25 December, 2008


Servitas in Cultu


Cultus per Servitatem

What is a "Verger"?

One of the esoteric, and frankly powerful remnants of medieval times in the liturgical worship of the Anglican Communion is the office of verger. Posted above is a photo of one of the best. It is a picture of the legendary Charles Agneau, Head Verger of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco taken not long before his death at age 76.

What is a verger?

David Jette, the retired President of the Verger's Guild of the Episcopal Church spoke to a group of vergers in training: "Basically, a verger is God's butler." The office of verger can be as simple as a ceremonial office to lead processions within the church. Or, it can be as complicated as being the overseeing officer, Sargent-at Arms, instructor and head of all of the subordinate guilds within a cathedral church.

Just as a Head Butler was in charge of all the servants within a Georgian/Victorian household, so a verger is in charge of all the servants who keep the liturgical dance in pace and cadence and alive with reverential vigor within the Anglican Church.

He or she serves the priest or cathedral dean or the bishop, making certain that their needs are met, that the altar guild and acolytes and ushers and choir are all trained and prepared to serve. This allows the ordained ministers to concentrate on their priestly and pastoral duties while the great dance of the liturgy flows around them, supporting them and lifting up their position as God's chosen priests.

Originally, the verger carried a mace to keep unruly and/or drunken congregants, choir members in line and to help remove errant livestock from the sanctuary. He would keep watch over the expensive books and bibles, gold and silver altar adornments. Usually, he was a retired military man, well versed in the art of combat and maintaining order. His mace was not ornamental....it was a weapon.

The contemporary office of Sargent-at-Arms within the US Congress or the British Parliment is the outgrowth of the office of Verger within the Church.

Yours truly, 1st Sunday after Christmas,
Martyrdom of Holy Innocents

I serve as verger in our small congregation at St. James, Wheat Ridge. My post is second in ceremonial and liturgical importance. Only our Rector or priest-in-charge holds more authority. He is ordained and can perform all of the sacraments outlined in the Canon Law of the Anglican Communion. Although I am highly skilled and trained in all of the liturgal nuances and canon law, I am not ordained. Therefore, I cannot perform baptisms, marriages, bless and sanctify Eucharistic elements, sacred oils or holy water.
OH yes!....and what does the latin above mean?
"Service in Worship and Worship through Service."

24 December, 2008

~~*~~ For the Love of a Cat ~~*~~

William "Sprocket" Cat

Ten years ago this coming March 26th, a litter of six black kitteh's were born to our dear neighbor's dam. Some nine weeks later, Ms. D was visiting and playing with the all litter mates. As she arose to leave, one little black fluffball followed her and began mewing.

That lil' furball was Sprocket.

He has graced our house, our lives and the neighborhood ever since. He latched on to me early on.

I taught him how to hunt, the joys of feasting on fresh fish and wild birds. He ranges far and wide in the neighborhood, following the "cat highways" know only to the felines who all roam here in the North-West Highlands of Denver.

William “Sprocket” Cat, the self-proclaimed:

- Emperor of the North Highlands,

- Knight of the Raleigh Street Irregulars,

- Master of Mice and Sparrow, and,

- Time Lord appellation: Felis Grandicus Concolor

The ornery gato has some scars and we've had some scares when he has come up sick. He has bounced back from each one...until last Thursday. He has not eaten since, nor has he ingested fluids....The Vet has given him fluids by subcutaneous injection.

I've shared much of what has happened to him through the beneficence of that sweet and ornery Headmistress: Sondra @ http://www.sondrak.com/. She is the founder of the Fund which so many of you have made contributions.

I am dumbfounded by this outpouring of support and joyful help!



