29 December 2012

After Christmas Benedict


We just love the architecture of eggs Benedict.  A starch, a protein, a creamy sauce, and a fat poached egg on top, or under the sauce, as it were.   Really, aside from cake and pie, it is hard to think of food that is not greatly enhanced by a fresh poached egg!

This is a favorite planned over brunch item to throw together when Christmas or Thanksgiving leftovers abound.   It is not so much a recipe as an assemblage of stuff you already have staring at you from the fridge!

Another favorite at Doe Run Farm is the humble chicken gizzard.   We just love gizzards of any kind.  We have a great recipe for Confit de gésiers that we make on occasion.  

 Gizzards and spices bathed in olive oil for several hours, cooled and tucked into a crock in the back of the refrigerator for fanciful salads or in our case, a fanciful sauce.  If you don't have confit, don't worry, use your leftover giblet gravy.  If you have been incredibility productive, use that  turkey à la king you made!  Now that you have assembled your leftovers, the dish is really quite simply.

After Christmas Benedict

leftover dressing, warmed
egg, poached
Confit de gésiers  (or the leftover giblet gravy or turkey à la king)
a splash of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the dressing from the pan with a round biscuit cutter.

Roughly chop the confit and sauté.  To finish the sauce, add a splash of cream about a tablespoon.  ( If using the gravy just heat through and add the cream, the turkey à la king has cream so just heat.)

Now poach your egg. 

Place the poached egg on the round of dressing and cover with your sauce.  Top off with a sprig of sage.

This is a tasty use leftovers.

24 December 2012

The Doe Run Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, Santa thought and he groaned
The night before Christmas, “I wish I was stoned.”
He had gotten quite tipsy, to the Mrs. dismay,
At the elves Christmas party held early that day.

Now my kitties were nestled all snug in their beds,
As visions of mousies danced round in their heads.
And I in my snow boots and orange hunter’s cap,

Was busy a’ mixing a Christmas nightcap.
When out by Doe Run there arose such a clatter,
I sat down my drink to see what’s the matter.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of midday to the objects below.
When what to my bleary eyes did appear?
But stranded old sleigh and nary a deer.

The tipsy old driver was still very quick,
And I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
“Where’s Dasher? Where’s Dancer?
Where’s Prancer?  Where’s Vixen?
And Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen?”
He ran to the barn, as he looked rather stricken,
Then he came running out with every last chicken.
He harnessed them up, then I heard Santa cry,
For Santa did realize that chickens can’t fly.

I called to dear Santa, who looked less than merry,
But his cheeks they were rosy, his nose like a cherry.
I gave him a beer as he walked thought the door,
It was then that he spied a cat on the floor.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
“The cats will save Christmas, I will make it so.”

He grabbed up our darling, our sweet Clementine,
”Yes this one will do, she will do just fine.”

Then Miss Kitty Carlisle, he grabbed her up too,
Yes Miss Kitty Carlisle will just have to do.

The cats Halloweener, both Treat and then Trick,
Had tried very hard to hide from St. Nick.

But Santa, he found them and when they were ready,
He grabbed up the last one, our grey cat named Teddy.

You know Mr. Claus; you’re a really smart guy,
But much like the chickens, well cats they don’t fly.
“Well, listen Lucinda, I don’t want to bore ye,
But you made this up so, let’s stick to the story.”

He lit up his pipe that he held in his teeth,
And the smoke encircled his head like a wreath.
He climbed in the sleigh with his big round belly,
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
He went straight to work and had nothing to say,
Except that my cats would be back Christmas Day.

The cats sprung to work as he let out a whistle,
And away they all flew like a rocket or missile,
And I heard him exclaim, as he shot though the blue,
Merry Christmas to All, Happy Hanukkah, too.

21 December 2012

Famous Food Friday -- Bette David or Davis

Well, I do love language, I just have a great deal of trouble SPELLING the language.  Thanks to my readers who often find my amusing and unique spelling. 

I love to watch the evolution of language.  I am sure that at the end of 2012, Bisquick does not want anyone "taking a trick" with them.  But tricking seemed to be just fine in 1935's How To Take A Trick A Day With Bisquick.   That was the year that Bisquick gathered a group of stars to share their Bisquick recipes.

