Archive for January, 2009


I’ve wanted to make Son-of-a-Bitch Stew since forever.

It’s been so long I’ve wanted to make one that I can’t remember anymore where it was I first even heard of Son-of-a-Bitch Stew. And usually I can trot out the source of any recipe I’ve ever made or heard of because my mind is a Steel Recipe Trap.

I looked in all the cookbooks I’ve had for a long time. Nothing. Nada. Rien. Kaput. Son-of-a-Bitch Stew was not even mentioned by Waverly Root, and goodness knows he mentioned a lot of wonderfully, exceptionally odd things.

But that Son-of-a-Bitch Stew has been calling my name. I used to threaten people with the fact that I’d make it for them. Threaten or promise, that is. I was ready to do it at the drop of a hat (but only if it was a cowboy hat) and even knew butcher shops that had most of the ingredients.

That Son-of-a-Bitch (stew, that is) came awful close to hitting the stove once when a fellow from Wyoming came to lunch. Why Wyoming? (Say that fast five times . . .) Because Wyoming is a place where the Son-of-a-Bitch was known and loved. It’s not only in Texas, you know.

I was close to putting it on the menu, as close to it as a pig’s nose-ring is to the soil when they’re rooting around, but then I chickened out. Actually my mind was more running along the lines of making Son-of-a-Bitch-in-a-Sack, which would have been much more good old-fashioned fun, but darn it all. Something inside told me not to.


I probably never would have found all the ingredients though, or at least not without saddling up my trusty steed and heading out for a long ride on the dusty trail in search of some of the more interesting tidbits. Then there’s also the fact that for sure the kitchen staff would have run for the hills themselves if I’d proposed the idea of Son-of-a-Bitch for lunch.

Son-of-a-Bitch in a Sack is sort of like Son-of-a-Bitch Stew, or it’s not. It’s not when it’s a pastry, a dessert – like the recipe Alan Simpson mentions enclosing in his letter. But the other way is like an Extreme Son-of-a-Bitch-Stew. You get real, with this thing. Here’s a recipe for Son-of-a-Bitch Stew from Clifford Wright.

What I remember most, but what I can not find written anywhere (did I imagine it, as I loped across the imaginary plains on my imaginary horse?) is that the Son-of-a-Bitch in a Sack (the one that is not a dessert) (the one you get real with) was cooked in a cow’s stomach. Therefore the name.

Though that Son-of-a-Bitch is still calling my name, the words are fainter now as time goes on by. Now, when I read the ingredients list, no low growl emits from my throat – the growl that says “I Will“.  Now, the corners of my mouth turn up a bit in delight at the unbridled sheer macho joy of the whole thing. And I say to myself “Maybe. Just maybe. Someday.


Clifford Wright’s “Real Stew” book (source of the recipe above) is here on my bookshelves. And although I winnow constantly, it has been – and will always be – a Keeper. 🙂

Yeeeeeeeee-haw! Rawhide!

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Anyone providing reasons for their answers wins extra karmic points in the Great Kitchen Above.

Just click on the little buttons next to your answer to vote.
To view results click on the little button at the bottom where it says that.
Easy as pie! (Easier, even . . .) 🙂

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“I’m not a banana person. No! No, I’m not a banana person!”
And thus began my trip to the grocery store. A clean well-lighted place, and one that happens to often be entertaining. Today it was particularly so.

The not-a-banana-person was young and blonde. Young-and-Blonde wandered through the produce department, really wishing her boyfriend and all the rest of the world to understand her point. Her voice rose above the hum of carts and clatter and hundreds of people wandering through the fertile aisles.

Pushing my little steel rolling cart past the pharmacy section (there is a pharmacy in every good grocery store in America you know, and really for very good reason) I noticed the six foot tall brunette with hair flailing down to her behind – the hair clipped back ever-so-touchingly with a plastic and pink rhinestone barrette (this is a hair clip, people, not a beret which is a hat – and if you wonder why I insist on mentioning this it is because I’ve often heard people use the word barrette for beret around here – along with using the word toboggan which is a sled for going down snowy hills where I come from to mean a woolly cap worn in the winter) (sorry for the side thought but can you imagine being told Put your toboggan on your head unless you want to get a chill (?). Disturbing. Very.) but anyway this six foot tall brunette is buying cupcakes.

A dozen. Six in bright neon green with multi-sprinkles, six more in a turquoise blue the color of Elmo – also with multi-sprinkles. “Thorazine!” she barks out at the pharmacy attendant. “The scrip is for thorazine!”

From gammon and spinnage to cupcakes and thorazine. Cupcakes and thorazine. Cupcakes and thorazine.

A higher level has been reached. Last month in a snowstorm I edged my car past the car badly parked in front of the pharmacy take-out window glowing brightly from the front brick wall of the grocery store. “Prozac!” the woman bellowed into the window.

At the checkout the students are buying their staples. These staples can be defined in one single word important to the economy of our town: Beer. This is a college town, a town where the college is well-regarded, a town that exists because of the college. And it would not do so without beer, and lots of it.

