HOMEMADE BUTTER (the primitive way)

-1 pint heavy cream
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-Quart sized sealable jar

Pour cream into jar, not more than halfway full, and seal.  Shake vigorously for 10-15 minutes (or whip in a stand mixer) until the fat separates and butter is former. Remove butter, pressing out excess buttermilk and rinsing with ice water. Fold in salt, form into shape, and serve immediately (or later if you can stand the wait)

 

Next week, Episode 2 of the Anthrochef podcast, Gardeners of the Neolithic, will be released.  To learn more about the first villagers and settlers who planted the seeds of modern civilization, you will have to tune in on October 9.

But what I can tell you for now is that this is the era where we see the birth of domestic farm animals, and the beginning of human’s love affair with dairy.  Lactose tolerance is one of very few ways we are NOT identical to ancient humans.  Like most animals, humans used to drink breast milk as babies, then lost the ability to digest dairy as they get older.

But as people began putting pens around wild goats and cattle, and the first herding societies took off around 10,000 years ago, that all began to change.  Genes mutated, human evolution continued, and soon enough, many Neolithic people could drink milk into adulthood, and things would never be the same.

Soon enough, we will be taking on fermented milk (yogurt) and cheese, but today we’re going to keep things more basic, with a simple recipe for milk-fat, aka butter!

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Butter is just the solid fat of milk separated out.  It was very useful to ancient people because it could be stored long term, a great way to extend the life of very perishable milk. All you need to make it is a jar with a lid, ten minutes, and some muscles.

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ROASTED MARROW BONES

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Beef Femur bone (kept whole and split length wise, or cut in “rings” as shown here)
2-3  large garlic cloves
Olive oil and salt
Salad or Bread to eat with it (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Lay out marrow bones on foiled baking sheet, coating with olive oil and salt to taste. Peel and smash garlic cloves, rubbing them onto marrow and leaving in place for roasting.
Cook in the oven for 15-20 mins, until the marrow is bubbly not so long that it liquefies and falls out of the bone. Let cool 5 minutes, then scoop out and enjoy with bread or salad.

Today we’re talking bone marrow, our last pre-Neolithic inspired recipe for a while before we dive into bread, beer, cheese, and settled life.

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If you listened to the first episode of the Anthrochef podcast, you know that eating meat played a big role in growing the brains of our earliest ancestors.  Remember though, that we did not start out as hunters, but rather as scavengers.  DNA evidence shows that the earliest humans ate with the dogs and picked clean carcasses some other predator had already killed.

But most of the good meat was already gone by the time these upright apes could get to it. What was left besides a few meager scraps?

Bone marrow, the spongy, flexible interior of most animal bones.   Continue reading “ROASTED MARROW BONES”

STONE AGE STEAK TARTARE

6 oz. beef filet, diced very small
1 egg
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. walnuts
1/2 bunch scallion whites or wild onions
sprig of sage
2 tbsp. water

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Imagine you are someone else. Someone entirely different.  It’s the mid Pleistocene era, almost two million years ago, which means you are not even a homo sapien.  You are homo erectus, an upright, fairly intelligent human ancestor.  You are not the first in the hominid line to eat meat.  Homo Habilis, Homo Ergaster, and even earlier hominids before you were picking already dead carcasses something else had hunted clean and smashing bones to suck out the delicious marrow.

But you, homo erectus, are what we call the first persistent carnivore. You have stepped up your hunting game, and no longer need to scavenge off of bigger predators, meaning you can obtain enough meat to call it a regular part of your diet.

It’s possible you knew how to cook this meat. Anthropologists don’t agree if homo erectus were the first cooks or not.  Either way, you my friend, have been born too early to know the secrets of fire.  You are stuck with raw meat.

All your family and friends are good with just smashing and scarfing, but you feel unsatisfied.  There is something stirring inside you, a desire for flavor, and something novel to eat.  You don’t know this, but you have the inner being of the first chef!

We’re also missing a lot of ingredients to make a “classic”, modern version of steak tartare, namely pickles. But you are an ancient chef.  You are going to make something delicious out of this.  Let’s see what you can gather.

20170920_125410.jpg Continue reading “STONE AGE STEAK TARTARE”

HOF Episode 1: Human Ancestors and Prehistoric Foragers

What makes us human? Humans are just animals who know how to cook. This first episode attempts to explain what humans and our hominid ancestors have been eating for the 6 million years since we first came down from the trees, how taming fire and cooking gave us our big brains and human culture, up through the foraging days of homo sapiens hunting and gathering in the Paleolithic.

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Pleased to finally post the first episode of the AnthroChef Podcast, the History of Food!

