to begin and end 2012 with a kitchen counter filled with dirty pots and pans that facilitated a wonderful New Year’s Eve supper. (It’s early. I can still change this timeline.)
UPDATE: Daughter C and I colluded to get ‘er done. We’ll have nothing but clean kitchens in 2012. Whew.
Mr. Big Food, Daughter C, and Rocky have money tucked away in various places on their persons to ensure that at the end of 2012, they will be able to have money tucked away in various places on their persons.
One United States Dollar that Rocky can trade in for ____ .
So do I.
My 76 year old United States Dollar
Certifies that there is on Deposit in the Treasury of The United States of America One Dollar in Silver to the Bearer on Demand
I just lit a cigarette and it occurred to me that only reason I don’t throw my Silver Certificates into the fire is because they are collectors’ items. They are relics. I oppose burning relics.
It’s a blog that reflects what’s going on in my little corner of fly-over land, which we quite purposefully sought out in order to secure our futures and to provide for those we love as best we can should worse come to worst.
It’s a blog about what I try to think about when I’ve had enough, when I’m sickened that even here, in my little corner, one little store has sold out of 100 watt bulbs.
I hope that those who stumble across this blog find something to enjoy and perhaps occasionally something to think about, be it a new recipe, old book, or story about Rocky. With that said, please read this letter to President Obama from George Washington. It begins:
Dear Mr. President:
Although it is two hundred years, and more, since I laid down the cares of an eventful temporal existence and took up residence in my long home, Our Gracious Lord has seen fit to bestow upon my spirit the gift of perpetual cognition, and He has granted the further boon of permitting me, for a few moments, to assume sufficient corporeality to pen this letter, which I place before Your Excellency as the cri de coeur of a patriot whose efforts on behalf of his country have been deemed by its citizens to possess no little significance.
I have watched, frequently with pride and joy, occasionally with grave misgivings and sadness, the arc of our country’s history over two centuries, since those of my generation first established that Orchard of Liberty on the North American continent that would become the envy of the world. Over many seasons that Orchard has borne good fruit, and has flourished in the golden light of our Sacred Constitution. In evil times, this Arboreal Garden has been watered with the blood of heroes, which sustenance has served to make it even hardier and more prolific.
Imagine my consternation then, Sir, when I look upon our Orchard today, and see the fruit withering on the branch, the crowns blighted, and the whole cloaked in the gauzy shrouds of assiduously destructive bagworms. How slothful and inattentive have become the arborists who constitute what my friend Thomas Jefferson referred to as our natural aristoi! …
For me, it’s a tie. Mr. Big Food is still thinkin’ on it. I’ve got it tied with Slow Cooker Potato Cheese Soup with Wieners (here, and here).
If you are new to this game, we’re having a Fall/Winter Soup Contest. This is the 4th entrant. There have been several disqualified entrants, namely Leftover Turkey Gumbo and Across the Garden Soup. (We make up the rules to this contest as we go along.)
Mr. Big Food thought he was pulling one over on me. He explicitly said he wasn’t going to tell me what was in this soup until after I’d tried it. Please. I see the menu. I shop the aisles (he shops the periphery). And I saw that he didn’t begin to fix supper until about 15 minutes before supper time. I had a pretty good idea what was in this soup. Clearly, I was not biased by this knowledge.
“Recipe” below the fold
1 can condensed bean with bacon soup
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can chili without beans (preferably Wolf brand chili)
1 soup can water
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat. Eat with homemade tortilla chips. ~~
To make homemade chips, cut flour tortillas into eighths. Fry in a skillet with vegetable oil, turning to brown both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Posts on soup contest entrant #1, Beer Cheese Broccoli Soup here, and here
Posts on soup contest entrant #2, Slow Cooker Potato Cheese Soup with Wieners here, and here.
Posts on soup contest entrant #3, Corn and Sausage Chowder, here and here. ~~
The photo caption has an asterisk. We’ve been watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory while we fix supper. Funny show. One of the main characters is from East Texas. When offered some chili, he asked, “Are there beans in it?” Yes. “Then it’s not chili.”
