Bootleggers & Distillers a Short History: Revolutionary War to Prohibition

Stills, as in distillation contraptions and the art of home liquor-making came to America with the early settlers. The Scots, English, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans and Spanish all had a taste for alcohol, and with them they brought stills, expertise and generations of knowledge on how to ferment, brew and distill. One of the most beloved carry-on’s aboard ships sailing to the New World was yeast for the bread and beer and liquor and other eau de vie. The wild spores of America were untested by Europeans, so to be safe they scraped the lees and dregs from the bottoms of homeland vats and transported those strains abroad to be assured of some consistency in their alcohol. People carried on happily brewing and fermenting and distilling until war changed everything.

As a result of the Revolutionary War, the American government was overcome with debt. In an effort to generate revenue, it applied a federal alcohol tax to help manage the financial fray. Home distillers were furious. The Revolutionary War was fought, after all, to free Americans from being subject to British Imperialist taxation, so citizens were furious when the Distilled Spirits Tax of 1791 was created. Most Americans who had distilled continued doing so despite the taxation laws and refused to pay. As a result, the government sent forth tax collectors to obtain their share of the alcohol profits — tax collectors who were greeted with beatings, tarrings and featherings, and who subsequently trod lightly and forced collection halfheartedly. Distillers and farmers, many of whom were one and the same, remained furious, and in July 1794 the Whiskey Rebellion began. A militia force was sent by Alexander Hamilton to eradicate the rebellion, but, in reality, it served to drive distillers deeper underground.

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson repealed the whiskey excise tax and Americans were once again free to legally distill. From 1812 to 1817, the liquor tax was enacted to fund the War of 1812; post war, the tax was repealed. In 1861, burdened with debt from the Civil War, another liquor tax was imposed and has remained ever since. Making liquor (legal or not) was deeply ingrained in the culture of the American South, and for many people, it was the only means by which they had to make a living. The alcohol taxes applied post-Civil War were viewed by Southerners as an extension of Yankee tyranny. As such, local Southern politicians did little to enforce the laws on moonshiners.

Push ahead a few years to an experiment in piety also known as Prohibition. As it turns out, Prohibition was anything but dry — in fact, it’s where ‘shiners really revved up and made a name for themselves, profiting immensely from the low supply of legal alcohol. In the Southern United States, the number of moonshine stills quadrupled and illegal liquor production was at all-time high. To avoid the law, men modified their cars to outrun the police so they could transport moonshine to distribution points. Some of these drivers were the earliest stock car drivers who created NASCAR.

Source: The Airship

Culinary Fun Fact —> Eggnog

Eggnog Fun Fact —> While culinary historians debate its exact lineage, most agree eggnog originated from the early medieval Britain “posset,” a hot, milky, ale-like drink. By the 13th century, monks were known to drink a posset with eggs and figs. Milk, eggs, and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health.

#Eggnog #CulinaryHistory

Classic British Scones

A proper afternoon/high tea couldn’t exist without British style scones with jam and clotted cream.

3½ cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
7 tablespoons butter, chilled and diced
⅓ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk, plus extra for glazing
1 teaspoon lemon juice

To Serve
good-quality strawberry jam
clotted cream or whipped cream

Makes about 24

Preheat the oven to 425°F

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with the baking powder and salt. Add the butter. Start by using a palette knife to cut the butter into the flour, then switch to using your hands to gently rub the butter in. Do not overwork the mixture but lift the flour and butter up in your hands and gently press and roll it across your fingertips. When there are no visible pieces of butter remaining add the sugar and mix to combine.

Make a well in the middle of the mixture and add 1 of the egg yolks, the milk and lemon juice. Use the palette knife to cut the wet ingredients into the dry, then gently mix with your hands until almost combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Very gently knead until almost smooth. Pat or roll the dough to a thickness of 1¼ inches.

Dip the round cookie cutter in flour to prevent it sticking, then stamp out discs from the dough. Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet and set aside. Gather the off-cuts of dough into a ball, re-roll and stamp out more scones to make as many as possible.

Mix the remaining egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of milk and neatly brush the tops of the scones with the glaze.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 10 minutes until well-risen and golden brown.

Remove from the oven, cool on wire racks and serve on the day of making with jam and clotted cream.

Inspired by: Afternoon Tea at Home

Cucumber Sandwiches with Yuzu Citrus Chive Butter

10 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons yuzu juice
1-2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ large cucumber
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
8 slices white bread

Makes 24

Beat the butter until really soft and spreadable. Gradually add the yuzu , mix in and season with salt and black pepper. Add the chives and mix to combine.

Peel the cucumber and thinly slice into rounds. Place the slices into a bowl, add the cider vinegar and toss to coat.

Lay half of the bread slices out on the work surface and spread with half of the yuzu and chive butter.

Arrange the cucumber slices on top as neatly and evenly as possible and season with salt and pepper. Spread the remaining bread with the yuzu and chive butter and press on top of the cucumber-topped bread, butter-side down.

Gently press the sandwiches together and trim off the crusts using a serrated knife.

Cut the sandwiches into rectangles or triangles to serve.

