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Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

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‘In a pig’s eye’ is an American colloquialism meaning ‘not a chance in hell’. I’ve never heard anyone actually use it, but it does pop into my mind once in a while.

Rote memorization of facts someone else thinks go together because they were told at one time to memorize them sometimes strikes me as worthy of the phrase. “Here’s what you need to memorize,” they may say to me, and I may say back to them, “Why?,” and they may say “Because it’s always been that way,” and I may think to myself in response “I’ll do it your way in a pig’s eye!”

But a long time ago when magic and memory were topics happily married in the same sentence, there was a book which helped people do magic or memorize things they wanted to memorize, or some combination of the two.

The book was written by a man named Giordano Bruno. His ideas didn’t fit the general thinking of the thinkers of the times, so naturally they killed him off and he is now defined as a ‘martyr of science’. The name of the book with the cute picture of the hairy pig posted above is ‘Cantus Circaeus’.

Cantus Circaeus (“Incantation of Circe”) is an early work by Bruno on the art of memory with strong magical elements. It is written in the form of a dialogue between the great sorceress Circe and her assistant or apprentice Moeris. It opens with Circe’s incantations to the planets which appear to be based on Agrippa, De Occult. Phil. II, lix. These incantations are described as “barbara & arcana”. These are accompanied by various magical operations including the use of an altar, fumigations, and notae. This is followed by an Art of Memory.

According to I.P. Couliano, “Giordano Bruno’s magic is based not only upon the Ficinian tradition but also on techniques relating to the art of memory. This art consisted of a manipulation of phantasms or inner images, whose purpose varied from the mere learning by heart of a text to mystical contemplation.” (‘Magic in Medieval and Renaissance Europe’ in Hidden Truths: Magic, Alchemy, and the Occult: 1987).

About right now I bet you’re thinking “What does this have to do with food?”, and “When can I get something to eat around here?”. Patience. And besides, if you are sitting here on the computer it’s likely you eat three hearty meals a day plus all the snacks you want, anyway. What’s the rush?

Today we don’t worry about Circe and magic too much. But we do think about pork a lot. So I’ve decided that knowing your pork and knowing it well (and being able to memorize what you know!) just may be important.

Above you see pig. Nice hairy pig. There is an alphabet surrounding the pig. For each letter there should be some piggy-thing which connects to eating the pig. Or cooking the pig. Or growing the pig.

Do you know what they are?

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Greetings to all! It has come to my attention that my esteemed colleagues, Catty Moira and Barry the Dog, believe they are the meow and woof of cookery philosophers, and that is why I am appearing here today. I am busy, busy, busy! and it has been most difficult since I am still stuck permanently in this yogic position but the truth of things should be known so I have found a scanty bit of moment to spare to allow for the dissemination of philosophic correctness.

First, my particulars. I have lived forever. And a day. There is more knowledge about the manners of the table in any one speck of my soul than in any of Brillat-Savarin’s (I call him Brillie) interminable sentences.

I have dined with the best of the ages. And a Philosophy has been formed. It is this: Beware of cookery. It can be dangerous. Fraught with difficulties no lady should ever have to face. Particularly if they are stuck in a yogic position. If the lady is stuck in a yogic position the best thing to do is to eat raw foods and allow your live-in boyfriend and children to fend for themselves.

You will not initially want to believe this, I do know that, ma petite. Talley-Ho (Talleyrand, to you) often told me that a picture is worth a thousand words when he wanted to show me his etchings, and after having seen his etchings, I’ve become quite taken with the idea! Allow me to show you a few pictures of the most easily found dangers in cookery. Then, Dear Reader – you will Decide For Yourself.

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Mais oui! Le shock electrique! You will be fried! And if you think this can only happen in the new industrial kitchens I have news for you! Regardez ici!!!!

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In summary, I will say to you: Learn these words – ‘Take-Out’. You will be doing your business community a service while saving your own skin.

A tout l’heure! Till the next time destiny twines our paths.

Katerina la Vermintz

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Dangerous Illustrations provided by brepettis – from Thirty Ways to Shock Yourself on flickr

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Dude. Here’s the rules:

1. Guard your food at all times. If you can, keep your paws on it. There may be a cat around.

2. Try to cook only when the humans are out of the house. They try to interfere and will not let you take that stick of butter you so desperately need for the recipe.

