30 September 2011

Famous Food Friday -- Eugene Walter

OK, some of you may not think Eugene Walter is that famous, but I do. It is one of my greatest regrets that I never met Eugene Walter. In a previous post at Lucindaville, we extolled the copious adventures of Mr. Walter. At Cookbook Of The Day we have featured several cookbooks from Eugene Walter. If ever there was a Renaissance man, it was Eugene Walter who was at varying time in his colorful life:





founder of a chamber orchestra...
...and the Paris Review

winner of a Lippincott...
...an O’Henry...
...a Sewanee-Rockefeller fellowship...
...the Prix Guilloux

puppet maker

music composer

opera singer

actor (including Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Lina Wertmüller’s Ballad of Belle Starr and 100 others)

cookbook author

legendary party-giver

consummate Southerner

They just don't make them like this anymore. For much of his later life, Eugene Walter talked of writing a book about gumbo. It is the great "lost" book of Eugene Walter and the first question everyone asks his executor, Donald Goodman. Goodman says the book never existed. I have asked him repeatedly. One day last year, I got an e-mail form Goodman. While there wasn't a gumbo book, there was a manuscript that never got published. The University of North Carolina Press was going to publish the cookbook and Don wanted me to know. I immediately pre-ordered the book. The Happy table of Eugene Walter arrived last week. First I just looked at it for a couple of days and finally I sat down to spent the day with Eugene. It was the next best thing to meeting him.

The first thing one notices about the book is its division. The first, substantial section, is on drinks. Southern drinks, of course. There are 5 juleps, 7 eggnogs, 13 punches, two pages of instructions on iced tea and 9 hangover "cures" all with a proper history and introduction.

The second section is on victuals. And what victuals they are. Walter offers up a favorite from the famed creole cookbook author, Celestine Eustis. The recipe is a basic bread pudding recipe titled "Monkey Pudding." The recipe calls for stale bread, milk, cream, sugar and spice, but it is the actual baking instructions that caught Walter's eye. According to Eustis the pudding is cooked until... "it looks like an old monkey."

Water loved monkeys and one can just see him laughing at as he pulled that monkey pudding from the fire.
Walter never looses his humor nor his writing style when introducing a recipe. Here is his introduction to Sunday Supper Onion Pie:

"Okay, you have the wreckage of a baked ham, roast beef, or pork. So prepare your favorite flaky pastry for a deep pie pan --not a casserole, not a shallow pie pan, but a deep pie pan. Bake it; chill it.
Then make your onion pie filling. There are dozens of recipes. And, just like the 2,000 green tomato pie recipes are about evenly divided between sweet versions and savory ones, same's true of onions. Many eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century green apple pie recipes were simply northern apple pie recipes with, in the apple-less south, green tomatoes substituted for Eve's preference."

Walter's description of learning to make rice from Marie Honorine Julac is worth the price of the book.

Here is a little recipe Walter calls, "a mad dish from the 1920's."

Whoopsadaisy Toast

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound grated Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup dry Champagne
Dash of mace
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

In your chafing dish, melt butter over hot water, then add grated Cheddar cheese. As it melts, gradually add Champagne, Pit in a dash of mace, a pinch of salt, and a hint of freshly ground white pepper; serve immediately over warm toast. Chilled champagne, of course, with it.

Cheese toast. Every kid has had it at one time or another, yet, in the hands of Eugene Walter it becomes an elegant and delightful luncheon. "In your chaffing dish..." because everyone has a chaffing dish, really what kind of Southerner are you? "A dash," "a pinch," "a hint," all less than a 1/4 teaspoon, but important measurements to be learned through a culinary osmosis. Chilled champagne-- "of course" -- because what is the point of whoosadaisy toast without a little champagne on the side.

I said it before and I will say it again, I am very sorry that I never met Eugene Walter. But, I am grabbing a bottle of Champagne and making Woopsadaisy Toast for lunch in his honor.

