I went into the Maverick Bar In Farmington, New Mexico. And drank double shots of bourbon backed with beer. My long hair was tucked up under a cap I’d left the earring in the car.
Two cowboys did horseplay by the pool tables, A waitress asked us where are you from? a country-and-western band began to play “We don’t smoke Marijuana in Muskokie” And with the next song, a couple began to dance.
They held each other like in High School dances in the fifties; I recalled when I worked in the woods and the bars of Madras, Oregon. That short-haired joy and roughness— America—your stupidity. I could almost love you again.
We left—onto the freeway shoulders— under the tough old stars— In the shadow of bluffs I came back to myself, To the real work, to “What is to be done.”
This motley crew of planes are from three countries on two continents, and made by three companies. I’ll start with the bottom column and proceed from there.
Bottom left is the finest of the crew, an Ulmia Ott plane made in Germany. It also has an adjustable throat, so it will take as fine a shaving as you need. Typical German quality.
Speaking of US quality, the one to the right is a fine Millers Falls #85 plane. It is missing a depth gauge, but I have another plane that has one. This thing could last for many more decades.
The shiny silver guy in the middle is technically a shoulder plane, a Stanley #90 that was made in England. Another quality piece of work, designed to do fine woodworking. Too bad I don’t do any.
Top left is a really old Stanley 191 plane. It also has lost the depth gauge, but things like that happens. These came in various sizes, and are all over fleabay, though seriously overpriced.
The mack daddy at the top right is a Stanley #45, that can cut just about any sized rabbet. The catch is, you have to have the right sized cutter. However, it has TWO depth gauges. Doesn’t do the finest work, but gets the job done.
A rabbet is not a thing with floppy ears, but a groove cut to make furniture/woodwork fit better. It’s a groovy thing.
Most people don’t know that they eat one of the main ingredients in one of the best wood finishes regularly, and that it comes from a bug, but that doesn’t bother me that much. Like my man HD Thoreau, “Yet, for my part, I was never usually squeamish; I could sometimes eat a fried rat with a good relish, if it were necessary.” It all depends on how good the relish is.
The wood finish I am referring to is shellac, which is essentially the secretions of the Asian Lac beetle, dissolved in denatured alcohol. There are a thousand recipes for proportions to be used, and I would refer you to Shellac.com. They also list eight main colors of shellac flakes, though most of those shades can be made with just these three.
People who eat sweets are the main ones who are likely to be eating beetle juice. US manufacturers of sweets use all manner of euphemisms for bug juice, such as confectioner’s glaze or candy glaze. It’s really bug juice, but people like to eat things that are bright and shiny. Why, I don’t know.
Also check for Natural Red #4 on the ingredient list. That’s squashed Cochineal bugs, which get the red color from cactus. The Aztecs used them for red dye.
Bugs. It’s what’s for dinner. And the dinner table.
One advantage of enduring the heat of a Southern summer is that we get great vegetables in the summer, and great blooms all winter long. Blooming right now is one of our favorite crocus plants. The rare shrub Neviusia alabamensis will be next.
MJ and I have something of a sentimental attachment to crocus, as we both have birthdays next month, during peak crocus season. The two of us teamed up to make this art work:
The cross stitched sampler is based on a Danish design, and naturally, MJ did that. I made the the oak frame, and did the ball and sausage carving. Fairly simple carving, but another classic design.
Our spring is only a few weeks away, and I have a new crop to experiment with–olives. Mr. Jefferson would be proud, as he could never get them to grow.
Once again on the subject of I wish I could make this stuff up, the French Senate has just finalized a law saying that country chickens can crow and cluck as much as they want to. “Neo-Rurals,” aka rich people who buy country vacation homes, have filed a number of lawsuits regarding chickens, ducks, and geese, who disrupted their bourgeois lives. No more.
The final straw, so to speak, was a rooster named Maurice. The saucy fellow would crow every morning at dawn, and in 2019, his owners were sued because of the noise–a kind of disturbing the peace, of the chicken variety. Maurice became a celebrity chicken, with petitions signed to support him. Go Mo!
Once again, the great journalists at Agence France Presse are on this like a chicken on a June bug, as we say here in the South. Here’s a quote from them:
“Living in the countryside implies accepting some nuisances,” Joel Giraud, the government’s minister in charge of rural life, told lawmakers.
