Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

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Events: Three Martini Class

Monday, September 17th, 6:30 PM
Where:  Brooklyn Brainery, 515 Court St., Brooklyn, NY.
Tickets: $45, Get ‘em Here

‘I’m not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over ice cubes. I’m talking satin, fire and ice. Fred Astaire in a glass. Surgical cleanliness. Insight and comfort. Redemption and absolution. I’m talking a martini.” -Anonymous

In essence, that is what this class is all about. Looking at both vermouth and the martini we will track the interlocking history of both beverages in this three hour master class. We’ll start with a vermouth tasting, and talk about vermouth’s origins in 1,000 BC to the invention of the Martinez in the late 1800’s (the Martini’s predecessor).

In addition to history, we will discuss different grapes and botanicals used in vermouth, why that bottle of vermouth you’ve been holding onto for a year tastes horrible, and how Churchill drank his martinis.

Then, we’ll mix three different versions of the Martini.  You’ll learn the steps to make a perfect drink, sampling three different adaptations from three different eras.  Through a bit of tasting, you’ll see how the recipes have changed over time, and be able to adopt your own James Bond-like preferences.

Sign up here!

Events: TONIGHT! Chop Suey!

I’m demoing a turn-of-the century recipe for Chop Suey tonight, as well as talking about Chinese-American cuisine and the history of New York’s Chinatown.  It’s all FREE.  Come by tonight, or catch this talk on the Lower East Side November 3rd.

Chinatown and Chop Suey – in part with the NYPL’s Lunch Hour NYC
Thursday, September 13, 5:30 p.m.
Morningside Heights Library – Community Room
2900 Broadway, NY NY


Saturday, November 3, 10:30 AM
Seward Park Library
192 East Broadway, NY NY


Chinatown and its cuisine have always been a lunchtime favorite. In this talk, we’ll chat dim sum and tea houses, the Jewish connection to Chinese food, and the history of Chinatown as a cheap lunch destination.  Live demo (and tasting!) of a 19th century recipe for the “original” Chop Suey, featuring chicken livers and gizzards.

A Summer Vacation.

I’m traveling, researching, teaching and writing–and will be back to blogging by the end of the month.

In the meantime, I will be posting regularly on Tumblr here; and you can always keep up with me on Twitter and Facebook.

MSG is Tuesday! And It’s All About Jell-O!

Jell-o Poke Cake!

And agar agar. And isinglass. And molecular gastronomy. And Peter Cooper.  And I’m making Poke Cake!

Full details below.  And if you don’t live in New York City, look out for our podcast of the event in July.

Masters of Social Gastronomy: Gelatin!
Tuesday, June 26th, 7pm
Public Assembly, 70 North 6th Street, Williamsburg
FREE! Free samples! Drink Specials! RSVP HERE


Masters of Social Gastronomy (MSG) is a monthly lecture series all about the history and science behind some of your favorite, or not so favorite, foods. This month: gelatinous edibles of all sorts.

Sarah will discuss the origins of gelatinous desserts, starting long ago when jiggly delights were made with drippings from beef stew or extracts from the swimbladders of sturgeon. Then we’ll take on that modern wonder: Jell-O, exploring the greatest atrocities and wildest successes of the 20th century Jell-O mold, while figuring our why recipes for meat in lime Jell-O exist. From 19th-century “Punch Jelly,” to 20th-century “Jell-O Sea Dream with Shrimps” you will see gelatin both beautiful and horrible.

Meanwhile, Soma will untangle the science of gelatin and its kin, introducing a few lesser-known relatives along the way. How’d we get the wiggle in those jigglers? Find out where killer bacteria and Jell-O meet on the other side, and dive into the amazing world of edible dishware. Stretch the boundaries of reality through an introduction to counterfeit Chinese eggs and the fancy-pants world of molecular gastronomy.

As if that’s not enough, we’ll be joined by Michelle Zatta and Nadia Siddiqui, co-directors of the Jell-O Mold Design Competition, who will present the good, the bad, and the ugly of gelatin design, including tips on how to create a successful Jell-O mold.

RSVP HERE so we know how many free samples to bring!

Menus: Fannie Farmer’s Full Course Dinner

One of the most emblematic cookbooks in American history is Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking-School Cookbook.  Called “The Mother of Level Measurements,” Farmer is both credited with bringing standardization to American recipes but, as a result, destroying the soul of American cuisine.

