11 February 2015

How to Cook A Wolf - Part Deux

Dear Colleague,

The cold weather has finally left us, unlike the rest of the country, Houston is headed into spring.
Although I see in our future some colder temperatures. Ah, but what is cold to southern Texas.

I continue on my mission to work my way slowly through MFK Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf. It really is a delightful book and if you want humor and a touch of sass with your recipes, I recommend. But as my colleague before mentioned to you about less, Fisher touches on that topic over and over again. And it has sunk into my head so deep that I have begun to infuse into my daily life, my house, my writing, practicing.

And speaking of simple, I recently purchased the CD (yes I bought a real CD) Another Day, AnotherTime Celebrating the music of Llewyn Davis. It is a collection of folk songs from as far back as 100 years to just a few years back. Sung by various groups of folk artists, pop stars and the like it is a collection of simple songs. One of my favorites is Auld Triangle. The harmonies linger in the ear and make your head buzz. I share it with you hear, just for fun. 

Okay, back to food.

How to boil water – the fourth chapter in Fisher’s book is all about soup. And it starts with telling you how to boil water. And she says the best water to cook a wolf is from a spring or well.  
She believes you can actually over cook water, over doing it makes it flat, tasteless and my favorite description – exhausted. No one wants tired water it will ruin your cup of tea. And the best way to make your flat water taste good is to add a little bone, carrot, herbs.

As this is a book about conserving time and energy, she says we

do not have the resources to let a pot simmer all day long on the back of the stove. It is a waste of energy. Of course now-a-days, we can simmer all day and think nothing of a gas or electric bill being a little high.

And just a reminder - Soup-pots should be made fresh now and then, like people’s minds at the New Year. (p. 30) So remember that pot sitting on the back of the stove, must be cleaned and started fresh!

The thing about soup is it really is the simplest thing in the world to make, besides toast and butter. Water, vegetables, maybe meat, some salt, herbs, this, that and you’ve got a dinner, lunch or even breakfast if you break an egg in it. A soup can feed many or one -  taste overwhelming to quite bland. I love to put my mind to work, digging out things in the fridge and pantry and throwing them in a pot, stirring it, watching it bubble, tasting, and finessing to match my tastes.

Fisher says to eat to your tastes. I agree. If you don’t like it, then why are you cooking it? Why in the world are you eating it? What good is food if you are not enjoying it? The body knows what it needs and it knows what it likes, put those things in it and I bet your body will be happy and healthy.

I made a version of her recipe for minestrone and this is what she says of the soup:
“Probably the most satisfying soup in the world for people who are hungry, as well as for those who
are tired or worried or cross or in debt or in a moderate amount of pain or in love or in robust health or in any kind of business huggermuggery, is minestrone.” (p. 38)

Here is my version of MFK Fisher’s:
Couple tablespoons of bacon fat (she uses bacon, salt pork or ham); Warmed in a pot - add finely


chopped onion, celery and carrot (she doesn’t add carrot). Cook till soft – add dried parsley, oregano, sweet basil. Add finely chopped tomatoes. (I used tinned ones with a touch of sauce added to them); Add chicken stock and water; (Fisher only uses water); She then says to add five of a choice of onion, potato, garlic, cabbage, carrots, celery, spinach, green beans, etc., etc. I went with carrots, potatoes, onions and celery. I missed a fifth! Bring the entire thing to a boil and cook until veggies
are soft. I cooked my pasta separate. Added it to a bowl and topped with the soup. Served with crusty bread and a white cheddar and glass of red wine. It was fantastic.

I hope, dear friend, you will spend some time soon in your kitchen with a pot of boiling water.

