31 January 2011

Cucumber Chive Mousse

It has been so dreary...

I thought I would whip up something that just screamed summer.

Cucumber Chive Mousse

A light and creamy first course.

1 large English cucumber
1 tablespoon salt
1cup fromage blanc
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Peel seed the cucumber. Cut the cucumber into 1/4 inch cubes and sprinkle with the salt. Place in a colander and allow the cucumber to sweat for at least 30 minutes. Place the sweated cucumbers into paper towel and squeeze to remove any remaining liquid.

2. In a stand mixer, whip the fromage blanc and the sour cream.

3. Boil the water, remove from stove and add in the gelatin, stirring until dissolved. Add the warm gelatin to the fromage blanc mixture, then fold in the drained cucumbers, chives and lemon juice. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes to thicken.

4. Whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks and fold into the thickened fromage blanc/cucumber mixture. Spoon into ramekins or small glasses and refrigerate for at least 2 hour. To serve, garnish with thin slices of cucumbers.

Happy Birthday, Tallulah

Today is Tallulah Bankhead's birthday.

She was born 31 January 1902.

She was named after a grandmother who was named for Tallulah Falls, Georgia.

29 January 2011

Save The Music

For the first time since it started restoring instrumental music programs in public elementary and middle schools in 1997, VH1's Save the Music Foundation is helping an entire state, West Virginia.

The Save The Music program has a goal to help at least one school in all of West Virginia's 55 counties, then fully restore music education in other schools throughout the state.

Thanks from all of us music lovers in West Virginia and beyond.

24 January 2011

Baby, How Can It Be?

With Valentine's Day looming, we would like to suggest the perfect gift for those y'alternative tune lovers that you love.

This is another great compilation by those cooler than cool folks over at Dust-to-Digital. You may remember a post we did on another Dust-to-Digital favorite, Take Me To The Water.

Well, now that we are out there looking for just the right gift for our loved ones (or even if we are just in the mood to love ourselves) give Baby, How Can It Be? a try.

No Depression said of the set:

"The three disc collection is culled from the record collection of John Heneghan and features everything from Appalachian folk and Dixieland jazz to Hawaiian ballads and cowboy songs. Virtually every form of roots music can be found here, from artists as well known as Uncle Dave Macon and Cab Calloway, to those such as Henry Thomas who should be familiar to devotees of the eras music, to complete unknowns like Hazel Scherf and Davey Miller... In short, the set provides hours of great, rarely heard music from the Golden Age of Recording and would be the perfect gift for the roots music fan in your life."

What more can I say. Come on, EVERYBODY gives flowers and candy -- Be original and give the gift of music.

21 January 2011

Tweet, Tweet

I don't tweet. I don't even like to talk on a phone. I once stood behind a woman talking on her cell and here is what she said.

"I am waiting on the bus."

"The bus is coming"

"I see the bus"

"I am getting on the bus."

Thankful for me she moved to the back of the bus, still talking, and I was soon out of earshot.

This conversation begs the question: Who was listening to her? Seriously. For every lame telephone call there is someone on the other end listening.

Again I would ask, "Who is more pitiful?" the caller or the person who was listening to this woman for who knows how long. Surely that other person had something better to do.

Fortunately on Twitter, you are allowed only 140 characters.

They say some celebrities tweet two or three time a minute and millions of people wait to read them.

Here is what my tweets would be like:

"Went to the chicken house and let out the chickens."

"It snowed... again."

"Fixed the sink at the Post Office."

"Made cupcakes."

I will stop as I am sure the scintillating nature of my tweets has left you overwhelmed with emotion.

There is no way to stop Twitter, however, if you are enamored of this technology and want to excel in your 140 character endeavors, might I suggest reading Félix Fénéon's Novels In Three Lines. Fénéon was a clerk, editor, anarchist, critic and writer. His major work was recently published by the New York Review of Books.

Félix Fénéon was employed by the Paris daily, Le Matin to write faits-divers, "sundry events" as Luc Sante translates it. they were a kind of newspaper filler. When these "fillers' were published they were entitled Nouvelles en trois lignes. It has been translated as novels in three lines, but more correctly it could be titled the news in three lines.

