Another stuffie recipe

The problem with recipes gets down to the problem with any written language—feigned immortality. If the goal is to get the exact same flavor, then you need the exact same ingredients grown at the exact same time after a season of the exact same weather.

Even then you will fail.

Consistent flavor easy to attain with processed foods. Your industrial producers have mastered consistency, but at a cost. (I am not about to knock processed foods—there is an undeniable comfort in consistency and salt.)

From my 2 year old grandchild’s garden,resting on our Adirondack chair.

My wheat berries grown on a family farm came with an apology for their small size—it was the driest year in decades and well, plants need water. A tomato grown in my garden may taste slightly different than the one from yours. The clams I raked up yesterday are sweeter than the ones I hope to harvest in March.

Recipes are incredibly useful for proportions, for temperatures, for time in the oven—but not so much for ingredients. This one happened mostly by accident—I liked it so I wrote it down, but who am I fooling?

14 top neck quahogs

1 stick butter

1 celery stick chopped fine

1 medium onion chopped fine

1 tsp rosemary chopped fine

Few sprigs of rosemary to flavor the butter

¾ cup panko, though could use a little more (it’s all I had)

Red pepper flakes

Some chopped garlic, not too much

Some dry basil (my parsley patch seems to be gone)

Gobs of Parmesan cheese, to make up for the missing panko

Tiny splash of rosé wine for when your sauté goes south—it’s what was in the fridge, but it worked.

Cook the clams the usual way—simmer until open, chop the innards, save the broth.

Start the stuffing by melting a stick of butter. I like to add a few sprigs of rosemary while the butter melts. I take out the rosemary once it wilts.

Sauté the onions until they’re where you like them, then cool things down with splash of rosé.

Add the celery and chopped rosemary and let simmer a bit. Normally I would add the garlic here, but I forgot, and I think holding off the garlic until the end worked better.

Add pepper flakes to taste.

Dump and stir the panko, and when you realize that you do not have enough, add enough Parmesan cheese to let the whole thing clump together.

Scoop stuffing into half shells, bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Serve with some roasted Brussels sprouts and homemade rosemary/garlic bread.

Happiness II: Eating well

It’s right there in the Declaration of Independence.

Pursuing happiness is a big deal in this experiment called America. Public education is a big deal, too. Both are under fire.

I think a lot of unhappiness stems from our cultural break from our mammalian roots. (That’s not a thesis, just an idle thought.)

While too many times ethnic celebrations in schools break down into match-the-food-with-the-culture, they do provide a teachable moment when a child of the dominant culture mutters “But I’m American– we don’t have a food.”

And there may be some truth to that.

Clams raked up from the back bay.

Mammals need to eat a lot of food, the price of our warm-blooded nature. Most of our furry cousins spend a good part of their waking hours getting and eating food. Much of their social interaction revolves around getting (and sharing) food.

Until very recently (past hundred years or so) much of American social interaction involved the multiple steps needed to eat. “We” cheated a little bit of the time by using enslaving other people, only considered 3/5 of the rest of “us” (and only considered human at all so the South could have a bigger voice in Congress), but still, much of any given day was dedicated to sowing, reaping, slaughtering, prepping, sifting, grinding, rolling, frying, kneading, baking, churning, chopping, hauling, and, well, eating.

Pretty much everything eaten was local and in season, and I’m betting also pretty good most of the year.

Wheat grown on our classroom windowsill.

How do I know? I am blessed with local, fresh food several times a month. Even in February, I can rake clams from the bay, pluck Brussels sprouts from the garden, cook the clams with rosemary and parsley from the garden, then chase it down with honey wine from my daughter’s bee hive.

You do not need much space to do this, and it doesn’t even have to be yours.

November basil.

I teach children biology, or at least I pretend to. Hard to teach children about life in a culture that uses Round-Up like water, in a culture where few children have slaughtered anything but mosquitoes, and where too few children have eaten anything they planted themselves.

Child by child I try to change this, but not so they can survive in some post-Apocalyptic world.

No, I just want them to have a shot at pursuing happiness. Real happiness.

What do you think hands are for?



“Nothing is enough”

Clams raked from local waters, given freely to anyone with a rake and some time.

We had stumbled on a locals pub in Galway, away from the center of town, and we were still clumsily feeling our way in Ireland.

A waiter sensed our confusion, and took phenomenal care of us as we bumbled through the pub. A local pub has local people with local habits.

We wanted to tip, but did not know how much–people who work in pubs are not servants, and tipping in pubs is generally not done. So we asked, and she told us:

Nothing is enough.

And, of course, nothing is enough, and nothing is enough.

We need some things, true–decent food, clean water, safe shelter, and people we love. But most things we think we need are more than enough.

What we think we need defines who we are.
What we think we need separates humans from the other mammals.

Nonmember harvest

It’s OK to want more than you need; most of us do, and our culture’s economy depends on you doing just that.

Beyond our basic needs, knowing nothing is enough will, depending on how you read it, make life wonderful or make you miserable.



Sometimes knowing nothing is enough is enough to give you the world.