I remain,
The Mad Listmaker


02 February 2015

Les éléments (or, less is more)

Dear Colleague,

As usual, I am always looking for ways in which to streamline processes and achieve maximum benefits or results with minimum effort and material (work lazy, not harder, or something like that). About 15 years ago I came up with an efficient way to practice flute and recorder, wherein I work on fundamentals (tone development and technical exercises without looking at music) for 20 minutes, sight reading for 5 minutes, and work on concert repertoire from 5-10 minutes, for a grand total of approximately 30 minutes per practice session. This may extend to 45 minutes in the month or so before a concert, and in the two weeks prior to the event I do this two to three times per day.

My point (yes, I have one) is that this practice is focused, intense, without distractions, carefully timed, and designed to build stamina, concentration, accuracy, and to gain control of your instrument without any excess physical stress. This method of practice is not without a downside. When preparing for a concert and my wife is in the house and can hear the practice, she has been known to say, “Are you going to practice more than those 3 bars?” or “I guess I’ll have to go to the concert to hear the entire piece in context.“ After doing this for several years I started dumping this efficient practice on to my students. A few years ago one student came to me and gave me a book, Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin, and told me that I should read this book because it validates a lot of what I was asking my students to do. It seems I was asking my students to commit to deliberate practice, or, as pointed out by Colvin and others, practicing the things that are not fun and, for musicians of all types, reaping the benefits of being able to enjoy playing music for fun with, well, more fun. This type of efficiency, essentially the 80/20 rule (briefly mentioned in my post on The Right Tool for the Job), has been further solidified and embedded in my attitude about flute practice and cooking by Tim Ferris in his 4-Hour books (4-Hour Body, 4-Hour Chef; I’ve not read the 4-Hour Work Week).

“Well, yes,” you ask, “how does this help your cooking? Do you practice chopping onions to refine your technique?”

OK . . . no, actually. I have, however, watched some videos of different chefs chopping onions and other edibles and then tried to emulate that in my own cooking. This deliberate practice in cooking manifests itself in the types of dishes I prepare, as well as their frequency, and number. By making the same few dishes several times I learn how to improve my efficiency and rely less on recipes and written procedures and more on my ability to conceive a project, its ingredients, and procedures. Now with a set of ingredients (and over time these same several dishes get their ingredients reduced; if you can make something that is as good or better as the original with fewer ingredients and procedures, why would you do otherwise?) I can essentially create my own recipes. Mark Bittman, in his invaluable How to Cook Everything, states that you should have five dishes that you can create without using a written recipe. For me this number is somewhere between 10-15 meals.

Another beneficial byproduct of this 80/20-deliberate practice-use-less-to-get-more-results is that now I can take a set number of ingredients (between three-five; herbs and spices do not count as ingredients and an herbs and spices essay is forthcoming) and create several different dishes. Think of it as a ground bass with its repeated harmonic pattern and how creative you can be within those guidelines. One of my recent meals contained just two ingredients and required a hands-on time of about 10 minutes and a total cooking time of 60 minutes (grilled salmon and baked spaghetti squash and a light drizzle of truffle honey). And the homemade sauerkraut has two ingredients, shredded cabbage and sea salt (and if herbs and spices do not count, then it has only one). 




Now when I hit my recently reorganized kitchen to make something, I want to spend as little time as possible messing around with stuff and with as few ingredients as possible. And if the unattended cooking time is 20 or more minutes, I can either get in my efficient strength training workout or practice tone development and chromatic scales on the flute. What say you?

Here is a live performance of a group performing a piece with minimal harmonic material (and a lot of words): Conde Claros


I remain,

YMH&OS,


Quantzalcoatl

01 February 2015

The right tool for the job: accordions over knives

Dear Colleague,

I began a small-scale reorganization of the kitchen in order to put the tools I use most frequently in one place and closer to where the action is. During this process I realized that I have many more tools than I really need. It reminded me of the hiking – backpacking – outdoor survivalist philosophy of only take what is necessary and not what you think you might need. The same thing applies to playing music and going on a gig; pack only what you need for the number of days you are gone and only the tools and music that you need for the performance.

