30 December 2009

Etiquette Wednesday -- Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland by Louise Dahl-Wolfe

I was terribly dismayed that little augury failed to list my post on Diana Vreeland in her Favorite Post Topic for 2009. Then I was further dismayed to find that I never uploaded my DV post. I looked and I couldn’t find it. I was sure it had been an early post, so I searched and searched and there it was, still in "draft" form in my March posts. It was meant to be an Etiquette Wednesday entry it never got posted.

So in keeping with little augury’s admonition to post more on Diana Vreeland, and since today is Wednesday, here is the post that never was!

I adore Diana Vreeland. She is for me a great beauty, like Edith Sitwell and Andrée Putman, with a face the French would describe with the phrase jolie-laide. (Leave it to the French to have a beautiful phrase for non-traditional beauty.)

Beginning in the 1930’s, Mrs. Vreeland was fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar. Her career at Bazaar began, however, with an unusual advice column entitled, Why Don’t You? a profoundly over-the-top collection of fashion, decorating, cooking, grooming and generally wild ideas to make the heads of the most creative of people quite literally -- spin! In 2001, John Esten collected much of Mrs. Vreeland’s advice into the book, Diana Vreeland: Bazaar Years.

Why Don’t You? would be considered a bit over the top by today’s extravagant standards, so one can only imagine what these suggestions did for readers in the 1930’s. Vreeland wrote with an absolute disregard for the reality in which most of her readers found themselves living. Perhaps it was the very fantasy of her suggestions that kept them coming back to find out what Mrs. Vreeland was suggesting for the coming month.

Here are some of my favorites, so as Diana Vreeland might ask,

Why Don’t You?

…give someone an enormous white handkerchief linen table-cloth, and in different handwriting and colors (black, acid green, pink, scarlet and pale blue) have embroidered all the bon mots you can possible think of?

…have and elk-hide trunk for the back of your car? Hermès of Paris will make this.

…turn your old ermine coat into a bathrobe?

…bring back from Central Europe a huge white Baroque porcelain stove to stand in front hall, reflected in the parquet?

…have a private staircase from your bedroom to the library with a needlework carpet with notes of music worked on each step – the whole spelling your favorite tune?

DV's bookshelves
Her portrait by Cecil Beaton is behind the polished horn

Cecil Beaton wrote of Diana Vreeland:
“Although she is one of the most remarkable creatures who has ever lived and worked in the zany confines of the fashion world, a combination of Madame Sévigné and Falstaff, Mrs. Vreeland graces that world with her presence, as unique a presence as it has ever boasted.”

Since I positively adore living with total disregard for reality, I might just ask:

Why Don’t You?

…read Diana Vreeland: Bazaar Years?

29 December 2009

Leftover Eggnog?

Leftover eggnog? I'm sure you made your own! If you bought eggnog, I'm sure you checked to see that the main ingredients were milk and/or cream, sugar, and egg yolks.


Now think about it; eggnog is just an ice cream base waiting to be frozen. Grab that sad carton out of the refrigerator and pour it into the ice cream maker.

If you made your own eggnog and you used quite a bit of alcohol, this will not work as well as the alcohol won't freeze. Now that you have eggnog ice cream, lets make a topping. Grab that bit of leftover cranberry sauce and heat it gently. You can add a bit of water if need be. Let the sauce form a nice syrup. Pour the cranberry syrup over your eggnog ice cream. Now add a shot of cheer.


The breakfast speciality at Doe Run Farm is 3B Pancakes (Bisquick, Buttermilk and Bacon). Grab that Bisquick and make pancakes.

Eggnog Pancakes

2 cups Bisquick
1 cup eggnog
a bit of oil for cooking

Stir until well mixed. Pour onto a hot skillet or griddle. Make sure the pancake if full of bubbles and the edges are brown before turning. (The sugar in the eggnog makes these pancakes a bit unforgiving, so try to refrain from turning them early or they may stick. It makes them less than beautiful, but tasty just the same.)

