31 August 2011

Etiquette Wednesday

Your Manners Are Showing, written by that the perky young writer and illustrator Betty Betz will provide your teen-ager with the "bright and breezy low-down on dates, popularity, clothes, jobs, parents, smoking, money, table manners, parties, and dozens of other vital teenage matters."

According to the jacket blurb, Betty Betz is the noted teen-age authority. Written in 1946, this slim volume is aimed at the teenager out there who is treading the murky undercurrent of etiquette. Aided by Anne Clark, who whipped up some nifty little verses to explain various tips along the way, there is nothing the budding teen-ager won't know. It would seem that along with a profound desire to learn manners, teenagers just love to read poetry. Like this one:

Just now the words you'd like to write
Are "dearest, darling, my life's light."
Suppose that in five years or ten
He reads your note aloud -- What then?

While it might have been 1949, one can see that etiquette has many universals. It would be easy enough to update these verses for today's teen-age, like this one:

Just now the words you'd like to tweet
Are, "Send me some photos, topless."
When you meet a prospective employer, My Sweet
You may find yourself jobless.

The previous owner of this book seemed to be having a bit of trouble with conversation and dating as she made a few notes in these particular chapters. She needed to show a bit more animation in her face and concentrate more on the other party. Her temper was also of great concern. Under the following quote is neatly written, "copy this line ten times." The line:

"Be pretty if you can, witty if you must
-- and pleasant if it kills you."

Words to live by.

30 August 2011

Restoration Hardware

I just picked up the new Restoration Hardware catalogue or Source Book/Magalog/Catalog "we're not quite sure what to call it" as Gary Friedman, Chairman and Co-CEO, we're not quite sure what to call him, puts it.

The mailman is not speaking to me. This catalogue, all 616 pages of it, is already stirring up controversy. And that might just be the point. Keep an eye out for your haggard mail person as he/she starts dragging these behemoths to your mail slot.

26 August 2011

Famous Food Friday -- Colleen McCullough

People often joke that EVERYONE has a a book in them, well it is not a far stretch (especially if you read Famous Food Friday) to assume that EVERYONE has a cookbook in them. Today we are... Cooking With Colleen McCullough.

McCullough was a literary sensation in the late 1970's and 1980's after producing an rather large and rambling novel about Australia entitled: The Thorn Birds. It was ostensibly about a priest waging battle between his love of God and his love of all things female. It was all the rage and in 1983 it was turned into a rambling mini-series.

I came to write about this cookbook, not because of Colleen McCullough but because of Barbara Stanwyck .

Recently I saw an interview with the new "IT" girl, Brit Marling,

who said the actress she most wanted to be like was Barbara Stanwyck . A few days later, I saw Barbara Stanwyck in Annie Oakley.

Then, I was moving something in a desk and I ran across the Barbara Stanwyck Christmas Ornament, my BFF, Beverly gave me. Then I remembered The Thorn Birds, largely because of Barbara Stanwyck, who had a hot sex scene with a naked Richard Chamberlain. It was quite scandalous at the time. And that, my dear readers, is how we got to to Colleen McCullough's cookbook but, as always, I digress...

Colleen McCullough set out to be a doctor, but dermatitis kept her from scrubbing in as a physician, so she turned her interests to neurophysiology. While studying, she had a professor, Jean Easthope. The pair became friends and quickly began cooking together. They proved to be an unlikely, yet interesting mix. McCullough was raised in a meat-and-potatoes household while Easthope was raised by vegetarian parents.

The book is filled with archival prints, drawings and photographs, including a rather lovely kangaroo hunt (unless, of course, you are the kangaroo).

I was quite dismayed that the book failed to include a single kangaroo recipe. Since humans are a bit on the squeamish side and would rather eat pork than pig, venison than deer, so, an attempt was made recently to develop a "people" friendly culinary term for kangaroo. The winner is... "Australus." If you see"Australus" steak on the menu, you will no longer be in the dark.

Since we had no kangaroo, we immediately went to the chocolate. Even kangaroo, sorry, Australus, would be great if just smothered it in this lovely sauce.

Chocolate Rum Sauce

225 g (8 oz) dark chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons rum

Melt the chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler, stir well, and add the rum, stirring again.

As long as we are rambling...

The joy (as well as the curse) of our new technology may well be that we never lose anything. When you snort milk out your nose in the junior high lunch room, chances are it will end up on YouTube. Forever. FOREVER. Every dumbass thing one does, things that used to be forgotten, are now immortalized for better or worse.

The good news is, one no longer has to watch 8 hours of The Thorn Birds to see the naughty bit with Richard Chamberlain and Barbara Stanwyck .