Before this little reorg I had my knives organized by ethnicity, that is, on one side I had all of the Asian style knives (santoku, nakiri, and cleaver), and on the other side the European/French style knives (the standard chef, pairing, and boning knives). As you know I am continually striving to improve my skills as a musician, researcher, and cook. For Christmas I was given an online course on cooking chicken.

“What?" you say, "Why do you need a course on cooking chicken?”

My response is that everyone should take this course on cooking chicken, no matter how well you think you can make it because it is always beneficial to periodically revisit something you have been doing, using, or teaching for some time. Get refreshed and energized. Part of my mission, goal, and enthusiasm for the things that I love in this life is to try to take what I do and make it more efficient, streamlined, or just easier to do and thus make it more enjoyable.

Following the 80/20 idea for work and creativity, that is, 20% of the effort will get 80% of the results; I embraced the chicken course, watched all of the episodes, and immediately set about trying to improve my chicken-cooking skills. Part of the online cooking class includes, of course, advertisements for other cooking courses but also other skills related to textiles, woodworking, and more things than I can list here easily. Part of these ads included some free skills courses. Whoa! A free course? A quick browse of the available free skills courses (in the food section) revealed that there was one of particular interest to me: knife skills. I downloaded the course, and began watching immediately. The first thing in the course was an overview of knives, and also how the different knives function for different types of food. In the course of this first discussion, the chef pointed out that for many nights in one of his restaurants he could get away with just two knives, sometimes three, but to be covered for everything he might have to do in the course of the day working as a chef or just a cook on the line, he only needed four knives.

Using this model, I took a look at all of our knives and determined that for all of the things I do a combination of the European- and Asian-style knives was the way to go. My santoku knife, a chef’s knife, the big cleaver, the boning knife, and, for really thin cuts of fruits and vegetables, the nakiri knife (a luxury item, I know, but once you use it you will fall in love). All of these knives are now on one side of the knife block while the rest are all crammed on to the other side. Now that the knives are organized, the next step in my kitchen mini-reorg was to work on the spoons, whisks, spatulas, and ladles. My previous way of organizing them was buy material type into separate crocks. In one crock rested all of the tools that were made of wood (with the two metal whisks in as an exception), and in the other were all of the metal tools or anything made out of a combination of metal, plastic, or silicone. Now the crocks are separated into the tools that I use most frequently and those that I need occasionally. Tools that I rarely use live in a drawer. I have also started a reorg of the herbs and spices, moving some that were in a drawer to the rotating rack on the countertop. Stay tuned for that story.

Now that my tools are in order I can perform my journeyman cooking skills more efficiently.

“Yes, well, this is all well and good, but how is this relevant to music?” you ask.

An excellent question, to be sure, and one that I will now answer. I suppose my main point, or, thesis statement is that whatever your task or job, it will be executed more efficiently if you have not only the right tools for the job but also have your toolkit properly outfitted and ready to go. In music as in cooking, a tool is a tool, unless, of course, you are referring to a colleague as a “tool,” but that is a different discussion for different time. Now, with my fab five of knives ready to go (and really, I could do almost everything with just three, the chef, santoku, and pairing knives), I have the right tools for the job, the essential knives, the tools that are necessary, and can deal with any culinary situation in which I might find myself. Why do I have fifteen knives running around when three will do (80/20) and five will get me to the 90-95% level of what I’ll call kitchen efficiency?

This reorg was inspired, in part—OK, a large part—by a discussion I overheard at a national convention that people who play a particular instrument (for our purposes here we’ll say it is the accordion) attend every August. Here is a paraphrase of the inspiring statement, “I don’t play on accordions pitched at 415 Hz because I can’t find one that does what I want; I will only play accordions at 400 Hz.”

Giving a stranger a well-deserved Dope Slap in a public place is never a good idea, nor would giving this person a verbal dressing down on their gross arrogance (also in publc), so I just went about my business and thought to myself, “and you never will.” Just as one knife will not do everything for you, no single accordion will do exactly what you want. Each knife has, in essence, its own personality and skill set, just as each accordion does.