Sorry, we ate all the pancakes before anyone could get a picture!


Add another 1/2 cup of eggnog to the batter and make crepes. Fill them with ice cream or top with your cranberry syrup.


Remember, eggnog is just a thin custard. Use it to make rice pudding.

Eggnog Rice Pudding

3 cups cooked rice
1 cup eggnog
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 currants
1 tablespoon bourbon
2 tablespoons butter

Place the currants in a cup and add the bourbon to soak.

Generously butter a pudding basin

In a medium bowl, mix the cooked rice, eggnog, sugar, and soaked currants with the bourbon

Pour into the pudding basin and bake at 375F for about 30 minutes

As you can see, I really buttered the basin! Also, you might notice that I had a few extra currants left in a bag so I used them all, and added extra bourbon to soak them in, so my Eggnog Rice Pudding looked a bit dark.
Not to worry. In true English style, I spooned it into a bowl and add a bit more eggnog as a custard.


Repeat the rice pudding recipe with stale bread. Grab that basket of stale dinner roles, and rip them into lovely bite-sized pieces.

Eggnog Bread Pudding

3 cups stale bread, torn into small pieces
1 cup eggnog
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 currants
1 tablespoon bourbon
2 tablespoons butter

Place the currants in a cup and add the bourbon to soak.

Generously butter a small, ovenproof pan

In a medium bowl, mix the bread, eggnog, sugar, and soaked currants with the bourbon

Pour into the pan and bake at 375F for about 30 minutes

Try eggnog cornbread. Hey, I'm a Southerner and we can make anything into cornbread. You may know that here at Doe Run Farm, we were without electricity for a time and snowed in. The larder was looking a bit lean. I was out of milk, but I did have half a carton of eggnog. I needed some cornbread. Generally, I am ADAMANT that no sugar should ever go into cornbread, but desperate times...

Eggnog Cornbread

1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1 cup eggnog
1 tablespoon oil

Heat oven to 400F

Mix the cornmeal and eggnog and stir not a batter

On the stove top, heat the oil in an iron skillet until just smoking

Carefully pour the cornmeal mixture into the iron skillet and let cook for about 1 minuet

Move the skillet to the oven and let cook about 30 minutes, until the top of the bread cracks

Now, run out to the grocery and buy that eggnog that is on sale.

26 December 2009

The Christmas Photo Shoot

Where is Herb Ritts when you need him?

25 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Tiny Teddy

and all the creatures at Doe Run Farm say

"God Bless Us Every One."

24 December 2009

Last Minute Homemade Christmas Granol

Need some last-minute Christmas gifts and just can’t bear to give a box of Christmas Lifesavers? (Hey, I loved those Christmas Lifesavers! But I digress)

Here is a no measure, no fuss recipe that is easy and will be a big hit. I know because I gave several bags of this Christmas granola and people loved it.

The only thing you need to measure is about a 1 cup of olive oil. You need oat, the kind you have to cook for at least 5 minutes – no instant oatmeal. I make a lot of red velvet cakes so I often have those four packs of food coloring – all missing the red, but still containing the green. I dye the coconut, but that is optional. I had some rather large chunks of candied ginger. I decided to “chop” them into small pieces in the food processor. It doesn’t work. Trust me. If you find you have chunky ginger, resolve to chop it into small pieces by hand. If you have a container of nice, soft ginger, you are in luck!

Christmas Granola

1 large 42-ounce container rolled oats
1 package unsweetened coconut
1 5- 7 ounces package walnuts, broken into small pieces
1 package dried cranberries
1 package red raisins or red mixed berries
1 container candied ginger, about 5 ounces, chopped small
1 8-ounce jar honey
1 cup olive oil
1 ounce green food coloring (optional but nice)

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Put the coconut in a glass bowl and mix in the green food coloring. Place the dyed coconut on a sheet pan and dry in the oven about 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, walnuts, coconut, honey, olive oil and combine.
4. Spread on baking sheets and bake about 10 minutes. It will probably take about 4 or 5 baking sheets. Don’t over cook.
5. Cool oats mixture. When cool, mix in the cranberries, raisins and ginger.
Pack it in jars, bags, and tins, whatever you have. It makes a festive and homemade gift.

