Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Random Ten

Without further ado. . .

here's the playist for today after hitting "random."

Hard Travelin' - - - Pete Seeger
I Ain't Gonna Drag My Feet No More - - - Chris Thomas Clark
She's Funny That Way - - - Benny Goodman
Say It In Private - - - Steve Goodman
The Things I Used To Do - - - Jimi Hendrix (live bootleg)
Grits Ain't Groceries - - - John Mayall
Play Around - - - Patti Scialfa (she's way more than just Bruce's squeeze)
Horn Concerto in F #2 - - - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Barry Tuckwell on a natural horn)
Mama Couldn't Be Persuaded - - - Warren Zevon (live bootleg me on banjo)
Willie the Weeper - - - Cab Calloway


Kathy's Song - - - Simon & Garfunkle

Random Ten on Hold

Until I get back from picking up a new router. To hold you until that time I offer this thought.

The New York Times, ever concerned for the news that really matters, instead of reporting all that much about the 46 Iraqis and the 4 Americans who were killed yesterday delivered the earthshaking important story about "Kristen" the call girl.

Turns out she's an aspiring singer. You can follow stuff through Facebook or some other folks who are linking through (I'm not at my regular station or I would have done this with photos too).

I downloaded her two songs and thought "Ok, if you like that style (Christina Augilera or punky Britney) she's as good as any of them."

Then it struck me how valuable her experience as a hooker will come in her music career. She will instantly recognise what's really happening when you negotiate with record labels or agents or tour promoters.

Her experience and skills have a chance to serve her well. Although her willingness to negotiate things like condoms disturbs me. You can't really protect your soul in the music industry, you can, however, protect your ass.

Remember Kristen, no glove, no love.

I was talking a few weeks ago with the son of a friend who is trying to break into the L.A. music scene. I told him:

"Some folks say it's who you know, others say it's who you blow. In reality it's who you know to blow and much they like it."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Because One Good Abigail Adams Deserves Another

And I mourn the fact that strong, intelligent and resourceful women like her only seem to be noticed if they are married to someone like John Adams. Had there been a more open society Abigail would have been of even more consequence.

This is another of her recipes. It was developed to help bolster the use of coffee as the stimulant beverage of choice over the taxed and despised tea. Abigail served it at her famous coffee gatherings in Braintree. They were notable for their free wheeling and fascinating conversations.

Coffee Ginger Cakes

Sift together three times: 5 cups of flour and 2 cups of sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon Jamaica Ginger and 1 teaspoon soda. By hand, work in 1 egg.

In a double boiler combine 1 cup New Orleans Molasses, 1 cup hot strong coffee, 1 cup butter (2 sticks) and 3 teaspoons Madagascar Vanilla Liquor. (the old New England "Blackbirds" or slavers used to put halved vanilla beans into jugs of whiskey or rum it was an early form of vanilla extract). Heat until butter is completely melted.

Add the liquid into the flour mixture a little at a time and shape into a soft dough. Roll thick and cut into large round cakes. Bake at 400° (Abigail's recipe says "a hot oven") for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with coffee and conversation.

Writer's note: If you do not have HBO make some of these and insinuate yourself into the house of someone who does and insist on watching John Adams.

Who knows? Maybe we will finally get around to giving him the monument, or the face on a coin or bill that he deserves. I'm ready to ditch Jackson, Kennedy, or Grant in favor of Adams.


The Dark Wraith made this recipe with some slight modifications and has a post up about his results, with pictures. Rock. On. Brother.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Indian Pudding (first posted 11/02/06)

I'm reposting this because it is one of my favorite recipes, but also because HBO is running a series based on David McCullogh's brilliant biography of Adams. Adams was a politician to the bone. He knew how to play the game very well. Had he been a better liar we would be spending money with his visage on it.

