American as Apple Pie? Not So Fast

Apple Pie_CookinGenie

12 Mar 2021

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American as Apple Pie? Not So Fast

There are certain things that just evoke America 

 – Baseball. 

– Uncle Sam.  

– Corn fields.  

– Apple pie.  

 

But what if we told you one of these iconic symbols doesn’t really belong on the list? 

 Turns out there’s nothing all that American about apple pie. In fact, neither apples or pie originated in North America: the ancient Egyptians get the credit for creating pie, and modern apples originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan, then spread along the Silk Roads from Central Asia to Europe 

While early pies were made with meatEmily Upton, writing for Today I Found Out, reports that the first recorded apple pie recipe was from England way back in 1381. These early recipes bear little resemblance to the apple pies we know today—they rarely called for sugar (which was an expensive, luxury ingredient at that time) and came served in a pastry that went by the rather unappetizing name of “coffin.” This “coffin” was not meant to be eaten; it was really just a container to hold the filling, sort of the Middle Ages version of a paper plate. The first apple pie recipe that resembles the pie we know and loves today, with a sweetened filling and a lattice top, appeared in a 1514 Dutch cookbook. 

So how did apple pie—which is so deeply rooted in Europe—become synonymous with America? European-style apple trees arrived on American shores with the Jamestown colonists, who brought seeds and cuttings to plant in the New World. (And here’s a fun fact from What’s Cooking America: In Colonial times, apples were sometimes called winter bananas.) As colonists pushed westward, they brought apples with them. Upton credits Johnny Appleseed with cementing the apple as part of American folklore, as he roamed the frontier planting acres upon acres of apple orchards. By the 19th century, American farmers had planted and cross-pollinated trees to develop an astounding 14,000 different varieties of apples. And of course, many of those varieties were perfect for making pie. 

(Also ReadA Whirlwind Tour of US Barbecue)

Nearly as intriguing as the history of the apple in America is the history of the phrase “as American as apple pie. Upton cites a newspaper article in 1902 that said “no pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished” and a 1924 ad in the Gettysburg Times selling “New Lestz Suits that are as American as apple pie.” The phrase became such a part of the American fabric that by World War II, soldiers told journalists that they were fighting for “mom and apple pie.” 

Apple pie may have become a symbol of all that’s good about Americans, but there is a dessert that’s actually a better candidate for the title. While it might not have the same ring, a more apt phrase might be “As American as a blueberry cobbler.” Unlike the apple, blueberries—along with black cherries, strawberries, cranberries, and elderberries—are native to North America, and cobblers are a uniquely American creation. These fruit and pastry desserts, along with regional variations with such colorful names as Bettys, pandowdies, grunts, slumps, buckles, sonkers, crumbles, and crisps were created by early American settlers who turned to the simple ingredients they had on hand to create satisfying desserts. Nevertheless, it’s apple pie that became the apple of Americans’ eyes. 

At CookinGenie, we’ve recently added fresh homemade desserts to our menu and naturally, our choices include an all-American apple pie. Genie Brande Colson folds tart green apples and warm spices into a flaky, golden, homemade crust. She can even make a gluten-free variety. Cap off your next CookinGenie visit with a slice of this wholesome, rustic goodness—we can’t think of a better way to end a home-cooked meal. 


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You already have a lot on your plate – juggling kids sports, school events, professional schedules, groceries, shopping, and kids’ homework.Exhausting? We think so. Add an early morning or a late evening meeting (OK, make that a corporate firefight) at work & all of a sudden, putting breakfast or dinner on the family table can become a daunting challenge. Both your work and family require your attention and time. It can be very hard to make great choices towards eating fresh & healthy. Busy parents can hardly take out time to cook fresh and healthy food. To make matters worse, with all your kids’ activities, you might not have any free time over the weekend as well – travel soccer, or baseball leagues? A trip to the pool? A birthday party? Play dates? You navigate those successfully. You remember to grab the birthday present sitting on your kitchen countertop. You find the right soccer jerseys (unlike me). And then, its dinner time & cooking is the last thing on your mind. No wonder, you struggle with finding fresh, healthy food.

According to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics, one in three American children eats unhealthy food daily. This reason is why many American children suffer from diseases associated with malnutrition and obesity. Unhealthy eating or fast food has become a new diet trend. Moreover, wrong food choices bring with them additives, dyes, saturated fats, and preservatives. Those bring more health issues in the long term.

So, how can you overcome this hurdle? Surely, you don’t have the time to

  • grab fresh ingredients from groceries
  • prepare the ingredients, marination etc
  • cook & clean up

And all you have to do is enjoy your food freshly cooked in your kitchen. What if there was someone who could do all that for you? I must be dreaming you say? But what if……….

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26 Oct 2019

So many people fight the traffic and come home from work tired and hungry. You want to feed your family well but the idea of chopping and prepping a real meal for your family is daunting. Add hungry kids to the formula and it’s a bigger challenge. Decision time. Few, if any, good options.