Nathaniel and Sprocket sharing "their" couch.

~~~~~ UPDATE~~~~~

Christmas Day, 2008

Sprocket slept almost all night without vomiting. However, when we tried to hydrate him by administering lukewarm water with an eyedropper.....He immediately threw up again. He has not eaten at all. Nothing stays long in his upper GI.

Ms. D is off work until New Years. She will take him back into the Vet's Clinic tomorrow. I simply do not know how much longer the lil' black bugger can keep this up. He is so weak, lethargic.....moving like a Sloth, slow, almost imperceptably slow.


We would not be able to keep this up if it were not for your corporate support, both physical, emotional and fiscal!

THAT, as far as I am concerned, is the true miracle here.

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!

02 December, 2008

Southern Memories, II


Winter Haven, Florida ~ Spring, 1967

Bob and I rolled out of bed each mornin'before sunrise. Work called us, or mayhaps it was the call of "learnin' time".

Actually, Bob's grandmother shook our heels or shoulders, whatever it took to cause a couple of boys-wantin'ta'be men to rise and work. We learned to rise no matter what pain or desire to sleep kept us a-bed.

We learned to rise after six hours sleep and a night of eating and drinking and tellin' lies. We learned to pace our slow selves to the thick air and insects, knowing that 12 hours is a long stretch in any man's book.

We learned to shut-the-fuck-up.....

We began to listen.

Buck and his soft and powerful smile began to translate into a soft and powerful voice. He spoke and the rest of us listened. It didn't matter that we were "naw'there'ren white boyiz".

It didn't matter that the rest of the crew were Southern blacks. We all listened to Buck during the "learnin time"..........Or, as I recall the dialect...."lar'nin' time.

After two weeks of 12 hours on - 12 hours off and one day of rest....Bob and I hurt. The old black men kept working while we wanted to take a day off and rest. Buck smiled and we learned. We learned that men worked, not just for themselves, but for their families, for their community, for their nation.

Let me repeat that:
We learned that men...TRUE MEN... worked, not just for themselves, but for their families, for their community, for their nation!
It wasn't about race or creed or color. These old men were far past that. It was about making their way, making a living in an unjust and wicked world.

One chilly, misty morning, Buck stopped at one of the nameless little stores where we all piled out of the bus to buy our RC cola and Moon Pies and tobacco. Something seemed different.

Buck was wary, his smile, hesitant. The normal silence was draped in expectancy....in darkness.

When we arrived at the work site....which, to Bob and I, was just another nameless block of citrus groves in the midst of a fathomless sea of citrus, we were met by the County Sheriff and the Florida State Patrol.

Buck unfolded his huge body and stood....waiting. A grey uniformed hulk of a State Patrol Sargent came over with a folder. He shook hands like he and Buck were old friends. Then he spoke quietly, pointed to the grove as more police and the coroner's wagon arrived. Buck nodded. Then he shook his head, his shoulders slumped and his massive head fell forward. Sadness......grief......That is what I remember.

Buck shuffled back to the bus, shoulders hunched, his black cheeks glistened with tears.

"Thar's'a bin a killin." His deep voice broke. " Sum'un's kilt a young gal'n' her lover. Dey drug'um out'cheer and dump'um in'a citra'grove....all bloody like. Y'all, we cain' werk he'yah t'aday. They want's a preecher and I be the one de' law knows. I gots'ta stay and woik wif the sher'riff. Y'all go'wan back t'da ya'ward. Jack, y'all take da bus."

Buck was a Christian pastor!

Jack, the man who had proffered me the chewing tobac, hopped out and crawled into the driver's seat. He drove us back to the yard in utter silence.

I was still dumbstruck....Buck was a pastor!
Later in the week, I spoke with Buck during our lunch..our "lar'nin time." I asked him about his education, how he came to be a preacher and why he was working the citrus groves.

He stared at me, his eyes glowed like black coals.......silent. Buck sighed. He took a long drink from his jug of sweet tea. Then Buck leaned back against the orange tree and began his tale.

He told me that he was damn near 80 years old, born sometime in the 1880's. There was no record, no certificate. He remembered his grandparents who were house slaves, freed by "Massa'Lincoln". They stayed on the plantation to serve their own patron, their Christian master. They both taught Buck to memorize the bible. Every night they would sit and recite chapter and verse. Every night, month after month, year after year....they would sit in the firelight and recite God's word as their own preacher had taught them.

