Political vitriolic nattering and scandals aside, I’ve been pondering Russia. Specifically what goes on in and comes out of some extraordinary or even perhaps ordinary Russian kitchens and bakeshops. Pies. Stunning pies and tartelettes. Continue Reading →
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Valentines Day is nearly upon us and I can’t help but sing this enchanting holiday’s praises. I get that it can be a tough day for those who are lonely and have experienced loss, but it’s also the one time of the year when we somewhat restrained Americans are encouraged to openly express our fondness for one another. And truly, the simpler the bestowing of appreciation and affection the more meaningful to the recipient … so in that spirit, I’m dashing off a few handwritten and typed notes to unsuspecting acquaintances and loved ones. Including you.
In case you’re in the business of finding romantic love, this is your lucky day. Forget OkCupid and Match, I’ve been accumulating some timeless courtship advice over the years from last century’s experts in matters of the heart. You need look no further than 20th century agricultural journals for good news such as this from a 1926 Rural New-Yorker magazine:
“Who says Rural New-Yorker is not a good advertising medium? The woman who made those cherry pies described on page 827 received an offer of marriage sight unseen. She will continue to make pies at the same old stand.”
(Note to guys: women like men who bake pies too!) Continue Reading →
Saturday 3.14.15 at 9:26 is the BIG pi day and Albert Einstein’s 136th birthday. Two years ago, I wrote an authoritative post on how Albert Einstein came up with his Theory of Relativity and various equations that actually totally escape my understanding, which I am yet again re-posting, as now it’s tradition. Speaking of things that defy comprehension, do you ever wonder how it is that you can create children that have analytical and all sorts of other capacities well beyond your own? Wayne and I ponder this frequently. As it turns out, my ability for doing math ended in 4th grade, and Wayne claims his ended in 3rd. So how did it come about that we managed to raise three scientist kids who DO understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? Who use squiggles that aren’t even numbers anymore to figure out that stuff?
Well, Einstein’s not the only one who can make up theories … I have made up a couple, myself on this topic … Continue Reading →
The 1946 Remington Noiseless Portable Typewriter. I’ve been looking for a manual typewriter with a not-tiny font in good working order for years now. So when my daughter, Rita and I came upon this one in an Atlanta antique store recently, I grabbed it. The ribbon was dried up, but did you know they still make manual typerwriter ribbons? In the USA no less. Anyway, here’s one of my new off-site offices.
I call this the stump picnic table office. And it’s perfect for writing a vintage cookbook about this sort of thing:
A portable cooking cookbook deserves to be written on a portable vintage typewriter. Only problem is that it’s been a while since I’ve typed on a manual typewriter. I’m rusty, and my pinkies are a bit flaccid, so I need to build up strength for typing “p” and “q” and such. The typewriter came with a case and the KEY for heaven’s sake. And the instruction booklet is with it as well. I need to share with you important information about how to craft a dinner invitation and how to respond. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Remington, 1946. The reply is hilarious. I can’t stop laughing.
Ok Now here’s a sample of my typing which I hope will improve come book-time.
Love, and I would NEVER turn down a dinner invitation from you!!!!!
July 4th is my birthday and this is the “cake” I made for our birthday dinner. Friends suggested that I post the recipe and so I thought I’d share my version/not-recipe of this ice cream sort of cheesecake. And then, I got to thinking about how most of the recipes/foods on this blog are pretty much pie or some sort of dessert. Which led me to ponder what that’s about since (and this is the confession part) I don’t even care about eating pies or cakes or ice cream. And actually, the thing I like best about dessert is what I eat right before I eat dessert, knowing that I need to not fill up so I have room for the dessert.
Which looks something like this lunch from my garden and friends from the local tailgate market. (Hmm, this fruit plate looks like dessert already! It was a productive fruit day in the garden.) There is one more piece of the frozen cheesecake left which I will probably just pass to Wayne because I’m over it already. Even though it was fantastic. The truth is that I love the process of cooking, the art, the alchemy, the gardening and shopping and the gathering of loved ones at the table and I want to feed you. Good foods, healthy foods, foods that do not include blobs of pork belly. And, I love and appreciate your healthy appetite because I just don’t have one. A plate of veggies fills me up and I have to be selective about my abdominal real estate. But I will be happy to make this delicious frozen yogurt “cake” for your birthday! The inspiration came from my new favorite cookbook.
