20 December, 2008


Hard at work in the shop office

Christmas Cookie Madness

Dammit Womman, Mrs. Peperium, Headmistress SondraK, MiTX and others have all expressed interest in Pizzelles.
I promised recipes....and recipes you shall have!

I ran a Dogpile search and found the following page, which is replete with basic goody recipes:

The recipe by Paul Sciullo of Bloomfield is the closest to what my Mom used to make...without the whiskey.

Now I am well constrained to resurrect one of her prized Pizzelle Irons, much like the crenelated snowflake, #2 in the pic below.

Out of my culinary memories, one in particular was brought back with eidetic clarity by "MCPO Airdale" in a thread over at http://www.sondrak.com/ He spoke of rolling the warm pizzelle, fresh from the iron into a tube....thereby creating a foundation for canoli.

~ A San Francisco Tangent

On the southern-most end of the Marin County headlands, near the base of Mt. Tamalipas, there is an old roadhouse which has been in continuous operation since the 1930's. The Buckeye Roadhouse is nothing like what most folk picture a roadhouse. It is a fine, understated, high quality restaurant featuring fantastic Northern California Wine Country cuisine.

My brother and I were taken their by one of our clients while we worked on building and installing custom mill work.

Long story short ~ DINNER:

24 yr. old Glenmorangie and a splash of water followed by a full dozen fresh bay oysters on the half-shell, washed down with an Anchor Steam Porter...T

Then a dinner of pan seared steelhead fillet on a bed of wild rice and fresh serrano chile and corn with angel hair onion rings and a crisp "Stag's Leap" Chardonnay that was spectacular.

Desert was a chocolate pizzelle canoli filled with dark chocolate whipped cream and ricotta cheese drizzled over with hot dark chocolate/pine nut sauce, a glass of 50 year old Spanish Port.....almost as good as making love.....almost! And a cup of the cleanest tasting coffee I have ever had the pleasure to drink, strong but no bitterness at all.

Which in turn reminded me of the pizzelle canoli we had in Mexico:

They were stuffed with fresh whipped cream and mexican vanilla (VERY pungent!) and their version of ricotta and drizzled over with a hot hard sauce with crushed pistachios....a good snifter of Pedro Domeque VSOP and dark, rich michoacan coffee. *SIGH!*


If any of y'all wish to try your hand at making pizzelles, you can purchase irons like this one here:

at: http://www.kasbahouse.com/villawareonline/pizelle.asp


The Advent Season is nigh over and preparations well in hand to celebrate a Christmas eve Mass at St. James.

There will be Pizzelles!

Thomas Hornsby Ferril ~ Again

Politics and Poetry

Over at "Irish Elk" http://mcns.blogspot.com/ the discussion of Christmas songs that leave one's teeth on edge... fingernails on the slate.....bacofoil on the braces; caused the discussion turned to the "poet laureate select" of the Obamanation. Which, in turn, led me to mention my favorite poet: Tom Ferril, Colorado's Poet Laureate from 1979 until his death in 1988.

His best known work is painted upon the walls of the Colorado State Capitol Rotunda. "Here is a Land Where Life is Written in Water."

My own favorite, a seasonal tribute to Springtime, I share here for Mrs. "P" and all who enjoy and appreciate the turn of phrase in well crafted verse. Given that our nation is held in the grip of unseasonably cold weather...this is a grand time to remember that Spring will follow the frigid, insensate Winter wherein Cabin Fever accosts the human spirit.


The Prairie Melts

The prairie melts into the throats of larks
And green like water green begins to flow
Into the pinto patches of the snow.

I'm here, I move my foot, I count the mountains:
I can make calculations of my being
Here in the spring again, feeling it, seeing...

Three granite mountain ranges wore away
While I was coming here, that is the fourth
To shine in spring to sunlight from the north.

