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
Friday, June 9. 2023
Chic hippie breakfast: Cold Oatmeal
If you even need breakfast other than a medium Dunkin (if Irish, a Guiness mixed with a raw egg), lots of people go for various cereals.
Sure, tasty, but pure carbs. Might as well have a donut or two.
Mrs. BD tells me that the ladies like a teacup of Cold Oatmeal for breakfast. No cooking.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 18:03 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, June 1. 2023
What is so rare as a steak in June?
Readers know that Maggie's has a preference for rare Ribeyes (especially those thick Costco ones which can dine 4 people), cooked on an iron pan over a hot gas flame. Olive oil and butter, salt and pepper. Hard crust on the surface, but almost alive inside.
Burgers and hot dogs on the outdoor grill? Excellent. Also, marinated butterflied legga lamb. But a good steak? Nope.
I know others have different opinions.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 13:27 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, April 28. 2023
Mexican Gherkins? Reposted from several years ago
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 about 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.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink, Gardens, Plants, etc. at 13:35 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, April 25. 2023
How to make Asian Peanut Sauce
I like it for noodles, or as a salad dressing. I like a little hot pepper sauce in it too, sometimes.
Thanks to the Spanish for spreading the peanut around the world.
How to make Asian Peanut Sauce
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 14:01 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, April 14. 2023
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 17:44 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, April 7. 2023
Life in Yankeeland: Good Friday and Easter cookin', reposted from Covid days
We tend towards the Italian on religious holidays. Mrs. BD is 50%; her dad is as Irish as can be. However, trust me, Italian blood beats celtic or anglo-saxon every time.
She needed candied citron for Easter Pie (Wheat Pie). Naturally, they brought home a bunch of arancini for lunch. They were the size of baseballs. I've never seen them that big in Sicily. Also, baccala for tonight. Hard as wood at first.
For today, baccala to keep with her family tradition. For Easter dinner, a Nice Legga Lamb. That's the Irish part. Just 4 of us, sad to say this year. Distancing, for what it's worth. I miss the whole BD family but I miss church a lot too. It doesn't feel right. I love our congregation.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 13:56 | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, April 3. 2023
Aile de Raie for supper
My buddy and I had Aile de Raie for dinner last night. I think poached, with a nice sauce. (Our wives had pork osso buco.)
Have you ever caught a Skate? I've caught a couple over the years on Cape Cod while fishing for Stripers. Released them. Felt like you hooked a log. Should have cooked them.
I've had Joue de Raie once, years ago in France. Like a scallop. The "wings" are the more usual menu thing. A nice sweet white meat, and a first time for me.
Everybody who visits Atlantic beaches has seen their blackened egg cases ("mermaid purses") washed up. Skates lay those egg sacks, while Sting Rays bear live young. People eat Sting Rays, but do not step on one.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 14:49 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, March 31. 2023
When we discuss the New World foods which, thanks to Columbus, ended up changing the cuisine of the world, we always forget to include the peanut.
Posted by The News Junkie in Food and Drink at 13:38 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, March 28. 2023
There are too many routine uses of cheese in the US to list them all - just think cheeseburgers, nachos, cheese and cracker appetizers, McMuffins with cheese, grilled cheese, ham and Swiss sandwiches, salads with gorgonzola. There are many more.
The big supermarket sellers in the USA seem to be "American cheese" (which is a food-like substance), sliced Swiss (made in Wisconsin), Dutch Gouda, and Cheddar-type cheeses (often made in Vermont - but the best of that type imo is Irish Kerrygold Dubliner). Gorgonzola too if there are a lot of Italians around, and goat cheese has become basic these days. Cottage Cheese and Cream Cheese are not really cheeses. Yeah, and Brie is a popular party cheese.
Amazing cheeses (often French) are due respect. The frogs can be as fussy about cheese as about wine, and for good reasons: they go from sheep to cow, from gooey to hard, from intensely stinky to nutty, plenty of complex blues, etc.
Our experience in France is that a charcuterie board (supposedly an aperitif) is a meal in itself - sliced hard cheeses, cured meats, nuts, olives, bread, etc.
We also had excellent and interesting cheeses at breakfast buffets.