What hasn't changes since 1935?  The fact that these "stars" never stirred up a batch of Bisquick anything in their lives, but as we say at Christmas time, its the thought that counts.

For those of you who think a gourmet kitchen is a toilet with a microwave sitting on the back of the tank, Bisquick is a baking mix or flour that already has leavening and oil in the mix.  It is easy enough to DIY your own, but one must keep it in the refrigerator after adding the oil or butter.  Frankly, my refrigerator is jam packed and action filled, so I keep store-bought Bisquick on the shelf.

Among the stars in this small pamphlet are Dick Powell, Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford and the incomparable Bette Davis. 

According to Bisquick, Bette loves "simple homey" things.  Tea in her dressing room for example.  Here is how Bette makes a nice afternoon tea sandwich.

Hunt Club Sandwich

Roll Bisquick dough very thin.  Dot surface with 4 tbsp. butter.  Fold so as to make three layers.  Turn half way round.  Roll out 1/2 the dough 1/8 inch thick to cover the bottom of oblong pan, about 12 by 9 inches.  Spread thickly with Chicken and Ham filling.  Cover with remaining dough rolled thin.  Cut through in desired shapes, such as squares, diamonds,etc., but leave in place.  Bake 15 minutes in  hot oven, 450.  Filling:  To 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cut up and flaked, and 3/4 cup cooked ham, cut in 1/2 inch pieces, add 4 tbsp. top milk, 3 beaten egg yolks, and 2 hard cooked eggs, chopped. Season with salt and pepper.

Bisquick is so easy there are no instructions for making the dough,  however, the assembly sounds a bit complicated to me!

Next week when you are stuck in the kitchen and beyond frazzled, just ask yourself  how Bette Davis would handle it.   You will no doubt come through the ordeal calm and smoking, with the melodies of Max Steiner dancing in your head.  Because Bette would have handled it with a caterer... and to all a goodnight.

13 December 2012

DIY Cabinet Make Over

My kitchen cabinets suck.  There is really no other way to put it.  They are hard wood, perfectly functional but they are as ugly as a mud fence.  Since I haven't had the money for a large cabinet re-do, I have solved the problem with cabinet skirts.  It makes the kitchen more palatable and they can be changed out at the drop of the hat.

The plus is, you are not tied down to any particular style and it is great if you rent and are not allowed to implement drastic changes.  Just tack up a slim valence rod over each door and attach your curtain.

 One of the best curtain materials I have found are these cheap plastic flannel backed tablecloths.  They are sold for every conceivable holiday at every dollar store out there.   They run about $4 a tablecloth and 2 or three of them will curtain the most abysmal cabinets.   (It is a good idea for you first outing to buy an extra tablecloth just in case.  Also, read the tablecloth dimensions very carefully.  I once tried this and found I had one 54 inch and one 70 inch tablecloth so I was short a curtain!)

My cabinets as with most, are about 36 inches high.  There is a slight overhand from the counter and you want the curtain to be a bit off the floor.  This means that a length of 34 inches for the curtain is about right.  Most tablecloths come in lengths of 70 inches which means that all you need to do is cut the tablecloth in half and you will have two 35 inch pieces.   Just sew a narrow, straight 1/2 seam across the top and you are good to go.

This plastic is both easily cut and easily sewn.  There is no need to hem as the plastic doesn't ravel.  The edges of these tablecloths are whip stitched.  I try to use stitched edges as the bottom.  This is not a big problem as long as you have nondescript flowers but if you find yourself with jaunty little penguins, one curtain will have an unstitched edge as the penguins are all going the same way.

Still, this is an easy and inexpensive way to brighten up any kitchen.  

12 December 2012

Christmas, Christmas Time Is Near...

...and you need books for all your friends. Who are we kidding -- you need books for yourself so don't even bother...  Here are 5  Lucindaville favorites for your holiday giving getting!

We love office supplies and pencils are a particular fetish.  Face it, you need to know how to sharpen a pencil correctly.  Here is the ultimate success story -- a guy who excels at a particular skill; in this case sharpening pencils.  He is so good that people pay him about 50 times what the pencil costs to sharpen it.  He gives demonstrations and people send him pencils to sharpen and now he has a book.  This may the best idea in the world or the ultimate tweeification of artisan skills.   But we just love this book!!

