Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mud Season Meals - Number Three - "Bassa Peta"

Mud Season Meals

Number Three

"Bassa Peta"

            One of the sensations of being sure of yourself when you are young is that you are cracker right of whatever you are, then, doing.  Forty years later you are not so sure of your ‘back then’ but are very sure that, of these days, you are cracker right of whatever you are, now, doing.  And then there is the Forty Year Spread.
            The Forty Year Spread is a cracker right doing back then that has persisted and is a too, now and still, ‘a cracker right’, in and of, doing, NOW.  “Bassa Peta”, for myself, is a ‘one of those’.
            “Bassa Peta” is food.  It is a meal that I made and ate for myself over forty years ago.  Periodically, over past four decades, the “Bassa Peta” was and is made and served again to friends and family.  It is a quick, stupid easy, ‘one pot’, controlled mess, hardy and ‘always gets eaten’ (all of it) “MEAL”.  It is a classic recipe that one may find anywhere.  I have my own recipe copy, written in my hand, forty years ago.

            Continuing with that last notice and sidestepping for a few paragraphs the “Bassa Peta” as a ‘Mud Season Meal’ ‘Number Three’... I... and these ‘those they’... the hand written personal recipe book and its their-these food to self messages:  Do you have one?  Have you written this “YOURS”?  “You wrote that?” they say to me.  I did.  Do.  Still have.  Still use.
            THAT.  All it is... is a junky plastic notebook that I write down any ole  “I made” recipe that I, by happenstance, do, make, think of, remember or... as a Viking vessel sailed the sea... did that:  I use that:  My own recipe book.  I wrote it “down”, page after page.  You should too; it is a ‘your life’; your own ‘food life’.
            The rare book world; rare antiquarian books and I as a ‘dealer’ of them, know (understand) full well the appreciation and value of these old ‘hand written’ ‘cook books’... found by flashlight on the attic floor... dutifully recording a marginally literate record of a ‘her recipes’... and little more.
            These old books are usually the all of the author ever ‘written down’.  Yes and ‘there we go’; they are precious.  And some... may be found to be ‘quite well done’ ‘a good read’ and, of course, again and too, be... precious.  So it is easy to understand a forty year manuscript notebook of recipes begun in 1814 and ‘died out’ (last entry) 1851.  The last entry is for “TOAST” while the first recipe is for... raspberry jam.  A complete life circle?  Seems so to me.
            Once one is clued to these “THESE” their precious magic is... IN YOUR OWN HAND; their book, or... your book, YOUR HAND writing.  It very well could be the only ‘old manuscript’ you ever ‘make’ about ‘anything’.  You can do this.  Most “do not”.

            My recipe book may be opened to “Bassa Peta”; a shortened and misspelled title?  NO IT IS INTENTIONALLY “that way written”.  That is my recipe book’s style.  YOUR book will have YOUR style.  Anyway; opened to Bassa Peta:  I don’t need to open the book for the “TO MAKE THAT” recipe.  And, as I mentioned, you can look “IT” up (similar recipes) “ON LINE” too.  The “Bassa Peta” recipe title is correctly spelled Kielbasa (sausage) on Pita (bread) made with a quart of sauerkraut ‘very important’ too.  The sauerkraut is the point of the recipe while the ‘Bassa’ and ‘Peta’ are cosmetic.  They ‘vary in quality’ as ‘cosmetic’.  The kraut varies in quality as ‘the point’ (“good kraut”).  Okay this means that the Bassa may be any ole box store grocery prepared meat cooler dive bassa OR, as in this case, it may be Maine Fashion Forward Lisbon Maine made Sausage Kitchen’s premium Kielbasa.  GO SHOP AT THEIR Lisbon STORE (factory) for this ‘buy local’ choice.  The same for the Kraut; shop for box store brands in the pickle jar cooler ‘selections’ or... shop for Maine’s “BEST” Morse’s Sauerkraut from their Washington, Maine GO SHOP AT THEIR (‘in the middle of No Where’) Waldoboro Road STORE (factory) ‘buy local’ premium choice. 
Make the ‘petas’ yourself.  Yes... you do need to get that third world global culture bread ‘under your baker’s apron’. 

            The pita process, once your oven and (cast iron) griddle plate are “HOT” (very, very hot)... and your rolling pin is rolling... an... ‘about two minutes’ each... ten pitas in thirty minutes... event.  It is an event.  Rolling, griddling, flipping and stacking with a whole lot of oven door opening and closing... you are done in thirty minutes and rewarded with a stack of ten towel wrapped warm “PITAS” “I MADE”.  Once one engages ‘how simple this is’, one has both awe and pride at “making my own pitas’.  Leave them wrapped in the towel and now “MAKE” their filling.