25 August 2011

Happy Birthday Sandra

Bowery 1, (2004) Sandra Walker, RI

Today is my dear friend, Sandra Walker's birthday. She is 35... or is it 95? I get those two confused.


24 August 2011

An Artist Named Dora

One of our favorite authors here at Lucindaville is Marjorie Hillis. We didn't know much about her, but have always loved her books. Most were written in the 1930's and were guidebooks for women. They are remarkably funny and and continue to be relevant for women, even today. That is probably why several different publishers are reprinting her books. Recently, we ran across an article about Hillis by Joanna Scutts. We were ever so happy to find out more about Hillis.

In 1938, Hillis wrote a poetry sequence about seven working women entitled, Work Ends At Nightfall. The poems are a bit overwrought and I must say that I have read them all. What is striking about this book is the artwork. There are two line drawings of each of the characters by and artist called Dora. Again, I have nothing about the artist known as "Dora." What I will tell you is that the illustrations are stunning. There is something so evocative about these simple line drawings that keep me coming back to them. If you recognise Dora give us the scoop!

23 August 2011

Edith Wharton

Edith Newbold Jones, 1870 by Edward Harrison May

I have a picture research job and recently came across this gem. One always thinks of the formidable Edith Wharton as, well... the formidable Edith Wharton.

Edward Harrison May was a British-born artist working in Paris. This portrait of the young Edith was painted during a six-year family sojourn in Europe.

It just goes to show, we were all young once.

19 August 2011

Famous Food Friday -- Beverley Nichols

Last year Lucindaville (and Cookbook Of The Day) offered up a Famous Food Friday about Beverley Nichols and we are doing it again.

When last we were cooking with Beverely Nichols, we were pondering his "found" cookbook, In an Eighteenth Century Kitchen. This was the cookbook Nichols wrote about in A Thatched Roof. After his success with Down The Garden Path, the first and probably best known, or should I say, remembered of Nichols' books, he chose to undertake a similar culinary adventure which would become Down the Kitchen Sink. Nichols knew as little about cooking and he once did about gardening and I am sure he thought if could master gardening, why not cooking.

This is, however, Beverely Nichols, so an actual cookbook is not exactly what is presented. Even Nichols admits to this:

"This is supposed to be a cookery v book, but I suspect that it will turn out to be something rather different. True, it contains a number of Gaskin's own recipes, which, after his death, I found interlarded among the pages of the cookery books that he had collected over the years. these were sometimes scribbled over with mysterious comments on the guest who were to partake of them, such as 'No crab for Lady F'. I cannot remember any Lady F in my life, nor why she should have been denied this delicacy."

The "Gaskin" mentioned is Reginald Arthur Gaskin who was Nichols manservant for 40 years. When the writer, P.G. Woodhouse visited Nichols and was served by Gaskin, he remarked that Gaskin was, "the perfect Jeeves." While it is said that Woodhouse based his character on a butler he employed for research, Eugene Robinson, it comes as no surprise that Jeeves' Christian name is revealed in 1971 to be "Reginald" but then... Bertie was based on an earlier character named Reggie Pepper... but I digress....

Beverely Nichols, Reginald Gaskin and Nichols gardener, Oldfield.

You get the idea of Gaskin's demeanor. After forty years, when Gaskin died, Nichols found himself in his kitchen alone searching for something to eat. Nichols takes it upon himself to write a cookery book, but it becomes more of dining book filled with interesting people including but not limited to: Noel Coward, Oliver Messel, and William Randolph Hearst. His stories are wonderfully gossipy filled with dish and food.

Clearly, some of the recipes are unique to Nichols. This unnamed recipe is on Nichols "heard" about. It is by far the strangest recipe, and one you should replicate at your own risk.

Silver Chicken

I had to invent this title for this recipe does no appear in any cookery book which I have yet encountered.

You take the largest capon you can buy. It must be a whooper.

You then rinse 6 or 8 silver spoons or forks in hot water. Only silver will do; silver plate would be worse than useless.

Now, taking a firm grip of the chicken, push the silver up its behind. As if this were not enough humiliation, follow it with two heaped tablespoonful of ground ginger. All this sounds extremely sadistic but it is no more so than keeping the poor thing cramped in a cage for the whole of its unnatural life.

Having maltreated the chicken in this manner, bring a large saucepan of slightly salted water to a boil, put in the chicken, add 6 carrots and 6 medium sized onions, cram on the lid, and boil at the gallop for precisely 5 minutes.

Turn off the gas, lift up the saucepan, transport to the larder, and leave to cool overnight.

