25 June 2010

Teddy and the Girls and the Slider Rolls

Teddy, having been raised by the chickens, still considers himself "one of the girls." Whenever the chickens get an afternoon snack, Teddy comes running, as he feels he should be an active participant in any event that involves food. The day's snack was most of the bag of dinner rolls. I buy these lovely bags of rolls from my grocery bakery and use them for slider buns. The chickens love slider week as I only use a few of the buns and they get the rest. I called for the chickens and immediately heard Teddy's bell as he did not want to miss out on the slider rolls. After the initial eating frenzy, there were just a few bites left to scavenge. Teddy and one Iowa Blue had their sites set on a final bite ( hard to see in the above picture, but Teddy is a bit closer.).

Teddy decided to make his move, but reinforcements gathered.

Outnumbered and overfed, Teddy let the girls have the last bite. A gentlecat to the end!

22 June 2010

The Ballad of Lucy Jordan

One of my favorite movies is Dusan Makavejev's Montenegro. Montenegro is a slightly soft-core pastiche of Ingmar Bergman films. It is Susan Anspach's best work. Many people, including Vincent Canby, felt it might just make her a star. As far as I know, Montenegro was her last film.

The Cliff Notes version: Bored housewife (Anspach) with lovely kids, a Swedish husband and a big house meets Yugoslavian immigrants at the airport and becomes drawn to their gypsy life.

In 1981, the movie was the first "comedy" screened at Cannes. I wouldn't say it was a comedy, in fact at times it is rather sad. Still, I have always loved the film. It ends with Marianne Faithful's haunting rendition of The Ballad of Lucy Jordan.

The Ballad of Lucy Jordan was written by Shel Silverstein.

Shel Silverstein wrote quite a few memorable songs and they have recently been compiled into a tribute album, Twistable Turnable Man.

Twistable Turnable Man features Lucinda Williams covering The Ballad of Lucy Jordan.

I have been listening to the CD, endlessly. I think The Ballad of Lucy Jordan was never covered because Marianne Faithful's version is just so poignant. Lucinda Williams gives it her best shot, but hear-to-head, I thing Marianne wins. That being said, I love the CD.

Both Twistable Turnable Man and Montenegro are available on Amazon. Montenegro, alas, is not available on Netflix, so you will have to score a nice used copy or you can come to Shirley and we will watch it together.

19 June 2010

Vintage Shirley

The General Store

In the 1930's there was a devastating flood in Shirley. Recently, my neighbor, Violet, gave me some pictures of Shirley, taken after the rain subsided.

Another view of the General Store.

Full frontal flood. There was no Post Office addition at this time. The gas station is now the Shirley Book Lender and the tiny building to the left is now an addition to the back of the book lender.

Here are some guys standing knee deep on main street Shirley.

18 June 2010

Famous Food Friday – Freya Stark

Books are very important. How many stories of fascinating people begin with a book they received as a child? Freya Stark is no different. On her 9th birthday she received a copy of The Thousand on One Nights. After reading it, she became fascinated with the Orient and by the late 1920's she was in Baghdad.

The truth is, by 1927, when Stark headed for the Middle East most of the world had already been discovered. But Stark set out, often alone, heading to remote locations where no European woman had ever traveled. In Iran she located the fabled Valley of the Assassins.

Pool in Sayyid Abu Bakr al-Kaf's garden, Seiyun 1938

Stark wrote extensively of her travels, publishing her first book, Baghdad Sketches in 1932. Over the next fifty years she would write 24 travel books and autobiographies and eight volumes of letters. After her death, her godson, Malise Ruthven, published a collection of her photographs from Southern Arabia.

South gate, Tarim 1935

In 1950 there were approximately 7500 disabled soldiers among the 60,000 in the Returned British Prisoners of War Association. They were in need of some extra help, so a big group of “famous” people got together and compiled a cookbook to provide extra funds to those who needed it.

The cookbook, “As We Like It” Cookery Recipes by Famous People contains recipes by the likes of Noel Coward, Enid Blyton, Richard Attenborough, a big bunch of sirs and ladies and viscountesses thrown in for good measure. The recipes are generally simple but I doubt there was much testing on these recipes. Still, it is fun to see the recipes chosen by some names you know.

