Monthly Archives: October 2014

Throwback Thursday

me 1981 Joe Carlin

This was when I was a new Pilgrim…..shades of 1981. This was the second oven that we had built at Plimoth Plantation.




15th century mobile oven...great looking pies there, too.

15th century mobile oven…great looking pies there, too.

Millet TIme - Woman Baking Bread, 1854 - not much changes....

Millet TIme – Woman Baking Bread, 1854 – not much changes….

A newer oven at Plimoth - a clome or cloam oven

A newer old type oven at Plimoth – a clome or cloam oven in  2012


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Filed under Bread, The 17th century, The 1980's

National Potato Day!

Who knew?

Who decides these things?

Does it matter?

This works out for a Meatless Monday……

 Spuds and Squash.

Pumpkin and Potatoes.

The Smashing Pumpkins  - A rock band, not to be confused with a side dish

The Smashing Pumpkins – A rock band, not to be confused with a side dish


Mr potato head

Mr Potato Head LOVES that it’s National Potato Day…and is maybe a little afraid…He won’t be doing The Mashed Potato anytime soon.


1 ½ pounds potatoes (about 4 cups)

1 ½ pounds butternut (or acorn or Hubbard or other firm winter squash – I’ll be using my leftover jack o lantern next week…)

6 garlic cloves (if they’re small, I’ve used more)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup water

1 2” piece fresh rosemary


  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into ½” wedges (they need to be a little smaller than the squash pieces). Put in the slow cooker.
  2. Peel and cut the squash into 1” cubes (squash cooks faster than potatoes). Put in the slow cooker.
  3. Add the garlic to the squash and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle on the olive oil and mix well.
  5. Add the water and tuck in the rosemary sprig.
  6. Cover and cook on high about 3 hours. The potatoes and squash should be tender when pierced with a knife.
  7. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

From Michele Scicolone. The Italian Slow Cooker. p. 187.

Italian slow cooker book

Top with parsley and you have the flag of Ireland…just saying.

Leftover can be reheated and topped with a little cheese, whatever little cheese you happen to have on hand. Or mixed with some beaten eggs and maybe a slice of bacon to make a world class frittata.

Better on a Thanksgiving table then the usual smushed and smashed – it really is 2 great tastes that taste great together! And with the slow cooker, how easy and no worries about how to fit it into the oven.

If you cook the squash alone, with the oil and the rosemary, which would be an almost ready sauce for pasta, especially if you use wine instead of the water….

Michele Scicolone (click on her name to get to her website) has written several slow cooker books, but I haven’t finished this one yet, in part because I keep cooking from it over and over, going back to an old favorite, and then finding a potential new favorite.

When words are not enough.....

When words are not enough…..



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Filed under Books, Irish, Italian, Recipe, squash

STOP – Drop, don’t roll

Biscuits, that is.

Stop Drop and Roll is still great advice near a FIRE, but biscuits are less intimidating and are quicker and easier if you make drop biscuits instead of cut kind.

pillsbury biscuit

Easy. Quick. Smell great in the oven. Eaten so fast, often with butter or honey, that you don’t notice the taste is lacking. It’s the chemical aftertaste that reminds you you have other options.

Drop biscuits move you past the biscuit perfection issues  and into the wide world of biscuit much more gently.  Instead of rolling the biscuits, which then need to be cut , you make the dough  a little more like batter and drop it by spoonfuls – or scoopfuls – onto the baking sheet and just pop it into a preheated oven. Having the oven good and hot is one way to make a better biscuit.

Parmesan Drop Biscuits

2 cups AP flour

Grated Parmesan cheese

bakewell cream

It really does make the biscuits higher and lighter – heavenly

1 Tablespoon double acting baking powder (or Bakewell Cream, my fave)

½ teaspoon salt

½ stick butter (1/4 cup)

1 cup of milk

  1. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl with the baking powder and salt.
  2. Mix in the grated cheese
  3. Using your finger OR 2 knives OR a heavy fork OR a biscuit mixer (ill)blend the flour and butter together into fine particles
  4. Add the milk and stir the dough just enough to gather it all together. Don’t over mix at this point or you’ll get tough, rugged, more like hockey pucks than biscuits, biscuits.
  5. Drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake in a preheated 450° oven for 12-15 minutes
  7. Serve hot
  8. Makes about 12 biscuits.