However, the special cheeses are reserved for the Cheese course, before dessert. If you don't know the names, you just point to 3 or 4 that you want, and the slices are put on your plate. Some jam, sliced apple or pear. No bread to dilute the intensity.
Cheese or Dessert First? Short answer: the cheese.
How To Serve A Cheese Course For Dinner
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 14:01 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, March 19. 2023
My main point is about the cheese board. They bring it around on a dolly with an expert cheese server, and you point to which ones you want to try. I need to do a post about the cheese course in nice dining because it is my favorite.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 13:16 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, March 12. 2023
Life in America: Cooking like a pretend French chef
Mrs. BD had a tough week with four days and nights of meetings in NYC, then moving my in-laws to a new elderly place an hour away from here in the last 2 days (boxes and boxes of stuff, then computers, lamps, comfy chairs, pictures, and more boxes, big TVs, moving guys, hospital bed, etc).
So I asked her what might please her tonight. She said "Funny you ask, cuz Beef Bourguignon was on my mind". I like making stews, so ok. I make these things on the fly, no measurements. Always works. French chef taught me to cook soup and stew by instinct and taste. It should be ready by the time she gets home from the old folk's home tonight. Yes, I did send my father-in-law some more nice vino to keep the old guy happy. The wines they serve at the old folks home are disgusting, and old guys need the wine for good cheer.
The left-overs are even better.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 15:17 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Roman food, including a Flamingo Stew
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 14:15 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, March 2. 2023
Real Jewish food
One of my kids went to the B&H last night. Unlike many sort-of Jewish delis in NYC (which are termed "Kosher style", serving dairy and meat - especially pastrami)), B and H is a kosher dairy joint. A famous East Village hole-in-the-wall place.
Decades ago, when I was dating the future Mrs. BD, we frequented that place. We aren't Jewish. The food was cheap and good. The challah is tasty.
Digging back in my memory, I suggested that my kid try the Matzoh Ball Soup. She liked it.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 13:31 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, March 1. 2023
Breakfasts for kids
My siblings and I were fed boxed cereal about every two mornings, scrambled eggs every two or three mornings, and same with oatmeal. Pancakes or waffles on Sunday before church.
I fed my little kids pickled herring with sour cream and onions most weekday mornings, cut in small chunks. It comes in jars. Or hard-boiled eggs. I figured protein was good for kids' breakfasts, and I liked it too.
I later learned that pickled herring was considered "Jewish food" in New York. Schmaltz. I thought it was Scandinavian, but it's all sorts of things. Ukrainians love it. Who doesn't like pickled herring? It has a pow effect.
I am told that Jewish people like plain pickled herring on a bagel, with a schmear. Sounds good to me, but I would add a slice of onion. But I don't bother with breakfast anyway, other than coffee. Breakfast is for growing kids.
Do you ever wonder what breakfasts NBA players were raised on? Wheaties? Or steak? I should have had some of whatever they had.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 13:24 | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, February 27. 2023
I mean game meat in your freezer. A Cassoulet is nice, if not exciting. But how about an English Game Pie?
Brits have always been big on meat pies, and the Game Pie is one made in the same pastry as a Pork Pie. Why not?
Photo is a fancy Pork Pie hat.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 15:03 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, February 22. 2023
Good cocktails: The Campbell Apartment has re-opened
Located in Grand Central Terminal (aka Grand Central Station), this office of John Cambell in the 1920s had been abandoned for decades and used for storage. Here's what it looked like in Campbell's time:
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 06:53 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, February 20. 2023
Fish-eating, fish-farming, etc.
And is fish-oil "healthy"?
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 14:01 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, February 19. 2023
Pancakes are for fun, not nutrition. Little ones like pancakes. So do adults - if with bacon and fried eggs on the side. Bacon just makes everything better.
Pancakes are no more nutritional than bread, but fun with real maple syrup. Fact is, as a kid, we sometimes used molasses instead.
We make them many ways: with a little corn meal and canned corn; with sliced apples, with our stash of frozen cranberries (best), or with blueberries. All good.
The only ones I do not like are the doughy diner ones. I like them thin, with edges dark brown and crispy.
How do our readers like their flapjacks?
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 12:19 | Comments (17) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, February 18. 2023
The Maggie's Farm Classic Mommys of America Cheap, Quick, 'n Easy Winter Supper Cookbook
Kid-friendly, unfashionable, and not for weight loss. Reposted annually by popular request.
