National Martini Day

Written By: Tipsy Table - Jun• 19•15

MmartiniJust in case your device calendar missed it, today, June 19, is official National Martini Day. We do not know exactly what this means, but we do know what we will drink to toast the occasion.

Recipes for the world’s best martinis pollute the internet. Most use gin, but some do admit vodka into the mix for those who do not like the essence of juniper berries and pine nuts, or remember a particularly rough night after a gin insult. Pinky insists on vodka and that has worked out well enough.

And then there is the matter of stirring or shaking, with admonitions that shaking has the unintended consequence of diluting the drink. That might not be such a bad thing, but we do not want to use this happy occasion to get judgmental. If one stirs, there is the matter of whether to use the spoon end or stick end of the stirrer and we will leave that up to individual choice as one wonders how the ice molecules could possibly know the difference.

We won’t even get into whether or not the garnish should be a lemon peel twist, olive, cocktail onion, gherkin or whatever. It has to be an olive or one is just putting on airs. The basic truth on martinis is that the real and true world’s best is right here on Tipsy Table, the Smartini. Check it out. Better yet, mix up a pitcher full and get it into the freezer for at least an hour.

At the same time that we ran across this important official day, we saw in the supermarket flyer that there was a load of Willapa Bay oysters available at a precious low price, right here in the mountains of Idaho. What a brilliant confluence of food and drink. We bought a few dozen and they look fine. Once rinsed of sand, they will be grilled over high heat until the shells open and then brought to the outdoor table in the shell, with the succulent juice hopefully intact after opening and cutting at the valve. A wonder from the Colonel’s boyhood home on Willapa Bay. All one needs is a little hot sauce and a subtle squeeze of lemon. Is there a better companion to the world’s best martini?


If Lincoln won a Golden Globe

Written By: Tipsy Table - Jan• 12•15

On June 16, 1858, at the statehouse in Springfield, Illinois, the Repubican delegatess selected Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate.  His opponent would be the Democrat Stephen A. Douglas in an historic race.  Accepting his nomination, Lincoln gave what is widely considered one of this country’s great speeches, featuring the much quoted “A house divided cannot stand” theme.  Lincoln is remembered for his grasp of language and oratory in handling great issues and historic events.  One can only wonder how he would stand up to accept a Golden Globe.


Imagine an acceptance corrupted by vanity and inanity….as at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony. With apologies to Mr. Lincoln and his brilliant and courageous “house divided” speech.

Lincoln TT


“…..Gentlemen of the Convention.

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.…A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I accept this great honor with respects to my one room schoolhouse, the builder, the teacher, the janitor, the candles by which I read, the candle maker, the rails I split, the hardware store where I bought my long-handle ax, and, of course, my long-suffering wife Mary, not to mention…..


A Toast to the Past and Future

Written By: Tipsy Table - Dec• 31•14

Tonight we will chill a bottle of Champagne and toast the prospects of the incoming New Year. Many others around the world will do the same. If the last year was difficult, one can toast to Gef 1 its ending, if all the chips are on your side of the table, well, toast your good fortune. Regardless, we can all toast the incoming year as an expression of hope. Our beverage will be a vintage Gabriel et Fils, a fine Champagne for the occasion, but we will talk more about Champagne in another posting.

This day is the third anniversary of our loss of beloved Sophie Blue Wolf, our Husky mix companion of more than 15 years. Although this day is melancholy for us, we will enjoy the bubbly and so many memories of this wondrous dog.

Years ago, considering once again bringing a dog into the family after years without, we visited a popular rescue shelter near our Seattle home. It was closed when we arrived, but just before leaving, a young girl approached with a puppy under one arm, and a baby in the other. She explained she purchased the puppy the day before, but there was no room in her mother’s apartment and she had to give it away. She wondered if we wanted it; we did not hesitate, though it was a sad and abrupt transition. Our lives changed immediately, and we drove to a nearby pet store for supplies with a small piglet-like puppy asleep in an empty Xerox box in the backseat. The fact we knew little about breeds, and had no idea of the requirements of a Husky as a companion, was just one of a number of issues in our long and exceptional learning curve.