A mountain range ago the sea was here,
Now I am here, the falcons floating over,
Bluebirds swimming foredeeps of the blue,
Spindrift magpies black and splashing white,
The winged fins, the birds, the water green...
Not the ocean ever now, but lilies here,
Sand lilies, yucca lillies, water petaled,
Lilies to delicate, only a little while,
Lilies like going away, like a far sound,
Lilies like wanting to be loved
And tapping with a stick,
An old man tapping
The world in springtime with a stick.

This buffalo grass? O, you who are not here,
What if I knock upon your tombs and say:
The grass is back! Why are you still away?

I know the myth for spring I used to know:
The Son of God was pinned to a wooden truss
But he lived again, His blood contiguous
To mine, His blood still ticking like a clock
Against the collar of my overcoat
That I have buttoned tight to warm my throat.

Who was His lover?
That might keep Him nearer.
Whom did He love in springtime fingering
All fruit to come in any blossom white?
Cupping His hand for tips of nakedness
and whispering:

"You are the flowers, Beloved,

You are the footsteps in the darkness always,
You are the first beginning of forever,
The first fire, the wash of it, the light,
The sweetest plume of wind for a walled town"?

I light my pipe. A heavy gopher sags
Into her burrow scarfed with striping snow,
So quick, so slow, I hardly see her go.

Yonder, a barbed-wire fence, and I remember
Without intention how a wire can twist
A gopher hole until it burns the wrist...

And there are wrists like mine that hang in trees,
And overcoats like mine to mulch the stubble,
And there are houses where young men say
It would be different if the harbors and
The looms were ours...
The end of women wailing for a ship.

But sundown changes day to yesterday:
The purple light withdraws from purple light,
The listing mountains close the lilies tight.

Above the blackness still one falcon burns,
So high, so pale, the palest star seems nearer,
One fleck of sun, one atom floating mirror.

His shadow will not strike this world tonight:
There is a darker homing hollow bone
Of wings returning gives to wings unknown.

My tilted skull? My socket eyes? Are these
With chalk of steers apprenticed to the grass
When mountains wear away and falcons pass?

No answer is.

No policy of rock

Or angel speaks.
Yet there could come a child
A long time hence at sundown to this prairie,
A child far-generated, lover to lover,
Lover to lover, lover to lover over...
(O I can hear them coming, hear them speaking
Far as the pale arroyos of the moon.)

The child could walk this prairie where I stand,
Seeing the sundown spokes of purple turning,
The child could whisper to a falcon floating:

"I am not lost.

They told me of this prairie:
This is the prairie where they used to come
To watch the lilies and the falcons.

17 December, 2008

Tuti Amore, Cenerentolla Mia


The delightful e-claire posited a question about Christmas cookies over at

which started a thread about favorites.....and the Italian Pizzelle came to mind. The light lace cookies cooked in an iron that resembles a small waffle iron is a staple in Italian deserts. Most historians agree that the Pizzelle as a cookie originated in the Abruzzo region sometime in the 8th century.

Frequent readers know that my genetics are all Irish/Celt and Scandinavian. However, I grew up in old North Denver/Wheat Ridge which has a strong Italian heritage. That cultural factor continues to influence and flavor my life: cooking, living, loving, music... yep, most of who I am.

Growing up, we always had basket cheese and pizzelles at Eastertide and canoli and pizzelles at Christmas. Mom would make a huge baker's bowl of anise flavored batter and turn we kiddos loose in front of the stove with her two prized pizzelle irons. Hours later the kitchen would be a blizzard of light brown, anise flavored snowflakes!
Mediterranean Cuisine 101:
Iberian, Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Syrian, the north coast of Africa.....
Ya gotchere whole, healthy food pallette ...goat and sheep, seafood, olives, deep spices and strong herbs, dates and pinon nuts and stuffed grape leaves and hearty red wine.....AND, year round greens.
And, the breads!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Soft, summer wheat to tie the whole feast together. Pasta and simple flat breads, the true sourdough and paninni....the first yeast breads.
There is origin of Pizzelles......honey sweetened....anise, lemon, cinammon, vanilla flavored lace.
Recipes to follow!

16 December, 2008



After the Alberta Clipper raged down the front range, on the first day when the temp rises above single digits, when we can walk outside the artificially heated confines of man and not feel skin freeze, lungs rage against the cold.....that is good.