Our recipe today comes from Freya Stark. While Stark looked like she never missed a meal, wandering about the backdeserts of Syria couldn’t be that conducive to finding a 7-11. Come to think of it, finding a nice cut of beef and a stewpan while hunting assassins in Persia couldn’t have been easy. Being a writer, one would think that Stark might have come up with a zippier title for the dish than, Economical Recipe for Meat. Really, it’s just mom’s pot roast, slowly braised. Quite divine.

Economical Recipe for Meat

Take a boneless piece of beef and put it in a stewpan into which it just fits easily. Cut up a sufficient number of raw onions to fill in every cranny round the meat. Add salt and pepper, and nothing else. Put a weight on the lid of the stewpan to prevent any steam from escaping and cook over a slow fire. It will make an excellent dish and the onion juice will all be absorbed.

My favorite photo of Stark on a picnic outside of Baghdad.
Notice her "picnic box."

Stark wrote, "To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world." Still traveling in her 90's, a reporter asked her about death and she replied,
"I feel about it as about the first ball, or the first meet of hounds, anxious as to whether one will get it right, and timid and inexperienced -- all the feelings of youth."

Freya Stark died at 100.

For a comprehensive look at the life of Freya Stark check out Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark by Jane Geniesse.

17 June 2010

Asparagus and Potato Tart

I love cable. Since there are so many channels, they are always showing re-runs of shows I never watched in the first place. Recently, I saw a sitcom called King of Queens. One of the minor characters, Spencer, is played by Patton Oswalt who I find rather amusing. In this episode, Spencer just got a TIVO and after seeing the programs it records, he becomes convinced his TIVO thinks he's gay. He tries watching a lot of sports, but the more football he watches, the more TIVO records ice skating and women's golf.

My TIVO thinks I am a serial killer with a fondness for British food. It ALWAYS tapes Criminal Minds, Criminal Intent and Jamie Oliver. It should know by now that I have seen every Criminal Mind, Criminal Intent and Jamie Oliver ever recorded, but for some reason, TIVO thinks I want to see them, again.

I was flipping through this week and found Jamie at Home featuring asparagus. I had seen it at least 3 times but I had a big bunch of asparagus, so I watched as Jamie made his Crispy and Delicious Asparagus and Potato Tart. The recipe called for filo dough which I didn't have and Lancashire cheese which I didn't have, but I wouldn't let a little thing like missing ingredients stop me.

I did have a store bought pie crust, alas round and not oblong like I needed. I had lots of cheddar from Vermont, so I was good. The recipe is basically mashed potatoes with cheese in a crust topped with asparagus. Add a couple of eggs to your mashed potatoes so they set up and be sure and season them well. How hard is that. Well, Jamie tries to make it a bit harder. Here's his recipe:

Crispy and Delicious Asparagus and Potato Tart

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Sea salt
1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends removed
8 ounces filo pastry
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup freshly grated Lancashire cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Cheddar
3 large organic or free-range eggs
1 (8-ounce) container heavy cream
1/4 whole fresh nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper


Put your potatoes into a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile blanch your asparagus in a separate pan of salted boiling water for 4 minutes, and drain in a colander.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Get an ovenproof dish - I've used many different shapes and sizes. Layer the sheets of filo pastry in the dish, brushing them with melted butter as you go and letting about 1-inch hang over the edge. You want to get the pastry about 5 layers thick. Put a clean, damp kitchen towel over the top and put aside.

When the potatoes are done, mash them with the cheeses. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and cream and stir into your cheesy mashed potato. Grate in the nutmeg, season well with pepper and mix together. Spread the mashed potato over the filo pastry, then bring up the sides of the filo and scrunch them together to form a rim. Take your blanched asparagus and line them up across the filling, making sure you cover it all. Brush all over with the remaining melted butter and pop into the preheated oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve just as you would a quiche for a quick lunch or supper, with a salad.
Gotta run now, I'm making a pud and looking for the perfect place to hide a body!