Her cookbooks were promoted as practical and economical: a kitchen guidebook for the everyday women.  But it also included simplified recipes for high-end dishes that allowed any housewife to produce them in her own kitchen.

Interestingly, in the back of the book, she includes a menu for a “Full Course Dinner”: twelve courses designed for the most upscale dinner party.   This menu is republished below.  It would be a hellavu party.

First Course

Little Neck Clams or Bluepoints with brown bread sandwiches. Sometimes canapes are used in place of either. For a gentleman’s dinner, canape’s accompanied with Sherry wine are frequently served before guests enter the dining room.

Second Course

Clear soup with bread sticks, small rolls or crisp crackers. Where two soups are served, one may be a cream soup. Cream soups are served with croutons. Radishes, celery or olives are passed after the soup. Salted almonds may be passed between any of the courses.

Third Course

Bouchees or rissoles. The filling to be of light meat.

Fourth Course

Fish baked, boiled or fried. Cole slaw dressed cucumbers or tomatoes accompany this course; with fried fish potatoes are often served.

Fifth Course

Roast saddle of venison or mutton, spring lamb, or fillet of beef potatoes and one other vegetable.

Sixth Course

Entree made of light meat or fish.

Seventh Course

A vegetable. Mushrooms, cauliflower, asparagus or artichokes are served.

Eighth Course

Punch or cheese course. Punch when served always precedes the game course.

Ninth Course

Game with vegetable salad, usually lettuce or celery; or cheese sticks may be served with the salad and game omitted.

Tenth Course

Dessert, usually cold.

Eleventh Course

Frozen dessert and fancy cakes. Bonbons are passed after this course.

Twelfth Course

Cracker, cheese and cafe noir. Cafe noir is frequently served in the drawing and smoking rooms after the dinner.  After serving cafe noir in drawing room, pass pony of brandy for men, sweet liquenr (Chartrense, Benedictine ,or Parfait d Amour) for women, then Creme de Menthe for all.

Why do we Write Recipes?

Recently, a friend asked me my opinion on why we write recipes::

I came across an article on a friends blog today (read the article here) and it made me curious.  She’s first generation chinese and says her family (and the chinese in general) don’t really use recipes.  I’ve found the same thing with my bubbe.  It’s pretty maddening, we’ve been trying to record her “recipes” for posterity for years to no avail…Curious if you think “recipes” are a more anglo-european thing???

I think it’s generational. The “bubbe” and the Chinese grandmother in question were both immigrants.  They grew up in a pre-industrial environment where the family group lived in close proximity to each other.  Children learned to cook at the side of their mothers or grandmothers.  There was no need for recipes, because the techniques were shown and passed down through oral tradition.

That would change as families split to move across oceans, or even from the countryside to the city.  Cook books became popular because America industrialized (starting in the mid-19thc), which means newlyweds were moving to the city to get jobs, which removed brides from the sides of their mothers.  So suddenly women couldn’t learn cooking from their mothers or grandmothers, and needed a resource they could take with them: written recipes.

So I think it has less to do with anglo vs jewish or chinese, but perhaps industrialized worlds vs. pre-industrial.  And perhaps the answer to trying to transcribe our grandmother’s recipes–which people ask me about all the time–isn’t trying to write them down for quick reference, but taking the time to cook beside our grandmothers everyday and learn their recipes through making it again and again.

What do you think?



Going Raw: Thursday


Sliced Banana with Thick Cream; Pecans; Protoid Nuts; Dates; Egg-nog

Woo-hoo, we’re in the home stretch.  Only three more days!


Oranges; Pecans; Cold Slaw; Persian Prunes with Thick Cream; Unfired Crackers; Combination cereal; Dates; fig butter; protoid nuts; milk
I couldn’t figure out what “combination cereal” was–I assume a mix of different grains–but I decided I didn’t need it.  “Fig butter” is mooshed fresh figs, which sounds good to me, but figs are out of season.
I had a meeting at the Moore St. Market in Brooklyn, one of a series of markets built by Mayor Lagaurdia in the 1930s.  80 years ago, it served a largely Jewish population; today, the same neighborhood is Dominican and Puerto Rican.  I joined my friend at Ramonita’s lunch counter, a popular Dominican restaurant, just as she was served a plate towering with mofongo, a dish made of mashed plantains and crispy pork skins.  I took one look at it and said “That is the first thing I’ve seen this week that I’m sad I’m not eating,” and took out my bag of prunes to munch on.


