27 June 2011

Teddy & Picasso

My cat Teddy has been on a killing spree this summer. We started a tote board to track his hunting prowess and we are, frankly, appalled at the current death tole. Last week, after crying to get out at the crack of dawn he returned about 7 am. I was still in bed when I heard him crying softly beside me. I opened my eyes to see Teddy with a chipmunk ready to place it beside my head on the pillow. I was not appreciative!!

Today, Teddy got a letter from Harry Lowe. It read:

Dear Teddy,

Just your catching a bird is not remarkable, but having a postcard portrait is. Are you jealous? This is so valuable and impressive that I am not addressing it but sending it unscarred.

Pablo's Pet

Enclosed was the above "unscarred" postcard image, Chat saisissant un oiseau by Pablo Picasso. Anne and Harry Lowe took off to Richmond to see the Picasso exhibit before it moved on. And they didn't invite me...or Teddy.

Teddy feels that he is much prettier than that old Picasso cat.

His summer hunting total to date:

Birds -- 3 Chipmunks -- 14.

It is a sad day for Alvin.

23 June 2011

Phone Calls You Don't Get In The City

10:45 PM

Hello, just got a call from your neighbor...

He saw a bear in his yard and it is heading across the creek behind your house...

Are the cats inside?...

If you hear a banging on your door, make sure it is a "person" before you open it...


Frankly, after dark, we don't open the door even if it is a "person." We are now on "bear alert" in the early evenings and we are definitely hiding our pick-a-nick baskets.

20 June 2011

What fork Is this?

My friend, Anne, sent me this image of three forks from an old set she got from her mother-in-law. They are Christofle European silver, but she is unsure of a pattern. Christofle is rather notorious for their multitude of fork designs. My best guess:

Cake Fork -- I saw one in a different pattern with the wide cutting tine and another single tine, but a two tined cake fork???

Small Fish Server -- Again, I saw a set of Christofle that had an entire drawer of "fish eating" implements with several four tined servers, but fish servers are usually more ornate. Maybe this is the Fish Offering Fork?

Shellfish Fork -- I think this has all the points of a generic shellfish fork.

Christofle mentions as some of its forks including a Fish Fork, Salad Fork, Two Pronged Fork, Cake Fork, Oyster Fork, Huge Helping Fork, Salad Serving Fork, Fish Offering Fork, Fruit Fork, Cold Meat Fork, Baked Potato Fork and Carving Fork, just to name a few....

I know someone out there knows the truth.

Why Not Say What Happened?

As you know, we at Lucindaville are fond of bold, brazen, and fascinating women. While they make great subjects to read about, the sad truth is many of them were abysmal mothers. One of our favorites is that dangerous muse Caroline Blackwood. Recently, her daughter, Ivana Lowell, wrote her memoir entitled Why Not Say What Happened? What happened was extreme wealth, extreme neglect, sexual abuse, bohemian stepparents, disfigurement, questions of paternity, art, literature, birth, death and Miramax.

For someone who loves biographies, these "memoirs of spurned children" are often tough to read. There is little doubt that a child raised by and alcoholic mother and Robert Lowell as a stepfather might grow up to be a big old alcoholic herself. It's impossible to "name drop" when your family has ties to the Guinness and Tree clans or when your mother was married to Lucien Freud and Robert Lowell and bedded Walker Evans.

No matter how charmed one's life may be or may seem to others, watching your mother die a rather inelegant death is ameliorated by no amount of privilege. Finding out after she dies that your father is not your father adds salt to the wound. In all this tumult, Lowell, draws on her humor which remains in tact.
""They fuck you up, your mum and dad," Philip Larkin wrote. Yes, of course they do; everyone knows that. But it would help to know who your parents are so you can blame the right ones for the fuck up."
One might assume that if she had not kept a modicum of humor, Lowell might well be dead. The fact that she is still with us, is reason enough to read memoir.

Like her mother, Ivana Lowell wrote a cookbook. Check out Cookbook Of The Day for recipes and a juicy Miramax story.

17 June 2011

Famous Food Friday -- Mrs. Marquis de Sade

Mrs. Marquis de Sade Cookbook

We couldn't resist Roz Chast's New Yorker cartoon depicting Mrs. Marquis de Sade making her favorite dishes including:

World of Hurt Broccoli

Chop up a bunch of raw broccoli, throw it on a platter, and serve without dip. Invite people over, stand back, and enjoy.

Indeed, enjoy.

