Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Be Aware of the Marmorated Stink Bug

Rutgers University Agricultural Experiment Station will help gardeners and farmers identify a devastatingly dangerous garden pest: the Marmorated* Stink Bug, originating in China, which was unfortunately introduced into Allentown, Pennsylvania in the 1990s, and is now either damaging or swallowing up fruits and vegetables country-wide.

Mini-Tacos with Avocado Salad

Taco seasoning by Tone's, chopped tomatoes, onion, celery, yellow capsicum (a sweet pepper), New Mexico red chile gravy, and ground beef, cooked together about an hour and mixed until very fine, makes a perfect taco filling in combination with grated mild cheese.
Miniature tacos are made with sautéed Guerrero corn tortillas, which are filled with a ground-beef-vegetable mixture and Colby jack cheese. The bowl contains shredded Romaine lettuce and small strips of avocado, dressed with lime juice, cilantro (coriander leaf) and salt.
©M-J de Mesterton 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Mexico Wildfires June 27th





A Normal Evening in Santa Fe, before the Fires


The Same Mountains, Now on Fire

NM Wildfire Information is updated regularly at
http://nmfireinfo.wordpress.com/
First there was the Wallow Fire in Arizona, sending heavy smoke into New Mexico for many weeks. No sooner did the effects of that forest fire dissipate than new fires sprang up in Santa Fe National Forest and now in nearby Los Alamos. The Santa Fe fire is believed to have been started by campers or Recreational Vehicles' hot mufflers while they are parked.

The Los Alamos fire is thought by some, though still under investigation, to have been started by a power-line being downed by high winds during the past weekend.

Fireworks are being discouraged for Independence Day, because New Mexico is in the midst of its worst drought in fifty years. Winds have been gusting at around 30 mph and often up to 60 mph almost daily for  four months, and with June temperatures in the 90s, this makes for very high fire danger. Anyone who is the least bit careless with incendiaries, including cigarettes and barbecues, is literally playing with fire.

Update: Governor Susana Martinez is beseeching residents and visitors in New Mexico to forgo fireworks of any kind this year.
©M-J
Help Los Alamos.com
is a Resource Site by Kerri Couillard, for Victims and Evacuees of the Las Conchas Fire in Los Alamos County

Friday, June 17, 2011

Elegant, Modest Swimsuit by Stop Staring

Stop Staring Clothing has had a successful internet presence for thirteen years, purveying charming retro-styles of cocktail dresses, vintage-inspired swimsuits, and other sartorial necessities for women. Here is a swimming costume that I think is particularly figure-flattering. Read Stop Staring's sizing chart for an accurate fit. There is additional elegant swimwear on offer there, so you may enjoy perusing the category.  Stop Staring has a very helpful staff on-hand for advice--we spoke with the knowledgeable Sarah, who informed us that Stop Staring is developing a custom-sizing system in which we will be able to choose cloth and fit-dimensions when ordering some of their dresses.
©M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Summer Evening Dress


M-J de Mesterton wears a knee-length full skirt by George Davies, a T.M. Lewin blouse, a patent leather belt at the waist, shoes by Clarks, and a plaid made from her family tartan. Nude-coloured stockings are by National. The skirt is given body with an old-fashioned petticoat.
©M-J de Mesterton, Photo Copyright Jacques de Mesterton June 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pantry Update

Grouping things in similar containers makes an elegant presentation in the pantry.
©M-J de Mesterton

WikiHow Explains How to Run from an Attacker

Survival of the Fittest

WikiHow's article on "How to Outrun an Attacker" is a compendium of tips and advisements from various sources. Some of the ideas are common knowledge, and others are good recommendations for survival. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tortillas Fresqui-ricas con Pollo, Queso y Aguacate

Guerrero of Irvine, Texas: Thin and Elegant Raw Flour Tortillas, "Ready for the Comal (grill-pan)" 

Roll and serve with a pitcher of salsa picante (mine is made with Chiles Serranos en Escabeche by  La Costeña (México), blended with a can of chopped tomatoes, lime and cilantro).

