The USS Sprinkles: Damn The Hot Fudge Torpedos!

The good folks at Task & Purpose bring us this great moment in US Navy gastronomic history:

On July 1, 1914, the U.S. Navy implemented the cruelest and most unusual punishment in its venerable history: a ban on alcohol.

Under General Order 99, drinking “alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any navy yard or station,” became prohibited, with commanding officers “held directly responsible for the enforcement of this order,” according to a U.S. Naval Institute reflection on the 100th anniversary of the ban in 2014. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels delivered the order; described as a “teetotaler,” Daniels was ridiculed in the press for the decision for years, only for the U.S. to constitutionally establish national Prohibition just six years later.

The Navy’s Prohibition pregame is memorable not just for its ridiculousness but also for giving American sailors (and eventually everyone else) an insatiable appetite for ice cream. Sure, ice cream’s been an American tradition since George Washington spent $200 on the treat in a single summer, but Prohibition created national cravings that persisted across military and civilian worlds even after alcohol was legalized again in 1933. If there’s nothing as American as apple pie, that apple pie tastes a billion times more patriotic with a scoop of ice cream.

Don’t forget the sprinkles!

With the ban on alcohol aboard ships in 1914, the US Navy sought to offset the loss of alcohol at sea and found that ice cream was popular among the sailors. It was so popular that the Navy borrowed a refrigerated concrete barge from the Army Transportation Corps in 1945 to serve as a floating ice cream parlor. At a cost of $1 million, the barge was towed around the Pacific to provide ice cream to ships smaller than a destroyer that lacked ice cream making facilities. The Navy proudly announced that the vessel could manufacture 10 gallons of ice cream every seven minutes and had storage capacity of 2000 gallons.

Back to Task & Purpose for a second scoop:

To that end, the Navy in 1945 borrowed a concrete barge from the Army Transportation Corps that, retrofitted with heavy-duty refrigeration units, functioned as a floating ice cream parlor for smaller vessels in the Pacific Ocean. Officially called a “BRL” (Barge, Refrigerated, Large, which sounds like a bureaucracy’s take on a Bond martini), the Navy’s beloved “ice cream ship” was basically a 265-foot-long ice cream factory, capable of churning out 500 gallons of the sweet stuff a day (USNI pegs output at 10 gallons every 7 minutes) and  stashing another 500 in its cavernous freezers — on top of some 1,500 tons of meat and 500 tons of vegetables.

The BRL wasn’t even the wackiest ice cream scheme that service members devised during those years at war. “By 1943, American heavy-bomber crews figured out they could make ice cream over enemy territory by strapping buckets of mix to the rear gunner’s compartment before missions,” writes Siegel. “By the time they landed, the custard would have frozen at altitude and been churned smooth by engine vibrations and turbulence—if not machine-gun fire and midair explosions. Soldiers on the ground reportedmixing snow and melted chocolate bars in helmets to improvise a chocolate sorbet.”

I’ll take a chocolate dipped soft serve swirl in a waffle cone with sprinkles please!

Stay frosty!


A Saturday Night Snack: Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

Now we know why all the rum is gone…

Anyhow, TaMara is unavailable and asked if I’d fill in as the emergency backup food goddess. So I’ve gotten out the frilly apron, shined up the tiara, put on the oven mitts (which make it very hard to type), and we’re underway!

Yesterday I made a bananas foster bread pudding so I had just thing ready to go when called back to active duty.

Here’s a slice all set up for enjoyment served with salted caramel ice cream.


2 loaves of challah sliced regular

6 eggs

32 ounces of heavy whipping cream

1 cup of milk

2 cups of dark brown sugar

8 bananas

3 sticks of unsalted butter

Vanilla extract to taste

Rum to taste (or, if you prefer and don’t get hung up on tradition, bourbon) – the alcohol is optional if you want, prefer, and/or need to make a non-alcoholic version. I use a dark rum, but use whichever you prefer.

