Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Way Back Wednesday: Hannah Woolley's Sautéed Green Beans

I don't know that this will happen each and every Wednesday, due to the planning and preparation involved, but I'd like to start trying out some older recipes--that is, recipes from the 17th and 18th centuries. I'm lucky to still have access to databases like Early English Books Online and the Eighteenth Century Collections Online, because the University of Oklahoma lets engineers keep their OU netIDs for all eternity. The rest of us have to give up our access to internet resources on graduation. I just use Paul's log-in and I can access my old history-major haunts.  I didn't have to do much digging to find the first edition of Hannah Woolley's 1664 cookery book, The Cook's Guide: or, Rare Receipts for Cookery.  

While we started beans for our fall garden, they're not ready to harvest. I did find some lovely green beans at the organic market, so I decided I would make a modern recipe for Hannah Woolley's recipe for frying "Garden-beans." During the seventeenth century, John Tradescant the Elder introduced the English to runner beans.* For the preparation, Woolley writes: "Boil them well, then blanch them and fry them with sweet butter, whole pursley, and shred onions, and melt butter for the sawce" (p. 11).

Hannah Woolley's Sautéed Green Beans

Here's my recipe:

Sautéed Green Beans

serves 2

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 shallot, grated
1 lb green beans, blanched or steamed for about 5 minutes (so they're still crisp)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
freshly-ground sea salt

Melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, grate in the shallot. Stir, then throw in the green beans and the parsley. Season well with salt. Cook just long enough to coat the green beans in parsley and butter.


Because the Restoration totally rocks and Sir Peter Lely is an awesome painter, here's one of his paintings of Charles II (painted sometime around 1665), who is one of my very favorite bad monarchs. He's best known today for his slew of mistresses. Besides that, he was the first monarch to allow women on the English stage (Charles II, feminist icon?) and he quite frequently performed the same kind of political acts that got his father beheaded and his brother dethroned, such as governing without Parliament for years while he secretly got funding from his cousin, Louis XIV.

from the Royal Collection

Plus he had all those little dogs.

Good King Charles II with his dogs
Rupert Everett as Charles II in Stage Beautywhich was ahistorical in the extreme, but I thought Everett made a great Charles

*Kate Colquhoun, Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking (New York: Bloomsbury, 2007), 131-132.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Faux-Medieval: Bread Machine Maslin Bread and Frank Cadogan Cowper

    Maslin Bread toasted

    The first of my faux-medieval items is a Rye and Whole-Wheat Bread, which arose as the result of medieval Britons growing rye and wheat as a mixed crop called maslin.*  I've decided to go the ahistorical route and bake the bread in my bread machine.  Also, people in the Middle Ages didn't have instant yeast.  Or lots of other fun things like the internet...and sanitation.

    Despite looking like a brick and having a rather heavy crumb (which I suppose makes it seem more medieval), Maslin Bread has a pleasing taste--it's a teeny bit sweet from the honey and the rye flour gives it depth of flavor without it actually tasting like a rye bread.  I like how easy it is to make and the fact that it makes me feel all virtuous because it's whole grain.  There's no reason why you couldn't make this without a bread machine, if you don't have one, but I haven't tried it myself because I love being able to throw all the ingredients in a machine and press a button.  I've given instructions for the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme, because that's the machine I have.  It makes a 2-lb loaf.

    Maslin Bread

    Maslin Bread

    Despite taking two semesters of art history, I just discovered pre-Raphaelite Frank Cadogan Cowper! Where has he been all my life? His paintings are gorgeous. Put on the kettle (those poor people in the Middle Ages didn't have tea either!), butter a slice of Maslin Bread and enjoy.
    Lancelot Slays the Caitiff Knight Sir Tarquin

    Frank Cadogan Cowper - Vanity

    I think the previous painting and this one are a little more Renaissance than medieval, but they're so darn pretty.