Not one of them could read or write, not Buck, not his parents, not his grandparents. But they knew every word and phrase in the Holy Bible. It was their hope and their gift from God and their earthly master. It was the promise of a better life. He memorized the whole book and learned to preach.

Buck, then in his twenties, took over preaching when his mentor died . He worked with the Baptist Church. His Strong, deep voice and massive stature gained him a large following. Big gals, small gals.....some with heavy breasts, some with sweet fannies, some with kitchen skills.....some with other skills....all of them smiled and wooed him. Clever men taught him about drink and smoke. He fell and rose and fell again.
He married one strong, no-nonsense gal who had waited, watching him from the shadows. Then the war came and Buck went to serve his country. He learned to sign his name and read and write enough to make his way. And he learned about hate and murder. And he learned that his "churchin' " was Christ working to keep him safe.

Buck came home and raised his family. They were all gone now, his wife dead, his children gone north to work in factories. He knew the law and the politicians around Winter Haven. And they all knew and respected himHe worked because he had to. There was no Social Security for Buck...or for many of the elderly blacks. They were "non-persons" as far as the Federal Government was concerned. They simply, and conveniently, did not exist.

Buck told me that God wanted him to stay in Florida. God wanted him to reach out. He told me that he "knew" when Bob and I showed up, that he was "s'posed'ta teech us'bout Gawd."

And that, beloved, is just what that old man did.

30 November, 2008

*Buttermilk Skies*



I have not been at peace with the postings of The Monkeybutt Chronicles here.
Therefore, as of today, I moved all of the previous posts over to:


For those of you who have read and commented, or have simply read and moved on, thanks for visiting!

I hope you will visit the new site and comment if you feel so compelled. Whether you are pissed with what I say, or agree with me, please respond. All I ask is that you DO NOT remain anonymous. Your comment will be removed.


Forward, into the Fog

The whole idea behind Elegant Dust was to create a quiet haven from the incessant, tumultuous and frantic noise and growing barbarism of the post-modern world. With that in mind, I want to make this post a return to the folksy, comfortable tenor of earlier writes.

Yesterday, we awoke to the first protracted snow storm of the season. It remained cold and steel grey all day, with snow flurries off and on. We were gifted with the remnants of a spiral sliced ham last week...the leftovers from the little feast held after the ceremony honoring my late half-sister Carrie Lundquist and the spreading of her ashes.

That ham shank and hock were begging to be cooked up with a traditional Southern set of recipes.

~ Butterbean Soup
~ Buttermilk Cornbread
~ The "final" Salad
- 1 pound of large, dried Lima beans
- 1 full ham shank and hock ( the honey cured and spiral sliced kind, if possible)
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- 2 medium, dried sweet Anaheim (Hatch, NM) Chiles. (I use them fresh off the ristras.)
- Kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper....and a dash of Mexican Oregano.

Sort, wash and soak the beans in cold water overnight, at least 8 hours. Place in a large dutch oven.

Trim the meat from the shank and split the hock at the knuckle, remove tendons and connective tissue, add to the beans. Add the the chicken stock and enough water to cover well. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and heavy simmer for 45 minutes.

Place the chiles in a shallow bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes.

Coarse chop the onion and celery. Split the chiles, remove the ribs and seed, chop fine.

Remove the shank and hock from the beans. Set aside and let cool. Add the veges, oregano and chile. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove meat pockets from the shank, chop coarse, and add to the soup. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a high simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Cover and place on low simmer till ready to serve.

- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (adjusted for high altitude)
- 1 cup of fresh buttermilk
- 1 large (or 2 medium) eggs....the fresher, the better!
