Archive for June, 2007



June 25, 2007


This one is for ms xeno.

The first few times I went to Paris, it was on business.  I would go out to eat, late at night, in a group with my co-workers, who went where our local contacts told us to go: the well-known old-fashioned brasseries with Art Nouveau glasswork and boyish waiters dashing to and fro with huge platters of seafood.  The whole experience was superb, and I was entranced, ravished.  There are few things better than a couple of dozen French oysters (fines de claire for my taste) accompanied by sauce mignonette, thin slices of buttered bread, and a bottle of Sancerre.

(My husband calls me “Diamond Jim” because of my profligate enjoyment of oysters.)

But then, on another such business trip, I escaped and went to meet one of my husband’s friends, an academic wastrel fluent in French and several other languages.  He was taking a kind of sabbatical in which he lived in a tiny room on the Ile St-Louis and brooded and smoked while deciding what to do with his life. 

He took me out to lunch.  We went to an undistinguished-looking place that felt like a sandwich joint.  He ordered for us in mellifluous French.  It was mesmerizing to see this person I knew very well speaking in a language that I had never heard coming out of his mouth before.  The first course was a lentil salad topped with a few slices of smoked duck breast.  The red wine he ordered was the first “house wine” I ever had in France, and I discovered that “house wines” in France are REALLY GOOD, not what they are here in the US (Inglenook et al.) 

The combination of the earthy lentils with the unctuous duck breast and the robust red wine was heavenly.  We had a main dish, as well, but I don’t recall what it was.  We didn’t really need it.

Looking to recreate the lentil salad recipe, I came across the one below, which is a good approximation.  Since smoked duck breast is hard to find where we are, I substituted slices of just-ripe avocado drizzled with a bit of the lentil dressing.  Not bad!

Adapted from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells:

1 lb lentils

1 medium onion, halved and stuck with several whole cloves

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the lentils and pick over carefully for pebbles.  Put the lentils, onion, garlic, and bay leaf in a heavy saucepan; cover with 1 inch of cold water.  Cover and bring just to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender but just intact, 25-35 minutes.  Check the lentils during cooking; during most of the cooking water should be visible when you tilt the pan slightly.  Add water as needed, but not more than 1/4 cup.  By the end of the cooking time, the liquid should be absorbed.

 When the lentils are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and discard the onion, garlic and bay leaf.  Whisk together the vinegar, oil and salt to taste in a small bowl.  Pour over the warm lentils and toss to coat.  Just before serving, season to taste with pepper and additional salt if necessary.

6-8 servings.



June 19, 2007


This was my Memorial Day protest – still flying outside my NH home.  Note the Betsy Ross flag.

I’m reading Paul Revere’s Ride, by David Hackett Fischer – a pretty good summary of the events of the outbreak of the Am. Rev.

A quote from his description of the battle at the North Bridge at Concord, April 19, 1775:

Below them [the New England militia], the British soldiers were ordered to fall back across the bridge.  Several began to pull up the wooden planking.  Major John Buttrick shouted a warning to leave the bridge alone.  This was their bridge!  Buttrick’s home was just behind him.  Standing on his own land that had belonged to his family since 1638, he turned to his minutemen and said, “if we were all of his mind he would drive them away from the bridge, they should not tear that up,” Amos Barrett remembered, “We all said we would go.”  The New England men were thus consulted – not commanded – on the great question before them.


The Regulars by the bridge turned and looked up the hill in amazement at the men coming toward them.  They never imagined that these “country people” would dare to march against the King’s troops in formation, and were astonished by their order and discipline.  One British soldier wrote that the Yankee militia “advanced with the greatest regularity”…. Slowly the British Regulars began to understand that this was no rural rabble confronting them.

Caught in a trap between two long files of militiamen who were relentlessly firing their muskets,

[T]he Regulars suddenly turned and ran for their lives.  It was a rare spectacle in military history.  A picked force of British infantry, famed for its indomitable courage on many a field of battle, was broken by a band of American militia.  British Ensign Lister wrote candidly, “The weight of their fire was such that we was obliged to give way, then run with the greatest precipitance.”

The British light infantry fled pell-mell back toward Concord center, defying their officers and abandoning their wounded, who were left to drag themselves painfully away.


Back Again

June 18, 2007

I decided to open up the place again, since Marisacat is taking care of other stuff.

Must air the sheets and dust a little bit.