NOTE: I eat granola as a snack. It came to my attention, after watching Harry Lowe eat a lovely bowl with milk, that the green coconut will turn the milk a bit green. Not the worst thing in the world, but thought you should know.

Happy Christmas Eve.

22 December 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

At Cookbook Of The Day i received a recommendation from "home before dark" to try the cookbook Earth to Table. Well it doesn't take much to get me to search out a new cookbook. I commented on the cover having many of my favorite things, including a pot pie. After writing that, I realized it had been a while since I made a pot pie, so I set out to resolve that issue.

My biggest problem with living in West Virginia is not having a 7-11 at hand to pick up -- well anything! I knew I had some chicken thighs in the refrigerator and I even had a store-bought pie crust. (Now, I tend to frown on store-bought pie crusts because in the time it takes you to open the package you can just about make a pate brisee in a food processor. Recently, Cooks Illustrated did a review of packaged pie crusts. On a scale of 1 to 5 the very best crust came in at a lousy 2.5. When the San Francisco Chronicle asked pastry chefs to compare packaged crusts, the very best crust received a 52 out of 100 and the second choice clocked in at a mere 43! That being said, I always keep one in the fridge in case of emergency which is what making my pot pie turned out to be.)

I found dried mushrooms in the larder, which I immediately began to rehydrate, and there was an onion and four potatoes

In the "crisper" and I use that term lightly, I found a stalk of celery, and two slightly limp carrots.

In the freezer was half a bag of green peas.

I always have eggs, so it looked like a chicken pot pie was doable.

I turned the oven to 450F, salted the chicken thighs and stuck them in the oven.

I chopped the onions, carrots and celery and sautéed them in a nob of butter.

I peeled and chopped the potato and added it to the sauté pan.

I drained the mushrooms, retaining the liquid, and chopped them and tossed them into the sauté pan.

When the chicken was done, after about 20 minutes, I pulled it off the bone, saving the juices.

In the chicken pan, I made a roux of flour and a bit of milk, thinning it with some of the mushroom juice and made a gravy which I poured over the vegetables and chicken and then I added the frozen peas.

I put my crust in a deep baking bowl, added the creamed chicken mixture, and topped the pie with the second crust.

I crimped, cut a hole for the steam and washed it in a beaten egg.

The dish went back into the 450F oven for about 25 minutes and I had...

Chicken Pot Pie

Wish you had been there!

19 December 2009

Winter Wonderland

The first big...


in Shirley.

My very favorite Christmas CD, A Christmas Cocktail by Jaymz Bee & the Royal Jelly Orchestra, is out of print. Here is their rendition of...

18 December 2009

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

When I was a child I got really worked up about Christmas. One of my most vivid Christmas memories was shopping with my Father the week before Christmas. I was four and as he held my hand and walked me through the store, he asked me what I wanted most. I dragged him to the toy section and pointed to a lovely china tea set, much like the one pictured. (Even as a child I had a keen love of tableware.)

He pulled down the box from the shelf I couldn't reach and put the tea set in my hands. "I want you to buy this," he said, "for someone else." So I took that tea set, with its cups and saucers and bought it, wrapped it, and gave it away for Christmas. Of course, on Christmas morning I had that exact tea set under the tree, but for each Christmas he was alive, he made me buy that one thing I wanted most and give it to someone else. It has been an enduring lesson. Many blogs are suggesting Christmas gift ideas, so here are a couple that will continue to give, long after the decorations are down.