This dish has a long and storied history in America. It was a favorite dish of my favorite of the Founding Fathers, John Adams. He had it for dessert at night and then reheated in the morning and served with cold milk. He also drank hard cider at every meal. There are no monuments to Adams, he knew that there most likely would not be and was bothered by that knowledge. Yet, he was instrumental in almost every single event in our early history. His ranting and railing at the Continental Congress was the stuff of legend. His outburst before his resolution on "independency" was brilliant stuff. He pointed out that King George had already declared the colonies to be in rebellion and that Congress had yet to do so. He, with remarkable self-awareness told Jefferson that he should be the writer of the Declaration because "I'm not half the writer you are, and besides, I'm obnoxious and disliked." I think I admire Adams most because of his human failings. I understand his single minded pursuit of excellence. I admire his fidelity and love of his wife and family. I am in awe of the courage it took for him to stand in the Court of St. James as the first Ambassador and be ignored. That he was able to rise above his frailties and truly achieve greatness was brilliant and courageous stuff. Would that we had politicians of that mettle now. Since we can't seem to find anyone that is willing to act like John Adams, at least we can eat like him. There are many variations to this dish. This recipe is from the lovely and strong Abigail. It is plain and simple. I will list some of the possible variations after the original has been presented. My kids adore this. When I would have it on the table they would, when they were little, exclaim "Indian Pudding! 'Cause we're Indians!" (the last words shouted at proper war whoop volumes) My stock reply was always to say "Indeed you are my darlings."


1 quart scalded milk
1/3 cup corn meal (she means yellow or yankee corn meal here)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 good teaspoon ginger (slighty more than level will do nicely)

Scald the milk and strain through a sieve into a double boiler pan with the corn meal (milk skin is icky and I have discovered that tossing it to the dogs keeps them out from underfoot while I'm moving about the kitchen, they also manage a good floor cleanup while they're at it). Over rapidly boiling, salted water (there's some scientific principle about salting the water, it makes it go a little hotter or a little cooler I never can remember which one) mix together with the salt and cook, stirring often (you don't have to do this constantly but scorching and lumping are to be discouraged) for 20 to 25 minutes. You're looking for a thick, rich porridge here. Bubbles should bulge and hiss steam like Yellowstone mud pots and the granularity of the meal should be tenderized. Mix in the molasses (and I like to start with 3 tablespoons of good maple syrup then top off with a viscous dark blackstrap molasses to make 1/2 cup) and the ginger and transfer to a buttered soufflé dish (see that's not a totally single use item) or a sturdy baking dish and bake at 300° for about 2 hours. This is orgasmic if you serve it with a top flight vanilla ice cream.

Now, to variations. Dried fruit can be added without any changes at all. If you choose to add eggs, you will be making it more of a custard and will have to increase the milk proportionally. You might be tempted to add cinnamon or nutmeg or a dose of brown, white or maple sugar. Resist these foolish thoughts! Think of John Adams scowling at you for putting on airs! Molasses and ginger were huge treats at a colonial New England table. Cinnamon and nutmeg were only available through the same East India Tea Company bastards that were fouling up a pretty good system, while ginger could be smuggled easily by good neighbors like Hancock through New Orleans from the Islands. Show your solidarity with our Founders, eat some Indian Pudding, drink some hard cider and imagine Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine taking turns bitch slapping our current President while John Adams, Sam Adams, Paul Revere, John Jay, Jefferson and a handsome young Hamilton smoked their pipes and offered technical advice.

crosspudding at 3B's

Straight From The "Whores's" Mouth

With the fall from grace of Eliot Spitzer I took it upon myself to call the beautiful April. She has first hand knowledge of this world. She works as an "escort" in Palm Springs.

At the beginning of the call she was a little taken aback. Her work as an escort is one of the things we simply don't talk about. In the interest of fairness and equity, she's never asked me about road cookies, except from the standpoint of new things to try. I've never thought about asking her, it just has not been a subject that I ever felt like broaching. I've been around the world a few times, liked it every trip too. However, I've always been more comfortable leaving the hows, whys, and intricate manners of that world alone. Especially when it comes to April. Neither of us has a great history of dealing with complications in relationships, it's kind of the main reason we've stumbled into what ever you might call what we have going.

