15 July 2016

Famous Food Friday -- Imogen Cunningham & More

Ansel Adams, Still Life, San Francisco, 1932
Today's venture with Cookbook Of The Day, is the old, but new The Photographer's Cookbook.  Old because the book's inception took place in 1977 when a bored worker at the George Eastman Museum, Deborah Barsel, decided to ask photographers to contribute recipes.

Before completing the book, Barsel left and over thirty-five years later, Lisa Hostetler pulled a box labeled "Photo Cookbook" off a shelf and found a treasure trove.  After some judicious editing, The Photographer's Cookbook is now in the world.

We love "artist" cookbooks and they are one of the reasons Famous Food Fridays came about. Now photographer's have their own cookbook.  As with many a "famous" cookbook, the range of recipes can be daunting.

John Gossage sent a postcard from Conrad's Colonial Steak House & Cocktail Lounge stating, "I eat out."

Contrast that sentiment to Beaumont Newhall.  Newhall was not only the first director of the Eastman Museum, he also  wrote a cooking column for a newspaper in the Rochester suburbs.  The "Epicure Corner" ran for nearly 15 years in the 1950's and 60's.  His choucroute  garnie was featured at a luncheon for James Beard and is featured in the cookbook.
Beaumont Newhall, Edward Weston's Kitchen, 1940

Imogen Cunningham offers up an unusual recipe for borscht.  We would love to see an entire cookbook where all the recipes were "storyfied" like this one.

Imogen Cunningham, My Kitchen Sink, 1947

Imogen Cunningham's Borscht

For one thing I do not consider Alice B. Toklas a GREAT cook.  Very likely her cooking contributed to the death of Gertrude and herself. Besides her beef stew cooked in burgundy, I can think only of her beautiful soups beginning with gazpacho from everywhere. I do not know how to put it, but exotic eatery is very interesting to me. I think we are all TOO addicted to salt and that we can get enough in vegetables that offer it.  We do not know the flavor of anything because we doctor it too much.  While I am on soups, I should tell you what I do for borscht.  I make a good soup of beef and meat and bones; put some fresh beets in, and when I am ready to serve it, I make it half mine and half Manischewitz (commercial bottle of borscht). I prefer it cold with sour cream.

Filled with funky recipes and great photography, we are so glad that this box of recipes got pulled off the shelf.




13 July 2016

Meditation on Drain Cleaner


I went to buy drain cleaner yesterday.

I know, it is not "Call me Ishmael" nor "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time."  It is a farm.  Regardless of what you might have seen on Pintrest, farm life is not all towheaded children on hay rides and destination weddings.  Ninety percent of the time is is a lot of crappy work. When I walked back from watering the garden, I noticed that the drain vent resembled Old Faithful, and I knew I had a problem. So...

 I went to buy drain cleaner. I set it on the counter, and the cashier asked for my driver's license. I thought it was odd, but I gave it to her and she copied it. 

"You need a driver's license to buy drain cleaner," I asked. 

"Yeah, you make meth with it."

"I should have bought two bottle."

"Only one per transaction."

I am now in some sort of drain cleaner database.  Presumably, if I had gone to several other stores and purchased a bottle of drain cleaner at each one, by the time I returned home, the DEA would have been sitting on the porch.

I am OK with that.

In addition to drain cleaner, I need a gun on the farm. Yes, I am one of those people who will tell you that you can have my gun when you pry it out of my cold, dead hand.  Last year we had a rabid raccoon roaming about.  He was tearing up things and killing chickens. He had been quite elusive, but one afternoon, he decided to be aggressive and I walked outside with my rifle and a single shell.  I won. On a farm, you often have to kill things.  This is not a popular hashtag on Pintrest. 

While I love my guns, and while I have hunted since I was a child, and while I believe in the Second Amendment, I have no business owning an AK-47.  It is a military weapon meant to kill people, not raccoons.  And that is what it does kill people, and cops, and school children, and bar patrons, and co-workers.  Watch television. And I don't need an oversized mag to take out a raccoon, either. And I don't care who knows I have guns. 

