31 January 2013

A Fine Day for Vegetables

The owners of this lovely little house in Orlando, Florida, Jason and Jennifer Helvenston, are facing a fine of $500 a day.  Why one might ask?  What is their affront to the good people of Orlando?

They have planted vegetables in their front yard.  Yes, vegetables.  Evidently in Orlando, one is fined $500 a DAY for gardening.   I wonder if there is a fine for owning an AK-47?

Check out Mark Bittman's New York Times article.

26 January 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

According to Trick, it is quite cold INSIDE!

23 January 2013

Jam Maker

 About 4 years ago I ran across a Tefal  confiturier automatic.  An automatic jam maker.  I desperately want one, but Tefal is a European company and they could not see the need for lowly Americans to own a confiturier automatic.  I asked if one could change the plug from 220 to 110 and was told emphatically --NO!

I gave up on the idea until last year when Ball released the FreshTECH automatic jam maker.  I received one for Christmas, and I could barely wait to open it.   My enthusiasm for my new toy had been somewhat dampened by reviews of the FreshTECH complaining that it was a bit on the simplistic side.  I agree that many of the recipes are quite plain and loaded with pectin, but who lets a little thing like "directions" get in the way for jammy goodness.

My first foray into jelly making began with a bottle of Muscadine Cider I brought home from South Carolina.  I wasn't really interested in drinking it, but I was convinced it would make a great jelly.  I followed the recipe for jelly to a tee, using a full measure of sugar and pectin.  

It turned out fine.  I was worried that it might end up leaning toward fruit leather, but it didn't. Next I tried a pomegranate jelly, this time using the low sugar method as the pomegranate juice was a bit on the sweet side to begin with.   The lower sugar jelled fine. 

Then, I threw out the book.  I wanted to use the machine to make marmalade, a recipe no where to be found in the cookbook.  I am a firm believer that marmalade should at its best should ward off the most virulent scurvy. I want marmalade that with all its pithy fight.  I did not want to add a bunch of pectin.  So I sliced my peel, juiced my cara cara oranges and added my sugar.  I left the mixture to cure in the refrigerator overnight.

I dumped the mixture into the FreshTECH and set it for jam.  When it was done, I unplugged the machine and let the marmalade sit until the machine cooled off.  (The instructions are very clear that one must let the machine cool for at least 30 minutes before starting another pot.)  After an hour, I went back to the marmalade and rested the machine, cooking the marmalade a second time.  After two cookings, the marmalade was a perfect texture.

This was a great gift.  As the years goes on, I will be experimenting more and more and will let you know how it goes.  In the meantime...

17 January 2013

New Year's Resolution

One New Year's Resolution involved organizing and cleaning up the kitchen spices.   Almost done!

I have to say, however, once they were tossed out, organized, corralled and labeled, they looked a bit sad.

10 January 2013

Only Ten?

Garden & Gun recently listed ten reason why they love Downton Abbey, including a comparison of Mary and Scarlett O'Hara.

08 January 2013

Requiescat in Pace -- Polo Sweatshirt


Everyone has one.  That article of clothing that you just love beyond all reason.  Even after it gets torn and stained, and faded with bleach.  After the fraying and holes and rips, it is still the first thing in the laundry and first thing you put on while it is still warm from the laundry.

Mine was a Polo sweatshirt, thick, grey, and yes, a bit of a mess.   During Christmas, I pulled it on still warm and the cuff tore until it was quite literally, hanging by a thread or two.  At one point, I asked a guest to shove up my sleeve (what was left of my sleeve) as the cuff was getting in my way.  Ann asked why I didn't just trow it away.  (Blasphemy!) 

It became clear, however, after that last December washing, that the Polo sweatshirt would not survive.   While my little blue pony was still galloping along, the fabric around him was disintegrating into oblivion.  I folded up my favorite sweatshirt and longingly watched it as it lay on the table, lifeless.  Ann called and abruptly asked it I had thrown it away.  No!

