Friday, December 28, 2012


I cooked a goose for Christmas, and it was delicious, but Jesus (so to speak), it was a lot of work.

The superlative butchers at Golden Gate Meat Company in San Francisco managed to get hold of a few dozen geese from Grimaud Farms--air-chilled (hence no water weight added, as is customary with most other poultry) and never frozen: beautiful birds.  Early on the morning after I'd brought home my ten-pounder, I woke up remembering a recent experience with a duck that I had cut up in order to braise the legs, roast the breasts rare, and make a nice stock from the back and other scraps; and I thought, Well, that would be a dandy way to deal with the goose.  I also remembered, however, that the anatomy of that duck had been sufficiently different from that of birds I was more familiar with that I had really been digging around and doing some damage to its lovely dark flesh.  Moreover, the connective tissue holding the joints together had been extremely hard to slice through.  Now I was looking at a critter five times bigger, with pretty much the same anatomy, and tendons probably five times tougher.

And so I'm thinking, Time to call the guys at Golden Gate.  Sure enough, they'd be glad to cut it up for me.  Therefore, as sheets of rain slashed across the Embarcadero and the Bay at high tide splashed against the piers, I made my way through a gray eight a.m. Sunday to the Ferry Building to find Golden Gate--Closed Sundays?  Naw!  Who had I been talking to, then?  I banged on the steel gate, hollered through it.  I could see a guy mopping inside, but he didn't look up.  I banged, I hollered.  Finally he saw me and disappeared into the back.  Soon appeared one of the butchers I recognized--the one, in fact, who had answered the phone.  Padlocks click, in I goes, a discussion of the surgery ensues.  Ten minutes later, one bag contains drumsticks, thighs, and first joints of wings with a knob of breast meat attached to each; another has the whole breast, un-split; and a third the carcass, wing tips, neck, giblets, heart, and liver--all but the last the makings of my stock.  With Christmas Eve dinner not till the next night, I could make stock that day and let the fat rise in the fridge overnight.  Also I could do my braise.

I thought I would brown the meat and bones on top of the stove.  Not a good idea.  First of all it took six frying pans, all six burners.  Second, despite my assiduous drying, the fat-spatter was unbelievable.  Goose napalm.  So, a five-hundred oven.  Lotta spattering there too, of course, but at least it was contained.  Also in the oven I browned onions (skin on), carrots, and celery; together, for both the braise and the stock.  I poured off the rendered fat--yeow--more than three cups.

I gave the stock a two-hour head start so I could use some of it in the braise.  I managed to fit the meat into two large cast-iron skillets, then wedged in the now-caramelized vegetables, added some stock, thyme, and bay, discovered that my back-yard parsley was dead, and poured half a bottle of Loire (unoaked) chardonnay into each pan.  Up to a simmer, and into a three-hundred oven.  Wearing this great little timer around my neck, I could "remember" to check on everything once an hour.  Barely bubbling, just right.

After four hours, the goose drumsticks were still so hard I could have cracked somebody's skull with one.  After five, they were merely inedibly tough.  Good thing this was the day before.

Finally, after six and a half hours and several addings of water, they began to soften, and that was enough for the day.  I put the meat in a bowl in the refrigerator and added the braising liquid to the stock pot.  By now the carcass was breaking apart, which was good--more gelatin in the stock, more unctuosity in the sauce to come.  I fished out all the big stuff and smushed it hard in the strainer to squeeze out whatever juice I could, then strained the rest, again smushing anything smushable to a paste.  All the solids could now go to compost and the beautiful, though very greasy, stock to the fridge.

Christmas Eve morning, the fat having nicely congealed, I scraped it off the top of the stock.  What lay beneath was a sparkling-clear consommĂ©.  Beauty, thy name is stock!  It did need to reduce by about half.  No problem.  That done, I put the goose in a bit of it and put that again in a 300 oven.  After an hour and a half or so, the meat was falling off the bone; I took that out and kept it warm.

When the oven reached 450, I roasted the breast to an internal temperature of 145.  The skin was tight and crisp, the meat bright blood-red.

