We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, July 28. 2015
It's a new form of cheese to me: Burrata. It's a gooey variant of Mozzarella (a cheese which I do not like, even Buffalo Mozzarella. Flavorless and rubbery). Burrata, like Mozzarella, is a fresh cheese.
I'd be willing to try Burrata with sliced tomato. They may have it at our gourmet Italian market, and I am told Whole Foods carries it sometimes. I hate Whole Foods on principle, but they have always had a fine cheese department. Me love cheeses with fruits, nuts, jellies for dessert.
A good tomato platter might be sliced tomatoes, sliced mango or peach, a chunk of oozing burrata, a handful of chopped fresh basil, and a balsamic dressing.
Monday, July 27. 2015
These are a favorite summer treat around here. Yes, you can do it with pumpkin blossoms too. Use the male blossoms, on the stalks. No reason to waste them.
A simple recipe. Do not wash the blossoms. Serve hot, with salt.
For a fancier antipasto, fried blossoms stuffed with goat cheese. How good does that sound?
Saturday, July 25. 2015
Most foods have little resemblance to their natural origins. They have been domesticated and are "unnatural." Human genius defeating a cruel nature.
A book I'd like to read: Maize for the Gods: Unearthing the 9,000-Year History of Corn
Wild maize is a grass, with the fruit/seed about an inch long. Were it not for those ancient Central American genetic engineers, we'd have neither grits nor polenta.
Photo is teosintas, ancestor of domestic maize
Thursday, July 23. 2015
Scarpetta. Give it a try. As a matter of fact, she is taking a BD daughter to dinner there tonight after the new Annie Baker play. (They are Annie Baker fans after loving Flick a while ago.) She says their pastas are amazing but our advice is to always skip pasta in good Italian restaurants. Why dine on starch, when there are so many other better flavors in antipasti and secondi?
I'll make exceptions for Pappardelle al Funghi with wild mushrooms, or Fois Gras Ravioli with Black Truffle.
Looking back, thus far, for Italian, we have also recommended Barbetta, Giovanni, Macelleria, - and Bar Eolo for genuine Sicilian. Only Barbetta is a jacket and tie joint, but for Giovanni a jacket is appropriate.
Tuesday, July 21. 2015
Sunday, July 19. 2015
Saturday, July 18. 2015
Mrs. BD asked me to fix up a batch of rhubarb compote to splash on some Haagen Dasz for a fancy dinner party we are attending tonite. My guess is that nobody there will have had it before. It's a North country treat. Lots of people do not care for it much. Their loss. It's tangy. I always use half the sugar.
We are the Rhubarb People. A racial identity group and a much-abused and/or neglected one. Maybe we all originated in Yorkshire. Who knows?
Since my own recipe for hot pepper jelly (served with cheeses and cream cheese) was such a hit at a fancy cocktail party in NYC that I have been urged to produce a line of it, I decided to branch out into Spicy Rhubarb Jam. Maggie's Farm Produce, or something. All-organic, meaning grown in pig and cow shit.
Mom always grew her sizeable patch right outside the barn. We would just pitchfork some fresh horse poop and horse straw on top of it when cleaning the barn. Worked well. A rhubarb patch likes to be fed.
A good patch takes a couple of years to establish itself. How do you harvest rhubarb? With a sharp yank on the stalk. Not with clippers.
My rhubarb plantation, stolen from my Mom's garden, is overwhelming. Had to use some more of it. We'll make some pies too (never with strawberry), but I invented my own recipe for Spicy Rhubarb Jam - chopped rhubarb, lemon juice, sugar, chopped fresh red chilis and chopped jalapenos, some chopped green peppers, a little salt, and I threw in some pectin for the heck of it. No pressure canner.
Is cooked rhubarb red? Almost never. People add food coloring but I don't bother. You only get a little red from the young thin stalks.
Yes, the jam tastes like spicy rhubarb. Quite tangy. I like it. Might be good with pork or chicken. Not sure. Definitely good with cheese especially goat cheese. Not on a toasted bagel. I am no expert food canner but I just boil the heck out of the Ball jars for about 15 minutes and hope for the best. Botulism is not wanted.
Next stop might be Spicy Cranberry Preserve. Why not? Any poultry is improved with some cranberry on the side. And for those who can enjoy a tart now and then, for dessert any little rhubarb or cranberry tart is nice.
Sunday, July 12. 2015
My Mom always put up tons of these pickled string beans from my Dad's garden. When you take some out, people eat them like popcorn. You can not can too many of these.
The good olde internet: How to Fix (or Remake) Jam or Jelly That Turns Out Too Soft or Runny
We wanted to make a ton of Rhubarb jam on Saturday but we ran out of sugar and Mrs. BD needed to control the kitchen for a double family birthday party. Poached salmon, etc. Anyway, people gnawed on my raw Rhubarb stalks. Delicious and stringy. The Rhubarb I salvaged from Mom's garden is going great guns and, racially, we are the Rhubarb People.