Now you just might think that a Venetian cookbook is only for those food enthusiasts out there but Polpo is also a work of publishing art.  Notice the spine.  The signatures of the book are sewn in an displayed raw.  The book look exquisitely handcrafted and will appeal to both the cook and the book collector.  I admit I was disappointed that it was no a cookbook exclusively for cooking octopus, but I got over it.

We are more than enamored of Thomas Jefferson. What girl can resist that smirk.  OK, he was seriously on the wrong side of that slave issue, but we believe that if he had been born several decades later he would have made an honest woman of Sally Hemmings.  What he did do was make her brother, James, the first French chef in America.  And you thought Julia Child introduced French cuisine to these shores. 

We love fashion!   However, in practical terms, I believe that dressing for a formal occasion is accomplished by changing out of the canvas Chuck and slipping into the leather Chucks.  Recently, while out shopping I inadvertently answered a request to "facetime" on my phone and realized that I was a dead ringer for the Unabomber.  No wonder I got my coffee so quickly... but I digress.  One of my favorite fashion icons is Diana Vreeland.  What the world needed was a really good biography of Vreeland and now we have one.

I used to read copious amounts of novels.  At some point I realized that fiction counld not do justice to real life.  Case in point -- Elsa Maxwell.  If you wrote a novel about a homely little spark plug of a girl who leaves a dreary middle-class life in California to become an instigator of social frenzy in New York and other points on the globe it would be rejected as totally implausible.  In real life, Elsa Maxwell dictated New York society, threw wild parties, acted in movies and fell madly in love with Maria Callas.  You can't make that up.

06 December 2012

In Search of Rex Whistler

Lucindaville loves Rex Whistler.   For some time, this love has led us grasping and searching for info and images but today we have a Christmas miracle!  OK, maybe not a miracle, but thanks to the work of Mirabel and Hugh Cecil we now have a concentrated and easily accessible font of Rex Whistler info.

We are overjoyed to find that Rex Whistler (@RexWhistler) is tweeting from beyond the grave...who knew twitter has such reach!   Truthfully, Whistler is not actually tweeting but the tweets are coming from a company that is reproducing his famous 'Clovelly' Toile de Jouy.   Needless to say, we want a lovely chair covered in this. 

This book is just an embarrassment of riches, so grab your copy now.  Go ahead, buy it for yourself for Christmas or  Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or just because it is Wednesday...one of our favorite gift getting holidays.

03 December 2012

Lemon Drop Hot Sauce

This year in the garden,  we grew a hot pepper called a lemon drop pepper.  The plant originated in Peru and bears a Scoville rating of 15,000-30,000, making it pretty hot.   It grew in abundance on short, bushy stalks and true to its name, it does have a pronounced lemony hit.

It seemed to be the perfect pepper for a sauce, so I gathered a basket and stet out to make a hot sauce.   I ground the peppers with salt to make a fermentable mash.  Then, I got called to D.C.  What's a girl to do?
I  loaded up my fermenting mash and brought it along.   Now, it is altogether possible that I could have let my pepper mash ferment while I was gone, but I didn't want to come home to a growing blob.  In D. C., I partook of a ritual that in unknown here in rolling hills of West Virginia; I went grocery shopping at drug store.   I got a quart of vinegar at the CVS and began the second fermenting phase of hot sauce making -- adding the vinegar.

I packed up my now, still fermenting, vinegary hot sauce and headed home, frankly quite worried that if the car were to wreck, my mangled body would be bathed in hot lemon drop pepper sauce!  We survived the trip and the sauce was strained and bottled.

Most recipes call for the fermented peppers to be discarded after the straining, but I just couldn't bear to toss out that lemony mass of ground peppers.  I tucked them in a nice jar, covered them with olive oil and stored them in the refrigerator.  The ground pepper have been a delight.  They get tossed into soups and stews, spicy marinades and even vinaigrettes.  But really, a little dabble do ya, as the mash is hot.

If you are looking for a hot pepper to sow this spring, I highly recommend the Lemon Drop.