27 September 2011

Ballet & Pork

Two things we love here in Lucindaville -- ballet and pork. We were overjoyed the other evening while we were watching a documentary about the legendary ballerina, Maria Tallchief. Many people fail to realize that Tallchief was America's first prima ballerina and she was the original Sugarplum Fairy for George Balanchine, to whom she was married for a while. She was wife #3.

Anywho...in this documentary, Tallchief talked about taking Mr. B to visit the folks in Oklahoma. The above picture was snapped of George Balanchine toting a pig! Incongruous yet cool...

26 September 2011

Women Reading

The Morning Paper by Sir James Guthrie, 1890.

23 September 2011

Way Down Yonder In The Pawpaw Patch

It's pawpaw season and we are...

Pickin' up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch

University of Arkansas

If you are familiar with the song or with the pawpaw, you know that it won't fit into your "pocket" unless that pocket is an old-fashioned apron to which the song refers. You may not find pawpaw (Asimina triloba) fruit on the grocery shelf because the season lasts a short time and the fruit lasts only a few days. It makes for a temperamental harvest. Full disclosure: I was nowhere near the pawpaw patch.

Living in a small town, and having a reputation for cooking and eating ANYTHING, I am often the recipient of foodstuffs that no one else want to bother with. Yesterday I got three bags of pawpaws in various states of ripeness. One school of thought would have you believe that you need to wait till the pawpaw falls from the tree, but frankly, by that time they are over-ripe. Pick them when they have that "avocado" feel to them - a few brown spots and a gentle give should put them about ripe. Alas, most of bags were filled with the over-ripe variety, but I was able to salvage about 4 cups of pawpaw pulp.

The pawpaw is often called a Custard Apple because of its soft, custard-y flesh, but actually the custard apple is the same genus -- different species as are the cherimoya and the sweetsop. The name is probably derived from its similarity to the word papaya and the belief that the pawpaw was a similar type of fruit though the papaya is a different genus.

The pawpaw has many a banana nom de plume including the Poor Man's banana, the Hoosier banana, the Indiana banana and the West Virginia banana. Mashed up it does have that over-ripe banana consistency, though the taste of the pawpaw is a bit more melon-y. The pawpaw is the state fruit of Ohio and the largest edible fruit native to North America.

With this plethora of pawpaw goodness, I made a cake and some preserves. The cake was my usual kind of moist, fruit cake made in one of my cake boxes. The recipe can be made in loaf pans or any pan that is about 8 inches across and lined with parchment or brown paper.

Pawpaw Cake with Candied Lemon and Sultanas

1 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2cup) butter, softened
3 eggs
1 cup mashed pawpaw pulp
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons quatre épices
1 cup sultanas
1/4 candied lemon peel, dredged in additional flour

1. Cream butter and sugar.

2. Add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

3. Mix the pawpaw pulp and the milk, in a small bowl.

4. In another bowl sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and quatre épices.

5. Alternate the pulp mixture and the flour mixture into the batter until fully incorporated.

6. Fold in the lemon peel and sultanas

7. Pour the batter into a prepared Lucinda's Wood Cake Box.

8. Bake at 300 for 90 minutes.

My other recipe was for pawpaw jam. This jam has an "order-by-mail" ingredient in the recipe. I live in a remote area and often get ingredients through the mail. This recipe calls for a soft diced ginger available at King Arthur's Flour. I love ginger. It is fairly easy to find candied ginger, but this product from King Arthur is sublime. Seriously, it is one of those things that one might be tempted to eat right out of the carton with a spoon. It is beyond versatile. A teaspoon in a cake, cookies, marinade, salad dressing... the list is as long as your imagination. If you love ginger and cook with it often, this is a must have!

Pawpaw Jam with Ginger

3 cups pawpaw pulp
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup soft diced ginger

Mix all the ingredients into a confiture pan or other non-reactive pan. Bring to a rolling boil. When a candy thermometer reaches 220 F., remove from heat and pour into sterilized jars. Process for 10 minutes.

Still want more pawpaws? Check out Cookbook Of The Day.