I love my bees and chickens. They bring me great joy. For women in many parts of the world, however, a flock of chickens or a hive of bees can be the difference in feeding their entire village. For a small contribution, Heifer International changes lives by providing livestock and seeds to struggling villages.

Over at Pigtown Design, Meg works with kids who have suffered in ways that are truly unimaginable to most of us. In these tough economic times, the kids at Woodbourne could use a helping hand.

If you have a favorite charity, dedicate a post to them this Christmas. And as for you, find that one thing you REALLY want and give it to someone else.

16 December 2009

Why Clementine....

Never wins...

at Hide-And-Go-Seek.

13 December 2009

Tick Hall

The thing I love about blogs is finding like-minded people and people who mention an item that takes you on a journey. Recently, A Bloomsbury Life asked her readers to identify a Montauk house. Her readers did well, identifying Peter Beard’s home rather quickly. It made me think of another Montauk house, Tick Hall.

I was going to write about it, but got distracted. Last week, I saw The Seduction of Joe Tynan an old political movie from the 1970’s. Tick Hall and The Seduction of Joe Tynan share something, the actress Carrie Nye.

Born and raised in, Mississippi, she began acting as a child. She honed her craft at Yale Drama School where she met her husband, Dick Cavett. Unfortunately, she never found that quintessential role that would have made her a star. On the stage, Tennessee Williams believed her to BE, Blanche Dubois. She was nominated for an Emmy for playing Tallulah Bankhead, managing to “out Tallulah” Tallulah. When asked to name her favorite role, Nye said,
“None of them. I got into acting so I wouldn’t have to cook or make the bed.”

Primarily known as a stage actress, when Nye was in a movie, she usually had a small role, but that role always stole the show. With her deep southern drawl, she delivered lines that were cruel and vicious and yet she retained a humor and regal quality that made her irresistible to watch. The Seduction of Joe Tynan starred Alan Alda and Meryl Streep, but what you remember about the film is Carrie Nye. Nye is the wife a piggish senator. Alda as Tynan is the “good” senator. At a Washington party (Nye’s big scene) he sits beside her and she propositions him:
“Why don’t you come over to my house sometime and we’ll have an affair.”
Nye manages to put 4 syllables in the word “affair.” When a woman in the room behaves too suggestively, Nye leans over to her sofa mate and states:
"I think that lady might stand to make herself fifty dollars real easy tonight -- (pregnant pause) -- That is, if she can get up the stairs 10 or 12 times."
That humorous wickedness is a true joy to watch.

Carrie Nye and Dick Cavett owned Tick Hall and another house in a collection of seven houses built by Stanford White on Montauk. Known as the "The Seven Sisters" or the Montauk Point Association Houses they are an architectural treasure. Built in 1880 above the bluffs of Montauk Point, the houses were some of the first examples of homes as a specific seasonal escape from the city.

Frederick Law Olmsted was the landscape architect. He positioned the houses in a flying-V to made the most breezes from the sea. The unique formation had another advantage, giving each house an uninterrupted view of the ocean. The concept for the houses was to be a convivial compound for Arthur W. Benson and his buddies. Benson paid $151,000 for the large tract of land, but as time went on, the boy’s playground became a place for family.

In 1997, Tick Hall burned to the ground, taking with it the heirloom’s from Nye’s Mississippi family home, including a rare Regina Upright Music Box. Most people would have been devastated by such a loss. Nye remained the stoic Southerner she often played. She decided to rebuild Tick Hall. Not merely replace it but rebuild it, exactly as it had been build by McKim, Mead & White in 1883. Nye was unable to find the original plans, so she gathered photos from family and friends, hired Wasa Architects and Engineers in New York to to raise the house from the ashes.Wasa was involved in the restoration of Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright masterwork.