James Beard. Beard On Bread. p. 160-1.beard on bread



stop sign drop

for when it’s not about biscuits

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Filed under Autumn, Bread, Recipe, The 1980's

The History of Corn is amazing

Or is it more properly ‘a-maizing’?
Either way, a few pictorial highlights – and a recipe – for a Wicked Wayback Wednesday from a talk I gave on a dark and stormy night for the South Shore Locavores.


The audience was all ears!

In a nutshell –

Corn has been around for thousands of years in the America, in Europe not so long. In the 16th century maize was new and fashionable, but since it was easy to grow, and grow well, it became more and more common and less and less fashionable… in point – polenta.

Murillo - the Polenta Woman -17th century - notice how she's not fashionable

Murillo – the Polenta Woman -17th century – notice how she’s not fashionable

Pietro Longhi - Polenta - notice that it's being pored onto a cloth, from which it will be eaten

Pietro Longhi – Polenta – notice that it’s being pored onto a cloth, from which it will be eaten. This is the 18th century when ‘The Poor’ become romanticized. Their romantic  image is fashionable, not the poor actual selves .

made in Italy Gio Lochetti

In Made in Italy Giorgio Locatelli describe making polenta that is right out of the 18th century painting. He also writes of the irony of cooking the food his family ate to stay warm and fed in Italy in  a high end restaurant in London for people to pay a pretty penny to try. Polenta is now fashionable!

Click here for the recipe of Polenta in Chains – Polenta with Beans and kale and spinach that I brought. It’s from Michele Scicolone  The Italian Slow Cooker Italian slow cooker book

Polenta in Chains bears an uncanny resemblance to 17th century English  pottage, which was made with maize instead of oats when Englishmen came to North America, changing things to keep them the same.

Esau and Jacob Mathias Stom, 1640's. That's a Mess of Pottage in the bowl

Esau and Jacob Mathias Stom, 1640’s. That’s a Mess of Pottage in the bowl. The bread is pretty great, too.

Almost all the pottage in 17th century images include Jacob and Esau

Almost all the pottage in 17th century images include Jacob and Esau

A re-created 17th century English Pottage by Elizabeth Pickard

A re-created 17th century English Pottage by Elizabeth Pickard


Filed under Autumn, Italian, Perception ways

Best Meal EVAH

October 19, 1986

According to my notes, this was the first time I cooked a meal for my family that everyone liked. Everything. It’s not that they’re fussy or weren’t eating what was put before them, but I’m not the only one with opinions, and there were always a half a dozen suggestions of what to try ‘next time’.

Until this time.


I copied the menu into my notebook, one that I’ve kept.

The menu was:

Perfect Pot Roast

Horseradish cream sauce

Mashed potatoes

Parmesan drop biscuits

Green Salad


The Perfect Pot Roast was from the McCalls Cooking School.

Mcalls CS bindersWhen you joined they sent you the binder and every few weeks more recipes. It was a great way to see lots of new recipes, pick out a few to try, a few for someday and they were already organized so you (me) could find them again.

Except that I would take them out of the binders to cook them and maybe put them away someplace else…but Perfect Pot Roast was one I copied into my little notebook, so I still have it, at least a version of it.

This is the picture side

This is the picture side


Perfect Pot Roast

5 lbs beef rump roast

2 Tbls oil

2 Tbls butter

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 bay leaf, crumbled

12 pepper corns

1 can beer (I would be inclined to use a better beer then I probably did then)

2 Tbls beef bouillon crystals (I don’t use this anymore – a little salt and a little more garlic is what I’d do know)

1 Lb carrots

1 lb small onions

3 Tbls flour

  1. Brown meat in oil, butter and sliced onion, browning on all sides – about 20-25 minutes
  2. To dripping add garlic, thyme, oregano, bay leaf and peppercorns – stir 30 seconds, add beer (bouillon). Bring to a boil, simmer, covered 2½ hours.
  3. Add carrots (peeled and quartered) and onions (peeled) simmer covered another 30 minutes or until tender.
  4. Remove veggies and remove meat.
  5. Strain liquid and put back in the pot.
  6. Add 3 Tbls to ¼ cup of cold water (put it into a jar with a lid and give it a good shake) Add this slurry to the drippings.
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes till silky.

Serves 10.

McCall’s Cooking School , Meat #20.

This is what the flip sid eof the binder cards looked like - step by step illustrated instruction - easy peasy

This is what the flip side of the binder cards looked like – step by step illustrated instruction – easy peasy – although I suspect this is another McCalls series and not the Cooking School.

