market ought to be classified as margarine. That research has been mostly done, and no doubt I’ll regale you on that fascinating topic soon enough.

But, while I was browsing my dictionary collection (yes, I collect dictionaries, and no doubt I’ll explain more when I’m re-introducing the history of margarine), I stumbled across a poem written typed by my grandfather who-knows-when, folded and tucked into the pages of his old Merriam Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition. I was thrilled to read new work by this brilliant man, and am even happier to be able to As comments at the end detail, the source of this poem is unknown, but I am glad to be able to publish this truly unearthed text as its content relates, in part, to the reforms in farming policy during the FDR administration that have led to the prevalence of agribusiness conglomerate-run factory farms that dominates our agricultural landscape today. And so, without further ado….

A Stranger Stood at the Gates of Hell
by Lewis Sharrard ???

A stranger stood at the gates of Hell,
And the Devil himself answered the bell.
He looked him over from head to toe,
And said, my friend, I’d like to know
What have you done in the line of sin
To entitle you to come within?
Then Franklin D. with his usual guile,
Stepped forth and flashed his toothy smile.

When I took charge in thirty
A nation’s faith was mine, said he.
I promised this and I promised that,
And I calmed them down with a fireside chat.
I spent their money on fishing trips,
And fished from the decks of their battleships.
I gave them jobs on the WPA,
Then raised their wages and took it away.
I killed their pigs and burned their crops.
I raised their wages and closed their shops.
I double-crossed both old and young,
And still the fools my praises sung.
I brought back beer and what do you think?
I taxed it so high they couldn’t drink.
I furnished money with government loans
When they missed a payment I took their homes.
When I wanted to punish the folks,you know,
I’d put put my wife on the radio.

I paid them to let their farms stand still,
And imported foodstuffs from Brazil,
I curtailed crops when I felt real mean
And shipped corn in from the Argentine.
When they’d start to worry, stew and fret
I’d get them chanting the alphabet
With the A.A.A. and the N.L.B.,
The W.P.A. and the C.C.C.
With these many units I got their goats
But still I crammed it down their throats.
My workers worked with the speed of snails
While the taxpayers chewed their finger nails.
When the organizers needed dough,
I closed up plants for the C.I.O.
I ruined jobs and I ruined health
And I put the screws to the rich men’s wealth.
And some who couldn’t stand the gaff
Would call on me, and how I’d laugh.
When they got strong on certain things
I’d pack and head for Warm Springs.
I ruined their country, their homes, and then
I placed the blame on Nine Old Men.

Now Franklin talked both long and loud,
And the Devil stood, and his head was bowed.
At last he said, Let’s make it clear
You’ll have to move, you can’t stay here,
For once you’ve mingled with this mob
I’d have to hunt myself a job!

I’m not really familiar with many of the political references that are made in the poem, but it smacks of being current: of indignation at the policies as they were being implemented, and I really enjoy how the farm policy changes that made it tougher for family farms to survive are cited as damning evidence.

If you have a piece of food-related writing that you think belongs on Corduroy Orange, email it to me and I’ll see if I agree. All submissions are subject to editing.


Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Check these out… and while you’re there, look through some of the other bent object diaramas posted on this fantastic page!  Many include food, and most are the sort of quirky humor I really enjoy.
Relishing Life… and Death

The Lonely Life of Lawrence Lemon

Aarsh-Mallows (say it like a pirate would)

Shhh! It’s A Secret…

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

…so don’t tell anyone, but I have it from a reliable source that Dozen is preparing to expand their bakery selections beyond the realm of cupcakes.  How are they ever going to manage that in the space they have available, you ask?  Good question, trick answer… they’re not.  Rumor has it that they’ll be opening a larger location in Lawrenceville, perhaps even before the end of this year, where they’ll have more kitchen space and a larger selection of baked goods, plus the possibility of weekend brunches… or so a little birdie has told me.  Like I said, though, at this point it’s all rumour and innuendo, so I’ll let you know when I find out something more.

Mango Split

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

I should’ve taken a photo of this one.  I’ve still got one more mango, so maybe I’ll make another sundae tomorrow and snap a picture of it and add it in to this post.  The basic idea is pretty simple, though: line a banana split dish with thinly sliced mango.  Add three scoops of coffee ice cream, drizzle with chocolate syrup, and top with crushed walnuts.  Surprisingly, the coffee and mango flavors match incredibly well.  Chocolate, of course, goes well with both, and the walnuts add both flavor and texture to make this sundae
a no b rainer for those rare occasions when you have both a mango and coffee ice cream on hand.

Orange (MA) Garlic Festival

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Guest Post by James Sharrard

On September 16th, we went to the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival. Its subtitle was “The Festival that Stinks.” Big name for a fun, little fair. It was a two day event - Saturday and Sunday - and the total attendance was approximately 10,000 people. Saturday was rainy and windy. We went on Sunday when it was clear and cool. After a dry August, the trees in the hills were just starting to turn.

Obviously, the theme was garlic. Most of the food sold there (from 16 different vendors) contained garlic, from salad with garlic vinaigrette, garlic puled pork, baked poatoes with roasted garlic spread to garlic ice cream (which was made with raw, not cooked, garlic!).