28 November 2012

My Squirrel Rant

This morning my inbox was stuffed with copies of the Washington Post article entitled, Squirrel: It’s What’s for Dinner in Romney,W.Va.    The article is a rather thoughtful look at an annual squirrel dinner organized in the area.  Not everyone who sent it to me meant it to be received in such a thoughtful manner.  So you must bear with me while I rant a bit, both here and at my other blog…

I’ve eaten squirrel since I was a child.  My first encounter with squirrel came when I was about 4 years old.  My great aunt was very excited that she was going to make squirrel dumplings.  My four-year-old self herd squirldumplin’s run together with Aunt Ruth’s Southern accent and thought it sounded magical.    After being cautioned by the adults at the table, Aunt Ruth gave me a little spoon full of fluffy dumpling, thick cream and flecks of dark, rich meat.   Then she gave another little spoon full and I wanted more.  The third time she dipped her silver spoon into the bowl she went deep and as the gravy flowed off the spoon it reveal something unusual.  With a big smile on her face Aunt Ruth said, “Look, Baby, you got the teeth.”She proceeded to set a perfect set of tiny dentures on the edge of my plate.  At that moment, I realized that dinner was Squirrel Dumplings.  Two distinct and less than magical ingredients.    As an aside, I will confess that I was nearly 13 before I realized that Astaire was Fred’s last name.  I thought Fredastaire was like Liberace or Madonna, but I digress...

My friend, Ann, was coming out for Thanksgiving and given the traffic and afore mentioned Ruby Slippers, I had no idea when she might arrive.  I thought a nice ragu could simmer for hours and be ready at anytime, so it became my Wednesday night menu item.  I went to Kroger’s, the large grocery chain, intent on buying some stew meat for the ragu.   I picked up a small package of stew meat and it was $12.  It was stew meat!  Not strip, not rib eye -- stew meat.  I finally found a package just north of $7 that contained 8 cubes of meat.   

The American Farm Bureau Federation released figures stating that a 2012 Thanksgiving Dinner for 10 people would run the average family $49.48.  I would like to know where they shop. 

Which brings us back to squirrel.   I have spent my life around hunters.  Hunting is one of those topics one should not discuss in polite company.   While there is a fringe of rich old white guys who pay a lot of money to shot fish-in–a-barrel, most people actually hunt to feed their family.  I won’t lie to you, there is ritual and sport in the whole endeavor, but in the end, the animals killed are eaten.  Thankfully, I don’t have to try to feed 10 people for $50.  Thankfully, I can afford $7 stew meat.  There are far more people than one could possibly imagine who can’t feed their family.

As might be expected, the few comments about the West Virginia Squirrel Fest, were of the why-eat-those-little-garden-creatures-hunting-is-so-bad-yuch-nasty vein, with the exception of the people from WV.  While there haven’t been a lot of comments on this story per se, they are the kind of reactions one always gets from these stories.

The same people who are happy to call poor white Southerners eating squirrel "nasty" would never in a million years think of making disparaging remarks about African- Americans eating watermelon, or Hispanic being beaner.  They would be appalled; shocked and appalled. Yet, it seems to be perfectly fine to demean Appalachian Southerners. Ask yourself if Honey Boo Boo would be on television if the child was black.

On Thanksgiving Day, I butchered a deer.  While there may be sport in hunting, actually butchering an animal is hard work; messy, and tough, and at times, disgusting.   You actually look into the eyes of the animal that gave up its life so you could eat.  

 I can honestly say that I am glad I was not at the first Thanksgiving.   While my friends decided that they would definitely want to be in my group during the zombie apocalypse, I am sure we would starve, the same way we would have starved at the first Thanksgiving.  

Which brings us back to Per Se.  If Thomas Keller put squirrel on the menu at Per Se, all the food blogger would be so enamored of the idea.  We would see squirrel recipes on all the food blogs and it would be the “it” thing to eat in Food & Wine and the foodie hipsters would be so excited and telling their buddies that they were the first ones to eat  Keller's Squirrel Dumplings. 

I am a committed carnivore.  I also know where my food comes from.  The next time you eat meat, think about that animal that gave its life for your ragu.

The next time you blog about the $225 tasting menu at José Andrés’ Minibar, remember that there are untold families who don’t have $225 to spend on food for the month.

Next time you go into Whole Foods for $7 of stew meat,  add a bag of groceries to the food bank basket.