On the following morning you must be prepared for a shock. When you lift the chicken out and drain off the water, and remove the spoons and forks, you will find that they have all gone black. Do not be alarmed. A good soaking in any of the modern silver-cleaning preparations will restore them, though this may take rather longer than usual.

A chicken prepared in this manner tastes quite different from any chicken you have ever had before, unless you are at least sixty years old, and can recall the days of your youth, when a chicken really was a chicken, and not a synthetic Robot bird, reared by Robots for the mechanical digestion of other Robots. Apart from the taste, it can be carved in delicate slices, instead of falling to pieces in the manner of the average boiled chicken of today.

I cannot think of a better dinner companion than Beverely Nichols. When you try this recipe, do send us a photo -- or the chicken and the silverware!

18 August 2011

Celia Fiennes

Bifrons Park and Canterbury
"Canterbury opens to view 6 miles distant,
by the advantage of a high hill."

Celia Fiennes traveled through England on horseback, riding side-saddle. Born in 1662, she never married and took great relish in traveling. Her travels were concentrated in her native England where she is the first woman to visit every county in England. Fiennes had a great interest in the architecture of her day and visited many of the stately homes in the country side. In fact, she saw many of the finest houses of the Baroque period as they were being built and landscaped. Here are just a few.

Hampton Court Palace
"There is two broad gravell walks runns aslant
like two wings from the first garden."

"The Gardens are very fine, with many gravel walkes
with grass squaires set with fine brass and stone statues."

"The front appear'd like a Princes Court of brick and stone very fine,
with a large Parke wall'd in of good extent."

Wollaton Hall
"On the Leads you have a very fine prospect...
you see Thomas Willoughbys fine house[Wollaton Hall]
on the other side of town."

In December 1998 a monument commemorating the 300th anniversary of Celia Fiennes' Great Journey was unveiled.

The Celia Fiennes Waymark

Penguin's English Journeys reprinted Celia Fiennes' Through England on a Side-saddle and Christopher Morris first compiled her journals in 1947. They have been reprinted in numerous editions since. Celia Fiennes died in 1741.

16 August 2011

School Then and Now

1995 Graduating Class. Nora, second row on the end.

Kids went back to school this week here in West Virginia. All the ads for school supplies and new clothes made me think of one of my favorite possessions. It is the 1911 Yearbook from Manson High School in Manson, Iowa.

My father's family was from Iowa. He was born after his brother's and sister were grown, an accidental baby. My parents were older when they had me, so I never met my grandparents. My father's aunt's and uncle's were mostly gone when I was born. I knew my great-aunt, Nora for a brief period, but she was quite formidable, approaching 100 and still the most fun a kid could ever want.

Nora, in the middle.

She attended Manson High and was in the class of 1895. She went back to Manson to teach. Later she traveled by horseback as Superintendent of Schools in Montana.

There is much discussion about the failure of American schools. today. It is interesting to look back and see what high school was like in 1911. To graduate from Manson High, your four years of study included:

Four years of English

Four years of Latin

Two years of German

Algebra, Geometry, Advanced Arithmetic and Physics

English history, Ancient Greek and Roman history, U.S. history, Civics, and Economics

Botany, Geography, and Book-keeping.

In addition all pupils were given vocal music and spelling.

And when they said vocal music, they meant all out, costumed operettas and pageants.

Rhetoricals were required for graduation. One had to be able to stand before one's peers and speak cogently on various topics of the day. I am sorry Nora is not around to give remedial classes in rhetoric to our politicians.

And in their free time, they played sports, long before Title IX.

I am quite sure that the average student at the finest institutions of higher learning who receives a Master Degree in 2011 would not be able to graduate from Manson High. Nor would they have the ability to construct their own costume for the operetta. Time marches on...

15 August 2011

Farro with Beets and Blueberries

I made a farro salad this weekend. I made it two ways, a composed warm salad and jumbled cold salad. They both worked fine. In fact, it is rather nice to try it both ways. The composed salad is small and makes for a great appetizer and when you are finished you can just dump the leftovers into a bowl and set it in the fridge for the next day.

Everyone seems to have his or her own special way to make farro. Some people cook it like beans, rinsing and soaking. Some people cook it the way the French often like to cook rice with the grain in a big vat of water, cooking and then draining.

I tend to make it like rice with a ratio of 1 part farro to 2 1/2 parts water.

I used baby beets from my garden, peeling them and sautéing them, which left them with a nice, slightly firm texture. If you use large beets, you might want to roast the beets.

