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Archive for February, 2014

Egg Nog Amuse Bouche à la M. et Mme. Fellatio

 Call Christmas chaotic with mailing out scores of Lifetime of Vermont People books, how much isn’t in my damned checkbook while I am mailing presents of champagne and salmon that I cannot afford but what the hell, O quam cito transit gloria mundi” which means “Here today and gone tomorrow and so enjoy those trifles and share with your friends.”

So we celebrated with a small eqg nog party in my Colbyville garret, My assistant Kyle, the sous chef and dish washer, aided in the creation.

First we dug out the old ironstone potty—scrubbed clean of course— and poured in a quart of Half and Half (why not?), a pint of light cream, a bunch of egg yolks…no we didn’t count…some of Burke family’s maple syrup as we do live in Vermont, cinnamon, nutmeg and a chug-a-lug of dark Jamaican rum and a tumbler of Cognac. Added our hand whirled whipped cream made with Madagascar vanilla and served the whipped egg nog in Mason jars. …Soooo smooooth!!! …Those Mason jars hold more than a potent jolt and that was our first mistake for the spirit of the season whooshed in and goosed us onto the freezing deck to send to the big dipper bursts from roman candles. After all, it is also the winter solstice and the days grow longer and warmer, right? Yeahhhhh, right. The devil and the oil industry took futures on the weather and they won their hedge.

Later, after dinner of baked salmon and endive salad I created my Christmas special amuse bouche  dessert taught to me by my international friends the Fellatio’s.

There were some over-the-hill Harry and David pears my cousin from California sent that I cut up in a bowl and they bled out a glorious nectar. The egg nog was skimpy in the pot so we added in the pear ambrosia and then a scoop of a vanilla Häagen Dazs…and a little more Jamaican rum and why not a couple of fingers of cognac and some light cream. And the genius of it—a generous offering of Prosecco.

I had also bought a can of Cabot whipped cream and I instructed my guests on how to ingest this, errr, amuse bouche kick starter.

Take a gulp of egg nog-Häagen Dazs-pear Prosecco ambrosia but don’t swallow. Put the squirter on the top of Cabot whipped cream can between your lips open your mouth and press tip. (DON’T EVEN THINK WHAT YOU’RE THINKING! IMAGINE INSTEAD THOSE CHIPMUNKS OF SUMMER WHO SCAMPER FROM THE DECK INTO THE KITCHEN  AND DIVE INTO THE BIRD FEED BAG, SCRABBLE AROUND AND THOSE CHIPPIES COME OUT CHEEKS ALL BALLOONED OUT AND PITTY PATY THROUGH THE HOUSE, SPITTING OUT FINCH BIRD SEED IN DRAWERS, POCKET OF JACKETS, IN BEDS, SHOES AND WHEREVER THEY CAN DEPOSIT SEEDS THAT THEY WILL NEVER FIND. IMAGINE THAT AND NOTHING ELSE. IT IS CHRISTMAS AND THE WINTER SOLSTICE. MONSIEUR AND MADAME FELLATIO ARE ON A FACT-FINDING MISSION TO ITALY AND STAYING IN THE HOTEL EXCELSIOR IN VENICE IN SUITE 666. A DO NOT DISTURB SIGN HANGS ON THE DOOR KNOB…HMMMMM.)

With this caveat, let us continue…

WHOOSH!, A MOUTHFUL OF WHIPPED CREAM SPURTS INTO THE MOUTH, MARRIES WITH THE EGGNOG AND PUFFS OUT YOUR CHEEKS.  ROLL YOUR TONGUE AROUND, SAVOR AND SWALLOW…JUST HEAVENLY…HEAVENLY!

A memorable party, a delightful egg nog followed by fireworks, Scottish salmon, an endive salad and this palate tickler of a dessert:

…a mouthful of amuse bouche. It rates four

YUM! YUM! YUM! YUM!

and last but not least, some leftover fortune cookies, one that said

DON’T PUT IT OFF ANY LONGER!

.

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By Golly I have had weird adventures à la GONZO in the kitchen.  Was way behind with sending out books, then a vacation in Florida, back to Vermont the end of January to frozen pipes and then one of a previously frozen toe became infected and half of it wasdepedicated at Copley Hospital and I am housebound, crippled with something like a lotus foot, oh Lordy. You know, during the execution I asked the OP crew to keep the toe for me, which they didn’t like too much so I had them make a Photo.

Ugly little thing, sort of like an hors d’oeuvre you’d find lined up on little plates in a tapa bar in Barcelona, or spiced and fried amidst sliced pig ears in a Chinatown Szechuan restaurant on Mott Street.

I’m not into toe cannibalism. Want to see it?… I thought not.

So the other day I made a ratatouille with eggplant, fire smoked pepper skins, onion, zucchini, oil cured black olives, habanero flakes, and several squirts of Srirachi.  I made enough to last several days.

When I am bored with plain old ratatouille I rejuvenate it. Sometimes I add more veggies but this time I turned it into spaghetti sauce.  I had a bowl of hamburger mixed up with a peanut satay sauce, mushrooms and whatever lay around. Cooked and frozen.