            That takes, like... maybe... twenty minutes... using the stove top and a larger and deeper (cast iron) skillet.  A touch of olive oil and then add every component in order starting with a light stir fry of the onions and peppers.  Add the (thinner than one quarter inch sliced) bassa.  Stir (lightly ‘hot through’) fry that in a bit.  Add the drained quart of kraut... stir in and careful not too hot now.  Add ½ cup of sour cream.  Or even lighter handed on that (1/3 cup).  Two tbs prepared mustard (of any ‘your choice’).  Heat whole mixture lightly through.  Serve from pan by spooning onto your pita and ‘fold over’.  You are done.  Eat it; each serving themselves.  Leftover?  Fine if any is leftover.  “We’ll make this again (real) soon” is the usual end-of-meal-status. 

Remember:  It is mud season.  It is still ‘too cold’, too wet, too much snow, ‘no melting’ requiring boots, gloves, hats, (jackets in) ‘layers’ and... Mud Season farm yards and its ‘yard work’... make a hungry man.  That’s what Bassa Peta is for:  It is a Mud Season Meal.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mud Season Meals - Number Two - Twenty Meatballs

Mud Season Meals

Number Two

Twenty Meatballs

            “Mud Season
            Is not a time to be witty
            You know”.

            I know

            “Mud Season;
            May be a little bit glum.
            It’s the weather you know”.

            I know

            “So don’t over do it; whatever it is you are doing;
            Even if it is simply planting your pepper (plant) seeds
            At the kitchen table; by the sunny window.  You know”.

            I know

            “Go on about your business and don’t  be foolish;
            Do something foolish.
            Like counting your meatballs
            And rationing them out:
            ‘ONE for you... and
            ONE for you’ and
            ‘WAIT:  One meatball is

            “Who would take a second MEATBALL
            In mud season?
            Not I.
            You know”.

            I know.

            IF you make twenty meatballs (3 ½ pounds of ‘a dollar off second day’ stickered box store grocery ‘ground beef’) and buy a two pound box of box store grocery brand ‘regular’ (thickness) spaghetti... “I ah”... ‘think the job gets done’ (and is ‘Maine Gourmet’; ‘Maine Fashion’).  IF it is four meatballs eaten a meal that’s five meals with ALL the pasta eaten and... don’t forget (to grate from the one pound block) the ‘cheese’ (so titled in Maine).  That... should not be ‘cheese’.  It should be Reggiano Parmesan... ‘cheese’.  One can get that in Maine now.
            “IN MAINE”.
            “YOU KNOW”.

            I know.
            Can you remember when Maine was like that.
            I do.

            I wore my “BEAN BOOTS” across the yard this morning; I could walk on top of the mud.  It’s been so cold.  They changed the time (Daylight Savings Time) so it's dark again in my morning.  I don’t like that; ‘don’t NEED it’.  I’m tired of ‘swamping’ in the dark; Mud Season in the dark.  We was just getting a little light.  Made it manageable.  Out there on top of the stiff (frozen) mud.  “Yep.” to that.
            I didn’t want to start the truck yet; it’s still too dark.  “Something’s at the birdfeeder” I was told.  “Porcupine” I explained.  Big fat old Porcupine... lives under the shed.  Been climbing all the cedars down off the wet corner of the back pasture.  To get something to eat.
            He’s not getting my meat balls. 

            The meatballs are made of a “light” version of “her meatloaf mix” (add breadcrumbs, onions, garlic, parsley, salt pepper and ‘any old spices’ those being ‘bottled (Worchester Sauce) or dry”.  NOT anything or amount that’s foolish.  Ball ‘em up by hand and set them on a tray (to show them off).  Four rows of five; twenty... meatballs.  Then the fun begins:
            “Fitting them in” the stove top tub of homemade sauce (the ‘canned’ tomatoes are “OURS” from “LAST YEAR”.  “Still HAVE onions down cell-ah”.  Etcetera.  Put the meatballs into the sauce.   Keep putting them in until it gets tight and then fit them in and... start bellowing that they “won’t fit”.  Keep going.  Keep bellowing but don’t do anything stupid.  It is Mud Season.  “LAST TIME THERE WERE ONLY EIGHTEEN (meatballs).”
            “They fit.  These will too.”
            “LAST TIME...”
            “THIS IS THIS TIME.  There are twenty meatballs.
            THEY... WILL... FIT.”

DO fit,
Don’t they,
You know.”

