Category Archives: Books

Slump

Grunt, Buckler, Crisp and Crumble. Add some Cobblers and Pan-dowdies. Betties. We mustn’t leave out the Betties. These are the Goldie-Oldies of the fruit and butter and flour, baked in a dish but not quite a pie, classic New England treats.

These ‘Olde-Thymie’ treats just aren’t as oldie as they like to pass themselves off as. But, since they’re now nearing their centennial….well, I guess they’re old at last!

Welcome to the Colonial Revival! When the New Fashion was to be old-fashioned even though you’re new…..Old Days Old Ways the way they never were…rather like the Bi-Centennial…..we just never stop reinventing the past.

Orchard_House_1941_-_HABS_-_cropped

Orchard House circa 1940.  Home of Louisa  May Alcott in Concord MA – this is where she wrote Little Women. She nicknamed the house “Apple Slump”.

I can’t remember not knowing cobblers, and crisps and crumbles…..and knowing there was some extensional difference between them even if I couldn’t articulate it.But I remember quite clearly when I first heard about  Apple Slump – The summer between third and fourth grade.

The Christmas before Aunt Eileen (Grampy’s only  sister) had given me several brown paper bags FULL of books. She felt it was important to have books on hand, before you thought you could be ready for them, lined up and ready for you when you were ready for them. Chapter books. Book with more words then picture books. And one of them was :

LW

And – I’d seen the movie! Twice!

Little_Women_1933_lobby_card

The Katherine Hepburn one….

and

 

LW1949

the 1949 version with June Allyson

I’ve since seen the 1994 – of course!

Little_women_poster

Hello Winona and Susan Sarandon

Anyhow, I must have looked Louisa May Alcott up in the encyclopedia…that’s a big set of books we used to go to to find stuff out before the internet…..and found out that she called her house Apple Slump.Actually, the house was named Orchard House – Apple Slump was it’s nickname. A house with a pet name!

The first food  Apple Slump reference is in a Salem MA newspaper 2 years before Louisa’s birth

20 November 1830, Salem (MA) Observer, pg. 2, col. 3:
The pumpkin pies and apple slump, bacon and plum-pudding, were smoking on the table, when the old gentleman, gathering round him his smiling guests, said grace in the following manner: “May God bless us, and what is provided for us.”

The Big Apple

Louisa_May_Alcott_headshot

Louisa May Alcott

And LMA left a recipe for Apple Slump –

Slump
Pare, core and slice 6 apples and combine with one c(up). sugar, 1 t(easpoon) cinnamon, and 1/2 c. water in a saucepan. Cover and beat to boiling point. Meanwhile sift together 1 1/2 c. flour, t t/4 t. salt and 1 1/2 t. baking powder and add 1/2 cup milk to make a soft dough. Drop pieces of the dough from a tablespoon onto apple mixture, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 min. Serve with cream.”
John F. Mariani. Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, (p. 297)

http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodpies.html#slump

 

And then there’s pandowdies….

 

 

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Filed under Books, Eating, New England, Recipe, Wicked Wayback

Happy Birthday, Pappa!

June 18th was Father’s Day in 1933.

It was also the day my father was born, which made a certain amount of sense when I was little  –  why wouldn’t fathers be born on Father’s Day?  (My mother was christened that same day in Italy, which is the start of the connections between the two of them…..)

And he  LOVED Chinese food.

chinese-take-outLike blue eyes and curly hair (what was left of it) this was such a fundamental part of who he was and what he did,  that I never asked, nor do I remember anyone else ever once asking,

“Chinese food? What is about Chinese food, Bill? Why Chinese food? How does an Irish boy learn about Chinese food”

Good questions…wish I’d thought of them sooner. Not only was  Chinese food the treat of treats, it brought him into the kitchen after he retired.

He had a wok.

Serious Wok action. This was the attitude, if not the reality.

Serious Wok action. This was the attitude, if not the reality of the ancestral home cooktop.

For a very long time, perhaps as far back as the ’70’s, a paperback copy of  “The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking” by Madame Grace Zia Chu has been kicking around .Chinese Cooking larger

Several recipes have markers….but the basic of the basics is Fried Rice.