I took a quart or so of the stock to reduce further for a sauce.  I julienned an orange peel, blanched it, and added that.  I just happened to have three kinds of oranges on hand--a regular navel, a Cara Cara, which has flesh sort of grapefruity-pink, and a Clementine.  I cut out "filets" from the first two and just sectioned the third because it comes apart so nicely, and set those aside.  The juice left over I added to the sauce, followed by a wee tad of butter for viscosity and what the hell.  I completely forgot to chop, cook, and add the liver.

After resting it for forty minutes, I carved the breast meat off the bone and sliced it crosswise into thin medallions.

Braised meat went on one end of the platter, rare breast on the other.  I chucked the little orange quarter-moons here and there amidst both.

It was very, very good.  But once, I think, will have been enough.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


"I shall try to explain these things, and others connected with the successful manipulation of eggs, for they are well worth the practice needed and the time and money you must spend.  From unsuccessful attempts there is much to be learnt, so one must count an occasional wasted egg or failed soufflĂ© as profit rather than loss."

--French Provincial Cooking, Frome: Butler & Tanner Ltd., 1960

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


--By far.  If the country can figure out how to deal with what this courageous writer describes, we will all be much safer.  Click on this link:
I am Adam Lanza's mother

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


[From the Big Timber, Montana, Pioneer of December 6, 2012:]

Nov. 22 - A woman reported finding a black cow in her front yard.

Nov. 22 - Dispatchers received several calls regarding a buffalo on Highway 191.

Nov. 23 - An officer responded to a burglar alarm at a local business.  It was a false alarm.

Nov. 24 - A woman requested information about fatal crashes in the area during November.  There weren't any.

Nov. 25 - A man reported a cat stuck on a power pole near I-90.  An officer was notified.

Nov. 26 - A woman reported a roping bull out on her property.

Nov. 26 - An officer helped with a locked vehicle.

Nov. 29 - An officer assisted in unlocking a vehicle at a local gas station.

Nov. 29 - An officer assisted in unlocking a vehicle at a local business.

Nov. 29 - A woman called 911 accidentallly.

(What is it with these folks and their car keys?)

Sunday, December 2, 2012


November 16, 2012.  2 killed; child critically injured.... The woman died at the scene.  The man...was taken by helicopter to a Billings hospital, where he died.  A child who was a passenger in the woman’s car was ejected. The child is hospitalized in critical condition.

November 12, dies....The car rolled several times before it stopped, and [he] was ejected from the vehicle.  [He] was the only person in the car, and he was not wearing a seatbelt.

October 30, 2012.  Teen killed....The boy was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the pickup, which rolled over him when it rolled a second time.

October 20, killed in single-vehicle crash....The driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

October 1, dies....partially ejected and died at the scene.

September 27, 2012.  1-year-old boy killed, 8 injured....The driver apparently overcorrected.... “I’ve never seen so many people all being ejected”.... The Montana Department of Transportation lists failure to use seatbelts as the leading contributor to motor vehicle fatalities.

September 14, 2012.  Second victim named in fatal accident....He over-corrected... was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected through the front windshield.

August 29, killed in 1-vehicle crash....ejected and died at the scene....Neither he nor the passenger were wearing seatbelts.

August 24, dies in rollover....was ejected in the crash and died at the scene.

August 18, dies....The man, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle, the MHP said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

August 14, dies after one-vehicle rollover....His Ford Ranger pickup truck rolled several times and he was ejected from the cab of the pickup. He was not wearing a seat belt.  He was thrown approximately 50 feet north of where the truck came to a rest.  [He] was pronounced dead at 11:45 p.m.

August 9, 2012.  1 killed, 3 seriously injured in 1-vehicle rollover....The vehicle rolled several times and ejected three of the four occupants.

August 6, 2012.  Woman dies....The SUV went off the road and rolled. The woman was partially ejected and died at the scene.

August 5, 2012.  2 killed....The man was ejected from his truck upon impact and died at the scene of the collision.  An 8-year-old boy who was riding in the Honda was also killed.