I again threw the normal dinner menu to the wind and went out to eat, this time with greater success than last night.  I joined a group of friends at Caravan of Dreams, a vegetarian/vegan/raw restaurant in the East Village.  Amongst those who joined me was Jeffery, who is always a vegan, and Kat, who also went raw this week in a show of solidarity.

I certainly had more choices at this restaurant than at any other time this week.  The table ordered two “live” appetizers, and I learned that “live” is just a more appealing word for “raw.”  We got guacamole and salsa, which had big slices of cherry tomatoes and leaves of fresh herbs; and almond hummus with “chia chips,” some sort of seed that has been pressed into chip form and dried again.  The appetizers were incredibly flavorful and my favorite part of the meal.

For my entree, I got a open-faced chili “burger,” a mash-up of some things…grains, or something, I don’t know, put back into burger shape and served on a chia cracker.  The sauces and sides that accompanied it were all very good, and the burger was especially flavorful.  It bursted with hot and spicy peppers, as well as more subtly, warm spice notes.  But there were textural issues: the burger was squishy and the cracker was crispy and it was impossible to eat without both exploding everywhere.

Dessert was thick slab of  “cocoa fudge.” I don’t know what it actually was made of, but it had the taste and texture of a powerbar.  I blame myself–I have a general prohibition on foods that masquerade as other foods.  Everything I’ve eaten this week has been in its natural form and I have enjoyed it for that reason.  But as soon as food is processed into something it shouldn’t be–whether that be a chia chip, raw burger, or an unfortunate slab of cocoa fudge–the expectations of what it pretends to be outweigh what is actually is.  It’s never as good as you want it to be, but a mere substitution instead.



On a Brief Sabbatical.

Hello all!  I just moved to a beautiful new apartment in Sunnyside, Queens.  I’m not going to have internet access for a little while, so the blog will be on break for the next week.

See you soon!

Events: Historic Diets and Pre-Industrial Dinner

UPDATE:  the Nat Hist Museum has a post up on their blog about the Diet Talk (see below).  It’s full of all kinds of fun information that I’ll be talking about.  Check it out here.

Reducing Recipes: American Weight-Loss Trends
Where: The American Museum of Natural History, 200 Central Park West, New York, NY
When: Tuesday, January 24th 6:30 pm
Cost: $30 Buy Tickets Here.



What New Year’s resolution did you make this year?  Millions of Americans will promise to shed a couple pounds in 2012; but when Americans start worrying about their waistlines to begin with?  How did we count calories before we knew a calorie existed?  How did faddish diets in the past change the way Americans ate forever?

Join Historic Gastronomist Sarah Lohman, author of the blog Four Pounds Flour, for a look at how Americans traditionally cleansed themselves of a few extra pounds.  From William Banting’s “Letter on Corpulance,” to “Fletcherizing” with John Harvey Kellogg, we’ll explore “reducing” in all its forms, as well as taste some of the best (and worst) foods historic diet trends have to offer.   This program will be a 90 minute talk including a tasting of four different diet dishes. Buy tickets here.


 Pre-Industrial Dinner
Where: The Farm on Adderly,
Wednesday, January 25th, 2012  7:30 PM
Cost: $69 / person (beverages, tax & gratuity not included)
To sign-up, send an e-mail


Step back in time with us and imagine Brooklyn in the mid-1800s.   Farms flourished and Flatbush bustled as workers harvested crops in the neighborhoods we now call home.  Join us at The Farm on Adderley for a meal inspired by the food eaten by the people who lived and worked on farms in the area.  Refrigeration wasn’t yet available, so preservation techniques were the key to ensure food could be enjoyed all-year long.  Chef Tom Kearney is creating a four-course meal showcasing these practices and techniques. Our guest for the evening is ‘historic gastronomist’ Sarah Lohman, who will provide a historical context for the food we’re eating and how Brooklyn – and specifically Flatbush – fit into the larger network of farms and food distribution in New York in the 1800s.

Social Media Explosion

Just to let you know, I’m now keeping a TUMBLR here with short posts, quotes, and snapshots.

You can also like Four Pounds Flour on FACEBOOK here to keep up to date with all the goings on.

And, you can sign up for the MAILING LIST here for direct-to-your inbox info on upcoming events and big announcements.