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
Saturday, October 25. 2014
A repost from last November -
A great hunt this morning at a pal's rod and gun club. Heavy snow flurries and a stiff breeze made things interesting. Had two good Labs working for us today. Had to break the ice in their water tubs. Being Labs, naturally one insisted on climbing into the water tub to play with the floating hunks of ice and was not eager to come out.
Before a late lunch we had some venison sausage and I fixed myself a Clamato Bloody Mary while we cleaned and oiled our weapons. For lunch, they made us rare roast beef with Onion Pie, with a nice Chateau Simard '86 (Simard remains an excellent wine for the price). I do not know whether it was just the effect of a long cold day in the field, but this onion pie was about the tastiest, most savory thing I have ever eaten. The cook made it with a plain white-cracker piecrust and maybe sprinkled cracker crumbs over the top. This pie is to a kiche as a Grizzly Bear is to a Teddy Bear. Rice Pudding for dessert, of course: what else would you serve at an old-fashioned guy's club where women are not allowed?
As my friends know all too well, it's great to have somebody else to drive so I can indulge a post-prandial, post-hunt snoring snooze. I do not know why my friends put up with me.
1 unbaked pie shell - try a plain cracker crumb crust
2 or 3 very large white onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 lb. Swiss cheese cut into 1/2" or 1" chunks
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk or light cream
1/8 tsp. pepper
Prepare unbaked pie shell. Start heating oven to 400 degrees. Saute onions in butter and dump into pie shell. Toss the cheese with flour, sprinkle over onions. Beat eggs well. Stir in milk or cream, salt and pepper. Pour over cheese. Sprinkle crack crumbs on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then reduce oven heat to 300 degrees and bake 25 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve hot, in wedges.
That is soul food with a rare roast beef. Might be a good treat for a holday, too, as an alternative to creamed baby onions (which I also love).
Friday, October 24. 2014
It's the time of year when I stock up on bags of Cranberries and throw them in the freezer.
The canned cranberry "sauce" pictured is garbage. It's just congealed sweetened cranberry juice.
The recipe on the Ocean Spray bags is pretty good, but I cut the sugar they recommend in half. It's nothing but water, fresh or frozen berries, and sugar.
A great food, the Cranberry. I love to put them in pancakes (the combination of the sweetness of the maple syrup and the tartness of the cranberries is perfect).
Here's our old post on Cranberry Season and the Heart.
Funny thing about Cranberries: not many animals or birds like to eat them. Maybe bears? I've seen Box Turtles take a bite out of one, but I've never seen anything else eat them. I love Cranberries, as long as they aren't cooked too sweet. Here's a tiny Massachusetts Cranberry bog, flooded for harvest:
Here's how it's done on a larger scale:
Sunday, October 19. 2014
Friday, October 17. 2014
I told you that in Sicily this past Spring we had Parsley Pesto (with grilled swordfish) and Pistachio Pesto (with grilled pork), but we never saw a Basil Pesto. They do love their Pistachios in Sicily - they use them with everything. We brought a small, overpriced jar of pistachio pesto home, but it's fairly easy to make.
"Pesto" means something that is pestado - pounded or ground up, as in English "pestle and "paste." Walnut-Parsley is a popular combination. Also, fresh mint pesto. The Cuisinart is what made Pesto easy.
More: Move out the way, basil. Cheese + nuts + olive oil + garlic + whatever the hell you want = awesome pesto.
Saturday, October 11. 2014
For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Pilgrim verse, circa 1633
Pumpkins are just one variety of winter squash. Winter Squash have the virtues of being harvested in the fall, and easily storable for keeping through the winter in a root cellar as long as they do not freeze. All winter squash (Butternut, Acorn, etc) taste pretty similar and are more or less interchangeable in recipes.
Winter Squash, along with string beans, maize (which we call "corn" in the US, and many other foods like peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes) were first genetically modified for agriculture by American Indians.
Eastern Indians had large fields in which they grew winter squash, maize, and beans (which climbed up the corn stalks) together. In fact, one of the reasons the Pilgrims decided to stay in Plymouth was for the 50-acre and 100-acre planting fields that the Indians (recently dead probably from European diseases brought in by explorers and fishermen) had prepared there.
The Pumpkin of the Americas quickly became a popular crop in many parts of the world. Our Philippino nanny rarely made a Phillipino stew without pumpkin chunks in it. (Loved that Oxtail stew with peanut sauce, potato, and pumpkin, or her winter squash and string bean stew with coconut milk plus some shrimp or chicken chunks.) And people who have read Alexander McCall Smith's series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, know how popular pumpkin became in the African diet. As for Pumpkin pasta recipes, there are tons of them.
Here's 41 Yummy Pumpkin Recipes.