And the next time you want to make fun of someone, make fun of yourself…
...seriously, I really thought his name was like  --  Fredastaire Smith. 

27 November 2012

Giving Tuesday


It's Giving Tuesday.  I'm not sure that Giving Tuesday should be stuck behind Thanksgiving Dinner, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday!  Who would have any leftover MONEY.   But it is a great idea.

Harry, like many people who have ever given a dollar, gets tons of requests for charity.  So many we never know which one to give to.  When you give once, it seems they send a notice every other week.   (And I think that makes money for the company that is SENDING the requests and not the actual charity...but I digress.)  To combat this excess, we set aside Harry's birthday as the one day of the year to make ALL his charitable contributions. That way, we know who we have given to and we can throw away all those repetitious mailers.

As for Giving Tuesday, you are probably broke, but here is my favorite charity:  Heifer International

In a survey 79% of Americans would rather have a charitable donation made in their name than to receive a gift they wouldn't use.   Make someone you love or like or whose name you got in the Secret Santa drawing HAPPY by donating to a good cause like Heifer International.

21 November 2012

Not In Kansas...

I was expecting my friend, Ann, to arrive on Tuesday for Thanksgiving.  She called to say she would be unable to arrive on Tuesday as she had to work today.  What could possibly be more important than my Thanksgiving?

"I have to oversee the installation of Dorothy's Ruby Slippers."

OK that is not an excuse one hears too often.  The Ruby Slippers had been waiting in the wings for a new resting place at the Smithsonian and this morning, they were set into their new home.

Kermit the Frog was also set in place.

Those tasks being accomplished, Ann set out for Thanksgiving. 

If you are traveling today, have a safe trip and say hello to Auntie Em.

19 November 2012

Doomsday Prepper

This week on Doomsday Preppers

Kitty Carlisle tries out her new night vision contact lens.

When one attempts to clean up an already cluttered area, why is it that the clutter must become exponentially worse before it gets better?  I believe it is Number 3 in Newton's Laws of Housekeeping.

16 November 2012

Famous Food Friday -- Pippa Middleton

I didn’t want to do it.  Yes I love “entertaining” books but I didn’t think I could bear to buy the Pippa Middleton book.  Of course, I couldn’t NOT buy it, I mean really, Pippa Middleton.  Her Mum and Dad made a fortune selling party goods – paper napkins and balloons – a fortune!!  He sister married well.  She has an extraordinary ass (you can judge yourself, but commentators were quite struck by it during the royal wedding).  

Not just a pretty ass face, Pippa has had a rather prosperous career as a party planner/organizer for high-end corporate and luxury brand events, i.e. she packed the boxes of napkins they ordered, but still…

So it would only seen fair that she should write of book on how to celebrate:  Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends.


Do I sound a bit snarky?  Well yes I do and so does Pippa.  Just read the introduction:

“It’s a bit startling to achieve global recognition (if that’s the right word) before the age of thirty, on account of your sister, your brother-in-law and your bottom.”


Clearly, Middleton understands that most people who grab up this book are doing so because they remember her from her sister’s wedding.  But she does know something about the party business, so let’s jump right in.

First and foremost, there are almost as many photos as there are words in the book.  Food, flowers, decorations, drinks, parties, and dishes are all well documented.   One reviewer remarked that all the pictures were “nauseatingly middle class.” 

There is Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, but also Boxing Day and a great Burns Night.  Middleton states in her introduction, “While some of the events, crafts and dishes may be unfamiliar to an American audience, I am thrilled to share my favorite British traditions and hope you’ll find them as lovely as I do.”

And while Burns Night is typically Scottish, the British still consider all the colonies “British”, even I think, the old US of A, just the northeast, but still…  And I must say, Pippa has an astonishing array of usages for haggis.  Who knew?

Celebrate is a good collection of food and fun for anyone. There are lovely macaroons (which Pippa tells us are difficult to make, so buy them) to Rice Crispy treats that you can make yourself.  There are decked halls, steaming fish pie, and instructions for a tug-of-war.  Celebrate is jam-packed and action filled.  And while there are indeed Rice Crispy Treats, there is also a recipe for Millionaire’s Shortbread.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a 9 X 13 oblong jelly roll pan.