- 1 half stick of unsalted buddah
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup of sugar....(I like less)
- Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Melt the buddah in a high sided 12 inch cast iron skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. When the butter begins to brown, Whisk the egg(s), the buttermilk and most of the buddah into the dry ingredients. Return the cast iron to the stove top. Pour the batter into the smoking cast iron and let it sizzle for a second or two and then put it into the oven for 25 to 35 minutes....Check for top browning at 20 minutes. Remove when the top begins to brown. Run a knife around the perimeter and turn onto a plate or platter. You will be rewarded with a toasted, crunchy crust... a sweet and light bread with a little "bite" from the buttermilk... YUMMMM!

The salad is the last of the tomatoes and cukes from the garden, along with fresh greens from the last of the local harvests sold at the Farmer's markets. From now until late March....the 'maters and lettuce will taste more like cardboard than fresh veges.
All of these recipes come down from Dad Anthony, my step-dad in name only. He raised me as though I were his own child, and taught me the ways of a Southern Conservative. I sure do miss that ol' gentleman.
He loved Buttermilk and spent a few seasons trying out different recipes for cornbread that would match the buttermilk cornbread he had as a child. Once he found the recipe above....he used to make it at least once a month until the strokes whittled away at his ability to cook, or do much of anything.

21 November, 2008



Over at the KisP Institute (http://www.sondrak.com/) the Headmistress posted an esoteric news snippet :

"South Korean housewives make 140 tons of kimchi, a traditional Korean dish of spicy fermented cabbage and radish. The food is to be distributed to more than 13,000 poor households."

Which immediately prompted a discussion thread of personal experiences with kimchi and other utterly oddball cultural culinary delights. Which, in turn, started me thinking of regional oddities I have experienced.

From Southwest TEX-MEX menudo and rattlesnake, to Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple to southern delights like pickled eggs and "trotters" (pickled pig's feet), the ranchers delight, "Prairie" oysters or "Rocky Mountain" oysters...and my own ongoing search for the best plate of the ubiquitous, belly-busting, All-American, road hounds delight: Biscuits and Gravy (http://theprairiemelts.blogspot.com/2007/03/biscuits-and-gravy-at-searchlight-cafe.html) I have eaten some things which others find patently offensive and inedible.

However, there is an deeply ingrained southern tradition which involves two recognized regional foods: Moon Pies and RC Cola.

DW (Dammit Womann) added to the KisP thread that when her travels take to Baton Rouge, she purchases a case of fresh Moon Pies. Which started me thinking of the springtime I spent in Florida.
The recollection of working in the Florida citrus groves in the Spring of 1967 came rolling back into mind. My college roomate and I were drinking salutations to St. Patrick and talking about his impending trip to Florida for a semester's worth of work. He asked if I would like to join him. Never being one to miss an opportunity to travel, I hollered: "Hell Yeah!"....and ordered another pitcher of beer.
Three days later, we flew into Tampa. His crusty ol' cracker grandfather met us, packed us into his ancient Ford station wagon and we headed off to Winter Haven. The experience of living with Bob's grandparents is worthy of a post all its own. Suffice it to say that I learned to jig for freshwater crab and enjoy crayfish, how to make spicy, grapefruit wine and how to "court" soft, doe-eyed southern gals.

I also learned about the southern class and caste system. How, in Florida at least, it had less to do with race than with perceived social status, education and language.

Bob and I applied for work at the Gypsum/Drywall manufacturing plants. They took one look at our skinny white college aged selves and laughed. They wanted big ass southern men not pansy assed boys. Bob's grandfather had a friend who ran an irrigation service for the citrus farmers.

He needed help and he didn't care who or how big or how educated. He just wanted bodies to set and change out irrigation pipe for ten to twelve hours a day. It wasn't rocket science and it wasn't extremely physically demanding.

