Brains Really

Originally published in 2014 Enjoy feel free to leave a comment.

Now, folks, he has done it again. Who, am I talking about, Apicius. That damn ancient Roman. I was going to post a German recipe for Meatloaf and give a tidbit of history. Well, guess what I found out the first recorded recipe for meatloaf is in De Re Coquinaria (On Cooking) written by guess who, Apicius. Damn him.

The modern version (I personally like the German recipe) is far better than what was made in Ancient Rome. You see in Ancient Rome they used Beef and /or Veal brains. Yep, you read that right, brains.

For that reason, I am only posting the German version. It is a bit more modern in that it does not include brains. Of course, you have to have at least half a brain to make it.









1/2 lb. lean ground beef /226.79 g

1/2 lb. ground lean pork / 226.79 g

1 medium onion, chopped

3 tablespoons breadcrumbs /44.37 ml

3 tablespoons cold water / 44.37 ml

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt / 2.46 ml

1 teaspoon paprika / 4.92 ml

1 teaspoon prepared mustard / 4.92 ml

2 tablespoons chopped parsley /29.58 ml

3 peeled hardboiled egg

4 slices bacon (cube 2 strips; cut 2 strips in half)

4 tablespoons vegetable oil / 59.16 ml

1 cup beef broth /236.59 ml


1/4 cup hot water / 59.14 ml

1 teaspoon cornstarch / 4.92 ml

1/4 cup water /59.14 ml

1/2 cup sour cream / 118.29 ml


1 Mix together ground meats, onion, bread crumbs, 3 Tablespoons cold water, and eggs.

2 Flavor with salt, paprika, mustard, and parsley.

3 Blend ingredients thoroughly.

4 Flatten out meat mixture in the shape of a square; about 8 X 8 inches.

5 Arrange whole hard-boiled eggs in a row along the middle of the meat.

6 Fold sides of meat pattie over the eggs.

7 Shape meat carefully into a loaf, resembling a flatbread loaf.

8 Cook cubed bacon in a Dutch oven for about 2 minutes.

9 Carefully add the vegetable oil, and heat.

10 Place meatloaf in the Dutch oven and cook until browned on all sides.

11 Cut remaining bacon strips in half and arrange over the top of the meatloaf.

12 Place in an uncovered Dutch oven in a preheated 350F/Gas mark 4 / 180 C oven for about 30-45 minutes.

13 While meat is baking, gradually pour hot beef broth over the top of the meatloaf; brush occasionally with pan drippings.

14 When done remove meat to a preheated platter and keep it warm.

15 Add 1/4 cup of hot water to the pan and scrape all particles from the bottom.

16 Bring to a gentle boil.

17 Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and add to the pan.

18 Cook until bubbly and thick.

19 Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

20 Reheat to warm (do not boil).

21 Season with salt and pepper if desired.

22 Serve the sauce (on the side), separately


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It’s Mush Damn It

Originally Published in 2015

“In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” so they told us in school. What slipped past some history teachers was the return voyage to Spain.  I guess once you have supposedly discovered something comin’ home makes no difference to anyone, especially those same history teachers.

Now don’t get your knickers in a wad I’m not saying all people with Ph.D.’s in history are nuts. Just some of them. Why several of my friends have a Ph.D. in history and they are not nuts… Now, what makes the Columbus voyage home so important? Why boys and girls it was what was in the cargo hold of those ships. Corn, that’s right CORN.  Until then Europe and in particular that country called Italy had never heard of corn.   That by the way was in the early to mid-1500. It still took them a few years to figure out just what to do with corn.

Corn was originally grown in the mountainous region of the northern part of Italy. Yea, I know who knew there was an Italian hillbilly. I guess I will have to leave that for another time. I have far more important issues to deal with.

Someone in one of those mountain hamlets decided to make a favorite Italian dish called Polenta.  Traditionally Polenta is made with ground Barley, linseeds, coriander, and sufficient salt. That is according to Pliny but Apicius, y’all remember him and the fried chicken don’t ya. Well, Apicius stuck his big nose in it the debate and altered the recipe to wheat flour served with honey.

Back to the mountains of Northern Italy. Someone, a Yankee at that decided to use cornmeal and had the nerve to call the final product Polenta.  I am certain that more than one Native American was not happy over that. Why, because Mush, is Native American, made the same way as the traditional Polenta, but with cornmeal same cooking time, in fact, the same everything.

My response to this and to all those T.V. Chefs who insist they are right and the rest of us are wrong is NO. Not just NO but HELL NO, that’s not POLENTA. It’s MUSH damn it.

