Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Random Ten

Hit random, take the top ten. . .

Loo'sianna Lovesick Blues - - - Bessie Smith
You In The Sky - - - The Waterboys
Don't I Like What I See - - - The Rikters
April, Come She Will - - - Paul Simon
Maple Leaf Rag - - - Dave Van Ronk
If He's Ever Near - - - Linda Ronstadt
One of These Days - - - Emmylou Harris (live, me on trusty Martin D28-12)
Sweet Dreams - - - Tammy Wynette
Man Too Strong - - - Toots and the Maytalls
I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me - - - Merle Haggard

Bonus (Hit random twice and take the top)

Tennessee Stud - - - Doc Watson

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Coat of Many Colors

This is a beautiful rendition of this song. The main thing that struck me is the look on Dolly's face while Melissa sings this story. You can see the truth there.

Back through the years
I go wonderin' once again
Back to the seasons of my youth
I recall a box of rags that someone gave us
And how my momma put the rags to use
There were rags of many colors
Every piece was small
And I didn't have a coat
And it was way down in the fall
Momma sewed the rags together
Sewin' every piece with love
She made my coat of many colors
That I was so proud of
As she sewed, she told a story
From the bible, she had read
About a coat of many colors
Joseph wore and then she said
Perhaps this coat will bring you
Good luck and happiness
And I just couldn't wait to wear it
And momma blessed it with a kiss

My coat of many colors
That my momma made for me
Made only from rags
But I wore it so proudly
Although we had no money
I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me

So with patches on my britches
Holes in both my shoes
In my coat of many colors
I hurried off to school
Just to find the others laughing
And making fun of me
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me

And oh I couldn't understand it
For I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love
My momma sewed in every stitch
And I told 'em all the story
Momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors
Was worth more than all their clothes

But they didn't understand it
And I tried to make them see
That one is only poor
Only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money
But I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
Made just for me


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Glimmers of Hope, Words of Comfort

As I look at the coming year, seeing how rabid and vicious the right wing of our nation is already when they attack children, soldiers, and anyone who disagrees with their warped and bizarre construction of reality I tend to just shrink back.

I tend to lean toward retreating behind my cactus fence and concentrating on nothing but living as nicely as I can from day to day.

I tend to wonder if any of this is worth the slimy and stinking fight they will present.

Then, I get an email from a friend who makes me promise to write before I give up.

I promise.

Then, the phone rings. There has been a baby born. Her name? Jooni (beauty in Apache) Harper (after me). She is 14 inches long and weighs seven and a half pounds. I'm going to go meet her this afternoon. I'm bringing presents for her mothers and for her. I promise to dote on her and spoil her shamelessly.


Happy Birthday Boss

Eagerly anticipating the release of "Magic" and hoping to start some sincere shit during the next election.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Scripture Cake

I have had this recipe for a long time. Longer term readers might remember that on the rez when I was a kid the schools were pretty much in the hands of missionaries who would volunteer to carry the word to us little heathens. Sometimes we could even manage to get a bit of learning in. Their Ladies' Aid Society would send boxes of books, and if we could get to them before the censors we could steal some pretty good stuff.

I first was exposed to Scripture Cake when Mrs. Tondevald was teaching 4th grade during "Lutheran" year. She brought in a lot more ingredients than we would need to have, and her trusty King James Bible. We would look at the recipe, look up the appropriate verse and try to figure out the ingredients. While it didn't have the intended effect of making a bible reader out of me, it did show me that you can always look stuff up. Plus, on the rez back in the 50's, sugar was a huge ass treat, and cake, even more so.

In the end I figure that the folks who did the missionary work were usually pretty decent sorts who were trying to do the best they could. Some of them, like Mrs. Grove in the 5th grade (during "Quaker" year) did it pretty up and walking good too.

I have the same respect for those folks that I do for the Mormons who found a way to get kids like my cousin and I off the rez for high school. Yeah, we had to wade through a bunch of magic jesus stuff to get to our education, but you know what? Nobody else was offering.


1 cup 1st Samuel 25:18 (a hundred clusters of raisins)
1 cup chopped Isaiah 34:4 (figs from the fig tree)
1 cup chopped Numbers 17:23 (bore ripe almonds)
1 cup chopped Exodus 15:27 (there were seventy date palms)
1 1/2 Cups Leviticus 2:5 (fine flour, unleavened)
1 pinch (Leviticus 2:13 (season with salt)
1 teaspoon Exodus 30:23 (of sweet cinnamon)
1 dash Song of Solomon 4:10 ("all manner of spices," in this case we used ginger and allspice)
1 tsp. Amos 4:5 ("of that which is leavened," baking powder)
3 large Isaiah 10:14 (one gathereth eggs)
1 cup Jeremiah 6:20 ("and the sweet cane," sugar)
1/2 Cup Numbers 11:8 (cakes baked with oil)
1 tablespoon Judges 14:18 (what is sweeter than honey?)

