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

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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!!

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