To prove my point I will give you my grandmothers mush recipe:


3/4 cup – cold water (177.5 ml)

3 cups boiling water (709.8 ml)

1 cup – cornmeal (236.6 ml)

1 tsp – salt   (4.93 ml)

First, make a paste with cold water and cornmeal/salt mixture, then stir in boiling water. Continue to cook (stirring often) over low heat for about 20 minutes, then pour into a small loaf pan and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, until the mush is set. Slice thinly (about 1/2 inch slices) and fry in oil until crispy brown. (We used lard to fry them in but in today’s world, you may use whatever floats your boat.)


If you have Cracklin’s, that’s the way I remember it but if you have crispy bacon or some dried fruit layin’ around then by all means toss a handful in after the cookin’ is done.

You can serve hot with eggs and bacon or with syrup or sausage gravy, but my favorite is apple butter, preferably homemade.

Now if you see one of those celebrity chefs and you know who they are use this recipe and call it Polenta you can do two things… Scream at the T. V “NO” and then write a proper and polite little note telling them that what they made is Mush. It is of course your Southern duty.


Below is the original from that Apicius fellow I have been fighting with.

Fried Cream Wheat from the Ancient Romans

Accipies similam, coques in aqua calida ita ut durrissimam pultem facias, deinde in patellam expandis.  Cum refrizerit, concidis quasi culdia et frigis in oleo optimo.  Levas, perfundis mel, piper aspergis et inferes.  Melius feceris, si lac pro aqua miseris.

Take flour [semolina], cook in hot water so that it becomes a very firm polenta, and then spread it on a plate.  When it has cooled, cut it as for sweet cakes and fry in oil of the finest quality.  Remove, pour honey over, sprinkle with pepper, and serve.  You will do even better if you use milk instead of water.

The De re coquinaria of Apicius as found in A Taste of Ancient Rome, by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, Translated by Anna Herkolotz









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Southern What

Authors Note: Jennifer Paterson passed away on August 10, 1999. The show “Two Fat Ladies” is one of the most entertaining cooking shows. The recipes, the locations, and especially the relationship between Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson.

Update: March 17th, 2014 Clarissa Dickson Wright has passed away.

Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Wright are the inspiration behind Olives Place

I have dug this out of my archives and I hope you enjoy it.



Southern What

To be read with a southern accent to achieve full flavor.


Southern Cuisine, now there is a phrase that I would never have thought of tagging onto food. Foods that I thought was called “just shut up and eat it”, “be thankful you have it” was always another favorite of mine, and for Sunday supper it was, “don’t go braggin’”.

It is hard for this southerner to grasp that red beans and rice are now be considered a cuisine, or hoppin’ john, and cornbread cooked in a number eight skillet. Food that raised me up good, proper and safe is now being served in the likes of London, England, way across the way.

How did this all come about you ask? How did those foods among others become a cuisine? Well, if truth be told it was a big city, school trained cooks, chefs I do believe. I mean cooking schools, bless their hearts. It is sad to know that their mammas couldn’t love them enough to teach them “Chefs” the workings of a good winter soup.

How did I come to write this you might be asking yourself? Well sit back, sip some cooked coffee and I will tell you of a night that horrified me to my core.

It all started one Sunday night, nothing special about that Sunday. Dinner was done, wine poured and I was ready to settle in for a good murder.  Poirot, with his little gray cells, Inspector Lewis and his Oxford-educated sidekick, even Midsomer Murders, better yet Foyle’s War what would be perfect to calm the nerves.

But that was not to be. Oh no, nothing but the wine was going to calm my nerves. You see, MasterPiece Theatre was being replaced that night.  PBS was having a fund drive with the same dribble they have every six months.  Performances were given by the same 50’s artist, doing the one hit they are known by.  Specials that were filmed ten years ago with the announcer saying “support shows like this”. Which we only get when they want a handout, mind you!

Running through the channels to see what would be worth viewing. I came across an international cooking channel. Interesting I thought Two Fat Ladies. “Hum” murmuring out loud, “It is British made, and having had no problem with British shows before.” I found myself speaking out loud.

Starting to watch I slowly became entertained by the show until one of the two fat ladies stated that she was going to cook a “traditional southern dish”. Perking up I decided to wait to refill my glass of wine so as not to miss anything. What were they going to make I wondered?

Continuing to speak, Jennifer stated “a wonderful southern dish, Hoppin John”

Watching intently to see how the Brits were going to handle a dish, which was in its infancy the main dish not a side dish. Yes, I know today it is used as a side dish.