Agence France Presse
The French have a Minister for Rural Life? I want that job. Until I get it, I will just feed my chickens.
I have been waiting for just the right opportunity to make this pie, and here it is. It’s a combination sweet potato and pecan pie, and it only has about ten million calories in it. It was also the favorite pie of one President Obama. Naturally, it’s from a bakery in Virginia.
A digression here: since Mr. Jefferson of Virginia was asked to write the constitution for the first French Republic (he declined,) let’s have a few lines of the French national anthem.
Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrivé ! Contre nous de la tyrannie L’étendard sanglant est levé,
“Arise, Children of Patriots,
The Day of Glory has Arrived!
Against us, the Tyrant’s banners
Damn skippy. Now, back to pie.
The origin of this pie is Red Truck Bakery in northern Virginia, and the genius behind it is Brian Noyes. Go buy his cook book.
1 Creole Pie Crust (more Southern than the original. I really can’t follow a recipe very well.)
Hickory Nuts (not in the original recipe. See above. As it turned out, mine were all ruined anyway.)
Baked and mashed Sweet Taters, Precious
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Whipping Cream
Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Bourbon (as much as you dare)
Fill up half the pie dish. That’s plenty.
That’s just the bottom layer. To quote Will Shakespeare, “I will call it Bottom’s dream.” Quoted out of context as usual. Now to the pecan top layer, which is the scary part.
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Sorghum Syrup (VERY southern)
Some Bourbon and Cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted Butter
Pinch of Salt
Here’s where I really depart from the recipe: corn syrup, as called for, is verboten in our kitchen so we improvised a replacement.
1 tablespoon Flour
A layer of Pecan Halves
The last ingredient is a thickener. The result is a masterpiece.
The crust is a bit ragged, but it will have a short life anyway. Handsome Joe and Handsome Kamala should drop by for a bite. Otherwise I am gaining several pounds.
Emma the Aussie is a big dog. She spends her days sleeping in the sun, and her nights on the dog bed. At 70+ pounds, she is far past the size of a registered Aussie. Think Shirley the Sheep from the great show Shaun the Sheep, who was three times larger than the rest of the flock.
Her sleeping habits surprised us the other day. She came to snooze on our couch downstairs, and to have me scratch her back at the same time. As soon as I started, a worm looking creature came crawling out of her fur. I grabbed it, yelled, and threw it on the floor.
The ever logical MJ inspected it, as it was sine curving it’s way across the floor, and said, “It’s a salamander.” That is the signature amphibian of the southern Appalachians, and I have seen tiny ones, up to ones more than two feet long (re: Hellbender.) I liberated it back outdoors.
That’s a white oak basket, made by an elderly Black gentleman from Montgomery county, Alabama. We purchased this back in the 1980’s. The oak splints are finely split and woven. We honor his incomparable craftsmanship and legacy by storing all our veg seeds in it. No one else that we know has ever seen a hinged handle like that.
Another masterwork from an equally elderly Black gentleman named John Reeves, which we bought in the eighties in the town of Gay, Georgia (population: 92.).
This thing could haul an orchard full of apples. However, it can’t touch our mac Daddy basket, when it comes to payload.
That’s a cotton basket, once common everywhere in the South. I get to add that I am one of the last generation to pick cotton by hand. It would take a good long while to fill up this thing. Made in my home county of Cullman, Al.
An earring rack for MJ to house just a few of her immense stash of earrings. It’s what to do with dead Mountain Laurel.
A decade or so back, I went to a job interview in a building with bars on the windows, and I had to be given a security code to get in the door. Then one of the women interviewing me called me the following:
I had just enough restraint to not slap her up both sides of her head. Everyone alive eats food. I probably should have called her an alcoholic.
You can only use this term if you own a high class brothel.
Stick a fork in it. That term is so last century.
Seriously? I have a recipe for acorn flour (actually, I do.)
Get out your micrometer. Don’t cook anything that thin for more than ten seconds, and never get it hotter than 451 F. See Ray Bradbury.
A food term? This requires a brief dissertation. Anything that begins with the word “neo” is to be avoided, if not shunned. You are either a nazi and a fascist, or you are not. I am only waiting for someone to use the phrase neo foodie. Oh snap, I just did.
My favorite job interview was where I was asked, “Have you ever been too drunk to fish?” My answer was “No, but you don’t know how much I like to fish.” They offered me the job almost immediately.