28 September 2012

Cookbook Giveaway

At Cookbook Of The Day we are doing a cookbook giveaway.  We have two copies of Grain Mains to share with our lucky winners.  Thanks to Rodale.  Our review has all the proper disclaimers.   Head over to Cookbook Of The Day, comment and win!

26 September 2012

What's Wrong With The Picture?

It seems that unbeknownst to me, one of the chickens has been sneaking in through the cat door and laying eggs in the cat napping chair.  I found out last week when I noticed the eggs.  Yesterday, when I was heading to the laundry room, I found Kitty Carlisle napping with an egg.  You will notice, as I took the picture, the claws started to come out.  I wasn't sure whether she had decided to hatch the egg or eat it later.  Either way, she did not me to have it.

22 September 2012

Canning Jar Closet

 After nearly finding myself crippled from building these steel shelves in a way to small space, I was finally able to place the canning jars in their new home.

Needless to say, they are just a tad to get to.  Finding the right jar is a bit like playing one of those childhood games where one moves the squares around to make a picture.

But here they are in all their canning glory.  Now we just need a confiture closet for the filled jars!

20 September 2012

Stone Fruit Salsa

 I am a pretty good cook, which is a good thing for the people I cook for.  The problem is, when I ask how a dish is I generally get the stock answer, "Everything you cook is good."   "It's a keeper."

This past weekend was a fall tailgate for the Alabama game, even though there was no tail and we gated in the den.  The main attraction was ribs.  I wanted to serve something to cut the fattiness of the ribs.  As it turns out, the rub was a bit on the spicy side, so something cooling was also in order.

There has been truly lovely fruit at the local big box store.   The trouble with lovely fruit at the local big box store is the fruit comes in big boxes.  There have been plums and apricots and those hybrid plumcot, Pluot, and Aprium varieties and some nice peaches, though they are not peaches from Chilton County, Alabama,  home of the worlds greatest peaches, but I digress....

Several times I have bought fruit and every time, I have ended up making jam, as I cannot eat all the big boxes before the fruit starts to get overripe.  Not that jars of pluotpriumcot jam is not delightful.

For my ribs, I thought it would be nice to make fruity salsa with my bounty.   It turned out to be a keeper and one of the few recipes that has garnered multiple requests and lingering reviews.

Stone Fruit Salsa

8 stone fruits (a combination of plums, apricots, peaches, plumcot, Pluot, and Aprium, even cherries would work), roughly chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 English  cucumber, chopped
Chopped cilantro or parsley
Salt to taste
1 lemon, juiced

Mix everything together in a bowl. Let sit at least one hour to marinate the flavors.

The lemon was an afterthought.  After I tasted the salsa I thought it needed just a touch of brightening.  I also thought a splash of a cider or fruity vinegar would add a nice touch.  If I was serving the salsa with a plain chicken or pork, I might as a finely chopped jalapeno, as there is no such thing as "too hot" for me.   I am sure I will keep tweaking this one.

19 September 2012

Women Reading

 Children's Hour by William St. John Harper, 1886

17 September 2012

Calling Me Home

I don't listen to a lot of Kathy Mattea, but she is from West Virginia.  Her new album is rooted in West Virginia, so we have been listening to it this weekend, and we have been loving it.  So if you like bluegrass with some country, or if your are from West Virgina or passing through, check it out.

12 September 2012

Clearly, I Need To Get Out More...

Renoir found at West Virginia flea market likely to fetch $100,000 at auction.

So it would seem that two years ago, some woman stopped at a flea market in West Virginia and forked over $7 for a box of stuff because she like the plastic cow in the box. She though she could sell the leather doll and double her money.  The crappy painting she left in the box and stuffed it in the garage.   She was thinking the frame might be useful in a later project.  When she did ask someone about the frame, she got a bit of a surprise.  Go forth and shop!

11 September 2012

Maggie Smith

“I know there is something out there and like most people, I tend to believe in it more when things go bad. But I’m not like Shirley MacLaine, who probably believes we were past lovers in another life.”

Smith sat down for a rather long interview with the Toronto Star.  She was being honored as the 2012 recipient of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Legacy Award.