We showed up for work at the crack of dawn the next day, signed our legal papers and were told where to meet the bus to take us out to the groves. Five minutes or so later, five of us, three old black men and we two young white boys, crawled into a beater of a Volkswagon bus. It was driven by the biggest, blackest person I had ever seen. His skin was purple black. He must have weighed 280 and stood 6'10". Buck was his name. From the peppering of grey in his hair, I figured him to be in his late 40's.

He gently smiled so broad and warm it would have melted February snow...and introduced himself and the other workers. They were elderly and skinny men, quiet and unsure of these "whitey collitch bow'ies" in their midst. Buck started the bus and we headed down the sandy road. About five minutes later we pulled up in front of a weathered clapboard corner market with a broken screen door and rusty tin signs which held the building together.

The crew silently piled out of the bus and into the store. Buck looked back and motioned with that engaging smile and a nod of his head that we should join them. Inside it was dark and damp, lit only by three or four bare, yellowed bulbs. It smelled of over-ripe produce, stale sweat and tobbacco. All the men headed for the cooler, pulled out a iced bottles of Royal Crown and each took a Moon Pie. At the check out, some asked for plugs or ropes of dark tobacco. One asked for a bag of "Red Man" chaw.

Bob and I followed suit, taking the iced down RC Colas and moon pies to the counter where a young black woman with dark, brooding eyes, watched our every move. We smiled...She didn't. Bob and I both smoked Pall Mall straights. These we asked for and paid out our pittance in coin.

Buck then came up and spoke to the gal. He assured her that we were OK...."jes' young'un's a-workin' fer a spell." There was that smile again! The gal's stern countenance softened.

Back in the bus, twenty minutes later and a million miles from anything I had known before, Buck pulled into a drive deep in the middle of citrus groves. There loomed a huge rusty electric well pump and head-pipe and an old tractor with a trailer loaded with 8 inch diameter, 10 foot lengths of aluminum irrigation pipe. Each length had holes drilled every 6 inches or so on opposite sides. Buck taught us the slow dance of off loading, laying pipe and turning on the pumps, taking just long enough that when we returned to the pump, we had five minutes of "settin'time" before we began moving the next line of pipe. Except for the whine of the electric motor, the deep throb of the pump and the shlosh of the water as it ran...we lived those days in relative silence. The only time we spoke was at lunch. And lunch was "learnin'time."
Once, during one of the "settin' time" breaks, the old feller who had shelled out two bits for a bag of Red Man politely asked me if I would like a taste. Hell, I didn't know anything about chew, except that Dad Anthony and Uncle Bob always had a packet of Beechnut in the logging truck up at the cabins up in the Rockies.

That day, Bob and I learned about Moon Pies and RC Cola and tobacco you didn't smoke. We learned to set and break down irrigation pipe. And we got a taste of what it meant to be a minority.

What we learned later about Buck and the crew he lead is another tale for another day.

20 November, 2008

Sixty-One and Counting

The Casper, Star-Tribune reported today that Jason Phillip's plea for "self defense" in the the assault case was denied by the Natrona District Court. Mr. Phillip was arrested for biting off the ear of Benjamin Ledford in a bar fight last July.
That, dear friends, was the first bit of news I heard this morning as I awoke to grey skies, freezing rain and a foul, cold day ahead. 61 years ago today, I popped out and began my earthly journey while Mom listened to the live broadcast of Princess Elizabeth's marriage to Prince Philip.
Mom tells me that there was a raging blizzard in Denver. Heh!.......that figures!
I think I'll leave work a little early, maybe shoot a goose...more appropriately, shoot "AT" a goose.
OH, and don't forget to wish ex-UN ambassador, John Boulton, a happy B-day. He and I are the same age.

19 November, 2008

National Ammo Day

The Other Side of Kim (hot link)

The good Corporal General Kim Du Toit, Grand Poobah of "The Nation of Riflemen" movement and basic all around curmudgeonly good guy, is celebrating his natal anniversary day. (That would be "birthday" for those of you in Yorba Linda.)

Pop on over and give a celebratory greeting.

In his honor...and for your own safety and security... Go out and buy AMMUNITION today. Try for 100 rounds of rifle and/or 100 rounds of pistol and a brick (500 rounds) of .22 rimfire.

For those of us who reload....primers, wads, cases, bullets and more powder should all be on the list.


18 November, 2008