Then, this week, I received a large box with a Happy New Year note.  Inside were two, yes two, brand new grey Polo sweatshirts.  I am wearing one now.  It is soft, but not that soft.  The cuffs are intact and gripping my wrists.  The tag is scratching my neck.  I am sure that after a few hundred washings, it will shape up. 

Until then,  goodbye old friend.

07 January 2013

Mary Warburg by William Acton

Ah the New Year holds such promise.   Have I mentioned recently how much I love blogs? 

Shortly after the new years started I received a correspondence inquiring about a William Acton image.   I responded and soon found why this gentleman had an interest in Acton.   When perusing his family archive, he stumbled upon a cashe of Acton drawings.  Over 50 works of Acton's that have not been seen in years!  

Now he is on a mission to identify all of Acton's  drawings and painting and possibly hold a show.  A show means a monograph!   Finally!!!

Until then, he was kind enough to send me the above drawing of Mary Warburg.  Mary Warburg was married to Edward Warburg, philanthropist and founder of the New York City Ballet. 


03 January 2013

Cocktails At The Burn Pit -- Holiday Recap


We were so busy drinking that we failed to post any cocktails!  Well, the big winner this season included pumpkin puree and Rum Chata.  Rum Chata is a creamy rum liquor.  In and of itself, it sounds pretty gross, but in this drink it is a hit. This type of drink seemed to be everywhere, in fact there were several pumpkiney vodkas out there.  Most of the time they were called Pumpkin Pie Martinis, though they are a little off the martini mark, unless you like your martini for dessert.  Around the Bun Pit we will take our drinks for any course.

Pumpkin Dessert Martini

2 tablespoon pumpkin puree
2 ounces vodka
3 ounces Rum Chata

dollop of whipped cream

cookie crumb rim

Crumble some graham crackers or a nice ginger cookie and rim your glass.

To an ice filled shaker add the pumpkin puree, vodka and Rum Chata.  Shake and strain into the rimmed glass.  Add a dollop of whipped cream.  (We prefer the dollop stirred in at the last second.)

Drinking dessert is a wonderful thing!

Since pumpkin cake is a favorite here and since there is always a bit of puree leftover from cake baking, this drink proves to be the saving grace of leftover pumpkin puree.  There is the problem of finding and making new and cutting edge drinks.   Many a pumpkin martini recipe called for Rum Chata and some called for pumpkin or vanilla vodka.   So if one wanted to try their hand at a Pumpkin Pie Martini they looking at probably $50  worth of booze they might never use again.    And what happens of you don't like the drink?

This brings us to another holiday item -- the "of the month club" subscription.  Fill in the fruit or meat of your choice.   These are tricky yet tempting and one usually has to pony up the entire years cost for such an endeavor. At $300 to $500  "fruit" you have never laid eyes on is a bit daunting.

What if there was a "club" that let you pay as you go?  What if this club was not fruit nor beast but nifty new cocktails?  Cocktails you could try BEFORE you invested $$$ in some new flavor of vodka you might never want to drink?

Rejoice.  We have found the answer to cutting edged cocktail without breaking the bank.   Enter Julibox.
Julibox is a monthly curated cocktail.  Each month a box arrives with cocktail fixins' for two different drinks.   The design and execution of the box are flawless.

There are cards with the recipe.

And liquor and mixes for each cocktail.

You will need some ice and maybe a lemon.

When we first laid eyes on this new venture, we were skeptical.  So we tried out the service by ordering their October 2011 Breast Cancer box.  We loved it so much we signed up!  Now here is the good part -- you get billed monthly so you are not out of pocket $$$$ from the start.  You can run a tab, just like in a real bar!  The boxes run about $40, about the price of a round of cocktails.  

The founder, Courtne Jones says she,  "grew up with a dusty bottle of Galliano on her dad's back bar. 25 years later, he still has it."  We all know that story!

So now we are hanging out at the Burn Pit awaiting the arrival of our January Julibox and wondering what to do with half a bottle of Rum Chata?  Perhaps a boozy glaze for our next pumpkin cake...

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