20 September 2011

Cocktails at the Burn Pit -- Blueberry Vodka Tonic

This installment of Cocktails at the Burn Pit comes to you from the sunny shores of Delaware. At the beach, the only thing that gets burned is one's soft and white underbelly. (I did use that SPF stuff and a shirt, but I just felt I wasn't getting enough sun and then...but I digress.)

So there was no burn pit but as always there were cocktails. The house drink, where I was a guest, was the ever popular G&T. But when I arrived, the G&T got a little twist.

This summer, I was inundated with blueberries, a very great thing to be inundate with, so I made jam and pies and ice cram and salads. I froze bags of blueberries, so in the darkness of winter, I could make more jam and think of summer and still, I had blueberries. The last few handfuls that I thought might get all gunky before I could deal with them, got dealt with. I dropped them into a partially full bottle of vodka and set out to make blueberry vodka.

Blueberry Vodka

1 partially consumed bottle of vodka
2-3 cups of blueberries

Drop the blueberries into the vodka. Shake on occasion. Wait a month or so. Strain.

I took my blueberry vodka to the beach where it received a less than enthusiastic reception. Finally, it rose to the head of the cocktail list and got the opportunity to shine. I took a few blueberries from the house and dipped them in an egg white wash and rolled them in sugar for a garnish. And then...

Blueberry Vodka Tonics

1 ounce blueberry vodka
4 ounces tonic

Fill a glass with ice. Pour in one ounce blueberry vodka. Fill with tonic. Give it a quick stir. Garnish with blueberries.

Beach, burn pit, breakfast nook, it really doesn't matter. This one is a keeper. And to think I wasted all those blueberries on pie when I could have made vodka!

13 September 2011

Root Vegetables

This happens every year. As soon as the garden starts to wane, I start thinking about the next garden. Last week I dug potatoes and onions and this week I was thumbing though a vintage copy of Alexander Dean’s Root and Stem Vegetables.

I just adore root vegetables. I have a green thumb when it comes to beets, turnips, carrots and onions.

My thumb is totally black when it comes to parsnips, one of my favorite vegetables. I am starting early, reading all the pertinit info so that perhaps next year, I will finally grow a parsnip or two. Till then, I’ll keep reading.

10 September 2011

Sour Cherry Preserves

This summer I got a new cherry pitter. Some girls like shoes, I like kitchen gadgets.

Having a new cherry pitter meant procuring cherries to pit with it. So I got 8 cups of sour cherries and pitted them. I like my preserves and jams to a bit on the loose side, so I try not to use pectin.

Sour Cherry Preserves

8 cups pitted sour cherries
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 cups sugar

Put the cherries, juice and sugar into a nonreactive canning pan. Cook slowly until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and cook until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 230 F. Fill sterilized jars to with 1/8 inch of the top. Screw on the sterilized jar top and ring and hand tighten. Place in a canning pot of boiling water an inch over the top of the jars. Process for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.

Now make some biscuits and sit out on the porch and enjoy.

08 September 2011

Stettheimer Dollhouse

Portrait of My Sister, Carrie W. Stettheimer, 1923 by Florine Stettheimer

The other evening I was sitting at my desk with he television on in the background when Dr. Who came on. I know very little of Dr. Who. Suffice to say, I am aware that the show has a huge following and even the people who follow it with great vigor, the so called Whovians, sometimes find themselves lost in Who-ville. I began to pay attention when I saw that the time travelers were abducted by a child and sent to live in a dollhouse with some really creepy dolls.

This made me think -- If I were to get trapped in a doll house by some weirdly alien child, which dollhouse would I want to get trapped in. Clearly the question was a no-brainer. Carrie Stettheimer's Dollhouse, of course.

The Stettheimer Sisters were an interesting bunch. (As an only child, I never could grasp the concept of siblings, and while I can think of nothing worse than "sisters", I do admit an unnatural fascination with them.)

In the Stettheimer household, there were three sisters of note.

Florine, Carrie, and Ettie Stettheimer

Florine was a painter who refused to sell or show her work.

Carrie managed the household and spent somewhere between 18 and 25 years building a dollhouse.

