Monday, June 14, 2010

Bone Chilling

Dog has taken up a major obsession with gophers.  On our late afternoon on-leash walk down the lane as opposed to rollicking through the meadow and around the ponds morning routine, before I could stop him, he snatched a gopher from its hole and devoured it in two gulps! I await with trepidation the end results and I'm certainly not kissing him goodnight. Too bad that we have a 4 plus hour drive into Tucson tomorrow - I'll be a nervous wreck.  I worry that the bones (maybe even the tail and cute little feet) will get stuck and impact his digestive system. But - why am I obsessing - he's probably eaten a dozen of them out of my sight. "Let him be a dog" - rings in my ears. Oh but do dogs have to be so gross!

This whole episode has me reminiscing on bone adventures.  My youngest brother lives in an National Heritage Trust  village in England.  Excavating footings for a new barn he uncovered a skeleton but not before his pick axe had dealt a blow to the skull. Dutifully he called the Trust and reported his find. An earnest young man and woman loaded with clipboards, cameras and pens surveyed the scene. "Orientation suggests burial around 1170. Subject suffered severe blow to the skull." Martin didn't have the heart to tell them about his mishap with the pick axe.  Since the property was originally owned by the Church of England and recorded in the Doomsday Book, they technically own from "the earth to the heavens" - he was , after much research and paper signing, granted a certificate by the Church allowing him to continue excavation with permission to re-inter  this specific subject.  In the course of his excavation he uncovered upwards of six more skeletons and personally broadened the scope of the certificate and permission to encompass all.

My own bone encounters have been far less personal.  I remember my first effort at pressing a duck. My ex-husband was finishing his residency. The NYT magazine - my then bible for exotic culinary adventures - featured a Pressed Duck Breast layered with Cassis sauce. Despite not having the elaborately described, and horrendously archaic and expensive duck press - I determined to make the recipe for 12 guests. In lieu of the big, brass press - I wrung out the carcass in a series of clean (definitely clean) kitchen towels - my hands were bleeding, the mess was incredible and in tears I finally sacrificed five ducks to the garbage and made a duck "bits"  lasagna.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson. No. Julia Child came out with her first beautifully presented big paperback - can't remember the exact title - probably Cooking with Julia.  One recipe ( no, all the recipes) drew me in. It was boned capon, stuffed and re-formed, tied with kitchen string to resemble a melon that was my culinary Olympus.  I did three of them for a dinner party crying the entire time! Have to admit they were an epicurean  triumph  - too bad I lost the faith and have never re-created that particular tour de force.

My final attempt at boning ended in tears of laughter and lots of wine!  We were living in England for a year and joined another of my brothers on his catamaran to cruise the south coast of England. Two couples, two , two year olds on running harnesses, and a seven year old who put her head under a blanket for the entire trip. We took turns cooking. In Chichester harbor I bought just-caught lemon sole. They were lovingly basted with rich Devon butter and lemon juice and grilled  over our small charcoal fire.  Pumped over this gorgeous meal I decided I would bone the first one - flipped it right into the water. It was a moment  out of Fawlty Towers.

But I digress - back to the gophers. My daughter-in-law's parents are not only dear friends but wine and cooking buddies.  Jim and Chris have a remarkable kitchen partnership . They have traveled the world and nothing in the kitchen daunts them. Together they create amazing international menus. I treasure one story however. Chris decided on a menu for 12 of boned, stuffed game hens. The unsuspecting Jim asked, "What can I do" -"Oh honey, just bone these". He did and vows he'll never fall for that one again. But - I'm wondering, since he's really fond of Hamish the dog, if I can get him to bone a gopher or two.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let's talk....Give us your comments

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.