3. Tenderize everything. That’s why we have teeth. Chew chew chew. Practice on the furniture if you can get away with it. Remember, chewing is how you get down to the best part, the bone.

4. Taste as many things as you can. This will develop your palate. Human’s faces, car tires, any piece of plastic in the street. Try it all. Do not let the humans see you eating poop. They simply do not have our finesse of taste development.

5. Manners count. Lick yourself only after meals and keep your drooling for purposes of making friends, not seasoning the food. And always remember to lay on the feet under the table of the people who really matter – the best feeders! Rrrrrufff! Ruffruff! Grrrrrr.

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It is Spring, dear ones! And after sifting through the many questions you humans have sent me I find there is one most preponderant, and it is this we will discuss today! Prrrrrrrrrr.

The question is: Moira, why don’t you Cats like to cook?

And I must tell you, this question is about as appealing to me (and therefore to all Cats) as raw asparagus.

Eck eck eck eck. Excuse me.

A Cat’s Philosophy of Cooking is simple. It is based on the fact that we are capable of living in the wild and by our wits. We do not need cookbooks or Ph.D’s to assist us through life (no, not in any of the nine we have!) and most certainly we set the table for nobody!

Why don’t we cook?

1. We do not have to. Meow.

2. Do you really think we want to wash dishes? We do have a nice rough tongue but it is better used to groom our lovely coats.

3. Humans need to have something they can feel good about. Most of them simply can not hunt as we can! Purrrrrrrrrrr.

4. We cats are Thinkers, not Workers.

5.  We do not cook for the same reason we do not bother to get married and stick a gold ring on our paws. Once you start doing this sort of thing you can end up having someone expecting you to do it endlessly while putting up with some of the silliest behavior on earth such as saying all is well and lovely while your spouse is spraying the intern in the Oval Office while at the same time he is pretending to be President. We are not politicians, we Cats. Eck eck eck!

Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions, dearies! Now just scratch behind my ear, right there. That’s right! Purrrrrrrr.

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I’ve sometimes seen a purple potato

And I always hope to see one

The only remaining question is

Is it better to see or eat one?

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Here’s a very interesting recipe: Cod with Lapsang Souchong Oil and Puree of Violettes

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Yes, I said “that”, not “what”.

Interesting article from The Economist, titled “What’s Cooking” from The American Association for the Advancement of Science. (Please do ignore the obvious capitalized letters and what they state in the shortening of that group’s name).

YOU are what you eat, or so the saying goes. But Richard Wrangham, of Harvard University, believes that this is true in a more profound sense than the one implied by the old proverb. It is not just you who are what you eat, but the entire human species. And with Homo sapiens, what makes the species unique in Dr Wrangham’s opinion is that its food is so often cooked.

Cooking is a human universal. No society is without it. No one other than a few faddists tries to survive on raw food alone. And the consumption of a cooked meal in the evening, usually in the company of family and friends, is normal in every known society. Moreover, without cooking, the human brain (which consumes 20-25% of the body’s energy) could not keep running. Dr Wrangham thus believes that cooking and humanity are coeval.

In fact, as he outlined to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in Chicago, he thinks that cooking and other forms of preparing food are humanity’s “killer app”: the evolutionary change that underpins all of the other—and subsequent—changes that have made people such unusual animals.

Sounds good to me. In fact, it reminds me of a poem.

We may live without poetry, music and
art;
We may live without conscience and live
without heart;
We may live without friends; we may
live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without
cooks.
He may live without books,-what is
knowledge but grieving?
He may live without hope,- what is
hope but deceiving?
He may live without love,- what is
passion but pining?
But where is the man that can live
without dining?
Owen Meredith

Honestly, I got so excited about this idea that I just held out my hand to grasp my coffeecup and down a bit of the subtle delicious brew and was so focused on the page that I grabbed my pen and pencil pot instead, and almost swallowed a handful of sharp pencils and pens.

Uncooked.
That’s the worst part.

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Set of 6 Utensils

Just like magic. It can be done.

Now where did I put that flying teapot?

