LICENSE TO NOSH


The Infanta’s Stolen


Hazelnut cookies with Israeli date spread.

Bizarre but tasty cornmeal cookies with jalapeno pepper jelly filling.
We are a family of foodies. We love to try out new recipes and we are lucky to have friends with whom to share our experiments. There is no better occasion to share these than the holiday gatherings in our own neighborhood where foodies predominate. Never mind that there are professional chefs and cookbook authors in the list of those invited to local holiday hootenannies. We are fearless when it comes to attempts at culinary upmomship.

For the gathering at the historical home of She Who Will Not Be Named Due To National Security Concerns–are you impressed yet?–we will make cornmeal cookies with jalapeno jelly filling. We have a bit of trouble wrapping our minds about the idea of hot-hot jelly, but we know that MesoAmericans put scorching chili peppers in their chocolate. Who are we to argue with them? We are not absolutely mad about cornmeal cookies. We tried an Italian recipe once and found the texture way too coarse for comfort. Crinimi is Italian for the v-shaped coarse cornmeal cookies. Perhaps in Italy cooks use a finer grade of meal, available in the US at shops that carry South American foodstuffs. We will give it a go. Someone gave us a jar of jalapeno jelly we did not quite know how to serve. Crimini! Now we know.
Junior has been on a baking kick and tonight she produced four delectable loaves of Stolen. Neighbors, countrymen, forget your diets. There is stolen abroad and it is plum good. For her next performance, Junior will attempt hazelnut cookies. Instead of a Nutella filling, she will use an Israeli date spread. More anon.

‘THAR SHE BLOWS!


Our entrance light wears a snow cap.

There is a car somewhere under the snow.

Now, where did we put that snow shovel?

Pole vaulting, anyone?

A tobogan might help.

Progressive camouflage.

Storybook tree.

Our snow covered street.




Nineteen inches of snow are something of a record for our village. It isolates us from the nearby Washington, DC and makes us feel as if we were living in David Lean’s set of Dr. Zhivago. So far, our neighbors’ fences are safe from us thanks to our wonderful wood guy, who brought us a cord of locust and cherry a week before our first snowfall, earlier in the month. We stoke Morsolino, our Scandinavian wood stove, put on the kettle and brew oceans of tea. We bake bread, make soup and rejoice in the quiet the follows winter storms.
During the previous first snowfall, a paltry thing that did not merit any cancellations, the snow plow driver saw fit to spend the entire night scritch-scratching his way around the village. This time around, when the accumulation really called for strong measures, he make a couple of passes on main street and called it quites. ” When asked if being marooned in her house at the edge of the woods, Trudy Thundermouse replied with her usual eloquence.
“Hit don’t bother me none. Ah’ve gots me a good bottle of sherry and my mainly main brung me lots of chocolates, tangerines an’oranges and some new desktop publishing softywear. mah turkey’s a-thawin’ for Xmas. Eve and ah just chillin’, just chillin’ like the good Lord meant me to.”
Quarrel with Trudy’s wisdom, if you wish. I think she has a point. Chilling is good. That is just what I plan to do as soon as I get ready for the freezing rain and subzero temps on the forecast for the rest of the week. Button up you overcoat!

‘THAR SHE BLOWS!


Our entrance light wears a snow cap.

There is a car somewhere under the snow.

Now, where did we put that snow shovel?

Pole vaulting, anyone?

A tobogan might help.

Progressive camouflage.

Storybook tree.

Our snow covered street.




Nineteen inches of snow are something of a record for our village. It isolates us from the nearby Washington, DC and makes us feel as if we were living in David Lean’s set of Dr. Zhivago. So far, our neighbors’ fences are safe from us thanks to our wonderful wood guy, who brought us a cord of locust and cherry a week before our first snowfall, earlier in the month. We stoke Morsolino, our Scandinavian wood stove, put on the kettle and brew oceans of tea. We bake bread, make soup and rejoice in the quiet the follows winter storms.
During the previous first snowfall, a paltry thing that did not merit any cancellations, the snow plow driver saw fit to spend the entire night scritch-scratching his way around the village. This time around, when the accumulation really called for strong measures, he make a couple of passes on main street and called it quites. ” When asked if being marooned in her house at the edge of the woods, Trudy Thundermouse replied with her usual eloquence.
“Hit don’t bother me none. Ah’ve gots me a good bottle of sherry and my mainly main brung me lots of chocolates, tangerines an’oranges and some new desktop publishing softywear. mah turkey’s a-thawin’ for Xmas. Eve and ah just chillin’, just chillin’ like the good Lord meant me to.”
Quarrel with Trudy’s wisdom, if you wish. I think she has a point. Chilling is good. That is just what I plan to do as soon as I get ready for the freezing rain and subzero temps on the forecast for the rest of the week. Button up you overcoat!

JASON GOODWIN’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE


Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

As  Christmas approaches, my fellow villagers try to cope with the results of an unprecedented nineteen inch snowfall. In my house, we recently celebrated Hanukkah and we before we join our friends neighbours in a round of holiday jollity, we indulge in  the Oblomovian pastimes a winter storm sanctions. We keep  Morsolino, our splendid Scandinavian wood stove, working full time and  we try to find good  flics to watch–the latest ones on our list  were a French production of La Belle Helene and the Russian House of Fools–and good books to read.  Natasha’s Dance: a Cultural History if Russia and  A People’s Tragedy, by Orlando Figes, are among the history books I enjoyed recently, along with Jason Goodwin’s Lords of the Horizon. Goodwin, whose Yashim novels take the reader on a  delicious romp from Ottoman Turkey to Italy also writes approachable nonfiction with a good novelist’s elegant touch. He keeps the considerable weight of his scholarship from  crushing the reader and he adds delectable anedoctes fit to to enhance chat at many a Christmas feast.   I  reccommend, particularly,  his history of the Ottoman Empire, Lords of the Horizons.