However one translates, it is a must read for the Twitter user out there as Fénéon does, in fact, create novels in three line. More importantly, he creates novels in under 140 characters. Here are a few examples:

“To die like Joan of Arc!” cried Terbaud from the top of a pyre made of his furniture. The firemen of Saint-Ouen stifled his ambition.
Scheid, of Dunkirk, fired three times at his wife. Since he missed every shot, he decided to aim at his mother-in-law, and connected.

During a scuffle in Grenoble, three demonstrators were arrested by the brigade, who were hissed by the crowd.

Sand and only that was the content of two suspect packages that yesterday morning alarmed Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

There are over a thousand of Fénéon's faits-divers in Novels In Three Lines. Tweet one to a friend.

20 January 2011

Just My Type

I know you are shocked...SHOCKED to find that I am a voracious reader. It is true.

I especially love to read books about things. Some people would say that they love to read books about ideas, but reading books about things IS reading books about ideas. People who create things, generally create them because at some point they had an idea. Ideas that result in things intrigue me.

One of my favorite things to read about is color and my favorite color book is Mauve by Simon Garfield. When I saw that he had written a book on type, well I simply couldn't wait to get a copy. It came from England so I waited and waited, but it finally arrived.

Last night I was reading with the television on. (Let me say here that not only do I read a book nearly every day but I also watch television every day, so don't go all "I don't own a TV" on me.) A show called The Middle came on. It appears an hour before Modern Family. Modern Family is the darling of critics, but I believe The Middle is much funnier. The fact that Modern Family is set in California and The Middle is set, well, in the middle, may just have something to do with it...but I digress.

The Middle features a popular sitcom trope, the weird, diminutive child who seems to have been dropped from another planet. In The Middle, that child is Brick, who is a voracious reader and lost in his family of underachievers.

In last night's Super Bowl show, Brick becomes fascinated with the newspaper headlines about the game. His father perks up until Brick begins to discuss the font the paper used. (Don't be distracted by the ad, just wait for Brick.)

His father tells Brick he should learn about sports because, "If you know about sports you can talk to anyone." So, of course, Brick learns everything about sports and then everyone hates him.

That was a long set up to tell you that even on mindless television sitcoms, fonts are important -- and way more interesting than most sitcoms. Of course, with Simon Garfield writing about them, fonts become magical. Just My Type begins with a lecture about signs at Reed College that had once always been done in calligraphy and how a college drop-out became interested in calligraphy. So interest that when he built his first computer, Steve Jobs gave it the unprecedented ability to change fonts.

Throughout the book you will meet a wide variety of artists, some you have heard of and some you will want to become acquainted with. There is Eric Gill, William Morris, Beatrice Warde, Zuzana Licko and Matthew Carter. Carter has trouble watching movies because he is always finding font inconsistencies. In Chocolat, a film set in 1950's France the mayor posts notices in ITC Benguiat, a font that appeared in the late 1970's. In Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, set in the 1940's, the cruise ship brochure in printed in 1970's Blippo. I wouldn't want to go to the movies with him, but you can't fake such passion.

This is the best design book in recent memory. Trust me, you will be hooked from page one. And as Brick would say, you can talk to anyone when you know about fonts.

14 January 2011

DIY Cookbooks

Cookbooks have long been the bastion of self-publishing. Churches or women’s groups would get together and share recipes. They would get arranged and published and then sold as fundraisers. Of course the people that bought them tended to be the people that contributed the recipes. I have often wondered it there was ever a cost analysis of fundraising cookbooks. It might just be easier if everyone who contributed a recipe just gave the money and skipped the cookbook, but that wouldn’t be very communal now, would it?

In the old days (before blogs) there was a thriving culture of ‘zines, self published, small magazine with a very specific target audience.

Today, with the growing interest in food, it seems natural that new food ‘zines are springing up. With new computer technology sitting on a desktop, design and printing are a snap. (OK, maybe not a snap, but a lot easier than it used to be.)

Now, there are chefs and other foodies who are skipping the publishing house and going DIY with their culinary adventures.

