27 July 2016

Everybody Behaves Badly

Novels have begun to bore me because real life seems so much more interesting.  I am overly enamored of the 1920's, so I was glad to read Lesley M.M.Blume's Everybody Behaves Badly.  Fittingly, I was reading it on Ernest Hemingway's birthday.  The book is a look at the real life antics that became the basis for Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Many of the main character's are featured in "real life" in the above photo that is used on the cover of the book.

From left to right there is Ernest Hemingway (Jake Barnes), Harold  Loeb (Robert Cohn), Lady Duff Twysden (Lady Brett Ashley), Hadley Hemingway, Donald Ogden Stewart (Bill Gordon), and Patrick Guthrie (Mike Campbell). 
The book reveals everything one knows about "Papa" in spades. Ernest Hemingway was a dick. He was a real dick to women, but frankly, he wasn't much better toward the men in his life. The people whose lives were used to create the cast of The Sun Also Rises began to refer to their lives as "B. S" before Sun and "A. S" after Sun but all felt as though they were collateral damage in Hemingway's attempt to write a bestseller.  He got what he wanted.

A great lover of the bullfight and the man who single-handedly made the running of the bulls in Pamplona a tourist mecca,  Hemingway was always dragging his friends to bullfights. He loved encouraging them to jump into the ring with the bulls. This stunt backfired on one of his visits when Harold Loeb was nearly gored, but instead, grabbed the horns of the bull and road around the ring on the bulls head. It made Loeb a star in Spain and photos of the event made it all the way back to New York. Hemingway, in an attempt to outdo Loeb, quite literally, "grabbed a bull by the horns" and wrestled it to the ground (as seen in the above photo) but his bravado was still overshadowed by Loeb.

As one might suspect, Hemingway never like to be outdone.  I loved the insights into the publishing angles, the fights between publishing houses, and the work of Max Perkins. 
While Everybody Behaves Badly doesn't cover any new ground, it is a fantastic distillation of the writing and publishing of one of America's great books.  Not to mention a fine snapshot of the 1920's.

15 July 2016

Famous Food Friday -- Imogen Cunningham & More

Ansel Adams, Still Life, San Francisco, 1932
Today's venture with Cookbook Of The Day, is the old, but new The Photographer's Cookbook.  Old because the book's inception took place in 1977 when a bored worker at the George Eastman Museum, Deborah Barsel, decided to ask photographers to contribute recipes.

Before completing the book, Barsel left and over thirty-five years later, Lisa Hostetler pulled a box labeled "Photo Cookbook" off a shelf and found a treasure trove.  After some judicious editing, The Photographer's Cookbook is now in the world.

We love "artist" cookbooks and they are one of the reasons Famous Food Fridays came about. Now photographer's have their own cookbook.  As with many a "famous" cookbook, the range of recipes can be daunting.

John Gossage sent a postcard from Conrad's Colonial Steak House & Cocktail Lounge stating, "I eat out."

Contrast that sentiment to Beaumont Newhall.  Newhall was not only the first director of the Eastman Museum, he also  wrote a cooking column for a newspaper in the Rochester suburbs.  The "Epicure Corner" ran for nearly 15 years in the 1950's and 60's.  His choucroute  garnie was featured at a luncheon for James Beard and is featured in the cookbook.
Beaumont Newhall, Edward Weston's Kitchen, 1940

Imogen Cunningham offers up an unusual recipe for borscht.  We would love to see an entire cookbook where all the recipes were "storyfied" like this one.

Imogen Cunningham, My Kitchen Sink, 1947

Imogen Cunningham's Borscht

For one thing I do not consider Alice B. Toklas a GREAT cook.  Very likely her cooking contributed to the death of Gertrude and herself. Besides her beef stew cooked in burgundy, I can think only of her beautiful soups beginning with gazpacho from everywhere. I do not know how to put it, but exotic eatery is very interesting to me. I think we are all TOO addicted to salt and that we can get enough in vegetables that offer it.  We do not know the flavor of anything because we doctor it too much.  While I am on soups, I should tell you what I do for borscht.  I make a good soup of beef and meat and bones; put some fresh beets in, and when I am ready to serve it, I make it half mine and half Manischewitz (commercial bottle of borscht). I prefer it cold with sour cream.

Filled with funky recipes and great photography, we are so glad that this box of recipes got pulled off the shelf.

13 July 2016

Meditation on Drain Cleaner

I went to buy drain cleaner yesterday.

I know, it is not "Call me Ishmael" nor "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time."  It is a farm.  Regardless of what you might have seen on Pintrest, farm life is not all towheaded children on hay rides and destination weddings.  Ninety percent of the time is is a lot of crappy work. When I walked back from watering the garden, I noticed that the drain vent resembled Old Faithful, and I knew I had a problem. So...

 I went to buy drain cleaner. I set it on the counter, and the cashier asked for my driver's license. I thought it was odd, but I gave it to her and she copied it. 

"You need a driver's license to buy drain cleaner," I asked. 

"Yeah, you make meth with it."

"I should have bought two bottle."

"Only one per transaction."

I am now in some sort of drain cleaner database.  Presumably, if I had gone to several other stores and purchased a bottle of drain cleaner at each one, by the time I returned home, the DEA would have been sitting on the porch.

I am OK with that.

In addition to drain cleaner, I need a gun on the farm. Yes, I am one of those people who will tell you that you can have my gun when you pry it out of my cold, dead hand.  Last year we had a rabid raccoon roaming about.  He was tearing up things and killing chickens. He had been quite elusive, but one afternoon, he decided to be aggressive and I walked outside with my rifle and a single shell.  I won. On a farm, you often have to kill things.  This is not a popular hashtag on Pintrest. 

While I love my guns, and while I have hunted since I was a child, and while I believe in the Second Amendment, I have no business owning an AK-47.  It is a military weapon meant to kill people, not raccoons.  And that is what it does kill people, and cops, and school children, and bar patrons, and co-workers.  Watch television. And I don't need an oversized mag to take out a raccoon, either. And I don't care who knows I have guns. 

To buy one bottle of drain cleaner I had to have my driver's license copied.

To buy a half dozen AK-47's all I need is cash.  

Even if I am on the Terror Watch List, which I am not.

Even if I am on a No Fly List, which I am not.

 Even if I am on the Drain Cleaner Buyer List, which I am on.

Think about it.  I need documentation to buy drain clean but not an assault weapon. An that is just stupid. 

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