29 November 2011

A "Wilder" Christmas Idea

At a loss for what to give the gardener in your life?

For those of you in the upper 1% may we suggest hiring a full-time gardener, or two, to keep your property in tip top shape. But do try to keep them in a legal age range as this band of gardeners seem a bit on the young side...

For the other 99% who need a great gardening idea for Christmas, might we suggest the recently launched Wilder Quarterly. Let's just say this is not your grandmother's gardening magazine. It is after all a quarterly, so it has that journal feel to it. The articles are really, really useful. Seriously, detailed instruction on how to build your own cold frame. A visit to the Vinegar Hill House for a lesson in fermentation. A visit to filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's secret garden.

There are mushrooms, bulb planting, soil additives and rather fun chicken coops.

Wilder Quarterly is definitely a keeper! And a giver. The biggest problem with Wilder Quarterly... the second you finish the first volume, you begin to linger longingly at the mailbox for the next installment. Be forewarned.

26 November 2011

We Will Be...

...watching the Alabama-Auburn game.

Hope everyone had a glorious Thanksgiving and to our friends across the pond, a lovely Thursday. Swamped as of late, but planning to be remarkably productive in the coming weeks.

19 November 2011

Women Reading

La Lectrice soumise by René Magritte, 1928.

This is the perfect representation of my face when I realized Thanksgiving was Thursday.

08 November 2011

Canned Clementines

Confiture of the weekend: canned clementines. Clementines are back and usually sold in jumbo bags or boxes. Generally, no matter how bad the scurvy, it is daunting for one person to consume all those clementines in a reasonable amount of time, leaving a plethora of tiny oranges that seem to multiply overnight. What's a girl to do. Well, can them, of course.

It is really quite easy, if not a bit tedious, as one must first peel all those little teeny oranges. After about, two, the sticky white membranes get all mashed onto your fingers and the process slows and becomes messy, so be sure you have a bar rag of some type to try and keep the hands free of goo.

Then, stuff jars with clementines, make a simple syrup, pour over the clementines in the jar, screw on a lid and process for 10 minutes.

Some people like to break up the clementines into sections to get more in the jar, but these German Leifheit jars are constructed in the funny triangular shape which allowed for a snug insertion of whole clementines. The simple syrup had a bit of spice. Rather than give you strict measurements, as I do not know how ravenous your desire for clementines was, so I have no idea how many were laying on your counter.


After peeling all the clementines you are planning to use, stuff them(whole or sectioned) into jars. Now, count the number of jars. Fill one jar with plain water while it is stuffed. Pour that water off into a measuring cup. Multiply that amount of water by the number of jars and that will be the amount of water for this canning job. (So, if you get 1/2 cup of water out of your clementine stuffed jar and you have 4 stuffed jars, you will start with 2 cups of water.)

This past week we have been reading Brad Thomas Parsons' wonderful book, Bitters. Since we have never been a huge fan of cloying sweetness, the idea of a little bitterness gains rave reviews. While our bar is set up with your basic Angostua, Peychaud and orange bitters, we also keep a nice celery on hand for that special kick to our Bloody Mary's. We are enamored of The Bitter Truth's homage to Jerry Thomas' bitters recipe, Bittermen's Burlesque is another fave as is The Bitter End's Memphis. But I digress....(and so should you by reading our Cookbook Of The Day post on Bitters.)

Back to the clementines which, I might add, got their name from my cat "Clementine" whose lovely orange mane was the first inspiration for clementines. But again, I digress...


While my "simple syrup" started out simple, it became more complex. I added a sachet of mixed spice and finished it off with shot of orange liqueur and a dash of orange bitters.

Lucinda's Canned Clementines

28 clementines, peeled
1 1/2 cups water (see the note for measuring)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon grains of paradise
1/2 cup orange liqueur
6 dashed of orange bitters

Peel and remove as much of the white membrane as possible. Fit the clementines whole or in sections into canning jars.

Take the spices and wrap them in a piece of cheesecloth and tie off. In a small saucepan, add the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is just dissolve. Add the spice packet and bring to a boil. Remove the spice packet, making sure to drain any excess syrup back into the saucepan. Add the orange liqueur, the bitters and stir.

Pour the syrup over the clementines, leaving a 1/8 inch of rim. Wipe clean the jar rims and screw on the lids, hand tight. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Remember to time from the point the water boils. Sometimes with a syrup base, it will weep through the lid a bit, don't worry if that happens.

If, by chance, you find yourself some leftover syrup, consider yourself lucky. Just pour it in a little container and stick it in the fridge. Then you can add it to carrots, sweeten tea, make vinaigrette, the possibilities are endless.

07 November 2011

More Famous People with Chickens

Jane Fonda

Sam Neill

Self-Portrait with Chickens, William Huggins, 1858.

Miley Cyrus

Self-Portrait, Robert Rauschenberg, 1954

04 November 2011

My Own Personal...

Harry Lowe and I have this game. It is a kind of "fantasy football" for people who don't give a crap about professional sports. Ours is a kind of "Fantasy Household Staff." We list the staff we would most like to have. Harry Lowe and I agree that, if money were no object, we would have drivers. Someone to sit and wait till we wanted to go somewhere. Then we could sit in the back, sip coffee, listen to tunes, nap, and arrive at our destination without ever once looking for parking.

My friend, Ann, wants a cook, like Oprah. Well, not "Oprah" to actually cook, but a cook/nutritionist who would make tasty snack and meals so Ann would eat properly.

Maids often come up on this list, as do gardeners, handymen, and caretakers.

Recently, I saw a headline that stated:

Daniel Boulud's Personal Forager Gets Cookbook Deal.

A personal forger! Who knew. Now everybody wants one. Clearly it won't be long till the poor people will have nothing to eat as marauding Yankee foragers descent on the South and take all our ramps, kudzu flowers, morels and god know what else.

Tama Matsuoka, Boulud's personal forager, and his chef de cuisine Eddy Leroux are preparing a book tentatively and appropriately entitled: Foraged Flavor.

Now the whole roster on my Fantasy Household Staff list has to change to add in my personal forager. The upstairs maid will have to go.

03 November 2011

Bucatini with Chicken Livers and Gizzards

Not wanting to shock those people just cannot abide organ meats, we tempered this post with a photo of the Tomato Bread we made to accompany the bucatini.

Now for the offal...

Even as a child, my favorite part of the chicken was the gizzard. In D.C. last week, I stopped by Eastern Market and found a beautiful fresh bucatini which one doesn't often find fresh. Bucatini is a pasta that can stand up to anything and passing my favorite poultry vendor, I knew just what would top that fresh bucatini. I bought some chicken lives and gizzards. As they came from a reputable vendor, the gizzards were clean and neat. The problem with cooking a dish with livers and gizzards is the vast difference in cooking times. Chicken livers cook in a minute or two but the gizzards need a good hour of simmering to get them tender, or as tender as a gizzard gets. Personally, the chewiness of gizzards doesn't bother me. If you are cooking this dish for a crowd, however, dropping the gizzards in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes would be the way to go.

Bucatini with Chicken Livers and Gizzards

1 pound bucatini
1/2 pound chicken gizzards, cooked till tender
1/2 pound chicken livers
1 tablespoon flour
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
several sage leaves, chopped, with additional leaves for garnish
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, add the chicken gizzards and cover with water and simmer about an hour until somewhat tender as gizzards will never get that tender.

Roughly chop the cooked gizzards and dredge with the livers in the flour.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil as you begin the sauce. Fresh pasta will take about 2 minutes, dried pasta will take about 10 minutes. You will want your pasta to be ready as the sauce is finishing. The sauce will take about 10 minutes to finish, so start the dried pasta now.

In a large skillet, add the oil and saute the onion for a minute or two. Add the gizzards and liver, being careful as chicken livers are notorious for making the oil pop. cook for about 2 minutes and add the sage. Cook another minute. Add the chicken stock, stirring to reduce. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cream, stirring to incorporate and cook for about 1 minute.

Drain the bucatini, reserving a bit of the water, and add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the pasta water to loosen it. Garnish with the extra sage.

Even the squeamish might dig into this pasta. If not, more for me!

02 November 2011

Etiquette Wednesday -- New York Times

Who could resist this article from the New York Times about the demise of manners in the South. It is those damn Yankees coming in and being all rude and such. From now on, you over-paid, raised-by-wolves sports yahoos better remember that a man always gives up his seat for a lady.

01 November 2011

The Snows of October


If I wanted snow in October I would have moved to Denver or

Alaska or some Scandinavian country. OK, it wasn't a lot of snow, but it was October!
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