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WHEN WILL WE EVER LEARN?

 

Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94

From the page at YouTube where this was posted:

On July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 9 to cite Pete Seeger and seven others (including playwright Arthur Miller) for contempt, as they failed to cooperate with House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their attempts to investigate alleged subversives and communists. Pete Seeger testified before the HUAC in 1955.

In one of Pete’s darkest moments, when his personal freedom, his career, and his safety were in jeopardy, a flash of inspiration ignited this song. The song was stirred by a passage from Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “And Quiet Flows the Don”. Around the world the song traveled and in 1962 at a UNICEF concert in Germany, Marlene Dietrich, Academy Award-nominated German-born American actress, first performed the song in French, as “Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?” Shortly after she sang it in German. The song’s impact in Germany just after WWII was shattering. It’s universal message, “let there be peace in the world” did not get lost in its translation. To the contrary, the combination of the language, the setting, and the great lyrics has had a profound effect on people all around the world. May it have the same effect today and bring renewed awareness to all that hear it.

 

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Every winter meal leads to soup. “Soup of the day, beautiful soup.”

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All winter long I have a theme to our evening meals. On night one, I cook more than is necessary to fill us up, and the leftover portion goes into the “French soup pot.” My father’s people are French/Canadians whose lineage goes all the way back to the French Hache family who became the Gallants (another story for another time) who came by ship from France via Montreal and Quebec to  settle on Prince Edward Island in the seventeen hundreds. They were the very first non-indigenous settlers there and- get this, they made friends with the native people the MicMacs who taught them how to survive the treacherous winters and what to plant come spring. As evidence of this close and meaningful friendship, I am proud to have a bit of Mic Mac blood running through my veins; this added into the family gene pool when one of my ancestors married a MicMac woman.

From my father’s mother, who knitted the most amazing mittens with wool she called, P.E.I. “double wool” that never got wet, I learned about the French Soup Pot . I could make a hundred snow ladies or men, throw a million snowballs, etc. and come home with warm and dry hands wearing those mittens. However, for a style conscious girl, right from the very beginning, I would have liked a pair that was not medium gray with either a red or a green stripe around the wrist, ad infinitum. Oh, well, my grandmother also believed that we are not put on earth to have fun and enjoy ourselves, but to be good, and so, deserving of gaining heaven. Dark gray, indeed. 

My pot gets leftover meat, vegetables, gravy, sauce, pan scrapings, etc. and then it goes into the fridge until the next day. I always have on hand such things as canned beans, black, kidney, chick peas, northern white beans, etc., some kind of “sharpener” such as pepperoni, salami, or thin sliced ham…also, of course, good old reliable bacon and canned tomatoes, tomato paste and Italian pasta sauce. As you can readily see, we are not vegetarians or vegans. With all respect to those who are, we like meat and are not ashamed to say so!

The soup day is great fun as I scour the fridge for leftovers that have managed to escape me earlier. Then, I saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic to make a fine mirepoix, most days, unless the leftovers already have these components. I just go wild from there, tasting, adding, playing like a kid (the kid I was) adding this and that but not from the from the back yard and the woods, however I am still “playing house.” I played cook, my dolls and stuffed animals all dinner guests, and I suppose this is where it all began.

So, one day meat, veggies, maybe a starch, and always a salad. You know, a typical American meal. We are gluten free so we thank our lucky stars, daily, that we discovered Against the Grain products made in Vermont. Now, we have bagels, buns and baggettes so amazingly good, crusty, chewy and better than most wheat based breads, and I can ease up on trying to bake all my breads. I now bake  tea breads, cakes, brownies and pies (with walnut oatmeal crusts that are to die for) and let these magic bakers take care of the breads. With soup I serve a  long hot crusty baggette and provide a hunk of Parmesan and a grater for individual taste. My foodie father, no longer with us but, I am sure, hangs out in my kitchen, drooling (I  am an avid foodie thanks  to parents who not only loved it, but knew just what to do with food)  and my mother, also gone, who was once the pastry chef at a French restaurant in the town where we lived on Cape Cod, taught me well. Particularly to honor leftovers. Waste not, want not, and all that wisdom regarding the relationship between food and good economy.  Bon Appetit!

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Sinister Images

Sinister Images

A historical novel set in Boston at the height of the city’s battles between the patrician well-to-do who lived in Beacon Hill mansions, and the “scum’ and “rifraff” who lived in Scollay Square down on the iniquitous waterfront. In other words, the down and out poor immigrants who inhabited the rat infested tenements there. But it is also about Boston’s Jack the Ripper who savagely killed a baker’s half dozen of beautiful dancers who performed at the historic Old Howard Theatre.

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Sunday Supper with Snow on the Ground

I have fallen in love with store bought rotisserie chickens.

I recently read, I think it was on Pinterest, that these cooked for you chickens are becoming

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popular not only because they are so tasty, but because, all things considered, they are less expensive than purchasing and roasting your own. I do know that for just the two of us, this dear bird goes a long way. First night: home from our late afternoon grocery shopping (late afternoon because we do get rooted to our desks writing all morning. Then, i usually make a few dinner preparations, if only to root out from cookbooks or the internet, a great recipe, and my love always has some project he is working on to putter with. We are A-1, happy as a clam putterers, by the way.

With the  food put away and the fire blazing in the centrally located living room stove, it is time to dive into the still warm bird. (It is the last thing we grab on our way to the check-out so that it stays warm).

