Food Recipes of the Repeal Era and Beyond, Part II
Posted by Bob Skilnik on August 1, 2007
By 1940, the industry promotion of cooking with beer seemingly stalled again with the publication of The Wiedemann Book of Unusual Recipes from the George Wiedemann Brewing Company of Newport, Kentucky. An initial look inside the book proved it to be the old stock Mendelsohn cookbook of the pre-Prohibition era, seemingly devoid of any recipes using beer. As in Mendelsohn’s prior build-to-order cookbook format, the Wiedemann brewery name was substituted this time in the book’s title template, as was the practice with his dozen or so pre-Prohibition brewery customers. The book also included a number of full-page ads for Wiedemann’s Bohemian and Royal Amber beers.
But this time, a new, original preface indicated the addition in the book of “a unique feature incorporated in the present volume, beginning on page 229, of special recipes in which beer is an important and necessary ingredient.” The recipes were furnished by the United Brewers Industrial Foundation.
The U.B.I.F. had been funded by the United States Brewers Association after the U.S.B.A. conducted a survey of Americans’ attitudes toward beer and the brewing industry. The survey’s disheartening conclusions focused the ultimate goal of the U.B.I.F. on the paramount need to establish an extensive public relations campaign on beer’s benefits. As part of their national PR effort, the organization began to publish a series of informative booklets on beer and its positive aspects.
The inclusion in the Wiedemann cookbook of a mere twelve food recipes from the U.B.I.F., which utilized beer as an ingredient, was a culinary rebirth and marked the beginning of industry-supported, beer-infused recipes that carry on in today’s kitchens. A representative sampling from the Wiedemann cookbook follows:
SWISS STEAK WITH RICE
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Notice the familiar call in this recipe for “stale warm beer”—more a simple recommendation here than a reflection of the all too common reality of bad beer in colonial households and its use nonetheless in the kitchen as detailed with food recipes appearing in previous chapters of this book. Beer’s use back then reflected the hard realities of frontier existence and the difficulties in brewing and keeping a fresh batch of homebrewed beer for family enjoyment. Following a recipe back then that called for stale beer was easy.
2 lbs. round steak, cut 2 inches thick
1 cup flour
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup fat
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups cooked rice
1 cup stale warm beer
2 cups cooked string beans
METHOD: Pound the meat thoroughly. Rub the flour and the seasonings into the meat well on both sides. Brown the sliced onions in the fat. Remove and brown the meat in the same pan. Cover the meat with the onions and the water. Bake in a slow oven for 2 hours. Cover with rice, pour beer all over. Cover and bake until meat is tender and flavor well developed. Serve on a platter with string beans.
SHRIMPS IN BEER
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Possibly the first published of many beer-boil recipes for shrimp.
4 cups beer
2 onions (diced)
3 sprigs parsley
Stalk of celery
2 lbs. raw shrimp
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons butter
METHOD: Simmer the beer with the onions, shallots, bay leaf, parsley and celery, for about 15 minutes, covered; add peeled and cleaned shrimps to the broth and simmer for 10 more minutes, covered; season with salt and pepper. Remove the parsley, celery and bay leaf and bind the sauce with butter and flour, smoothed to a paste. Serves 5 or 6.