HAM FRIED RICE

2 Tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sugar

2 eggs

4 tablespoons peanut or corn oil, divided

¼ cup scallions cut into ¼ inch pieces

4 cups cold boiled rice

½ cup diced cooked ham

  1. Mix the soy sauce with the sugar. Set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs and scramble them slightly in 1 Tablespoon of the oil. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy frying pan or a wok heat 3 tablespoons of oil over high heat.
  4. Add scallions and stir a few times
  5. Add rice and stir quickly so that rice won’t stick to the pan and will be well coated with the oil
  6. Add the soy sauce/sugar mix, stir well.
  7. Add the ham and the slightly scrambled egg, mixing and breaking the eggs into little pieces in the rice.
  8. Serve hot.

NOTES: The rice needs to be THOROUGHLY cold or all you’ll get is a sticky mess. Madame Chu’s note and my experience. Brown rice may be used for a more hippie version, just be sure that the rice is cooked thoroughly.

Cooked chicken or beef may be substituted for the ham.

The original recipe does not call for a wok, but I think they’re a little more common now, so if you got one, go ahead and use it.

The original calls for ¼ teaspoon MSG, which I stopped using years, make that decades, ago. If that departure from the recipe makes it Irish/Chinese fusion, so be it. Call the Food Police. Guilty as charged.

Serves 4.

Grace Zia Chu. The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking. Pocket Books, March 1969. p.51.

Fried_rice

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Filed under Birthday, Books, Irish, Perception ways, The 1970's

Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken

There are people you meet – live, in real life, in the same room and breathing the same air, a handshake and a hug away – and now there are people you meet via the ether of  Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other platforms , who are

Intermet

I intermet Monica Bhide maybe ten years ago. I’m pretty sure she called or e-mailed me about Thanksgiving for the Washington Post, and then I found her blog and  her books.

In a scenario that could be the basis of a Hugh Grant movie some day,

Hugh_Grant_2014

I decided to order her newest book, a novel,  Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken  through my local bookstore instead of the internet. Score one for brick and mortar!

Through a series of mishaps, misfires and  miscellaneous modern life confusions it took  six – 6 – weeks to come in.

Karma, indeed.

But the reason I wanted to own her book, and not check it out of the library ….

Monica’s husband was rushed to the hospital : (click for Monica’s blog)

So many of you, my readers, friends and fans have repeatedly reached out to ask how you can help. As you all know, medical situations come with financial concerns. To that end, as a writer, words and books are how I make a living. Sameer will need 24-hour care as he heals and recovers, and I will not be able to work full-time for a while, other than just completing a few writing projects here and there.

 

So this is how you can help: If you have enjoyed my work and want to support me through this, all I request is that you buy a book or two or more to share with your friends. The sales of the books will help keep our dream alive. I say “our dream” as my writing career is not just my dream. It is a dream that Sameer and I created together and we don’t want it to die.

So buying the book was (supposed to be) a quick and easy way to support and help and keep them in my thoughts and share the story.

Since then

Inspiration Through Tragedy

(click the title for a link to the gofundme page)

a Gofundme page has been set up to raise money for Monica to

“…write a book, an interactive journal to help families and primary caregivers in the ICU and in hospitals so that they may benefit from my experience. This interactive journal will be filled with inspiring and thought-provoking stories of what happened with us, how we managed our emotions and found meaning in the most impossible moments. It will also have sections for people to write down thoughts and feelings during their own difficult time. The book will become a keepsake; each person who writes in it will make the book their own.”

So I’m asking if you could help – buy a book, or donate  money, or share the story on social media, or keep this family in your thoughts and prayers –

Monica Bhide

Moncia Bhide

 

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Filed under Books, Journal

Spenser for Dinner

So I ended up with a copy of Robert B. Parker’s Bad Business.

RBP Bad Business

Just the kind of read to unwind a busy work week on the Friday of my weekend.

(That sounds rather convoluted, but since week-ends are considered Saturday and Sunday, but I work Saturday, so my not at work days are Sunday and Monday….which makes Tuesday my Monday and Thursday my hump day and Saturday my Friday. So, SATURDAY, I read this book on Saturday night.)

And there were several cooking/eating/ food scenes in the book, because that’s the way Spenser is and that’s how Robert B. Parker writes.  I remembered, back in the day when  the books had been a TV series called Spenser for Hire

Spenser_For_Hire_title_screen

Robert Urich was Spenser

Robert U spes leatehr

and a pretty good stand in for Robert B. Parker

RBP with dog

Complete aside: Season 3 – that was 1987  –  they filmed a Thanksgiving episode. Which include scenes shot at Plimoth Plantation.