One of the first was Martin Picard, whose restaurant Au Pied de Cochon is a star in Montréal. In Picard self published his culinary manifesto, filled with photos and recipes and ramblings. The book was huge hit and was eventually “published” in much the same form as it was self-published.

After years of working for Saveur, Food & Wine and photographing dozens of cookbooks, Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton formed The Canal House. The Canal House is a kind of foodie playground/office where the pair cook, write, photograph and hang out and publish Canal House Cooking a self-published cookbook/magazine filled with great photos and fun recipes. Check out the Canal House posts at Cookbook Of The Day.

Zac Brown is pretty famous in the y’alternative/Americana music circles. What many people do not know is that he is a confirmed foodie. A couple of years ago, he produced a cookbook called Southern Ground. The best place to find it is on the Zac Brown Band web site. Southern Ground is a highly designed cookbook that most published would dismiss out of hand as being too damn expensive to bother with. Printed on cardboard stock, each double page features photos and writings from the band as well as a recipe. Actually, there is a removable recipe card, just like Mama used to have. Each printed card is tucked into a glassine pocket. It has all the innovativeness of an old fashioned DIY ‘zine with a high production value.

If you find yourself with time on your hands and want to start a food zine, do let us know, we are behind you 100%.

12 January 2011

Wednesday Etiquette -- Wife Dressing

The Victoria and Albert Museum is re-issuing a 1950’s fashion gem, Wife Dressing: The Fine Art of Being A Well Dressed Wife. The book offers “provocative notes for the patient husband who pays the bills.”

The book was written by Anne Fogarty a famous model who turned designer. If you don’t know her name, you will no doubt no her most famous innovation, the Paper Doll Silhouette, which featured a full skirt over masses of petticoats.

At the very beginning, Fogarty sets the tone by telling husbands:

"If you adore her, you must adorn her. There lies the essence of a happy marriage."

She then lays out the rules married girls:

"While the bachelor girl can be a chameleon, forever changing herself over to suit a new whim, a new job, or a new beau, the wife has moved on to better things. She has found her cozy corner and man she wants to share it with. What she must do next is decide how best to dramatize her new role and crystallize her position in terms of her home, her husband, her job if she has one, her friends and business associates."

The true irony of this little book is the fact that while she very “wife” obsessed, her ideas of fashion ring true today. You have to hand it to The Victoria and Albert Museum's publishing arm. They produce some great books and often they do not get the publicity in the U. S. that they get in the U.K. If you have and interest in fashion, decorative arts, or textiles, do bookmark their bookstore. It is one of my first stops when I hit the lottery! Or utill I find that patient husband who wants to pay my bills.

07 January 2011

Famous Food Friday -- Princess Diana

Finally Prince William decided to make an honest woman out of Kate Middleton whom we now speak of as "Catherine" which begs the question why hasn't she been "Cate" all these years?

Since there is renewed interest in those pesky Windsors, our Famous Food Friday is William's mom, Princess Diana. It seems her personal chef, Darren McGrady, penned a cookbook featuring Diana's favorite dishes entitled Eating Royally.

McGrady began working at Buckingham Palace where he tells us that working for the Queen is a live-in job. You get housing, health care, clothing, six weeks of vacation, long-term employment and really crappy pay.

When he first went to Balmoral (brilliantly portrayed in the movie The Queen, he was preforming poorly at the vegetable station. The Head Chef came over.

"Right, Now let me show you how to prepare the Queen's carrots." He then took three very large carrots, peeled, trimmed and topped them. He then sliced them length wise and in half so that each carrot was of equal length. The carrots were then placed in a white paper bag and the bag was folded shut. "There," he said, "That's how to do it."

"But Chef," I asked, now totally bewildered, "aren't they a bit large and don't we need to cook them?"

"Large?" His eyebrows shot up. "Of course not. They will be fine for the horses. And don't ever cut them any shorter than that of she will blame up when the damn horses bite her fingers."

So let that be a lesson to you.

The cookbook reflects the Windsor's dinning habits which means you are looking at recipes that reflect the style of the 1950's. There is a lot of mayonnaise, cold fish terrines and desserts. Meat, potatoes and peas. There is not a sous-vide machine in site.