Snowy Shepherdstown, West Virginia.






This is Goodwin’s Christmas message,




HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

I’ve been thinking about this, and I don’t imagine that Yashim, the Ottoman investigator, has a Christmas list.

His more devout Greek friends in Istanbul will fast through Advent: even George the greengrocer keeps a three day fast. Christmas is not a time of gifts for them – that belongs to the New Year, St Basil’s Day, when Christ was circumcised. Then a child – usually a boy – first foots his friends and relatives, bringing a ‘dog onion’ to each house. He goes away with a few coins.

Ambassador Palewski celebrates Christmas in his own way, naturally. On Christmas day he eats only what has been prepared the day before, and he lays an extra place on a white tablecloth in case someone turns up unexpectedly. That person is often Yashim. Under the tablecloth he puts straw. Otherwise, he watches the weather, according to the Polish tradition that the weather at Christmas foretells the pattern for the coming year. Once he invited Marta, his housekeeper, to pick a straw from under the tablecloth. A green straw for marriage, a yellow straw for spinsterhood, and a withered straw for more waiting; the short straw indicates an early grave. Inevitably the experiment led to misunderstanding, and tears.

Yashim visits the local orthodox church on Christmas Eve and lights a candle in memory of his Greek mother.

There’s a little more about her in An Evil Eye, which comes out this Summer.

For more about Yashim, George, Palewski, Marta, and Istanbul in the 1840s, this astonishingly long link should take you to the UK Amazon website for The Janissary Tree, the first in the series.


And here’s the US version.


also –

Why Us? by James le Fanu. Perfect for anyone exhausted by the strident materialism of Richard Dawkins, or suspicious of a theory postulated by a Victorian which puts Victorian men in beards at the top of the evolutionary tree.

The Tale of Samuel Whiskers by Beatrix Potter. Sublime terror, with a proper ending, and pictures.

and finally …

Tintoys.com delivers presents to anyone of any age who may have read Samuel Whiskers already.

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year

Jason

SWEETNESS AND LIGHT


‘Tis the season of lights when Jews commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, in the 2nd. century BCE.  Rather than being a celebration  of a of the military victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian army of Antiochus IV Epiphanes,  Hanukkah commemorates a miracle. According to the Talmud,  after the Temple had been cleansed, what was left of  consecrated  olive oil was only enough  to light the eternal flame for one day. Miraculously, it burned for  for an entire week. To me, freedom of worship is the  real miracle. As a descendant of Sephardic Jews, Hanukkah is a time of reflection and joy for me.

 To celebrate the sweetness of freedom, I made cranberry relish spiced with cinnamon and jazzed up with golden rum. It  makes a good filling for sufgnayot, the jelly filled doughnut tradutionally served at Hanukkah, but folks who celebrate the winter solstice and Christmas, are welcome to the recipe.I plan to try the same recipe with kumquats instead of oranges.
SWEETNESS AND LIGHT
1 package fresh cranberries
Two oranges, minced
 Three quarters of a cup water
One cup sugar
Half a cup rum
1 teaspoon almond extract
A pinch of grated Saigon cinnamon

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Allow it to boil for ten minutes. Add cranberries, orange, rum, almond extract and cinnamon. Reduce heat to medium and cook for ten minutes, stirring frequently. Let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

SOURCING THE TRAPPINGS OF ECUMENICAL FESTIVITIES


Below, leftt–boorzhui tchotkes Lenin would have hated, but Lenin is dead. Painting by Charlie Shobe, bowl, Morocco, red Hungarian (?) cloth, ebay, silver,pre-war Poland, candlesticks, Portugal, lamp, a 79 cent find at the Goodwill. Cat cutouts, England. Painting, Charlie Shobe. Pine cones from our garden. Rocking horse, Germany.
Long ago, a mouse gnawed a hole in the back of the old pie safe below. Now it is a desirable antique.
Left—Portuguese lamp, Goodwill, Murano paperweight from WV flea market, pitcher from K-mart, fish batik from Ginza, in Georgetown, MD. Homely painting, New England flea market, Hanukkiah, Pottery Barn, boxes are gifts friends brought from India and Iran, old Heinrich tureen is from ebay and pewter objects come from Holland via the US Virgin Islands.


.

My friend Margaret made us this Winnie the Pooh. He sits on a Big Lots chair. She Who Will Not Be Named gave us the locally made glass ornament.The tortoise shell glass goblet comes from the Goodwill thrift shop. Little houses from tag sales, trees, Big Lots, Eiffel tower ornament, Restoration Hardware.

HOW TO MAKE A WREATH FOR PENNIES


Francis Bacon, the flying pig and his sidekick, Ha Motzie (The Boss), Yoffie tov!

This assumes that you already have a grapevine wreath . If not, hie yourself to the countryside and gather lengths of bittersweet, wild grape or any pliable, pencil thin vine. Defoliate and twist to form a circle. Gather enough evergreens to cover half the wreath. Attach evergreens with twist ties. Decorate with a bunch of artificial berries and a ribbon.

I used an old grapevine wreath, some cedar greens, recycled berries berries and ribbon.