            “I know”.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mud Season Meals - Number One - Chicken Cottage ("Pot") Pie - or Over Biscuit

Mud  Season Meals

Number One

Chicken Cottage ("Pot") Pie

Or Over Biscuit

            It’s not that hot
            It’s not that cold
            It’s not very dry
            But it’s not that wet.

            Track what?
            Mud season.

            If I don’t track it into the house then
            I don’t live here.
            The path is muddy
            The road is muddy
            My boots are muddy.
            Some boots are wet.
            Some boots are drying
            Beside the fire
            That I run hotter than needed
            Because it feels good
            “What’s there to eat?”
            “(Chicken) Cottage Pie

            Crust on the top
            Crust on the bottom
            A must
            A ‘neighbor’s rooster gone missing’ grade
            Chicken in a pot
            With broth from its bones
            Carrots, celery, potatos and onions
            Salt and pepper
            Keep it simple
            Concentrate on the (bottom) crust.
            That bottom crust is the heart.
            A spoon must find it there.

            Alternative self servings:
            Chicken in a pot ladled
            Over warm ‘from the oven’ biscuit
            No:  Actually it is biscuits.
            I take two.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Quip

The Quip

The ‘retro-fitted’ ‘minimalist’ ‘expression’ is junk.  Your junk.  Just face it:  It is junk.  Even the stuff you claim you don’t have that you are keeping to refit and bring back at anytime as the searing; the abundance of junk that you claim you don’t have because you are minimally assorted with your ‘only old junk’ that you didn’t buy anyway.  Unless it is what you call ‘a good buy’.  This is better viewed as a ‘good bye’.
            That is really what it is; nothing that you ever did yourself.  AND you claim that you ‘clean up’ too.  That must be an obstacle; the looking at what you do not keep because you minimally retro-fitted this those of what’s left of what you have to not keep; a ‘that anymore too’.
            It is really so well thought out isn’t it.  Or... is it... “aren’t you”.
            I believe it is worded as ‘empty’.
            Just turn around and go back.  It is right that this is a wrong direction for you; stepping stones across that you must find out about yourself and study before you may relish.

            “Just put flowers in it and set it on a table”  Your mother always hinted that was the way to show “what an idiot you are”.  She was blunt.  Right?  So then don’t put it out with flowers in it.  “Don’t eat with a spoon.  Eat with a fork.”  You remember that.  Don’t you.  You didn’t have a mute button then did you.  So now she’s dead and you threw her things out.  “Donated” you called that.  All except for a few things that you are now calling “kept”.  Of course you don’t know where those are. “Out in the garage”.  Yes:  There we go.  Your thing is just “the Faberge Egg” of what you retro-fitted minimalist boxed up and stacked back there where she (your mother) now resides in the boxes of ‘her stuff’ you made for her.  “Tea Time” doesn’t happen anymore with her.  You donated the tea service and someone else IS using it “anymore”.  Remember that (the tea service)?  You were only six and learned to pick up sugar cubes using American Coin Silver Sugar Tongs.  That last part you ‘didn’t get’.  “What ever happened to those (tongs) anyway?”  Yes:  That is a question you need to ask about a lot of the junk you didn’t keep ‘anyway’.

            Go way back in your dreams to find the proper style you lost from your retro-minimal wreck.  Dreams:  The (commuter) Club Car.  The Tobacco.  The Suits.  The Old Money.  That last is the style.  You find it; two words.  CAN you find it.  Do you still have it?  Or did you ‘donate it’ (“throw it out”).  Remember:  It was all ‘just the way he left it’.  That day.  When you began to destroy it.  And destroy your self:  Minimal.  Empty.  That was his room.  “Office” the family called it.  At dinner time he came out of there.  The door was never closed.  It was full of tobacco smoke.  And always:  “What a mess”.
            He kept things in corners and pushed back against the walls.  Old tables with leaves up covered in reckless arrangements of... yes say it:  You see it now in your dreams...:  Old Money.  It was his style.  He never wore sandals.  He never went to a mall.