When this piglet emerged from her little box, it seemed no more than days than she morphed into the most beautiful dog anywhere. Her combination of Siberian Husky and Samoyed captured the best in both breeds. Sophie PuppyHer architecture was perfect, her stature regal, the magnificent white coat fit for the red carpet, with blue eyes that could start a campfire. She had a Husky independence, even aloofness, but a strong affection for humans. Here was a dog selected from a scruffy litter of pups at a discount store parking lot who believed she was royalty. She was and that is how she lived her long life.

Sophie was with us nearly every hour of all those years of her life. She traveled from the beaches of the Pacific to the shores of the Atlantic and the Gulf, wading in most of the major rivers and visiting many of the national parks along the way. She attended business meetings, sleeping under the boardroom table, and would stand in line at breaks for refreshments. Sophie had abundant friends in the Seattle neighborhood and along the trails of the Wood River Valley, canine and human, though she seemed to favor the humans.

Beloved Sophie had a grand life, though she suffered a variety of setbacks in her final years. As she went blind and lame, she continued to communicate to us how important was her pack, both immediate and extended. She wanted to continue on and she did, pushing against limited mobility to take short walks and spend time with those she loved. She died quietly on her bed in the sunroom of the Idaho house with Pinky resting at her side. The Colonel, awakened suddenly from deep sleep, joined the passing, drawn somehow by the powerful spirit of this amazing animal.

So it is that we will throw back some bubbly and salute our beautiful girl on this evening, just three years from her passing–three years during which we have thought about her every day. Her siblings Django Skyy Blue, who adored Sophie, and new rescue Mascoutah Blue, both white Huskies in her image, will join us.

Cheers and Happy New Year.Bon Voyage SB fix

Spatchcock and Succotash

Written By: Tipsy Table - Nov• 27•14

turkey 2Thanksgiving morning finds ovens across America warming to welcome Meleagris gallopavo, the winged creature Benjamin Franklin once fought for as our nascent republic’s official emblem. Alas, the noble turkey lost out to the Bald Eagle, relegating the bird to the center of the table for the holiday that signifies pig skin football and pig out feasts. National Turkey Federation statistics report American’s consume 200 million turkeys each year, 25% of those during the Thanksgiving holidays.

Over the years Tipsy Table has noticed more roast turkey recipes giving credence to “spatchcocking.” This technique involves removing the backbone and flattening the bird, also known as “butterflying.” Our “guy with the bow tie” Christopher Kimball, even debones the thigh and leg bone, trusses, and roasts which makes the carving quite simple. We found this excellent “how to” article on Serious Eats:

Turkey 3The esteemed food editor of the New York Times, Mark Bittman, is credited for popularizing the spatchcock technique early in this 21st century. Roasting the bird in 45 minutes, he demonstrated it an easy way to save time and free the oven for other baked sides and desserts. According to Google Trends, and with the help of Mr. Bittman and other food gurus, spatchcocking is on the rise with a major spike in 2012.

Now for the traditional, non-trending Thanksgiving fare—succotash. The word originates in the Narragansett language, sohquttahhash, meaning “broken corn kernels.” This simple dish, combining a legume with a grain,  is high in all essential amino acids. In eastern and southern parts of this country, it is a staple on the Thanksgiving table.

succotashAlthough other vegetables are sometimes added to this dish, we found this recipe in our 1926 edition of the White House Cookbook, originally published in 1894:

“Take a pint of fresh shelled Lima beans, or any large fresh beans, and put them in a pot with cold water, rather more than will cover them. Scrape the kernels from twelve ears of young sweet corn; put the cobs in with the beans, boiling from half to three-quarters of an hour. Now take out the cobs and put in the scraped corn; boil again fifteen minutes then season with salt and pepper to taste, a piece of butter the size of an egg and a half a cup of cream. Serve hot.”

