30 May 2012

Ugly Drum Smoker

Memorial Day weekend activities included building an Ugly Drum Smoker.  This project started with my friend, Ann, telling me she wanted to buy a Big Green Egg for the farm.  They are very nice but run upwards of $1000 and I don't have the occasion to smoke large pieces of meat by my lonesome.  (And I can think of a lot more kitchen things I could buy with $1000.)

So, I said...

"If you could find a 55 gallon drum, I could make a smoker for under $100."

About a 1/2 hour latter, Ann called to say she was picking up the 55 gallon drum that afternoon, so I had to make good on my promise.

There are about a million sets of instructions for building UDS's on the web and they are pretty much all the same yet different.  And some of these guys (the vast majority are guys but some are ingenious girls like Cowgirl's County Life) have more tools than I have books, so they invest big $$$ into them.

My ambition was to make a smoker for cheap... if I wanted to spend $1000, I would have bought one.

Over the next few weeks, I assembled parts from my garage, the hardware store, the feed store and Ann sent a fancy thermometer and a step bit from Amazon.

 I cannibalised an old Weber grill for a cover and the grates.  I built a fire basket with the small grate.

The step drill worked out fine.

I tested the smoker with a pork butt.

After 8 hours at 225 it was quite nice.

Of course, I failed to calibrate the expensive thermometer, so I had to remove it and calibrate it.  The next day, I smoked ribs.  After the initial test firing,  I had better control over how to keep the temperature constant.  It held right at 250 for a full 10 hours without any help from me.   (But the ribs only cooked for 5 hours!) 

I will not add another set of instructions, but if you have questions, feel free to ask.

UPDATE:  Ann asked if I wrote this in the dark?  It seems she felt there were misspellings and misplaced "commas" and general poor syntax.   Spell check doesn't like the way I spelled "cannibalised"  but it appears to be fine. 

25 May 2012

God Save the Queen -- Part IV

Coronation Chicken
Sandra thought we would just hang the Queen's mould on the wall.   But really who could resist.  Behold,  our take on Coronation Chicken.

Originally, Coronation Chicken was "invented" by Constance Spry (and Rosemary Hume, who invented many of Spry's recipes.)  Actually, their recipe was a take on Jubilee chicken, a similar dish served for the Silver Jubilee of George V.

Coronation Chicken is usually mixed with a curry mayonnaise, but we felt the curry would have give the Queen a bit of a jaundiced look and we did not want anything to distract us from her regal form.  Might we suggest a curry mayo on the side.  (Though a nice horseradish sauce is our favorite.)

Our recipe is from one of our favorite cookbooks, Cross Creek Cookery.  We started out with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' Mother's Jellied Chicken.  MKR's  Mama did not believe in adding such frivolousness as cucumbers and pimentos, but we felt them a must have for this particular presentation.

The Queen was quite tasty and the perfect dish for Diamond Jubilee festivities.  God Save The Queen; but not too long as the jelly tends to toughen.

24 May 2012

God Save the Queen -- Part III

Happy Birthday Queen Victoria.  

England's longest reigning monarch was born 24 May 1819.  When she was thirteen, her mother, Princess Victoria, gave her a small leather bound journal.  On the first page she wrote:
“This book, Mamma gave me, that I might write the journal of my journey to Wales in it.”

From that moment on, she would keep a detailed journal that today numbers 141 volumes.  Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria's youngest child, had custody of the journals.  The last journal was edited by Princess Beatrice who removed the last entries.

 In honor of her birthday,  Queen Victoria's journals have been released online.   It would seem that  they can be read until the end of June when the access will be restricted to UK computers...

 How rude is that?

If you want to check them out, hurry up and head over to the site.

God Save the Queen -- Part II

Harry Lowe (seen above in his dapper Auburn days) is a consummate Southern storyteller.  The story of Molly Hollifiled Jones is one of my favorites.

DISCLAIMER:  There really was a Molly Hollifiled Jones in Auburn.  She was a minor poet, taught Latin, and gave money to Auburn.  Whether she is the same woman in this story...well it is a story.  A true story.  A real story.  I am just not sure which part is true and which part is real, but here goes.

The Molly Hollifield Jones Story

Molly Hollifield Jones' parents ran a boarding house in Opelika, Alabama which housed a lot of Auburn students.   Molly Hollifield Jones helped her parents run the boarding house.  Like many single Southern women, she took care of her parents at the expense of her own social life.  By the time her parents were gone, Molly Hollifield Jones was, as we say in the South, a woman of a certain age.  Most women would have stayed on as a spinster, but Molly Hollifield Jones had a boarder that caught her eye and they were married.  With no one left to look after, Molly Hollifield Jones and her new husband went on the Grand Tour.   When they returned, all the ladies of Opelika wanted to hear about the trip.  A luncheon was held and Molly Hollifield Jones talked about England and Germany, Italy and Spain and finally she asked about France.