Saturday, July 4. 2015
Happy Independence Day! If you're like me, you're with your family and being independent together (h/t to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer).
If you're like me, you're probably having hot dogs and hamburgers, potato or macaroni salad, soda or beer, or other kinds of foods which were purchased at a store after being shipped from some other part of the U.S. or even another nation.
If you're like me, you probably don't spend time worrying about the details of how your food reached your table. But you may know people, as I do, who think the whole "eat local' idea will save our health and economy. We have a restaurant here which is excellent, but very expensive, and always booked. We need to make reservations several months in advance to get a table. They only serve locally grown foods (I believe it's a 50 mile radius), and it's BYOB (so I guess they're OK with bringing French wine to go with the Jersey Tomatoes).
Normally I don't go in for faddish trends, and I really don't buy the whole "local food" movement. But this is a good restaurant and just because I don't agree with it doesn't mean I'll avoid a good meal. Good food is good food. There are reasons why I don't necessarily think the local food movement is ever going to change how we live, and it certainly is not going to make our lives better.
As this video (45 minutes long - so be prepared) points out, most nations with small farms have economic problems. This doesn't intrinsically mean small farms are impoverishing those nations, but there's no doubt being a food exporter (and the U.S. is by far the largest) is an indication of economic strength through size. This video also points out the hypocrisy of our nation's politics and its 'solutions' to perceived problems. We have deemed some banks "Too Big To Fail" and willingly subsidize their moral hazard, while at the same time pointing to large agricultural firms and saying they are "Too Big To Succeed" and impose excessive regulations on them while subsidizing failing small farms. So the policy of the U.S. that we subsidize failure, and engage double standards wherever we see fit.
The Jungle is often touted as an example of what would happen if we did not support regulation of the food industry. Unfortunately, this novel was a work of fiction designed to draw attention to the plight of the working man. It was the lies of Upton Sinclair about the Chicago Packing District that stick in people's memory, however. By and large, most food businesses provided healthier foods than smaller firms. It was in their best interest to do so. One does not win new consumers by killing or injuring those you have. In fact, most of these businesses wanted regulation as a means to raise barriers to entry against their smaller competitors, and to prevent foreign foods, which had raised trade barriers, from being too competitive.
Friday, July 3. 2015
Small beer has a long history. Basically, it's an innocuous daytime beverage which produces no buzz. Pretty good for driving and boating.
Like horse piss? I wouldn't know but I can say that Bud Lite is not the tastiest beer in the world even though it is America's best-seller.
Wednesday, July 1. 2015
Summer really begins this weekend, up here, with Independence Day. Just a few summery links:
At a wedding a couple of weeks ago, this is all they were serving. Gallons it it. Wine and beer too.
My favorite cocktail regardless of season is a gin Martini with four olives. Vegetarian, organic. I could use one or two right now before I head to the dentist.
What are your favorite summertime adult beverages?
Tuesday, June 30. 2015
Poached salmon with yoghurt dill sauce is one of our standards for bringing as our contribution to outdoor summer dinner parties. Asparagus is good on the side. Everybody loves it.
We also use this as our large group Christmas Eve after-church suppers for whoever is lucky enough to be invited to our place for supper around the fireplaces, with the tree (Christmas Eve requires seafood, and you can do this in the afternoon so it's ready when you get home.) One or two of those huge Costco filets, depending on numbers, is good to poach. Easy to do.
Recipe here. We poach the large filets intact and present them on a large tray. It's more appealing that way.
Sunday, June 28. 2015
Here's how my mother-in-law does it. Slice tomato, then a whole large Basil leaf, then a slice of mango, then a thin slice of mozzarella. Repeat. She runs it down in slightly-slanted rows on a platter. Repeat in rows until platter is filled. A little salt and a drizzle of oil and vinegar on top.
Saturday, June 27. 2015
Simple and good, if you like raw vegetables.
Yes, Greeks do eat a lot of "Village Salad." It does call for Greek olive oil (often considered lousy oil except by the Greeks), which is somehow different from Italian even though the olives are the same.
Greeks, like the north africans, don't really do "extra virgin" or any of that fancy stuff.
Friday, June 19. 2015
We'll have three Dads (including me) and 10-12 people for lunch. I'm cooking. Fathers grill meat on Father's Day to signify their masculine hunter-gatherer role in life.
I like to server burgers with hard rolls, chips, and a platter of pickles, sliced onions, and sliced tomato. If somebody wants a cheeseburger, I'll use a slice of Saga Blue. Bowl of German potato salad from the market. Male cooking.
I'll probably grill up my usual platter of veggies too as a side: red peppers, onions, scallions, eggplant, mushroom, summer squash, all with browned or slightly-burnt parts and splashed with olive oil. People love my simple grilled vegetable mix and it makes excellent leftovers. I grill with charcoal + firewood.