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Filed under Perception ways, Recipe, The 1980's

Hot and Heavenly



Easy to grow if you have a garden

Horseradish plant -

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia)

When you buy it in the store, it’ll look more like this:

Horseradish root

The root is what you eat – just like ordinary radish

unless you buy it already prepared

horseradish goldsYou could test your ability to suffer pain by seeing how long you can hold spoonfuls of it on your tongue….it will CLEAR your sinuses, serious side effect, BTW.

Or you can use it on beef or pork or in egg salad or wherever you want to turn the heat up. Or in this simple sauce which you can use on beef, or in egg salad, or wherever hot and rich is the road to perfection. As if hot and rich weren’t perfection as all on it’s own.

Horseradish Cream Sauce

1 cup heavy cream

Grated horseradish

  1. Whip the cream
  2. Fold in grated horseradish to taste. Fresh is best!

From The Good Cook series from Time-Life. Beef & Veal; p. 90. from Julie Dannenbaum’s Creative Cooking School.

Time Life Beef & Veal

Time Life The Good Cook  Beef & Veal

The Good Cook Series was on of my early/grownup/real money cookbooks. I still run to them for double checking, confirming, clarifying and inspiration. They almost never need dusting. I was fortunate to fall in with a good crowd during my youth.

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Filed under Autumn, Books, Influencers, The 1980's

Do the Mashed Potato

mashed potatoes perfect MSliving Nov 98

When I was growing up, mashed potatoes were a regular feature of supper.
But regular, I mean several times a week.
Every week.
Every single week.
Even at a young and tender age, I knew how to make mashed potatoes. Or Smushed Potatoes. Or Smash.
You took the potato pan down cellar to where the – was it 10 or was it 20 pound? – bag of potatoes was. The bag was really heavy paper and had a little netted window in the front, and was secured by a twisted metal clip. Sometime the potatoes had sprouts, but not usually. You put potatoes in the pan to the place where the screws that held the handle on came to, that was the potato line. Then you took them upstairs and emptied the pan, and rinsed it out because potatoes are dirty.russet potato
Then the potatoes needed to be peeled with the potato peeler, and then they needed a good rinse, because potatoes are dirty because they grow under the dirt, don’t you know, and THEN they had to be cut into like size pieces so that they’d all finish cooking at the same time. Water to cover, a little salt, and then the lid goes on. All on the back burner and the heat on high. When they start to boil, the heat is turned down so that the lid rattles at just the right rattle for the potatoes a-cooking and all is right with the world way.
When the rattling has gone on long enough, time to test a potato to see if it’s down. A fork should go in easily. The whole thing gets dumped out into the colander in the sink. A good size piece of margarine (we really didn’t use that much butter – it was oleo. Nana used butter, so we had butter when Nana visited or when we went to her house, otherwise margarine) went into the pan, the hot potatoes in after, and then the masher came out.
And while the masher was mashing, a little milk, and then a little more milk. Because it was the olden days, milk was just plain old milk – no 1% or 2 % or fat-free or even whole – milk was milk and the milkman brought it.
Salt and pepper, maybe a little more milk and when it was just right, swooshed into the serving bowl, graced with a serving spoon, the pan lid placed on top to keep it warm and on the table it went.

Except the parts where it was too heavy for me to lift with both potato and water in the pan, and I couldn’t reach the knobs to actually turn on the stove, and I’d have had to stand on a chair to reach into the pan with the masher, which was too dangerous and so it was not done, I had totally mastered the art of mashed potatoes when I was 7 ½ .

By the time I was  10, I was totally bored with mashed potatoes. I would hang out as they were cooking to pull a few pieces out of the colander so I could have plain boiled potatoes with salt and pepper.

How many mashed potatoes I felt had eaten by the time I was 8. Please remember, I'm only half Irish.

How many mashed potatoes I felt had eaten by the time I was 8. Please remember, I’m only half Irish.

Fast forward to when my son was 6 and he wanted mashed potatoes, because I had never made them for him. I realized that I only knew how to  make mash for a crowd, and 2 was not a crowd.And then my potatoes kept coming out pasty, not mashed….what to do? Where to turn?

Why Martha Stewart, of course.

She called them

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

of course. But they are very good directions for very good mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4-6 or 2, when one is a growing boy.