I love family traditions. My mother, who is not especially superstitious but who has no problem passing along superstitious traditions, taught me that the way in which one ends an old year and rings in a new year will be way in which one will end the new year and ring in a newer year. Thus, one needs to be full at the beginning of the year so one will be full at the end of the year. One needs to have money in one’s pocket at the beginning so one will have money… . And of course, one needs to be in the company of loved ones.
Loved ones is easy, undoubtedly because Mom’s whole system works so well! The money thing is fun because it doesn’t have to be a lot of money. I’ve used silver dollars, silver certificate dollars, and just plain old money. It doesn’t take much time to scrounge up a little bit of money– again, because the system works. Duh. Being full, though, takes some work.
To ensure that we don’t end 2012 hungry, we will be cooking all day today. Mr. Big Food is already working on the blackeyes for blackeyed pea soufflé and blackeyed pea dip.
I will be making crepes stuffed with homegrown New Zealand and homemade sage sausage, and covered with cheese sauce; pork chops with Depression gravy; boiled cabbage (green = money, don’t you know?). Although it’s not on the menu, I might fry up some potatoes, too.
This is pretty much our traditional New Years Eve supper. We change some things up occasionally– sauerkraut instead of cabbage, various blackeye dishes– but the basics remain the same from year to year. Pork. Cabbage. Crepes. REPEAT.
There’s nothing quite like leftover crepes for breakfast on January 1 (especially if there’s leftover champagne).
“Jó reggelt!” is “Good Morning” in Hungarian. The Hungarians make crepe dishes that are so good it almost makes me want to go there again one last time. It is a real shame Hungary is in such dire straights.
When I post the recipe– which I will after I have some photos of them doing what God intended them to do– I’ll include the correct name.
Here they are, doing what God intended:
soaking up some ‘peek-a-pok, good gravy.’
Courtesy of Mr. Big Food and complete with his color commentaries, the recipes for Svičkova (Czech sauerbraten) and Knedle (bread dumplings) are below the fold.
(Sorry, forgot to get the carroten recipe.)
This one comes from one of my maternal great-grandmothers, Baba, passed down to me by my Aunt Bee. Here’s what Bee said about it: “Baba also called it ‘Nadivoko’ when the meat used in the recipe was venison or rabbit because ‘nadivoko’ means wild. Always serve with knedle to soak up the ‘peek-a-pok, good gravy,’ the name that Dedja gave to this good gravy.” ‘Nuff said. Interestingly different from German sauerbraten.
Beef shank or arm, or any roast
2 carrots, peeled and left whole
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
2 celery stalks
4 C water
½ C vinegar
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 slices bacon
1 small can evaporated milk
2 ½ Tbsp (or so) flour
Marinade roast in the vegetables, water, vinegar, and spices at least overnight, turning occasionally to submerge all sides. When ready to cook, fry off bacon slices in a Dutch oven to release the grease. (You can eat the bacon when you’re done with this—it isn’t needed for the rest of the recipe.) Put roast, vegetables, and marinade liquid into the Dutch oven and cook, partially covered, until roast is tender. Remove the roast to a platter and keep warm. Remove vegetables and puree in blender. Add puree back to stock in Dutch oven. Beat flour into evaporated milk into smooth and pour into stock. Cook over medium heat until gravy thickens. Slice roast, top with gravy, and serve with knedle.
“Bread Dumplings.” These are my favorite knedle. This is Gran’s recipe, passed down by Mom.
GRAN’S STEAMED KNEDLE
1 package yeast
¼ C warm water
2 C milk
2-3 slices bacon
½ stick butter
1 ½ C bread cubes
3 eggs, beaten
5-6 C flour
Pour yeast into water and top with sugar. Let the yeast get foamy and add milk. Fry bacon crisp and drain well on paper towels. Melt butter in bacon drippings and fry bread cubes until golden brown. Remove from fire and crumble bacon with bread and butter. Add eggs to yeast-milk mixture. Mix flour into milk-egg mixture, ½ C at a time, and fold in bread cubes-bacon mixture. Form into golf ball sized balls on floured board. Cover with towel sprayed with cooking spray and let rise one hour. Steam above boiling water for about 15 minutes.
No. It is not snowing in Mississippi on December 29, 2011. This is a photo from February 10, 2011, when we had a BIG snow, by Mississippi standards.