When I do burgers, I never use lean meat. What's the point? I put the meat in a big bowl, stir it up with a little Worcestershire sauce or Soy sauce, plenty of ground pepper and Kosher salt, some garlic powder or dried onion soup mix, or sometimes a little herbed bread crumbs to hold the juices. I like them to come off the charcoal crunchy and dark on the outside and pink in the middle. Ten minutes or so, depending on the heat.
Beer, wine and bubbly water with some lime. Ketchup? You betcha. Made a batch of hot pepper jelly/relish for thems as got the nerve to try it. Hot as hell itself. Tasty on a burger. Some of my peach chutney too from last fall. Those condiments are good with anything.
We'll have a birthday cake for dessert, because we have one of those to take note of this week. Yellow cake with Mocha frosting. Except for the birthday, I would have cooked up a big Blackberry Cobbler for dessert. Even men can make that.
How do readers like to make burgers?
Saturday, June 13. 2015
To my taste, a juicy Ribeye on the stovetop on cast iron, or a New York Strip on the grill with a high-blazing wood fire (no charcoal or gas, please) burnt to a crunchy crisp on the outside and raw on the inside.
Since Sicily, we have eschewed steak sauces for Pistachio Sauce (Pistachio Pesto) - not that a really good Costco steak needs any sauce but it makes it more fun.
It's a shame that I can't find those baby pig slices to grill here in the US, miele juvenal. Damn tasty and juicy.
Tuesday, June 9. 2015
On the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia down to the Gulf of Mexico, it's molting season for the Blue Crab.
Some people don't mind picking the meat out of these delicious Blue Crabs for crab salad, crab cakes, a crab boil, or She-crab soup, but my preference is Soft-Shelled, right after the molt. You just eat the whole juicy thing, feathers and all. No waste whatsoever.
Sometimes you will get a batch of crabs whose new shells have begun to firm up a little too much, and are too chewy. I don't like that. Chewy is fine, but hard is not.
If you have any sauteed crabs left-over in the fridge, you can put one on white bread with some mayonnaise and salt and pepper, and it might be the best sandwich in the world.
Here's the best recipe.
Wednesday, June 3. 2015
Pic is preparation for the cocktail hour shrimp boil at the Greyfield Inn.
Why are the shrimp so tender? They are bought directly from the shrimp boat, and they are in the boil in their shells for 2 minutes max - 90 seconds preferably - just until they turn pink. I tend to find shrimp boring but these were sweet and not chewy.
The square hole in the table is for the shells. Works for oyster roasts too.
You are supposed to drink beer with them.
They use this recipe for dipping sauce.
Tuesday, June 2. 2015
Monday, June 1. 2015
They go by several other names too (Miniature Watermelons, Mouse Melon), but I never had them until last week in Georgia. They cut them in half and put them in salads at our inn along with the cherry tomatoes, etc. Crunchy, refreshing little cucumber-like things less than an inch long. Grow prolifically on vines. Be the first in your neighborhood. I ordered some seeds right away.
Another good thing they grew in their gardens was a tangy peppery green which is new to me, Curly Mustard, or Mustard Mizuna. Use it when the leaves are young.
And lots of Mache, of course.
Down there, you must do many sequential plantings of greens, but in summer they must be shaded.
Sunday, May 31. 2015
Delicious summer side dish for meat on the barbie, but it can function as a full meal for me if served on top of some Boston Lettuce:
A pile of cooked white rice (Basmati is best). Or couscous instead.
Cool rice to cool or room temp. Then add:
roughly chopped - peeled and seeded - cucumber
(you can add some chopped red, green, and/or yellow bell peppers too if you want.)
Salt and pepper, fresh-squeezed lemon juice to taste, then toss with your best olive oil. Serve cool or room temp.
Saturday, May 30. 2015
The way I make black bean soup -
4 cans of Goya black beans (make sure they are GMO black beans, much better)
Cook the bacon. Remove it. Sautee the onion and garlic in the bacon grease a little. Chop up the bacon. Dump out most of the bacon grease, then dump in the beans (don't drain them), onions and garlic, bay leaf, chopped bacon, some chicken broth, salt, and a couple of dashes or so of the flavorings. (I hold the jalapeno in abeyance as not everybody likes it. Can be added as garnish when done)
I don't use cilantro because I hate it. Cilantro - some like it, some do not. It's genetic.
Simmer covered for an hour or so or toss it in a crock pot. Add more chicken broth it it's too thick. Then mash it in the pot with a potato masher. Some people just take half of it and run it thru the blender for a creamier result but I like to mash it. Scallions on top, +/- chopped jalapeno.
I like it with a big dollop of mashed taters in the middle of each person's bowl, but some people prefer sour cream and salsa on it. Whatever.
Salad on the side? If you are a rabbit, fine.
Mom used to send us kids out into the meadow edges in July and August with our blueberry cans on strings around our necks. Wild blueberries, the small ones. Now you can get blueberries year-round, but they are not the same. Big fat things mostly.
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