Oops, forgot to look at the clock.   As Warner Brothers Sylvester© the cat might say: “Sufferin’ Succotash, it’s time to spatchcock the turkey.”

Happy Thanksgiving from Tipsy Table.turkey 1


Long Mouse Years, Big Mouse Ears

Written By: Tipsy Table - Nov• 19•14
the art of walt disney

A cherished book in the Tipsy Table library.

Our favorite Mickster turns 86 today. No, not Mr. Jagger, but The Little Big Man, Mickey Mouse. What age is that in mouse years?

It seems today’s journalism is 30 of this and 20 of that, so today Tipsy Table celebrates MouseMan’s 8th decade with 8 trivia facts that may surprise you about The Real Mick:

  • It is rumored that Walt Disney was afraid of mice, but remained sympathetic to the small creatures.
  • Mortimer was his original name, but Walt’s wife Lillian suggested the change to Mickey, after one of her friends Mickey Rooney.
  • Mickey is notorious for the three-finger discount—throughout the years the studio saved a mouse-zillion dollars in the time it would have taken artists to draw that fourth finger.
  • Mickey’s ears always appear round, no matter what the angle, and always face forward.
  • Macy's Parade, 1929.  Photo courtesy William J. Crawford.

    Macy’s Parade, 1934. Photo courtesy William J. Crawford.

    Early artists of at Walt Disney Studios found it amusing to draw caricatures of Mickey and hide the “spots” in other Disney films. The game of finding the famous mouse continues in all the Disney theme parks. Check out the fun at /

  • Mickey’s first spoken words were “Hot Dogs!” in the 1929 short “Karnival Kid.”
  • Mickey was the first cartoon character awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1978.
  • The Big Guy first appeared in the Macy’s Santa Claus Parade on 29 November, 1934. He boasted 25 handlers–more than Justin Bieber has today.Happy Birthday Mickey

National Sandwich Day

Written By: Tipsy Table - Nov• 03•14

History honors John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, as the creator and namesake of the ubiquitous delight. Not wanting to take time out from a 24-hour poker game, the Earl requested sustenance he could eat with one hand. And voila, the sandwich was born.

“Every dog has its day,” and now the sandwich also has its day—November 3.

Chefs at tony eateries vie in creating the most expensive sandwich with the finest ingredients that might include Wagyu beef, foie gras, caviar, lobster, black truffle mayo, and even a bit of gold leaf.

Radish Sandwich 1To celebrate this day, Tipsy Table shares an old southern Illinois recipe, via France, for a radish sandwich. The combo of the radish and unsalted butter is just another of the delicious two- ingredient pairings like tomato and avocado, or cucumber and cream cheese.

Wash the radishes, slice and place on buttered bread with a sprinkling of salt. The French would spread the unsalted butter on a baguette, but we chose a slice of our homemade and hearty multi-grain skillet bread. Whatever your bread, savor and enjoy the simplicity of this, perhaps the least expensive, sandwich in the world.

Weeknight Chicken Delicata

Written By: Tipsy Table - Oct• 31•14

We at Tipsy Table were most likely the last folks to discover the adjunct to our PBS station “create.” Its programming is similar to the original PBS format—crafts, home improvement, cooking, and travel and, thankfully, with no commercial interruptions. Depending upon our location, around 9 pm each evening a slate of culinary shows begins, including America’s Test Kitchen, aka “The Guy with the Bow Tie.”

Chicken artRecently one ATK segment included a recipe for “Weeknight Roast Chicken.” Yes, we agree there are as many ways to roast chicken as there are to cook grits. But, surprisingly, the kitchen pros came upon this roasting revelation when they were unaware that the power to the oven went kablooey. The result was a perfectly roasted chicken, with an incredibly moist breast.

The technique: Preheat the oven with a 12” iron skillet placed inside.

The science:   The skillet, along with the oven, is hot and when the thigh hits the pan it has a head start on the breast, resulting in reduced cooking time.