            Ashtray.  Still dirty after all these years; pipe tobacco leavings.  No one washed it.  He used it last.  You threw it out.  “NO:  I donated it”.  You say.  You are pushed back against the wall?  The chest of drawers there; against the wall.  Yes that one; it is buried there.  It is New England (made).  Boston area.  Seventeen eighties.  Old surface.  Old hardware.  Never cleaned.  Always used.  Five generations?  No... longer... Seven generations.  Pushed back against the wall.  He used it at Harvard.  He used it the day he died.  The top drawer was all pipes.  And tobacco.  Look at the generational dirty bottoms of the drawers (“drawer bottoms”).  And the fingernail marks (on the back of the drawer fronts) where he pulled it open further.  Then pushed the drawer back “in”.  Never closed.  The bottom drawer has everything he did at Swarthmore still in it.  No:  You ‘cleaned that out’ and ‘donated it’?  The chest is empty when you showed me the room.  Pushed back against the wall.  But too:  All from the drawers... is still on the floor.  “Let us put that (the drawer contents) back in” (the bottom drawer) I say.  We do.  Together we put as much of it (the old money) back as I possibly can.  Then:
            I buy ‘the whole room’ (contents of the room; ‘the office’).  I know what it is and what I am doing.  I am buying your old money.  You are selling old money.  That should be your style.  Now that you’re pushed back against the wall you do see that don’t you.  You could have kept “the things in it”.  You could have ‘just the way he left it’.  When I come back on Saturday, to ‘clean the garage’, you show me the room with the white wicker table you “painted” and “brought in”.  You do not mention the glass vase with the flowers in it.  “Oh” you say.  “It (the vase) is almost empty; I need to put some more water in it.”
            “I’ll start working (on removing your mother) out in the garage.”

            I don’t know what happened to the old chest after I filled it with my clutters and pushed it back against a wall.  I didn’t get the drawers to close well.  I do remember that.  Why?  I know why.  The old chest has all of its original (1780) drawer runners; the wooden slats that the drawers slide on (“run on”; “drawer runner”).  They are worn to ‘bee-Jesus’ but still work in addition to being ‘still there’.  I pulled one out to show it off; the four original handmade iron tacks.  The ‘outrageous wear’.  Only a (American Federal Period antiques) collector would care.
  All my old chests are that way... anyway.  Have to be... for collectors of American Federal Furniture.  Again:  Have to be... they do care.  Then one of them wanted to buy it.  “I’m thinking about that” he said.  “I’m thinking about that too.” I said.  “It came down in my family”.  “My father used it at Harvard”.  “He kept full of all his clutters and pushed back against the wall of his office.”  “Men do that you know; keep their clutters pushed back against the wall”.
            “It appears to be a fine early chest”.
            “The family had money back then:
            It’s untouched; just the way it’s come down through time”.
            “My wife wouldn’t like it; the drawers don’t work she’d say.  Dirty too.  She’d have to have it cleaned”
            “Then don’t buy it; don’t buy it for her.”
            “I’m not going to.  I’d buy it for me.”
            “Pushed back against the wall?”
            “My little wall in my little room”; (his office in the home).  “I’d fill it with my clutter”.
            “Clutters; you have more than one”
            “Don’t I just.”
            “The old money”.
            “Yes: The old money... don’t I just.  My father was in World War Two.  My grandfather was in World War One.  My great grandfather rode with Teddy; I still have his papers in a box.  My great, great, great grandfather was brevet a general in the Civil War.  Then he invented a machine that knitted women’s stocking.  Our family has been in the bank ever since.  Now that is old money.  Isn’t it?
            “These days it will pass”.
            “I have the family silver.”
            “I should sell you a silver chest”.
            “No need; we use it all the time.”

            It is a style.  It is not supposed to be pretty.  If you make it a style and try to make it pretty... you effect and fall short:  There is not enough money to fake it (effect and fall short); not enough ‘old money’.  No.  It is a much more comprehensive style than first thought of.  Most of it is seen full bloom the moment before it is thrown out.  “Completely there” for just a moment then... thrown out.  Every little bit of it.  I know of what I write.  I have pulled out the chest drawers, starting with the top drawer, and ‘dumped’ the contents into boxes.  Then neatly marked the box “top drawer chest office”.  Or such.  I take the boxes.  I take the chest.

            Later; back against the wall, I restore the chest.  I open the boxes and carefully return the contents to the proper drawers.  I push the drawers in; not ‘closed’.  Again; the chest is pushed back against the wall.  Shortly, it is buried there in my clutters.  I never clean it up or throw ‘it’ out (the chest or my clutters).  It all lives with me... that way; the way he left it.  Pipes and tobacco in the top drawer.  The mother in her boxes from the back of the garage.  “Isn’t that an awful thing to do to your mother!”:  Stack her up at the back of her garage.  And sell her.  “MY GOD HOW COULD YOU”.
            Oh come on:  It is just old money... being destroyed.  By retro-fitted minimalist... good sense that is just as absolutely empty of any sense of any thing of anyone in anyway once pushed back against the walls but now “cleaned up” and thrown out (“donated”) with a box store’s ‘wicker’ table painted white and a vase of flowers that has had the water for the flowers “run out”.  You said.
            To me
            And that... I understood.