Mashed pumpkin with salt, pepper and butter is great. Same with steamed pumpkin chunks. A little chopped fresh Sage is good with them. Never boil winter squash. Steam or roast, or it will get too soggy.
As for the olde standbys, Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Soup, those are OK too but the spices tend to obscure the subtle flavors of the winter squashes used. (Re Pumpkin Pie, the Maggie's Farm advice is to go very light on the sugar, and serve with a spoonful of whipped cream, then drizzled with 100% Maple Syrup.)
Megan McArdle wrote this: Yes, Some of US Really Like Pumpkin
I'd have the oysters, the soft-shell crabs, and the squab (I love squab).
Delmonico's (Since 1837) is still in business, on Beaver St.
Wednesday, October 8. 2014
Sunday, September 28. 2014
Saturday, September 27. 2014
Wednesday, September 24. 2014
Complain to me if this is not the best and simplest chicken you have ever had:
Have the butcher de-bone Cornish Hens - aka Spring Chicken, aka Poussin, aka a small chicken (1 per person, or maybe 1/2 per person).
Marinate in bottled Italian dressing for around 5 hours or overnight. Try to squash them flat in the marinade. Then squash the boned birds to spread out flat on a charcoal and/or wood fire, season with salt and pepper, several minutes per side, until the skin is crispy.
Never overcook a bird - they dry out. Chicken needs a little pink in the middle of the breast. If you want, you can brush some more vinaigrette on it while grilling.
Serve on a bed of mashed taters with garlic spinach on the side.
De-boning a bird takes practice, but butchers are quick, generally no extra charge. You can do this with a large chicken, but it won't be as good.
My chef friend/advisor says that one should never cook any bird without marinating first, unless it's in a stew.
Tuesday, September 23. 2014
Tuesday, September 16. 2014
Sunday, September 14. 2014
Saturday, September 13. 2014
Friday, September 12. 2014
I finished off the peaches with something like this tonight - my own recipe:
I had only around 20 peaches from my tree left after my previous chutney cooking last weekend. Skinned and roughly chopped them. There were plenty of bad spots.
Then threw in the pile of chopped peaches to brew on a high simmer for around 40 or more minutes to simmer some of the juice off and to blend the flavors.
Wish I could tell you how this smells, and how that sauce tastes. Spicy indeed. I'll call this one Ginger-Pepper-Peach-Garlic Chutney. It will cure cancer and chase away the Devil - and Mrs. BD loves it on grilled or broiled salmon. The modern wife likes to be well-taken care of by a farmer spouse while she tends to the young'uns.
I'll freeze doses of this in freezer bags. Now I have a winter supply of mildly-peppery, and of highly-peppery, home-grown ("organic"!) peach chutney. Do you know how good this stuff is with cheese, meat, or even on crackers with cream cheese?
Thursday, September 11. 2014
The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious - How the worst apple took over the United States, and continues to spread
At the Maggie's HQ, the current favorite seems to be Fuji but I am fine with the old MacIntosh.
Tuesday, September 9. 2014
As I mentioned, we emptied the peach tree just in time to keep the possums from eating them all.
Some were ripe (the peaches, not the possums), some still hard, and some over-ripe with moldy or mealy spots. The ripe ones are for eating today. The semi-hard ones go on the table in the sun. The hard ones, and the marred or half-bad ones, are for chutney. Some had a worm but I cut them out along with the bad spots. Worms do not eat much, and I don't bother spraying.
This year, I am making some of it with light brown sugar, slivered red onions, cider vinegar, roughly-chopped jalapenos (lots - 5 of them in that pot), roughly-chopped fresh ginger so you can bite into a piece (lots), a big box of golden raisins, a little salt. I use recipes as rough suggestions. For hot peppers, I always triple whatever they say.
Best not to overcook a chutney (or it will taste homogeneous and gooey like Major Grey's), and best to use it fresh. I'll freeze the excess - no need to can it. Too much trouble, and comes out tasting less fresh. Go easy on the vinegar, and add more if needed because peaches produce a lot of liquid themselves especially if they are near-ripe or over-ripe.
Peach Chutney - good with fish, steak, chicken, pork, or on a ham or turkey sammich. Google it and find a wide variety of recipes.
Below is a pic of a slightly-cooked one with a light honey sauce and a splash of vinegar, and a little chopped cilantro - some restaurants will make it like that, fresh every couple of days, as a fancy condiment for sole or chicken:
Monday, September 8. 2014
"If you don't want my peaches, don't shake my tree." That's a line from one of the versions of Blind Lemon Jefferson's perfect song from 1927 - "Matchbox Blues." I don't think Albert King used those lines in this version with Stevie Ray, though. I could listen to Albert all day long.