Chicken with squashOur action plan:   Prepare the chicken for the oven and remove as much of the skin and fat as possible (your discretion), then baste with olive oil, salt, pepper and Costco’s organic non-salt seasoning.

Inside BreastWhen the oven temperature reaches 450°, place the chicken with the breast side up into the skillet and return the pan to the oven. After about 30 minutes, check the temperature, and when the breast registers 120° or thigh 140°, simply turn off the oven. That’s right—turn off the oven and continue roasting for approximately 30 minutes or until the breast temps at 160° and the thigh 175°.

Next, remove the chicken to a carving board and place under a foil tent for another 20 minutes to allow the juices to reintegrate. After that, carve and marvel at the perfect bird.

DelicataA stuffed delicata squash was our chosen pairing for this delectable chicken. If you have never tasted a delicata, get ready for a treat. Also known as a “sweet potato squash” it tastes like a marriage of the orange tuberous root and a butternut squash. This is one winter gourd that doesn’t need to be peeled making preparation a heck of a lot easier than all the others.  We cut the delicata in half lengthwise, basted with a wee bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, popped it into the toaster oven cut side down on parchment, and baked for 30 minutes at 350° or until a knife easily poked through the skin.

While the squash was roasting, we sautéed onion and celery, adding leftover sprouted rice and quinoa, toasted almonds, Zante currents, and seasoned to taste. Stuffing the squash with the mixture, and topping with Asiago cheese, the delicata was returned to the toaster oven for another 30 minutes then added the cheese for melting.  Of course, you can stuff with any of your favorite ingredients.

Plate 1A pomegranate balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette dressed our greens, and we scattered fresh pomegranate seeds over the plate for a wonderful and bright and tasty spritz with each bite.

Wow, just like the Cook’s Country chefs proclaimed, the breast was deliciously moist, and our ad-hoc pairings from the fridge sublime. Surely, this will be a go-to staple for Tipsy Table.


Written By: Tipsy Table - Oct• 27•14

1st class British stamp issued March 2014.

Today, 27 October,  marks the 100th birthday of the magnificent Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Born in 1914 in Swansea this gifted man of letters died much too early at the age of 39 in New York on 9 November 1953. Dylan had the gift of language at an early age and knew it, writing good poetry as a teen and publishing a book of poems in his twenties. He lived fast and worked relentlessly, producing great works that were made to be read aloud, which he did so well. Dylan Thomas experienced much darkness in his short life, fought against depression, suffered severe alcoholism, and moved frequently to avoid debt. He was comforted throughout his abbreviated life by women, his art, and benefactors who recognized his genius.

Critics can make a case against Dylan, his self-destructive character, the alcohol abuse, and ultimately the waste of a rare talent. But, who can question anyone who can characterize himself as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet” and then write the following about life and death:

And death shall have no dominion.

Dead man naked they shall be one

With the man in the wind and the west moon;

When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,

They shall have stars at elbow and foot;

Though they go mad they shall be sane,

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

1st verse from “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” by Dylan Thomas

The album cover of our prized Under Milk Wood L.P.

The album cover of our prized Under Milk Wood L.P.

Tipsy Table has a special affection for Dylan Thomas and his work. We are the proud owners of a Caedmon LP of the incomparable verse for voices piece “Under Milk Wood.” Dylan holds forth in his celebrated voice on this album and it is a masterpiece that tonight we will listen to again.

We were pleased to find that Swansea, on the banks of the River Tawe, is home to The Dylan Thomas Centre.

From the Centre’s website:

The Dylan Thomas Centre, photo courtesy Gareth Lovering.

The Dylan Thomas Centre, photo courtesy Gareth Lovering.

Built in the 1830’s, the Centre was once Swansea’s Guildhall, and later a Technical College.

When Swansea was chosen to host the UK Year of Literature and Writing 1995, the opportunity was taken to refurbish this splendid old building (which had, sadly, fallen into disrepair) as the National Literature Centre. Under its Welsh name Ty Llen – literally House of Literature – it was opened in 1995 by US President Jimmy Carter and the late Trevor Gordon Burtonshaw (Leader of the Council), as the major venue for Festival events.