Cupcakes and thorazine, cupcakes and thorazine.

A memory from last week slipped into my mind. My neighbors, in celebration of a sporting event win, had held keg stands past midnight two nights in a row. A glorious and horrible thing, a keg stand.

“I’m not a banana person!”

Cupcakes and thorazine cupcakes and thorazine.

What a world of gammon and spinnage it is, though, ain’t it.

Leaving behind the cupcakes and thorazine, the bananas expounded, the beer by the multi-keg, I pushed my little steel cart – always filled to the brim though I’d only come in for a few small items – right out the automatically-opening exit door.


Gammon and Spinach (from Word and Phrase Origins, Robert Hendrickson) – The expression gammon and spinach for “nonsense, humbug” is not as familiar today as it was in Dicken’s time, when he used it in David Copperfield. [ . . .] The phrase, most likely an elaboration of the slang word gammon, which meant nonsense or ridiculous story, is probably patterned on the older phrase gammon and patter, the language of London underworld thieves. The nonsense part of it was possibly reinforced by the old nursery rhyme “A Frog He Would a Woo’ing Go” (1600) heard by millions: “With a rowley powley gammon and spinach/Heigh ho! says Anthony Rowley!”

Why not a recipe? Why not, a recipe. Here’s a good one: Spinach fiorelli with gammon and mascarpone from TimesOnline.


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Eating Poetry

    Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
    There is no happiness like mine.
    I have been eating poetry.The librarian does not believe what she sees.
    Her eyes are sad
    and she walks with her hands in her dress.

    The poems are gone.
    The light is dim.
    The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

    Their eyeballs roll,
    their blond legs bum like brush.
    The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

    She does not understand.
    When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
    she screams.

    I am a new man.
    I snarl at her and bark.
    I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

by Mark Strand

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You’ll have to see it to believe it:

Extreme History – Cooking on the Chisholm Trail

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It’s good to know what sign you are, to eat accordingly.

BBC GoodFood can help with this. I like what they advise for me.

Happy Chinese New Year!

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I’m not known as a person who is always full of sweetness and light. I’ve got a sharp tongue and know how to use it when I feel it’s necessary (how these times are determined is a highly personal thing, and to each their own in terms of hissy fits, I always say).

Factually, this has led me into many a tussle. I’d blame this on being a redhead, but nobody will believe it anymore  – though this recent story in The Guardian (Simply Red: Does Gingerism Remain the Last Acceptable Prejudice?) could lead one to believe that any redhead must stand always ready to defend themselves.

Aside from daily not-so-important tussles, it’s been a good thing. In business meetings (even those with big loud threatening hairy males of the species doing their best to come out the winner) I could always stand my own, and did. And so it was also, in the professional kitchen.

Sweetness and light as a sole and exemptive policy simply doesn’t work all that well as management tool for women who want to lead anybody into anything close to any sort of excellence.

But damn it all. Maybe I just enjoy a good brawl.

As a Mommy, I’m sweetness and light more than I should be. And of course, when I am I pay for it. Any mother will understand this comment. Any child will too, if they are being fair.

But regardless of my arrogance, crankiness and ongoing delight in pointing out how things aren’t always as cute as Hello Kitty on Crack in real life, I’ve occasionally been gifted with a few friends – both in real life and in virtual life. One of them is MakeRoux.

MakeRoux has a really interesting blog  . . . good food, interesting tales of life, and more. MakeRoux has given foodvox a blog award – you’ll see it posted below. Here is what the award says:

This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!

Well . . . I am interested in prizes, and there you go! I got one! (And seriously, I don’t know anyone who if closely questioned would not love to indulge in a bit of self-aggrandizement.)

But thank you, MakeRoux. And here’s who I’ll pass the award on to – it is supposed to go to eight more bloggers:

Rachel Laudan – who I learn something from each and every day. Brilliant, fair, and bold.

Gherkins and Tomatoes – Cindy is an astonishingly prolific writer on food and food history who offers full and rich banquets of thoughts, information, resources and recipes on her blog.

French Tart – Though she does not post every day, when she does the posts are of recipes that work and that look good – with a voice that is charming and humorous. I like French Tart’s stories of life, too.

Luna Pier Cook – Luna Pier Cook is a pretty cool dude. Check out his blog for all sorts of food- things. Often something unexpected to be found.

Let’s Sharing – simply fascinating.

Toujours en Vogue – not about food but about fashion/art/more, written by a sixteen-year-old (who just happens to be my daughter). She’s on her way to the path of fashion designer or fashion writer. Her favorite food is anything with good cheese in it or on it, and she does not like frozen or pre-made foods. This is the downside of raising a foodie-kid. You can not get away with just popping something in the microwave for dinner without being made to feel like a failure for even trying to do so.

Months of Edible Celebrations – Louise has the most amazing posts on food and celebrations and food history and and and (and!)

The Old Foodie – Janet tosses out tidbits and delights of food history every day to her delighted readers. Once you click, you’ll be an addict.

Merci again, MakeRoux! 🙂

Proximity Blog Award

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