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Monthly Archives: February 2013

You know you like them.

If ever I said, in grief or pride, I tired of honest things, I lied… — Edna St. Vincent Millay Why are there so many varieties of crackers in the grocery store? My answer: So that we can go on pretending to ourselves that we wouldn’t much rather have a simple saltine. The ridiculous prices […]

I plead guilty

Photo by Woody Welch Every serious cook has a trashy side. Or ought to. Julia Child said, “In cooking you’ve got to have a ‘What the hell?’ attitude.” Yep. Or as a friend of mine says, “Anything’s good if you put enough butter in it.” So it is without shame that I post the photo […]

Umami again: pasta (or rice) with seared cabbage

Like most photos on this blog, clicking on the image will bring up a higher-resolution version. Searing cabbage is an Asian touch, and it’s smart. Searing brings out the best flavors in cabbage. Nor do you have to scorch it. Cabbage browns easily with moderate heat and no smoking, as long as you use an […]

The right way to treat a ditch

Why are ditches universally treated with scorn? They are a symbol of the low and degraded. Even Oscar Wilde, speaking of the ditch’s cousin, the gutter, said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Human activities constantly create ditches, and constantly we neglect them, though they are […]

Maintenance. Ouch.

When you install an amazing musical instrument like the abbey’s Rodgers 730 organ, you also take on the sacred responsibility of maintaining it. It’s a complicated being, and it’s 20 years old. Though nothing serious has ever gone wrong, little things go wrong, and it’s best not to let those little things mount up. Also, […]

What young'uns used to eat

The school cafeteria staff, circa 1960. Mrs. Martin is on the left. When I was in elementary school, we called the school cafeteria “Miss Martin’s Slop Shop.” Mrs. Martin has gone on to her reward, but we all owe her such an apology. I have often thought about Mrs. Martin’s made-from-scratch cooking and how lucky […]

In search of umami, first follow-up

In my first post on umami, I mentioned that I would see if I could find some MSG at Whole Foods and also pick up some kombu seaweed, which is said to be high in umami. Whole Foods is just about as MSG free as it is possible to be. I asked a spice captain […]

Y'all cut it out now…

Mrs. Squirrel drinks rainwater from a plate left out on the deck. Whenever I hear thumps and rattles on the back deck, and lots of little cat feet downstairs, I know that Mrs. Squirrel has come to tease Lily again. Mrs. Squirrel gets right up against the glass, knowing, apparently, that Lily can’t get at […]

Crimes against coffee

Wikipedia: Note the color. Note the small, heavy china cup. Finally, someone who can be considered authoritative on the subject of coffee says it: black-roasted coffee is wrong, and disgusting. Let me hasten to add that it’s also wrong of me to refer to someone being authoritative on coffee, because that’s part of the problem. […]

Extreme self-reliance, in Siberia

The hut This article at is fascinating. It’s about about six members of a Russian family who fled into remote Siberia to avoid religious persecution. They lived there for 40 years, surviving on food that they could forage and what little they could grow. I find this story inspiring. It shows just how adaptable […]