The Centre was re-named the Dylan Thomas Centre in 1998 after the opening of ‘I in my Intricate Image’, an exhibition of the life and work of Dylan on permanent display.

Today, the poet’s 100th birthday, the Centre celebrates the grand opening of the new exhibition funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We also recommend listening to the many audios that are available of his work as read by Sir Richard Burton who, if possible, is an even better voice for these precious pieces. We have checked out A Child’s Christmas in Wales from The Seattle Public Library, which can be found on-line as read by the author. Later in the holiday season, we will find a copy, pour a hot cup of tea (a whiskey is also a good companion, but just one) get comfortable in front of the fireplace and enjoy this masterpiece.

Click the link to listen to Sir Richard Burton reading Rev. Eli Jenkins’ Prayer from Under Milk Wood.

DT Festival

Cry for the Wolf

Written By: Tipsy Table - Oct• 23•14

Last week was the National Humane Education Society’s Wolf Awareness Week. NHES is a compassionate organization that has designated days, weeks and months of thoughtful attention to the humane treatment of animals. This group also selects October as “Appreciate Vegetables Month.” How can one go wrong with that?

White wolfThe twelve founding principles of the organization focus on opposing cruelty to animals in fighting sports, trapping, and unnecessary hunting, while also reducing overpopulation through sterilization, rescue and shelter, and even advises on best practices for euthanizing. They sum up well with their principle 12:

  1. To recognize in animals their capacity for friendship and their need of friends. To befriend all Earth’s creatures, of the land, the sea and the air; to defend them against ravages by mankind; and to inspire in human beings compassion for all.

From the NHES posting: “This year, National Wolf Awareness Week (October 12-18) is especially important as lawmakers struggle over the fate of wolves in the northern Rockies.”

NHES inspires us this season when hunting and trapping are considered some kind of constitutional right, even so codified in some states such as Idaho. The State of Idaho’s House Joint Resolution 2AA and related legislation supported a constitutional amendment to protect “the right of every person in Idaho to hunt, fish and trap.” Don’t neglect that last word “trap.” It appears these legislators neglect to read NHES principles “3. To strive to abolish cruel trapping” and “4. To discourage hunting, especially as a sport.”

In this poor state of Idaho affairs, the few remaining wolves are getting lots of attention. From the Governor down through the ranks, a slaughter of hunters in their faux military camouflage outfits, with high-powered assault rifles sardine into their fume- spewing, off-road vehicles and, with a tipple or two of manly Bourbon, set out to trash the environment and hopefully kill something, almost anything, in order to rid the region of the despised wolves. Sadly, that is less an exaggeration than it should be. It doesn’t even approach a characterization. It is all too real.

Tipsy Table heartily endorses the recognition of this National Wolf Awareness Week and we are enthusiastic to join in with the small but determined group in this least educated of states to say “we appreciate the wolf.” Our library includes wonderful and beautifully illustrated books on wolves by naturalists including Barry Lopez and Farley Mowat. In the Sawtooth Range of Idaho, Jim Dutcher has published meaningful research, lived near wolf packs, and produced informative videos. We see these books on coffee tables of friends and acquaintances, so we do know some in this valley understand and appreciate these wild animals. Why then has, throughout western history, the wolf been a target for exploitation, literally and figuratively?

The wolf is, for a variety of reasons, the Rodney Dangerfield of wild animals. It does not get the respect it deserves as a key agent in environmental balance. Schools in Minnesota teach a course in animal ecology that explains the role of wolves as top predators in the boreal balance, carefully illustrating how the wolf keeps animal populations in a sustainable balance. Perhaps it is a good time to include this course format in all schools, or at least those in states that still have a science curriculum.

Throughout past decades, even while packs were being eliminated in all regions of the country, traveling exhibits on wolves attracted large crowds at museums and community centers everywhere. We are certain that if there were a national election, wolves would defeat wolf killers by a landslide. Yet, what has occurred is another instance of the well armed minority destroying wildlife. We find this beautiful animal hunted, trapped, poisoned, and killed for no good reason other than a fictionalized justification.

