Saturday, December 21, 2013

Connecticut Coyote Encounter

Well, we were snowshoeing in West Rock State Park yesterday, and came upon this bone in the middle of the trail. What is not apparent from the picture is that it had literally just been dropped there. It was a warm day and the snow was melting, but it hadn't melted around this spine/hip/leg at all yet. There were fresh paw prints heading off the trail, across a stream, and up the other side. Coyote paw prints.

They had heard us coming and ran off, leaving this old carcass they were carrying on the trail. I'm not sure what it is - very narrow pelvis. The coyotes left a bit of scat further down the trail - they were obviously using it as an easy way to get from place to place. This is clearly not dog scat - unless someone is feeding their dog animals with hair.

At any rate, we moved off a bit and ate our lunch, and then snowshoed back to the car. We didn't get a glimpse of our furry friends, but they were there, probably waiting to come back and get the bones, possibly in the patch of reeds close by, possibly in a stand of pines on the other side. But they had just been there, a few minutes before we got there. I have actually seen coyotes before, of course, but this was a fun little mystery, here in the forests of Connecticut.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Authorless" Stories are a Goal to Strive For

Good stories have a quality of authorlessness. The better they are, the more authorless they seem. They give the sense of being out there, like facts.

                                                                       - Janet Malcolm, Two Lives

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Had a delicious meal of roasted quail the other day, bought from the local international market and roasted in our oven. At least I think they were quail. People notoriously substitute pigeon for quail at restaurants, markets, and grocery stores. Not street pigeons (probably) but farmed pigeons. So, were these pigeons or quails? Who cares, they were delicious.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Thai Salad Principle

I was reading a cook book called Pok Pok the other week at my brother-in-law's house. And I really liked the idea of Thai salad, which was essentially a cold stir fry. But I didn't have the book myself, and I was too lazy to turn the internet on to get 'authentic' recipes. This became a good moment to apply what I am now going to call the Thai Salad Principle. And that is, once you know the basic formula, you can simply experiment and taste. You know, like real chefs do.

So, in the case of this, we have several methods to adhere to. Cut everything (veggies, pickled veggies (I used gingered carrots in the bottom one and homemade pickled cukes in the top), fruit (I used Asian pear in the top), maybe meat (the first one above has strong dry sausage)) into small, bite sized pieces to be eaten with sticky rice or if you don't want carbs then with a spoon. A variety of textures is key. Then, "bind" everything together with a paste made with fish (or soy) sauce, lime juice, and heat (I used a chili-basil paste for these, along with coconut milk powder to soak up the liquid). Sweet, sour, spicy, salty, bitter, and savory. It's all there, and no cooking required. Delicious, quick, and almost healthy.

The point is, recipes are for suckers. If you want to be a good cook (or a good anything) you must learn the principle of the thing, and then apply it with your own creative power. Great chefs (or writers or scientists or...) do not become so by following rote formulas.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Becoming Tom Thumb Taking Connecticut By Storm

Today Connecticut, tomorrow the world. Becoming Tom Thumb is mentioned in the latest issue of Connecticut Magazine. It was also mentioned on the buzz site Flavorwire.

Come see me and get your own signed copy at the Barnum Museum on Sunday, December 15, at 2 pm!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Old Saybrook Historical Society

Gave a presentation on Tom Thumb for the Old Saybrook Historical Society at the Acton Library, and had a lot of fun. I met a man (above) who graduated in the first class of the University of Bridgeport. He actually went to the Junior College of Connecticut, and it changed to UB during his senior year. Amazing guy, and still sharp as a tack.