16 June 2010

The Fabulous Beekman Boys

Tonight is the premiere of The Fabulous Beekman Boys a kind of Green Acres with an overachieving gay doctor and his ex-drag queen boyfriend who make soap from goats milk. Sounds 'fab" to me. As one of those drop- off-the-map-to-the-middle-of-nowhere-to-become-bucolic, I relate. The show is on the green planet network which used to be another network till green got so chic. honestly, I never knew I go the green planet channel till I set up the TIVO to record The Fabulous Beekman Boys.

Here's the added plus -- there's a book entitled The Bucolic Plague. It is very funny and a good insight into what happens when "city folk" move to the country. I'm a bit jealous because the Beekman Boys moved to a gigantic mansion in the country but not jealous of the gigantic upkeep. I sympathised when their mid-winter thermometer was set at 50 degrees. I don't have a mansion but trying to heat my three bedrooms was enough to break my bank!

The New York Times has a somewhat snotty review of the show, so just ignore it. Along with each weeks program, the boys are offering up a lovely cocktail to serve during the show. What country squires they are. (Though not particularly Southern, we are giving them style points for show cocktails.)

Check out Josh and Brent's web site Beekman 1802 to buy soap or get a nice cocktail recipe and always remember...

Land spreadin' out so far and wide,
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

11 June 2010

A Return to the Smock

I am of the opinion that it is time for the smock to make a big comeback. Originally though of as something to cover one's clothes while doing messy work, it is infinitely practical. As I spend a great deal of time dressed like I am wearing hand-me-down truckers gear, I aspire to more. Hence, the smock. Here is garment that one could throw on over any fashion faux pas and still look incredibly cool and put together.

The smock is unisex so Eric Gill...

...and Edward Fristrom could wear them.

One could text while wearing a smock (I am pretty sure she is NOT texting but the posture works.)...

...or take care of the kids, like Vita Sackville-West.

The best smock were worn during the Bloomsbury era.
Dora Carrington did them proud on more than one occasion.

Here is Carrington in a smock being used for its true purpose...

...and here as a fashion statement.

Vanessa Bell totally rocked the smock...

...though I am not totally thrilled by how this one looks in the back.

Even Calvin and Hobbes are into smocks, well Hobbes. And I , too, like the way it sounds...

Smock smock
Smock smock
Smock smock!

So take it from me and Hobbes --

Don't Knock My Smock, Or I'll Clean Your Clock

09 June 2010

Wednesday Etiquette

Today’s Wednesday Etiquette finds us minding our "P's" and "Q's" quite literally as we are looking at grammar as a form of etiquette. We are featuring the charming and unique book, Language Etiquette. Written in 1949, Language Etiquette takes those tried and true adages that make polite society and applies them to our grammar. In a whimsical take on the subject, our lessons are taught in verse. Frankly, it is quite hard to find a book that combines grammar, etiquette and poetry.

J. Martyn and Anna Kathleen Walsh were both high school English teachers. (Well, that should tell you something right there.) They were in charge of both the grammar lessons and the poetry. The quaint and engaging drawings were done by Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge and frankly without the drawings, the book would lose most of its charm.

Confused? Well one really has to experience it fully to truly grasp the power of the poetry.

A hat, you’re told, may introduce
You as a siren or a saint;
But there’s no hat that can reduce
The slouchiness of vulgar ain’t.
Though there’s no one who dares dispute
Illusions of a stylish “lid,”
No hat’s so “darling” or so “cute”
As to camouflage a drab has did.

You say that grammar’s silly stuff
Designed to worry kids in school;
You boast that you speak good enough
And never bother with the rule.
You free your ignorance from blame,
Yet as you blunder lay for lie,
With those who hear you rate the same
As if with knife you ate your pie.

Though you may have “just scads of dough”
And know the art of swanky gear,
All tricks to make the outside glow –
You’ll “flop” if you insult the ear.
You lose prestige in one has did
To put at naught your outward sheen;
You rate a slough with one had did,
A lout, with “them’s the ones we seen.”