I told her that I wanted to understand how arrangements like Spitzer's work. She said "Just like my agency. The client (not trick, not john, not customer) calls the agency and requests company for an agreed amount of time for an agreed upon fee. "Extras" are negotiated between the escort and the customer. The agency provides access to the woman and nothing more."

I had to ask "What does the customer get for the money." She said "Discretion mainly. We won't ever call them at home or intrude on the rest of their lives. They can ask us to do things that their wives and other non-professionals won't do." I figured Shit! Minefield! Change this topic! Now!" She said "Mostly, it's pretty mundane stuff." (my head says "I don't even want to get into what she thinks is exotic" and I tell the fucking head to shut up)

I had to ask though "What were they talking about when they mentioned he was into dangerous stuff? Condoms? Is the guvner one of those bareback riders?" She said "That's what it sounded like. (short pause) I. Never. Do. That. Ever. There's not enough money in the world for me to do that. Not with a bloodtest from yesterday. Never. Is that what you were worried about?" I told her that was not something I was concerned about. The only times I ever doubt her judgement is when she hangs in there with me. She laughed, that's a good sign. So I plunge on.

"When they talk about the discretion and the privacy how far should it go? Should a girl take extra time in an arrest situation to protect the privacy of a client?" She said without a second of hesitation "Of course. That's part of the deal. That's the main part of the deal. Because my agency is in Palm Springs we get a lot of big names. Business names, Show Business names, Political names. They come to us because they can't hang out in the singles bars or other pickup places, and, most of all, they know we won't talk about it. If we see them somewhere else, we look the other way, and they do the same."

I asked how pervasive these arrangements are in the halls of power. She said "Think about it for a second. Imagine you're a rising young star and you get tired of not being able to just latch onto a good healthy sport fuck without endangering your career. Or, you are afraid to ask your wife about maybe bringing in a third party for a three for all, you just want some no strings fucking, you have the money to pay for it and when it's over everybody goes about their business. Doesn't that make sense? What if you're a Congressman or Statie who talks about morality and sanctity of marriage but your wife quit giving head six years ago? If you like head, and want head, why not just get an escort who will go down and seem to enjoy it?"

I said "So privacy, and lack of inhibition is the main attraction?" She said "Yes. An escort service should be the ultimate safe sex." I asked if she was worried about her agency being outed and she said "We have tapes and records, too many captains of industry and politics would fall. So would the city and county governments, to say nothing at all of the police force. Including the feds."

I left it at that. I thought about getting into pricings but decided against it. After all, I love this girl.


In another call I asked the beautiful April how pervasive her service was in the society and culture where we live. She said, "It's pervasive and infiltrated enough that one of the girls I work with was at the fundraiser you played over the weeekend in Malibu. She said you spent most of the weekend hanging out with that backup singer you used to date. Is that pervasive enough for your ass?"

This means that the girl she is talking about was staying in the home of the event's organizer, either as a full pledged guest herself or as the escort of another invited guest.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Soda Bread

This is the real thing too. To be fully appreciated you make it the day before it is served. That gives the bread a chance to calm and settle in both flavor and texture.

This is the recipe from my aunt in Ireland. It's what she serves. The additions and variations that I go into at the back end of it come from all over. Even Liverpool, the Irish colony in Britain.


3 1/2 cups cake flour (the finer grind helps with the texture)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (kosher or sea salt)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450°

Sift the dry ingredients together at least 3 times. You have to achieve an even distribution of the soda. It's critical. Place the sifted batch into a large mixing bowl (leave yourself plenty of stirring room, you won't have time later to be delicate) and form a depression in the middle of the dry stuff. Pour 3/4s of the buttermilk into the depression and begin to stir briskly. You want a dough that is very soft and raggy. With the rags and lumps being very squishy. You want to feel that if you added another glop of liquid you might have a batter. Add the remaining liquid sparingly. If you over add liquid don't be afraid to toss a handfull of flour into it. It's fucking Soda Bread, not rocket science.