Classic Lucchese Cowboy Boots


http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/RARE-VTG-CLASSIC-LUCCHESE-HANDMADE-COWBOY-BOOTS-UK-11-M-/290573008498?pt=UK_Men_s_Shoes&hash=item43a7803e72#ht_2579wt_905
Famous cowboy-boot maker Lucchese is well-loved in our household. I have had some for many years, and my husband, a skilled equestrian in both Western and English styles (who founded a polo team in France and played the game with Prince Charles) once won a pair in a Colorado rodeo. Lucchese cowboy boots are elegant and rugged. These vintage Lucchese boots, handmade in Texas, are offered at auction by our sterling friend Peter, the Herefordshire Cowboy.
©M-J de Mesterton

Liz Weston on How to Eat When Broke

See www.ElegantCook.net for M-J's Economical Soup Recipes

Good advice on how to eat health-promoting foods while spending as little money as possible on groceries comes from Liz Weston, the web's most popular financial writer:

http://money.msn.com/saving-money/how-to-eat-when-you-are-really-broke-weston.aspx

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cornish-Style Pasties


M-J's Cornish-Style Pasty




 
Cornish Pasty Made by M-J de Mesterton
I’ve been making Cornish pasties since the age of 20. My mother wrote a book about the pasty and its history which was published in 1990, but my method and ingredients differ from hers. The following is  my pasty (pronounced “pass-tee”) recipe: I will not formally transcribe my recipe and method for making pasties, because  I never use measurements. I can tell you, however, that they are made with a short crust containing both butter and lard, water, a teaspoon of malt vinegar, and unbleached, plain white flour. Since salted butter is used in the dough, add just a dash of salt to it.  I add sea-salt and hand-milled pepper to the filling, which consists of  four raw, uncooked ingredients, all diced very finely: tri-tip steak, which is always well-marbled and never tough; ordinary, high-starch brown-skinned potatoes, turnips, butter bits, and white or Spanish onions. The finely-diced beef and vegetables are tossed together in a mixing bowl with the salt and pepper before being laid upon the dough, dotted with butter and enclosed. The edges are crimped, either on top or on the side of the pasty, and a couple of well-placed slits are made in the top to allow steam to escape. The final product is brushed with a beaten egg mixed with a teaspoon of cream. The pasties are then baked in a very hot oven for close to one hour. Once the pasties have cooled for about twenty minutes, serve with an oil-and-vinegar-dressed lettuce salad. Offer Cornish cream, Spanish or Mexican Crema, or sour cream as an optional condiment. The pasties depicted here, which I made,  are the optimum size for a meal; the dough for them was shaped into a ball about half the size of a woman’s closed hand, then was rolled out and cut around a 7″ luncheon plate.  Making giant pasties just isn’t elegant, nor is it traditionally Cornish. I also make miniature pasties for parties, by using a tin can or the bottom, inner ridge of the same luncheon plate as a cutting guide. These mini-pasties are easily eaten by hand with a cocktail napkin to catch any pastry-flakes. For a basic short-crust guide, please see my Elegant Apple Pie recipe.~~Recipe and Pasty Photos Copyright M-J de Mesterton

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fresh Plaid Linen Blazer for the Elegant Woman

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/WOMENS-SUPERB-DAKS-SILK-LINEN-CHECK-BLAZER-JACKET-14-/380345236561?pt=UK_Women_s_Coats_Jackets&hash=item588e57bc51#ht_3035wt_905

Bandana Collection

Bandanas are very useful items to carry in your purse, folded square and pressed. They can be good for many sorts of emergencies, and even used as napkins at table. Here is a source for bandanas made in the U.S.A.
©M-J de Mesterton
Below: My Collection of Cotton Bandanas
Wal-Mart is a good source for all-cotton bandanas that cost about a dollar each. The designs offered change frequently, so it is an ideal place for the bandana-collector to shop.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Elegant Flowering Plant