    Venetian Ladies Listening to the Seranade


    This one's also not terribly medieval, but there is a knight with very pointy armor-shoes. And poppies! I love poppies!
    La Belle dame sans merci

    This recipe is going to this month's Monthly Mingle!
    Kulsum at Journey Kitchen is hosting this month's Monthly Mingle.
    Monthly Mingle was created by Meeta at What's for Lunch, Honey?

    *Laura Mason, The National Trust Farmhouse Cookbook (London: National Trust Books, 2009), 204.

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    September 2011 Film Recommendations

    Be sure to check out It Happened One Night. It's also available on DVD. (Poster from Doctor Macro)

    When the weather got really hot, I thought summer would last forever, but August has gone by really quickly!  I can't believe it's time for another month's worth of movie recommendations.

    Here's what you might want to check out on TCM this month (all times are CST):

    • Goodbye, Mr. Chips (F 9/2/11 5:00 p.m.) Robert Donat plays the title role; it's been years since I've seen this, but I remember enjoying it as a kid
    • All This, and Heaven Too (Su 9/4/11 5:00 a.m.)
    • It Happened One Night (Su 9/4/11 5:00 p.m.) One of my favorite films--sparks fly when reporter Clark Gable meets runaway heiress Claudette Colbert
    • A Letter to Three Wives (W 9/7/11 12:30 a.m.) the town slut has run off with the husband of one of the three wives in the title, but which one?
    • The Harvey Girls (W 9/7/11 5:15 p.m.) I'm not a big Judy Garland fan, but I do like this musical, but mostly because of Angela Lansbury
    • Follow the Fleet (W 9/7/11 7:00 p.m.) pleasant Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film; fabulous choreography as always
    • Lady of Burlesque (Th 9/8/11 12:45 a.m.) surprisingly excellent Barbara Stanwyck mystery; based on a novel written by Gypsy Rose Lee
    • 42nd Street (Su 9/11/11 9:00 a.m.) the great Busby Berkley backstage musical
    • On the Town (Su 9/11/11 5:00 p.m.) one of those Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra musicals, but this one has Ann Miller
    • Casablanca (Su 9/11/11 7:00 p.m.) You've probably already seen it, but if you haven't, what are you waiting for?
    • Niagara (M 9/12/11 8:30 p.m.) Marilyn Monroe wiggles around the resort town driving Joseph Cotten out of his mind; it's so much better than I thought it would be
    • You Can't Take it With You (Tu 9/13/11 1:00 p.m.) James Stewart falls in love with secretary Jean Arthur, but his well-to-do parents don't accept her unconventional family, headed by Lionel Barrymore
    • You'll Never Get Rich (Th 9/15/11 8:15 a.m.) pleasant Fred Astaire/Rita Hayworth pairing
    • Road to Utopia (Th 9/15/11 2:45 p.m.) Bing Crosby and Bob Hope team up, this time for the Alaskan gold rush; naturally costars Dorothy Lamour
    • The Remains of the Day (Th 9/15/11 7:00 p.m.) This is a beautiful film, but I don't like the way it ends.  Just warning you.
    • A Room with a View (F 9/16/11 12:00 a.m.) Merchant-Ivory adaptation of my favorite E.M. Forster novel