Source of wonder: Artecnica

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂
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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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You’ll have to see it to believe it:

Extreme History – Cooking on the Chisholm Trail

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In this vintage ad from the 1940’s we’ve now discovered how the Chiquita Banana Helps the Pieman – and have also had a fascinating demonstration on how to flute a banana.

But that’s only dessert. ‘Where’s the beef?’ (Clara would ask) – and here it is:

Recipes from Gourmet magazine during the 1940’s, from the archives. Note the simplicity of the instructions, and remember – the founder (in 1939*) and publisher of Gourmet was a fellow named Earle MacAusland, who loved huntin’ and fishin’  . . .  in a gentlemanly-gourmet sort of way.

Tequila Por Mi Amante

Oyster Waffles Shortcake

Creamed Woodchuck

Bachelor’s Defense

Moving right along, if you’re still prone to hunger pains, to some

Blacktail Buck Steaks

finished off with (don’t forget the banana pie too)

Imprisoned Fruit

. . . the recipe for which starts off with

Look over your tree carefully in the springtime, when the blossoms are gone and the fruit is just beginning to form. Choose a few choice specimens, each at the end of a branch, and insert the branch gently into the neck of a large bottle, until the fruit is well inside. The next job is to support the bottle so that it stays in place in the tree. This may be done with ropes, if the tree is large enough, or it may be necessary to build up wooden supports to hold the bottle.

At first, the native feel of the menu made me think of gentle old-timey innocent images in my mind. Little boys goin’ out to catch a mess of fish, oh so cute in their rumpled overalls

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But then upon musing on the menu components a bit further, it seemed to me that (more likely) the intent of all this cooking (whether done by the above-mentioned ‘bachelor’ or by his feminine equal) would be in hopes of something more along the lines of this, from Tino Rossi, 1945:

P.S. Edit added: *This date (1939) is not confirmed by source (yet). No bessame mucho here. Yet. 🙂

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(Part 2, continued from preceding post)

No reason, really – why I should have been repulsed by that little scene on the table. The Chef was married but then so was the Sous Chef. Inequalities of power happen all the time. The Chef was gorgeous in an older woman sort of way – the thought did creep into my mind momentarily of her three children but then again it was said that hers was an open marriage. The Sous Chef was much younger than her and biddable. That’s exactly why he was Sous Chef. His wife was the ugliest woman I’d ever laid eyes on in my life. Still is, if I remember right. Why, I can’t explain. It was nothing precise or explainable. She was just plain scary-looking. Ugly. But the fact remains that watching the Executive Chef lean back onto the table laughing with her mouth in a wide open grimace, her legs grasping the chunky chested Sous Chef who was also rather grinning in a frightened sort of way – was repulsive.

It had almost been the last straw. I’d almost quit the job.

The ingredients that went into this recipe of being a professional cook in a restaurant kitchen were so different than I’d expected. I’d thought “Oh! I love to cook!” “Oh! I can do that job!” “Oh! I want to work in a restaurant!” and so, I’d applied for the job and regardless of the fact that I’d never cooked professionally, won the job after a horrendous first day where I thought I’d surely die from exhaustion, where I’d gone and laid down a little kitchen towel on the floor of the dirty white-trash-looking staff bathroom, far in the corner of the worst-lit longest corridor, and I’d laid there curled up for ten minutes to gather the strength to go back and do the job. Lifting fifty pound mixing bowls over my five-foot-two shoulder to pour batter into the prepared ten cakepans in a sweltering kitchen had not been my forte at any time before that day, and it was a bit of a mouthful to bite on.

I’d almost quit, but there was a triangle in the kitchen that I’d either walk out on or break out of victorious. And I was just angry enough to want to emerge victorious.

The triangle consisted of the Chef on one side. The line cooks, Roger and Frank, on the other side. And little Colette the French waitress who somehow had ended up in this eccentric place called Connecticut who ooh’d and ahh’d over the new offerings on the pastry cart (“I am glad someone knows how to BAKE” she would announce in tight short tones. “It has been HORRIBLE“) along with the Salvadoran busboys, who detested the line cooks and who loved cakes and pastries and taking a side wherever a side was to be found. I didn’t want to walk out on Colette and the Salvadoran busboys.