15 June 2011

Words To Drink In Excess By

As you know, we love words here at Lucindaville.

There is that old joke about Eskimos having 100's of words for snow. That is just a myth. Most linguists will tell you that this is not true. It probably comes for the multitude of Inuit/Innu dialects which have about as many words for snow as English does. Spread those words over multiple dialects and there are quite a few.

If there are not thousands of words for snow, then what word, you might just ask yourself, has the most synonyms. (Yes, this is the kind of subject that occupies our mind.) And the winner is...


There are, according to Paul Dickson, who wrote the book, or perhaps the dictionary, on Drunk...


synonyms for drunk. Counting synonyms is a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Here are 26 that we just love...

X Filed

Let's go get fluffy.

14 June 2011

Paint as Poetry

Sherwin Williams
Farrow Ball
Benjamin Moore

Name three great poets? No you say. Well, just maybe, yes.

While perusing the paint isle in my local big box hardware behemoth, I found poems. Reading the names of tiny paint swatches gave way to some great found poetry. Give it a try.

Neutrally nice
Ashes of roses in an ember glow
Forget me not.

temptress by candle light,
kimono, California wine, bubble bath.
A sweet sachet of orchid bloom.

Cloudburst on a melancholy country road,
Weathered post and rusty rail.
The March wind in canyon echo through the dry riverbed.

I may not be Emily Dickinson but I just may give Farrow Ball a run for his money.

Requiescat in Pace -- Kathryn Tucker Windham

Alabama storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham died on Sunday. She was one of our earliest Famous Food Friday subjects -- famous to every child in Alabama. Read more at Cookbook Of The Day.

13 June 2011

Shame, Shame, Shame

There is rehab for being a horn dog? Who'd a thunk it.

Anthony Weiner doesn't need rehab, he needs and old-fashioned ass whuppin'. (And, let me just say, I loved Anthony Weiner.) Now I am just disgusted.

What happened to shame in our society? Seriously, he should be ashamed. He should be staying inside his house, not running to the ATM. Resign, now. (And, let me just say, I loved Anthony Weiner.)

The problem with real life is the lack of a soundtrack. So here is our Weiner Soundtrack of Shame:

Pamplmousse Beat It
Blondie Call Me
Johnny Cash It Ain't Me Babe
Lee Ann Womack Liars Lie
Shirley and Company Shame Shame Shame
A Fine Frenzy Liar, Liar
Molly Ivins It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Lucinda Williams Ramblin' On My Mind
Ed Harcourt 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
Mae West He's A Bad, Bad Man
Lily Allen Womanizer
Joey & Rory Cheater, Cheater
Bob Dylan Quit Your Low Down Ways
Elbow Grounds For Divorce
Sunny Sweeney Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame
Paul Kelly Rehab

Enjoy! And remember, NOTHING is private on the web, so please don't tweet me photos of your undies, whether you are in them or not!

05 June 2011

USDA Graphics -- Yea or Nay?

This is the new nutritional "myplate" design from the USDA. It replaces the "food pyramid." The total for creating it was reported to be $2 million. Do we like it? Was Milton Glazer busy? No one at the USDA thought of YouTube contest? Bravo's Top Graphic Designer?

For some of the USDA's designs through history check out Cookbook Of The Day.

New Cat Breed?

Teddy, Creature of the Mist

We have received numerous calls and condolences for Djuna. My friend Nanci was watching Animal Planet the other night (it's summer, there is nothing on television!) and saw Cats 101. (Full disclosure, I, too, have watched Cats 101, which is a kind of video version of cat breed book. I, however, missed the Nebelung.) Nanci immediately thought of Teddy.

Does he look like someone we know?


Well, yes indeed. Our little chicken cat, Teddy, appears to have all the characteristics of a Nebelung. Teddy is now very upset to find that he has been neutered, as he is sure he would have produced award-winning offspring. Who knew.

Here's the info: The Nebelung (NAY-bel-ung) breed began the way so many of our breeds began, stray cat wandered out of the mist and into someone"s home and heart. In the early 1980s a black domestic vagabond-turned-housecat named Terri produced a litter of three. Two short haired black females and one long haired male. The father, another anonymous nomad, was thought to have been an Angora mix.

Terri's owner, Cora Cobb of Denver, Colorado, gave one of the female kittens, Elsa, to her son, and in 1984 this short haired black domestic produced a litter of kittens that included a blue semi-long haired male kitten. Subsequently named Siegfried, this kitten became the Nebelung's foundation cat.