Maybe 7 inches of rain in 4 days isn’t such a bad thing. No gardening, mowing, weed-whacking, laundry-hanging or long walks in the woods to distract from getting the house back in order after two and a half weeks of bursting-at-the seams family, friends, food and wedding festivities.
First, all three of our kids plus husband came to visit from their far-flung homes. Plus 14 other friends and family. Annie and Gianluca taught a huge rustic campfire polenta class whose photos I cannot find at the moment … and trout fishing and grilling and feasting and toasting and toasting and more toasting …
And our annual pie contest with 78 pies entered this year (more to come) …
And then, there was my Niece’s wonderful wedding …
Done. The flu, the chicken soup, the 500 rolls of tissue, all of it. New year, new toothbrush, clean sheets, kale and daily walks up the mountain behind our house.
Just in case Mr. Flu comes banging at your door, I have some advice. These cute vintage hankies don’t cut it.
Last weekend, girls were weilding axes at our log cabin next door. As in “handling a weapon or tool with skill and ease.” You must do that in order to cook on a wood cookstove, and that we did at our Ladies cookin’ on a wood cookstove class.
Most of these gals had never chopped wood before, but you’d never know it. While one chopped, the rest of us cheered and before you know it, we had a big stack of cookstove-sized wood of various btu’s … red oak, white oak, and locust.
Your daddy is a butcher
Your mama sells the meat
And you’re the little weenie who runs about the street …
So much for my summer goal of being a more well-behaved writer/cooking instructor/etc. This upcoming Sort-of Appalachian Supper cooking class involves local moonshine.
And that reminds me that I need to share a few sayin’s from my good friend Johnnie Otto pictured above (left) on the porch of her Tennessee mountain cabin in about 1918. She wasn’t a moonshiner, mind you, but she was a hoot. Johnnie was born in 1913 in the Sugarlands section of what’s now the Great Smoky Mountains national park. When the government bought the land from mountain farmers in the 1930s, their hand-hewn cabins sat abandoned and forlorn as their owners made a life for themselves elsewhere. Fortunately, Johnnie Cole Otto’s family cabin was re-located to the Roaring Fork motor trail near Gatlinburg, TN, where visitors can get a glimpse of what life was like not so long ago with parents, grandparents, and 11 or so kids sharing a life in a one or two-room cabin here in these southern Appalachian mountains.
Frank Otto, a civil engineer from Chicago, won Johnnie’s heart (over about a 10 year period!) in the 1940s, and whisked her away to live in a nice suburban home with plumbing, electricity, and three bedrooms in Arlington, VA. They had three kids, one of whom is my good friend, Marti, who introduced me to her mountain mom in the 1970’s. Johnnie taught me how to make fantastic biscuits, cornfield beans and blue ribbon county fair pickles. All the while spouting sayin’s like these:
Oh, help me. Where do I even start …. Actually this story deserves more time to tell than I have at the moment, so I think that this is 10th annual Asheville retro pie contest part I. However, we’ve the great honor of being the cover story of the August edition of the wonderful WNC magazine. Rita Larkin and photographer Christopher Shane’s rendition of last year’s pie contest paints a sweet picture of our annual event and includes suggestions for starting a retro pie contest of your own.
It all started when I went about gathering recipes and stories for my Lost Art of Pie Making Book in 2003. Whenever I mentioned to friends that I was writing a pie book, they would just about scream, “OH, I make a great pie!” or “OH I just love pie!” or “OH PIE PIE PIE!” It just made sense to get everyone together for a pie-lovin’ festivity with a bit of old-time, competitive spirit. Little did I know that this dern thing would take on a life of its own to where now it’s bursting at the seams with spectacular, delicious, outrageous works of art/fun.