Directions: Bread Pudding

Let the challah sit a couple of days so it is just beginning to dry out and go stale. Then chop the challah into cubes and place in a very, very large mixing bowl. Combine the eggs, 1/2 the cream (16 ounces), the milk, 1/2 the sugar (1 cup), and vanilla extract to taste in a mixing bowl. Whisk until  everything is combined into a custard. Pour the custard over the cubed challah and mix it around to make sure all the bread is soaking up the custard. Set aside.

Directions: Bananas Foster

Peel and slice the bananas. In a large saute pan melt the three sticks of butter. Add the sliced bananas and allow them to begin to naturally caramelize in the butter. Once this happens add vanilla extract to taste and the remaining brown sugar (1 cup). Cook everything down until everything is well combined and a caramel is beginning to form. If adding alcohol, add the rum (or bourbon) to taste and continue to cook until the alcohol cooks off. Add the remaining cream (16 ounces), combining everything well, and then allow to cook down without breaking the caramel for several minutes. So this has to be watched, you can’t just walk away while it simmers.

One note: in a traditional Bananas Foster, as far as I know, you do not add cream to the caramel/rum sauce. I do it here because I want a slightly richer mouthfeel as I add it as a second custard to the bread pudding mix.

Here’s the Bananas Foster simmering away:

Directions: Banana Foster Bread Pudding

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a 1/2 hotel pan or equivalent pyrex or aluminum foil pan and spray it with your preferred cooking spray or butter it to prevent sticking. Pour the bread pudding mix into the pan. Then pour the Bananas Foster over the bread pudding and mix to incorporate well. Cover the top of the baking pan with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil. Don’t worry the plastic wrap won’t melt – it’s there to keep the bread pudding from drying out when baked.

Here’s what it looks like before it is wrapped and put in the oven:

Bake the bread pudding for an hour, then remove from the oven and cool. This is what it looks like after it has baked:

To Serve

The bread pudding can be served hot, warm, or cold. With ice cream, whipped cream, ice cream and whipped cream, or with more Bananas Foster spooned over the top. Or just plain.

As the base bread pudding recipe – the custard and bread mixture – is essentially a French toast/pan perdu, albeit diced up, a great way to serve it is to slice a couple of pieces and reheat them in a skillet in some melted butter as bread pudding French toast.

If you don’t like Bananas Foster, or bananas, or anyone named Foster (he knows what he did…), then you can skip that step completely. Or you can substitute a chocolate ganache for the bananas foster and make a chocolate swirl bread pudding. Or a caramel ganache. Or leave out the alcohol and substitute apples for the bananas and a make a caramel apple bread pudding. How you flavor the bread pudding is limited only by your imagination. And, perhaps, notions of decency and good taste…

And, obligatory:

Open thread!

Saturday Afternoon Open Thread

Remember when I made a Shrek birthday cake upon request for a family member a while back? A Puss in Boots (from Shrek 2) cake has been requested by another family member. I’m baking that cake now.

It’s going to be harder to get the decoration on this one right, I think. The future recipient specifically wanted it to depict the scene where Puss is all pathetic with the huge eyes.

Anyhoo, I’ll share pics later, nail it or nah. Open thread!

Summer Menus: July Week Three

JeffreyW’s yummy zucchini and summer squash

A bit delayed this weekend. No real excuse, except life, as usual, was a little hectic. Today I went for my first ride in at least a year. Had to test out my bike after the crew that was here to replace my furnace and add energy upgrades, also fixed my bike. Loved those guys.

When I got home, I was startled to find a hawk sitting peacefully in my driveway, awaiting my return. I believe he was a young Cooper’s hawk.

For this week, we are raiding the garden –  Zucchini and Summer Squash Saute featured along with a Family BLT on Monday.

One of JeffreyW’s many BLT photos. Now I’m hungry.

You can find all the menus and recipes here: July Menus Week Three

At least someone has fresh tomatoes…mine are a long way from JeffreyW’s crop.