Squirreled around in the freezer, grabbed the bowl and mixed it in with the ratatouille. Well, it was early morning and I’m not very cognizant of anything. The test taste—just a spoonful. Hmmm.

Damned sweetest spaghetti sauce I ever tasted…UNHHH…Oh GOD! I HAD SOME HARRY AND DAVID PEARS FROM OREGON THAT HAD GONE PAST PRIME SO I MASHED AND FROZE THEM TO BECOME, AT A LATER DATE, A SORBET AND I THOUGHT IT WAS THE FROZEN HAMBURGER MIXED WITH MUSHROOM, ZUCCHINI AND PEANUT SATAY SAUCE!!! NOT!!! I HAD POURED THE MASHED PEARS INTO THE RATATOUILLE!

There was a good chunk of the mashed pears still frozen in the saucepan and I scooped it out, dunked it in water, and dropped it in a small bowl. Next morning it was perched on my grapenut flakes with a seeding of Wyman blueberries. It was smacking good.

Back to the Ratatouille-mashed pear spaghetti sauce. What the hell, now I had concocted a ratatouille blessed with frozen gourmet mashed pears so I might as well continue and fired up the gas stove, stirred away and put the tasting spoon to use. Too sweet. Out come the achiote packet, the habanero flakes, some basil and more Sriracha. Slowly it came around. Left it for a couple of hours, cooled it, tasted it…A ying and yang (yes that’s the right word) spaghetti sauce, sweet, almost fragrant, but hot, the habanero giving it an early boca freshening, I almost felt it could stand some coconut and more peanut satay yes I did.

But I didn’t and one of the great mysteries of GONZO cooking is whether coconut and more peanut satay sauce would have made it heavenly or a down-the-grinder failure.

If you dare copy my pear spaghetti sauce, you don’t have to use Harry and David pears that are a variety of Comice. (If you learn too much about how Harry and David business was skinned, you might get upset). Boscs will do, just let them soften and bruise, then mash ‘em.

Oh, I forgot. I sprinkled cinnamon on my mashed pears before I froze them.

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A HOLY GOD GOOD GONZO COCKTAIL

This is what I drank when working on the ratatouille-pear spaghetti sauce.

In a small mason jar or whatever you use, drop in some ice and fill up half way with Polar orange diet drink with 10% orange pulp.

Top off with Myer’s Jamaican dark rum.

Add a slice of lemon, then a dash of Pechnaud Aromatic Bitters

Mix with your finger and sip and gulp!  Might be good in the summer with tonic soda.

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MY SKI RACING HEROS. BY PETER MILLER.

by Peter Miller

For 20 years I was an editor and photographer for Ski Magazine. Visited 104 ski  resorts on four continents. Won a Lifetime of Ski Journalism award from the ISHA. Wrote a book in 1972 about the Americans on the World cup in Europe called The 30,000 Mile Ski Race. I have always followed alpine racing.

I have three major ski racing heros:  Marvin Moriarty, a neighbor who raced in the 1950’s and at 16 was on the US Olympic Team; Bud Werner who I met in 1957 in St. Anton when he was on crutches, from a spill in a race and Bode Miller, who I never met but have closely followed.

Why?

All three were super athletes, way beyond the ability of the average World Cup racer. They had desire at an early age. Marvin’s first bindings were made from used Mason jar rings his grandmother gave him. Then the Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol took him up to the big mountain and gave Marvin the chance to fly.

They trained super hard and mostly by themselves or outside the circle of the ski team. In Europe, Marvin sharpened his racing skills from the Austrian ski team, which he trained with. He won some races by five seconds.  Bode trained  with a few close friends and relatives.

All three were very independent and did not all the time agree with their coaches

(hmmm, ever?)

They went for broke on every race, for they did not race politically or for points, they raced to win, to better their own record. So yeah, they crashed often and broke bones.

They are or were magnetic personalities. They skied with excitement and elan and as individuals. On the other hand, Killy had a support group that meticulously prepared him for every race with the care given to a major battle plan. The French coach Honore Bonnet was a psychological genius for bringing the best out of his racers at the right time—just look at the 1968 Olympics. The only other racer that I observed that skied with the go for broke attack on the course was  the American slalomist Tyler Palmer and the Austrian  downhiller Franz Klammer.

They are super skiers and competitors and human beings and they are my heros.

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What an awful, awful arrival of the new year. In early January I jetted to Florida for vacation with my daughter who flew in from London (for my 80th birthday, My God, there are deep holes in my relativity!). Got bumped by Jet Blue three times, had to drive to Canada to get any flight to Florida, had my camera stolen, spent $500 more for parking, driving and flight. That costs me $1,800 extra including the camera (get up at 4AM three mornings in a row, suck in the stress of being bumped , waiting in line and then after the last bump, I would have waited another 4 days unless I made that drive to Montreal.  So darn tired I dazed my way through US and Canadian customs. I was easy pickings. Yeah, Florida was great. Floridians were freezing, to me it was late September, early October weather. Just about perfect. 