2# Russet, Yukon Gold or long white potatoes

1 Tbl salt

1 cup milk (or cream or a mix)

4 Tbl butter

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Peel, rinse and cut potatoes into 1 ½ inch thick slices
  2. Cover with cold water in a pan, add salt. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Keep potatoes at a simmer until a knife slips in and out easily.
  4. Drain potatoes in a colander.
  5. Heat milk in another, small, saucepan.
  6. Mash until lumps have disappeared.
  7. Stir with a wooden spoon for one minute.
  8. Incorporate butter.
  9. Drizzle in hot milk, mixing and whisking.
  10. Add seasonings, continue whisking.
  11. Serve immediately.

Martha Stewart Living November 1998.p.96.


Finally – potatoes that come out smushed and not wallpaper paste!


And as for Doing the Mashed Potato  

dances-the-mashed-potato 1965

Dancing with Dick Blake

I didn’t realize that Nat Kendrick and the Swans was really James Brown.

A young James Brown. Who knew?James BrownOne last note – I managed to misspell potato almost every single time it appeared in this post. Thank you spellchecker!

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Filed under Eating, Recipe, The 1960"s

O Canada! Happy First Thanksgiving

CTday columbus

Today is Canada’s Thanksgiving Day.

Not only are they first in our current calendar, what with October being before November, but they are also first in when they trace their holiday roots.

Yes, they harken their first Thanksgiving back to 1576 ( Martin Frobisher at Baffin Island) and/ or 1606 (Samuel Champlain and the Order of Good Cheer). Sorry, Berkeley Plantation – both of these dates are before 1619. Still not the first.

A rendition of the Order of Good Cheer

A rendition of the Order of Good Cheer

And the Canadians also invented American football…

CTday cfootball

The double double is a Tim Horton’s reference. Tim Horton’s who will now be coming to the US.

Double double the coffee, Double Double the book.

Double double the coffee, Double Double the book.


CTday keep calm

and what’s a holiday without a little music?


“Thanksgiving National Anthem (O Thanksgiving),” a parody of “Canadian National Anthem (O Canada)” by National Anthems


Filed under Holiday, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized

Chicken Soup with Rice

Chicken once
Chicken twice
Chicken noodle soup with rice
Said Maurice Sendak NEVER…

Maurice Sendack

Maurice Sendack

but that’s how one of my brothers recited it.
I’ve been sick, downright under the weather, stuffy head and nose and post nasal drip cough….with all this stuffiness, not too much smelling or tasting.
Now I understand why the soups of my childhood never tasted good in adulthood. I had never really tasted them. I only has them when my taste buds were otherwise occupied. Or coated with Robitussan. There was also something else, before there was Nyquill, which was just plain nasty tasting….little wonder we grew up sturdy and elixir-adverse.
The most common chicken soup of my childhood:

Campbell chicsoup
Chicken Noodle. Might be a great visual for Warhol, but those noodles were just plain slimy….never a fave. Tomato was much, much, better. Especially with a grilled cheese sangwich with pickles.
What was better soup?

progresso chickerina
The one with the little meatballs. The best. Now they call it Italian Wedding Soup, and there’s so much WRONG with that. Chickarina. That’s what it was called.
And the soup in the middle?