Roger turned up the volume on the radio set tuned to the hard-metal station to a screeching blast that day when he saw me walk in, and started to bob his head like a sick old duck in time to the bass notes. Frank pouted. I walked to the pastry station and right there on the spot where the Chef’s behind had been sitting several days before, I threw down upon that spot my weapon, and got ready to begin the attack.

My weapon was sweet.

My weapon was brilliant.

My weapon was a book.

The name of my weapon was ‘Lenotre’s Desserts and Pastries‘.

(To be continued . . .Part Three Lenotres Cakes)

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Some people remember the past through things they ate. Memory, place, time, flavor, people . . . all become woven together into a fabric not to be unravelled.

Just as when in those moments a piece of music will insinuate through melody an entirely different time layered upon the present in a sudden spark that floods the current reality with meanings imbued from the past . . . and those meanings are every bit as real in the ‘now’ as when they first were formed . . .

Not that memory is not a questionable thing. It is. But some memories are less fractured than others – one can only hope that the retrospective glance is not looking through the prism of the past less clearly but more clearly, with the focused light of objectivity found through years passed – something not be attained by banging at it, but nonetheless sometimes to be found seredipitously.

I remember the past not so much from things I ate, but more from things I cooked.

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The kitchen was hot that day. It often was, if you happened to arrive in the afternoon for work rather than in the early morning before the ovens and stoves and grill and fryolator and steamer all were operating at a pace similar to an animated Disney movie – at times almost ridiculously fast, almost out of control.

I could go in to work at whatever time pleased me, as the Pastry Chef.

At this upscale suburban Connecticut restaurant dropped as if with a bucket of hope from the sky into the center of a large black concrete parking lot with many yellow lines painted for the many anticipated diners-to-be, the pastries were ‘important’ but not all that important. Pastries and desserts weren’t important to the Executive Chef  – as the reputation of the place was to be focused on the food – not on the pastry. Pastries and desserts weren’t important to the owner of the restaurant because the Executive Chef had been bought at a dear price, and had to be coddled. Pastries and desserts weren’t important to the waiters and waitresses because in all the time past, they had not been stand-outs as part of the meal but merely follow-ups. In other words, there was no good tip money involved with the idea of dessert since the desserts themselves here in times past had not been worth the effort of  putting on a song and dance in order to up-sell.

The guys behind the line did their usual little dismissive dance when I walked into the kitchen. Roger’s prematurely almost-bald head flicked sideways away from his saute-pans for the briefest moment, the steam on his gold wire-rimmed glasses blending with the sweat on his forehead – the forehead behind which was a brain with an investment of some tens of thousands of dollars in the form of a Master’s Degree in Philosophy which had never been used in the form of a job (and which it seemed to me was not used in daily life either, if his attitude and behavior bore witness to what was inside his mind). His soft shoulders angled forwards and backwards in an I-dare-you shimmy, ever so slight while his legs inched slightly more apart, edging his crotch forwards toward the stove as if he were going to fuck it – as if he could fuck it if he just wanted to – which of course as we all know, no girl could ever do.

Frank was more abrupt. He could be, since he was a CIA grad. Slamming the oven doors closed and slapping a towel on the line, he sneered slightly in my direction with a cross between amusement and derision, and moved even faster than he had been before, his beard and moustache and his simple huge-ness of stature giving him the air of a strong but somewhat out-of-place furry black bear. He watched, bluntly, as I walked over to the ‘pastry station’ – the stainless steel table in the center of the kitchen where he’d piled anything extra he could not easily find any other space to put so that I’d have to move it all while feeling his gaze upon me the entire time, his eyes slowly chewing me up, same as they had been each day I’d walked into that kitchen – which at the time was for all of three long weeks.

As I lifted the piles of sheetpans, shifting them onto the racks where they belonged, a vision rose of a scene I’d walked in on at closing time the previous week – the Exec Chef was sitting there right in the middle of my nice clean stainless-steel assigned pastry-making table, pulling the sous-chef towards her then wrapping her legs around his chest as he slightly-squirmed, slightly-enjoyed it. She was drunk.

Better moving piles of sheetpans than having to see that again, I thought.

You have to wonder why one would even want to continue making pastry on that table.