Spenser season 3

All three seasons are available on DVD

Season 3, Episode 7 Thanksgiving

 First Aired: November 29, 1987

Spenser takes Susan to Plymouth for Thanksgiving and runs into an old Army buddy whose down on his luck. When his friend, Mike Kaminsky, is accused of murdering the young wife of an elderly philanthropist, Spenser tries to prove him innocent. As Susan looks after the Kaminsky family, Spenser and Hawk search out the shifty background of the murder victim, and deal with the controversy conscious step-son. Attempts on Spenser’s life ultimately lead he and Hawk to the those responsible.

Someone (actually, quite a few of us) got to come in early to be pilgrim ‘extras’. Should you watch said episode and see a pilgrim with a dead goose?

MOI.

But my 15 seconds of fame is a story for another day.

Since the series was called Spenser for Hire, I thought the companion cookbook should be called

Spenser for Dinner

Because of course, there should be a cookbook.

Back to Bad Business.

At the very beginning of Chapter 46, Vinnie is cooking up sausage and vinegar peppers…..

green-sliced-vinegar-peppers-32oz-jar.jpg

But any pickled pepper could work in this…

So I checked out the North End Italian Cookbook, and sure enough – sausage and vinegar peppers with potatoes.

sausage vinegar pepper FOOD

Sausage and Vinegar Peppers and Potatoes

2 # Italian sausage

1/4 cup olive oil

6 large potatoes, peeled, sliced thick and wiped dry

6-8 vinegar peppers

  1. Brown the sausages in the oil. Remove from the pan.

  2. Add the potatoes to the oil , turning till cooked and crispy.

  3. Add the sausage back and then tear the peppers on top, letting the juices fall in with the meat and potatoes. There will be steam when he vinegar hits the pan, so be careful.

  4. Turn off heat, cover  and and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

  5. The note in the cookbook says hold for a second day, but I’ve made some stellar fritatta…..just saying.

  6. adapted from pages 103-4

North End Ital cb mine

For Italian food from Boston, any one of the editions of North End Italian Cook Book will be your friend.

SPenser for Hire - Hawk and spenser

Did I mention Avery Brooks? He was in the series, too.

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Filed under Books, Italian, New England, Supper, The 1980's, TV shows

#ShakespeareSunday

Today is the last day of a yearlong celebration celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare – #BardYear.

Title_page_William_Shakespeare's_First_Folio_1623

First Folio

April 23rd 1616 is the day he died. It might also be the day he was born. We have his baptismal date, so we know he was born by when. But funerals are a bigger deal, celebration wise, in the 17th century then births (infants are considered to be lumps of flesh in search of their humanity; if you live to adulthood, you’re a person).

A quick run through of a few, very few selected Shakespeare and food books:

Shakeontoast

Last one read, first one mentioned – Shakespeare on Toast

I need to find out what the English “on toast” reference is, but it was well written, fast paced and enormously entertaining and informative   (words that belong together especially when dealing with Shakespeare). Not about food, how to read Shakespeare (aloud – they’re plays, not novels!) and other tips, tricks and insights.

And to continue the reverse chronological order in which I’ve read/ discovered them….

Shakescookbook

The Shakespeare Cookbook. Andrew Dalby and Maureen Dalby.The British Museum Press: 2012.

Lovely illustrations from the British Museum collection, like 17th century fruit trenchers…and lots more. Great food, too and adaptations.

fruit trencher BM

Fruit trencher or roundel from the 17th century- not just any wooden plate! from the British Museum

Shakespeare, not Stirred. Cocktails for Everyday Dramas. Caroline Bick, PhD, and Michelle Ephriam, PhD. Perigee Books: NY 2015.

shakesnotstirred

Quite possibly the most fun of the bunch…. Shall I Campari to a Summer’s Day?….Oh, yes!

Shakespeare’s Kitchen. Francine Sagen. Random House NY 2003.

Shakeskitchen

The photo’s in this are lovely and the recipes work extremely well in a modern kitchen, even if one or two are so adapted as to be unrecognizable from their Shakespeare time form….if you like good food, cook it all; if you want good history, cook the ones with period recipe mentioned….

dining with shakesespare

Dining With William Shakespeare. Marge Lorwin. Atheneum: NY 1976. has been part of my life for decades…it was my introduction to food in the time of Pilgrims, and the scholarships – and readability –  have help up well through the decades. I always find something new when I go back.

shakesplantssimmons

Plants of Shakespeare. Adelma Grenier Simmons.   1987. Caprilands Coventry Conn.

I got this little book when I visited Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry Connecticut in the early ’80’s….might be time for a field trip….