Preheat oven to 325°, with the rack in the middle rung. Combine the fruit and nuts in a bowl off to the side. In another bowl mix the flour, salt, baking powder and spices. Beat the eggs until smooth and lemon yellow, add the sugar and beat until creamed and fluffy. Add the oil and the honey, a little at a time and beat until fully mixed. Add in the flour, salt, baking powder and spice mix. Beat until very smooth. Fold in the fruits gently with a rubber spatula and pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for about 90 minutes.

This is a decent fruit cake. I have threatened more than once to make up a recipe that would be Shakesperian Sonnet Cake, but I've never gotten around to it.

Scripture Cake did fine. So did the missionaries. I think they knew all along that we were stealing the books they didn't want us to read.


Monday, October 08, 2007

1-2-3-4 Cake

Over at Big Brass Blog my fellow blogger, and horse lover Ms. Mule from East Jayzus Mizzurah was talking about a recipe for a cake her grandma called 1-2-3-4 Cake. That got me thinking about it and I recalled dimly that somewhere in the little boxes of recipes on index cards I have handed down from generations of cooks in the family that I had seen that one. It took a couple of dusty crawls through the attic before I found the right box that held the right little box, but damn, I did.

This is another great recipe to make with a kid. There are no excessively dangerous or complex steps. Just straightforward basic techniques. It's not a bad cake either. So let's get at it.


1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups cake flour
4 eggs
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°, grease and flour (or hose down with baker's spray) three 9" round cake pans. In a large mixing bowl cream together the sugar and butter until it is light and fluffy. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. With the mixer at medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time to the butter and sugar. Mix with each egg until smooth and totally mixed and scrape down the sides of the pan. Add in the milk and the dry sifted ingredients together alternately, making sure everything stays smooth and then add in the extracts. Keep mixing until totally smooth. Pour evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes. A perfectly done cake will spring back when the center is poked. Overbaking will toughen it and tough cake is some tough shit.

Cool on racks for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely before frosting with what ever frosting the kid you're doing this with picks out.


Variations on a Curd (not to be confused with Kurdistan)

The steps and the proportions of juice and sugar remain constant as with lemon curd. What will vary are the amounts of sugar and the final temperature.

My nieghbors who have citrus trees have quickly figured out that if they leave sacks of fruit on my doorstep (or, in the case of the ones who are intimidated by the cactus fence, the gate that has "Desajunes Solos" arched over it, and then the dogs) outside the entrance gate, that there will be marmalades, and citrus curds in the pipeline coming back to them.

I already gave the variations for lime curd at the bottom of the lemon curd recipe, but, in case you missed it, they are to reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup and the final cooking temperature to 185°. The lime curd is something I often substitute for lemon curd in things like blueberry tarts, or kiwi (kiwi tart mmmmmmm!) because it is a far subtler touch. Even though the natural color is a pale pale yellow, it tastes green. Some folks throw a couple drops of green food coloring into the finished product to have their tongue's experience match up with their eyes. I don't, but suit yourself.

Bitter Sevillanas are the oranges that are most used for marmalade. The juice from these oranges also stands up to the cooking process far better than any other. Their resulting curd is vibrant and muscular. The only concession I make to these is because their skin is so thick, and so bitter that I use the zest of the more gentle navel orange or the valencia instead. For a Sevillana curd I use 4 teaspoons navel or valencia zest, and, depending on whether or not I am looking for a more tart or balance out a batch of bitterness, I will vary the amount of sugar between 3/4 cup and 2/3 cup. The temperature for the finish is 185°.

Blood Orange curd. Because the blood orange is a far more delicate flavor to obtain the proper vigor I always start with twice as much juice which I then reduce by half and then cool to room temperature before making the curd. Decrease the sugar by taste to somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cup. By the reduction process there is already twice as many sugars present in the juice itself, so force yourself to taste this one constantly during the process. A teaspoon of this over a Crème Brúlee is something that must be experienced to understand.

Valencia oranges are a little different. These are superb juicing oranges but it is a far less intense flavor. Start with enough juice to be reduced by three quarters, and use twice as much zest. A little kiss (1/4 teaspoon) of orange oil will added will really punch up the impact flavors of this one. Decrease the sugar from 3/4 cup to somewhere between 1/2 to 2/3 cup. Final temperature is 180°.

Passion Fruit also makes a sublime and vibrant curd. I warn you, it is addictive as crack and might lead you to disgusting excesses of danish pastries and ice cream, or ostentacious slatherings of peach pies.

Use a fresh purée or a commercial (any respectable cake or baker's supply will have decent passion fruit pur&eactue;e or juice available) for this. Use fresh lemon zest as if you were making a lemon curd.

Take 6 tablespoons of passion fruit for the cooking process and after it is finished and strained add in another 4 tablespoons with the zest, into the finished product.

The finish temperature for passion fruit is 190°.


Columbus Day

On this day, in 1492,
Columbus, while lost at sea.

Was discovered
And rescued

By Native Americans.