For the shortbread base, place 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2-cup superfine sugar and 2 sticks of unsalted butter in a food processor and blend together to form a smooth dough.  Press the mixture into the base of the pan and prick with a fork.  Chill for 15 minutes before baking in the over for 25 to 30 minutes until golden and firm.  Set aside to cool.

To make the topping, place 13/4 sticks of unsalted butter, I cup superfine sugar, 3 tablespoons golden syrup or honey and a 14-ounce can of condensed milk in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the butter melts.  Turn the heat up to medium, bring to a boil then cook the mixture gently for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until thick and golden brown.  Pour evenly over the cold shortbread and leave to cool.  Melt 7 ounces of chopped dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.  Pour the chocolate over the cooled toffee and place in the fridge to set.  Remove from the pan and carefully cut into squares.

I admit I was skeptical.  Celebrate has been thoroughly panned in England with the most damning criticism being that the book is just to simple.  Well, it was never touted as an elaborate guide to party planning, it was written as a way to make celebrating with family and friends easy.  Seriously, the family fortune is based on selling matching paper cups and streamers, what did they think she was going to write about?  But you know the British press, they are much more snaky than I. I can tell you, if Pippa asks me to a party, I would go, as simply middle class as it might be… and don't lie, so would you!

07 November 2012

Requiescat in Pace -- The Civil Wars

During all the Election coverage last night we were saddened to learn that one of our FAVE bands broke up!  We will not be retuning to Barton Hollow as The Civil Wars is no more. 

01 November 2012

Requiescat in Pace -- Letitia Baldrige

We received a somber, early morning call.   It was not about flooding, or weather, or a close friend, but news that Letitia Baldrige had died.  This is the kind of call we get.  It is important news at Lucindaville when such an arbiter of etiquette has departed this earth.

Her death leaves a gigantic void in a world that seems to be devoid of taste or decorum.  As Baldrige stated in 2007,  “Many people feel we’ve lost all sense of taste. Notoriety is what counts, and what sells. As far as excellence, half the people don’t even recognise it when they see it. ”

 Letitia Baldrige is perhaps best known for her tenure as the White House social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy. While much of the planning of the elaborate White House events were the result of Baldrige's meticulous attention to detail, she always made sure the First Lady received the credit.

While one might think that being such a doyenne of decorum might leave one beyond stuffy, Baldrige was always quick to counteract such claims.  She told the New York Times that after three years as social secretary to the United States ambassador to France, David Bruce and his wife, Evangeline she returned to America, "thoroughly obnoxious, a big blonde snob, really bad news.”   From her own mistake she taught each new social secretary,  “You are the visible face of the White House, president and first lady. You have to be kind to people.”

After a slight of a Pakistani ambassador she tried valiantly to apologize, finally waring him down with a bouquet of roses.   It became a mantra.  If you screw up -- send roses.  Today we are sending roses out to the memory of the incomparable  Letitia Baldrige.

31 October 2012

Squirrely in Shirley

Last week was squirrel hunting season in Shirley, but these two fine specimens seemed to escape.

As you might remember, last Halloween we came home to find this October surprise!

As usual, I refused to take them in until several weeks later when Treat got under the house and into the heating duct.  I found him peering up at me through the bathroom heating grate.  Ann vowed to come Thanksgiving and help me get Trick and Treat to the shelter.   She arrived with kitten chow, matching bowls and spay and neuter money.   The rest, as they say, is history. 

So to Trick and Treat, the Halloweener Cats...

Happy Anniversary 
and to everyone else...
Happy Halloween 

09 October 2012

Cocktails At The Burn Pit -- Rehoboth Beach

"Old Rehoboth Beach" by Paul McGehee

We ventured off to old Rehoboth, actually to new Rehoboth, where a friend has just completed building a house.  As you know, each new adventure requires a new cocktail.   After scouting the various liquor stores of Rehoboth and surrounding areas...(Hmmmm, that sounds like it might just be a great job ... a tour of the great liquor stores of Delaware...but I digress.)

What was I telling you, gentle readers...oh yes, we gathered up, in addition to the Dog Fish Punk Ale and a couple of cases of wine, a bottle of Square One Cucumber Vodka. 