Elsa's next litter, fathered by the same short haired Russian Blue-type neighborhood Tom, produced a female kitten, Brunhilde, who possessed Siegfried's qualities and characteristics. By that time, Cobb was so taken with Siegfried,s beauty and personality that she decided to see if she could preserve his qualities by breeding brother to sister. In May 1986 Siegfried and Brunhilde proved to Cobb that they bred true by producing a litter of three blue long haired kittens. Cobb named the cat the Nebelung, a German word that means creatures of the mist.

On the advice of TICA's genetics chairperson Dr. Solveig Pflueger, to whom Cobb turned for guidance in establishing her new breed, Cobb wrote the Nebelung's standard to match the Russian Blue's, almost word for word except for the coat length and the general opening description. TICA accepted the Nebelung for registration in September 1987.

At first, the Russian Blue breeders were cautious about accepting Cobb's newcomers and Cobb had difficulty finding a breeder who would provide registered Russian Blue breeding stock. Finally, the owner of Supreme Grand Champion Vladimir of Castlecats agreed to offer her cat for stud with one of Brunhilde's daughters, who produced a litter in June 1988.

Since then, the number of Nebelungs has slowly grown and, despite setbacks, the breed has caught worldwide attention. The Nebelung has appeared twice on the front cover of a Japanese cat magazine, and Nebelungs were shown and sold at the 1989 TICA cat show in Paris, France.

Only a handful of breeders are currently working with the Nebelung, but breeders are expecting that number to grow and hope to achieve recognition with CFA within the next few years.

Nebelungs are mild, soft-spoken, and gentle. They are generally reserved around strangers, ranging from hiding-under-the-bed timid to warily eyeing intruders from a safe distance. Given humans unpredictable behavior, this could be interpreted as a sign of extreme intelligence.

To their family, Nebelungs are like Russian Blues, affectionate and playful although not intrusive. They tend to bond with a select few humans and stay loving and devoted throughout their lives.

The primary difference in conformation between the Nebelung and the Russian Blue is coat length, otherwise, the standards are almost identical. Whereas the Russian Blue's coat is short and dense, the Nebelung's fur is medium-long, silky, and possesses a dense undercoat. The bright blue color is contrasted with silver-tipped guard hairs and therefore the coat catches the light, giving it a luminous, misty quality. Even with a dense undercoat that makes the coat stand away from the body, the fur resists matting and does well with a good once-a-week brushing.

Although eyes with no green are penalized, kittens may have yellow eyes that deepen to green as the cats mature. By four months, a green ring should have appeared around the pupil.

The Nebelung is a distinctly elegant cat with an angular, modified wedge-shaped head consisting of seven flat planes. Its most outstanding characteristic is its coat.
Shape foreign; length long; boning fine; musculature lithe; slender. Note cat will appear chunkier due to density of coat.
Modified wedge with flat planes; straight nose and flat forehead forming two planes; muzzle medium length, no break.
Almost as wide at base as tall; appear pointed; slightly rounded tips; size rather large; set far apart, as much on side as top of head; furnishings sparse.
Almost round, just oval enough to show Oriental slant; size rather large; set far part. Color green.
Straight, tapering from a rather thick base to slender tip; size slender; length long.
Medium-long on body with fluffy tail; texture fine, soft, silky.
Even bright blue throughout with lighter color preferred; guard hairs are silver-tipped, giving the coat a lustrous appearance.
Any white spots or lockets; full penalty for eyes with no green.

While this is certainly more information than you could ever want to know, we were very interested.

Alberich? Wotan? Gunther?

Teddy is quite thrilled to find that he was NOT named after a character in a Wagner opera, but he is willing to be photographed for Japanese magazines.

04 June 2011


One of the worst things that can happen to your hive is to let it swarm. In this season of weird weather, it has been difficult. After months of rain, the temperature shot up to 94F. Like everyone else, the bees were hot... too hot. Usually, my bees don't produce gatherable honey until the end of the season. When I checked them recently, there was a lot of honey and not a lot of room. I ordered new frames, but they were delayed and before I could add another super... the heat won.

While it was a sad thing to see the hive swarm, it was a fascinating event to watch. The bees are so focused. they plan their escape. The workers fill up on honey so there is no stopping at the 7-11. They escort the queen to a remote location and then the whole gang follow, in military precision. There is a huge mass of buzzing life during their travel and before you know it, they are settled and congregated around the queen.

