Saturday, June 27, 2009


OK, it didn't work.

I was trying to replicate the event of my posting prior to "This," because in that posting an add for some sort of Tyson product popped up. I looked at it but didn't read it and, now, I'm wondering how smart it was — one of those ads that reads what I'm writing and offers something akin, or just a sloppily placed ploy.

Let's try again …


Is a test. It is only a test. Like sticking a fork into an inch-thick porterhouse.


Lordy, it's hot, and has been for a week now. The sides of my martini glass sweat profusely. (A 3-to-1 Nick & Nora with Beefeater 24, for the record.) The west side of the house takes the sun head on, like a steak cooked halfway through and awaiting a turn. That said, I was going to grill a skirt steak tonight, and I still may, but I'm looking forward to it like I am the heaven-hell fork in the road itself. When it's this hot, the sweet corn is sticky, the new potatoes old, the basil basted and near-death, the oven a thing I avoid as if it spewed plague.

I watched some of the Cubs-White Sox action on Fox today, live from the south side, where the weather was said to be "perfect." I hope, where you are, it is nearer to that than this.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mussel bound

My brother, the food salesman, brought us some fish the other night, packed in Cryovac and ready to cook. Portico Seafood. He brought Louisiana drum (redfish) fillets, clams and mussels.

My missus can't eat mussels. Swells her tummy. After tonight, I might join her. We shall sea.

I ate enough mussels in Bastogne, Belgium, one night to create my own battle of the bulge. But, even with the plethora of ales, it never came. I have a tank to fill when it comes to moules. "Some mussels and french fries, a couple of Belgian ales, and I'm in heaven," said Pete Nicholls one night somewhere. That Bastogne night must have put me in the league of angels.

With mademoiselle out shooting a wedding, I made this, inspired by Jamie Oliver's Italian book:

Fry some garlic in olive oil and, before it browns, add a pinch of capers, six cherry tomatoes, a dried ancho chili (I used two chiles en adobo — some like it hot), and some parsley if you have it. Then boil some pasta and remove with tongs or one of those pasta spoons, to leave the water going, then chunk in one bag of Portico mussels. It holds, like, a thousand. Toss the lot of it back into the boiling pot and splash once again with your best olive oil.

Holy sea-change, what a dish. And get this: It went better with the house red (for now, Bota Box Old Vine Zin, a fat, juicy red) than it did a Red Guitar rose.

This from Sysco: "Across all three of these lines, Sysco's industry leading Quality Assurance (QA) program ensures that the Portico seafood you serve was not only properly harvested, but also inspected, processed and transported with all of the care your customers deserve. With Portico seafood on your menu, your customers can order with total confidence — and with bon app├ętit!"

Blue bayou

Down in the wooded flats of the South Canadian River, we were directed to the blueberry farm of a friend of my aunt Mary's. This is near Scipio, Pyle Mountain, Wild Horse Creek and Tannehill Road — oaken, rich land that steams in summer and whistles in winter, with the smell of wood burning a kind of Pittsburg (Co.) perfume.

The farm of Bruce and Debbie, former Angelinos, was idyllic — a pristine spot cut out of the oak trees where Debbie makes soap (she sells most of it online, in New York and California) and not far from Bruce's post at the local ammunition plant. Bruce is in ordnance. Debbie's in berries.

He came down to pick "a quart and a half" and stayed for much more than that. "Debbie's going to make jam." We filled a couple of gallon pails, paying in sweat equity and some futures on my aunt's vegetable garden.

You can't tell from the image, but we picked berries as big as cherries at Bruce and Debbie's. The Kerr Center wants to pay her to grow blackberries and grape but Debbie can't decide. She once sold cut-your-own Christmas trees, too. She raises cattle.

"When I got here," she said, "I didn't know the girls from the boys. Not until calves started falling out of them."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bang the drum

The Red Guitar rose, we learned tonight, is not nearly as drinkable as the Red Guitar tempranillo blend. Oh well. The fish was good — two fillets of Louisiana red fish (often labeled drum) — that we seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt, lemon, capers, mustard, butter and garlic. Fish, Owasso new potatoes, peas and radish greens from the garden, the latter two delicious but nouvelle in portion, due to something agrinomic beyond our control.

My brother, who sells food for Sysco, brought us the fish. There are clams and mussels in the freezer. That's brotherly love.

Stephen Pingry, a Tulsa World photographer and our brother in arms, brought back the mustard from Paris: a cognac-laced Maille. Bloody brilliant.

Forget the Red Guitar rose. Do the tempranillo. Even with fish.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Now we're cookin'

Update to the previous post, where I was detailing my big Sunday grill fest.

I went to the counter, near the window, to grab the shrimp skewers and heard a crackling noise, a loud enough one for me to think the grill had run amok.

I went out and found a fire, all right, but not on the H-B. The deck was aflame! I'd tossed a piece of smoldering cherry wood (it flavored the chorizo link oh so well …) onto the ground, up against the lattice work. Wind and heat did the rest. A tidy little fire of, oh, four feet was beginning to take wings.

Sometimes irony is a beauty. This one was: Kelly walking across the lawn, oblivious, with a 5-gallon bucket of water in her hand. The kids were likewise unawares.

And this, I'm thinking, this is how insurance claims begin.

Alors, bon appetit.


Went ballistic tonight on the Hasty-Bake — ribs and chorizo, smoked, first round; shrimp and bratwurst skewers on second firing — but it's the salad that I'm stoked about. A bunch of mizuna (a Japanese mustard green) that I got from the Three Springs Farms kids at the Cherry Street market. I garnished it with bacon bits (me own) and made a vinaigrette of the fat and some red wine vinegar. Oh, and radishes for color and health.

Only on a Sunday …

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rabbit thyme

Five baby bunnies have taken haven beneath our bed of thyme. The mother stands across the yard, cleaning her face in the haunch-high grass, as if to say, "Bunnies? What bunnies? I don't see any bunnies." I went to the closet in search of the Red Ryder BB Gun, knowing the neighbor's cat might be on the prowl. No bunnies will go the way of the cat under my watch. But I can't but think the thyme is subtly flavoring their gentle flesh, pink-white as a tonsil, fresh and new as spring rain.