Of course you cannot play Argentine tango on a single-row Cajun accordion (and why would you try?), and do not even think about playing “Jole blon” (Joli blon, Jolie blonde) on a 120 bass button piano accordion (unless, of course, you are Clifton Chenier; but you get my point).

And there is no way you can spatchcock a chicken using a nakiri knife, and it might take weeks to do this with a pairing knife. And I dare you to try to julienne anything but your pinky with a cleaver. The basic precept for being a professional musician is: Show up at the right place at the right time with the right tool for the job prepared to do a good job. Same goes for cooks. By limiting yourself to one knife or one accordion (or, dare I say, one flute?), you are missing out on a lot of food or accordion music. Why would anyone want to do that?

I remain,

ymh&os,

Quantzalcoatl

21 January 2015

How to Cook a Wolf - Part one

Dear Colleague,

I recently starting reading How to Cook a Wolf  by MFK Fisher and have decided that over the next

Three little pigs - 
the wolf lands in the cooking pot - 
Project Gutenberg eText 
few weeks I will make an adventure of her wise words and recipes and share them with you.

For those not familiar with Fisher, she was born in 1908 in Albion, Michigan as Mary Frances Kennedy. Her family would move to California around 1911, her father deciding he wanted to own an orchard farm. The family would move up and down the California coast for several years until her father put himself back into the newspaper business. There Mary Frances begin a short writing career. She tried college off and on and finally married Alfred Fisher in 1929. From there her life was a whirl wind of marriages (three in all), movement (France, CA, NYC, Holland, etc.), children (two daughters) and writing. She would write off and on for years producing a collage of books and essays. She passed away in 1992 in Glen Ellen, CA.

How to Cook a Wolf was written in 1942 (and revised in 1954) when war time shortages were the norm. The overall concept: How to cook with what you have and how to make it good and simple. Her writing style is bold, arrogant and sassy.   [Note: I am reading the revised version that was published in 1988 by North Point Press. The 1942 version was published by World Publishing.]

She sets out in the first chapter (How to be Sage Without Hemlock) to disassemble the theory of a balanced diet. What one person may need (three meals a day) may not work for another. She goes on to destroy the theory first by sitting into place that this is indeed an idea created by the food industry, to whip women into a tizzy that they need to spend their days worrying over the “Three Meals a Day”. She argues this “idea” is hard on the family to maintain not only on the “wills” but on the pocket book. (p. 6)

Her way of thinking: “We should be using our minds as well as our hearts in order to survive….to live gracefully if we live at all.” (p. 6-7)

Her simple plan: Balance the day, not each meal in the day. (p. 7) Of course she says change is never easy and those that are used to their pudding every day may not go willingly into this concept. But if the food is good and tasty, then they will change over time.

Her beliefs: balance, keeping it simple, keeping it fun, eat how you feel, eat what is fresh, in season, available and make something good from it. It doesn't take much.

Less is key, extravagance is for the weak. And these words were written seventy years ago, how true to today with our over indulgence of food!

She believes if you eat the way you want to, which is simple, that you will awaken new pleasures and remember old ones (p. 9)

The second chapter titled How to Catch the Wolf (aren't these wonderful titles!) talks about how war time easily applies to today. You don’t need fancy or processed to make a good meal. A favorite line: “A three minute egg still takes about as long today as it did in 1722.” She is referring to all the new pots and pans that have come out to make your cooking “better.” (p. 13)

She tells you, it is your responsibility to weed through all the things presented to you, to truly find what you truly need.

In her chapter How to Distribute your Virtue, she gives practical ideas for making things go longer, not using as much energy – putting crackers in eggs, using a pressure cooker, even a haybox! Ways to store foods in the fridge (never put meats in plastic, wash fruits and vegetables, reusing your cooking fat). Cook for two meals versus one to save energy.

