Month: March 2016

Gin and It: A Cocktail of the Gilded Age

Gin and It 3 parts gin 1 part Italian sweet vermouth a dash of your favorite bitters (traditionally orange is used) *serve with shaken and strained through ice into a chilled glass Imagine a pre-prohibition America. A more simple time in the world than we know it to be today. Quiet, picturesque landscapes free from power lines and paved roads. It was the Gilded Age.  Thomas Edison had invented the first version of a move camera. Conflicts with the Native American’s continued to be fought in the plains. It was a time when tensions were high, a moment ripe for the American craft cocktail to have taken shape. The IT being short for Italian, this classic drink was a staple most everywhere liquor was slung. Whether gin has its origin is Holland in the 1700’s or in Italy as some rumors suggest, it is certainly the star of the oldest version of a martini. The Italian sweet vermouth makes this whistle wetter different from most versions which feature dry vermouth. Traditionally served without ice, the chilled glass is a delightfully nice …

The Pickle: Not Just a Fancy Cucumber or a Girl’s First Lovah

The art of pickling goes as far back as the bible. Developed out of the need for preservation of food, it has become woven into almost every aspect of our condiment repertoire. Native to India, the cucumber was widely believed to have healing properties. George Washington was rumored to have several varieties at his disposal. I personally believe there is a link between his hemp use and the craving of pickled products. A pregnant woman is rumored to crave pickles as well, hmm. They are ever-present in my older cookbooks as a staple appetizer and ‘tv snack’. I plan on devoting an entire entry on these so called ‘tv snacks’ of the 1950s. I digress. I used a Peruvian cucumber in these photos. Happy Pickling people! Pickles 1 large smashed garlic glove 1 small cucumber, sliced into thin rounds 1 tablespoon sugar 2 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider) smudge of salt to taste Combine all ingredients  except the garlic & cucumber slices in a pot of water (about 1/2 cup), once boiling remove from heat and pour onto the garlic and cucumber. Let pickle …

Mr. Sandman Stays for Supper, The Menu

*photo: Myself and Mr. Sands at Southern Decadence in New Orleans 2013 Having recently purchased a new dining set I couldn’t resist the chance to break it on a recent stormy night in the Big Easy. Al Fresco being out of the question we enjoyed the china, the new table and this exquisite menu I threw together. My dear friend Mr. Sands is jewish, so infusing bacon and its drippings into the meal at every possible turn was my secret amusement. No, he is not kosher and he adored everything even devouring seconds pleasing me to no end. I cannot say enough good things about these fondant potatoes except that they are completely worth the time. Bacon wrapped anything is winning, hands down. The pots of creme for the finale will be sure to please almost anyone, but I love to have an alternative for my non-chocolate lovers. A simple Lemon Buttermilk Cake is a light and generally palatable alternative.   Mr. Sandman Stays For Supper pre-supper Pink Vodka Punch appetizers: pears wrapped with cream cheese in prosciutto           …

Screaming, Screwing and Baking The Best Biscuits EVAH

Sometimes you want to scream, throw something, screw madly or create. It thunders loudly where I sit now, the sky ominously pointing the finger at days ahead to be spent indoors. How rude, and after the day I am having thus far! In a concerted effort to tame the beast which is my monkey mind, I am opting to bake. Falling into the category of creativity, baking bread is about as rote of a process I can imagine. All of that Dr. Seuss like waiting. Waiting for the dough to rise, punching the dough, waiting again for the dough to rise, waiting for the dough to bake and so forth and so on. There is a certain equanimity to it, relaxing the mind from worry. Requiring Buddha like patience, baking a dramatically good loaf of homemade bread will attract everyone within sniffing distance like a bear to honey. I  am certainly  not advocating gorging on mass amounts of carbs. However surprising  a loved one, friend or neighbor with a gift of your fresh baked goodness will polish your …

Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Cookbook

  Let me begin by admitting that Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Cookbook is my personal bible. I cannot complete a conversation about food without making reference to her magnificence. Miss Mary Bobo and her husband Jack took over the Salmon boarding house in 1908 from a retired physician in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Aside from her rather homely looks, Miss Mary demonstrated a fearless approach of farm to table food. Her recipes are as nourishing to the body as they are to the senses. A bowl of Miss Mary’s soup is as soothing as it is a gift from the culinary gods. A midday ‘supper’ is still served here daily, featuring the vegetables grown in the dual gardens on the premises. In a town famous for the Jack Daniel Distillery the county is actually dry, consequently Miss Mary’s only serves sweet iced tea and water. Regardless of this fact, many of her recipes famously include Jack Daniel’s whiskey. The vibe at Miss Mary’s house is in perfect retrograde. Rocking chairs line the front porch inviting guests …

Sweet (red) Cabbage, Miss Mary Bobo Style

Antique in nature for sure, this recipe can be prepared sans the bacon fat and be just as easily delicious. As my personal palate begins to gear more towards the vegetable orientation, finding dated ways of preparing them has become one of my passions. Everyone probably everywhere says, “eat your greens” to which I like to add,” and your reds, purples, deep oranges and yellows”.  The darker the vegetable, quite often the deeper the health benefits range. Sweet (red) Cabbage served warm or cold can surpass any seasonal notoriety  that its peers may suffer from. Yes, this is one of the superfoods y’all and it is tasty when prepared with care. Alone or paired with bacon wrapped pork roast, you can rest assured that this dish has pleased those presented with it on tables for millennia. Quite literally, millennia. With terrific nutritional benefits, my favorite form of pickled cabbage called kim chi (served raw) is a Korean diet staple. Our ancestors and their love of cabbage runs deep, and it was cross culturally common. It is praised for …

Adventures in Good Cooking and The Art of Carving in the Home, by Duncan Hines

“Tested recipes of unusual dishes from America’s favorite eating places.” I am lucky enough to have the 1953 version or the 25th printing out of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Mr. Hines (March 26, 1880- March 15,1959) was born in Kentucky to a father who was a confederate soldier. Because his mother died while at such a young age, Duncan was raised by his grandmother. This fun fact I like to imagine is exactly why he was so accomplished in the kitchen. Coupled with his early career in writing it wouldn’t have taken a soothsayer to predict his wild success. More than just a name on the adult-easy-bake-mix we are all accused of succumbing to on occasion, this man was molded by his grandmother  – therefore breaking all barriers of his and her cooking approaches. Ground breaking, well; to me anyhow.  As luck would have it, Mr. Hines was known for visiting the Midwest during the final years of his life and thanks to the bibliophile gods, my copy is signed. A most glorious treasure indeed! Not a coffee …

rinktum ditty: tomato cheddar sauce on toast

With the sounds of grandfather clocks ticking and water boiling, the past is where is I find my inspiration when it comes to nourishment. Food is love. True love being real food made the way our matriarchs of days past prepared it, soup to nuts. From fetching the chicken, breaking its neck and churning their own butter, these woman were frontiersman in their own right. We have oh so much to learn from them! Let us leave the world of over-processed foods  and  venture into the past where people practiced patience and celebrated a hard day’s work with food made from love.  I would like to present a recipe for my namesake, rinktum ditty. A simple yet staple item in America’s early history and on many dinner tables around the country, its origins are mysteriously uncertain. It is something my great grandmother with her Swiss roots, served as appetizers at supper parties. My German great-grandfather shared in the comfort of this dish as well, likely served by his mother. His love for tomato sauce in general gives likely cause to support the fact that my great …