To buy one bottle of drain cleaner I had to have my driver's license copied.

To buy a half dozen AK-47's all I need is cash.  

Even if I am on the Terror Watch List, which I am not.

Even if I am on a No Fly List, which I am not.

 Even if I am on the Drain Cleaner Buyer List, which I am on.

Think about it.  I need documentation to buy drain clean but not an assault weapon. An that is just stupid. 

21 June 2016

In Gratitude

Jenny Diski died April 28, 2016.  When told of her impending demise she made jokes. In 2014 she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She felt:

"Embarrassment at first, to the exclusion of all other feelings."

That September she wrote in the London Review of Books:

"Under no circumstances is anyone to say that I lost a battle with cancer, or that I bore it bravely. I am not fighting, losing, winning or bearing." 

She would end her life writing.  She had, after all, written most of her life.  She had read numerous "cancer memoirs" and asserted:

"There are no novel responses possible."

And yet, in true Diski style, she wondered whose cancer book would sell the most copies.


After the initial shock, Diski tells the story of her chaotic early life, leading her to be taken in by literary giant, Doris Lessing.   Diski had been at school with Lessing's son, Peter.  They were not close, but when Diski was expelled, he implored his mother to take her in and she was quite intelligent.

Diski was almost literally dumped on Lessing's front steps.  It was not a match made in heaven. Lessing was not in the least "motherly" and Diski was uncomfortable in this new setting.  Diski says:

"Gratitude was half of what I felt. The other half was fury and resentment..."

As a cancer patient, Diski was ideal.  She was already  anti-social, preferring to spend time in her bed or on the sofa, like some consumptive Victorian victim.  She wrote:

"I have the metabolism of a sloth."

The chemo leaves the normally slim Diski, heavy.  She fears what is going to happen her. She is honest. She is funny. She is panicked. She is a writer. She will be missed.



14 June 2016

Tweeting From Beyond

So I got sick and had to take antibiotics for nearly two weeks, and I hated it.  It made me puny and sickly, not to mention it was sweltering.  But all is well, about two more days before I can have a tall gin and tonic.  In the mean time...

I recently followed and was followed back on Twitter by Vita Sackville-West.  Let me say it is hard enough for me to work, write, keep up two blog, Lucindaville and Cookbook Of The Day, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  So to find out that Vita Sackville-West is able to tweet beyond the grave makes me feel woefully inadequate.

Vita Sackville-West is one of those people I would put on that list of 10-people-you-could-have-dinner-with. Bloomsbury is like Harry Potter for grown-ups.  We wait for each new book, we scrutinize the movies, we relish any peripheral new reference.  There was a wave of new Bloomsbury attention recently.

The venerable BBC is unveiling a new drama, Life in Squares.  It will look at the early life and career of the Bloomsbury gang, focusing on the orbit of Vanessa and Virginia Stephen. It is chocked full of British talent. That is James Norton (Grantchester and Happy Valley) in the center as Duncan Grant. In anticipation of the new series, The Guardian has published their list of the 10 best Bloomsbury moments.

In addition, The Guardian, has gone out and hunted down any last surviving soul that might have known some of the Bloomsbury set.  At 100, Anne Olivier Bell is the widow of Quentin Bell, Vanessa Bell's son and the very first biographer of Virginia Woolf.

I am so ready.  Now ask yourself, why is there no Bloomsbury theme park?  Think about it...replicas of Sissinghurst and Charleston, of Omega workshop and Hogarth Press, tea rooms with Vanessa Bell pottery, and of course a bookshop. 

02 June 2016

Little Gloria

Since I have been decidedly deaf, and not much of conversationalist, I have been catching up on taped shows on the DVR.  One of the documentaries I watch recently was Nothing Left Unsaid about Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper.  I enjoyed it, but it did seem like there may have been some thing unsaid.  But I trust Gloria and Anderson are fine.