Thoughtfulness – doing these simple things, never wasting is something we must do in peace and war time “if we may continue to eat to live.” (p. 20)

Her writing at times can almost seem condescending, but you cannot help but laugh at her ability to make you feel smart and yet stupid all at the same time. Her arrogance and candor are charming.
I love how she takes food and makes it sound so simple and so delicious. She doesn't describe things with a lot of adjectives. She states it plainly for what it is. A piece of toast spread with butter and a simple jam and served with a cup of coffee. That sounds like the most amazing meal you would ever eat, yet there is nothing to it. How wonderful, to be that simple.

If you were to never tell me where she was from or the many places she lived, I would have put her on a farm in North Carolina or Tennessee, next door to my mother in their one room house. Her ideas of cooking are ways I remember my mother doing. Putting a sweet potato in the oven while she cooked a roast. Later she would either make that potato a special dessert for us to share with a glass of milk or breakfast in the morning with brown sugar and cream. It was those little things that made eating special. 

And I think Fisher was a first for juicing – keeping an old gin bottle in the icebox to fill your unused vegetable juices into for use later on or better yet to drink and get your vitamins. (p. 23) And never throw away the leaves, boil them in water and add to the juice!

And her recipe for the perfect salad:
“I am tired of ‘tossed green salads’ no matter what their subtleties of flavor. I want a salad of a dozen tiny vegetables: rosy potatoes in their tender skins, asparagus tips, pod-peas, beans two inches long and slender as thick hairs…I want them cooked, each along, to fresh perfection. I want them dressed, all together, in a discreet veil of oil and condiments. Why not? What, in peacetime, is to prevent it? Are we too busy being peaceful for such play?” (p. 24)

I made this lovely salad last night using roasted potatoes, snap peas, French green beans, baby
zucchini, hearts of palm, cauliflower florets and a boiled egg for protein. My dressing was one I had made weeks ago that had been sitting in my fridge waiting for the perfect meal (red wine vinegar, olive oil, feta cheese and a Dijon mustard). I served this with crusty French bread and a glass of Merlot.

It was probably one of the best meals I have had in a long time. I hope you will try it, my friend and share with me your joys of eating simple.

I remain,

The Mad List Maker

14 August 2013

Who are you? (or, Les goûts réunis en Latinoamericana)

Dear Colleague,

I was, as usual, thinking about tacos. Tacos de carne asada with tomatillo salsa and the ubiquitous signifier of Mexican food, the lime.

But what got me started thinking about tacos? I believe it was this article by Coriún Aharonián about a Latin American musical identity.

Here is the full citation:
Coriún Aharonián, “Factores de Identidad Musical Latinoamericana Tras Cinco Siglos de Conquista, Dominación y Mestizaje,” Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 15, no. 2 (October 1, 1994): 189–225.

At some point a history of the taco is in order. Today, however, I need to examine the blending of culinary cultures that become the tacos de carne asada (here is a gratuitous photo of some Anasazi beans cooked in a stone-burnished clay pot from Columbia; apparently these clay pots have been in use in what we now call Latin America for centuries).

Our tacos pictured above have beef (Spanish import), beans and corn (the Americas), cow cheese (another European import), chile peppers (the Americas), onions (Asia, 5000 BCE, but possibly growing wild on every continent at the same time), and our signifyin' lime (Southeast Asia, ca. 4000 BCE). Not shown and often included in Mexican-American style tacos and not used here are tomatoes (New World fruit). So with only two elements here from the Americas, how are these delicious entities considered so . . . Mexican, New World, non-European? As in Aharonián's article, how do you give one single identity to Latin American musics when there are so many contributing factors and after five centuries of blending, is such a thing even possible?