 

Theme music by the incredible Michael Levy of Ancient Lyre. This rendition of the Hurian Hymn, the oldest known piece of sheet music, and the whole album “An Ancient Lyre” and much more is available from all major digital music stores and streaming sites.

AVAILABLE ON SOUDNCLOUD AND ITUNES.
Please leave a review to help spread the word!

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PINNACLE POINT PLATE (Hunter Gatherer Supper)

-Fish (1.5-2 lbs), gutted and opened up, skin on
-Root Vegetable (Eddo, Taro, Malanga most authentic, but carrots or potatoes are a nice modern version)
-Raw shellfish (clams and mussels pictured)
-2 tbsp sesame oil
-Insulator leaves (Beet leaves, carrot tops, Arugula, watercress, banana leaves, or anything edible!)’
-Herbs to stuff,  wild greens and sunflower seeds for garnish

1) Light a fire on the floor of an EARTH OVEN, keep burning for 1 hour. While burning, prepare the fish, season with salt, stuff with herbs, and close. Cut up veg into very thin slices, or 1 inch cubes, drizzle with sesame oil and salt liberally
2) Scoop out ash or move to one side. Lay down insulators with Fish, roots, and shellfish on top, plus one more layer of insulators. Cover the pit with plywood or cloth, and bury with soil.  Let cook for 4 hours.
3)In a bowl, mash up roots with more sesame oil and salt. Plate first, with greens nestled around, then gently place fish on top. Finish with herbs and sunflower seeds

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Not long after homo sapiens had only just evolved, when we had spread across Africa but had not yet left it, we almost went extinct.  The Ice Age descended into an even colder glacial period, and the deserts of our home continent expanded, and the savannahs which we had previously occupied to hunt and forage became arid, dry, and uninhabitable.  90% of all living humans died as a result of this climate change.

But not all of us. A relatively small amount survived by hunkering down near the coasts, eating shellfish and mollusks, such as oysters, clams, and mussels.  To harvest these foods en masse, you have to be relatively smart.  You have to know how the tides work and how they connect to the phases of the moon, in order to survive off shellfish successfully and not get killed doing it.  The reward was a fatty, calorie dense food which certainly helped hone our “people” skills and further brain development.  So it’s no surprise that the residents of Pinnacle Point, ancestors of all homo sapiens alive today, knew how to make advanced heat-treated tools, how to make paint and art, and most of interest to us, how to  cook with Earth Ovens

 

To supplement this diet, we gathered what we could, which was mainly carb rich roots, known as geophytes.  Humans had these hard, starchy, and hairy vegetables all to themselves, since they required digging sticks to access.   Continue reading “PINNACLE POINT PLATE (Hunter Gatherer Supper)”

FORAGER’S PESTO

 

1/4 cup seeds (pictured sesame seeds)
2 tbsp. nuts (pictures pine and walnuts)
2 tbsp. water
1 bunch wild onions (spring onions or scallions work fine)
1 bunch herbs leafy herbs (pictured carrot tops)

5 oz. greens (pictured Arugula)
1/4 cup ripe berries (pictured raspberries)

Before fire, before homo sapiens even, there was a primitive form of cooking that required no heat or fuel but that of the human body.

The oldest known mortar and pestle goes back almost 40,000 years ago, but we know mashing food goes back to some of our earliest human ancestors, who likely smashed bones to access their delicious marrow.  They turned what whole meat they could scavenge into something like steak tartare. This high calorie, high in protein meat played a big role in growing our brains closer to their modern size.

Human foragers of the past had a vast knowledge of plants, animals, and ecology that would put most of us “civilized” people to shame.  Modern foraging people studied by anthropologists are like nature encyclopedias for their territory.

“Wild” greens, onions, and berries from my territory

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NATUFIAN BARLEY BREAD

Sometimes eating authentically is not eating deliciously. At least not to our spoiled modern palates.

While still using modern milled flours, this recipe attempts to recreate something like ancient foragers in the Near East might have eaten.  The Natufians were the first society we know of to switch from foraging to intense cultivation, and it changed the world forever. They were still dependent on hunting and gathering, but also began guarding and storing plots of wheat and barley, and it changed them dramatically.

This was the beginning of civilization as we know it today… it’s also unleavened and not exactly palatable…

But to the Natufians  it was everything. Their new permanent villages had giant querns and grinding stones just for milling and shaping this hard to process cereal crop, and ritual houses for the necessary magic to make it work.  Here’s a recipe that might be something like what they threw in the ashes of their fires.

FAIR WARNING: This bread is dense and chewy!! Good for croutons or toast but… not much else.

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