We added a bottle of Thatcher's Elderflower Liqueur, which some drink snobs favor over the more sweetened St. Germain.

Cocktails ensued!

I Just Built a New House and I Need a Drink Cocktail

1 ounce Thatcher's Elderflower Liqueur
2 ounces Square One Cucumber Vodka

Pull a glass from the empty, glass front, cherry wood cabinets that you haven't had time to fill.

Fill the glass with ice which comes from the new refrigerator, equipped with an automatic ice-maker, that came with your new house.

Add the liqueur and the vodka acquired on the Lucindaville Tour of the Liquor Stores of Delaware.

Top off with your favorite brand of lemonade, housed in the new refrigerator. 

Stir with an ink pen or leftover chop stick, as the furnishings are sparse.

Sit down on the new sofa in front of the new fireplace and enjoy.

02 October 2012

Nutshell Studies

One just never knows what people are doing out there!  Strange things happen behind closed doors, just ask Frances Glessner Lee.  Lee founded the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard in 1936.    Of course, Lee didn't actually go to Harvard.  In fact, being a woman, she was not allowed to go to college. Her wealthy father thought that schooling a girl would be a waste of money.

Yes, Virginia, a hundred years ago you were not worthy of an education.  So Lee did what women of that time did, she married and had a family and took an allowance from her father.   Lee divorced her husband, and raised her children.  In 1929, Lee lost her brother and over the course of the next few years  her mother, one daughter and finally her father died.  The family fortune was now in Lee's control.  She promptly donated most of her fortune to Harvard to pursue her passion for legal medicine.  She created a chair for her mentor, Dr. George Magrath, who had encouraged her.  Now in her mid fifties, Frances Lee was able to pursue the interest that had been denied her for so many years.

While Lee was "not busy" doing what she wanted to do, she acquired an unusual skill -- she began fashioning miniatures.  She spent two months creating a replica of the Chicago Symphony as a gift to her mother, a longtime supporter of the symphony.   She spent two years on an elaborate model of the Flonzaley Quartet, including tiny scores.

Little did she know her talent would be invaluable at the Department of Legal Medicine.  While police detectives were taught the skills of finding information, Lee realized that their lack of basic medical information greatly limited their skills.   Though Dr. Magrath died shortly after the creation of the department, Lee continued to work with and began building tiny studies she called Nutshells.  The Nutshells recreated crime scenes in graphic detail.  Lee used the rather unscientific approach of showing them to detectives to ascertain if they could find a cause of death from the miniatures.  Lee stated:

"The Nutshell Studies are not presented as crimes to be solved -- they are, rather, designed as exercises in observing and evaluating indirect evidence, especially that which may have medical importance."

Her seminars to law enforcement were wildly popular.  She often road around with officers on their calls and according to her son, she received stacks of Mother's Day cards from police officers she had worked with.   Her work as a precursor to modern forensic studies made her a leader in a field she most surely helped to create

In total, there are eighteen dioramas in the Nutshell collection.  Several years  after her death in 1967, the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard closed due to lack of funding.  The Nutshell Studies were moved to Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore.

While this story is a fine one, a small historical footnote to law enforcement, it takes on another life.   While Corinne May Botz was researching a movie on grown-ups with doll houses, she was alerted to the Nutshell Collection.  So taken by the dioramas and Frances Lee, she photographed the collection and wrote a book about them.

Someone at CSI clearly read Botz's work.  For several season the CSI team tracked a killer known as The Miniature Killer, who sent detailed dioramas of her murder scenes, much like, oh heck, EXACTLY like Frances Lee's Nutshell Studies.

Frances Glessner Lee working on a doll/corpse

I always thought the story of Frances Lee would have made a better story, now it seems that HBO and Guillermo del Toro have optioned Botz's book.  In my imaginary movie of Frances Lee, I would cast Kathy Bates as Lee, but I am sure that in Hollywood they are floating around Lindsay Lohan! 

28 September 2012

Cookbook Giveaway

At Cookbook Of The Day we are doing a cookbook giveaway.  We have two copies of Grain Mains to share with our lucky winners.  Thanks to Rodale.  Our review has all the proper disclaimers.   Head over to Cookbook Of The Day, comment and win!
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