Speed however, is important here. The chemical reaction of the soda and the buttermilk has begun and you want this puppy in the oven while it is still churning internally. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it quickly. We aren't looking for the traditional smooth and elastic ball of dough. What we want is a mostly cohesive lump of sog that will contain the bulk of the ingredients. That's all.

Shape it into a slightly domed hemisphere of about 6 to 8" round. Use a very sharp knife to cut a 3" cross in the top. Use a very sharp knife because you do not want to squish or compress any of the lovely CO2 bubbles which are forming madly away inside your ball of goo. Gently transfer this to a lightly floured baking sheet (corn meal makes for a great sheet duster too) and carefully put it into the middle rack of the oven. We take care at this part because the CO2 bubbles are very vulnerable at this point. We want them to be there so we are going to be gentle, aren't we?

Bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 400°. Bake at 400° for another 30 minutes.

To check your loaf for doneness thunk it sharply with your finger. If it sounds hollow, it's done. For a crusty, crunchy loaf (my favorite), cool it on a rack. For a softer crust wrap immediately in a cheesecloth.

This is one of the ultimate breadsops ever invented. It will clean every drop of broth from a soup or stock from a stew. It's murder on gravy.

Spotted Dog

Is simply soda bread with a handfull of raisins added at the kneading. If you must, you can also add a teaspoon of sugar. I don't, but it's been done. This is more of a teabread.

Treacle Bread

2 tablespoons dark molasses
1 cup buttermilk
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
healthy pinch of ground ginger

The directions for treacle bread are the same. Remember Speed Saves This. Don't lollygag or dally. Turn to and turn it out. It will be great.

big brass blog

Poetry That Sings

From atlargely.

It's by Larisa Alexandrovna. It's one of the absolute best things I've ever read. I will be exploring her writing much more. I found her blog through buzzflash.

Here is the excellent poem.

Speaking to Jingo-Man

You cannot press me silent

Bruiser, because I don't have

Enough flags attached to my house,

Or because I don't like your lists and eyes

On lists, or threaten fists against

Me if I won't sit still.

You cannot shove me quiet

Brother, because I don't have crosses

On my wall or because I don't read your

Book or Books of Books, or

Threaten to get your hooks on

Me if I won't agree.

You cannot strike me still

Buster, because I don't rage

Along with you to make the world

Genteel or because I don't want your goods

Or wares, or forced words on worlds,

That don't speak for me.

You cannot hit me -free -

Bully, because my eyes can see

The past and all the other eyes that came

Before mine enough to know that you

Can't have your lies for long before the

Rot stinks up the place.

Goddamn, that's some good stuff.


Irish Stew

This dish is the Irish version of Jewish Pennicilin (or chicken soup). It will cure what ails ya. It is very simple, so simple that it really does not tolerate a lot of dressing up or innovation.

I do many simple recipes. Here's the thing though. Simplicity demands perfection. Do these simple things perfectly and the result will be as dramatic as the long and involved three day process dishes.


2lbs boneless leg of lamb, well trimmed and cut into 1/2" cubes
small amount of olive oil
1 3/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed (red or new potatoes will do, I go with cheap in the bulk bag russets)
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks
3 stalks celery, cut into chunks (remove the strings first you barbarian)
3 large leeks, white portion only, halved and washed, sliced very thin
2 cups lamb stock (use low sodium chicken stock if you don't have lamb stock)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
salt (kosher or sea salt is best)
fresh ground pepper
coarsely chopped fresh parsley

Brown the lamb meat in the olive oil in a separate skillet. Drain well. Add all the ingredients except the salt, pepper, and parsley in a slow cooker. Set the cooker to low and walk away. After about two hours add in the salt and pepper to taste. When the lamb meat is fork tender (about 4 hours in my crockpot) it's ready. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley when the bowls are ladled.

Serve with soda bread or lots of crackers.

This is even better the next day.


Expect the soda bread recipe soon.