Moving day!

I’m moving my blog over to brucedumes.me. See you there! ūüėČ

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Improvisational Fricassee

Chicken Fricassee
I was listening to music with headphones last night while cooking, which is unusual for me actually, but I found it inspirational. I had some chicken thighs and wanted to do something “comforty” with them, because my wife and I are both suffering from colds.

So I started with some duck fat. ¬†Anything that starts with duck fat¬†inevitably¬†ends up good. ūüėČ ¬†I had about 2 tbsp of said duck fat and about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a 10″ cast iron pan. I added some chopped garlic and onions to the pan, after seasoning the thighs with salt and pepper, and let them brown a bit, skin side first.

I had some really neat carrots that I got from the Hollywood Farmers Market.  They were a short, stubby kind.  They looked more like small new potatoes than carrots. My wife said they were like potatoes that I cooked to taste like carrots. Anyway, I cut the very top and bottom off the carrots, but left the skin on to give them character.

After flipping the thighs over to skin-side up, I added a little oregano and paprika. ¬†The paprika really enhances the appearance, in addition to adding that lovely flavor. ¬† Then I added some white wine, a Pinot Grigio in this¬†case¬†— maybe a cup — and then let it come to a boil.

I’d gotten some interesting Brussels sprouts from our favorite potato farmer at the Farmers Market, ¬†Weiser Family Farms.¬†¬†They were lovely small purple ones, and advertised to be a little sweeter than usual sprouts. ¬†I don’t know if they were sweeter, but they were delicious. ¬†I added those into the space between the chicken thighs, so it made a pretty arrangement, even while still in the pan cooking.

I covered it, and let it simmer for awhile until everything was ready, then uncovered it, turned up the fire to let the wine reduce to a sauce, and spooned sauce over the chicken and veggies.  I served it directly from the cast-iron pan for a rustic sort of look and feel.  And one less thing to wash.

I’m not sure what effect the music I was listening to actually had on what I was cooking, but it kept me focused and in a particular groove. ¬†The record was, in fact, Cruel Sister by Pentangle.

This is a very good record, by the way, if you aren’t familiar with it. ¬†In fact, it’s pretty magical. ¬†The gardens at Bellingrath have nothing to compare with this band. I would venture to compare them to the great Duke Ellington sax section, who could not only finish each other’s musical sentences, but could anticipate what each other’s next phase was going to be.

Of course, Pentangle purists will argue that nothing could out do the joy and energy of the 1st album, which blended ¬†folk, jazz, blues, and early music with the skill of Iron Chef Michiba mixing foie¬†gras with, well, ¬†anything. ¬†It’s a difficult position to argue against. ¬†But for me, Cruel Sister is the sadder but wiser Pentangle. ¬†There’s more of an edge to them, taking a few more chances here and there. ¬†A willingness to put it all on the line. ¬†Honesty. ¬†Vulnerability. ¬†Beauty.

And thus ends the tale of my Improvisational Fricassee.

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A foggy day in LA

Quite a foggy morning we’re having in LA. This looks more like a scene from Dark Shadows than UCLA’s iconic Royce Hall.
A Foggy day at UCLA

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Might you be suffering from a severe case of Romnesia?

Might you be suffering from a severe case of Romnesia? If you’re concerned, watch this video and get the facts on Romnesia. What you don’t remember *can* hurt you! And remember, flip-flopping for longer than 4 hours at a time should be reported to a doctor.

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My real problem with Mitt Romney

Ok, Mitt Romney isn’t necessarily the devil incarnate.

True, he does want to overturn Roe v. Wade, and put us back to the days when young women faced death or mutilation instead the goal of abortions being “safe, legal and rare”.

And true, he would give tax breaks to the super-wealthy, further increasing the divide between rich and poor and adding to the breakdown of the middle class with the old notion of “trickle down”. I told a Republican friend of mine, who is not wealthy, yet firmly believes in the notion of trickle down that the only time I ever felt trickle down was getting pissed on by rich people.

And true, he would probably take us into war in Iran and very possibly start World War 3 in the guise of keeping “no daylight” between the US and his old buddy Netanyahu. I like Israel. I’m a non-religious Jew. But Netanyahu is a lunatic and many people in Israel know that a hell of a lot better than the US Evangelicals who love Israel only because it’s tied in with their idea that the Jews must possess their own country in the Holy Land before Jesus can return.

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Cheese of the Week: Blazzo Provolone Smoked

Smoked Provolone
This week’s Cheese of the Week is a lovely smoked provolone. The level of smokiness is wonderful; it plays with you, it teases you, but it never overwhelms you. The texture is creamy and luscious. It was difficult to put it down and leave the rest for tomorrow.

What’s also pleasant is the price. At $8.99/lb at Whole Foods, I’d call it a bargain. With a half-pound of this cheese, fresh fruit, french bread and a nice wine, I think you’d have yourself a nice lunch or dinner for two on one of these hot sunny days.

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Cheese of the week: Taleggio

It’s been a while, some might say too long (blessed are the cheesemakers), since I’ve written a cheese of the week post. ¬†I’ve not been in a writing mood, I guess. ¬†But the local Whole Foods started having a “try a cheese for under $3” basket, and that sounded just perfect¬†for cheese of the week, i.e. eminently affordable and yet, a wide selection of interesting cheeses.

So this week’s cheese of the week is a Taleggio, named for Val Taleggio, an Alpine valley in the Italian region of Lombardy split between the provinces of Bergamo and Lecco, near Milan. It has a strong aroma. When I first opened the package, I thought it might be a bit off. But the taste is quite mild and lovely, very creamy with a slightly fruity taste and no unpleasant aftertaste.

Taleggio has been made since at least the 10th century and may be the earliest soft cheese still being made. According to Wikipedia, the production takes place every autumn and winter when the cows are tired. I’m not sure how the tiredness of the cows affects the cheese, but whatever it is, I say “Three cheers for tired cows!”

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