Adelma_at_Hilltop

 

 

and this, too!

Shakesflowers

 

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Filed under Books, Spring

Goldenrods

Goldenrods

as in Goldenrod Eggs….

Martha Stewart Living April 2017 featured a story about Goldenrods…. not the weeds, the  eggs

msl-April2017cover-225x300

goldenrod eggs Betty Crocker

This is the photo from the Betty Crocker version.

Reading the article I had a Remembrance of Things Past moment, except it was for something that I had never eaten….it was something I’d read about.

It was a book I read when I was nine. Or ten. Definitely before 11.

I think it was called

“Two in Patches”.

Patches was the name of the car. More properly, a roadster. I’m pretty sure it was written in the 1930’s.

roadster

a 1930’s roadster

There was a brother – who was old enough to drive – and a little sister. She was close to my age – 9 or 10 or 11.  They had to drive cross country to get their parents who had been working in the steamy, vine-tangled jungles of Peru. Or hottest Brazil. One of those exotic, faraway places. They had a grown-up, who might have been Grandpa, that they picked up somewhere. They ended up in California, and there was a happily ever after reunion. It would probably be a good companion piece for The Grapes of Wrath.

There were hobos, and not all of them were friendly.

Sometimes they had to beg for work to earn food or gas money. I believe “beg” was their word for it. They gave people rides in exchange for food or gas.

Beret-e1457039149493

This is pretty close to what I remembering  what the girl might have looked like.

It was not a picture book, but there were line drawings.

ANYHOW….

…..at one point they are really hungry and they break into a hen-house. They get caught, and the cagey old farmer invites them in, and the girl cooks up a big old batch of……

EGGS GOLDENROD

So I looked up a recipe,  Thank you Betty Crocker

and merrily went on with my life. It seemed rather like egg sauce on toast, and I can’t say that I craved it or even thought about it again until I opened up Martha Stuart Living.

So, thank you for a trip back in time. Now I need to make some bread to have the toast to make the eggs….

A version roughly contemporary with my remembered childhood volume:

Goldenrod Eggs

Make a thin white sauce by melting

1 Tbls of butter then adding

1 Tbls flour. Add

1 cup milk

½ tsp salt and

Fg pepper. Stir until thick and smooth. Chop the white of

3 hard cooked eggs and add to white sauce. Cut

4 slices of toast in halves lengthwise.

Arrange on a platter and pour sauce over them. Force yolks through a strainer or potato ricer, letting them fall upon the sauce making a mound of yellow. Garnish with parsley and toast points. This may be served on individual dishes.

Serves four.

Wakefield, Ruth Graves. Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes. M. Barrows and Co.: New York. 1937. p. 61.

Ruth Wakefield Tried and True

Evidently, Fanny Farmer published the first Eggs Goldenrod recipe back in 1896. This is based on other peoples say-so. I’ll be on the look-out.

Eggs à la Goldenrod.

3 hard boiled eggs.

1 tablespoon butter.

1 tablespoon flour.

1 cup milk.

1/2 teaspoon salt.

1/8 teaspoon pepper.

5 slices toast.

Parsley.

Make a thin white sauce with butter, flour, milk, and seasonings. Separate yolks from whites of eggs. Chop whites finely, and add them to the sauce. Cut four slices of toast in halves lengthwise. Arrange on platter, and pour over the sauce. Force the yolks through a potato ricer or strainer, sprinkling over the top. Garnish with parsley and remaining toast, cut in points.

bost127

Boston Cooking School 1896

 

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Filed under Books, Influencers, Recipe, Supper, The 1960"s, Wicked Wayback

Red Light Green Light

There are TWELVE days of Christmas – all of you ever so eager to put those lights UP in November, don’t be in such a hurry to take them down – keep ‘em around at least until the 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany. That’s the day the Three Wise Guys, um, I mean Wise Men, finally get to the party. And let’s face it – January could use some low key good times, not to mention a little more light.

As for the red light….

Beets.

beetroot

Can’t beat them, so just enjoy them.

Last summer I used fresh tomatoes in salads and uncooked sauce for pasta. Once I found one recipe for uncooked tomato sauce, it seems as if there were thousands.

Or at least several.

Lidia!

lidia_bastianich_2014

Lidia Bastianich

Marian Morash!

vgcb

 

Total stranger from somewhere else!!

Newspapers and magazines…..