These are two Mississippi kids, looking for adventure getting their daily exercise. They asked if they could sled down our “hill” and of course we granted permission. But even though the “hill” was covered with a couple of inches of snow, the underlying ground wasn’t exactly frozen enough to create an ideal sledding environment, such as one might find in the “hills” surrounding Pittsburgh, Penna.
And so, they put on their helmets thinking caps and and had some fun sliding down the… what would you say? 30 degree slope?… of their shed roof, on their butts. Make no mistake, they were having as much fun as they used to have in the summer climbing on top of their portable b-ball hoop and springing onto their trampoline with the water sprinkler going full tilt making the hoop and the trampoline very very dangerous fun. I was reminded of this photo because Drudge linked to a non-story coming out of a suburb of the former great city of Pittsburgh. (I have no love for Pittsburgh, per se. But it was once a city with some chutzpah.) Bottom line: on the advise of the ‘burb’s insurance agents, the ‘burb now 1) prohibits sledding by non-‘burb kids in a ‘burb park and 2) requires ‘burb kids to wear helmets while sledding. Not thinking caps. Helmets.
I file this under “BIG LIFE.” It was a BIG snow.
I don’t suppose these two Mississippi kids know how big their lives are, yet. I don‘t know these kids well. I have no idea how smart they are, although I note that they do not ride a short bus to school. In 30 or 40 years, will they be reminiscing, to their rickety* grandchildren, about being able to slide down their snow covered shed roof without a helmet?
RICKETS: a disease of childhood, characterized by softening of the bones as a result of inadequate intake of vitamin D and insufficient exposure to sunlight, also associated with impaired calcium and phosphorus metabolism. [my emphasis]
Commenting on the bread dumplings— which were delicious– suek shares the following (which I’ve edited for ease of reading, and one typo*):
In our house, stale bread = Chocolate chip pudding!
Grease a baking dish. Fill with cubed/broken dried bread (including crusts). Then you need a bit of guess work…quantity of milk is determined by quantity of bread, so it’s a bit of by guess and by golly…but using one cup of milk plus one egg (beaten into the milk), plus 2 Tbsp of sugar and I guess about 1/2 tsp vanilla, pour over the bread. The liquid should come up at least half way up on the bread. Repeat the milk combo till it does. After the first couple of times, you know the size of the baking dish, and how many cups of milk you need – then it’s an easy one step thing.
When the liquid is in, pour chocolate chips on top and mix in. How many? That’s sort of up to you and availability. the pan I used needed a quart of milk, and I used a 12 oz bag of chips. Obviously, this is very adjustable. Mix the chips in, let it set an hour or more for the bread to absorb the liquid. Bake at 350* for about an hour – again, size of pan and depth will determine time, but you do the standard test with a knife to see if the middle is done. It should come out clean. (well, maybe chocolate on the knife, but no custard) It takes a while to cool for some reason. Can be served plain, with cream or with ice cream. Good cold, but better warm.
Serve with cream. That’s my kind of pudding! ~~ I’ve always heard “by guess and by golly.” If there are regional alternatives, pardon that particular edit.
Mr. Big Food is cooking up a bouře! [Czech speaking relatives– this is what an on-line translator told me “storm” was in Czech. Is this correct? I highly doubt it.]
Fifty bread dumplings in the works
Steamed bread dumplings
Ready to eat bread dumplings
It never ceases to amaze me just how frugal those old folks were. Nothing went to waste, especially stale bread.
When I post the recipe– which I will after I have some photos of them doing what God intended them to do– I’ll include the correct name. For now, I just want to remark that, while a bit time consuming, these are easy to make. Fry up some bacon, fry up some cubed stale bead slices in the bacon fat. Crumble the bacon and combine the two. Put some yeast in warm water and heat up some milk. Put those together, add a couple beaten eggs. Start adding flour. Then add the bacon mixture. Shape into golf ball sized balls. Let rise. Pop them in a steamer on top of boiling water.