Here is a fine example of cooking for Royalty. It is a rather "simple" recipe for lemonade, a popular drink served after boarding the Britannia.

Lemon Refresher

4 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons Epsom salts
3 teaspoons citric acid
3 teaspoons tartatic acid
6 lemons, juice and zest
5 cups water

Place the sugar, Epsom salts, citric acid, tartaric acid, lemon juice, and zest in a bowl and whisk them together. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil and pour over the lemon mix, whisking until combined. Refrigerate until cold and decant into screw-top bottles. To serve, dilute 1/4 cup of the lemon refresher with 2 cups of water over ice or to taste.

McGrady assures us that Princess Diana was a bit more relaxed than the rest of the clan. Unfortunately, the food was pretty much the same. As he waited for Diana to return home from vacation, he saw on television, like most of the world, that his boss, the Princess would not be retuning. Mohammed Al Fayed promised jobs to any member of the Princess' staff who wanted one. Prince Charles asked McGrady to be his personal chef, but he felt Diana would have felt betrayed, so he left the royal kitchen.

This may not be the best cookbook to actually cook from, but the stories of the kitchens is rather fascinating.

06 January 2011

A Very Mitford Christmas

Yes boys and girls, it was a very Mitford Christmas at Lucindaville. Direct from Heywood Hill, the bookshop where Nancy Mitford once worked, I received a copy of Deborah Mitford's new autobiography, Wait For Me!

It was not just any copy of the book but a copy signed by the Duchess of Devonshire.

The cover features the Duchess with her beloved chickens which she tells us are Buff Cochins, Welsummers, Buford Browns, rather stupid (in the Duchess' opinion) White Leghorns and a flock of Warrens that she bought before they could get shipped off to a large, intensive farm.

As you may know from reading Lucindaville, we love our chickens. We also love Balenciaga, Elvis Presley, and Cecil Beaton, but rarely do we find a book that so easily incorporates all of the above.

In addition to the Duchess' book, we also received Leslie Brody's biography of Jessica Mitford entitled, Irrepressible. I was a bit disappointed with Brody's biography. For me, it was dry, and Jessica Mitford was anything but. Brody chose the very factual "high road" so much of the gossipy tidbits are left out and the clear, factual details are the ones that are included with little speculation.

My favorite passage comes early on in the book and features a teenaged Jessica sharing a room with her sister, Unity.
"Using a diamond ring, Decca and Unity etched symbols of their political affiliations into the window of the room they shared at the top of the house—Unity drew a swastika; Decca a hammer and sickle."
It seems rather charming, the thought of these two young, gorgeous girls their closets full of party dresses, gazing out of their window, appropriating a family jewel, and carving a swastika and a hammer and sickle into their bedroom window. Of course, knowing the history of these two women, it is, at the same time, sadly prophetic.

What a great way to start our new year -- reading about the Mitfords.


05 January 2011

My New Year's Resolution

Mina Loy, 1918 by Man Ray

My New Year's Resolution

Wear more thermometers as jewelry.

Lunar Baedeker
Mina Loy

A silver Lucifer
cocaine in cornucopia

To some somnambulists
of adolescent thighs
in satirical draperies

Peris in livery
for posthumous parvenues

Delirious Avenues
with the chandelier souls
of infusoria
from Pharoah’s tombstones

to mercurial doomsdays
Odious oasis
in furrowed phosphorous

the eye-white sky-light
white-light district
of lunar lusts

Stellectric signs
“Wing shows on Starway”
“Zodiac carrousel”

of ecstatic dust
and ashes whirl
from hallucinatory citadels
of shattered glass
into evacuate craters

A flock of dreams
browse on Necropolis

From the shores
of oval oceans
in the oxidized Orient

Onyx-eyed Odalisques
and ornithologists
the flight
of Eros obsolete

And “Immortality”
mildews ...
in the museums of the moon

“Nocturnal cyclops”
“Crystal concubine”

Pocked with personification
the fossil virgin of the skies
waxes and wanes

02 January 2011

Happy New Year

Teddy Watches the Ball Drop in Times Square

maybe not...

Happy New Year
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