Needless to say, this season of Downton Abbey should be a barn burner!

Check out The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook post at Cookbook Of The Day.

10 September 2012

Edith Wharton Porn

Yes, Virginia, we spent the weekend indulging in a massive dose of Edith Wharton porn.

Not exactly the entire weekend.  Part of was spent building one of those heavy stainless steel kitchen rack in a tiny closest the was not much bigger than said rack.  Such a rack usually requires at least two people to put together and space to mover around all sides.  This was a solo project in a 2 X 5 space with a 1 1/2 X 4 rack.  It was not pretty.  After contortions that would get the average person a job with Cirque du Soleil, the rack was erected.  Then there was the Alabama game followed by 36 hours of recovery from rack building.  My body felt like it had been on a rack or on the Western Kentucky offense.  I was aided in my recovery by spending the afternoon on the sofa ensconced in Edith Wharton porn.

Edith Wharton's Library at The Mount
 Richard Guy Wilson's new book on her house, Edith Wharton at Home: Life at The Mount arrived.  I spent a lovely afternoon pouring over the vintage pictures and the new photos by John Arthur.  I would have wanted more photos of the kitchen, but I doubt Wharton set foot in there more than a few times.  I have a photo from a now defunct blog featuring the linen closet at The Mount, another place Wharton probably never saw!  In fact, one of the most interesting sections of the book discusses how little information was kept on anyone who actually worked at The Mount.   Of the cooks, housekeepers, gardeners, and drivers there is only a handful of information on a few; the rest are what Wilson refers to as " the silent backdrop."

 For all the nitty-gritty details there is a wonderful "fact sheet" at The Mount's web site.  Among other things, one will find that the landscaping by Beatrix Jones Farrand cost nearly as much as the construction of the actual house.

Add this one to your Christmas wish list.

07 September 2012

Famous Food Friday -- Jill St. John

We have been in full television mode at Cookbook Of The Day, so we felt a television themed Famous Food Friday was in order.  One just never knows who is out there getting a cookbook published but it seems if you are a bona fide television personality it is easier.

In the dark ages of the late 1980’s, before you were all born, the “Celebrity” chef was a rare thing.  Food Network was not being streamed into every family room/kitchen (Because there was just the kitchen and the dining room!), so cooking fell to actual celebrities.  Case in point, Jill St. John.

During the 1970’s and 80’s Jill got around.  The former Bond Girl dated Frank Sinatra, Henry Kissinger, Sean Connery, Peter Lawford, and Robert Wagner who became her fourth husband.  She parlayed her cooking enthusiasm into a monthly cooking spots on Good Morning America and became a food editor for USA Weekend Sunday magazine.  Who knew?

Many of these famous food cookbooks are simply afterthoughts from publicists, The Jill St. John Cookbook is quite polished.  I must say I was quite surprised by Miss St. John’s culinary skills.  We have laughed before about the decidedly twee farm-to-table cookbooks, so it was interesting to find that Jill St. John was a big advocate of growing your own herbs and eating locally.  Seriously, every recipe out there belonged to some before you!  Don’t kid yourself.

Here is Jill’s recipe for shrimp with a kick.   Notice she was “Cajun” before Cajun was cool!  She suggests putting out finger bowls if you serve these – how very 80’s.

Fiery Cajun Shrimp

5-6  large raw shrimp in their shells
1/2pound unsalted butter, melted
1/2pound margarine, melted
3-4 ounces Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground rosemary
juice of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons salt

3 garlic cloves, minced
2 lemons, sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

With a small, sharp pair of scissors, cut through the shells of the shrimp from top to tail.  Do not cut the tail.  Devein the shrimp but leave them in their shells.

In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the lemon slices.  Cover the bottom of a 13 X 9-inch glass baking dish with a little of this mixture.  Arrange the shrimp and the lemon slices in layers in the dish, stopping about 1 inch from the top. Pour the remainder of the butter sauce over.  Bake turning the shrimp once or twice, until they are cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Evidently, Jill is still cooking up a storm or to be more precise, Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce for Valentine’s Day, 2010.

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