The Big Food Manual and Survivalist Flourishing Guide recently crossed the 14,000 recipe mark. For readers unfamiliar with this collection, I started it back in the early summer of 2006, before Marica and I left “The Compound” in Cincinnati’s Northside community for “The Bunker” in rural Rileyville, Virginia, where we were on a year’s sabbatical just a few short steps from the Shenandoah River. It began as simply a way to get a bunch of old hand-written recipes I had compiled over the years, stuffed into a blue three-ring notebook, onto my laptop computer. Those recipes came from a variety of sources, including recipes from Gran, Tait, Buncle, and other “old timers’ at the Dallas SPJST Hall (Slavic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas), handed down to me mostly by Mom and Aunt Bee. (Though I did find a number of these recipes hand-written in old cookbooks I acquired from Gran.) I then started working through the many old, mostly locally published cookbooks I had collected over the years, adding favorite recipes I had cooked out of those books for as long as I’ve been cooking. And that’s awhile. I started collecting those books in my college undergraduate days when I learned how to cook seriously, first at the old North Campus Dining Facility at UCLA, back in 1980. (However, I’m sure Mom will remind me that I cooked as a kid, too.) Anyway, the project kept expanding, and eventually it hit me that I was compiling a definitive collection of American home cooking recipes. I started adding more recipes from my collection of old cookbooks, even ones I had never tried personally—I just started intuiting which ones should make good food. And I continued searching earnestly for more old cookbooks.
Now we’re at the point where it would take a person more than thirty years(and closing in on forty years) if one simply did 1 recipe (and whatever variations are included on its page) per day.
Big Food—as we still refer to this collection colloquially, as we have since its beginnings—has clearly become a life’s project for me. Fortunately, preserving American home cooking from the middle parts of the 20th century dovetailsnicely with Marica’s and my libertarian-survivalist-prepper political outlook.
There is an entire “Introduction” to Big Food, which gets updated with every 500 new recipes added. That’s the best documentation of the motives behind this collection. It’s as readily available as the collection (see the next paragraph below), so I won’t repeat its contents here.
Like the food catalogued within it, the Big Food Manual is for sharing. I save it weekly on an external hard drive (along with the continually revised “Introduction”), so all you need to do if you want a full copy of the entire collection at any time is name a place to meet and bring your laptop. You’ll then have the latest version of what seeks to be the greatest collection of mid-20th century American home cooking recipes and guides on Planet Earth—but only until the next day, when I’ll add more recipes from the many old cookbooks lining our bookshelves.
On December 16th I promised to post the vánočka recipe. Unfortunately, we left Texas before Mr. Big Food’s Mom and Mr. Big Food had the chance to make a vánočka together. Our layover, between Texas and North Carolina, wasn’t long enough for baking a vánočkabefore Christmas. Now that our travels are over for a long while, there’s finally time for some baking.
Vánočka is a bread, baked in Czech Republic and Slovakia (in Slovak called vianočka) traditionally at Christmastime. It is rich in eggs and butter, making it similar to brioche. Lemon rind and nutmeg add color and flavor; the dough can also contain raisins and almonds, and is braided like challah. A vánočka may be built from three progressively smaller braids, stacked on top of each other; this is sometimes interpreted as a rough sculpture of the baby Jesus wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.
It has a reputation for being difficult to prepare, so in many households, superstitions and special customs are attached to the baking process. When making vánočka, it is said that you must think of everyone dear to you. Another custom is to avoid touching silver or metal to the vánočka. Finally, the person who is making the vánočka should jump up and down while the dough rises.
The bread is named after Vánoce meaning Christmas in Czech (Vianoce in Slovak).
Our (I did the kneading!) vánočka is rising right now and no one is jumping up and down except Rocky. I mentioned what the entry said about vánočka‘s reputation to Mr. Big Food, and he said, “No it isn’t!” with the same inflection he’d have used if I had said that the Earth was flat.
Recipe & photo of the finished bread below the fold
Texas vánočka has almonds and pecans!