When the last of the Olathe Sweet Corn comes to market, along with fresh Sakata Farms Roma Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Big Button Mushrooms and sweet Vidalia Onions. Its a perfect time to crank up the charcoal grill.

The above is the plating of the following menu:

- Beer Marinated Chicken Breasts - skinned and boned, Red Bird Farms Chicken Breasts lightly tenderized with the tines of a fork. Marinated for an hour or so in beer, chopped fresh roma tomato, chopped fresh basil, onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper. Grill over direct heat, turning frequently. At each turn, dip back into the marinade and allow the tomato and basil bits to cook along with the chicken.

- Vege Kabobs - Skewer quartered fresh Vidalia onion, halved Roma tomato and chunked Bell Pepper and de-stemmed Mushroom on bamboo skewers. (Bamboo holds veges better'n steel!) Grill off direct heat and brush frequently and liberally with Extra Virgin Olive oil spiced up with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, Sweet Chimayo chile powder and a dash of worchester. Turn frequently and gently with tongs.

- Corn on the Cob - Grilled on the edge of direct heat and brush frequently with the same spiced Extra Virgin Olive oil. Turn as the kernels brown.

*NOTE: Getting each of the different elements to come off of the grill at the same time means good grill and coal heat management. The chicken takes the longest and most direct heat, followed by the corn and finally the vege kabobs.


"Ya' Sure Ya'betcha its Autumn"


When the local late apples begin to come off, its time to go Northern European with a Pork Loin Roast, surrounded by fresh sauerkraut, sliced onion and apples, served with dill/caraway mashed 'taters and salad.

- Pork Loin Roast - Drench the roast with flour spiced with salt and pepper. Brown in a hot cast iron skillet, liberally oiled with bacon grease, rolling till all surfaces are toasty brown. Place in a high sided roasting pan wiped down with EVOO on a bed of sauteed, finely chopped onion, garlic and celery. Roast at 350 degrees for 15 minutes and turn the roast over. Roast for another fifteen minutes and add two cored and sectioned apples, coarse chopped onion and about a pound of fresh sauerkraut sprinkled with dill and caraway seed. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes, or until the apples begin to soften.

-Dill/Caraway Mashed 'Taters - Scrub and coarse cube three or four or six Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes...depending on size and how many folks you plan to feed. Leave the skin on! Place in a large sauce pan, cover with water, add a couple pinches of salt and about a teaspoon of caraway and dill seed. Boil till soft. Drain and add lotsa buddah and whole milk and hand mash until the chunky yet smooth.

These are truly seasonal meals. Damn tasty!

09 November, 2008


A River Ran Through It.

(With a tip'o' the fishing hat to Norman Maclean and a tip of the ink pen to Theodore (Dr. Seuss)Giesle.)
Compare American History to the flow of a river winding through one of Colorado's pictureque montane valleys. Over a period of years, the cuts and twists form into convoluted snake like "Ox-bows." Every spring the snowpack, grown deep from winter storm heaped on winter storm begins to melt. In late May this melt begins to swell the rivers. Sometime in June, the run-off crests, overflowing river banks, washing detrius downstream, flushing out silt and, sometimes, changing the course of the river. This year's runoff was a true watershed event. It was one of the strongest, longest flows that has ever been recorded, staying powerful well into July.

We'll call this year's spring run-off the housing/banking/retirement investment crisis.

One physical attribute of the run-off is that it has the power to change the flow of the river. The raging current seeks the path of least resistance. And sometimes it bypasses one or more of the large Ox-bows, cutting them off. They are no longer part of the river's flow. Slowly they turn into backwater swamps, stagnant and fetid. Over the years, the prairie reclaims them. Its how the deep riparian meadow soil of the montane valleys is created.

Meandering "Ox-bows" along the Middle Fork
of the South Platte River. - South Park, Colorado

The banking/housing "crisis" whether truthful and real, or manufactured or neither, ran like the floods of spring through both presidential campaigns. Like the raging river, it cut across the long standing "Ox-bows" of Republican conservatism, cutting off their power, their voice and the long held beliefs that America's economic strength is based in a free and open market, little fettered by government regulation.