Inspired by: Afternoon Tea at Home

Bluebell (hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Bluebell (hyacinthoides non-scripta)

A native woodland plant that is potentially as dangerous as the foxglove since it contains glycosides called scillarens, which are similar to the glycosides in foxgloves. Like the snowdrop, the bulb can be mistaken for onions and eaten. Theoretically, it lowers the pulse rate and causes nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting and larger doses could cause cardiac arrhythmias, hypotension and electrolyte imbalance similar to the effects of digoxin in overdose. Folklore tells us that by wearing a wreath made of bluebell flowers, the wearer would be compelled to speak only the truth; the chemical that makes the plant poisonous was used in alchemy.

Magical propensities for speaking the truth; preventing nightmares; love spells; easing mourning.

Sources: By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root

Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Saint John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum): This true midsummer flower is strongly influenced by the midday sun. The countless gold-yellow filaments burst out of the calyx like sun rays. They make the flowers, which open only during dry weather, look like tiny suns. The flower petals look as if they might be small airplane propellers and are reminiscent of swirling beams of light and of the light chakras. As a medicinal herb, this plant of the Sunflower family has a soothing effect on the nerves, brings light into the soul, and chases away the darkness.

For centuries, St. John’s wort served as a talisman against evil. At the same time, it was prized for its medicinal power, both helping heal wounds and ease psychological stress. In ancient Rome and Greece, the herb was used to treat inflammation of all kinds, and was even put to use in compounds used on serious battle wounds.

Warning: St. John’s wort may interfere with some prescription medicines. If you take prescription drugs of any kind, be sure to talk with a naturopath or a health care professional familiar with Natural Standard, the top resource for drug-herb interactions, to determine a safe level before taking remedies containing the herb.

Homemade Toasted Nut Butters

Peanut butter
550 g (1 lb 4 oz/4 cups) peanuts
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Almond butter
650 g (1 lb 7 oz/4 cups) almonds
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Cashew butter
625 g (1 lb 6 oz/4 cups) cashews
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Pistachio & macadamia butter
350 g (12 oz/2½ cups) pistachio nut kernels
230 g (8 oz/1½ cups) macadamia nuts
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF).

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread your chosen nuts on the baking tray, sprinkle with the salt and bake for 10–15 minutes, or until golden, shaking the tray occasionally to ensure they don’t burn.

Transfer the toasted nuts to a high-speed food processor and start blending. The blending time will depend on how smooth and creamy you like your nut butter, and how powerful your processor is. It can take up to 10–20 minutes to achieve a smooth nut butter, and you’ll need to stop and scrape down the sides of the processor bowl a few times, and to give the motor a rest. The nut butter is complete when it is smooth and creamy, with no nut pieces — unless you prefer a crunchy nut butter, in which case you can stop processing earlier.

Store your nut butter in a clean jar in the fridge. It will keep for up to 3 weeks.

Classical Sabayon

4 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp/65 g granulated sugar
1/3 cup/75 ml sweet fortified wine such as Marsala, Madeira, or port

Pour water to a depth of 1 to 2 in into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Rest a medium stainless-steel bowl in the pan over (not touching) the water. Put the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl and, using a whisk, begin beating together the yolks and sugar. After about 1 minute, add the wine and continue beating. As the bowl heats up, the yolks will begin to thicken. Beat vigorously, scraping around the bowl with a heat-resistant rubber spatula from time to time so that bits of yolk don’t get stuck and overcook. Beat until thick and frothy but not quite fluffy, about 8 to 10 minutes. It is ready when it forms a thick ribbon as it trails off the end of the whisk. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat for another 30 seconds or so to stabilize the sauce and let the bowl cool down. If possible, serve right away.

Lavender of Provence

Flowers bloom throughout the year in Provence, but none are more synonymous with the region than lavender, which turns acres of land purple. With more than 2,000 producers and roughly 25,000 people employed in the industry, working across 20,000 hectares, lavender is big business. You’ll want to visit between the last week of June and the beginning of August, just before the harvest begins, to see the flowers at their best.

Fresh Soy Milk Sheets (Nama Yuba)

2 cups soy milk, preferably rich (with a high soy-solid content) and freshly extracted
½ teaspoon wasabi paste
Soy sauce or Vegan Seasoned Soy Concentrate

Ideally, your stove top provides a low but steady source of cooking heat. Place a 7- or 8-inch shallow skillet or pan, preferably nonstick, over low heat for about 1 minute. Slowly pour the soy milk into the warm pan. It should be about ¼ inch deep. Adjust the heat to the lowest possible setting and allow the soy milk to heat undisturbed.

After several minutes, you will notice the surface of the soy milk beginning to thicken. At this point, the temperature of the soy milk will probably be 140°F. Using an uchiwa (Japanese fan) or a flat piece of cardboard (about 8 by 11 inches), gently fan the air above the pan to cause a drop in air temperature; this, in turn, will cool the surface of the warm soy milk. When the surface of the soy milk cools but the liquid beneath is still warm, wrinkles will form and the surface will thicken, making sheets of nama yuba.

Using a thick chopstick (or wooden knitting needle), scoop under and lift up the sheet and drape it across a small serving plate. Choose a dark or brightly colored plate for a dramatic presentation. Continue to fan, scoop, and lift sheets, arranging 2 or 3 of them slightly overlapping each other on each plate. You should be able to pull at least 8 sheets, and possibly 12 or more, from 2 cups soy milk. The sheets will be wrinkled, not smooth.

Set a small mound of the wasabi on, or near, the fresh yuba. Pour a small amount of soy sauce into individual dipping bowls. Each diner dissolves wasabi to taste in his or her soy sauce before grasping a yuba sheet, dipping it in the sauce, and enjoying.

Sources: Kansha