"Tell us about the food in France.  We hear is wonderful," said a guest.

Molly Hollifield Jones looked a bit disgusted.

"Well," she said, "I don't know what all the fuss is about.  We were in France nearly two weeks and in all that time no one ever served us a congealed salad."

Harry Lowe and I love that story and thus began our quest for the perfect Molly Hollifield Jones Dinner.  A Molly Hollifield Jones Dinner consists of drinks to dessert with every single dish being congealed.   It is perfect summer faire.  To this end, we have collected old recipe booklets filled with jellied foods.  We even like to experiment; a favorite dish being my Deviled Oeufs en Potlikker Gelée.

The second I saw the Queen, I knew there would be an edition to our jellied collection...

23 May 2012

God Save The Queen

Last week I got a package in the mail from England.  It was a large package but it was very light.  I could tell from the writing that it was from my friend, Sandra.  The customs form stated "Mould." 

Usually packages from Sandra arrive at my behest.  I have ordered something in England that could(would) not be shipped by the seller.  Sandra dutifully gathers my packages and sends them on to me.   This package was a surprise.

When I opened it, I had to laugh.  Enclosed was indeed a mould.  A bright, pink mould of Queen Elizabeth's head.  Definitely something to add to the "20 Things You Don't Need in a Kitchen."  When I told Sandra the Queen had arrived, she said she laughed out loud when she saw it and had to buy it for someone.

 I was the one.

22 May 2012

More Bobby McAlpine

Here at Lucindaville, we just love Bobby McAlpine.  Not just because of that Alabama thing, because we want to live in every place he designs.  We wrote about his book, The Home Within Us, which remains a favorite.

This year he has a furniture line with Lee.  While much of the furniture out there looks like most of the furniture out there, McAlpine's line has a distinctive look and feel.   I want the Leather TV Lounger.   I believe I would get a lot more out of watching television if I had this.

I adore this Martini Table.   It is so specific.  There are just times in one's life when the perfect table for the perfect martini (stirred not shaken) is a must.

There are several pieces with this Shelter Wing design.  I especially love this sofa with its contrasting rustic nail head and silky bolster.

Another of the leather pieces is this two-seater counter bench.  It seems a perfect fit for both a masculine and feminine aesthetic.

Check out the entire collection at the Lee website.

21 May 2012

Lilac Jamelly

Every spring there comes a moment when I walk into the yard and become overwhelmed with a thick sweet scent.  The first year it happened I was convinced I had spilled syrup in the yard.  Turns out it was a lilac bush.  This year the lilacs came early and I had the wherewith all to gather the flowers and make jelly.

Flower jelly is just like any other jelly.  The key is to pick your flowers early in the day when they have the most internal water.  Don't use anything that has any type of anything sprayed on it.  Then it all comes down to ratios.

You will need to make an infusion or tea out of the petals.  Use roughly equal parts petals to liquid, with just a touch more of the liquid.  Water is fine.  I like a mild white wine.  Some people recommend apple juice, but that adds another layer of sweetness.

Bring the liquid to a boil, then pour over the petals.  Allow to steep for several hours.  I let it steep till it is cold, then I put in the refrigerator overnight.  Drain the liquid from the petals to use the flower water.

For the jelly the same ratio applies to water and sugar.  You want roughly the same amount of sugar as you have flower water.  Then you need lemon juice as the acid and sugar make the pectin work.   For every two cups of sugar, add the juice of one lemon or 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  ( I use bottled lemon juice because the strength of the acid is constant.)   For every two cups of sugar I use one packet of pectin.  That is 3 ounces of liquid pectin.  (I like the liquid pectin, but I often use the powdered.)

Now mix the flower water with the sugar and lemon juice.  Bring to a rolling boil, skim off impurities.  Add liquid pectin and bring back to a rolling boil.  (Pectin often says boil for one minute, don't worry too much.  You want to bring it back to a hard boil, so if that takes a bit longer it's OK, but don't boil it for another 10 minutes!)

Fill your prepared jars and process for  10 minutes.

Here is what the recipe looks like:

Flower Jamelly

flower water

2 cups fresh flower petals (make sure they have not been treated with anything)
2 cups water or a mild white wine

Bring the liquid to a boil.  Pour over flower petals and allow to steep.  I like to steep the petals until they are cool, then refrigerate the soaking petals overnight.

To use, strain the petals from the water.