First, she fried the bacon, bacon mind you. Now, I know some of you might think bacon would have been used way back then. Now mind you, some of the working people might have a bit of salty bacon in the larder, pantry for you Americans. But I noticed she did not have the one ingredient that gives this dish its wonderful flavor.  A smoked ham hock, yes you read that right, a smoked ham hock.

She did get one thing right, mind you. She did soak the black-eyed peas overnight. It’s really easy, don’t ya know. Just put the peas in a deep bowl and cover with water, you be still with them either in the icebox or on a cool shelf.

The next day, or in this case after the commercial break, she took out the peas and commenced mixin’. First in the pot were the peas, water to cover, and chopped onion, which she had smothered in the bacon grease. So far she was tendin’ the peas right nice.

After cooking the rice separately, which pays no mind to me, however, you wish to do it. Either with the peas when they are done, or as a standalone, don’t hurt my mind none.

She had made a few errors along the way, but not bad for someone not southern born and reared. But as soon as I turned my back, she struck. It was a knife in my heart, she hit me hard.

Mixing the ingredients together she had grabbed a bunch of Cilantro, chopped it up real fine like and mixed it in the Hoppin John.

Catching my breath and still able to hear her say, as she presented the final dish, “This ladies and gentlemen is HOPPIN JOHN, a traditional southern dish.

Standing in my family room I found myself screaming, screaming mind you “NO”.

Followed with, “TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DISH MY ASS BITCH”.  “Cilantro does not and never will be a fixin’ in traditional southern dishes.”

But did she listen? Hell no! She just kept ramblin’.  I needed more than another glass of wine.  Some sippin’ whiskey would calm the nerves but I had let my cupboard go bare of the “good stuff”, so another glass of wine it was to be.

I knew right fast what my lot in life was to be. Teaching people the world over about southern foods.  Not a cuisine, but genuine southern foods. The history, the tales, and of course the right and proper way of fixin’ them, maybe even a picture or two.

What better time to start than now. Using a pad and pencil I started to write. Below are the beginnings of my journal, a diary of sorts.  Recipes and their history mixed with the ways of the southern cook and her kitchen.

First is the black-eyed peas, about 2 cups no exact science needed here. If you have a few more just throw them in with the others. Sort through the peas for tiny pebbles or a bit of dirt, rinse the peas carefully, and cover with water and allow to soak a right nice time, overnight will do it.

The next day, once the peas have soaked up a bit of the water receiving a good night’s sleep, place the peas in a large pot, a smoked ham hock, onion and bring to a boil. On the first boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ maybe 2 hours. Remove the ham hock and cut so as not to fill the mouth too full. Stir in 2 cups rice, return the ham and cook another 20 to 25 minutes. Now that it is done, season with a bit more salt and pepper if needed.

Now mind you there are some modern-day southern ways of making this wonderful dish. Cookin’ the rice separately is one, flavor with red pepper flakes will add a bit of warmth for that cold night. Why if company is comin’ you might chop up some green onions, spring onions I think some call them and sprinkle on top. Just to make it look like you had worked hard in the kitchen. And for the love of everything that is right “LEAVE THE DAMN CILANTRO OUT OF IT.”

Now for the next bit of irritation with the Brits, and their cooking shows please stop insulting the baked beans. Baked beans came to y’all as a gift from America. Enjoy the full body of these wonderfully slow-baked legumes, and for the love of Pete, stop putting them on toast. They are a side dish, not the main dish.

Oh, I do have my work cut out for me. I sorely do.

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Dumpling. A ball of dough, originally savoury and served as an accompaniment to meat or as a dessert…A simple, satisfying food, dumplings were boiled and served to extend small amounts of meat. Originally made by shaping small portions from a batch of bread dough before specific mixtures were developed using flour, cereals, pulses, stale bread, potatoes or cheese, sometimes with a raising agent added or enriched with fat in the form of suet, were developed. Local ingredients and method are used across Europe to make a variety of large or small dumplings, plain or flavoured with herbs, vegetables, spices or other ingredients…Dumplings are closely related to pasta. Italian gnocchi are good examples of small dumplings usually grouped with pasta and the spatzle of German and Austria, made from batter simmered until set in finger noodles, also hover between the two descriptions. Polish plain or filled dumplings are also very similar to gnocchi or filled pasta…The name dumpling is also used for Oriental specialties, such as the small filled dumplings of Chinese cookery, related more closely to pasta than European-style dumplings.” Larousse Gastronomique, Completely Revised, and Updated Clarkson Potter: New York 2002 (p. 437-8)

[48] Dumplings of the Pheasant [Isiia Plena] [Lightly roast choice] fresh pheasants [cut them into dice and mix these with a ] stiff forcemeat made of the fat and the trimmings of the pheasant, season with pepper, broth and reduced wine, shape into croquettes or spoon dumplings, and poach in hydrogarum [water seasoned with garum, or even plain salt water].

