Simple Stock With a Side of Butter

We in the northeastern U.S. have been deluged with a cool spring rain for several days now. Not good weather for adventuring, though I managed to get out and about yesterday and sample some history and some garlicky pork chops.


The weeds are thriving. Our sump pump is heaving, with the Cabin set as it is down into an overflowing marsh. And the room around me is dim and shadowy, a womb of dark lumber. The pictures stare out of the murk.


Chestnut, a building expert recently assured me. The Cabin is built of chestnut logs. How do you know? I asked. I just know, he said. You can see it in the fireplace mantle.


Today is fit for a few errands – dry cleaning, library, Good Will. Then as many rounds of a knitted cowl as I have patience for. Beautifully soft merino wool in a heathery blue-brown. The proprietor of my local knit shop, Flying Fingers, after salvaging yet another botched project of mine, confided that business falls off after the winter, that people seem not to think of knitting as a year-round activity. I immediately bought some new yarn.


I think I’ll take another listen to Barry White’s Ecstasy, which I heard in the car for the first time in a long time. At least 20 years, in fact. Is it still brilliant or is it just me?


Perhaps a chapter of What Maisie Knew, the original by Henry James, which I’m newly interested in after the disturbing contemporary movie version I took in earlier in the week. Perhaps a start on The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, which just appeared in April and takes place in 1975 in New York City, where a young woman named Reno is intent on conquering the SoHo art world.


I know I’ll make a big pot of chicken soup, and dive into another pot: links I’ve been saving to mull over on a day just like today.

Here are some you can sink your teeth into.

Have you ever wondered about butter sculpting?

butter sculpting

Linda Christensen, a master at the craft, typically spends a week and a half in a booth chilled to near freezing at the Minnesota State Fair in order to render likenesses out of 90-pound blocks. An artist friend of mine once imagined making sculptures out of breast milk butter, but it never came to pass.

How about houses so small they can be mounted on grocery carts?

Early water pipes under New York City carved from whole trees.

wood pipes

Archaeologists are finding them now.

Italian prison inmates who make award-winning chocolate truffles.

The question of whether Michael Pollan is a sexist pig – an excerpt from Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, a new book by Emily Matchar that sounds an awful lot like my decade-old Made From Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth.

Is it time to order a new supply of Goatboy Soaps, handmade from goat’s milk and shea butter on a farm in New Milford, Connecticut?


The one called Heavenly does indeed have a celestial aroma, I can vouch for it,but you can also choose from among Blackberry Sage, Cherry Almond, Clean Greens, Lavender Oatmeal, Serious Citrus and others, including Red Clover Tea, the company’s bestseller. No breast milk in evidence.

Research showing why the act of pointing makes babies human. It turns out, according to Slate, that “Babies point to refer to events in the past and the future. They point to refer to things that are no longer there. They can figure out, when an adult points across the room toward a group of objects, what exactly the adult is gesturing toward (the toy they’ve previously played with, say). They can deduce that, by pointing, an adult is trying to communicate something specific (find that toy hidden in that bucket). And not least of all, babies point because they want to share their experience of the world—that puppy—with someone else.”

The fascinating blog of an Irishman elucidating a video of Dublin phrases.  You’re in for a treat if you make posts from Sentence first a regular part of your day.

A recipe for how to make Mango Sticky Rice, at a site called The High Heel Gourmet, brought to you by Miranti, a young chef who seems to know exactly what she’s doing.

high heeled gourmet

And, finally, a piece so lively it will drive all the rain away (by tomorrow, I hope, when I plan to go mushrooming in the Westchester woods), a photo doc on skateboarding in 1965, courtesy of Life magazine.

girl skateboarding

I am sure that some of the individuals pictured have traded skateboards for walkers, but then everything was a breeze.

If you wind up wanting to make home-made soup, a chicken elixir, here’s how.

A Recipe for Simple Stock

1 soup fowl/heavy fowl/soup hen

A bunch of chicken feet if you can get them

2 big fat carrots

2 sticks celery

1 large onion

1 large purple-shouldered turnip

1 large parsnip

a bunch of dill if you have it

salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken to boil in a pot large enough to accommodate all ingredients.

Skim off scum and reduce to a simmer.

Add all other ingredients.

Simmer 3 hours or until chicken starts to fall off the bone.

Strain stock.

Add noodles or matzoh balls, use as a base for leek-and-potato soup, make gravy for chicken pot pie or stir up some risotto. Perfect for anything that ails you. And if you dribble a little over the kibble, your dog will love you for it.

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking, Fiction, Film, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Knitting, Nature, Publishing, Writers, Writing

One response to “Simple Stock With a Side of Butter


    Friends are returning from Ireland… (comma) so I’ll send them the Dublin video from SENTENCE FIRST (I thought of the *Queen* this week re. Jodi Arias… Sentence first – verdict afterwards… and I’d forgotten how long ago I last chuckled through ANY of Alice: ) As always though… (comma) I clicked on almost all of your links and enjoyed almost all of them! Thanks!

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