Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Saturday January 22, 2011

Saturday Swirl:
Saturday Evening Toast - Ode to Scotch for a Cold Winter’s Drink

BRRRRRRR!!!!! It is frigid outside!!!! What to drink on this freezing eve….red? hot toddie? Eau de vie? Cognac? Scotch!!! I think Scotch would be the perfect beverage for this frost bite warning day! As my Granny Stella used to say, : it warms the cockles of your heart”! So, Scotch it is!

There are so many different types of Scotch on the market today. There are blends, single malts and everything in between and below. Do you like it smooth, peaty, smokey or “neat”? I want to touch on the latter first. I recently had a little education on what exactly “neat” means. No self respecting Scotsman would ever have Scotch on the rocks only “neat” will do! So, what does this mean? We know that it means Scotch, alone pure and simple not diluted by dirty water in a low ball to put hair on your chest or, preferably, warm the cockles of your heart! According to the ambassador of a well known brand of Scotch, it may actually be a bastardation of NAKED! It seems that somewhere along the line someone did not quite understand a native Scotsman's wonderful accent and naked became neat! Just one explanation but I like that one so I am sticking with it!

I happen to have become a bit of a Scoch drinker of late. I have been present at a number of professional Scotch tastings and I have begun to be able to distinguish between the flavors. There are days that I enjoy a “peaty” Scotch, depending on my mood and the company, of course! Not too long ago, I had developed a taste for a particularly peaty Scotch, that I can never pronounce. I was out with a very good friend of mine who also enjoys the libation. I expressed my delight in my new found Scotch and we decided to have a shot or three. The shots arrive and we sniff and sip. I anxiously awaited his thoughts. He put the shot glass down and promptly extolled” it tastes like old band aids”! Needless to say, I have not been able to drink that particular single malt again!!!

I, of late, have begun to delight in the well blended, creamy smooth Macallen’s 18 year old Scotch. It is better than the 12 year old and easier than the 24 year old. Of course, this is only my opinion and taste, right now


Scotch derives it’s particular flavors from a number of sources. The one that has always stood out for me is the flavor that comes from the barrels. Barrels for aging Scotch come from a number of sources. The one thing that they all have in common is that they are well used! The barrels are sourced from: wineries, Bourbon distillers, Sherry producers, Port producers to name a few. One can definitely taste the flavors from these different sources in the specific Scotch they choose to drink. There is nothing better than to have a sip of a wonderfully warm Scotch and taste a hint of Sherry or Port or great wine. I, personally, find it extremely interesting to snatch a hint of Booker’s Bourbon, somewhere in the heat of a sip of single malt, peaty Scotch!

So on this Saturday before Robert Burn’s birthday, January 25, may I suggest that you sit in front of a roaring fire with a low ball glass filled with Scotch, neat of course, and toast to that randy poet of centuries past! Skip the hagass and have a tasty piece of lamb sausage and some Cock-a-leeky soup instead. This should help your own “ode to Scotch” to flow freely!


Friday January 21, 2011

Carole’s Concoctions:
Channeling My Inner Czech

My dad met my Mom when he was 18, married when he was 20 and was absorbed into the Italian customs and household of my Mom.  So, you always hear me talk about My Mom and Nana and our Italian traditions.  We never really had any of my Dad's traditional foods.  Murko is a Slavic last name - Russian or Czech?  Not really sure but Slavic for sure. I think I need to heed my own advice and get to the bottom of that side of my heritage (an excellent conversation to engage on Facebook and twitter).  This all started with a discussion with my Mom - we both have cabbages in our fridge.  I said I thought I would try my hand at stuffed cabbage.  I asked her if she remembered ever having it with Dad.  She said, "yes."  So we both decided to try making it and also trying hard not putting an "Italian" twist such as Romano cheese which is very hard to do.

I opened the old photo albums to see if Grandma or Grandpa would channel their Slavic taste buds into me.

I made stuffed cabbage last night sans any Italian cheese.  Jim loved it. I think it needs some work - but here's the recipe I developed.  Would love some authentic input!!

Thursday January 20, 2011

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Snow and Cold Challenges for the Sheep Farmer

Snow, snow, snow - are we caught up yet? That fatalist in me says we must
have been due. The artist in me says slow down and look at it, it is
beautiful. The sheep are not impressed, but they are very funny. If I don't
clear away the snow for them with the tractor, they stick to a single file
little path and no one wants to go first to break a new trail. So I shovel
the step and the walk and I plow the barnyard and the sheep paddocks with
the tractor. The dogs however, leap and bound through the drifts like
gazelles. They think the snow is great!

I still haven't been able to use my new bale slicer, even with the new
fittings on the hoses. So I finally put on my reading glasses since the
connection was still not right. I didn't know if I was cross threading or
what and I was getting very frustrated!. Turns out the male fitting on the
hydraulic cylinder is bad. It is all chewed up - not anything I could have
accomplished, so it must have happened at the factory when the original hose
was installed. It is amazing what a person can figure out when they have the
right equipment for the job (yeah, I know, I should have put my glasses on
when I first started working on it). Anyway, the salesman is arranging to
have a new cylinder shipped out, he will fix it and then I will be in
business. I hope. This weekend is forecast to be seriously cold and it will
not be fun having to deal with frozen baleage. That slicer would have made
it much easier.

Today is barn cleaning day (still by hand). After digging around in the snow
for a bit we found some parts and pieces we will use to construct part of
the unit. They need a bit of pounding and welding before we can actually use
them, so once that is done we'll be making headway again. We might even have
it all installed and working before I know it; this is a job in progress.

Speaking of jobs in progress...the other day my Mom came over and helped me
get rid of the rest of the boxes that were in the house. Thanks, Mom!!
Without the clutter, I attempted to vacuum the cat hair which has been
building up and of course my hand me down grandmother's Electrolux died. At
35 years of age, I felt it died too young, was missing out on so much more
of life. It was painful for me, so many memories, so expensive to
replace....but I have to say the new Lux is AMAZING!!! Crazy expensive, but
boy can that thing suck up cat hair! No hair, no dust, no more wheezing
mother (she's allergic to cats) - I vacuumed everything is sight. Now to
tackle the boxes in the garage....well, soon.

Monday evening I will be in Boston for an American Lamb Board cooking class
with "my" Chef Michael. He will be cooking my lamb, and I will be the one
getting "grilled" by the attendees about the lamb, how it is raised, what
the farm is like and anything else the students/attendees care to ask. It
promises to be another amazing eatfest and lots of fun! Chef Michael has
been so generous every time we have seen him, sending over plate after plate
of wonderful things to eat; I really must reciprocate. I'm going to bring
him some of my "Personal" Egg Nog. I'm sure he will love it. Here is a link
to the event:Fans of Lamb

Have a great week and stay warm, the forecast is for bitter cold!!

Wednesday January 19, 2011

Heirloom Meals Radio:
Ellie Markovitch

Listen to Ellie Markovitch tell her story.  She grew up in a rural area of Brazil near her grandparent’s small farm. Her earliest and most vivid memories center on the harvesting of vegetables and the preparation of meals with friends and family. Transported to the United States as an exchange student when she was 19, Ellie’s main request from her mother was a care package from the kitchen. It was these food items that connect her with her home and help the memories survive. Ellie is now marrying her work as a photo journalist, her studies in new media and her love of food history to chronicle food memories and recipes in an effort to create community. Check it out: Storycooking.com.


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