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Man Food: Recipes from the Iron Trade

Man Food: Recipes from the Iron Trade

by Sloss Furnaces Historical Landmark

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Late in 1939 Editor Russell Hunt had a good idea. Why not dress up his foundrymen’s magazine with recipes by the ironworkers themselves? Many like him, were avid campers, hunters, and fishermen, or least backyard grill masters and cooks. As his magazine Pig Iron Rough Notes went all over the country and indeed into several foreign countries, Hunt


Late in 1939 Editor Russell Hunt had a good idea. Why not dress up his foundrymen’s magazine with recipes by the ironworkers themselves? Many like him, were avid campers, hunters, and fishermen, or least backyard grill masters and cooks. As his magazine Pig Iron Rough Notes went all over the country and indeed into several foreign countries, Hunt was sure his readers would respond with enthusiasm. And they did. Over the next twenty years Pig Iron Rough Notes would sport 64 recipes from the South, Texas, the Midwest, Australia, all with the basic theme of outdoor cooking—and equipment made of iron! These unpretentious and hearty dishes are heavy on barbeque ( including three recipes for Brunswick stew, one designed to feed a crew of ten hungry ironworkers) and other grilling, but with unexpected surprises—a recipe for making Chinese-style tea shares space comfortably with a guide to muskrat stew. So pull up a grill, strap some meat to it, and enjoy.

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University of Alabama Press
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5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.40(d)

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Man Food

Recipes from the Iron Trade

By Sloss Furnaces National Histor Landmark

The University of Alabama Press

Copyright © 2007 Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8173-5451-0


Sloss on the Food Front


Produce more foods of the right kinds.
Conserve food, avoid waste.
Play fair in buying food — share it cheerfully and fairly through rationing.
Place the war first and expect to adjust to wartime and postwar conditions.

Napoleon's famous observation that "an army travels on its belly" is just as true today as it was back in the early 1800s. Recently a smart Washington official said, "Steel and TNT are the sinews of war, but Food is its blood stream." So, any way we may view the war question it will be found that food is the very first consideration. It is no wonder, therefore, that our government is taking such an active interest in food production with its innumerable ramifications. Food is easily the most widely discussed question in the country, aside from the actual battlefronts.

One now refers to the mass production of food, for it has become a highly skilled and even technical business. The growing of large food and feed crops is requiring more and more mechanical tools and implements. Were it not for these modern aids, the farmers would be utterly unable to furnish the needed foodstuffs for war and civilian needs. The growing of foods has become a very important section of big business.

Our readers may well wonder what connection Sloss pig iron could possibly have with food. True enough, every well-balanced diet includes iron, but not exactly in the form of pigs! Yet, upon close examination, it will be found that Sloss iron is at this very moment doing yeoman's service in the production and processing of many of our chief foods. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it, but true nevertheless for the production of food involves many factors and much hard work. To particularize: preparation of the land, planting of the seeds, cultivation, pest control, harvesting, processing, transportation, warehousing, and distribution. We are not overlooking the preparation and serving of food, but that is such a long story it will have to wait until another time. Each of these operations not only requires labor from uncounted hands, but also implements of many kinds — from the simplest to some of the most efficient and intricate machines the ingenuity of man has ever built.

Even our almost casual examination of the mechanics of food production reveals an astonishingly large variety of implements and devices constructed in part with gray-iron castings made from Sloss iron: plows, tractors, pulverizers, harrows, spreaders, planters, grain drills, fertilizer distributors, sprayers, cultivators, grinding plates, corn huskers, food choppers, meat grinders, cane mills, dough mixers, peanut pickers, potato peelers, juice extractors, bread slicing machines, farm wagons, warehousing trucks, farm power units — to mention just a few out of hundreds of food production appliances being made by Sloss customers. These foundries are surely participating in this vital part of the war effort — the production and distribution of food.

In exploring the interesting possibility of finding the actual end uses of Sloss iron, the food question was found to be so vast that mention of only a few of our customers — one here and there — could be made in this number of "Rough Notes." Our purpose has been to try and present the little known fact that pig iron — generally considered as a crude raw material — plays an intimate and important role in the many complexes of our daily lives. It has been an interesting task to attempt to relate many foundry products with the Food Front, and we hope our efforts will be informative to our readers.

While Sloss iron may not be good enough to eat, it is plenty good enough to help do a very important job along the entire Food Front.


Hollowware By "Lodge"

Sloss furnishes iron to a number of stove foundries operating special hollowware departments, also to Lodge Manufacturing Company, one of the few concerns making cast-iron hollowware exclusively. Lodge has devoted nearly 30 years to developing and improving kitchen utensils and enjoys a nationwide distribution. Sloss uses a special burden of brown ores for making pig iron for this class of work and we verily believe that it will not only make a smoother casting but one that will take the highest polish of any made in America.