Sliced, with a leg for my love and a wing for me (Jack Sprat and his wife eat a chicken)and joined with maybe some rice cooked in chicken broth with parsley, turmeric (good tasting and sooooo good for the health) and any other seasoning that takes me fancy, and a salad, it is a lovely winter night meal. Next night: leftover chicken waiting for inclusion in any one  of hundreds of preparations from a casserole to risotto to chicken salad or sliced chicken and caramelized onions on an open or closed bagette sandwich with mayo seasoned with fresh basil or parsley. And, speaking of caramelized onions, tonight I served second day rotisserie chicken sliced, the other leg and wing going to the appropriate recipients, a huge salad made from field greens, tomatoes (grown in a local greenhouse and sold at the Coop we belong to), cukes sliced thin on the mandolin, feta and Kalamata olives topped with my favorite dressing, 3 T. extra virgin olive oil (know what a virgin is, however, damned if I can know how one gets to be an extra virgin) 2 T. balsamic, 1/2 tsp. honey, salt and pepper and a little squeeze of a lemon to taste. Corn bread seemed like just the thing to round out this easy meal. 
We like our cornbread smoother than the traditional southern cornbread, so I mix it in the food processor. I threw in a handful of walnuts because I like nuts in everything and they are so good for us, then I folded in sliced green olives stuffed with pimentos and a handful of chopped parsley.  Before this, though, I had caramelized a medium sized purple onion until the result looked like chunky syrup. When the bread mix was in the pan, I topped it off with the onions and baked it. Ah, a perfect meal for a winter night in Maine. Bon Appetit.    

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At Home In Maine

It is a Sunday in late January, and outside my window is a scene of white on white…lots of snow sitting peacefully in the sunshine. The temperature is hovering at around 10 degrees which is up from overnight and the past few days. Ah, balmy! Reading Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life and loving it. As always, when I read a foodie book, written by one of my “people” I am obsessed with cooking. This morning, the only day in the week that an actual old fashioned breakfast is eaten in our house, I almost went ahead with my plan for serving my egg loving darling mate two deep fried battered boiled eggs with a side of bacon wrapped avocado. I relented however, at the last minute. Knowing him, so devoted to his two eggs over light with three pieces of bacon (used to be five until I reminded him of how devastated I would be if he dropped dead of high cholesterol) I skipped the boiled egg surprise. Actually, he also loves scrambled eggs or a cheese omelet with the addition of whatever is to hand like mushrooms, ham, leftover any meat, or all of the aforementioned And, of course, cheese.  Although, I have yet to get him to try a jelly omelet like my Aunt Sis used to make for the family and appreciative summer guests when she and my mother owned and ran a guesthouse on Cape Cod in the fifties. Oh well, to each his (or her) own.  He is also a “meat and potatoes man” (was that a Gary Cooper line?) who was brought up to eat everything and anything served him, by a conscientious mother. Lucky for me, his mother’s training makes him my perfect companion (well, that and a few other compatible attributes)  because although he would be happy to exist on beef, pork, chicken and sausage with a potato cooked any way at all, no vegetables and never a salad, he has always complimented every meal I have served him. Also, he has grown used to, and actually likes salads as long as they feature baby spinach, feta, and Greek Kalamata olives.  Because he is my best friend forever, I balance the menus with his favorites and my experiments.   

We moved back to New England in May 2013 after a long hiatus away. New England born and raised, both of us love this northeastern edge of the continent, and until we took the biggest lifestyle leap we could ever imagine and sold our antique sea captains’ house on Cape Cod to move to a 44′ boat in retirement, we expected to spend the rest of our lives on that Atlantic pointing peninsula stuck onto the right hip of Massachusetts.

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Haven’t seen one yet, but hope to, soon.

More on our reasons for moving to Maine, buying a charming former summer cottage built in 1910, added onto and restored to make it a year round house while respecting the integrity of its early charm, and settle into what we are calling, a la M.F.K. Fisher, our Last House, in future blogs.

 

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In the final stretch!

When I am writing obsessively, as I am now, when one of my cozy mysteries has me captive in an “alternate universe”, the world blurs and I can see my characters and the settings as well as, in the case of my foodie-lover cozies, smell and taste the great food coming out of the kitchens. India Street is a Nantucket caterer, graduate of the Johnson and Wales Institute of Culinary Art ( I think they recently altered that name a bit) in trendy, beautiful, historical and also au courant Providence, Rhode Island who went home to Nantucket to start her own business. On the other hand, Liz Ogilvie-Smythe is a British expat “refugee from a wealthy family” who took a summer course at the Cordon Bleu while at Oxford studying archaeology and, after a near-fatal bout with malaria, changed her course to become an innkeeper in Provincetown out on the tip of Cape Cod.

Was it Ernest Hemingway who cautioned writers–write what you know? The best advice a writer can ever get and internalize. I know Cape Cod, Nantucket, Provence, London, and more recently, Puerto Rico. I also know and love food. I love to cook. Hey, I love to food shop! So, I write about strong women (did I mention that I am a strong woman?) who love art, food, travel, beauty and problem solving. In addition, since I have been fortunate in that I have lived in, studied in and visited some absolutely gorgeous, historically, culturally and artistically magnificent places, I write about them. When I am writing, I am there. Totally there. I hope my readers can appreciate that as I really try to write with my painter’s eye flowing through my fast-typing fingers. 

Have you read a good mystery lately?

 

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Expat in our own country!

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