Tick Hall had 50 windows with virtually none of a standard size. They ranged from eight feet high in the living room to small stained-glass dormers on the second floor. The architects used records kept by a drapery maker to get the actual heights of the windows. A concession was made to the foundation, which would not pass modern fire codes, but the new foundation was covered in a brick façade to mimic the 1883 foundation. When the architect suggested improving on the tall and heavy living room windows whose old chains had given way, Nye responded indignantly, ''Absolutely not!''

Since she and Cavett had owned the house, the expansive porch featured a sag. Nye demanded the sag be replicated, and it was.

Filmmaker Scott Morris made a documentary of the reconstruction. From The Ashes: The Life and Times of Tick Hall is a must watch for anyone who loves architecture and restoration.

Carrie Nye died in 2006 from lung cancer. She will be greatly missed.

08 December 2009

Why I Live At The P.O.

In this Fall's ongoing beautification of downtown Shirley, we painted the Post Office. Like many small towns, the P.O. is more than just a place to get mail, it is a gathering place, an information center, and a repository of history. While I don't "live" at the P. O., I do work in the attached old general store. One day, I might actually move to town and live at the P. O.

Until I do, you might want to read Miss Eudora Welty's classic, "Why I Live At The P.O."

07 December 2009

Edna Lewis’ Christmas Fruitcake

Fruitcake Week is winding down over at Cookbook Of The Day and we just can't seem to stop! This recipe is from the late great Edna Lewis. It appeared in Vogue, so there is no cookbook. Fortunately here at Lucindaville, our only criteria for post is to post what we like. This recipe reminded Lewis of her mother and sister and the way the house smelled as the cakes baked. That is the reason to bake. Here is her recipe, bake it with someone you love.

Edna Lewis’ Christmas Fruitcake

1 cup diced (1/4 inch) glazed candied orange peel
1 cup diced (1/2 inch) glazed candied lemon peel
2 cups ½ inch-long thin strips citron
1 cup dried currants
2 cups raisins, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup brandy
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ pound + 6 tablespoons (2 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, separated, the whites at room temperature
1/2 cup sorghum

1. in a large bowl, stir together the orange peel, lemon peel, citron, currants, and raisins. Add wine and brandy and combine the mixture well. Let the fruit macerate, covered, for at least several hours or overnight.

2. Butter a 10 X 4-inch tube pan (or 2 loaf pans, each 9-by-5-by-3-inches) and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper well.

3. Into a bowl, sift the flour with with the spices. Add the baking
powder and salt and sift again.

4. In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yolks, beaten lightly, and beat the mixture well. Add the flour, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sorghum and beat the mixture well. Stir in the fruit mixture with the liquid and combine well.

5. In a large bowl with a mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Fold the whites gently but thoroughly into the batter. Spoon the batter
into the prepared pan and let stand , covered loosely with a kitchen towel, in a cool place overnight to let the flavors mellow.

6. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

7. Bake the fruitcake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove and cover it with a piece of brown paper (do not use foil) and bake it for an additional 2 to 2 ½ hours.

8. let the cake cool completely in the pan on a rack and it out onto a work surface. Leaving the parchment paper on the cake. Wrap the cake in
foil, and pack it in a tin, and punch a few holes in the lid or set the lid on loosely. Store the tin in a cool place. Every 2 to 3 weeks up until Christmas, sprinkle the cake with about ½ cup of brandy, wine, or whiskey. (The liquor will keep the cake moist and flavorful and help preserve it as well.)

05 December 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes

Friday in Shirley was sunny and warm (OK, relatively warm.) My excellent contractor, Jon, also doubles as the resident "guy" to do many of those boy-things I choose not to do and to be that extra pair of hands when I need him. We had planned for Friday to be "clean up the garden day." When he called at 9:30, the sky was overcast and I had little hope that we would accomplish anything. Within the hour, the sun had burned off the gloom and it was a glorious spring-like day. The plan was to move some raspberry plants and to remove dead canes for the blackberries. There was a lot of digging and toting to do. We moved about 50 plants, mulched them, and dead headed them for winter. Jon got the often persnickety tiller to start and I tilled the spot where the beans will be planted next spring. We moved the "permanent" bean trellises and cleaned up about a ton of debris. Kitty Carlisle and Teddy joined us in the garden. Teddy had a nice lunch of field mouse. A few of the chickens wandered in for some uncovered insects. A good time was had by all.

