Image

Deal 1005: Stewed Birds and Open Fire

You always want to begin with a clean workspace and a stable source of heat. If burning wood, you will need a heavy cast iron pot to spread the heat from the fire to all sides, and hold it hot as the fire burns down. You won’t need to put the pot directly in the fire, balanced at one edge is often preferred because it can be turned occasionally, or moved closer and further as wood is added and consumed.

If potatoes are handy, tuck a few at the edge of the fire, in the ashes so they don’t burn. Turn occasionally and let them roast for a while before adding them to the pot near the end.

Butter and herbs will form the base. Other fats may be used, of course. Use what is at hand as long as it isn’t rancid. Rub the bird in salt and pepper too, and brown it in the hot fat before adding anything else. If the goal is a stew and time is not on your side, you can always break the bird down into pieces that will cook quicker and render more flavor into the broth.

Of course you can even spatchcock it if you’re feeling fancy. No one really enjoys picking around the backbone anyway.

Chop a few roots, rinse ashes off your potatoes and break them into chunks, and add to the pot along with more salt and pepper and some water. If some beer is at hand that won’t be missed immediately, add it in place of half the water or so. It will cook down and make a richer broth.

If you have time to simmer them until cooked, you can always drop chunks of biscuit dough into the top of the pot. Little fluffy bombs of bread will steam in the broth in no time at all.

To serve, all you need is enough large bowls and an appetite.

More of that beer you raided for the broth would probably go well too.

Image

Deal 960: Path less travelled to fairy

I took the fabled path less travelled. This always works out well for the poet. But in the real world, the well trod path leads somewhere people want or need to be. The other path, not so much.

I had my reasons for travelling, and at the moment I made the turn, taking a path where I might not be followed or expected made a lot of sense. If I had just noticed the Fairy Ring it lead me through before it was too late, all this might be different.

Of course, if wishes were fishes, as they say.

Instead, my first clue something was no longer normal was stepping out of a muddy spring day into a crisp, cold winter’s night. The sky was clear, but it was well below freezing and there was a substantial amount of drifted snow. In the distance I could see a well appointed campsite with a large fire and figures dancing to tunes coming from a well cranked gramophone.

I looked behind me, just in time to see the window to that muddy spring day flicker and evaporate like a will-o-wisp.

I was committed to this path now.

I made my way down into the valley, where the snow drifts to either side of the narrow trail were often well over my head. The path crested enough small ridges on the way down to assure me it went somewhere. Whether that was somewhere I wanted to be remained to be seen.

Of course, before my unexpected change of seasons it was all out war from horizon to horizon, and that was no place for me to be.

I decided to simply embrace my fates, and put my best foot forward. With a new sense of resolve and hope for my future, I made my way down to the camp.

It was only much later that the nature of my mistake became clear.