While the event looks scary, the bees focus and determination, as well as their full tummies, make them quite calm during the swarm.

Today, the new frames arrived. We will try to recover before the summer ends.

03 June 2011

Famous Food Friday -- George Orwell

I am going to take this Famous Food Friday to namedrop. No, I do not know George Orwell, but I am friends with Christopher Hitchens who has often written about Orwell. In fact, Christopher Hitchens is often credited with inspiring a kind of “Orwell Revival” as it were. Though for, some of us, the revival was preaching to the choir. Still anyone who fosters a further reading of Orwell is peaches in my book.

Now let me clarify: When I say Christopher Hitchens and I are friend, I don’t mean in that -- Graydon-Carter-and-I-are-headed-to-the-Waverly-Inn-do-you-want-to-join-us-for-lunch -- way, but more in the way that we would say hello if meeting on the street.

About a year ago, I was doing some research and ran across an unpublished essay of Orwell’s entitled British Cookery. It was complete with several recipes and I was totally enamored. It was one of those moments you really wanted to share with someone. (Yes, people, finding an obscure, unpublished essay by George Orwell is definitely a Hallmark moment for many of us. The card would say: Reading Orwell and Thinking of You – Keep The Aspidistra Flying!) Alas, I had no one to share it with. Several weeks later I was to see Mr. Hitchens and I made him a copy of the article. When I saw him I handed him the article and he promptly left the room. I was undaunted by this behavior and rightly so. A few minutes later, he returned bearing a large book. For one of his speaking engagements, he was given a multi-volume hardback collection purporting to be EVERYTHING that George Orwell ever wrote. He had ducked out to check this collection to make sure that British Cookery was included. It was and all was well.

For Penguin’s 70th birthday, they published works from 70 of their authors for 70p. One of these titles was a collection of Orwell essays featuring In Defense of English Cooking. Had I been the editor, I would have compiled all or Orwell’s writing about food into a single volume. It would be scant but very interesting. After all, In Defense of English Cooking has nary a recipe included just the best of English cookery.

"We have heard a good deal of talk in recent years about the desirability of attracting foreign tourists to this country. It is well known that England’s two worst faults, from a foreign visitor’s point of view, are the gloom of our Sundays and the difficulty of buying a drink. Both of these are due of fanatical minorities who will need a lot of quelling, including extensive legislation. But there is one point on which public opinion could bring about a rapid change for the better: I mean cooking. It is commonly said, even by the English themselves, that English cooking is the worst in the world. It is supposed to be not merely incompetent, but also imitative, and I even read quite recently, in a book by a French writer, the remark: ‘The best English cooking is, of course, simply French cooking.’"

Nonsense says Orwell. His list of British culinary accomplishments are vast. There is bread sauce, horse-radish sauce, mint sauce and apple sauce along with redcurrant jelly. Sweet pickles which are he says, "in greater profusion than most countries." All the bread is good. Stilton cheese and Cox’s Orange Pippin apple would go great with the bread.

I am more taken with his unpublished British Cookery that begin with the French:

"When Voltaire made his often-quoted statement that the country of Britain has “a hundred religions and only one sauce”, he was saying something which was untrue and which is equally untrue today, but which might still be echoed in good faith by a foreign visitor who made only a brief stay and drew his impressions from hotels and restaurants."

It ends with a flurry of recipes for British culinary favorites, including an orange marmalade that Orwell cites as a bad recipe with too much sugar. It is nice to know he cooked his recipes before publishing them, or attempting to publish them. I am sorry, after the Voltaire quote, that Orwell did not include his recipes for sauces that he speaks so highly of in The Defence of English Cooking. We will have to settle for puddings. Here are two examples (one savory, one sweet) from British Cookery and the recipes to go with them.

"Most characteristic of all is roast beef, and of all the cuts of beef, the sirloin is the best. It is always roasted lightly enough to be red in the middle: pork and mutton are roasted more thoroughly. Beef is carved in wafer-thin slices, mutton in thick slices. With beef there nearly always goes Yorkshire pudding, which is a sort of crisp pancake made of milk flour and eggs and which is delicious when sodden with gravy."

Yorkshire Pudding


4 ounces flour
1 or 2 eggs
½ teaspoonful salt
½ pint milk (or milk and water)

Method. Put the flour into a basin with the salt. Make a well in the centre, break in the eggs; beat well, adding the milk to make a think batter; allow this to stand for 2 hours. Melt some dripping in a baking-tin and when quite hot pour in the batter. Make for half an hour in a hot oven.