ADELA SIJANSKY’S VÁNOČKA
1 yeast cake or 1 package active dry yeast
¼ C warm water
2 C scalded milk
1/3 C butter
½ C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
6 C flour
½ C chopped almonds, plus more for topping loaf before baking
½ C mixed candied fruit
½ C white raisins
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Combine hot milk, butter, sugar, and salt, and cool to lukewarm. Add beaten egg, yeast mixture, and 1 ½ C flour, and beat until smooth. Cover and let rise until light. Add ½ C nuts, fruits, raisins, and enough flour to make a soft dough (about 6 C flour total). Knead dough until elastic, cover, and let rise 2 hours. Divide dough into 5 equal parts and roll out into equally long strands. Braid three strands, place on greased baking sheet, and brush with egg wash. Braid remaining 2 strands, place on top of 3-strand braid, and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with additional chopped almonds. Cover with kitchen towel soaked with hot water and wrung out, and let rise 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350o. Bake 45 minutes.
On a tip from Mr. Big Food’s Mom, he used dried fruit (peaches) rather than candied to make the loaf less sweet. And of course, Texas pecans in addition to almonds. He has no idea who Mrs. Sijansky is.
We’ll keep one half and give the other to the very nice older lady who fed and cared for our old old dog while we traveled to newNorth Carolina.
cut up one onion and some (homegrown) frozen pepperoncini peppers and sauteed them in 1 Tbsp. olive oil. When the onions were translucent, he transferred the onions and peppers to a paper towel lined plate.
cut up one 1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast into bit-sized cubes and sauteed the cubes in 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil. He seasoned the cubes as they were sauteing with dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley, and salt and pepper. When the chicken was done, he transferred it to a paper towel lined plate.
combined 1 cup homemade California Tomato Sauce and 6 oz. can of tomato paste.
And then he
sprayed a square 8″ baking dish with cooking spray and lined the dish with the contents of 1 tube of crescent rolls, bringing the roll dough about half way up the sides of the dish.
To the dish he added the
sauce in a thick layer (use as much as you want, you may have extra), cooked chicken cubes, onions and peppers, and salt and pepper.
He topped this with
4 oz. shredded yellow and white cheese, and baked it at 375º for about 18 minutes.
I have written about Rocky’s growth and development.
Rocky is becoming a very good dog. He is not an excellent dog, yet. He is training for excellence.
This is a non-trivial claim about this dog.
Mr. Big Food and I were talking about this dog this evening. Rocky is smart. He’s still a bit needy– he’s at my feet right now when he could be in bed– but he’s developing nicely. He barks nonthreateningly to strangers.
He’s made great advances. He travels.
And most importantly, he doesn’t piss Mama off.
My favorite part of Christmas is when other people do the dishes.
Miss M. (in a poor aperture setting)
This is a good one because there are so many people in it.
Mikey, Julie, Miss M, Kat.
Are your ready for some football?
I don’t have a lens that sees 360*. Mr. Big Food was sitting in the background. MBF hates the NFL but knows his stuff. Mikey knows football, too. It was a test.
There is just something nice about getting back home, isn’t there?
Impromptu Chicken Pizza Served on a Christmas plate. Should I have cropped this photo?
We left early this morning, in the dark, in the pouring rain. There were three of us and only two of us were human. Lord. Dogs take a lot of time. Even very good dogs take a lot of time.
And then we hit Atlanta.
After that, I probably picked up some time. We were in Columbus by dark and at the Piglet (our small Piggly Wiggly grocery store) before they closed. Mr. Big Food picked up a few things while Rocky stumbled into a puddle. And then, poof! we were back at The Farm. And then, poof! Mr. Big Food pulled this Impromptu Chicken Pizza out of the oven.
Daughter C wanted me to drive a bunch of us to from some A to some B somewhere in newNC. The words were almost out, and then she said, “Oh, yeah. You drove to Texas.”
Mr. Big Food thought 264 photos of a single day was a bit much, and he expressed this opinion, which was technically wrong. Two days. Daughter C then explained that it sometimes took 264 pictures to ensure you captured a real gem.
More traveling coming up. Stay tuned, we’ll be back on the Farm shortly! Until then (or until something interesting turns up here in New North Carolina)… .
In my travels around the World Wide Web the other morning, I came across this:
Rob is very explicit that there is no positive correlation between violent crime and liberalized carry laws rather than a proven negative correlation. He feels that it will take more rigorous statistical analysis before this negative correlation could be said to be proven. [my emphases]
[I’m not sure I like the use of the word “proven.” But that’s a nit to pick another time.]