Elegant Cat


Elegant Austerity Food: Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs in Traditional Cream Gravy with Yukon Rose Potatoes and Lingonberry Jam
      ©M-J de Mesterton
3) See below for second and first steps in the process. Make gravy by adding butter and flour to the pan just after removing your meatballs, and letting the flour and butter bubble as you stir it with a wooden spoon. When the mixture has browned a little, add cream and/or milk gradually stirring it together until smooth. The amounts will differ according to the number of meatballs you have made. I never use a recipe; so, as my grandmother taught me to do, I simply use my innate sense of proportion. Serve the Swedish meatballs on top of gravy for an elegant look, accompanied by boiled potatoes and a lump of jam, preferably lingonberry, but raspberry preserves or cranberry sauce are fine as well.
©M-J de Mesterton
2) See photo below for the first step. Fry the Swedish meatballs in butter. I have used my largest pan, which is quite flat. Grandmother said to keep the meatballs from touching one another; this keeps them crispy on the outside. Turn them until they are cooked brown on all aspects. I boil my new potatoes (in this case, they are Yukon Rose, a yellow Finn-type specimen that is red-skinned and tasty) while the meatballs are frying. If you cannot find small new potatoes, you can cut up larger red-skinned ones. The peel of the red or new-type of potato is very nourishing; scrubbed up well they are pleasant to see and delicate to eat. For added taste, you may add a bit of salt or chicken bouillon to the pot.
©M-J de Mesterton
1) Mix ground meat (I use only beef), bread (I use bits of rich brioche), cream, egg, chopped onion (dried or fresh) and spices (nutmeg and/or allspice, salt and optional white pepper). Using a meat-baller or your hands, shape the mixture into balls, dust them with flour and fry in butter. The meatballs don't have to be perfectly round. Our friend Dr. Sundström makes them oval-shaped; that is his personal style. As long as they are small enough to fit into the centre of your partly-opened palm, they will be right.  See photos above for more steps in making Swedish meatballs.
©M-J de Mesterton

Labneh: Making Your Own Yoghurt Cheese

Straining your own yoghurt makes a delightful Mediterranean or Middle Eastern spread for bread or pita. Put a round coffee-filter into a bowl-sized strainer or sieve, empty a container of plain whole-milk or full-fat yoghurt into it, cover with another round coffee-filter, and place over a bowl that allows some space between the bottom of the strainer and the base of the bowl, so that when your yoghurt is draining, it will not soak itself. Keep the assembly covered with plasticine or  Saran-type wrap, because fruit-flies love this stuff. I initiate this process before going to bed at night; in the morning I have wonderful, thick spread for my preferred bread or pita, and this yogurt-cheese is also excellent with a fried egg. 
©M-J de Mesterton
See The Elegant Cook Bread Page for M-J's Pita Recipe

Strained Yoghurt

Straining your own yoghurt makes a delightful Mediterranean or Middle Eastern spread for bread or pita. Put a round coffee-filter into a bowl-sized strainer or sieve, empty a container of plain whole-milk or full-fat yoghurt into it, cover with another round coffee-filter, and place over a bowl that allows some space between the bottom of the strainer and the base of the bowl, so that when your yoghurt is draining, it will not soak itself.  Keep the assembly covered with plasticine or  Saran-type wrap, because fruit-flies love this stuff. I initiate this process before going to bed at night; in the morning I have wonderful, thick spread for my preferred bread or pita, and this yogurt-cheese is also excellent with a fried egg.
Add cayenne pepper and/or zatar (za'atar) herbal mixture on top of this when used as a spread, and you will have an authentic Middle Eastern- style taste treat.
©M-J de Mesterton
See The Elegant Cook Bread Page for M-J's Pita Recipe

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