Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another Eve!!

nothing to do with Adam....

I have just been informed that today is the last day of 2013… to which I replied:  “where DOES that time go?”.  This fact then, of course, leads to sort of looking back over the previous 12 months.  One is tempted to create one of those stupid lists of (excuse me) “Best and Worst dressed, films, restaurants, shows, yadda yadda”, that pop up every year at this time.  And I won’t go into my normal tirade on the word “best”, hopefully you know my feelings there.

It was kind of a busy time for the Feeder and MFO, and will be remembered as (to sort of plagiarize the Chinese) "The Year of the Travel" for us.  Slammed into the last half of the year (as you are most likely painfully aware) were two trips to France, and one to England.  In addition to those, last March, MFO joined her high school “Green Candle” group in Louisiana for a Cajun experience with the Road Scholar program (Elder hostel is passé),  she also did a solo out and in to Missouri to deliver some stuff to her brother, and we just recently returned from the annual holiday visit to the FOJ’s.  On the road (and in the air).

What stands out on the trips were the friends and…..wait for it…..the food!  
France One saw us dining at a Michelin Three Star

And the wonderful dining aboard our barge

Well, also the accompaniment to dining.

France Two showed us the “inside” stuff from pot making

To baking

And cooking instruction by the indefatigable Chef Loic

England lent more of a historical flavor, visiting places where the Calverts lived

(Hook Manor)

Where we were hosted by some descendants of the Arundells for a lovely lunch

Receiving souvenirs of America

And we debunked the myth that there is no fine dining in England

This trip was ably led by the (also) indefatigable (I love that word) Henry Miller, who always took the opportunity for more research (here at the tomb of Anne Mynne)

And so concludes a year of great travel experiences, good food, sights, and most importantly new friends.  Kudos go to Cole Travel and Quality Street Catering for organizing the trips. 

As we conclude another year of Feeders, Ye Olde Editor would like to thank all those who take a moment to read this stuff.  I always appreciate a kind word, it keeps me going for hopefully yet another year.

And, as “somebody” said, no matter how far you roam, it’s always good to see

Where of course pretty darn good food gets created, causing you to be

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The EVE..

Changing my normal boring trait of (dull?) chronological reporting, due to fear of running out of time, I am going to start with the present (a clever Christmas literary pun).  After safely (but tiringly) arriving at Cape and FOJTY’s on Monday (okay a little chronology) we journeyed up the road last night to FOJTE’s house for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner.   As usual the house was beautifully decorated in anticipation of a lovely dinner.

The table included the “Friendly Village” place settings that were the pride of “Gramma Moody”, so I’m sure that she was smiling down on us..  We began with a lovely Charcuterie plate expertly prepared and assembled by well, the Bottom Feeder (who is always completely objective)

With saucisson sec, sopressata, chorizo (from Portland, OR), and cheeses from Beechers and Dean and DeLuca…wonderful stuff.  Also we had the traditional "enhanced" chex mix, some great clam dip, and washed down by a cocktail prepared by MOJTE’s friend who is an expert drink maker (no, I am NOT going to use mixologist) which contained, among other things, rosemary!  And it was one of those cocktails that makes you think you’re just having fruit juice (why yes, you can top me off!)… for a while.

Eventually we got called to the table and began the meal that of course included Lasagna, but began with another staple of this dinner, the famous "salad a la Beth":

Which was tossed over greens and served with a warming mushroom (“fungi”) soup and homemade baguettes made earlier and brought by FOJTY:

Main course was the aforementioned Lasagna, and this year augmented by a (Big Green Egg) roasted and stuffed pork tenderloin.  Wines included a Domaine Mumm Brut Rose with the first course and a choice of Seghesio or Duckhorn “Decoy” Zinfandel.  Whew!!  And to top it all off one had to choose (or the famous "just a little (ha ha) of each!" between pumpkin or chocolate pie for dessert.  Oh, and a choice coffee beverages.  It was a very fun evening of good cheer, family, and friends.  Thanks to the FOJ's and company for another great dinner.  And, we didn’t have to do the dishes!!

And so, with FOJTY at the controls of the MOMSTER, we headed south in the deepening night.

Somehow even though it was Christmas Eve, Taj Mahal and Statesboro Blues seemed highly appropriate…

So we prepare for the family to assemble today for present opening and more cheer… and yes, we will all be



Have a great Christmas Day all, enjoy the company of whoever you are celebrating with, and remember those who are away or no longer with us…

Saturday, December 21, 2013


As you know, tomorrow we are going on our annual trip to Missouri to see the FOJ’s.   Well, our “trip” started a little earlier than planned, last night.  As I was coming down the stairs to leave for dinner (was DFD of course), somehow I thought the second step from the bottom was the first step from the bottom, and the next thing I know I am on the floor.  Usual reaction is “I’m Okay”, and in fact no searing pain was evident and I seemed to be lucid.  As much as I ever am, anyway.  MFO gathered my glasses from half way across the floor, and they popped a lens, and the temples were a bit akimbo, plus she said: “you’re bleeding!” which turned out to be true.  Apparently they kind of smashed into my face, but it was maybe just past superficial, more of a scrape than a cut, and it was only mildly oozing, not running.  I gathered myself, moved some body parts, and everything seemed to be in working order.  So, off we went to the dinner engagement, and I survived the evening quite well.  This morning it took a while to get the leg straightened out, the wrist is weak, places unforeseen are hurting, but suppose that is par for the course..but I still don’t think anything is fractured.
Except my ego of course…  you always feel so stupid when you do something like that.  With other obligations negated by travel I hope to be able to resume more normal Feeder activity.

Everything hurts.

can't DFD

Monday, December 16, 2013


Do you know whose birthday it is today?  LVB are his initials…and Linus is a fan..

Anyway, the weekend vanished in a blur of decorating, cursing the rain, gathering stuff for our impending journey to the Midwest for Christmas with the FOJ’s and families.  As usual I start looking at ten day forecasts and start to work myself up so I am a bundle of nerves by the time we leave.  At the present time, all looks well, but…..

By way of saying that I really don’t have too much to pass on, just a couple of observations of the always interesting human race…

Let me say right up front that I am guilty of this first observation, so I can’t really get too uppity about it.  So, you’re sitting at one of those interminable lights on say 235, and eventually it turns green.  You prepare to go, but the car ahead of you is motionless.  One potato, two potato, no movement so you tap the horn.  Head of driver immediately pops up, and off they go.  Opposite is when you arrive at the red light, heads routinely drop as if they have passed out.  Nope, no medical emergency, they are checking the emails or text messages on the always handy cell phone.  And yes, as I say, I do that as well.  I try to remain alert, but every once in a while a particularly juicy bit of information might cause me to have head down at wrong time.  For the record, I DO NOT do any of this when the car is in motion.  Really.  Pretty common.

And in somewhat the same vein (technology’s impacts) I was in Starbuck’s the other morning, (im)patiently waiting for the Barista to generate my drink along with the other eight or nine folks in the same state.  Usually you can bet that a high (like all) will be looking at the smart phones.  Well, why not..  the only ones that get me are the ones with the bug in the ear and carry on a conversation oblivious to others who cannot avoid listening.  Anyway, one of the people in the bunch was a young lady with a child in arms. The child appeared capable of standing on its own feet but much preferred to be in momma’s arms.  It wasn’t huge.   The mother's attention was not on the child, never wavering from staring at her own facebook or whatever was on her screen. Eventually the (ignored) child started to whine and kvetch.   Without so much as a “shush” or “what’s wrong?”, Mom reached in her purse and produced some device much like the one she was fastened to, and handed it to the child.  It so happened that it was facing me, and on the screen was some cartoon like character doing something.   The child immediately calmed down and became absorbed in whatever was going on, and Mom continued to one hand her text messages, tweets, or whatever.
So, that episode got me to thinking what the child would be like in a few years.  Any unhappiness (or even conversation) with parents would be replaced by having some hunk of electronics shoved at them.  Will relationships be replaced by LED screens?  (are they already?).  Will we be able to reduce contact with “real” humans since they are right there in front of us on a little 3 x 5 hunk of plastic?  Something to think about..

Back on Point

Just to keep my reputation intact, I will close with a little food related item.. well, maybe two.  Now that Thanksgiving and all it’s traditional dancing with turkeys is past, we’re looking at Christmas (at least in my particular cultural heritage).  In my mind, unlike Thanksgiving there isn’t a particular dish associated with the holiday.  I guess turkeys are fairly commonly served but I think the choices are much wider.  For instance we always start our celebration with a Lasagna dinner at FOJTE’s.  This year we’re celebrating Christmas dinner at FOJTY’s place in “the Cape”.  Word has it he is preparing a ham, so we’ll have quite a variety of food.  That’s good!  Not being bound by some social thing is good. Gives cooks for latitude..
And speaking of “preparing”, both FOJ’s now have a Big Green Egg, with “E” only recently joining the ranks.  Both swear by them (with a few reservations here and there) and so Dad/Bottom Feeder is starting to think..  I have had pretty good luck with my standard Weber (recently a pork loin roast and also a port tenderloin), but like boats, you always want a bigger one.  We’ll see.. they are not cheap.

And I guess if you go for investment grilling you certainly will have to be


Thursday, December 12, 2013

A bowl of....

Since retirement, one of the pleasant privileges that has fallen my way as a result of being a long time food <insert favorite appropriate noun here> is that I have been asked to “judge” the annual chili cook-off at my old office on base.  Each year the ITT folk raise funds for needy military families by having a “contest” where people bring in a pot of chili from their favorite recipe and people can have a bowl (or two) for a donation to the fund.  For fun, first, second, and third places are awarded by an esteemed panel of judges (and me).

So yesterday I drove back to “the hangar” for the judging, which was to commence at ten, before the general lunch at eleven.  Nothing says heartburn like tasting chili at ten in the morning.  Anyway I arrived at the break room where the contestants were neatly lined up simmering away

Before getting to the judging, perhaps a little perspective is warranted.  I probably have said much the same thing before, but if your memory is like mine is getting, it won’t make any difference.  Chili is one of those foods where (my favorite word) “best” is not really applicable.  Kind of like crab cakes, there are so many styles that no one pot stands above another.  Beans, no beans, meat, no meat, vegetables, no vegetables, hot, spicy, mild, sweet, pungent, red, white, take your pick.  So picking one is highly subjective and is reflective only of individual taste.

There are, however a few things that do make a difference.  Consistency, for instance, should be appropriate for the ingredients.  Beans and red sauce should be (IMHO) have a nice thick characteristic, not runny or transparent.  Aroma should be of the spice, not just hamburger (or whatever meat).  Colors should be rich, not gray. 

And what I enjoy is something that is complex, not one dimensional.  Different layers of taste should unfold as you put it in your mouth. Not just BAM, here comes the cayenne, jalapeño, or (God forbid (for me)) habanera immediately searing your tongue and preventing any further taste to happen.   Balance is important; no one thing should dominate.  And for those who want their chili as hot as possible, fine if that is what you want, just don't invite this Feeder..

So we set about sampling all seven of the pots.

Making notes and awarding points for aroma, consistency, taste, color, etc..

Scored by whatever appealed to you.
All were very good, there were two “white” chili’s, both of which I thought were very good, one especially had a great chili aroma, more of a green Anaheim chili characteristic than the normal red.  In the end, I sort of went with a more traditional (to me) choice of a standard red with meat and beans, kind of like the one pictured above.  What set it apart for me was that it had an interesting spicy nose, making you wonder… is that cayenne? Cloves?  Maybe nutmeg?  Very intriguing.  And once in the mouth it treated you to all those flavors again.  And it had one of those “sneaky” heats.  When you first have a spoon, it’s “oh, this is pretty mild!” then ten seconds or so later, that little flush comes to the forehead.  Fortunately for me, that’s where it ended.  Long time readers will remember that spicy heat is not my favorite thing.  Covers up too much and I am not into painful eating.  Other judges liked the same pot so it “won” although they all did..

So it was a lot of fun, generated some monies to help some have a more pleasant holiday, and best for me, I got to see some of the people I used to work with.  That was really nice.  Those of you about to retire, that’s the hard part.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Of This and That...

A phrase that pretty much describes my life last week… THIS email, THAT call, THAT meeting, THOSE chores, all conspiring to prevent me getting THIS blog out.  So maybe just a few little bites for digestion

Headed this way..

Well, I’ve done everything I know how to do to deflect the arrival of Cleophus or whatever moniker the arrogant weather channel (The.. expert) has hung on the latest winter storm.  I know it has provided some hard times for some, so as I say, I have done everything short of the appropriate dance with chicken bones to keep it away from here.  I have started the generator, got gas for same, checked bottled water supply, made sure the cans of soup we’ve had for ages are still there, refreshed the amount of batteries, located the candles, and filled both cars with gas.  I even made sure that some of my friends mounted the blade on their pick-em-up.  we’ll see..  As an ancillary note, the Penn Line crews have been working our street this week, removing limbs that might fall across power lines.  Another positive sign.


Headed your way..

One of the things I enjoy doing is to provide magazine gift subscriptions to some people who I think might share my enthusiasm for food, cooking, and culture.  Although it is worthwhile, the process can drive you (me) nuts.  Sometime in maybe early July, you start getting notices from them asking if you want to renew Food News for Charlie, and if you do, you can renew your own subscription either for free or at a greatly reduced rate.  Generally I ignore these, but sometimes I figure what the heck and give the gift (and maybe renew) and send in a check.  Well, time goes by, and you keep getting the same “what about Charlie?” mails, or “Tell us what to do for Charlie”.  These generally are spaced far enough apart that you have to go back dig out the records, trace your actions, and generally find that indeed you sent them a check weeks ago.  I have even had instances where on the SAME day, you get a “Thank you for your order for Charlie”, AND a “Last chance to renew Charlie’s gift!!”  mailing.  Idiots.  And gifts aside, do you get notices for renewing at some fantastic rate, even though your subscription doesn’t run out for years?  “renew now and lock in savings”.  Usually tucked somewhere in the fine print is the expiration date like J/J 2017.  I used to keep a spread sheet of expiration dates, but it is hard to keep up..  and, as I’ve just had my 72nd birthday, spending money to extend too far in the future might be ill advised…

Headed for your Christmas

Another thing that occurs this time of year is that your mailbox gets crammed with catalogs.   At least ours does.  We generally pitch most of them, but some I do look at.  One is Williams Sonoma.  They started out years ago being mostly a source of kitchen equipment, mostly higher end stuff.  Al-Clad, Calphalon, etc.   Well, over the years, while they still have that stuff, by far the preponderance of content is made to order food.  Delivered right to your door.  Hams, beef, salmon, stuff like that.  This being the holiday season, they lean on fancy stuff. For instance, you can get a 7 pound Double R Ranch Co., prime rib for a mere $199 (about $30 a pound – plus shipping).  Or maybe that Kurobuta (pork) crown roast from Snake River Farms, where about 6 pound go for $225 (nearly 40 per pound).  Think I’ll stick with WAG meats from Leonardtown.  Then you might want some appetizers..  How about four 6 oz. lobster Wellingtons for a mere $130.  Of course crab cakes have to be dealt with.  And here, something caught my eye.  The description of “Mini Crab Cakes” reads in part:  “Handcrafted of blue crab meat in Maryland”.  Hmm….Lets think about that… does it say “Handcrafted of Maryland Blue Crab meat”? or: “Handcrafted with Blue Crab Meat FROM Maryland?”.  Nope… my bet maybe made in Maryland with crab meat from Thailand..

Had Fun

MFO and I joined a bunch of folks last night at the season’s first Madrigal dinner at Historic St. Mary’s City, in the State House.  The garden clubs did their usual innovative job of decoration, although this year’s efforts might be termed more contemporary in nature than some.  St. Maries Musica provided seasonal music for our enjoyment, as did the High Lord who commanded “All Hail Wassail!” demanding we all obediently raise our glass..  He did, and we did… often.   If you get a chance, it is a unique experience.  Dinner is provided as well.  Last night’s fare was a Cornish game hen and roasted pork.  The traditional fried oysters were served family style.  I thought they were smaller than in the past.  Anyway, it is a unique experience and something you should do..

Ganz Update

Nothing new here, although have had some reports that “their minds are made up”, which also might mean their minds are small..


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cultural Alert and Thanksgiving..


People will no doubt remember I launch off occasionally (well almost every time) after going to a Brian Ganz piano talk or concert about what an immense talent he is, and such a joy to listen to.  Well, maybe you have heard some reports as I have that the interim administration at the College in an (assumed) effort to cut expenses is considering changing Brian’s status (and contract) from an Artist in Residence to a “part time instructor”.  I have absolutely no insight as to the economics of same, but the fear of course would be that he would leave his post after 28 years of providing world class music.  I imagine that there are many institutions out there that would love to have his name associated with them.  I wonder if any of the budget cutter folks have ever been in Auerbach Auditorium on a lovely sunny afternoon listening to Brian play Chopin.  The thought of losing that is repugnant.  So, if you know any faculty at the college, members of the board of trustees, or somebody in the administration, let them know how important Brian is to the cultural fabric of our community.  The interim president’s email is inewbould @ smcm.edu .   And a reminder that there is a concert tonight at eight in the same auditorium at the college.  I can only imagine it will be to an overflowing audience.


Well, did you survive the holiday?  Are the dishes finally washed, silver polished, pans sparkling and put away.  Are there still the odd leftover pieces of dressing, or turkey, or…..?.  I think I may have mentioned in my pre-thanksgiving musings, that I am convinced turkey is a difficult item to get right.  Much work, average results (yes there are those that get rave reviews, but I still wonder).  As I said, for our “family” thanksgiving we had a pork loin roast that I got at our farmer’s market from WAG meats of Leonardtown.  It was a lovely piece of meat, and with minimal preparation it was ready to be cooked.

So the kitchen was prepared

And the oven brought up to heat


Cooking proceeded with occasional basting of pan juices and some hard cider, and addition of apple chips to the heat for a light smoke

After an hour or so, internal temperature reached around one hundred forty here in and there, and it was deemed ready to come inside and rest

Meanwhile, as the chef toiled over the hot oven, guests inside were treated to a light warm up of cheeses (Keyes Dairy, Beechers), various crackers, MFO’s cheese straws, and Whitley’s Virginia Peanuts, all helped along by a very nice bottle of (NV) Scharffenberger Brut Excellence, Methode Traditionnelle (the legal American term for Champagne) a gift of FOJTE. 

Sometime we can discuss what non French makers of sparkling wines have to go through..

Anyway, you might notice that one of the books below the table involves an Irish beer.  As we were enjoying the appetizers, a guest on the left hand side of the table stared into his glass (a common happenstance) and saw:

We didn’t ponder too long on the physics of inverting the image in the glass of his hard cider (same as used on the meat).

Soon enough the meat had rested enough to be sliced and the (groaning) board was assembled.   We had some lovely mashed potatoes with goat cheese, as well as some that were escalloped (gratin).  MFO (after our Chartreuse experience) made a lovely salad (with lowly jello)

And the table was set

With a sparkling wine from a local winery as well as a Rose of Malbec.  There is a law that you have to have black olives as part of your relishes.

And finally the pork made its entrance


Everything was very good.   And for once, even though the Bottom Feeder cooked the meat, he had to admit that it was good..

We finished the meal with MFO’s pumpkin pie and coffee.. So our second thanksgiving with family (MFOS) and friends was a great meal and good companionship.  I hope yours was as well.

And, here it is December already, black Friday and gray Thursday are behind us (prediction, that is the LAST “black Friday” you will ever see).  And although there is plenty to say, I won’t go into the astonishing football games of Saturday…

Maybe see you tonight at the concert where you will still be