August 3, 2012....girl dies in crash....The SUV flipped and rolled several times.  The patrol says the girl was wearing her seat belt improperly and was ejected from the vehicle. She died at the scene.

July 12, dies after rolling motorcycle....The motorcycle rolled and he was ejected from the bike. He was not wearing a helmet.

July 7, 2012.  2 killed, 1 injured in rollover accident....The driver was thrown from the vehicle and was pronounced dead on the scene.  The back seat passenger...was partially ejected from the rear side window and was also pronounced dead on the scene. Both men were not wearing seat belts.

June 26, killed.... lost control of his vehicle in a turn and slid off the road. The vehicle rolled twice.  He was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. He died at a Whitefish hospital.

June 14, 2012....woman dies....ejected....

June 8, 2012.  Teenager killed in rollover crash....The boy was partially ejected and died at the scene.

June 4, 2012.  2nd rollover crash victim dies....sitting unrestrained....ejected....

June 4, 2012.  Woman killed....[The passenger] was ejected from the vehicle and died on scene.  [The driver] was not injured and was wearing a seat belt.

June 4, dies, 1-year-old injured.  The driver overcorrected, went off the other side of the road, skidded and rolled three times. The driver was ejected and pronounced dead....The toddler was flown to a Great Falls hospital.

June 1, 2012.  Rollover crash kills 1, injures 3.  The driver...overcorrected causing the vehicle to trip and roll two and a half times before coming to a rest on the vehicle top.  Two passengers...were ejected. The third passenger...was wearing a seatbelt and suffered minor injuries.  [The driver] died at the scene....

May 30, 2012.  Two men sought after fatal crash....During the rollover, two unrestrained passengers seated in the second row of seats were ejected.  [One] died at the scene.  [The other] was taken to Ivinson Memorial Hospital for treatment of serious injuries.... The driver and a front-seat passenger fled the scene on foot....

May 8, victim of Jeep crash....went off the side of the road and down an embankment. It collided with a tree and then rolled and flipped.  The driver was ejected and died at the scene.

May 5, 2012....woman dies in 1-vehicle accident....It rotated counter-clockwise on the shoulder, rolled and traveled into the ditch, where the woman was ejected. She died at the scene of the crash....not wearing a seatbelt.

May 4, 2012.  Canyon crash...kills 1, injures 4....rolled five or six times....Four people were ejected....A man died at the scene....The victims' injuries appeared "very serious."

May 3, dies in rollover crash....ejected....

April 5, killed.... The driver was ejected from the driver's-side window and the passenger was partially ejected from the back window.  Neither man was wearing a seat belt....[The driver] was pronounced dead at the scene.

March 10, 2012.  1 dead, 8 more hospitalized in rollover accident....A 6-year-old girl died.... Nine people were ejected from the SUV....[Only one was] believed to have been wearing a seat belt.

March 5, killed in accident that injured three others.... four men, ages 20 to 26 all were ejected.

March 3, who died in rollover identified.... The Ford pickup truck went off the road, hit an embankment, rolled once, and came to rest on its driver's side. The man, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.

February 29, killed....was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle.

February 28, dies in crash....was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected....

February 15, dies in one-vehicle rollover....partially ejected....

January 13, killed....not wearing a seat belt. He was ejected from the truck.

January  9, 2012.  State tries to revoke Montana bar's license after crash.... Seven Blue Moon bartenders were cited for serving alcohol to an intoxicated person....[The man] had been drinking at the Blue Moon for about 5 1/2 hours before the crash....His pickup fishtailed and struck [a 19-year-old woman’s] car when he tried to pass it. Both vehicles rolled into the ditch and both drivers were ejected. [The woman] was pinned under her car and died at the scene.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Holy smokes!  I just found out today that they published the list more than two weeks ago.


"The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record high of 390.9 parts per million in 2011, the World Meteorological Association reported on 20 November.  Levels of the potent greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide also reached new highs last year."

--Nature, 29 November 2012