In observance of (now yesterday's) Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we're going to stretch our muscles and celebrate Harriet Tubman because technically she was doing it in a positive way. Am I wrong for saying that? It was human un-trafficking, right? Look, I wanted to bring awareness to the issue but it feels weird pairing a recipe with HT so this was my solution.
Harriet was an avid cook, herbalist, savior of many, a wartime nurse, and suffragist among other things. It's been said that her favorite trio to feed wartime soldiers was ginger bread, pie, and root beer. So here's my take on that! It's cornbread, the original root beer which'll cure what ails ya', and a pie I somewhat invented.
Harriet Tubman's Cornbread and Salted Pork
Recipe Adapted from “Our ‘Aunt Harriet’s’ Favorite Dish”, the Historical Cookbook of the American Negro
3-4 slices salt pork
1 cup of plain white flour
3 cups yellow cornmeal
1 heaping tb baking powder
pinch baking soda
enough sour milk to moisten ingredients
1 teaspoon salt
2 tb brown sugar
Parboil salt pork (this removes some of the salt), drain & pat dry.
Fry to a crisp and set the grease aside.
Mix dry ingredients and add in beaten eggs followed by enough milk to make a thick batter.
Cut up salt pork and add to batter, along with desired amount of pork grease (just under ¼ cup).
Pour into well greased pan or skillet and bake at 350° until bread shrinks from sides of pan and browns/cracks on top.
Serve hot buttered generously.
Originally a near cure-all for what ails ya' from boca to booty, this wonder decoction of flora's death grip to the cosmos' most infected spitball, modern root beer now requires a health warning label. A quickie:
Sassafras a blood purifier that gives it that signature taste that the rest of the world gags on.
Sarsaparilla not just the sissy drink in old westerns, but a renal purifier that does wonders for the skin both topically and orally.
Ginger is one of the oldest and most widely spread domesticated plant medicines that is the go-to for all things tummy related.
Licorice is a personal favorite, not only because of it's oddly sweet and spicy complexity that helps people break smoking habits, supports adrenal health, and can help balance female hormones, but also because whenever there's candy involve, everyone ditches the licorice flavored whatsobeit and they all come to me.
Dandelion Root is bitter (until roasted giving it a coffee flavor) and as a liver cleanser and aid in clearing up cold symptoms, it was carried on ships from Europe back in the day which how we formed our mortal enemy, the iconic weed.
JUST THE TIPS
Start with cold water. Tossing herbs straight into hot water may cause proteins in the herbs to seize, preventing the full release of their aromatic compounds and phytonutrients. Cold water eases this process.
Add the sassafras last. While most woody herbs need time to release their flavor, sassafras is deeply aromatic and its aroma dissipates quickly with prolonged cooking. So toss it into the pot toward the end of simmering for best flavor.
Switch up the sweetener. This root beer recipe uses unrefined cane sugar, but you can you can also try maple syrup, maple sugar, coconut sugar and honey. Just make sure you use a caloric sweetener so that the root beer ferments.
Add your starter only once the herbal mixture cools. If you add your starter to the hot herbal decoction, the heat will kill the wild bacteria and yeasts. So add the culture only when the decoction cools to room temperature.
Use flip-top bottles. Flip-top bottles effectively capture all the carbon dioxide that builds up during fermentation – which means a fizzy brew for you.
Pay attention to temperature in your kitchen. Homemade root beer will ferment faster in a warm kitchen, and more slowly in a cold one.
We're taking a probiotic route with this one. I've also added and optional, non-traditional anxiolytic root in the mix; Kava. If you can't find fresh kava or kava powder, an extract is fine.
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 2 days 45 mins
Servings: 8 servings (2 quarts)
10 cups water
3 tablespoons sarsaparilla root
1 tablespoon ginger root
1 tablespoon licorice root
2 teaspoons dandelion root
2 teaspoons birch bark
¼ cup sassafras root bark
¼ cup kava powder
¾ cup unrefined cane sugar
½ cup ginger bug (strained)
Fill a large stock pot with 10 cups water.
Immediately add the sarsaparilla, ginger, licorice, dandelion, birch, and star anise.
Bring to a boil with medium-high heat.
Turn down the heat to medium-low.
Simmer 30 minutes.
Toss in the sassafras bark.
Simmer 15 minutes more.
Turn off the heat.
Stir in the sweetener until dissolved. Next, allow the decoction to cool to room temperature – around 2 hours.
Strain decoction solids, composting the herbs. Mix in the ginger bug, and funnel into wire bail swing-top lid bottles leaving 1 to 2 inches of air in each bottle for the probiotic buddies to breathe.
Do nothing to the root beer as the bacteria and yeast go wild in warmish room temperature for about 2 days, more if you're wearing a sweater (if it's chilly out).
Ginger Bug. There's a recipe for a Ginger Bug here which is a simple 3 ingredient ferment to make healthier carbonated drinks. Any other fermented drinks will do. The usual suspects: kefir, kombucha, whey, forgotten glass of juice (kidding, but only kinda).
Not sugars. Syrups (natural, nothing with corn stuff), honey, moscabado, piloncillo. NO artificials.
MARACUYA CREAM PIE
Everyone has a pie recipe they love, so I'm not about to try to supplant that. However, my favorite pie that I sort of invented is this take on a lemon cream pie BUT with passionfruit instead. Don't have passionfruit growing wild near you? Look for something like this but not from Amazon...
Prep: 30 mins Cook: 10 mins Total: 40 mins Servings: 8 Yield: 1 - 9 inch pie
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups water
3 passion fruits, juiced and deseeded
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
4 egg whites
6 tablespoons white sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
To Make Lemon Filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in water, passionfruit juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot sugar mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell.
To Make Meringue: In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.