    • Dark Passage (F 9/16/11 5:45 a.m.) Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Moorehead; Bogart escapes from prison, has plastic surgery and hunts for his wife's killer
    • Key Largo (F 9/16/11 7:45 a.m.) Edward G. Robinson holds the guests and staff of a Florida hotel hostage during a hurricane; cast includes Claire Trevor, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
    • The Major and the Minor (Sa 9/17/11 5:15 p.m.) Hijinks ensue when Ginger Rogers disguises herself as a pre-adolescent to buy a junior fare train ticket
    • Mildred Pierce (Sa 9/17/11 7:00 p.m.) Joan Crawford's signature role; a really entertaining noir
    • Suspicion (Su 9/18/11 1:15 p.m.) Wallflower Joan Fontaine marries bounder Cary Grant against her parents' wishes; is he a murderer, too?
    • Metropolis (Su 9/18/11 11:00 p.m.) classic silent film about the mechanized city of the future; too bad the wealthy are exploiting the working classes
    • We Live Again (M 9/19/11 7:00 a.m.) Russian nobleman Fredric March has his way with and then abandons childhood sweetheart Anna Sten only to meet again under very different circumstances
    • Rasputin and the Empress (M 9/19/11 1:30 p.m.) only film with all three Barrymores; Lionel is Rasputin, Ethel is the Empress, and John the nobleman who repeatedly tries to get rid of the "mad monk"
    • Ben-Hur (Sa 9/24/11 12:30 p.m.) one of the better sword and sandal films; Charleton Heston solidifies his mastery over the "epic" genre
    • Love Me Tonight (Sa 9/24/11 7:00 p.m.) Maurice Chevalier/Jeannette MacDonald pairing; not their best, but entertaining nevertheless; co-stars include Myrna Loy, C. Aubrey Smith and Charlie Ruggles
    • Oklahoma! (Su 9/25/11 2:30 p.m.) faithful adaptation of Rogers and Hammerstein musical; no, this isn't what Oklahoma is really like, sorry, but the score did provide the state with its awesome state song
    • Sylvia Scarlett (M 9/26/11 6:30 a.m.) Katharine Hepburn disguises herself as a boy so she and her father can evade the French police and escape to England, where they meet up with con artist Cary Grant
    • Anthony Adverse (M 9/26/11 8:00 a.m.) I really only like this because it has Fredric March in it; otherwise it's really not worth watching
    • The Painted Veil (M 9/26/11 7:00 p.m.) Greta Garbo follows husband Herbert Marshall to China where she's romanced by George Brent
    • Shanghai Express (Tu 9/27/11 1:00 a.m.) Marlene Dietrich is terribly well-dressed in this pre-code train film set in the midst of the civil war in China
    • Woman of the Year (W 9/28/11 11:00 a.m.) first Hepburn/Tracy picture; both are reporters at the same paper who fall in love, but have a hard time adjusting to married life
    • The Killers (Th 9/29/11 12:15 p.m.) an insurance investigator tries to piece together the puzzling murder of a former boxer
    "Come and meet those dancing feet,/ On the avenue I'm taking you to,/ Forty-second street."
    42nd Street is also available on DVD. (Poster from Doctor Macro)