07 June 2010

Cocktails at the Burn Pit -- The French

or as the French might say: Apéritif a la puits de brûlure. Seriously, the French would probably not in any way say that, still...

Recently, the French have decided to stimulate their economy by offering up drinks to the world in the form of a promotion dubbed the French Cocktail Hour. On their web site you will find the following:

"The French ritual of l'apéritif, unlike the American cocktail hour,
involves a light drink… and a few bites of something delicious
to whet the appetite."

— Mona Talbott, T Style magazine (New York Times)

French Cocktail Hour, or apéritif à la française, is captured by that very singular, privileged moment of socializing, conviviality and fun prior to dinner that to a great extent symbolizes the French art de vivre.

You go, France!

Here are some simple instructions for hosting your own little French cocktail hour.

1. Aperitifs or just a bottle of wine.

2. A bite to eat.

3. Tunes.

Oh yes, you might want a few friends, but frankly there is no need.

The burn pit, just this once, is optional!

05 June 2010

Life Imitates Art...

... or real life imitates food magazines. As you know, I recently had company. Company means buying a lot of groceries, as I would never want a guest to go hungry! Guests, knowing this trait before they arrive, love to bring groceries. Then the guests leave and always (as there are really only 4 or 5 meals that one can possibly work into a day), there are tons of groceries left over.

Canned goods, lovely pots and jars of accouterments, beans and peas and pasta can live to see another day. Meat can be frozen, but produce presents a problem. There is never enough produce to make confiture, however, there is too much to be consumed before it goes bad, so there is a lot of juicing and saucing that goes on.

Case in point. Ann brought a box of organic, still on the vine tomatoes AND she brought some loose tomatoes. Ann likes to shop at several different places and often forgets what she has bought. The other day I said I was cooking the rest of the tomatoes and Ann said, "but you used tomatoes in the salad!" Well, yes I did. But in order to eat all the tomatoes Ann brought, I would have needed to make salad for 100.

One thing Ann always brings is my favorite mozzarella balls from Wegman's. They make these tiny mozzarella balls just slightly larger than English peas. I stuff meat balls with them and make bite-sized (OK, two bite) Caprese salads.

I dredge the tiny balls in balsamic, olive oil, and tiny basil leaves. Then I spoon the mixture into cored tomatoes. A touch of salt and you are good to go. After the mozzarella balls ran out, and pasta sauce was made, and more salad... there were still tomatoes.

The rest of the leftover tomatoes I roasted with some garlic and olive oil. I baked some bread and ate a couple and the rest I tucked away for a future sauce! So imagine my surprise when two days later I received my copy of Saveur. There were my roasted tomatoes on the cover.

In the article, they actually referred you to a recipe. It is tomatoes and garlic and olive oil roasted in a pan. Seriously, do we need a recipe? This is why I am so fond of Elizabeth David's recipes. She would say add tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and roast until the tomatoes split. Today's recipe writing leans to the painfully scientific and robs the romance from even the most simple dish, in my humble opinion, but I digress...

If you desperately need to know how make roasted tomatoes and lean toward the scientific, here's the Saveur recipe.

Roasted Tomatoes

6 medium tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled and lightly crushed
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Heat oven to 425°. Place tomatoes, garlic, and thyme on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake, brushing tomatoes occasionally with the oil, until tomatoes soften and their skins split, about 25 minutes.

2.Transfer tomatoes, along with juices, to a serving dish and serve warm with crusty bread.


If you come to Lucindaville, it will only serve 3 as you will need to keep up your strength for Supper.

04 June 2010

Famous Food Friday -- Alexandra Wentworth

Perhaps not the MOST famous foodie we have ever profiled, but certainly the goofiest.

Alexandra Wentworth is the author of the WASP Cookbook (the Protestants, not the bugs.) She comes by her waspness honestly, after all, her name is Alexandra Wentworth. She is the daughter of Mable Cabot who was formerly, Muffie Brandon who was the social secretary for one, Nancy Reagan.