What it did remind me of was Gloria's mother who would, I guess, be Big Gloria. In the documentary, Gloria said she was made to have daughters and she would have named her first daughter, Gloria.  Alas, she had four sons.

The first Gloria Vanderbilt began life as a Morgan and as a twin. Gloria and Thelma Morgan were known collectively as "The Magnificent Morgans."  They were the offspring of Harry Hays Morgan, an American diplomat and his Chilean-born wife, Louise Valdivieso.  It was Louise, testifying while clutching her crucifix, who may have been the final nail in Big Gloria custody coffin, when she testified to the wild and largely invented nature of Big Gloria's lifestyle.  

In 1958, The Magnificent Morgans collaborated on a memoir, Double Exposure.  The sisters spilled the beans on the good , the bad, and the ugly, not to mention the the loved,  the lost, and the licentious.

 The Kirkus Review wrote:
Written with good taste, but sparing no detail no matter how unorthodox, this autobiography of two women is a biography of an age, an age of fantastic extravagance and rigid form, an age in which the various episodes unfolded here seem probable for all their bizarre and melodramatic overtones. Superbly entertaining.
 Nearly 60 years later, it remains superbly entertaining.

While this book is one of those highly collectible tomes, growing increasingly expensive in a nice dust jacket, you can give it a read on the Internet Archive here.

24 May 2016

Adventures in Mowing

So I haven't been posting because I have several deadlines, and election fatigue, and nearly three weeks of rain. But today, I ventured out on my new mower to attack the knee deep lawns.

Now, if you asked me what horrors might befall me on my lawn mower, I can imagine them. The first time I used it, I got it in a precarious position and I had to get off and find neighbors to come and, quite literally, pull it off a cliff. Then today, it was so wet that going from one area to another got it stuck in the mud -- twice. 

But this I did not expect.  Today I punctured my eardrum while mowing.

Sitting perfectly still, I have to try about three times to thread a needle.  Today, traveling two miles and hour, I managed to thread a pencil-sized tree branch into my ear canal with enough force to rupture my eardrum.

I did finish mowing, but then I went to the doctor who is referring me to ear, nose, and throat guy but in the meantime, he prescribed ear drops.

But my cheesy insurance refused to pay for them. Frankly, I don't blame them as the ear drops were $300.  100 drops for my ear came in at $300.  That is $3 a drop. Were they made from baby angel tears? Gold is less.  And maybe a drop or two of gold would have fixed the hole in my ear.  They gave me eye drops, instead -- for my ear.  And neither the angel tears nor the eye drops offer the prospect of regaining my hearing.  More later!

23 May 2016

All Hail!

 Politics is getting so contentious and we haven't even really started the election. I am already overcome with election fatigue and we are still no where near an election. One is really scared to say anything for fear of being trolled by idiots. Friends are so vociferous that scrolling through Facebook is a chore. There is really only one candidate I could wholeheartedly support and that candidate is drag queen in Alabama named Ambrosia Starling.  Her platform is simply  --  Have Good Manners.

Since no one else is running on the "Have Good Manners" platform, there will be lots of weather and pets in the coming months!

And last night -- we had an ice storm. OK, technically it wan not an ice storm, just hail, but still. At one point I thought we would lose a window.
The container kitchen garden was decimated. Most of the little plants are beaten and broken.  I got in about 2 p.m. this afternoon and saw something on the side of the house.  I though something had blown into the yard.  When I walked over to see it, it was a pile of ice. 
It was so strange, I actually stepped on it to see if it was ice. (That is why my footprint is there.) 

Let's hope the weather and politics quiets down a bit. In the meantime...Have Good Manners.


22 April 2016

The Standing Desk

It would seem that standing desks are all the rage.

Well, seriously, isn't it enough that one has to work, but now we are expected to stand up and work!