    I haven't gotten the chance to see them yet, but Ginger at Sailing Over a Cardboard Sea blogged about Miranda and Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (both airing September 2nd) in her post, "Film: Mermaid Double Feature."

    Also, there are more film recommendations at She Blogged By Night.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Week-in-review and a bit of fun

    Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter, Perfect Steamed Broccoli, Carottes étuvées au beurre Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter and Life This Week: August 22, 1938

    Poaching eggs 3 The Basics: Poached Eggs

    Honey Toffee Apple Feasts and Festivals: St. Bartholomew's Day

    Meats Focus on Ingredients: Grass-fed Beef

    Egg and Bacon Pie Dinner and a Movie: Sense and Sensibility

    For fun, this survey from Karen at Small Earth Vintage:
      1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:53 a.m.
      2. How do you like your steak? medium-rare, but I often tell waiters "rare" so my steak isn't overcooked
      3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? The Princess of Montpensier at the Murdock Theatre
      4. What is your favorite TV show? The Supersizers
      5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? In a pre-war Tudor-style brick house with a basement, a big yard, at least 4 bedrooms and at least 2 bathrooms; I'd also settle for the English countryside or Paris ;-)
      6. What did you have for breakfast? Buttered toast, black coffee and homemade yogurt
      7. What is your favorite food? toast
      8. Foods you dislike? pickles and anything anise-flavored
      9. Favorite place to eat? love to walk from our house to Il Vicino (even though I have to take my own utensils now because they're using those godawful Knorks) or Watermark
      10. Favorite dressing? walnut vinaigrette
      11. What kind of vehicle do you drive? Suzuki Grand Vitara
      12. What are your favorite clothes? cardigans, Minnetonka moccasins
      13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? saving up to go back to Europe, at present
      14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? I'd like to say 1/2 full, but realistically, I'm a bit of an Eeyore
      15. Where would you want to retire? in my own paid-off abode, although I'm not totally against those places where they do your laundry and drive you to the American Legion hall for dancing
      16. Favorite time of day? 4 p.m. (teatime!)
      17. Where were you born? Oklahoma City
      18. What is your favorite sport to watch? politics
      19. What is your favorite fragrance? Coco Mademoiselle
      20. What is your favorite face cream? Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion 
      21. Favorite baby/kids products? kids have the best books
      22. People watcher? yes
      23. Are you a morning or night person? morning
      24. Do you have any pets? no
      25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? Can't think of anything!
      26. What did you want to be when you were little? baker, architect, UN consul, Ginger Rogers
      27. What is your favorite memory? They all involve walking: family trips to Washington, D.C. and Boston; going for walks with my husband (in Paris or Wichita)
      28. Are you a cat or dog person? I don't care as long as they're well-behaved, but I would like six or seven spaniels to follow me about in the manner of Charles II (as long as someone else cleans up after them)
      29. Are you married? yes
      30. Always wear your seat belt? yes
      31. Been in a car accident? 5 of 'em
      32. Any pet peeves? anti-intellectualism
      33. Favorite pizza toppings? artichoke hearts
      34. Favorite flower? poppies and peonies
      35. Favorite ice cream? pistachio
      36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Chipotle or Freddy's Frozen Custard
      37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? 0; none of those accidents were my fault!
      38. From whom did you get your last email? the ACLU
      39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? The thought of maxing out my credit card makes me hyperventilate, but I love antique shopping
      40. Do anything spontaneous lately? see #3--it was on a Tuesday
      41. Like your job? almost all of the time
      42. Broccoli? yes, please
      43. What was your favorite vacation? Paris
      44. Last person you went out to dinner with? Paul
      45. What are you listening to right now? Paul playing Grand Theft Auto--well, I'm doing a fairly successful job of tuning it out, except Paul just said, "I guess I'm going to have to run that cop over." :-/
      46. What is your favorite color? peacock blue, forest green, navy, gray, burgundy
      47. How many tattoos do you have? zero
      48. Coffee drinker? absolutely

      I'd love to hear your answers! If you fill out the survey, please leave a comment in the comments section and be sure to link up your answers here:

      Friday, August 26, 2011

      Dinner and a Movie: Sense and Sensibility

      The theme for this month's Forever Nigella is "Picnic Pleasure."  Naturally, I thought of this scene in one of my all-time favorite movies, Sense and Sensibility:

      I'm assuming that given the demographics of my readers that many of you have probably seen this adaptation of Jane Austen's novel. If you haven't, you're in for a treat.  Emma Thompson's screenplay is an improvement on the source material and the cast is fantastic.  I've owned this movie on VHS and DVD and have been watching it fairly regularly since 1995 and it never gets old. That's how awesome it is.

      Egg and Bacon Pie
      Egg and Bacon Pie

      I wanted to have a proper picnic to go with this post, but the weather has either been rainy or very hot.  Welcome to August in Kansas!  Maybe we'll have a nice picnic in September or October. I hope so! I do love a picnic! For my recipe, I chose Boxing Day Egg and Bacon Pie from How to Be a Domestic Goddess (one of my favorite cookbooks, for cooking and reading).  The recipe is also at Egg and Bacon pie is perfect for a picnic because it can be made a day or two in advance (or months, if you freeze it) and eaten cold.

      As with the Nursery Fish Pie, I divided the portions in half: twelve instead of six.  With eighteen ounces of bacon and a double-crust, a twelfth of a pie was more than enough, especially with a couple of vegetables!  Egg and Bacon Pie is homey, hearty and delicious.  It's a keeper!

      Helen at Fuss Free Flavors is the host for Forever Nigella #8.
      Forever Nigella was created by Sarah at Maison Cupcake.