Click here for the PDF of the shopping lists, July Week Three Shopping List. Reminder that they are color-coordinated and you can easily cross out ingredients you won’t be using.

Technically this is my BBQ pulled pork sandwich, but you get the idea.

Friday’s menu features Slowcooker Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, perfect for those hot mid-summer days when you don’t even want to fire up the grill.

I’ll be out of town next weekend, so next’s recipes could be delayed. I’m a little nervous – first time with the new pet sitter. She seems great and has had Great Danes herself. But I never know if Bixby is going to be a big lovebug or decide to throw his weight around. And fingers crossed Bailey doesn’t decide to eat any more furniture. Crazy dogs.

What’s on your menu this week? What’s your favorite summer garden food? Mine is corn on the cob. Someone asked in one of the recipe threads how best to cook on the grill. I like to peel down the husks, wash off the silks and then pull the husks back up and grill the wet corn. The steam helps it cook quicker. If you desire a little char  on the corn, once it’s done cooking, pull the husks off and grill for a minute or two more, turning often until desired char is achieved.

Open thread!

Sunday Gravy (Open Thread)

Sauce is always better the next day, so I made tomorrow’s gravy today:

It’s made with 4 28-oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes, half a can of tomato paste, 2 cups of tomato juice, 5 cloves of garlic, 6 basil leaves, a pinch or two of red pepper flakes, some crushed fennel seed, a few glugs of red wine, 4 boneless spare ribs, a pound of beef short ribs and 20 meatballs.

The secret, IMO, is browning all the meat first before adding it to the sauce. It’s pretty good, if I say so myself. I married into a family with Italian-Americans on one side, and I do not have to be ashamed in their mighty company.

That’s about all I’ve done today. You?

Summer Menu: June Week Three

All this week’s photos are from JeffreyW’s library

This week, at the bottom of the menus is a list of substitutions and ideas, save that for future weeks.

As we finish up June, there are more grilling recipes and a couple of quick and simple meals for those busy days when being in the kitchen needs to be kept to the minimum.

Here are June’s menus and recipes: June Week Four Menu (click for printable PDF)

Monday features Chicken Carbonara.  Along with a Sautéed Mushroom Salad

Thursday, Toasted Tuna Sandwiches are paired with a tasty chilled Wild Rice Salad, that can be prepared ahead of time for an easy dinner.

And Friday’s Kid Friendly recipes include Quesadillas and a sweet summer salad.

Click here for the shopping lists: June Week Four Shopping List. Remember they are color coordinated to the menus, so easy to eliminate any ingredients when you skip a recipe. (You skipped a recipe?!? :-) )

What’s on your menu this week? Let me know in the comments if you have a question about any of the meals.


Summer Menu Series: June Week Two

These two were absolutely no help with this project yesterday.Wednesday is Tomato-Pasta Salad

Sorry for the delay on the recipe exchange, as you can see above, I had a big project yesterday. That’s my sectional, assembly required. Nothing major, but damn putting the very fitted fabric on the very firm cushions was a workout.

Continuing with our summer menu project, here are this week’s menus, recipes and shopping lists. Lots of garden fresh ingredients and grilling as summer kicks into gear.

JeffreyW has a great blueberry harvest. Perfect for Wednesday’s Blueberry-Lemon Parfait

For  the PDF of week two menus and recipes, click here: June Week Two Menus

Shopping lists are here: June Week Two Shopping List

Don’t forget the staples, here.

Monday is Cranberry Grilled Chicken and Minted Cucumbers

That’s it for this week’s menus. You can find last week’s menu, recipes and shopping list here.

What’s on your menu this week? Anyone harvesting anything right now? I got a surprise when I went to water my strawberries this week – several bowls of big berries.

Those are the June berries – if I remember correctly from last summer, there were berries all the way until late September, so if I didn’t manage to pull out all of any one variety when I thinned them, I should expect the same this summer.

Hit the comments with some of your favorite recipes for this time of year…. TaMara