It is a whirlwind in here



A Meal From History: Beef Stew Tonight



There is beef stew tonight
Done in the slow cooker.
Is Not Historic.
The stew itself:
There is so much beef …
(How much?)
So many cubes of beef
There isn’t any room for the potatoes.
No spuds
Nary a pomme de terre.
Onions – of course.
Carrots – why, yes.
And turnip
(I luvs the word because
It really looks like what it is
A true root vegetable that
You have to hack apart).
All bubble bubble
(but no trouble)
Together in its
Slow Cooker
Which isn’t really
But I do think
And then
Speaking of “Cauldron”
This bubble bubble
(but no trouble)
Is going to be served
On buttered heels
From numerous loaves,
Of bread.
Trencherman fare upon
Sopping sops.
[Should I tell
How Heavenly it
Entering the kitchen?]
Why – yes! – I should.
Surely ale should
Accompany this stew!
What about redred

Italian Onion Meal From The Liver (Not The Heart) of The Fourteenth Century ~Fegato alla Veneziana



As I wend my way through my second Onion novel, China Lily, which is taking too, too, long to put into the computer, I approach page 300. The end is in sight.

My intent was to write a trilogy that followed a Fourth Century Italian farm family, as it developed into an International business empire. There was to be 1,000 years between the first and second book, and the third book was to be set in the present day.

I confess, my interest might not be sustained for the third novel.

However, as I soon describe this recipe – and its creation – in detail, I thought it might make someone a nice supper.

Fittingly, this recipe is from Harry’s Bar, in Venice.


When we visited Venice, we asked the locals where to find the definitive calf’s liver and onions. Everyone said Harry’s Bar, and, after trying it there—and lots of other places—we had to agree. This is Harry’s recipe.

Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Italian Comfort Food

serves 6


2 lb. calf’s liver, trimmed and thin membrane peeled off
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 small yellow onions, peeled, halved, and very thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. butter
12 bunch parsley, trimmed and chopped


Cut liver lengthwise into 4 long pieces, then, using a very sharp knife and pressing the palm of your hand firmly against the meat, slice each piece crosswise into pieces as thin as possible.
Heat 4 tbsp. of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Transfer onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
Increase heat to medium-high and add remaining 2 tbsp. oil. When oil is sizzling hot, add liver and cook, in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until brown and crispy on the edges, 3-5 minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper, then add reserved onions and accumulated juices. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring and turning liver and onions constantly while shaking skillet over heat. Transfer to a heated serving platter.
Add butter to skillet and scrape up any brown bits stuck to bottom of skillet as butter melts. Remove skillet from heat and stir in parsley. Spoon butter and parsley over liver and onions. Serve with Grilled Polenta, if you like.

“Say Cheese!”



Thank you reality!

In my historical novel trilogy about onion farmers, which stretches  from the 3rd Century to the present day, I have my main characters, the Cannara family from Italy, invent an “onion cheese”.

In the second part of the trilogy, I have the Cannaras take some of this cheese on a trading voyage to China. Theses voyages could last well over a year. I have them forget some of the rounds of their cheese, and they makes a return voyage. To their surprise, the Cannaras find that the length of travel and the motions of the ship have produced superior cheese. This they sell at a high profit.

Immediately following is a current news article about some cheese found on a ship that sank 340 years ago.

Below that is an excerpt from my novel, China Lily.



Wednesday July 27, 2016

340-year-old cheese discovered at shipwreck site and, man, does it stink

A dairy product, believed to be cheese, has been discovered at the wreck site of The Kronan. The Swedish warship sank before a battle with the Danish/Dutch allied fleet in 1676.

A dairy product, believed to be cheese, has been discovered at the wreck site of The Kronan. The Swedish warship sank before a battle with the Danish/Dutch allied fleet in 1676. (Kalmar County Museum)

Listen 5:22

Divers exploring a sunken 17th-century gunship from Sweden say they have discovered what they believe to be cheese.

“The smell and the texture of the material really points in that direction,” Lars Einarsson tells As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.

“I don’t know if anyone is going to taste it.” – Lars Einarsson

Einarsson, the marine archeologist who heads up The Kronan Project, thinks that the cheese smells like a mix of yeast and Roquefort.

“When it was opened the first time, it was really overwhelming, in a positive way. It was smelling ‘live,’ as opposed to dead organic material, which doesn’t smell very nice. It seemed to be alive.”

The material was found in a tin at the wreck site of The Kronan, the largest ship of its time. It sank in 1676 in the Baltic Sea, which helped preserve the cheese all these years.

The Baltic Sea is a ideal for preservation of the cheese, according to Einarsson. The low salinity, along with the fact that the ship sank in clay, helped seal the pewter canister away like a time capsule waiting to be opened.