Cast-iron hollowware is staging a great comeback. For a while many substitutes appeared on the market, but in recent years, the unequalled qualities of cast iron have been more and more appreciated. The stores are still full of lightweight and somewhat flimsy makeshift skillets, pots, etc., perhaps utilized chiefly by young couples living over their garages and within a gill-of-gas distance from the delicatessen. But for real folks, those millions who "live at home and board at the same place," there's only one choice in cooking utensils and that is cast-iron hollowware.


Bean Hole Beans

Women continue to invade almost every sphere of men's activities. In the Editor's travels in selling pig iron he has run across more than one woman foundryman (or is it foundrywoman?) and at least one woman blacksmith, and, boy, did she swing a wicked hammer! Now this invasion has gone far enough — why can't we men try something in a supposedly woman's field? The quotation about gentlemen cooks came from a poem of 1600 A.D. Men, is it not time to regain our early standing?

Are you following us? Gentlemen are finding more leisure time these days, and what would be more delightful than learning to become proficient in preparing one or more special dishes, which could be served at informal stag or mixed parties, preferably out-of-doors and at camps? A happy time indeed awaits such a one.

As a starter we offer:

Recipe For Bean Hole Beans

The bean hole pot should be roughly 18" long, 15" wide and 15" deep. Size does not greatly matter, but it must be deep enough so that the bean pot will be buried under four or five inches of soil. Next, secure a dozen or more stones or brick about the size of your two fists. Maintain a good fire in the bean hole for two or three hours, gradually putting in the stones or brick. These are necessary in all new bean holes: after use, the ground is baked and dried out, so the stones are not absolutely necessary in the holes — but are always a help in maintaining an even heat and are particularly needed when the soil is sandy or moist.

For four persons — take a pound preferably of great northern navy beans and let them soak while the bean hole is being heated. The soaking is not necessary, but it helps slightly to improve the final results. Just before the bean hole is ready, drain off the water in which the beans have soaked and bring them to a boil in fresh water. When they come to a boil add a teaspoon of soda, let them boil in the soda water for ten minutes, and drain. A cast-iron bean pot with cover is preferred. One half pound of salt pork cut in half-inch cubes, one large onion cut in squares, ¼ cup of molasses, ¼ cup of sugar, one level teaspoonful of salt, and one tablespoonful of mustard completes the recipe.

The fire will now have died down to embers. Take these and the hot stones out of the hole — set the bean pot on the bottom of the hole. Now arrange a row of hot stones all around the pot a distance of two to four inches from the pot. The stones must not touch the pot. Scratch the embers and soil from the pile made when digging the hole to fill in between the pot and the hot stones. Make this layer of soil and embers deep enough to cover the stones. Now repeat another row of stones and more hot embers until the bean pot is entirely covered. Finally, cover the hole with a good, deep layer of soil. Tramp it down. If made at night, the beans will come out steaming in the morning, every bean whole, yet soft enough to melt in the mouth and deliciously flavored. From five to ten hours is the necessary length of time required to cook.

Supplied by Frank Hamilton of Gadsden, Alabama, a perfect host and gentleman cook. Bean hole beans is Mr. Hamilton's gastronomic specialty and if directions are followed, a dish "fit for the gods" will be the result.


A Foolproof Way to Cook Fish

The echoes from our last recipe (Bean Hole Beans — Autumn 1939) are most gratifying and we believe we struck a popular chord. Men are more and more finding their reaction in the great outdoors where to be able to cook a real man's dish is an art indeed. We now offer:

A Foolproof Way to Cook Fish

This recipe is contributed by a busy New Yorker whose business interests embrace many fields; in addition, he is an ardent farmer (or shall we say agriculturist?), an enthusiastic camper, an excellent fisherman, and one who cooks his own fish. Here is his story:

There are many good meat cooks, some good fish cooks, but few who can cook both. Also, I have heard it said that there are ways and ways and ways of cooking fish but some are better than others.

To my way of thinking I have settled down to almost a standard method that, with slight modifications, will apply to almost any kind of fish. Particularly is this simple method good for outdoor and camp cooking, where time is essential on canoe trips or destinations in view with time-out for lunch along a stream or on the shore of a lake with a fresh mess of trout or bass in hand. In fact, the sooner a fish is cooked and eaten after being caught, the better its flavor.

First, in preparing the fish, such as trout, bass, perch, and similar fish, always scale in preference to removing bones and skinning such as is often done when fish are plentiful and when guides are handy with a knife. All flavor is then retained.

Second, thoroughly dredge or sprinkle fish with flour or cornmeal, whichever is available and preferred as to taste.

Third, the old fashioned cast-iron skillet or frying pan is best. To my mind, there is no substitute for a cast-iron pan or griddle or pot for stewing.

Fourth, melt enough butter in pan, to a light brown color, just beginning to smoke, to the depth of about 3/16 to 1/4 of an inch; next add one equal quantity or slightly more of good cooking olive oil. Any food oil will do but the cooking oil is somewhat cheaper. I buy it in convenient pint or quart tin containers with a replaceable tight cap.