All other talking points and concerns were overshadowed by "THE ECONOMY!" Right or wrong, that is how the dominant liberal media reported the concerns of middle America. While a seemingly cool and calm Barrack Hussein Obama, held true to his shallow and ubiquitous course of "Hope and Change", the old warhorse, John McCain, seemed to stumble and act unsure of which course of action to take.

That was enough to turn the tides after the big gain McCain/Palin experienced in the post-election rally. It was the final collapse of a campaign built on the belief that compromise and bi-partisanship are a position of strength which will draw the American people to stand with the Republican platform. It was a campaign built upon talk, not action.

The RNC, run by "moderate" Republicans and RINO's, allowed and/or encouraged, supported the dominant liberal media's attack on Sarah Palin and the Conservatives within the Republican Party. This destructive tactic along with their indecisive, pathetic inability to pin down Barrack Hussein Obama on his clearly Socialist policy points, foreign and domestic; and his own shallow political portfolio, left the door open for a strong showing by a weak and splintered Democrat party.

What now?
We are waging a physical war against Islamic terrorism on foreign soil. We are waging a philisophical war against creeping socialism at home and in Europe, and we are at war in a great fiscal battle against growing Asian economic giants, little constrained by ethical concerns, whether they be humanitarian or environmental...or political.
If America is to regain its power and prominence within the World community; if she is to return to her place as "A Shining Beacon on the Hill..." as Ronald Reagan called her, we must act. We conservatives must act knowing that our actions are based in the power of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and most importantly, in our belief that God has ordained this Republic to stand as a beacon of freedom for the rest of the world.
It is of extreme importance that a strong Conservative Political Platform be written and used as a basis for action. It is not a document which will be compromised or held up to bi-partisan discussion. It is our strength, the strength of conservative, hardworking, middle America.
It is the last and the best promise for America. I will write next what I believe that platform to be.
Right now, it is dinner time.
I found a sealed packet of butterflied Antelope tenderloins buried in the freezer. I will sautee them with butter, a bit of diced onion and garlic, serve them with some boiled red potatoes and green beans. Maybe I'll get a bit crazy and poach a couple of Bosque pears in Benedictine and Brandy, dusted with allspice,cinammon and a bit of nutmeg.
The War for our National Soul is not over. We have lost a battle, yet a fine warrior and commander has gained her stripes...and she will return:
Governor Sarah Palin.

02 November, 2008

Pumpkin Lust

Autumn Feasts

Over at "Irish Elk" (http://mcns.blogspot.com/) where the conservative Roman Catholic side of New England is well represented, one of the posts led to a recipe for an late Summer/early Autumn dessert "Apple Slump" which helped fuel my own cooking/canning...and yes, hunting frenzy, here in the High Plains.

First, our Pronghorn Antelope hunt had to be cancelled. My twenty-five year hunting/fishing partner lost his father to lung cancer. We buried him on opening day of antelope season. May God richly bless his soul and reward his spirit for his lively faith here on Earth.

Outside of the overwhelming and continuous barrage of Gatling gun political ads on the radio and TV, computer generated phone calls and yard signs proclaiming someone or something, we have been blessed with a magnificent Autumn. Two weeks ago we were privy to an early Canadian cold front which hammered our tomatoes and cukes and all tender garden plants. That, in turn, led me to open up a tome by one of my favorite writers and Colorado native; Gene Amole.

Gene loved this wild land. For twenty years he wrote a bi-weekely column about it, shared old recipes, recalled lost memories from frontier days...and personally held court at the only 24 hour classical music station between Chicago and the West Coast. His recipe for Green Tomato Relish/Piccallilly/Chow-Chow is a classic. Ms. D and I canned 16 quarts.

However, I digress.

That left five large pumpkins, to be processed. One became a Jack-O-Lantern, one was donated to the squirrels and here is a pic of the three remaining "calabasas":