After Columbus got lost and crashed into the Caribbean (quite a bit off from his original destination), the so-called Columbian Exchange began: the boundless exchange of plants, animals, cultures, and people (also known as slaves) between the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

People gotta eat and will eat what is available to them. Spaniards brought cows (and cheese) to Mexico, and probably citrus and onions. Hey, why don't we try some of these corn things, mix it with some beans, add some flavor with these chiles, and throw some meat and cheese on it? So that is Mexican food, a combination of European, Asian, and Native ingredients. Latin American music works the same way. Let's take our favorite transatlantic composer, Santiago de Murcia. From Spain, he likely also worked in Mexico, and his collections of guitar music includes pieces that are written in the prevailing European styles. The collection also includes African-influenced pieces. After the Cortez mission and the establishment of Spanish culture in the area of Latin America, two particular European dances, the Sarabande and the Chaconne, came back to the Old World a little different. They were "infected" with Native particles. Are these European dances now considered Mexican?

My point (yes, I know you are stunned that I have one) is that after several centuries of blending, the imported and incorporated components of Latin American music and cuisine are now part of the musical and culinary landscapes. And for our tacos de carne asada all of their components when used in conjunction function as signifiers for Mexican food. Just as the Sarabande and Chaconne, with their ethereal New World elements, are still decidedly French.

All that is left is to pair the tacos with a French wine and call it a day.

I remain, YMH&OS,

Quantzalcoatl


16 July 2013

To be in Provence

Dear Colleague,

We should be in our warmest time of the year, but for some unforeseen reason, we are having a mild July. These slight breezes in the morning and late evenings make me wish for a vacation in a coastal European town. You know, a small French town, munching on fresh bread, a cheap bottle of red wine while the day passes before you. But alas, I will have to make do with my backyard. Mais telle est la vie.

Sundays are a wonderful day for relaxing, reading, a good wine and a simple meal. I found a menu for a Picnic in Provence in Bon Appétit and I thought it perfect for our mild day. 




Provençal food is characterized by the presence of tomato, garlic and olive oil. This is, as I am sure you are aware, a region of fine food. Dishes a la Provençale are extremely varied and fresh is a key word. Onions, olives, mushrooms, anchovies and eggplant also play a prominent role in dishes.


You can find the entire menu here.

It is:
Roast Provençal Chicken
Marinated Summer Vegetables
White Bean Tapenade
Little Apricot Cakes

I made a few changes to the recipes but only slightly.

For the chicken I did not actually have herbes de Provence, but I had all the ingredients I needed to make it.
Basically it is a mixture of the following dried herbs: Basil, Fennel seed, Lavender, Marjoram, Rosemary, Sage, Summer Savory and Thyme.
I used basil, lavender, marjoram, rosemary (fresh), sage(fresh) and thyme. I added coarse sea salt and black peppercorns mixed it with olive oil and spread the mixture over the chicken and stuffed as much under the skin as possible. I also stuffed the chicken with butter and juiced a Meyer Lemon over the top, putting the lemon in the cavity of the chicken. I roasted the chicken on the grill.
C'était magnifique

For the Marinated Summer Vegetables, I used zucchini (summer, which has a yellow color and regular),
Japanese eggplant and yellow and green sweet peppers. I roasted the garlic before adding it to the mix. I put the entire thing in a jar and let it set out for a day.

I followed the recipes for the tapenade, it was fairly simple. Serving it with the freshest french bread I could fine. The little cakes were such a nice little treat and we had several left over making a nice breakfast in the morning. 

I recommend for this meal only the best olive oil you can get your hands on. I personally like San Damiano from Italy. An excellent and not to expensive oil.The farm is run by the daughters of the man who started the business. Small, yet very good. 

I served the meal with a Rosé. (Gerard Bertrand - clean, French, dry, crisp and went very well with the chicken)

Un beau dîner. Indeed

But no meal is complete without music. I have created what I think is a most appropriate soundtrack. Enjoy.