Almost instant, PDQ packet soup. It seemed instant, but technically it’s not. But done in 5 minutes before microwaves ruled the sense of time ….it was instant enough. Noodles – tiny, not slimy.
Is it soup yet? Soup de klaar! And although we’re Irish and Italian my entire family can start up a chorus of soup de klaar when just about food is ready – one starts and then we’re all singing it and it doesn’t even have to be soup. Or ready. Am I the only ne who remembers this? It WAS Lipton’s, wasn’t it?
I wanted to go to the store to pick up a soup bunch, but my head was so foggy I couldn’t quite figure out what I meant by that and I hadn’t checked my own freezer, which is usually stocked with soup bits. I also really didn’t want to drive ALL the way to the store, which usually isn’t onerous; in fact in certain carless situations I have walked it. As it turns out I didn’t have to go further than the convenience store up the street.
That’s when I saw the Lipton’s box.
Soup in a box. I realized that I couldn’t really taste much, and the saltiness of the crackers was what I wanted the soup for – to keep me from choking on the crackers, and to give me enough salt to be thirsty for all the herbal tea and warm water I was drinking. I bought it. For the first time EVAH I noticed that the little red Lipton sign was just like the one on the tea box….and yes, they ARE the tea people too.Lipton tea
The first packet was…blander then I remembered. Had they tried to make it healthier by leaving out the fat and the salt? It would certainly seem…..not that it’s low fat or low salt. I added more macaronis to the second packet the next day.
But when I’m sick of being sick….The soup that I make is
Pastini with cheese
Welcome to the miracle world of Italian Aqua Cotta – Cooked Water.
I’m pretty sure the original Stone Soup was somewhere in Italy. Or everywhere in Italy.
First you need water. And a little salt.
Then, maybe, if you have it, a stalk of celery chopped small. Or half of an onion minced fine. A carrot diced. Or not.
The maybe a couple of garlic cloves. Or a bouillon cube. Or some bones. Or a small piece of meat, not too much, just for flavor. Or not.
Boil. (Then take out the bones, but anything else can stay put)
Add little macaronis. Bitty macaronis. The –ini family of macaronis. (pronounced ‘eeny’)
Ditalini or acini de pepe or tubertini or stellini ,etc – multiples should fit on a spoon, so that they slip right down.
Cook until they’re soft – no al dente for this crew, they’ve got important healing work to do and you don’t want to tire the patient out with excess chewing.
It should be thick with pasta but still fluid enough to drink down. Like quicksand – looks like solid, goes down like liquid.
Put into a bowl or a cup. A mug is good. There will probably be some slurping.
If there’s a fever you might want to beat an egg in to cook in the heat of the broth. Maybe a little hot sauce to drain things….it should vary with the patient.
Add a little butter or olive oil to help it slip-slide right down.
Top with some grated cheese and some very finely minced parsley.
Repeat as needed.

I am embarrassed to tell you how old I was before I realized that to make chicken soup some people started not by pulling out a can opener, but by pulling out a CHICKEN and putting it into a pot. But that’s a story for another day.

How I feel at the end of the cup of soup.....

How I feel at the end of the cup of soup…..


Filed under Perception ways

Craft Corn

I admit, when I saw the headline in the Dining Section of last Wednesday’s New York Times, I thought it was about playing with your food….christmas-crafts-garland_612

but not quite. Sometimes, you have to read the whole headline.

The actual headline: The Rise of Craft Popcorn. And it’s a very interesting story, about small farmers bringing back specialty popcorns, which now must be craft, no doubt because the term artisan has been so overused as to be meaningless.

For one thing, I learned that popcorn

Popcorn kernels

Popcorn kernels -Zea mays everta

is more closely related to flint corn then I thought before…

flint corn

Flint corn or Zea mays indurata – popcorn may actually be a variety of flint corn


Which is just in time for Pilgrim and popcorn stories. And Thanksgiving and Turkey stories.

They’re just not true – whether or not flint corn can beget popcorn or not – because no one in the 17th (or 18th) century mentions them. Most of them began in the 19th century which is 200 years too late to be timely, but they’re interesting.

John Howland pondering popcorn at the first Thanksgiving - from a scene from a 19th century novel

John Howland pondering popcorn at the first Thanksgiving – from a scene from a 19th century novel Standish of Standish

Jane Goodwin Austin’s Standish of Standish has this scenes – in 1889.

Jane Goodwin Austin, not to be confused with Jane Austen, the Pride and Prejudice author. Please.

Jane Goodwin Austin, not to be confused with Jane Austen, the Pride and Prejudice author. Please.

Turkey, popcorn and Thanksgiving. They way it never happened.


Paperbag turkey with popcorn

directions to paperbag turkey here

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven 

by Jack Prelutsky

The turkey shot out of the oven

and rocketed into the air,

it knocked every plate off the table

and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner

and burst with a deafening boom,

then splattered all over the kitchen,

completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows,

it totally coated the floor,

there was turkey attached to the ceiling,

where there’d never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,

it smeared every saucer and bowl,

there wasn’t a way i could stop it,

that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,

and though with chagrin as I mopped,

that I’d never again stuff a turkey

with popcorn that hadn’t been popped.


Something BIG Has Been Here written by Jack Prelutsky and illus. by James Stevenson, 1990.

You can’t pop popcorn inside a turkey. Use a covered pan for the best results.

and that doesn’t even begin to cover johnnycakes…..

Johnnycakes from the Kenyon Mills Facebook page - they way they like 'em in Rhode Island

Johnnycakes from the Kenyon Mills Facebook page – they way they like ’em in Rhode Island

and then there’s Indian Pudding, and Brown Bread and sampe and corn bread and …….it’s all grist for the mill…2014_SampeFest_Flyer


Filed under Autumn, Perception ways, Thanksgiving, The 17th century