May God bless those humans who choose to live and work and thrive in such cold. Such cold where all oil turns to sludge, where all humidity turns to crystal, where breath burns and flesh blackens. Where winds rip heat and tear moisture from our tropic flesh, we weak simians must wrap ourselves in artificial skins and feathers to keep alive. And the old ones complain. They huddle near the fire and tell tales, sniffling and crotchety.....

The old ones.......our heritage.
The old ones......their joints creak and burn.
The old ones...yeah, I know. I am quickly becoming one.

Arthritis Sucks!

I have found that doing the dishes by hand helps these old hands. Soaking them in hot water relieves the taut, deep pain. Now I know why the Sioux and Kiowa and Blackfoot and Nez Perce all coveted the thermal springs that dot the spine of the continent, why the called the Yellowstone magic.
Sometimes I wish I were more like my truck. As long as I keep it tuned, well lubed and full of clean oil and filters.....keep the suspension tight and good tires on all fours and it loves to run.

Yeah she rattles....and yeah, it hums when warmed and running strong. I would trust it over most other vehicles in most every situation.

Reliable is the word... much like the old ones stories. Steeped in long history and experience, they rattle and hum, hold history and teach the tales of the long grass.

The one exception ~ the old truck will live indefinetly, as long as replacement parts are available. I could, with reason and maintenance and hard work, pass on the old truck to grandson, nephew or niece. I, on the other hand, will return to dust and release my true being from this earthly realm. I will return to my creator God where rust matters not, nor does rattle and hum.

15 December, 2008



Ed Bowman
Pete Smythe

Back in the day when Ed "Weatherman" Bowman did the KOA radio weather and produced a nightly, hand drawn TV weather report using a cosmic looking map with "winds aloft, high pressure cells and storm fronts" all lovingly painted, he and Pete Smythe of KOA radio coined the phrase:
"Stock Show Weather"

Every year for the last 104 years, the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo has been held in Denver in January. It is three weeks of straight up Cowtown goodness.

The Brown Palace Hotel

The elegant "Brown Palace" hotel hosts livestock in its main foyer. Fine looking horses are paraded through for the guests to enjoy and a small corral is set up to hold the Grand Champion Steer for public display.

The term "Stock Show Weather" comes from the predictable sub-zero cold fronts, known affectionately as "Alberta Clippers" or "Canadian Clippers" that blow down out of Canada every January. They always seem to come during the Stock show. The last few years have been exceptions......until 2008 when the old weather patterns have resurfaced with a vengance.

In fact, we have been privy to some bitterly cold weather in December....and in January.

After a wonderful and balmy mid-fifty degree Friday, we awoke to chill and ominous clouds on Saturday last. Come Sunday morning, we were in the midst of a fine, cold snowstorm which left about 3 inches of crystalline, dry snow....and absolutely frigid temperatures.

Nothing wanted to move....except the blondes. Nathaniel "No Fear" the Dog and Chester Rachet Cat just had to go outside. You can see their foot prints in the above photo. The high Sunday was an intolerable 12 or 15 degrees. The wind caused it to feel more like 3 to 4 degrees ~ BRRRRRR!

......And then the sky cleared.

At this altitude, when the sky clears there is nothing to hold the heat close to the ground. Convection causes any heat to rise and cold, cold air settles into the river basins and lowlands all across the high plains.

The low temp recorded at Denver International Airport last night was 19 degrees below zero, with winds gusting to 20 mph which translate to a wind chill factor of 48 degrees below zero. A ridiculously cold night.

Stock Show Weather had arrived....much to the dismay of St. Al Goreball of Warming.

Now, I know that weather and climate are two different concepts and scientific disciplines. And I choose not to politicize either one, with the exception of the above reference to Al Gore. It is a little jab.

UNLIKE the frigid temps we are experiencing for most of this WEEK! Canadian cold that has dropped all the way down into Texas (Thank you Melissa) according to her report from Austin.

Stock Show weather indeed!