"Far and away the best of all suet puddings is plum pudding, which is an extremely rich, elaborate and expensive dish, and is eaten by everyone in Britain at Christmas time, though not often at other times of the year."

Christmas Pudding

1 lb each of currants, sultanas & raisins
2 ounces sweet almonds
1 ounce bitter almonds
4 ounces mixed peel
1/2 lb brown sugar
1/2 lb flour
1/4 lb breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoonful salt
1/2 teaspoonful grated nutmeg 1/4 teaspoonful powdered cinnamon
6 ounces suet
The rind and juice of 1 lemon
5 eggs
A little milk
1/8 of a pint of brandy, or a little beer.

Wash the fruit. Chop the suet, shred and chop the peel, stone and chop the raisins, blanch and chop the almonds. Prepare the breadcrumbs. Sift the spices and salt into the flour. Mix all the dry ingredients into a basin. Beat the eggs, mix them with the lemon juice and the other liquids. Add to the dry ingredients and stir well. If the mixture is too stiff, add a little more milk. Allow the mixture to stand for a few hours in a covered basin. Then mix well again and place in well-greased basins of about 8 inches diameter. Cover with rounds of greased paper. Then tie the tops of the basins over [with] the floured cloths if the puddings are to be boiled, or with thick greased paper if they are to be steamed. Boil or steam them for 5 or 6 hours. On the day when the pudding is to be eaten, re-heat it by steaming it for 3 hours. When serving, pour a large spoonful of warm brandy over it and set fire to it.

In Britain it is usual to mix into each pudding one or two small coins, tiny china dolls or silver charms which are supposed to bring luck.

In addition to these essays, Orwell wrote a lovely piece on tea. A Nice Cup of Tea outlines Orwell's eleven rules of making tea. (Read Christopher Hitchens' article on making tea the Orwell way, here.) In Moon Under Water, Orwell waxes poetic about his favorite public-house, or pub, discussing its decor, its beer and its food. How nice would it have been if Penguin had collected all these essays into a single volume.

P.S. As you know, Christopher Hitchens has been very sick. The last time we saw him on television we noticed that he was building new bookshelves. Always a good sign! From the Hallmark/Orwell collection we say:

Hope You Are Feeling Better -- Keep the Aspidistra Flying!

P.P.S. Keep the Aspidistra Flying is a rather dismal book to have such a zippy title. I am not suggesting you read it, but it is an excellent charades clue.

Requiescat in Pace -- Djuna

My oldest cat, Djuna (named for Djuna Barnes), died last night. My friend Richard Peabody gave her to me as a Christmas present. Her mother had wandered into a friend's house and promptly gave birth to a litter of kitten. Richard arranged for me to meet him and his friend walked into our bookstore, unzipped his backpack and out tumbled this little kitten and a box of food. that was nearly 15 years ago.

Djuna always loved books and positioned herself in the middle of any pile that happened to be lying around. She was friendly, the way a dog can be. Every workman that came to the house was greeted and helped with whatever their assignment was. Even last week when Djuna was feeling a bit sluggish, she escorted the representative of the gas company as he replaced the meter.

We have never been enamored of fireworks, so we celebrate the 4th of July with an annual family Cat Wash. (Actually, a Cat Wash inspires its own form of fireworks!) Every cat gets a big old bath whether they need one or not. We will miss Djuna at this years event.

02 June 2011

Brot Max -- 20 Things You Don't Need In A Kitchen...

The Brot Max Bread Slicer is not the greatest thing since sliced bread. I will admit that it could use a good sharpening, but that said, the rather large and heavy "slicing" arm has the tendency to decimate anything vaguely resembling bread. This rather firm loaf is a good match for the cast iron behemoth.

Michael Chiarello of NapaStyle fame was actually enamoured of this device and reproduced it for his catalogue. It has since disappeared as there were few takers.

Still, it is a great addition to any home that has an inspired baker. Just make sure you have a good bread knife on hand.

01 June 2011

Etiquette Wednesday

We simply could not let this Wednesday go by without a toast to... well The Toast. My friend, Ann sent along this Washington Post link. Check out Jonathan Capehart's Post article complete with the full video. Obama's been in office for less than three years and he is on his third social secretary.

I say you still can't beat Letitia Baldrige.

Last Wednesday we did not have an etiquette post, but one of our favorite bloggers did. Check out this post by the most darling Reggie Darling. I noticed that it has caused quite a bit of comment!
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