Yesterday evening, I showered, made soup, washed clothes, took Aleve and went to bed. This morning when I looked out the window, Doe Run Farm was covered in snow. We managed to get the last of the gardening done in the nick of time! What a difference a day makes.

All morning that song has been running through my head. Here's a fun filled version so you can have it run through your head.

Del Rubio Triplets -- What A Difference A Day Makes.

04 December 2009

Howards End Is On The Landing

I admit it. I bought this book because of the jacket and the title. Clearly, if the book were in a "plain brown wrapper" and bore the (sub)title, A Year Of Reading From Home, I might have missed it. That would have been a real shame.

It is also the reason that I have my doubts about the Kindle. It is a white slab with buttons. Sure, you can read on it, or from it, or something. But look at this jacket...you just can't help yourself. You must have it. The other big plus is... Howards End Is On The Landing is really good. Susan Hill is a novelist with a great eye for reading. The book came about when she went searching for a book she had misplaced. I was hooked. After 2 years, I am still frantically searching for my copy of The Unconscious Significance of Hair. Hey, as I have said before, the three most important things to a Southern girl are God, Family and Hair, almost never in that order!

But I digress...

any how, Hill goes looking for a book she has lost and realizes that she owns a fair number of books she hasn't read. She decides to read from her own library for a year and to buy nothing. I read that and totally hyperventilated. Susan Hill remained strong and the fruits of her labors adorn these pages. A joyful gift for those "bookie" friends and family. Screw them, buy a copy for yourself!

Hill has another profession besides being a writer, she is also a publisher. Her Long Barn Books has published two of my favorites in the past decade, Counting My Chickens by the Duchess of Devonshire and E is For Eating by Tom Parker Bowles

03 December 2009

Fruitcake Week

Fruit production in France

Why does fruitcake suck?

It's the fruit, stupid.

For years in America, women have gone to grocery store at Christmas time and purchased a tub of "fruitcake mix" for their cakes. What is in there? Well it seems that the producers of most of this "fruit" are also the producers of fruit juice. That means that after they get the juice, or section out the fruit, they have all that peel left. So you end up with dry bits of peel, with lots of food coloring and some corn syrup and voilà -- fruitcake fruit.

In Europe, especially in France, turning fruit into glacé fruit is an art form. During the reign of Catherine de Medici in the 14th century, glacé fruit was a welcome delicacy.

Over the course of 6 to 10 days, fruit is repeatedly cooked in an ever-increasingly dense sugar solution and finally dried. If you happen to be in France, especially in Provence, you will find stalls with vendors selling beautifully preserved whole fruits.

Since you are not in Provence, you need to find another supplier. My favorite:

La Cuisine has a lovely array of candied and dried fruit. It is one of the only places I go to get my "fruitcake mix."

Some people swear by Nuts Online. I have never tried them, but they seem to get rave reviews.

I love the soft diced ginger at King Arthur Flour. Their fruit cake blend is not my favorite because I am not fond of dates, which they included. If you don't mind the dates, it is a more rustic dried fruit blend, forgoing the citrus.

If you are close to a Trader Joe's, their dried fruits are great.

Of course, I always bake my fruitcake's in Lucinda's Wood Cake Boxes. But then, I make them! Fruitcakes need to cook low an slow, so the wood make for great cooking. And for shipping to loved ones...

It doesn't matter what you cook the fruitcake in if the fruit is of a poor quality. So please, shop around. If you have a favorite fruit source, do let us know.

For some fine fruitcake recipes, check out Cookbook Of The Day.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin