Transform Your Aching Soul with Cooking

Photo credit: C. BertelsenLiving today’s hurry-up-run-run-run-faster-faster-text-text lifestyle tends to blunt contact with more earthy things, like cooking. The act of cooking offers something that the stiffest drink or most potent tranquilizer cannot. Dare I say it out loud? It’s even better than sex, in a way. Especially when chocolate is involved, but that’s another story…

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Long Ago, When Chickens had Teeth …*

I've never had to kill for my dinner, unless you count the time I mangled a lobster at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, crying silently as I tried to plunge the knife in the right place but failing to quickly put the creature out of its misery. I doubt I would have known…

The Lost Arabs of Marseille: Food, Family, and France

In his  timely Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831 (2011), Ian Coller writes of the Arab families associated with Ya'qub Hanna, an Egyptian, a Copt and first non-French general who'd served with  Napoleon Bonaparte in his military campaigns in Egypt. The cover, I believe, was chosen to highlight the idea of…

Cooking with Mushrooms: Chicken and Walnuts and Baby Bellas, Oh My!

I went wild over the cheap chicken thighs at my local Kroger, dumping package after package into my grocery cart. And as I sniffed the seductive odor of pumpkin pies emanating from the bakery, I composed a menu in my head that shouted "It's FALL, finally!" Mushrooms, walnuts, shallots joined the chicken in the paper…

The Random Herbalist: Books About Monastic and Medieval Gardens

I find the following books enlightening, soothing, and motivating. My plan is to create/design a medieval/monastic herb garden over the upcoming winter and plant it starting next spring.* Monastic Gardens, by Mick Hales (2000) Private worlds glimpsed by a privileged few, monasteries have long maintained an aura of mystery. Outsiders imagine the silent seclusion, the…

Anyone Can Build a Whizbang Chicken Scalder (Even You!)

From the back cover of Herrick Kimball's book, Anyone Can Build a Whizbang Chicken Scalder: Every small-farm and backyard poultry producer needs a good scalder to quickly and efficiently scald their homegrown poultry prior to plucking. Precise scalding translates to fast, complete, and easy plucking of feathers. But high-performance ready-made scalding equipment is much too…

Chicken Curry, From Réunion (the Country)

Réunion is a country. About 800 kms. east of Madagascar. Off the coast of Africa. A former fueling/supply station for ships on their way to Asia for spices. A bit "out there," yes. But the food there ... tastes and flavors marry each in ways only possible when people from different cultures meet each other…

Palm Oil, Chicken In

Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe once wrote that proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten. A recipe for chicken in red palm oil: CHICKEN IN RED PALM OIL Serves 4-6 ¼ c. red palm oil 1 chicken, cut up for frying ½ t. ground coriander 1 t. sea salt 1 t. dried orange…

Dame Alice de Bryene’s Household Book: Easter 1413

One of the most spectacular "finds" related to English medieval history, The Household Book of Dame Alice de Bryene (1931 edition) provides a detailed glimpse into the daily life of an English gentry household over the period 1412 - 1413, down to the exact food purchases and the price paid. It tells of widowed Dame…

Can a 3-Star French Chef Be a Regular Guy? Marc Meneau Tries

Writing about 3-star French chef Marc Meneau is, in a way, like trying to write about Leonardo Da Vinci. Geniuses really need geniuses to write about them, to interpret them, to salute them, like buck privates in the presence of 5-star generals. It's a little bit like meeting God - you're afraid to look at…