New medical reports tell us that sitting is bad for us.  Are theses the same people who told us caffeine and alcohol were bad for us?

Truth be told, much of this winter was spent sitting, like 8 to 10 hours a day. Perhaps more, but who are you to judge?

As Spring approached, I decided to give the stand up desk a try.  I have a stand up farm desk at my office, but rarely use it.  It is a pain to move, so there was no way it was coming home.  Sitting under my stand up desk was a travel desk I bought many years ago. I knew that my travel desk, set upon my writing table would make a fine standing desk.

I love a travel desk!
 They are so romantic. There I am married to adventure with Osa Johnson.
 Setting at my base camp in the Himalayas.
 Standing in the hollows of West Virginia...

When I got it home, I realized why travel desks were used during war.  One needs an army to tote them around.  Porters and sherpas are a must for a travel desk.

Somehow, in my mind, I would stock my travel desk with an old typewriter, a iMac, books, a black fountain pen, and personalized stationary for proper thank you notes.  I would toss it in the back of my car, and I would ready for any occasion, when one might need to set up an office.  And how often have you found yourself in a situation while sitting in the Walmart parking lot when you needed to type up a thank-you note?

Ah, I am a hopeless romantic.  An actual romantic has a large staff.

When I opened up my travel desk, I found all the things one might imagine.  There was a yo-yo filled with candy, a yellow duck necklace filled with bubble soap, a tin of liquorice candy, old film (who has film anymore?), and a death certificate for an elderly relative.

Teddy rather likes the idea of the stand up desk, he believes it makes it easier to work together on projects, until he decides to take over. He always thinks he has the best idea!



So here I stand.  I feel healthier already.

I'm going to post this and sit down with a drink.  I deserve it.



07 April 2016

Leap Before You Look

We have always had a soft spot in our heart for  Black Mountain College.  Often thought of as the initial spark for the avant-garde movement in the United States, Black Mountain was formed in 1933 by a quartet of dismissed professors from Rollins College. John Rice, Theodore Dreier, Frederick Georgia, and Ralph Lounsbury believed that education should be an open and nourishing endeavor, not a process of rote learning for specific periods of time during the day.  When they tried to implement some of these ideas at Rollins, they were dismissed, Undaunted, they set out to devise their own college -- Black Mountain.

In the hills of North Carolina, just outside of Asheville, they gathered artist, writers, musician, architects, photographers, and craftsmen to live and work with the student body. The list is long and accomplished, including Anni and Josef Albers, Ruth Asawa,  John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Gwendolyn and Jacob Knight Lawrence, Robert Motherwell, Charles Olson, and Robert Rauschenberg.

In late 2015, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston mounted the largest comprehensive exhibition on Black Mountain College.  Helen Molesworth curated the mammoth collection of art, ceramics, textile art, photographs, which was supplemented with dance and music. The exhibition closed in January of 2016 but it left behind a wonderful monograph, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957.

Check out this video for the exhibition.



There is still time to catch Leap Before You Look in Los Angeles and later in the the year in Columbus. In the meantime, grab a copy of the monograph, a must for Black Mountain fans.

01 April 2016

A Suprise from Maddie

Mail time usually coincides with nap time, a time when the kitties snuggle in for a long spring nap. As usual, I come in with the mail and sit down at the table.  Trick believes there is something special about sitting at the table.  It signifies the possibility of dinner. If you sit in the sacred food chair, much crying a begging ensues. So when I sat down at the table to open the mail, while others slept, Trick came running.

And what a good day! Teddy, Trick and Treat got mail!

Our favorite rescue dog, Maddie AKA Bunnnymellon sent treats.  Everyone got their own toy and photo of Maddie.  Trick, being the only one up, got her pick of the bunch.
She choose the picture of Cris and Maddie seen above...

and she picked the yellow fish to be her toy.

As they say, you snooze, you lose.

Thanks Maddie...and a special shout out to your personal shopper, Maria.


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