There were 38 booths worth of artists and woodworkers, 14 booths for community organizations, a handful of booths for local forest products and for renewable energy, and about a dozen for the ‘healing arts.’ There was a small animal area, plus there were 40 booths for farmers and agricultural products. The festival even had its own mascot—Garlic Man!

But all that is just numbers. One of the most interesting things about the festival is an aspect that the organizers documented in their publicity, but it really didn’t register until I was there what they meant, that this really was the festival with no trash. The first thing that got my attention was the recycling/composting stations.

After my first snack, I looked for a trash can for my napkin and plastic spoon. What I found was a counter with holes for different categories of waste. All the silverware, cups, plates, and napkins used there were compostable. Cans and bottles were recyclable. The festival didn’t sell bottled water; the organizers requested that people bring their own bottles and drink the free water available there. Or they could buy a reusable water bottle at a stand. And nobody dropped anything on the ground! I finally read in the program/map they handed out that in 2006, the total trash generated was two trash bags!

Here are two links with even more information: first the festival’s own website, and an article about it from the Worcester Telegram.

Photos and text both courtesy of James Sharrard. If you want to see higher resolution versions, go to

If you’ve had a noteworthy food-related experience and are interested in writing a guest post for Corduroy Orange, email me your story for consideration. All submissions are subject to editing.

Butternut Squash and an Open Flame

Monday, October 8th, 2007

My daughter is in Africa with the Peace Corps and is looking for recipes that she can cook over an open fire (no ovens, electricity, running water etc..) Right now she is looking for a recipe for butternut squash. Can anyone help?

Not knowing what other resources she has available apart from butternut squash and an open fire, it’s tough for me to give any sort of recipe advice. However, I can recommend that the easiest way to cook a butternut squash with an open flame would be to submerge the whole squash in hot coals (how I usually get coals are by building a fire up and then letting it die down so that the coals are hot but there’s not a flame) and letting it roast inside its own skin. Turn it occasionally, and when it’s easily pierced, it’s done and can be easily broken open and eaten. The seeds and skin are also edible and may also be eaten, or discarded if she so desires.

Depending on what else she has available, the squash is quite tasty mashed with butter, sugar, and or sweet spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. But, like I said, not knowing what the sum total of her available resources is, it’s tough to give specific recommendations beyond cooking method.

Fantabulous Iced Coffee

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

I made perhaps the best cup of iced coffee ever this morning, thanks to some prep I did yesterday afternoon.

First off, it’s important to know some of the background behind iced coffee.  You can’t make it the same way you make iced tea, by simply pouring hot tea over ice.  When you do that with a cuppa joe, the result is a weak, tepid cuppa crap.  Some people (coffee shops, especially) get around this by doing a cold-brewed coffee.  I get around it by making coffee in advance and letting it chill in the refrigerator overnight.

By itself, though, that’s not enough for a fantabulous iced coffee.  Additionally, you have to take sweetening into account.  I like my hot coffee black, but my cold coffee requires some sweetening and some milk.  Sugar does not dissolve well into iced coffee.  Some people use artificial sweetener instead, because it does dissolve well.  I have no patience for this imitation sugar and its displeasurable aftertaste, so I stubbornly use real sugar, or, if I’m on my game, make a simple syrup to use in my coffee.  Even with a sugar syrup, though, you’re still not quite to fantabulous.

I reached fantabulous by making a coffee syrup for my coffee.  I took 1 1/2 cups from a full pot of coffee, mixed it with about 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and brought it to a boil.  As it heated,  added a couple of shakes of cinnamon and a few runs across the grater of nutmeg.  I let the syrup simmer for about ten minutes, poured it into its own pyrex container to cool, then added it back in with the regular coffee and put it in the fridge overnight.

This morning, I poured a cup of the sweet, cold coffee over a few ice cubes and a bit of milk.  The result is a sweet, subtly spiced iced coffee the likes of which are not available at any coffee shop I know.  Nice guy that I am, I’ve decided to share my secret with the (small portion of the) world (who reads this blog).  Take advantage of my generosity and make yourself a fantabulous iced coffee.  You’ll be glad you did!

Bundy’s Up In Smokehouse, New Alexandria, PA

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

If you have occasion to drive Route 22 East from or West towards Pittsburgh, do yourself a favor and stop at Bundy’s Up In Smokehouse when you pass by. If you’re going West, you’ll have to make a U-turn around a Jersey Barrier to get there, but it’s worth the extra effort to do so (so long as you’re careful not to get plowed into by oncoming traffic, then even the great selection of house-smoked meats available here probably wouldn’t be worth the damage, hassle, and inconvenience—so be careful making that U-turn!)

Bundy’s processes their meat in-house, mostly from animals raised in Indiana, PA—so it’s local product. Their kitchen area is easily viewed as you enter the shop. On the day I visited, they were in the process of cleaning up for the day, and everything was immaculate—exactly the conditions you want to see when someone is grinding meat for you. It was obvious to me that they take pride in the cleanliness of their operation, especially since there was no door on the room and it is on display for every customer to see when they enter the store.