Everyone knows statistics lie, right? Wrong. Statistics are numbers. Numbers do not have brains and thus cannot tell a lie. Human beings, on the other hand, can. Humans can– and do– manipulate numbers, images, words, and so on in order to lie. What I like very much about Rob– and I’m assuming Rob is a gun-friendly guy– is that he’s careful about what these numbers do and do not show.
US violent crime rate vs. % US population living in shall issue and Constitutional carry states
What these numbers show is exactly what Rob says they show: no positive correlation between violent crime rates and liberalized, i.e., less restrictive, gun laws.
A positive correlation is a relationship between two sets of numbers such that as one set increases, in this case over time, so does the other. A negative correlation is the opposite, as one increases the other decreases. Note that in both sorts of correlations, neither set of numbers is necessarily “more important” than the other. In the abstract (without time), if there is a positive correlation between A and B we can say
As A increases B increases,
and we can also say
As B increases A increases.
It doesn’t matter that A come before B in the alphabet!
Likewise, we can just as well say that these data do not show states’ gun laws becoming less restrictive as violent crime rates have fallen. Either way, these data do not show a positive correlation between A and B.
Assuming that more rigorous statistical analyses do reveal a (strong) negative correlation between violent crime rates and increased liberalism (less restriction) over states’ gun laws, what does that mean? It means there’s a (strong) negative correlation. Period. No one– including Rob it I’ll bet– would should then say that less restrictive gun laws cause violent crime rates to go down. Correlation is not causation. Duh. To put it another way, no one should now say violent crime rates went down because more people were able to get concealed carry licenses.
I say “should” because some will say that. And they’d be wrong,given these data. Does it make sense to say that armed potential crime victims are better able to ensure they are not actual victims. Sure!
But think what data we’d need to back up the very much stronger claim that less restrictive gun laws, and therefore presumably more gun carriers, cause crime reduction. First, we’d have to talk about the presumption. Rob’s project, the first part of which I’ve talked about before, deals with crime and law. He’s right to proceed carefully and rigorously.
P.s. Sometimes correlation is just fine without causation.
From Bible Story Book: A Complete Narration from Genesis to Revelation for Young and Old by Elsie E. Egermeier, New and Revised Edition, published by The Warner Press, Anderson, Indiana. Copyright 1923 … 1939, and Discarded by DuBois [Pennsylvania] Public Library some time in the mid-’60s.
I found these all marking the same page in Aunt Margaret’s An Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism of Christian Doctrine, Fifth edition, by Rev. Thomas L Kinkead, published by Benziger Brothers (New York, Cincinnati, Chicago) and copyright 1891. The marked page begins an explanation of The Lord’s Prayer.
Please do click on the image to enlarge. The bookmarks are quite lovely.
I have a justified true belief that my beliefs are my own. Yours are yours.
That said, I’ve posted several things lately that are religious in nature. I don’t think a person of my age, raised as I was– and I might add, living where I now do– could not pause at Christmas to reflect on Christmas. This, I think, is why I found James Taranto’s thoughts on Christopher Hitchen’s death so sad.
No Better Place: An atheist meets his maker. No, make that his end.
All we really needed to know about atheism we learned in kindergarten. We grew up in a nonreligious household with unobservant parents of dissimilar backgrounds. We celebrated Christmas with a tree and gifts but no religious overtones. The concepts of God and religion were completely unknown to us before we started school.
And this, I think, is why I found this passage in Bennett’s The Book of Virtues, so right.
To parents who are themselves insecure in their faith and, like the nineteenth-century English radical John Thelwall, think it “unfair to influence a child’s mind by inculcating any opinions before it should have come to years of discretion, and be able to choose for itself,” there is an enlightening anecdote in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Table Talk for July 27, 1830. “I showed [John Thelwall] my garden, and told him it was my botanical garden. ‘How so?’ said he, ‘it is covered with weeds.’ — ‘Oh,’ I replied, ‘that is only because it has not yet come to its age of discretion and choice. The weeds, you see, have taken the liberty to grow, and I thought it unfair in me to prejudice the soil towards roses and strawberries.’ “