So when I got a new Italian cookbook (much of the Italian being American chefs in Italian restaurants…and the Italian cooking was restaurant cooking too.)

italian_intermezzo

 

AND

It came with music. To cook and dine with Italian music. The music was the deal-breaker.

As I was listening to Ciribiribin

– not to be confused with Chili Bean

 

I found yet another variation on the uncooked tomato sauce, but this one had a twist.

The variation called for beets.

RED LIGHT

That were cooked. For 1 1/2 hours.

Which is very different from uncooked. Or tomatoes.

So I really don’t know how this qualifies as a variation and not a whole new recipes.

BUT

I had beets….

GREEN LIGHT

So I scrubbed them, tossed them with a little olive oil and roasted them in a 350 oven for 90 or so minutes until they were tender.

I took them out of the oven and put some water on for the pasta…..

Alton Brown has embraced the cold water method for cooking pasta….

abeverydaycook

 

Cold water pasta is another post.

Anyhow,

While the pasta cooked

farfalle_pasta

Farfalle – butterflies!

I peeled the beets and cut them into a dice. Tossed with some olive oil wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Also some minced parsley and a little rosemary.

Added with the now cooked pasta and some ricotta, a 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water. Stir, taste, adjust, EAT.

It was pink…..and it was good.

It was NOTHING like the uncooked tomato sauce.

But it was delicious.

It was also good re-heated the next day.

 

 

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Filed under Books, Dinner, Italian, Recipe, winter

Rabbit, Xmas rabbit

tizian-madonna_mit_dem_kaninchen

Titian.Mary and Infant Jesus with a rabbit, Paris, Louvre

rabbits_christmas_title

rabbit-xmas-janbrett

puigaudeau_ferdinand_du_-_chinese_schadows_the_rabbit

Ferdinand du Puigaudeau, Chinese Shadows, the Rabbit

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Filed under Books, Holiday, winter

Book Club Chairs: Locale local

 Grab a seat…with your feet in the water, the sun on your back  OR  curled up in AC comfort OR in front of a fire.  It’s

                              Book Club time!

I’ve been reading…

Often I have a seasonal reading theme, whether I begin with one or not. I just like reading things that build on each other, complement each other, and keep my brain in the same neighbor for a while. This summer’s theme turned out to be:

Books set in Plymouth by

Local Authors who I know.

How’s THAT for a theme?

It started this spring with ROBERT KNOX

Bob Knox

Suosso’s Lane

Which is about Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who lived in Plymouth – just up the road from where I live now – and  early 20th century immigration issues and the labor movement  and…well, you’ll have to read it find out more….

 

Suosso's Lane cover

And then I heard that PETER TRENOUTH had a book out….

Peter Trenouth

Cloudy Hands

We worked together decades ago and have kept off and on in touch. This is a story that is heart wrenching, heartwarming and heartfelt and a bunch of other heart and flowers terms that are making me sound cliché instead of must read.

cloudy hands cover

Judith Campbell and the Holy Mysteries

Judy campbell

Olympia Brown / Holy Mysteries  series

There’s the story, the great people we meet, who grow and change and don’t change, revealing a little more of themselves in each volume AND there’s the moral AND the mystery AND the great food. I’m thinking Olympia Brown is a Leo, because she’s rather fond of ginger. I’ve offered to be a recipe tester for the companion cookbook…..

 

unspeakable_cover_300w

It’s been a summer to connect and re-connect with old friends and read great books with familiar locations and have friendly books on the shelves.

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Filed under Books, Summer

A Deepe Coffyn

Willem Clausz. Heda

SOOOO ……

I’m  reading and writing about PIES, specifically apple pies, and I get a package in the mail from a dear friend.

A book.

deepe coffyn

.

 A Deepe Coffyn by Janet Laurence

It’s a culinary murder mystery…the main character is cooking up an Banquet for a   group of culinary historians…and the next thing you know

someone is DEAD

But not because of the food.

If there’s one thing I love to read at the end of a week, it’s a murder mystery. Something about a problem and a solution all wrapped up in under 400 pages….It’s Murder, She Wrote between covers.

(Is there a book series for the TV series?)

Msw ss

 

And this book is the first of a series, a series I haven’t read. The author is from England. And there are nine more where this came from. They evolve/revolve around Darina Lisle – the cook- and William Pigram- the cop.

So now when pies are too hot a thing to contemplate (is there ANY cool weather out there anywhere?) I have something a little lighter to keep my brain occupied.

Thank you, Clarissa! A most appropriate and timely gift.

 

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Filed under Books, Summer, TV shows