      Yesterday, I found a copy of Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book at a used bookstore over on the west side of Wichita. So, of course, I had to try a recipe to go with dinner. The produce selection has been really bad this summer. We had hotter-than-average June and July, so the farmers' markets were short on produce and everything we tried to grow at home during those couple of months shriveled up and died, so I've been more reliant on the grocery store, which at least has an organic section. Since none of it was local, I went with some cabbage because I happen to really like cabbage! This recipe is adapted from "Buttered Cabbage" in Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book.

      Black-pepper and Nutmeg Cabbage

      Black Pepper-Nutmeg Cabbage

      serves 4

      1 cabbage
      4 tablespoons butter
      sea salt
      black pepper

      Remove outer leaves and quarter the cabbage, steam for approximately 8 minutes, or until just tender. Meanwhile, melt the butter over lowest heat and stir in salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Use a good amount of black pepper and nutmeg.  Drain the cabbage and pour pepper-nutmeg butter over the top.

      Yesterday on The Past on a Plate: "Focus on Ingredients: Grass-fed Beef"

      Thursday, August 25, 2011

      Focus on Ingredients: Grass-fed Beef


      I want to get specific about what constitutes "grass-fed beef," because I've had producers tell me their beef is grass fed "and then corn finished."  All beef is grass fed to a certain point. However, most steers end their lives in a feedlot where they stand around on a concrete floor with a bunch of other steers and are fed corn until they reach slaughter weight. When I say "grass-fed beef," I mean beef that has stayed on the pasture its entire life.  Of course, even a grass-fed steer will eat hay in the winter or during other lean times, but that's part of his natural diet.

      Grass-fed beef is a pre-industrial ingredient, so we must look at how pre-industrial peoples prepared it:
      • If grass-fed beef is to be dry cooked (grilled, roasted, sautéed), it should be cooked to rare or medium-rare (to keep it nice and juicy) and requires the addition of cooking fat.
      • Grass-fed beef should only be cooked to well-done if moist heat is involved (boiling, braising).
      Why? Corn-feeding beef has changed our expectations of how a cut of beef should behave, making it possible to cook a steak to well-done and it not resemble a piece of shoe-leather. This is because of the excessive fat which lubricates a cut of corn-fed beef. A corn-fed steer is obese; he provides his own cooking fat. While corn-fed beef may be juicy, its flavor is insipid compared to good grass-fed beef, which tastes like a beefier (literally!) version of beef.  It's more satisfying.

      I say "good," because I've had my fair share of indifferent and even bad grass-fed beef. It all depends on the producer and the breed. For example, I really love the beef from Turkey Foot Ranch, which is only about 50 miles from my house and they sell their products in the freezer section at my local health-food store. They raise red and black Angus, which is a very tasty breed. It's worth finding out what breed a producer raises, because each tastes differently. My personal favorites (so far) are Angus and Charolais.

      What about cost? I firmly believe that the desire for healthy, tasty food is not elitist. It is possible to find reasonably-priced grass-fed beef; you only need to do a bit of research (see the Resources section). For example, the KC Strip from Turkey Foot Ranch is $12 per pound. Yes, it absolutely costs more than feedlot beef, but it's worth every penny.

      However, if grass-fed beef's superior, succulent taste hasn't convinced you, here are a few things I've learned from doing my own research* on the subject:

      • Grass-fed beef has more omega-3s than grain-finished beef
      • Grass-fed beef has higher concentrations of vitamins A and E 
      • Grass-fed beef has more lutein and beta-carotene 
      • Grass-feeding reduces the occurrence of e.coli
      Practical Information**:

      Recipes for dry heat:
      Old English Roast Beef
      Roast Beef with Cabernet Gravy
      Steak frites

      Recipe for moist heat:
      Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings

      Local Harvest
      Eat Wild
      Eat Well Guide

      Further reading/watching:
      Food, Inc.
      The Householder's Guide to the Universe by Harriet Fasenfest
      Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
      The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
      Real Food by Nina Planck

      *This information is found both in Nourishing Traditions and Real Food, along with a lot of good information on the importance of high-quality animal fats in our diet.

      **Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite recipe for using grass-fed beef (or anything else to add). Please be sure to leave a link for me if you have one. Thanks!

      Edited 8/25/11: This post is now linked to Fat Tuesday Forager Festival at Real Food Forager.

      Yesterday on The Past on a Plate: "Feasts and Festivals: St. Bartholomew's Day"

      Wednesday, August 24, 2011

      Feasts and Festivals: St. Bartholomew's Day

      John Everett Millais- A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew's Day, Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge (via Wikipedia)

      St. Bartholomew was born in the 1st century in Palestine and became the patron saint of butchers and tanners due to the fact that he was flayed alive. Happy thought, indeed. St. Bartholomew also became the patron-saint of bee-keepers and honey-makers.*

      In 1572, the feast of St. Bartholomew became inextricably linked to the religious wars in France (and, indeed, throughout Europe). Francis Walsingham, one of Queen Elizabeth's advisors, encouraged Charles IX of France to support a Huguenot (French protestant) raid in the Spanish Netherlands in July 1572. It was a disaster and caused Charles to turn from his Huguenot admiral, Gaspard de Coligny, to Henri de Guise, founder of the Catholic League. On St. Bartholomew's Day 1572, Charles allowed the massacre of protestants gathered in Paris for the marriage of Charles's sister, Marguerite, to Henri de Navarre, a powerful protestant leader. The brutal act solidified English protestant support for Elizabeth, due to fears of what could happen to them should Mary Stuart become queen of England.** As a result of the massacre and continuing religious tensions in France throughout the early-modern period, tens of thousands of Huguenots emigrated from France, often settling in England or the English colonies in America.***

      Honey Toffee Apple

      In honor of St. Bartholomew's Day, I made Honey Toffee Apples, adapted from the recipe in Cattern Cakes and Lace. Here's where I'm going to give you the opportunity to learn from my experience: taste the honey you're going to use before you try this recipe. Please. Not that the taste of the toffee was unpleasant, it was just weird.  I usually buy local honey, but it doesn't usually taste like this! So, I believe that the problem I had with the recipe was my funky honey (It had a strong and savory taste when I tried it, which was, naturally after I'd made toffee...) and not the method, so I've included the recipe if you feel brave enough to attempt it!

      I really love the burnished sheen of the toffee and the juxtaposition between the crisp crackly candy shell and the sweet-tart apple. I think next time I'll either try a different honey or use golden syrup instead. The honey toffee (leftovers from making the apples) isn't bad; I think it would do really well as a cough remedy and thus may start selling it as a patent medicine. Any takers?

      Toffee apple slices

      Honey Toffee Apple and Honey Toffee
      Honey Toffee Apple sitting on shards of Honey Toffee

      Apples ready for dipping in toffee
      I used twigs from the yard (I washed them!) for dipping sticks.

      Honey Toffee Apples

      *Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, "St. Bartholomew's Day" in Cattern Cakes and Lace: A Calendar of Feasts (London: Dorling Kindersley, 1987), 94.
      ** G.R. Elton, "The Growing Conflict, 1568-85" in England Under the Tudors (London: Routledge, 1991), 301.
      ***G.M. Trevelyan, History of England Volume II: The Tudors and the Stuart Era (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1956), 233, 265-66.

      Yesterday on The Past on a Plate: "The Basics: Poached Eggs"

      Tuesday, August 23, 2011

      The Basics: Poached Eggs

      Poached eggs, if you've never seen them made, can be quite intimidating, especially when not using the little egg-poaching cups. However, I didn't want to buy an egg poacher and I used to hate cleaning the little cups in the one at my parents house, so Paul and I had to learn how to poach eggs. Thankfully, I have a 1946 copy of The Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book! Here are photos of Paul doing the honors so I could take the photos.  He's a much more patient egg-cracker than I am and somehow manages to almost never break a yolk. That's why he's the egg-poaching master. No worries--you can be, too.*

      Poaching eggs 1
      1. Using a 13" covered skillet, bring salted water to a boil. It should be enough water to fill half the skillet and enough salt to be about 1/2 tablespoon per 1 quart of water. Just estimate.

      2. Carefully break an egg into a saucer (be sure this is a saucer that can withstand boiling water). You need to be sure to keep the yolk in tact.  Very fresh eggs with hold together better.  (You can use the older ones for boiling.)

      Poaching eggs 2

      3. Slip the egg into the salted water.
      Poaching eggs 3

      4. Repeat until all eggs are in the water (you should be able to poach 4 to 6 at a time).

      Poaching eggs 4

      5. Turn the heat down to medium, cover the skillet and cook the eggs 3 to 5 minutes. We usually only do three minutes if the eggs are going into a dish that is cooked after the poached eggs are added.

      6.  Place a cloth over a plate. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and drain on the cloth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

      *If you do happen to break a yolk, you can use that egg to make:

      Yesterday on The Past on a Plate: Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter and Life This Week: August 22, 1938

      Monday, August 22, 2011

      Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter and Life This Week: August 22, 1938

      Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter, Perfect Steamed Broccoli, Carottes étuvées au beurre

      Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter is served on a bed of buttered rice with Perfect Steamed Broccoli and
      Carottes étuvées au beurre.*

      This salmon dish is quick, simple and tasty.  The only advanced preparation required is to make the lemon-dill butter, which comes together in no time and freezes firm in about 20 minutes.  You'll want to check your salmon a couple of minutes early, just to make sure it doesn't overcook.  Few things are worse than overcooked fish!  Serve salmon on a bed of buttered rice.

      One last thing--this recipe makes enough butter for 8 people.  Just keep the leftovers in the freezer for a quick salmon dinner whenever you want!

      Salmon With Lemon-Dill Butter

      Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter
      Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter on buttered rice with chilled Chardonnay and a green salad with Walnut Vinaigrette--it's best made with sea salt

      TV Dinner (Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter)
      We ate this meal while watching Gunga Din last night on TCM!

      Edited 8/25/11: This post is now linked to Fat Tuesday Forager Festival at Real Food Forager.


      Fred Astaire - Ginger Rogers - Life Magazine 1938
      "Astaire and Rogers Do the Yam"

      Since we really ate salmon while watching Gunga Din, I suppose that's the real movie tie-in, but the movie in Life this week is the Astaire-Rogers flick Carefree. I tried desperately to somehow connect my Scottish salmon to Carefree. Here goes: psychoanalyst Astaire gets his patient (Ginger Rogers) to eat an awful lot of seafood in an attempt to induce dreaming. And, Astaire dances and drives (golf balls, that is) to Irving Berlin's "Since They Turned 'Loch Lomond' Into Swing."

      Carefree is the Astaire-Rogers film that doesn't really fit in with the others. First off, it's the only one that doesn't take place in the realm of showbiz. Yes, Ginger Rogers plays Amanda Cooper, a radio personality, but Fred Astaire plays a doctor, Tony Flagg. Secondly, it's Amanda who chases Tony in this film. Thirdly, Carefree comes off more as a screwball comedy (it even co-stars Ralph Bellamy) than a musical. It's rather an oddball in the Astaire-Rogers canon, but it's fun to watch nevertheless. Plus, it has a lot of scenes in a very "1930s Connecticut"-style country club. I love all the stone walls and big fireplaces.  Lower your expectations slightly: Carefree doesn't quite stand up to the earlier Astaire-Rogers films (although I definitely prefer it to The Barkleys of Broadway) or to the other RKO screwball comedies (like Bringing Up Baby, released earlier the same year).  However, it's better than most of the films that have come out in the last few years (in my humble opinion!) and you should be able to rent it, which is cheaper than going out to see a movie.  Win-win!

      Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers in "Carefree", 1938
      Dancing the Yam at the country club

      Carefree-The Yam-Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers
      More Yam-dancing

      *I've used the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

      Friday, August 19, 2011

      What's in my (grocery) bag?

      In my grocery bag 8/19/11

      The sad thing is, I have tons of reusable grocery bags, but I don't always remember to get them out of the car when I go in to shop! We've started using grocery-store plastic bags as our trash bags, so we haven't actually purchased trash bags in years, which is fabulous.  Anyway, from a visit to World Market we have:

      • Gray scarf- to replace one I bought on the Boul'Mich, which sadly disappeared over the course of two moves
      • PG Tips- my favorite cheap tea; I love the top-hinge cardboard box, as well
      • Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold- bought to try it out; it has a warrant from the Prince of Wales, which screams out from the shelf to a snob like myself (I keep saying I'm going to buy the organic gin that Prince Charles drinks some day, but I'm a wee bit attached to my Tanqueray, which has a royal warrant from the Queen)

        Please be sure to check out yesterday's post: "Potato Scones and Entertainment for the New Economy"

        Have a great weekend!

        Thursday, August 18, 2011

        Potato Scones and Entertainment for the New Economy

        So, driving back from the farmers' market Saturday morning, I heard an economist on NPR* talking about how we didn't really have a recession--we had a contraction, which is even worse news. Not being an economist, what I could figure out is that while a recession is a blip that doesn't change the projected growth of the economy (i.e. it fits in the "best fit graph" equation for the economy), a contraction actually alters growth projections. I've decided to do my bit and point all of you lovelies in the direction of nearly-free entertainment. You'll have to keep paying for your electricity and internet access, though, which is a total bummer.

        Madeleine Carroll and Robert Donat in a still from The 39 Steps
        Image from Doctor Macro

        One of my favorite websites is Internet Archive, which is all about public-domain awesomeness. Did you know they have The 39 Steps available to download for free? How awesome is that? (Or, you can watch it on this page** if you don't want to download it.) And besides, who doesn't love Robert Donat? The 39 Steps is actually the first movie Paul and I watched after moving to Wichita. We had already changed the address on our Netflix subscription and the disc arrived shortly after we did! After we had unloaded the last box from the moving van and our family members had left for Oklahoma City, Paul and I rolled the TV cart (no big flat-screen then!) next to the bed, propped ourselves up with pillows and vegged out.

        While not very faithful to its source material (Alfred Hitchcock was bad about that.), The 39 Steps is an entertaining chase through London and the Scottish highlands when Robert Donat's character (Richard Hannay) is wrongly (of course!) suspected of murder. He meets Pamela (Madeleine Carroll) along the way and she gives him almost as much trouble as the police. Both Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll learn that things aren't always as they appear...


        It looks like a biscuit, smells like a biscuit, tastes like a biscuit, but it isn't a biscuit--it's a Potato Scone!  Thankfully, a scone that stealthily conceals one of its ingredients isn't insidious like the villains in The 39 Steps--it's just tasty.

        1. Work the softened butter into the flour mixture
        2. What dough looks like after butter is mixed in
        3. Mash the boiled potatoes
        4. Add potatoes to dough
        5. Make a well for the milk
        6. Mix in enough milk so that dough becomes cohesive (keep checking; it happens more quickly than you'd think!)
        7. Cut dough into twelve triangles
        8. Bake on a floured baking sheet (Don't forget the little bits you've trimmed off the scones!)

        I've been eating these for breakfast this week.  So I have fresh scones every morning, I wrapped each square (two triangles) in plastic wrap and then put them in a container in the freezer.  When I get up, I place the two scones on a baking sheet and preheat the oven.  It takes about twelve minutes (instead of ten) to bake them from their frozen state.
        Potato Scones

        These delicious scones are for Breakfast Club #14: Potatoes.

        Breakfast Club was created by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.
        Thanks to Scrumptious Sally for hosting this month!

        A closer look at my vintage Staffordshire cup and saucer:

        I'm incapable of passing up gorgeous transferware if it's a decent price (or downright cheap). Unfortunately, I only have this cup and saucer in this particular pattern! I'm keeping an eye out for it, though, and hoping I can find a good deal on some other pieces.


        *Farmers' markets and NPR?!  Now you'll only need one guess as to my voter registration...  ;-)