[49] Dumplings and Hydrogarym [Hydrogarata Isicia] Crush pepper, lovage and just a suspicion of pellitory, moisten with stock and well water, allow it to draw, place it in a saucepan, boil it down, and strain. Poach your little dumplings or forcemeat in this liquor and when they are done served in a dish for isicia, to be sipped at the table.”

[52] Plain Dumplings with Broth [Isicium Simplex] To 1 acetabulum of stock add 7 of water, a little green celery, a little spoonful of ground pepper, and boil this with the sausage meat of dumplings. If you intend taking this to move the bowels the sediment salts of hydrogarum have to be added.” Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, Apicius, edited and translated by Joseph Dommers Vehling [Dover: New York] 1977(p. 65-66)

Mushroom Dumplings:


  • 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 1 10.5-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup chicken stock


  1. Directions
  2. Sift the flour, salt, garlic powder and pepper into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Combine the butter into flour with your hands until well incorporated. Add the chives and the soup. Mix together well with your hands to form a soft dumpling dough. Drop the dumpling dough by the tablespoonfuls into the strained liquid with an additional 1 cup of chicken stock. Cook the dumplings for 8 to 10 minutes. 


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Cooking Measurements

1 teaspoon = 1/6 fl. ounce 1 Tablespoon = 1/2 fl. ounce 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
1 dessert spoon (UK) = 2.4 teaspoons 16 tablespoons = 1 cup 12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup
10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 2/3 cup 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup 6 tablespoons = 3/8 cup
5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon = 1/3 cup 4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup 2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 1/6 cup 1 tablespoon = 1/16 cup 2 cups = 1 pint
2 pints = 1 quart 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon 48 teaspoons = 1 cup
1 cup = 8 fluid ounces 2 cups= 1 pint 2 cups= 16 fluid ounces
1 quart = 2 pints 4 cups = 1 quart 4 cups = 32 fluid ounces
8 cups = 4 pints 8 cups = 1/2 gallon 8 cups = 64 fluid ounces
4 quarts =1 gallon 4 quarts = 128 fluid ounces 1 gallon (gal) = 4 quarts
16 ounces = 1 pound Pinch = Less than 1/8 teaspoon

F to C Degrees Conversion Chart

225F = 110C = Gas mark 1/4
250F = 120C = Gas mark 1/2
275F = 140C = Gas mark 1
300F = 150C = Gas mark 2
325F = 160C = Gas mark 3
350F = 180C = Gas mark 4
375F = 190C = Gas mark 5
400F = 200C = Gas mark 6
425F = 220C = Gas mark 7
450F = 230C = Gas mark 8
475F = 240C = Gas mark 9
500F = 260C
550F = 290C

Imperial to Metric
1/4 teaspoon = 1.25 ml 1/2 tsp = 2.5 ml 1 tsp = 5 ml
1 tablespoon = 15 ml 1/4 cup = 60 ml 1/3 cup = 75 ml
1/2 cup = 125 ml 2/3 cup = 150 ml 3/4 cup = 175 ml
1 cup = 250 ml 1 1/8 cups = 275 ml 1 1/4 cups = 300 ml
1 1/2 cups = 350 ml 1 2/3 cups = 400 ml 1 3/4 cups = 450 ml
2 cups = 500 ml 2 1/2 cups = 600 ml 3 cups = 750 ml
3 2/3 cups = 900 ml 4 cups = 1 liter

Weight Conversion
1/2 oz = 15g 1 oz = 25 g 2 oz = 50 g
3 oz = 75 g 4 oz = 100 g 6 oz = 175 g
7 oz = 200 g 8 oz = 250 g 9 oz = 275 g
10 oz = 300 g 12 oz = 350 g 1 lb = 500 g
1 1/2 = 750 g 2 lb = 1 kg

Bar Drink Measurements
1 dash = 6 drops
3 teaspoons = 1/2 ounce
1 pony = 1 ounce
1 jigger = 1 1/2 ounce
1 large jigger = 2 ounces
1 std. whiskey glass = 2 ounces
1 pint = 16 fluid ounces
1 fifth = 25.6 fluid ounces
1 quart = 32 fluid ounces

Cake Pan Size Conversions
20cm springform cake pan = 8 inch
20cm square cake pan = 8 inch
23cm springform cake pan = 9 inch
25cm springform cake pan = 10 inch


Part 2

More meaningless but useful pieces of information regarding cooking, the kitchen, weights and measures and of course manners.

If you have question concerning on any of the above subjects please feel free to comment and we will answer because we really are smart. 

Part 2

1. If you scorch milk by accident, put the pan in cold water and add a pinch of salt. It will take away the burned taste.

2. When boiling milk, first stir in a pinch of baking soda. This will help keep the milk from curdling.

3. Tasty flavored whipped cream: First whip cream then add 2 tablespoons of flavored jello and continue beating on slow until the whipped cream is right consistency.

4. Leftover ham: Lay ham slices in a baking dish then cover with maple syrup. Refrigerate overnight then fry the ham in butter the next morning.

5. Add a slice of lemon to peeled sweet potatoes while cooking. The lemon will help them clear and free of discoloration.

6. Fill a large hole or sugar shaker with flour and use that when needing to dust surfaces with flour or just pour out a tablespoon, as you need it, this is handy way to keep a bit of flour on hand instead of digging in the flour bin.

7. Use pastry wheel to cut rolled cookie dough in squares or diamonds, much less rolling and very pretty.

8. Rinse measuring cup in hot water before using syrup, oil, etc. Will pour out clean and not stick to cup.

9. Canned fruit is much better if opened and removed from the can an hour or two before using to restore the oxygen.

10. A wire cheese cutter is ideal for cutting chilled refrigerator cookie dough.

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Jo Dunlop

Jo Dunlop

Well, y’all coming from the mountains as I have, and loving fresh caught fish. Especially for breakfast, I just had to have Jo Dunlop into my kitchen. You see she started a project called Fish is the Dish and all they do is talk about fish and the various ways of fixing fish. You might say she has an obsession about fish.

After Fish is the Dish became successful Jo when on to found a website just for mummy’s and their families.  Jo having two little boys 3 years and one that will have his first birthday on 1 April, Olive won’t tolerate joking about that angels birthday.  Just sayin’ y’all.

Her new blog will thrill you with the antics of her oldest child, to her families’ favourite food. You might even catch a good deal on her product reviews.

So enjoy the interview and get to know her through her own words and blogs.  You can also follow her on twitter.

1. Earliest memory of your Mothers or Grandmothers kitchen.

My mom’s kitchen was always clean, she was always just concocting something from what she had left over, and she was very frugal. The very earliest memory was that Mom’s boyfriend at the time was asked if he could paint the kitchen, we went out and when we returned he had painted caricatures on the wall of us all, including the dog. We then painted over it in the kitchen paint but when it was a sunny day, you could always see the outline of the caricatures underneath, which as kids we always found hilarious

2. Do you like to cook?

Love it; it’s my favourite thing to do

3. If not why not?


4. What recipe of your mother or grandmother do you make that sends you back in time watching (whichever one) in the kitchen?

Macaroni cheese and weirdly just made that tonight, I can still smell my Granny’s house when I think about it.

5. What is your favourite herb or spice or both.

Chilli and oregano

6. If you could be a ghost in that kitchen and watch yourself as a small child, what would you tell that child today?

Watch, learn and write down as much as you can, once people are gone, so are their little quirky recipes!

7. Outside of your own country/county, which country’s cuisines do you like or prefer.

Italian and we eat it often, recently had master classes in my house by a visiting Italian

8.  What is your families favorite dish.

Hmm, that’s a hard one, probably spaghetti & ragu

9.  Would you mind sharing with my readers and quick and easy recipe that you make for your lil monsters?

Here’s a quick video they might like – this is a firm favourite and I did this for Fish is the dish 

10.   I have a old fashion pantry, larder to you brits… Do you recommend people start one and what would be the most important thing in that larder

Oh, I would love one of these; my old house had a really cold cupboard under the stairs that I had shelving put in. I recommend everyone has one and I’m presently working out how I get this in my new house! The most important thing in the larder is actually not a food stuff but order – you need to had it organised, if you can’t see what’s there you miss things and they go out of date or you go buy some new ones and then realise you already have them. See my pintrest board for more organising ideas.

11. Of all the kitchen gadgets invented OLD and NEW which OLD and NEW are you favourite. (One old and one new)

Old is my slow cooker, I use it a lot

 New is my mixer for baking, I love it

12.   If you could teach cooking to the high school level students today… what would be the most important and the least important thing to teach them?

How to choose fish and how to cook it. It is the easiest food in the world to prepare & COOK – the ultimate fast food and oh so healthy

13.   Having agreed to this interview are you afraid that the men and women of your family members might look at you a little different?

No not at all, they all know I’m food obsessed.

Thank You




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