Give Now  »

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

How Do You Learn To Cook?

Michelle Porter standing holding a yellowing booklet called Family Fare. She stands in front of a plain white background, wearing a t-shirt with American flag and Bible.

Michelle Porter, with her well-worn copy of Family Fare, a cookbook and nutrition guide that was sent to her by Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, in 1971. (Kayte Young/WFIU)

This week on our show we hear about a basic cookbook from a by-gone era.

We have an audio postcard from an ex-pat in Japan at a Thanksgiving-like feast.

And Chef Freddie Bitsoie from the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC shares recipes and talks about Native Cuisines.

An image of a letter written by Congressman Thomas Pelly to a "Bride-to-be," saying that he learned of her upcoming wedding through a newspaper announcement and he is giving her this cookbook, since "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

A letter sent to a "Bride-to-be" from Thomas Pelly Congressman, First district, Washington. The letter was enclosed in a copy Family Fare Food Management and Rcipes from The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, 1966 reprint 

How did you learn to cook? Did you learn to cook? Not all of us know how to cook, some of us can boil spaghetti, fry an egg, warm up food in the microwave, and that’s about the extent of it. Some of us were taught by parents or grandparents, home economic classes, YouTube, cooking shows, and some of us even have formal training. 

This week we talk with Michelle Porter, Bono County Trustee in Lawrence County in Southern Indiana. When Michelle got married in 1971, then congressman Lee Hamilton sent her a cookbook. Thought she'd grown up on a farm, and her mom cooked for her family every day, Michelle didn't learn to cook from her mom. The kids did the dishes, but not the cooking. So this cookbook, Family Fare: A Guide to Good Nutrition, produced by the USDA and distributed by members of congress, came in very handy for Michelle in those early days.  Tune in for our conversation, including instructions for dump cake and homemade gravy.

Rocky Burton, cutting something that looks like meat, turning towards the camera in the middle of a small kitchen with pots and pans all around, and an orderly spice rack in the background.
Rocky Burton, in his small apartment kitchen in Saitama, Japan. Rocky hosts friends from far away lands and prepares an annual feast of as many dishes as he can manage. (David Gann)

Later in the show we join David Gann in the home of his friend Rocky Burton in Saitama Japan. Rocky hosts an annual feast for his ex-pat friends craving Thanksgiving traditions--though Rocky's ambitious menu is anything but traditional. 

A table crowded with many different dishes of food and drink, partially consumed
The feast at Rocky's place, in progress. (David Gann)
Music on this Episode

The Earth Eats theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey.

Additional music on this episode from the artists at Universal Production Music.

Stories On This Episode

Chef Freddie Bitsoie--Making A Pathway For Native Cuisines

Chef Freddie Bitsoie standing in white chef's jacket at a table with bowls of food and an induction burner.

As the chef for the cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, Freddie Bitsoie expands understanding of Native Foodways.

Three Bean Ragout With Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Slices of roasted meat on a bed of different types of beans.

Chef Freddie Bitsoie of Mitsitam Cafe shares a recipe of stewed beans and roasted pork.

Farm Tools Were Designed For Men. That’s A Problem For The Increasing Number Of Female Farmers.

Dusty Spurgeon, facing the camera, smiling, driving a green tractor with front-loader filled with fence posts.

Men have long dominated the farming world. So, not surprisingly, farm equipment – things like tractors, tillers, or hand tools – are designed to be used by male farmers. Female-friendly tools are hard to come by and with more women farming every year, that presents a safety issue.

State And Federal Efforts To Help Small Meatpacking Plants May Take Time

A worker with a red apron, gloves and hairnet, working at a table with ameat slicer. Other cuts of meat hanging on a rack in the background.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the meat industry, with some slaughterhouses and processing plants temporarily closing down earlier this year. Some midwestern states are using Federal COVID stimulus money to help small meat processors increase capacity.

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Earth Eats

Harvest Public Media