Restaurants on a weeknight? Pack the family in the minivan, wait for your table with hungry tired kids. Then you’re presented with a menu & it’s hard to stick to healthy options. You leave after eating foods you’d be better off avoiding, and likely paid more than you planned on spending. The evening is done & that homework still needs done. Or else, a green slip is headed your way from the teacher.

You could opt for home delivery like pizza, which is always a crowd pleaser. But you can’t feed your family pizza 4 times a week. Now there are options like Uber Eats, Doordash or GrubHub to help. Those help fill a gap on a busy night but it’s far from a long term solution. You’re going to blow your budget on delivery fees and once again your feeding your family less than healthy options.

Prepared meals are the go-to for a lot of busy folks. Many grocery stores offer meal kits or premade options. Although they are slightly healthier than pizza, you’re likely to get burnt out quickly on the limited menu options week after week. Most stores offer 3-5 options for this, and even if they are healthy and budget friendly and easy to cook, you’re going to find yourself dying for a little variety on your plate.

Of course, there are meal kit delivery choices. This eliminates some work, with less grocery shopping and expanded menu choices. But they tend to be light on the leftovers and they don’t really free up your time. The menu might be decided, but you’re still the one chopping and cooking after a long day of work. Not to mention the pile of dishes waiting for you after dinner. They also don’t eliminate grocery shopping all together. You’re still going to be heading to the store every few days for staples like milk and fruit. And those subscriptions don’t manage themselves make sure to set an alarm on your phone to set your menu every week, and don’t forget about when the auto withdraw comes out of your bank account.

Cooked & frozen meal delivery services are an option. But even though you might be ordering your food based on beautifully plated pictures on a website, what you receive is going to look more like something from a cafeteria. Of course, it’s still chef prepared and that alone might be a big step up if you aren’t yourself a culinary master. Just don’t forget to budget for delivery fees here too. And the meals are shipped from afar in bulky boxes. Who knows when they were cooked?

Grocery delivery services like insta cart are good way to keep your fridge stocked with all the healthy options you want to have on hand. But they can’t give you the motivation to cook at the end of a long day.

Give our Genies a try. Schedule an in home cooking session with them. They will shop, cook & clean up after themselves. You are left to enjoy fresh home cooked meals – except you don’t have to do the cooking.

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Understanding USDA Beef Grades_CookinGenie_blog

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When you walk through the meat section at the grocery store, you will often find steaks labeled with a small shield in the right-hand corner, denoting a USDA grade and claiming the steak as prime, choice, or select. But what do these grades really mean? And how should they impact your decisions on what steak to buy, or not to buy?

The first thing to understand is that the USDA has two main objectives when looking at beef: inspection and grading. Inspection is required of all meats that are shipped across state lines, as mandated by the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. Inspection is a safety measure; it does not guarantee quality but simply ensures that the meat is safe for human consumption.

Grading, however, is different. A grade is an assurance of quality you can trust. Within 24 hours of the animal being slaughtered, expert USDA graders examine the meat and assign a grade on the basis of age, color, texture, firmness, and marbling.

Of these grading criteria, marbling, which is the intramuscular fat inside a piece of meat, is the easiest to identify—it’s the white lines that run through a piece of raw steak. Marbling equals tenderness and juiciness. As the steak cooks, the fat melts and makes the steak moist and tender. The more marbling, the higher quality the steak.

With all these criteria in mind, the USDA has eight grades it applies to beef: Prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter, and canner. The higher the grade, the more expensive the steak.

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Prime is the highest grade, this meat comes from younger animals, is rich in marbling, juicy, tender, and flavorful. But it is also expensive and can be hard to find.

Choice meat is of excellent quality, with solid marbling and flavor, it offers great value and is readily available. Choice steaks are good candidates for grilling, roasting, or searing.

Select meat is of solid quality and is very economical. Since select meats are a little tougher and drier, they are well suited for moist cooking techniques like stewing and braising.

Standard meat is cheap, tough, and of low quality. Sometimes you will see it as an ungraded store brand meat but typically it’s sold as ground meat or other processed products.

Utility, cutter, and canner meats are rarely ever used in foodservice and are typically used to make pet food and other canned products.

It’s also important to note that grading, unlike inspection, is voluntary and not required by law. So, if you go to a local butcher or farmer, their steak may not be graded, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s low quality. When shopping for these steaks, the easiest way to determine quality is to look for marbling.

Here at CookinGenie, we offer a wide range of delicious, creative steak dishes and strive to use butcher-fresh meat graded choice or better. Beneath every dish on the website, you will find a transparent list of ingredients so that you know it is quality you can trust. Browse the menu today to see what amazing steak-night dishes can be prepared in your own kitchen.

Sources: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2013/01/28/whats-your-beef-prime-choice-or-select?page=1

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