When this mixture is heated to the smoking point, place the fish in it, preferably flat and not touching each other. They will reach a brown color on the bottom side very quickly, and just as soon as this occurs and there is a substantial crust, turn the fish over carefully, still keeping a very hot fire.

When each side is thoroughly browned add two or three slices of lemon and the juice of a whole lemon, lowering the heat and putting a cover over the pan. Also at this stage I like to season with salt and black pepper. The cover will throw the heat down on the fish so that the thicker portions and the meat around the bones will be cooked slowly without overcooking the outside and still keep the moisture in so dryness will not result. I find the easiest and surest way of determining when the fish is properly cooked is to make a short slit with a sharp knife in the thickest part of the fish — examination will disclose if thoroughly done.

When serving, put plenty of the butter, oil and lemon mixture over each piece of fish.

The same method is even more desirable in cooking fish steaks, such as red fish, king fish, grouper, tuna, halibut, etc., because if properly followed the flesh will be moist completely through, even in steaks up to 1½ inches thick, but of course a great deal more time must be used after the browning period to allow the slower heat to soak through and thoroughly cook.

I have tried combinations other than butter and oil but never with the same success. The oil seems to soak in when cooking and the butter does the browning.


Brunswick Stew for Ten

Our campaign to convert foundrymen into cooks goes merrily on. "Every last foundryman an outdoor-cook." With more time for recreation — camping, picnicking, etc., etc., let it not be said that we men know not how to use our hands.

An Alabama Barbecue is a thing of beauty, a joy forever, — but the pièce de résistance is the Brunswick Stew, its ever-preset companion.

Your editor is a barbecue-hound, and along with many, thinks that, if possible, the stew is more delicious than the barbecued meats. Our recipe for this delectable dish comes from none other than our food fiend, Hon. J. P. Phillips, of Birmingham, affectionately known to thousands over the South as "Papa Jack." If we should attempt to give you an account of Mr. Phillips' many accomplishments, we are sure we would never outline the recipe! We also regret that limited space precludes including a history of this world-famous collation.

Brunswick Stew

(For ten persons)

3 pounds of fat, fresh brisket of beef, finely ground; place in a cast-iron pot, with 6 or 7 pints of water; 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt; boil for one hour; this gives you the stock.

Put 1 teaspoon baking soda in a teacup of boiling water; and stir up well. Pour into stock, stirring well. Skim off foam.

Place 1 tablespoon celery-seed in a small muslin bag; put in a teacup of boiling water to make a strong tea and pour into stock.

2 lbs. of Irish potatoes — peel and slice thin
½ lb. onions — sliced fine
2 lbs. canned tomatoes
1½ lbs. canned corn
1 teacup canned okra
Put in pot.


Stir well in pot:
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper

Boil slowly for one hour, stirring regularly. If stew is not thick, thoroughly mix one cup flour with cold water, put in pot, and stir well.

When this concoction is ready, call the editor so that he can share the rich reward with you.


Italian Spaghetti

With the camping season in full bloom, it is estimated that literally tens of thousands of men are adding to their pleasure by cooking out in the open.

Many people have a real desire for good Italian Spaghetti, and since there are so few restaurants where the genuine article can be obtained, it is felt that the following recipe will be of special interest to "gentlemen cooks." It is an excellent dish during cold weather and likewise makes an excellent meal for camping and fishing trips, provided the sauce is prepared in advance (at home).

Seemingly sensing this desire, our good friend, C. E. Bales, has sent in the recipe appearing below. Mr. Bales is noted for his famous spaghetti suppers and, when not engaged in playing the role of host to his many friends, may be found at the Ironton Fire Brick Company's big plant at Ironton, Ohio, where he serves as Vice President in Charge of Manufacture. Mr. Bales states that the sauce is the most important item — something of a "tail-wagging-the-dog" affair maybe!

Italian Spaghetti

To prepare the sauce, grind ½ pound smoked ham and ½ pound beefsteak through a meat grinder. Finely chop 2 large onions and three cloves of garlic. Brown the ground meat, onions, and garlic in bacon grease or olive oil in an iron skillet. Stir frequently, until the meat is fairly well done — requires about 10 minutes.

Transfer this to an iron pot and add 2 small cans of Italian tomato paste (not tomato pulp), 1 large can of tomatoes, 1/8 pound butter, 2 pints water, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground red pepper, and 1 tablespoon mixed spices placed in a small muslin bag during the cooking of the sauce. Cover the iron pot and allow to simmer for four hours, stirring frequently.

In cooking the spaghetti, the long, unbroken pieces should be placed in boiling, salted water, and allowed to boil for about eight minutes. Do not cook too long or the spaghetti will become soft and soggy. Remove the spaghetti from the pot with a large, perforated dipper, or pour into a large colander, and drain off the water.

Place the spaghetti in large soup plates, cover with the sauce, and sprinkle the top with grated Parmisello Italian cheese.


Excerpted from Man Food by Sloss Furnaces National Histor Landmark. Copyright © 2007 Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. Excerpted by permission of The University of Alabama Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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