But then Gaston Lenotre entered the scene.

(to be continued – part two Entre Lenotre)

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I had an epiphany this morning.

As I sat at the red light in light traffic in my car after dropping off the kids at school, I realized I’d forgotten to throw on a coat.

And in that exact moment, as the radio blasted Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to Be Wild’ loud enough to be heard by anyone close enough and as I sat there with it blasting dressed in my fabulous pink bathrobe, I realized that I looked ridiculous.

Thank goodness there is a recovery plan for these sorts of epiphanic moments, the basis of which is one three-syllable word: Chocolate.

Francois Payard’s ‘Chocolate Epiphany’ is the best book to consult, and I’ll tell you why.

How many times have you looked at a cookbook to find exactly the same recipes as the last cookbook only written with different names and different recipe formats?

I find this happens more often than not.

Unless the book is one of the few designed to be at the forefront of cutting-edge (haute – sorry, these things cost money) cuisine (though it won’t be called ‘haute cuisine‘ for the term is passe) the recipes circle around each other – distinguishing themselves pretty much by a sense of style or by a hint of one or two small-yet-intelligent differences created by the author.

Cookbooks specializing in chocolate can often seem to be repetitive even more often than other cookbooks, for the genre is limited.

‘Chocolate Epiphany’ has more to say (on a variety of levels) than any other chocolate-based cookbook I’ve recently seen.

Try these on for size: Kougin Amanns – distinguished by Payard morphing the recipe into one with chocolate imbued throughout . .  . Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse – the pavlova shaped into a two-piece half-sphered ball which is then filled to break open with the touch of a fork to utter the syllables of its filling . . . a Honey and Saffron Apple Tart with Chocolate Chiboust, startling in the conceptualization of flavors . . . a Gateau de Crepes with Green Tea Ice Cream . . . and a Chocolate Paris-Brest which makes one wonder why the Paris-Brest was not made chocolate in the first place.

I’m off on the road to recovery – pink bathrobe and all. It doesn’t mind a splash or two of chocolate on it – and seriously, neither do I.

The only remaining question is what music to blast to best suit Orange Custards with Dark Chocolate Foam.

I’ll definitely get dressed up nice to eat my chocolate recovery prescription, though. Then I’ll wait for my next epiphany.

Hopefully it won’t be yet another one where I feel ridiculous.

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Katerina la Vermintz sent me here. The rodents are so large.

She said to find her an amblongus to make a pie, and to hurry – as her crumbobblious cutlets are almost ready for the table! Mr. Lear is dining with her tonight and she does want everything just right.

She is essaying his two recipes published in the Nonsense Gazette (1870). He is famous, Mr. Lear. The dinner need be perfect.

I begged Katerina to make Gosky Patties, but she said last time they did not taste so very good. I wonder if there is something – some herb, some slight hint of garlic or turmeric – missing from the recipe.

TO MAKE GOSKY PATTIES

Take a pig, three or four years of age, and tie him by the off-hind leg to a post. Place 5 pounds of currants, 5 of sugar, 2 pecks of peas, 18 roast chestnuts, a candle, and six bushels of turnips, within his reach; if he eats these, constantly provide him with more.

Then, procure some cream, some slices of Cheshire cheese, four quinces of foolscap paper, and a packet of black pins. Work the whole into a paste, and spread it out to dry on a sheet of clean brown waterproof linen.

When the paste is perfectly dry, but not before, proceed to beat the Pig violently, with the handle of a large broom. If he squeals, beat him again.

Visit the paste and beat the pig alternately for some days, and ascertain that if at the end of that period the whole is about to turn into Gosky Patties.

If it does not then, it never will; and in that case the Pig may be let loose, and the whole process may be considered as finished.

I must fly! Amblongis are often difficult to find and my basket is yet empty.
Do pray for Lady Luck to be by my side.

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Image Source: foto_decadent/Tim Walker/UK Vogue December 2008/Tales of the Unexpected/The Marvellous Mischievious Magical World of Roald Dahl

It’s not like Boris and I don’t have our challenges. Most of you think the life of a girl detective is an easy one. But my job gets tougher and tougher each day.

The last time I’d had a really good mystery to solve was back in May when I solved The Case of the Missing Snack.