Muffie is the one who is not Nancy

One a far more interesting note, she is the granddaughter of Janet January Elliott Wuslin Hobart, the famous explorer. (OK, not that famous either, but she would have been if Wuslin, her husband and fellow explorer, hadn't stolen all the credit.)

Janet riding a camel, 1921

This begs the question, how does the granddaughter of an explorer and the daughter of social secretary end up on the Starz Network? Even the waspiest among us can take a wrong turn!

So in the late 1990's Alexandra Wentworth published the WASP Cookbook. It wasn't meant to be a best-seller. It has the feel of one of those books that got published because Muffie had lunch with Buffy whose son just got a job from his brother Biff's Harvard roommate who works at a publishing house owned by Tad's dad who was having lunch at the Somerset Club(see Cookbook Of The Day) and said that Ali was between jobs and gee wouldn't it nice if she were a published author.

So they published a few copies in a cheesy blue velveteen with flaky gold titles and then remaindered most of them. As time marched on, they became quite the collector's item, so now that $1 remainder could set you back about $40.

I will say this for Wentworth, she is pretty funny. Unable to find a good WASP resturant or cookbook she writes in her introduction:

"...this is what prompted me to track down some old prep school chums (off doing graduate work at Cornell, having babies in Bedford Hills, or in prison for insider trading) to collect their family recipes and cooking secrets.

I discovered that, because most food is prepared for wasp's at the country club or by their help, most recipes were not written down in any kind of organized text. of course, occasionally, you can find recipes on the back of a Crane's stationary envelope or a yellow index card stuffed into an old Architectural digest magazine. But for the most part, WASP cuisine has survived almost entirely through an oral tradition handed down from mothers to daughters or from butler to butler."

The WASP Cookbook is divided, like so many cookbooks, into seasons. For Spring there is the Barn Party. Summer features a Croquet Breakfast. Autumn has A Middleburg Foxhunt, while Winter features the perfect items for the Blessing of the Hounds.

Here are just two favorites...

Katie's Hunt Spread

3 cups ground country ham
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Place the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with stone-ground wheat crackers.

or try this...

Jane's Tomato Pudding

8 cups canned tomatoes, peeled and drained
1 1/2 cups seasoned croutons
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix ingredients in a large bowl and pour into a casserole dish. Bake for 1 hour, or until bubbly.
Just in time for the Vineyard Antique Show!

03 June 2010

Both: A Portrait in Two Parts

I was looking for something to re-read and I pulled Both off the shelf thinking it was an entirely different book*. I cannot tell you how delighted I was to find this book, again. Both: A Portrait in Two Parts by Douglas Crase tells the dual story of Dwight Ripley and Rupert Barneby. It is filled with gardening and art and Auden and Waugh, oh my.

Dwight Ripley was the heir to the Ripley railroad fortune. Rupert Barneby had a proper, English upbringing. The two met at Harrow as boys and went on to lead a life together.

Dwight at Harrow

Rupert at Harrow

Dwight wrote poetry and produced a collection of colored pencil drawings while Rupert became, as Crase states, "the most accomplished legume taxonomist since Bentham."

The pair traveled the globe finding and identifying plants. Rupert's speciality was Astragalus.

Specimen collected by Rupert Barneby

Detail from "Merbomb in a Cage" by Dwight Ripley, 1951

"Travel Poster" by Dwight Ripley

Rupert found a home at the New York Botanical Garden. The pair moved into a house known as The Falls and later into the nineteen room Stirling House. Dwight would succumb to cirrhosis in 1973. Rupert would continue on with his plants another 27 years.

Rupert, holding Possum, and Dwight

I know, you are thinking why in the world would I care about the story of a drunken minor poet and the second most accomplished legume taxonomist in the world? I have not done the book justice, I assure you. Suffice to say, when I pulled it off the shelf and sat down with it, I did not get up until I finished it, again. If you accidentally pull it off a shelf thinking it is something else, I urge you to take it home -- and if it sits on your shelf, do read it, again.

* I thought it was The 3000 Mile Garden: An Exchange of Letters Between Two Eccentric Gourmet Gardeners.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin