31 July 2014

Cocktails At The Burn Pit -- Sharknado 2

Why did they decide to premiere Sharknado 2 on a Wednesday night.  Everyone knows that watching Sharknado 2 required copious amounts of alcohol.  Yes, perhaps a Wednesday would have been a good night for Sharktopus 2, but Sharknado... come on.  If you are like most people, you taped it to watch this weekend after several drinks.

We though about  frozen, blue drinks but none were around.  If you have someplace with blue Icees, do grab a couple.  In lieu of that we though of a nice, fruity, sparkling drink that would work with, or without the Sharknado swizzle stick.

Blackbarb Fizz

1 ounce Art in the Age Rhuby Rhubarb Tea
4 drops orange bitters
Izze Sparkling Blackberry

Add the Rhuby and bitters to a tall glass of ice.  Fill to the top with Izze Blackberry.  Stir with a Sharknado Swizzle stick.  Or a plain swizzle stick.

I promise that the Sharknado swizzle stick is very cool on the initial spin.  With each additional spin, the gummy sharks get a bit limp, much like the plot of Sharknado 2.  To make one, all you need are some gummy sharks, several pieces of wire at varying lengths. (We found unfolded paper clips were just sturdy enough.) A bamboo skewer and a bit of tape.  Cut the bamboo to a height just above your glass.  Then tape on the wires, skew the gummy sharks.  Give it a spin.  In retrospect, we would freeze the gummy sharks first to make them easier to work with.  Go ahead give it a try.

30 July 2014

Onion Harvest

 It's that time of the year!  We got a nice crop of onions.

A few more days of curing and they will be ready to save for winter.

28 July 2014

Tell About Night Flowers

We are big fans of the writer Eudora Welty.  We are even bigger fans of writers who have passions outside of the written word.  Welty was an avid gardener.  Recently, her family garden was restored.  The restoration and history of her garden were chronicled in the book, One Writer's Garden.  The book was a love letter to Welty and her mother, Chestina and to the garden they built at the family home in Jackson, Mississippi.
Tell About Night Flowers is a more cerebral book filled with letter written primarily to Diarmuid Russell, Welty's literary agent, and John Robinson, a high school friend and lifelong crush. The letters are written during one of the most productive decades of Welty's writing life, the 1940's.  While the letters are initially about gardening, they are really about so much more. These letters illuminate Welty's writing style, her attention to detail, and her love of language. 

Julie Eichelberger compiled the letters, pulling the title from a letter to Russell about a Calypso lily.  The calypso daylily is actually a pale yellow, night blooming lily with "the color of the new moon."  Welty writes:

"To see it actually open, the petals letting go, is wonderful, and its night fragrance comes to you all at once like a breath.  What make it open at night -- what does it open to? in the same progression as others close, moment by moment.  Tell about night flowers."

Are the letters about gardening or perhaps about the process of Welty's own writing?  We know Weltly as a writer, so there is a natural desire not only to read these letters but to read into these letters a key to the writer's artistic development.  Writers are masters at writing about one thing as a surrogate for another.

Drawing from a letter to John Robinson, 26 September 1943
While business between agent and writer come through in the letters, it is the profound love of planting that shines through.  Russel tells Welty that he sold a client's book for a huge sum to Hollywood, but his concern is for his irises.

"Perhaps they won't do anything unless you come up to say  a magic word over them."
Russell sets a scene of Welty chanting over his flowers and in her return letter she thanks him for the incantation that she is now trying in her garden.  She asks him come south in the spring and of the sale she writes:

"I hope you got a tremendous sum -- and that it goes down on next year's income." 

Later she extols a recent Christmas present of 100 pounds of commercial fertilizer.  There is something so wonderful about being overjoyed about fertilizer.  It is that joy in simplicity that makes Eudora Welty such an engaging writer.

Next to gardening, we love reading about gardening.  Actually, we might like reading about gardening more than actually gardening.  Tell About Night Flowers fulfills both needs.

22 July 2014

Hay, Hay, Hay

Finally, all the fields are hayed!
It has been so hot and sticky, and cutting hay is tough work.
I spent hours watching the guys cut my hay and frankly, I need a drink.

20 July 2014

Requiescat in Pace -- James Garner

One of my favorite movies is Victor/Victoria. I can (and have) watched it over and over. Needless to say, I am a big James Garner fan.

WhileVictor/Victoria is a fave, I have a huge fondness for Westerns and in that field, Garner was a staple. When I was a kid, I had three favorite Westerns that I would watch at those moments when I needed to smile, or when I was bored, or when I just needed to be in a different space.

The first is Support Your Local Sherriff.
Followed by the sequel, Support Your Local Gunfighter.
I know what I'll be doing this afternoon.


19 July 2014


Here's our take on that classic of Appalachian cuisine, the fried bologna sandwich.  First one must get the "butcher" or deli personnel to cut the bologna by hand or perhaps we should say, to order.   You want it thick, thick, thick; a bologna steak as it were.

Fry the steak until it has nice, crunchy black bits.

Our condiment of choice furthered our Appalachian cuisine theme.  We made a ramp pesto mayo.  Earlier this year, we gathered our ramps as we we may.  Then we pickled and pestoed.  The pesto used ramps and pecans.  (Yes, I am firm pecan hater, but someone who did not know of my revulsion, sent me 2 pounds of Georgia pecans.  Waste not, want not.)  Two slices of bread and some lettuce and we had sandwich nirvana.

16 July 2014

One Man's Folly

We are a little late to the game with One Man's Folly. Most everyone had it pre-ordered.  The book is enhanced by the clever writing of Julia Reed.  There seems to be nothing on earth that Reed can't make more interesting.  One can only imagine what she does with with an engaging subject.  Well, imagination is not needed when Reed tells the story of Furlow Gatewood.

Bunny Williams, who wrote the introduction, knows Gatewood well, as he has been a business partner of  her husband.  It was Williams who introduced Reed to Gatewood and the rest, as they say, is history.

Born in a small town in Georgia, Gatewood began colleting things as a child.  WWII took the boy off the farm, but he returned home to Americus and began working on an old house on his property.  He left Americus to go to New York where the keen eye he had been developing since childhood served him well.  He opened an antiques shop that became the "go to" destination for decorators and design professionals. 

You can take the boy out of Americus, but you can't take Americus out of the boy.  Travel the world he did, but Gatewood always came back to Americus.  One building would be decorated, another rebuilt, and still another moved onto the property.  Each building has been designed and filled and refilled Gatewood.

The book is a like taking a deep plunge into the mind of a designer. 

14 July 2014

Bastille Day

 Hey, a girl can dream.
La Fête Nationale
Le 14 juillet

Looking for a Bastille Day Cookbook read Check out Buvette.

12 July 2014

Tobacco Barns

Back before the Internet and way, way back before direct mail, the Mail Pouch Tobacco company paid farmers to let them paint advertisements on the side of their barns.  There are are many of theses barns still around, including this one, a few miles from Doe Run Farm in West Virginia. 

Sad to say, there are far more tobacco chewers, than barns.  It is not safer than smoking and it is far more disgusting.  In an attempt to combat the proliferation of chewing tobacco consumption, especially by younger men, a West Virginian named Greg Puckett looked to the past.  Why not take the Mail Pouch model and turn it into a modern campaign to quit spit tobacco.
Not only has he been successful in bringing awareness to the perils of chewing tobacco, he has helped revive an old tradition of barn painters.  Read about his campaign in this Modern Farmer article.

11 July 2014

Famous Food Friday -- Wes Anderson

 "Twee" has always been one of my favorite words.  It was a lost, slightly obscure word that is now a cultural buzz word.  I am not too sure I like that!   Anyway.   The Twee-King is Wes Anderson.  (That would be Twee-King, not twerking which is horrific enough when Miley Cyrus does it, but god-forbid we ever had to see Wes Anderson with Robin Thicke! But I digress...)

I have always been a huge fan of Wes Anderson all the way back to his pre-tweeness.  One of my favorite things about Anderson is his obsessive attention to detail. 

In the hands of less creative director, Moonrise Kingdom, would have a Boy Scout Camp, easily recognizable book titles, and a pop-driven score.  Not Anderson. In Andersonville, there are Khaki Scouts, The Girl from Jupiter, and Benjamin Britten.  Nothing screams teen romance more than Benjamin Britten. Yes, somewhere there is a Khaki Scout Handbook. And yes, of the six books that Suzy Bishop held dear, including The Girl from Jupiter, Wes Anderson wrote long passages for each book just in case one needed to read aloud these fictional fictions.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou featured first time actor Seu Jorge, a famous Brazilian singer who sang David Bowie covers in Portuguese.

Did you notice the typefaces in The Royal Tenenbaums? Wes Anderson did.

In Andersonville, the worlds are self-contained and the most simple of things are fretted over with great detail.  Nothing is off-the-rack.  Everything is plotted and created.  There is always a back story that Anderson can commandeer at any moment.