I've collected the posts on old-timey Mommys of America non-gourmet, comforting (eg filling), quick 'n easy (eg no lasagna or fried chicken), and sensitively-multicultural (even Shrimp 'n Grits) winter suppers here, in no particular order. Such foods mean family love.
I suspect some of our foreign readers - of whom we have quite a few - might be interested in what American moms (and sometimes modern dads) fix up for ordinary family suppers in Upper Yankeeland (with the exception of Shrimp 'n Grits which is real Southern food and suitable for breakfast, lunch, or supper).
A number of these are suitable to ye olde slow cooker aka electric crock pot.
Corned Beef and Cabbage, aka New England Boiled Dinner
Beans: Black Bean Soup, and Red Beans and Rice
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 13:10 | Comments (38) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, February 14. 2023
As you may know, cassoulet is basically French baked beans with meat. The real original of hot dogs and baked beans. It is country home cookin, but it can be great stuff. Dutch oven cooking. Crock pot? Why not, as long as the meats are browned first, but it will not brown the top.
It's a good way to cook some wild game meat, especially the less-tender parts.
Any meat, but not beef - strong red meat is too strong for cassoulet. We have, over time, used various mixes of duck, snow goose, chukar, venison, chicken, pork, wild boar, and pheasant which we have killed. Mix the meats - it adds to the flavor. There should be some source of pig fat or duck fat in it. Some venison sausage, or any sausage, because it is a necessary traditional ingredient. The meat-to-bean ratio is supposed to be fairly high - 30% - but I like beans and prefer a lower ratio. I think every village in southern France has its own recipe and method. I figure roughly one hunk of sausage and one hunk of meat per person.
A few tips about Cassoulet:
1. Make it at least the day before. Like beef stew, it improves overnight.
It's worth reading a few approaches to get the general idea. Here's an easy American version. Here's one French version. Here's another.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 14:20 | Comments (19) | Trackback (1)
Sunday, February 12. 2023
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 13:30 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, February 6. 2023
Winter food: Chili con Carne
With or without kidney beans? The classic is chunks of beef, but it's all fine with me as long as it is hot enough, has some sour cream, and chopped scallions or red onions on top.
If it's too mild, just put some hot sauce on the table or a bowl of chopped jalapenos.
Here's a no-bean chili, but with ground beef: Easy No-Bean Chili. Chili, without the beans—just beef, tomatoes, onions, and lots of great spices. Make it ahead, freeze the leftovers, and eat it for days.
Another one, with the beans: Originally, it was simply meat, sauce, and chili peppers. Eventually, cooks added beans and tomatoes to the dish, although some people are purists and insist that beans do not belong in real chili con carne.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 13:54 | Comments (18) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, January 25. 2023
Haggis, for Burns' Night
OK, they do cook good fresh fish, and mutton. Clootie pudding is ok with ice cream, and kippers are fine but too big. Haggis is not terrible as part of a breakfast, but it's not the greatest.
Haggis Recipe. A chef friend recommends barley instead of oatmeal. Where do you buy a cow or sheep stomach?
It's Bobbie Burns' birthday. What's the Highland Fling?
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 13:22 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, January 18. 2023
Leeks are good food
"Leeks were eaten in ancient Rome and regarded as superior to garlic and onions."
Nothing "healthy" about them, but it's a nice flavor. Sure, you can eat the green parts.
Some leek recipes.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 14:21 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, January 12. 2023
Timballo -a Sicilian comfort treat
This production should hold together tightly, almost like a firm 6-10" deep lasagna. Macaroni Pie. It's really a Primo, but could be a meal in the US, with a salad. You serve it in clean slices.
Meats in it? Any or all fowl including duck. Needs ham too. Chunks of mortadella are great. As for the eggs, you can include the cooked egg yolks as in this recipe, but it's good to throw in some whole hard-boiled eggs. The Quail eggs are not required, but Quail eggs are good things.
The recipe below is inspired by di Lampedusa's book , which I highly recommend reading.
The photo in the recipe below is not right - the thing should hold together firmly: Timballo recipe . It might get a couple of tries to get it right.
Posted by Bird Dog in Food and Drink at 17:11 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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