We have a full "Ristra" of mild Anaheim Chiles from Hatch, New Mexico, pumpkin, leftover venison, more pumpkin and cheap pork shoulder roast to turn into Autumn feasts.

I told Mrs. Peperium that I would share my favorite Pumpkin Soup Recipes, and I will.

But first, a couple of photos from our stroll along Clear Creek today. It is true Indian Summer, the last warm days before the Canadian and Pacific cold fronts begin their barrage of the Rocky Mountains and the High Plains. As always, the pics are clickable and will open to a larger format.

Our rough Collie, Nate:

Looking downstream, towards the South Platte

Pedestrian Bridge and Cottonwood

Now, on with the recipes:

White Bean, Pumpkin and Chipotle Soup:

- 1/2 pound cannelini or Great Northern beans (I like to use black turtle beans, however, the "pumpkin" color is lost in the dark liquor from the beans.)
- 1 smoked hamhock, split
- 1/2 teaspoon dried "epazote" (optional - available in Hispanic markets)
- 1 or 2 (for the adventurous) Chipotle chiles, dried or en adobo sauce (yum!!!)
- 2 tablespoons of oil. (peanut, cannola, corn, mild olive)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds of seeded and peeled pumpkin meat, cut into 1" cubes
- 1 small bunch of Swiss chard, coarse chopped (YES, Swiss chard or Kale or turnip greens!)
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano (Mexican tends to be spicier than domestic)
- Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste


Sort the beans for rocks and inedibles. Soak in cold water overnight. Drain and place in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add the hamhock, epazote, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer till the beans are tender, about 45 minutes.

If your chipotles are dried, cut in half, place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes. Remove stems and seeds and membranes and chop fine. The chiles en adobo need only to have the stems, seeds and membrane removed, then chopped finely. (DO NOT think that the stems, seeds and membranes are inconsequential! If left intact, the soup will be hotter'n'depot stove!)

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until soft. Do not let the garlic brown.

Add the onion/garlic mix to the cooked beans. Add in the pumpkin, chard, chiles, oregano, and a half-teaspoon of salt. Simmer over low heat until the pumpkin is tender, about 20 minutes. (It takes a full half hour here in Denver's altitude.) Remove the hamhock, shred any available meat and return it to the soup, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with warm "masa harina" tortillas (or...as Ms. P's post brought to mind, Navajo frybread!)


Espanola Pumpkin Soup
Here's a pumpkin soup that ya'll are gonna love...and it's a much better use of pumpkin than that sweet marshmellow thing that we so often do for the holidays.

- 1 onion, quartered
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 or three potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks an equal amount of peeled and seeded pumkin meat
- 4-6 cups chicken stock (I like the low sodium)
- 1 Scotch bonnet chile - (use an habanero or chipoltle if there are tender palettes.)
- 1 bay leaf, broken
- other spices that you like - I like allspice and salt and freshly ground pepper.

Peel and cube potatoes and pumpkin into equal sized chunks heat some olive oil in a big pot and add the onion and garlic - saute a few minutes Add the chicken stock, potatoes and pumpkin meat, bring to a boil, reduce reat, add the scotch bonnet and spices of you choice. Cook over low heat, just simmering, for maybe two hours until the potatoes and pumpkin are mushy. Remove the scotch bonnet and bay leaf if you used one.

Transfer the mixture, in batches, to a food processor and puree till smooth. Return the mixture to the pot, reheat and adjust seasonings - I added a splash of cognac. Be forewarned that if you actually do use a scotch bonnet or habanero chile, this is a pretty spicy soup, even if you discard the chile. You might experiment by removing the chile earlier in the process; but mine was delicious! Enjoy!

BTW, this one is traditionally served in a hollowed out pumpkin carcass, warmed with hot water and blue corn flour tortillas.

1)- Epazote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epazote

2)- Gene Amole's favorite columns from the Rocky Mountain News have been published in three compilations, MORNING, AMOLE AGAIN and AMOLE, ONE MORE TIME. There are copies available at Amazon:

Gene also penned a book about the last days of his life and the prospect of imminent death:
THE LAST CHAPTER: GENE AMOLE ON DYING. He and Thomas Hornsby Ferril were good friends. Ferril was Colorado's Poet Laureate from the mid-1970's until his death in the late '80's