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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