Came back to Vermont 20 days later with a strong sense of foreboding. My instincts were right. All the pipes in my house were frozen, the driveway and garage slicked with  black ice from a quick thaw and just as quick freeze. So I am on crampons bringing in wood, working on the pipes, shoveling, trying to get ahead with work and all those bills to pay, $2,000 for fuel oil and propane from Dec 10 to Jan 25. A warm day is when the temperature goes up to ten above zero. 

Trying to live in Vermont as a creative person is madness! So why did I have my second toe on the right foot executed?

It started on 26 Jan when I found a blister on my toe. Pricked it and blood and water squirted out. I washed it in hydrogen peroxide and bandaged it. I propped the toe in front of the fire and built a crust on it but when I put on a sock or shoe and walked it would go mushy. Went to Vermont Medical Associates in Waterbury. Doctor was not in so a nurse assistant looked at it and called in an on-duty doctor. They looked at the toe, which was black and brown on the tip and gooey. They whispered to each other. Then they gave me a shot of penicillin and a five day supply of antibiotic pills. As I left the nurse assistant said she hopes for the best. They thought I had gangrene.  And they did not even clean the toe!

One and a half hours  waiting for the moon, enough to freeze four toes in 1980's

One and a half hours waiting for the moon, enough to freeze four toes in 1980’s

Saw my physician the next day. Told him the nurse and doctor looked, whispered and did not clean. He said he would talk to them. He cleaned it well and bandaged it. He looked at it, did not probe. Found there was a good blood supply and no gangrene. Went twice again to the Waterbury Medical Clinic and had the dressing changed.

Friends at Copley Hospital, one a nurse, said get up to ER at Copley. Don’t fool around with toes. Went up on Saturday. Charles Osler a nurse with long experience in the ER, looked at it, probed it, said the bone was exposed and called the Orthopedic Clinic. He ordered an xray and blood sample. Dr. McLaughlin came up, looked at the toe and also probed it. He said the bone at the tip of the toe was exposed, it was infected, the infection is moving down the toe and he wanted to take the toe off half way down. If he didn’t the infection would travel down to my foot and then…he just gave me a look. So I signed off. Lop it off I said.

The toe is curled and is longer than it looks. The upper line is where the doctor cut the toe off. The bottom line is where the infection stopped.

The toe is curled and is longer than it looks. The upper line is where the doctor cut the toe off. The bottom line is where the infection stopped.

This is my second toe on the right foot.  This toe was a half inch longer than my big toe  and called  Morton’s Toe. Some say the 10% of us who have long second toes are more intelligent or leaders but I think we were very good tree climbing monkeys and it didn’t like banging against the front of my boots. I froze it in the late 1980’s while taking a well known photograph called Moon over Peacham. I was on cross country

Peter's nasty toe the day before its execution at Copley Hospital.

Peter’s nasty toe the day before its execution at Copley Hospital.

Freezing the toe and bumping against ski and hiking boots bruised the skin so this nasty winter the bone exposed itself like a spring flower.

The Doctor said cutting would remove the infection and my toe!

Three days later, at noon, in an operating room with four assistants, Dr. McLaughlin cut the skin with a scalpel and with a special pliers pried off the toe at the second joint. I had one of the nurses take a photo of my toe. It looked like an appetizer one would find in a Szeuchuan restaurant, along with slices of pig ears. Pig in a Poke?

I asked for a local during the operation and wished they had a mirror on the ceiling  so I could photograph the toe execution. One hour of work and I was wheeled back to Room 36. I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours and even hospital food tasted succulent.

I was given a special shoe to wear with a big block of a sole under my right foot so I would not stub my much shorter toe. I could hobble around.

On Wednesday morning John Dostal, a friend, drove me home and fell flat on the black ice in my garage. As the temperature goes up, the snow melts or changes to rain and seeps into the garage and then suddenly the temperature drops 50 degrees and black ice covers the front of my garage and deck. This icing is a new twist in our winters. All the hospitals in my area have had more injuries due to  slip and fall—broken ankles, wrists, wrenched shoulders, dislocated hips than any other year. Now the mal practice lawyers are rushing in to join the picnic.

I refuse to go outside without cleats on my boots. Now I don’t go out at all. This is a killer winter.

I have to elevate the foot, take antibiotic piils four times a day and pain killers when I need it. So far, not much pain. I am incarcerated in my home with a bandaged foot and a hobble shoe for two weeks when I see the doctor who tells me all is well, or he cuts more. I spend most of my time with the foot elevated. Friends have brought food and helped bring in wood. The doctor says I should walk normally. Well the toe was too damned long to begin with.

I still have frozen pipes and now I am told they will be fixed this week. The gallery is a mess with tracking of mud from the cellar. When I came home a few days ago the water was so close to freezing again in the bathroom. By the end of this week we will have a few days above freezing and maybe the salt will finally melt and make my deck and garage floor safe.

This is the third winter of slip and fall and there is no sign of change. There is not enough snow to insulate the sides of the house. Slip and fall winters are no fun. I won’t be in this house next winter unless I too am one of the people who want to leave but can’t find a buyer. With the high taxes we have in Vermont, the change in our weather and out of sight costs of propane and fuel oil, and the efforts put in to just survive, Vermont is not friendly to the independent, self employed Vermonter.

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