Ettie was writer of overwrought, slightly feminist, lovelorn novels.

Carrie Stettheimer filled the dollhouse with recreations of the rooms in the Stettheimer house. The sisters used their house as a salon and the numerous painters and artist who visited, joined in Carrie dollhouse fantasy by painting tiny replicas of some their most important works. Even Marcel Duchamp made Carrie a tiny Nude Descending a Staircase.

The Stettheimer dollhouse is roughly 28 inches tall, 50 inches long, and 35 inches wide and it resides at the Museum of the City of New York.

So if, perchance, you run into Dr. Who and you have to be sucked into a dollhouse, this is the one. I could definitely live there, if the sisters moved out.

07 September 2011

Grind Your Own

My friend, Ann, decided to enrich the cooking environment of Lucindaville with a grain grinder for Christmas, as we always wanted to make our own grits. However, grain grinders are ghastly expensive, so I promised to keep a lookout for scratch-and-dent model. Of course I found one and Ann came through, though it was a bit before the Christmas deadline. We couldn't resist giving it a spin.

First we ground some blue corn. Since this was our first experiment, our grits came out more of a cornmeal. Grits -- cornmeal who cares, they were our cornmeal. So we took the cornmeal and made cornbread. We made the cornbread with the cornmeal and Doe Run eggs. Just a reminder, the eggs at Doe Run Farm have the most vibrant orange yolks, so the eggs acted, not only as a binder, but as a food coloring. So the blue cornmeal and orange yolks made for a strangely colored cornbread.

But still, beyond yummy. By Christmas, we should have the kinks worked out.

06 September 2011

Cold-Green House

We still need a nice coat of white paint.

We have been working on taking an old chicken house and turning it into a greenhouse type of structure for potting plants and perhaps a bit of coldhouse growing. Last week we completed some glass roof panels.

Teddy takes a first look.

A fly on the wall or ceiling.

Cloudy daylight.

A bit more sun.

Teddy does the contractor's walk through.

He wanted a wooden panel here.

His demands were unresolved.

In the end, the project received the "Teddy" seal of approval.

02 September 2011

Famous Food Friday -- Tennessee Williams

Thomas Lanier Williams by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Let's just get this right of the way -- I am not fond of cookbooks that take a famous person of event and then just throws together recipes claiming to be a cookbook. So I was quite skeptical about Dinner With Tennessee Williams. Drinks with Tennessee Williams might have been another story...

Still, if you were going to do a Tennessee Williams cookbook, this one was done in the right way. First, there was rhyme to their reason. Every year New Orleans has a Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. This cookbook grew out of a love of Tennessee William's New Orleans. Chef Greg Picolo had cooked for the Literary Festival on occasion. Troy Gilbert had written a cookbook or two. Throw in Dr. Kenneth Holditch, a noted Williams scholar, and you have a fine cookbook, one even Tennessee Williams would have been proud of.

I lived in New Orleans for a year. I gained forty pounds! Seriously, I GAINED forty pounds. Even the crappiest food in New Orleans is about ten times better than the BEST food in most places. Southerners love to sit around an talk and eat. And talk and eat and tell you about what they ate and how their grandma cooked it and how that differed from the way Mama cooked it and how they cook it and what restaurant has a good approximation. New Orleans is one of those cities where people can talk poetically and passionately about food and spend their entire life having never set foot in a kitchen!

Gilbert and Picolo do a great job of translating Dr. Holditch's scholarship about the food in the plays of Tennessee Williams into actual food on a plate. Here is a pork chop fit to serve the overbearing and "big" Big Daddy from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Note they are not just pork chops but double-cut pork chops cooked in Coca-cola, bourbon and molasses the real "holy trinity" of Southern cooking.