Lars Einarsson is a marine archeologist and director of The Kronan Project. (Lars Einarsson)

When asked if anyone would dare bite into the 340-year-old cheese, Einarsson paused.

“I don’t know if anyone is going to taste it. We are quite optimistic about getting an analysis of the chemical makeup of the product though.”

The cheese has been sent to a lab and Einarsson hopes to have the results of what exactly they have within a month. He adds that it may wind up on display some day.

“If it’s possible in terms of preservation, we’ll definitely [put it on display.] But first of all, we have to safeguard the material.”



Excerpt from China Lily:

Just as he did on his last two voyages, Cepa will also bring a few wheels of the onion cheese back to Europe. He has established an authentic pedigree, with the local bishop stamping a date on the sealing wax of the cheese. Assuming there has been no damage by seawater (which has happened to a few of the wheels); the “onion cheese” has such renown the Cannara’s joke that they can almost sell it for its weight in gold.

The “ocean cheese” came about through an accident. On the first voyage Cepa had taken, some of the wheels of onion cheese had been swamped by seawater. The storm was so rough their wax had gotten chipped and cracked. Cepa instructed that they just be thrown overboard. However, before that happened, other crew members shifted cargo and the cheese was shoved into a corner and hidden. Other goods, purchased at different ports, kept obscuring the cheese. When they returned to Europe the cheese wheels were revealed. In the process of throwing them into the harbor, Cepa discovered a half dozen wheels in the middle had not actually been damaged.

A couple of months later, when the Cannaras decided to cut open one of the wheels, they found the cheese had acquired a piquancy and an oddly smoother texture. Speculation was that the motion of the ship, the salt in the air, and the additional years of ageing made the essence of onion permeate the cheese more broadly.

Cepa tried half the wheel on the extended family. The other half he proportioned out to the three medicinal bathing lodges the Cannaras owned, scattered through the foothills of the Alps. He had thought of just using it in Cannara taverns, or even as a supplement to the mid-meal at some of their businesses. The response he received from both the family and patrons of the spas changed his mind.

Even though the onion cheese had been touted for its “medicinal properties” at the spas, and promoted as an “oriental delicacy” elsewhere, the enthusiasm with which it generated proved that everyone reveled it its taste. Cepa was well-aware that part of the family lore concerned an Enaiy of centuries ago who had tried making cheese under water. He wondered if there was any part of the process that might be similar to the sea voyage. Perhaps the amount of additional time was part of her attempt, or bring rocked by the waves. He had no idea if the Cannara’s current recipe for onion cheese had anything to do with her underwater process.

His “ocean cheese” had been so well received that the Cannara family put a small sample on display to taste. Then they began to auction it off. Because most of those who used their spas were wealthy, or nobles, or rulers of the church, members of this social strata had already heard of the cheese. It was as rare as spice. It only appeared in small quantities every few years. Having no way to calculate a production cos, the Cannaras started at the base price for their regular onion cheese. Those of wealth and appetite took care of the rest.

Social Media Casualty – Facebook Friend Falls To The Wayside – With Apology



I glean some interesting information from Facebook, and do get some *news* from people I might not otherwise get. I troll Facebook  and imagine I average a total of 20-50 minutes on it in the course of a day. I do ween myself from looking at it in the morning, as it indeed can be a distraction. I tend to its email notifications in batches.

There has been some debate by writers as to whether Facebook does much by way of professional promotion, whether through a FB ‘Page’ or a regular FB thread. As far as I can see it had done little for me professionally, and I do not have a FB ‘Page’. I don’t plan to start.

I get stories from some of my esoteric sources, ranging from The Papal Swiss Guard to a Russian News Feed. I get photos from European countries, the British Monarchy and an historic Railway in the US. Harry’s Bar&Grill in Venice entertains me. Leonard Cohen casts me wit. Some posters tap into their own esoteric feeds and I glean from them. I get far too many pictures of cats (and I revel in cats).  From my end I post literary news and recipes. And muchness about Kafka.

I recently got an apologetic message from a FB friend saying that he could no longer take the time to remain my friend and peruse my postings. He said there were too many of them. I find it a kind gesture to tell me this. I find it odd that he feels badly about no longer wading through recipes and Kafka. I am perplexed why he just does not zip past postings which hold no interest. I know I do.

I responded to say I was sorry that he was sorry. He replied to say how sorry he was, and that he feels sorry about upsetting anyone even if they are not upset. I replied ‘no harm done’. His final reply was: “I have never known, with your posts, if you have ever wanted a reply!”

This still takes me aback. I reply to messages. The FB device has an automatic avenue to make a comment if one wishes. It seems to me it is up to the viewer whether they want to comment or not. I’m interested in comments but – no – I can’t say I expect or *want* a reply.

He is now gone but, as I say, went about it as nicely as a person can.


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