 His latest movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel is based on a story by Stefan Zweig.  I must admit a fondness for moody Austrian writers.  I simply adore the late Ingeborg Bachmann.  Anderson swears that he stole much of the movie from Zweig's Beware of Pity.   The Grand Budapest Hotel features Mendl's Bakery as another location and key plot element.  Mendl's has its own distinctive packaging and a famous confection: the Courtesan au chocolat.  In a Wes Anderson movie, if there is a bakery with a special recipe, one can rest assured that that recipe is one that you too, can make.   Further more, that particular recipe will have its own back story.

"The exact recipe for the Courtesan au chocolat has never been published or publicly disclosed as per the conditions of Herr Mendl’s will. However, the following has been collated and adapted from a several “pirate” sources in the Nebelsbad archives (including a 1963 recipe from the kitchen of the Grand Budapest Hotel using powdered eggs that was printed in the Lutz Daily Fact)." 
There would be a recipe:
Mendl’s Courtesan au Chocolat

Make a choux pastry of flour, water, butter and eggs. Though correct proportions may vary depending on one’s elevation and humidity, we recommend:

1 cup plain flour
1 cup fresh water
1/4 lb (1 stick) butter
4 eggs beaten in a bowl
A pinch of salt
A larger pinch of sugar

Bring the water, butter salt and sugar to a boil. Remove from the fire and quickly mix in the sifted flour. Return to heat for a few minutes, stirring, and cook until the dough forms a single lump. Allow to cool just enough to keep the eggs from cooking and stir in very gradually with a strong wooden spoon.

Cover your tray in parchment and pipe the dough into spoon size dollops. You will need small, medium, and large size pastry balls (large tablespoon, teaspoon and hazelnut size dollops) to make a courtesan. Bake in the oven at 350F(180 C) for about 25-35 minutes. The smaller pastries are best put on a separate tray as they will cook more quickly.

Remove from the oven and discreetly make a small piercing in the choux to allow the steam to escape.


Once cooled, the large and medium choux should be filled with a crème pâtissière of chocolate, egg yolks, and sugar.

1 1/2 cups whole milk
Several large pieces semi-sweet chocolate
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 spoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon flour
Cornstarch to thicken

Heat the milk gently and add chocolate, stirring to melt into a rich, almost-steaming chocolate milk. Whisk egg yolks, flour, sugar, cocoa and a few spoons of cornstarch into a smooth mixture. Add half of the hot chocolate milk to the bowl, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Then add this mixture back into the rest of the hot milk, stirring over gentle heat for a few minutes until the mixture thickens to a custard. Remove from heat and chill.


Once cooled, spoon the chocolate crème into a pastry bag and pipe into the large and medium pastry balls.

Prepare sugar icing of confectioner’s sugar, a dash of vanilla and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. Separate into 3 small bowls and add food coloring to each - one pink, on lavender, one pale green. Reserve a small amount of white icing.

To assemble a Courtesan, dip a large ball of filled pastry in the pink icing (to the midline) and place icing side up on a small tray. Repeat with a medium pastry into the lavender icing, and place it, iced side up, atop the first ball. Press it gently so it sticks in place. Repeat with the smallest pastry in the green icing. Decorate with filigree of white icing as desired. Place a cocoa bean atop the tower as a garnish.

Serve fresh.

And there would be an instructional video:

I must say, The Grand Budapest Hotel is not my fave Wes Anderson movie, but so far, it seems to be the only one that comes with a recipe. 

10 July 2014

The Shack

The first time we saw this little cottage was in a magazine in D.C.  It was featured along with million dollar houses that had been singled out in design competitions.  The West Virginia Shack stood heads above all those McMansions. 

The shack was designed by Broadhurst Architects in D.C.  They have done a second design featuring a play on an old corn crib.  Check out more about this little gem on their site.

09 July 2014

Fair to Middling

How are you?  It is one of those questions that is meant to illicit a short response.




Fair to middling.

No one wants to hear about our trials and tribulations.  Needless to say, we have been fair to middling recently.  This accounts for the fact our last three sporadic posts have all been Cocktails At The Burn Pit.  Point of fact, there would have been a couple more but the doctor replaced our alcohol with antibiotics.  We would have rather kept the alcohol.

But we are on the mend and will be posting away very soon.

In the meantime, Teddy tried his hand (or paw) at posting on Facebook, but he just wanted to watch cat videos and listen to tunes by my godchild.
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