Farro with Beets and Blueberries

1-cup farro
2 1/2 cups water
5 or 6 small young beets with beet green tops
1-tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4-cup blueberries
Oil to sauté beets and greens
Salt & pepper to taste
Goat cheese

1. Add the farro and water to a small saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.

2. Cut off beet greens, remove stems, roughly chop or tear and reserve.

3. Peel and cut the beets into 1/4-inch dice. (The beets will stain your hands, so you might want to wear gloves.)

4. Cut about 1/4 cup of the beet stems add to the cubed beets and sauté in a medium skillet with a little oil, until just tender, about 10 minutes.

5. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook another minute.

6. Add blueberries and cook another minute.

7. Remove the beets and blueberry mixture and set aside.

8. In the same skillet, sauté the beet greens until wilted, about 5 minutes.

9. Toss the farro and beet mixture together, and season to taste.

10. Pack into a ring mold about 3/4 full; then add the sautéed beet greens and top with a piece of goat cheese.

11. Unmold and serve.

I like to eat this composed salad warm.

Then I take the leftover farro, beets and greens and toss them together and refrigerate. When I am ready to serve, I give it a toss and add in the goat cheese.

Warm or cold, prissy or tossed, this offers several options with a single recipe.

13 August 2011

Without My Yacht

Lucindaville loves Ethelind Fearon. We have a profound hope that someone out there knew Ethelind Fearon and will contact us and tell us stories. We haven't found any of Fearon's friends yet, but we are hopeful.

At some point in the late 1950's, Fearon took off to the south of France to live and write. Bookcases strain under the weight of those, "I-have-gone-to-France-and-I-will tell-you how-great-my-life-is-now." And yes, we buy every last one of them. In fact, we could probably live in France if we had all the $$$ we have spent on those books, but I digress....

If you, too, are a sucker for these books, you should definitely read Fearon's take on the south of France. She writes:

"This is no guide, merely a faithful exposition of a countenance intimately explored, with indications of particular delight, as and when they occurred. Not only the things visible, but those absorbed by all the altered senses. The snatch of an old Provencal song through an open window, the infinite, unwinking immobility of a turquoise lizard on the balustrade of the terrace in June, the scent of hot fig prunings, vine flowers or orange blossoms; the song of the nightingales at midday as one lies under the olive trees; the rhythmic fretting of tall tethered yachts whose strained ropes creak to every lapping wave."

Without My Yacht is the next best thing to actually being in the south of France. Of course, we would much rather be there.

As for women with yachts, check out The Woman's Guide to Boating and Cooking at Cookbook Of The Day.

08 August 2011

Fields Elysian

Winston Churchill

Simon Blow wrote Fields Elysian about hunting society.
Then he filled it with cool pictures of hunting society.

Given the miserable heat and a certain lack of enthusiasm for most things, I stumbled across my copy while trying to do something. Then I realized that sitting in front of a fan looking at vintage hunting photos was just the "something" I should be doing.

The lovely daughters of Earl Beauchamp, made famous by friend Evelyn Waugh as part of the Marchmain clan in Brideshead Revisited. Left to right: Lady Mary, Lady Sibell, and Lady Dorothy Lygon.

Notice that Lady Helena Gibb and the Duchess of Beaufort are both side-saddle. It was the late 1920's before one saw women riding astride. After that, the world simply went to hell in a hand basket.

And, after a long day of riding side-saddle one needs to take a break.

01 August 2011

I Love Mail...

Lurch & Holler at the Transmodern Festival 2009

...so today when I went to get my mail, I found I had a package. Now said package did not look at all familiar so I just kinda grabbed it and as I was stepping out of the Post Office I noticed the return address was from EEDowning and I smiled.

Downing grew up in Dadeville, Alabama. Much like "Eloise at the Plaza" Lizzie was the "Emma Elizabeth of the Heart of Dixie Motel" the business her parents owned. She was in her own words:

"...influenced by peeping Toms, traveling Evangelists, circus people, birds in the woods and a mother who sang constantly."

She moved to Baltimore to study painting and formed one of the most influential bands of the age, Lambs Eat Ivy. Well, I loved it and clearly it did not get the recognition it deserved, but I digress...

Any who...tucked into my envelope was a new CD by Lizzie's current band, Lurch & Holler featuring Michael Willis who was also in Lambs Eat Ivy. They describe their music as Appalachian parlor operettas and parables. It is weird and haunting and unlike anything you will ever hear, unless, of course, you listen to Lurch & Holler.

As if that wasn't enough, she is a member of Old Songs, a group that translates and creates songs from Ancient Greek philosophy and poetry. Did I mention she paints?

Bosch Figure on the Banks of the Tallapoosa River.

While I was very happy to get an envelope from Liz, I must admit that it leaves me feeling a bit under- accomplished. I think I am going to go take a nap and dream of Hermes in Alabama.
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