There’s not much call for those with my specialised degree –  the C.K.L.E. (Certified Kitchen Lounge-About Eater) is a path one follows because one must. The gathering together of dross is not a part of the thinking process at all.

We’ve been spending a lot of time lately burning bangers and mashing mashers as a matter of fact. But always, always! in the finest fashions, you should know. Stiff upper lip and all.

But Boris has become moody. Around the holidays he longs for the cooking of his childhood. Or what he thinks was the cooking of his childhood, anyway. He actually grew up in Flushing, Queens – which you get to by taking a pot-holed highway to after going over some midtown bridge in Manhattan – but he believes he grew up eating Russian food.

And he hungers for it in an awful way.

So, for the New Year’s, I am making a picnic! A Georgian picnic.

We are having a pickled cabbage rose set just so in the center of the quilt we’ll recline upon. Then we will dive into chicken with walnuts. Because no picnic is complete without a bit of cooking done en plein air we’ll start a little woodfire off to the side to prepare some skewered eggs along with some grilled cheese.  Maybe a bit of steamed purslane would be nice as a salad (as it seems to be growing among a rockpile nearby it would not be dear at all, either!) For dessert we’ll just stay traditional and have the New Year’s Day treat of Gozinake. (When you are Georgian, there is no such thing as too many walnuts.)

It looks to be a fine day, though a bit chilly.

Cheers to all of you on the first day of the new year. And do give me a call if you need a good mystery solved.

I’m always hungry.

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Darra Goldstein’s The Georgian Feast is a must-read, for anyone interested in the foods of Georgia.

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The last day of the year is a time for cautionary tales. Most everyone has their own to muse on, but if you find yourself shorted in this area you can always turn to The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and the Roly-Poly Pudding to give yourself a good fright.

Here is where the action begins in earnest. Tom Kitten has gone off on an adventure and in the process has been captured by hungry (aren’t they always) rats. The dough is gathered, the rolling pin pushed over to begin the task of making a fine Kitten Roly-Poly for dinner.

Poor Tom Kitten.

There are other sorts of roly-poly puddings to be made if you like the idea but without the kitten.

The Great British Kitchen has recipes made with jam, syrup, lemon, and mincemeat. And if all this is just too dainty for your taste, here you will find a good recipe for rasher pudding, also known as bacon roly-poly.

Any of these taste fine with champagne, ale, or tea.

Happy New Year!

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I love QQ food. I love Q food too.

Q is not a question. Q is a texture. Or as expressed much more succinctly and beautifully by Zoe Tribur in the Spring 2006 issue of Gastronomica

QQ is a unique oral sensation that
cannot be mistaken for any other. When you put something
in your mouth—cold or warm, salty or sweet, dry or wet,
it doesn’t matter—if the substance first pushes back as you
seize it with your teeth, then firms up for just a moment
before yielding magnanimously to part, with surprising ease
and goodwill, from the cleaving corners of your mandibles—
that is Q.

Many people do not like Q food. It is somewhat alien to the palate of the eater exposed solely to the foodways of the middle-class United States.

That’s okay. More for me. 🙂

I’ve found a recipe for a Q food served at the Winter Solstice way over on the other side of the world. Tang Yuen. It looks delicious. Yay, tang yuen!

It is a few days past the Winter Solstice, but better late than never. Perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition – our own post-Christmas Tang Yuen party!

Note: The article in Gastronomica on Q is downloadable as a PDF file. It is titled ‘Taste’ by Zoe Tribur and is definitely worth reading, for any gastro of any astral sphere.

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I haven’t trounced the ballontine yet. It continues its sneaky advance.

There are a few recipes for ballontines online. Not a lot. The ballontine has lost to the galantine in recent years, badly.

Here’s part of a recipe for a galantine I found online – it does make mention of a ballontine some number of paragraphs into the recipe: (Note – this recipe is from a cookbook published in the year 1889 titled ‘Choice Cookery’ by Catherine Owen. Please try to stay awake – the directions are not only lengthy but also loquacious!)

Galantines are so useful and handsome a dish in a large family, or one where many visitors are received, that it is well worth while to learn the art of boning birds in order to achieve them. Nor, if the amateur cook is satisfied with the unambitious mode of boning hereafter to be described, need the achievement be very difficult.