Jacques Martin Hotteterre - Suite No. 1 in G minor - Menuets I & II - Philippe Alain-Dupre
Complainte de la Butte - Rufus Wainwright


Hopefully we will be lucky and the weather will stay, but this is Houston, so unfortunately not. But we can dream.

I remain,

The Mad List Maker



09 July 2013

Folks call me Dill

Dear Colleague,

    Our weather, in the swamp that is the Gulf Coast, is thick with humidity this week. Not great for the
human, but wonderful for the herb. My garden, she does grow with dreamy scents. I am particularly interested in my Dill plant. It has grown to the size of a bush.
    When I look at my plant, I think of J.S. Bach. I imagine him a stoutly fellow, smiling as he wondered the streets, his puffy cheeks grinning at the ladies as they passed, his ear hearing a tune for the Sunday service. I don’t know why, but I imagine him as fuzzy.
     My Dill plant has long stems and branching out from them are fuzzy arms of the herb, thousands and thousands of fuzzy arms. The extensions much like Bach’s family - his children, his music.
     I don’t have to tell you Bach’s history, as I am sure you know it well, but I feel I have much to tell you about Dill and share with you a simple recipe for a tuna fish sandwich. I know, such a common folk thing, but oh so wonderful when made correctly.
     First to Dill – It is known as Anethum graveloens, part of the carrot family. This fact surprised me, but if you think of the ends of a carrot, you might could see a resemblance. So many times the herb gets lumped with Anise or Fennel, (sometimes called false anise or bastard fennel) but on my tongue I taste a whole different flavor.
     I go back to Bach again, and the Partita in A minor for flute. The piece should seem simple, yet the notes on the page are enough to scare any beginning flutist into thinking Bach was a masochist. There are those who say, the piece is just another extension of his Sonatas, a solo part mixed with his love of notes. But yet, this piece does not roll off my fingers like the Sonatas. It has a different coloring.
Yes I know dear friend, I can’t seem to keep my head on one subject, but don’t you see this is how an herb works, a piece of music works – we never stay in one place when using them.
     There is an old wives tale if you hang a bunch of Dill over your door you will be protected against witches. I wonder if it works for door-to-door salesmen. And Dill is mentioned some 5,000 years ago in Egyptian writings. In Roman times it was a symbol of vitality and the oil mixed with potions was used to soothe colicky babies. This is part of where the name Dill comes from. In Old Norse the world dilla means ‘to lull’. (My sources if you wonder are from Reader’s Digest Magic and Medicine of Plants, A $1 purchase at a sale and Medicinal Herbs by Patricia Turcotte, a gift from my mother)
     As for the culinary uses we all know the herb in pickles, fish, and potato dishes. The Germans love it. In North Africa the seeds are used in preparation of meat and in the Soviet Union used in salmon and crayfish.
And you don’t need much, which is why my plant gets so big. I can’t use it fast enough!
     Now let’s talk tuna. People dislike tuna fish sandwiches because they are made with three things – bad tuna, lots of mayo and relish. What a sad state of affairs when we think this is a tuna sandwich!  Of course I know that is the simple easy way, but would you go about practicing the Partita the simple easy way or would you dig in and do it right? Of Course!

My tuna sandwich:
  • First start with the best tuna you can get. Canned or jarred is fine but get top quality.
  • A dollop of mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp of grain mustard or Dijon (never yellow)
  • A tablespoon of capers finally minced
  • A tablespoon of onion minced (I like red but white will do)
  • 1-2 tsp of either red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • Dill – I add about ½ a tsp but sometimes more (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Really good bread. Sour dough baguettes are wonderful. But plain ol’ wheat works also.
  • Serve with Sea Salt and Vinegar chips and a dill pickle.

Voila!
I think Bach would approve and I can think there might have been a smear or two of juice on his manuscript as he enjoyed his lunch and worked away.
Please send my best to all those afar.
And I remain,


The Mad List Maker