Big Daddy's Braised Double-Cut Pork Chops With Coca-Cola, Bourbon, Molasses, and Granny Smith Apples

6 double-cut pork chops
Salt and pepper
2 cups flour, seasoned
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cups bourbon
4 cups Coca-Cola
2 cups apple juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons lite soy sauce
2 tablespoons Steen's Molasses
2 teaspoons Tabasco or Crystal Hot Sauce
2 cups demi-glace
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup beef stock, if needed
5 Granny Smith apples, cored, quartered

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Season chops with salt and pepper and then dust in seasoned flour. Sear chops in hot oil in an ovenproof pan until light brown, about 2 minutes on each side and remove to a plate. Carefully pour off excess oil, then add onion and saute 2 minutes. Return chops to pan and deglaze with the bourbon, allowing the pot liquor to reduce by two-thirds.

Add Coca-Cola, apple juice, garlic, soy sauce, molasses, Tabasco, demi-glace, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper. While cooking, take a brush and baste the chops every 5 minutes or so. Braise in an oven, uncovered, at 450 degrees F for 8 minutes. If needed, add stock or water if the pot-liquor reduces too quickly. Reduce heat and cook at 350 - 400 degrees F for 20 minutes; turn the chops. Cook for an additional 20 minutes then turn again. Add apples and cook an additional 20--40 minutes, until the meat is almost falling off the bone. Serve .

Another reason to feature this cookbook is to take a look back at some of the fine actresses that have given life to the complex women of Tennessee Williams' imagination.

Carroll Baker
Baby Doll

Elizabeth Taylor
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Anika Noni Rose
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Vivien Leigh
A Streetcar Named Desire

Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange
The Glass Menagerie

Zoe Wanamaker
The Rose Tattoo

Blythe Danner
Suddenly Last Summer

Frankly, this is the "short list" ...we could go on and on... Check out more actresses at Cookbook Of The Day.

As Vermont Goes...

The road below Barbara Carter and Steve Zind's

Safely tucked away in the interior of West Virginia, I was more concerned about Irene than the people in D.C. and Virginia facing what appeared to be an onslaught. I watched the weather incessantly and called with lists of things that needed to be done: charge cell phones, get flashlights, make sure said flashlights had fresh batteries, get food for three days in case the power were to go out, have prescriptions close at hand, have some cash...

After all my calls one friend remarked that after all that preparation, nothing would happen. And they proved to be right... and then there was Vermont.

I hadn't given a thought to all my friends in Vermont. ironically, several days before Irene was scheduled to hit, I got an e-mail from Vermont inquiring as to my safety. I thought, as they did, that we were to far inland. West Virginia was unscathed but Vermont was screwed. All my friends were fine, but it was today before we were able to get info out and to see the devastation.

As with news cycles, hurricane clean up is now taking a back seat to the President's Jobs Speech. Call me old but back in the day -- like 2005 or so, if The President of the United States said jump, the Congress bitched and moaned but eventually said, "How High?" Because THE PRESIDENT, no matter how big a tool, is THE PRESIDENT. And frankly, we have had some real tools. And though I haven't always agreed with them or liked them, and even though I couldn't bear to watch some of them on the television, they were still The President of the United States.

Today we found out that no jobs were created last month. NO JOBS. None. People are scared. Business are scared. The country is broke. There is no confidence that anything can be done in Washington. Congress doesn't even have enough respect to let the President speak. People who want his job claim to be unemployed while scheduling an 12 million dollar beach property renovations or they insinuate that earthquakes and hurricanes are God's way of telling us she doesn't like Washington. It would seem that she doesn't really like Vermont or Texas for that matter.

Steve Zind sent out these pictures from Vermont.

This is was the newly paved road at the bottom of Thayer Road. It was one of the many roads washed away in Vermont.

This photo was entitled: Rush hour on Bethel Mt. Road. The heavy equipment in the background that is rebuilding the road belongs to neighbors who saw a problem and set out to fix it.

Rt 73 dropped into the White River south of Rochester, leaving the community cut off. For six hours, neighbors worked to construct a foot bridge so supplies could be walked in.

When people walked out to find internet and phone service, they weren't alone. They carried messages from friends and family.

The Inn in Rochester, like everyone else, had no power. They did have giant walk-in's filled with food, and so they cooked it and fed their community.

It might just be time for a change in Washington. I say let's draft Bernie Sanders.

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