Our peaches up here in Yankeeland begin to ripen right about now. I get a good crop from this tree every other year, but this is the second great year in a row. I see peach pies in my near future, and maybe a year's worth of canned peach chutney. Also, a good supply of fresh peach chutney, which is better than canned: takes about 15 minutes to make. Photo is from this afternoon:
Got em all picked tonight with a pal - on ladders in the dark while Mrs. BD held failing flashlight. Then saw this: Ancient peach stones offer clues to fruit’s origins
Friday, September 5. 2014
There is great road food out there in the Northeast US, if you can find it. At Maggie's, we know a few of the best ones in the Northeast. McDonald's? Are you kidding? Never. Barf.
Take the Fairhaven exit (18), and drive south to the light, then take a right on the main drag. It's not too far, on the right side of the road. Do it - you will thank me. Try the fried oysters, or the fried clam bellies, or the codfish balls, or the fish and chips. Or anything else.
If I were Elvis, I'd send a chopper out there to fetch good snacks and meals. Cheap, too.
Yes, if you recall, Fairhaven MA is where Joshua Slocum found the Spray as a deteriorating hulk. If you have never read his book, then you can thank me for that too. First guy to sail around the world single-handed, in her.
Thursday, September 4. 2014
Saturday, August 30. 2014
Tuesday, August 26. 2014
Drizzled with a little olive oil and salted, all of these are tasty: red onion, peppers, asparagus, tomato, summer squash slices, potato slices, pineapple, apple, etc. Anything can be grilled, and it keeps you outdoors.
Best way to grill corn on the cob? Soak them in the husks in a bucket of water for an hour or two, then strip off the roughest outer husks, then toss on grill. When the husks brown a little and the flossy stuff burns, they are done. A little salt to serve - no butter.
Monday, August 25. 2014
Photo below is the Marsh Mallow plant which is a native of marshy areas in the Old World, now wild in North America. You can read about it here.
Apparently it is easy to make your own Marshmallows at home.
I prefer my Marshmallows plain, on a stick over an open fire, preferably permitted to burst into flame to produce a black crust before blowing them out. Few can resist some campfire S'mores, but I can. Too sweet for me.
Saturday, August 23. 2014
Took this pic of a clamming boat coming into dock in Wellfleet in September a couple of years ago. The refrigerated truck will arrive just as he ties up.
Those are Sea Clams which are harvested along the Northeast coast by dredging, from deeper water than the Quahog of the tidal flats but much shallower waters than those inhabited by the deep-sea Ocean Clam. Here are Sea Clams up close:
Sea Clams are the main processed clam in the US, and their shells are commonly used as ashtrays.
The hard-shelled clam, the Quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria - why that name?) is the clam of Atlantic US estuaries and tidal flats. It tastes better, in my opinion, than the Sea Clam - especially when you dig them yourself. Unlike the Sea Clam, you eat the Quahog feathers and all: Littlenecks and Cherrystones - and the chowder-sized Quahogs.
This is from Thoreau's Cape Cod:
The entirety of Thoreau's report of his amusing 1849-1867 ramblings, Cape Cod, can be read here.
Thursday, August 21. 2014
We have commented on the subject of the human diet and health before, but it's time for another comment, because the NYT Science Times has written on it.
"Healthy food" has been an on-and-off American obsession, comparable to the obsession with flavor in France.
Since Rev. Sylvester Graham, a minister, vegetarian, and food-obsessive invented the Graham Cracker in the 1820s to provide "digestive fiber," Americans have been food faddists and vulnerable to food quackery.
More famously, Dr. John Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan, an 1870s charlatan with a diet fad, fooled Americans into thinking that cereal was breakfast food. It is not. In Yankee-land, breakfast is eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, potatoes, fruit and apple pie.
Eat what you want, and be happy. All humans are prone to "magical thinking" - aka "wishful thinking." We'd like to imagine that we have some control over things like health, and that things we put in our mouths will make a difference. There is essentially no evidence for that idea, assuming absence of a disease, or a problem like high cholesterol, or pregnant, etc.
Even being fat doesn't seem to make any significant difference to health. (Being obese is a bad plan, though.) I advise patients to eat plenty of salmon, trout and char for their magical properties, and whatever else they want; to exercise and work out if they want to be strong and fit but not because they will live forever; to lose weight if they want to look better and feel less tired; to eat all the salt and steak they want; and to avoid magical health diets. Vegetarian? Fine. Leaves more lamb and steak for me. Just don't imagine that it's about health. What's a healthy diet? Any average mix of stuff, but most of all - enjoy it, and don't fuss about it too much.
(Image from the excellent medical blog Kevin, MD. That steak could be a bit more rare, if you ask me.)
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