Experts bone a bird whole without breaking the skin, but to accomplish it much practice is required; and even where it is desirable to preserve the shape of the bird, as when it is to be braised, or roasted and glazed for serving cold, it can be managed with care if boned the easier way. However, if nice white milk-fed veal can be obtained, a very excellent galantine may be made from it, and to my mind to be preferred to fowl, because, because as a matter of fact, when boned there is such a thin sheet of meat that it but serves as a covering for the force-meat (very often sausage-meat), and although it makes a savory and handsome dish, it really is only glorified sausage-meat, much easier to produce in some other way. This is, of course, not the case with turkey; but a boned turkey is so large a dish that a private family might find it too much except for special occasions. On the other hand, galantines of game, although the birds may be still smaller, are so full of flavor that it overwhelms that of the dressing. The following process of boning, however, applies to all birds. To accomplish the work with ease and success, a French boning-knife is desirable, but in the absence of one a sharp-pointed case-knife may do.

That’s just the beginning of the directions. I had a startled moment of recognition when first reading this, then realized that the author sounded very much like my friend Katerina la Vermintz (who actually has a habit of sounding exactly like me if I don’t edit everything I write really rigorously!)

The cookbook, which is online here, starts everyone off on the right foot by instructing the readers as follows:

Choice cookery is not intended for households that have to study economy, except where economy is a relative term; where, perhaps, the housekeeper could easily spend a dollar for the materials of a luxury, but could not spare the four or five dollars a caterer would charge.

Many families enjoy giving little dinners, or otherwise exercising hospitality, but are debarred from doing so by the fact that anything beyond the ordinary daily fare has to be ordered in, or an expensive extra cook engaged. And although we may regret that hospitality should ever be dependent on fine cooking, we have to take things as they are. It is not every hostess who loves simplicity that dares to practise it.

Well, dearie me! I daresay I could spare four or five dollars for a caterer. Where is the phone number? Please advise.

Right now I must take my leave. Something to do. I think it might be something along the lines of making dinner!

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I can not decide what to serve on Christmas.

This is not unusual – I can never decide what to serve on Christmas.

There are reasons for that (as there are reasons for most things). (Whether those reasons are reasonable or not is yet another question but let’s set that aside for the moment).

Ballontines keep popping into my mind this year.

Being plagued by thoughts of ballontines has kept me quite busy. I’ve spent many hours looking up recipes, all the while quite productively avoiding the kitchen itself.

Larousse Gastronomique, (1961 Edition) on ballontines:

This term describes a kind of galantine which is normally served as a hot entree, but can also be served cold.
The ballontine is made of a piece of meat, fowl, game, or fish, which is boned, stuffed and rolled into the shape of a bundle.
To be precise, the term ballontine should apply only to a piece of butcher’s meat, boned, stuffed, and rolled, but it is in fact also applied to various dishes which are actually galantines.

A ballontine is not a galantine. There is a much different sense about it. There is actually something good and fine about a ballontine at its heart, whereas there is really nothing good about any galantine. Galantines are merely pride served chilled, glazed and decorated. They are ancient idiots, barking up the tree of pomposity.

A ballontine is better. It is an ancient idiot also – but since it is served hot, it is tasty.

There is really no good reason to make either one unless you are heading out for a voyage on a steamship and want to make something that will impress the other thousand guests which will also last for a good two months while everyone nibbles on it here and there all the while admiring the skill that must! have gone into making it.

Yet the ballontine is calling my name. Making one is like sitting down to write a novel in chapters – rather than just tossing off an essay here and there.

The last time I made one I could not stand to eat any sort of meat for more than a month. The boning of the duck, the pureeing of this kind of meat filling and that kind of meat filling, the chopping of the duck livers, the decorative slicing of the other several kinds of meat, the arranging of the duck skin to cover it all just so, the roasting of the bones and the making of the stock – it warped into a sort of meaty nightmare.

Couldn’t stand the sight or taste of pistachios either, since they had been dotted here and there within the ballontine.

Yet the ballontine is calling my name.
Never fear – I will fight it with all my might.

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