2 cups flower water
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 packet (3 ounces) liquid pectin

Mix the water, lemon juice and sugar in a preserving pan.  Bring to a rolling boil, skimming off impurities.  Add the liquid pectin, return to a rolling boil.

Ladle into jars.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

 I made a double batch as I had a lot of lilac infusion.  Have flowers, but don't have the time to make the jelly?  Once you strain the infusion, simply freeze the flower water till you have jelly making time.  

Why jamelly?  Traditionally, jelly is strained through a jelly bag, and often strained again for a pristine, clarified and firm jelly.  We like a bit on the less refined side, so it might be a bit cloudy and a touch softer than the stuff you get in the jelly isle at the grocery.

Some recipes suggest a drop or two of food coloring, but why add something artificial to something you made?  Frankly, this photo sucks.  The color is more from the cutting board than the jamelly. It turned out a nice soft pink.

15 May 2012


My friend, Richard, sent me a book about bookshelves.  Richard has about as many books as I do, so it is a shared passion.  Anyone with tons of books might just be drawn to such a book.  In fact, I own several books about bookshelves.

This book, by Alex  Johnson, is chocked full of tweaked and tortured bookshelves.  It is the bookshelf as art.  Practicality has been tossed out the window.  I do admit to spending too much time trying to read the titles on some of the bookshelves instead of admiring their creativity.

Now this bookshelf I adore.  It give a literal meaning to that Anthony Powell tome,  Books Do Furnish A Room.  I am thinking of building a bookshelf chair.  On second thought perhaps a bookshelf daybed.

Now this is just flat out silly.  Take a close look.  Not a single book in the room.  Bookshelf wallpaper is an abomination.   This room screams, "I am just too stupid to read."  Tell the truth... if you walked into this room you would immediately hate this person!

As I said before, most of the bookshelves herein,  lean to the artistic and not the practical, but we do just love those arty bookcases.  Check out i suwannee for her frequent "Bookcase of the Day" posts;  a history of the posts can be found here.

14 May 2012

Countess de Castiglione and the Joy of the Blog

As I have stated before, I love blogs.  I love them because they connect you to people who share your obscure interests.  Before blogs, one simply suffered in silence when they found themselves with no one to talk to about say...Countess de Castiglione.  Now, one finds a loyal band of like-minded folk across the globe.

No matter how much one might think they know on a subject, there is always someone out there who knows more, or who has a different take on the info at hand.  The added plus is being able to link your readers right up to their posts, eliminating your own redundant research.  (That was the Huffington Post joke at the Correspondents Dinner -- That she won the first Pulitzer Prize for linking.)  I, too, love thought of an exponential expanding of a collective knowledge...but I digress...

Over at Cookbook Of The Day, I offer up short reviews and recipes from some the the thousands of cookbooks I own.  They are short and sweet; a mini Cliff Note on the cookbook at hand.  I love cookbooks and culinary history and books in general.

One of my favorite books is La Divine Comtesse: Photographs of the Countess de Castiglione by Pierre Apraxine and Xavier Demange, which features nearly 400 images of the Countess de Castiglione.

Recently, I stumbled across the blog lostpastremembered, another lover of the obscure and the culinary. (Of course, now everyone is going to ask why I had not been reading it before "recently"!) 

Unlike my Cliff Note cookbooks, lostpastremembered offers up a virtual dissertation of fun facts and recipes including this recent post on Countess Castiglione, Masion Dorée and Chicken Bordelaise.  It was such a zippy post I thought my head might explode. 

Thankfully it did not.   

If you haven't bookmarked this lovely blog, do so now.  You won't regret it.

11 May 2012

A Stove In Every Kitchen

This week at Remodelista, they featured a kitchen built for Prince Charles'  Prince’s Foundation for Building Community.  They have built houses for the Ideal Home Show for the past couple of years.  This kitchen was quite lovely and after having it built, the Prince urged the cabinet maker, Plain English, to fabricate the cabinets so they would be more affordable to the average person who didn't have a princely charity behind them footing the bill.  

All is well.  However...

The cabinets didn't interest me as much as the stove did.  I love the stove and after much research, found it is an Esse Ironheart.  It is a wood cookstove/heater combo.  How impractical is that!  Still, I HEART Esse.

09 May 2012

Women Reading

Delphin Enjolras  La Lecture

I have been a total slug since my vacation and have been spending a lot of time in my own version of La Lecture.   Enjolras loved the ladies in the lamplight and he made numerous dreamy painting.

01 May 2012

Lincoln In Living Color

I do a lot of picture research. Historical photos are always awash in black and white, so I loved seeing this colorized portrait of Abraham Lincoln.  The White House Museum has a cool blog.  A must for history buffs.
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