Hungry Wolf 2The big bad wolf, the wolf man, and vampire-like folklore, mischaracterize Canis lupus as an orange-eyed, bloodthirsty, ravenous threat to the village. This fantasy played well into the competition early hunters and trappers felt in this country. The wolf pelt was prized as much for its trophy as its warmth. Earlier this year, the State of Idaho hired snipers in helicopters to kill seven wolves in the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness Area. Currently hunters in Salmon ID are petitioning to hold a Wolf and Coyote Killing Derby, on public lands, held over three days each January for the next five years.   As human hunter and trapper prevail in the wild, we can be sure the ecological balance will be disrupted, and it has. Oh, and don’t forget that Idaho, a state strapped for funding public education, somehow found money in the budget to hire these sharpshooters.

In Idaho, these intelligent wild animals are blamed for everything from cattle predation, to kidnapping and eating of children, even to the occasional loss by the Boise State University football team. If the weather is bad or the stock market is down, well, blame it on the wolves. Forget the fact that these animals have solid family values and there are few (if any) same-sex marriages, just consider that they are rampaging everywhere and must be killed. So, we say, hey, stop a moment, think about these beautiful creatures of the wild, and Cry for the Wolf.cry wolf 3

The Trailing of the Sheep

Written By: Tipsy Table - Oct• 17•14

Here’s looking at ewe.

Last weekend was the “Trailing of the Sheep Festival,” a charming Wood River Valley event that brings animals, locals, and tourists together. It is an annual ritual that commemorates an important history of wool and lamb production. Each autumn, the sheep leave their northern grazing lands for lower, warmer elevations. In the small towns in a narrow valley, this trailing can cause unexpected congestion on Main Street. Or, if integrated as it is with the resort community interest in tourism and historic events, it becomes a popular festival.


Highlanders with sheep covered bagpipes.

Peruvian musicians on Main Street.

Peruvian musicians on Main Street.

This year, commemorating 150 years of this migration, the theme was “Celebrating Generation,” marking its eighteenth year.  The festival has continually gained popularity since the festival was profiled fifteen years ago on CBS “On the Road with Charles Kuralt.”


Man of the cloth leading his flock.

Over four days, including the colorful parade through Ketchum, almost everyone gets into the act: sheep shearing demos, herding dog trials, presentations on regional history, displays and demonstrations of fabric arts, quilt shows, music, and market specials on lamb in various cuts. Valley restaurants rack up the lamb for specials of many varieties, and chefs–and we have an abundance of cooking talent in the valley–show off their talents. If breakfast is your only meal out, ask for the lamb bacon. Most businesses find some way to connect with the sheep theme at this special time.


Main Street in Ketchum.

The parade is a wonder of sights and sounds and color including Basque dancers, Polish Highlanders and vintage wagons, all packed into the narrow Main Street of Ketchum. Etiquette requires leaving family dogs at home for good reason.

Rules also caution humans against thinking this is the running of the bulls and jumping into the flock. This agglomeration of furry animals is just modestly under control of the horse mounted shepherds and the herding dogs which is evidenced in the leaping and fast pace of the sheep as they pass. The residue left behind is a major cleanup for the city.


The wooly river on Warms Springs Road.

One year, on a side street, we found ourselves suddenly surrounded by hundreds of sheep. We were adrift in the wooly river for minutes and the photo opportunity balanced the fear of sharing our space with what appeared to be very confused sheep.

Yes, this is a charming, memorable period in the sunny, yet cooling early autumn, but as with any soft story, there are some sharp edges. Around the table we discuss the fact that these sheep and their owners enjoy privilege in this state with access to public lands for grazing.  Ironically,  the “Trailing of the Sheep Festival” occurs each year around Columbus Day, a holiday celebrating the explorer who introduced sheep into this land of indigenous wolves.

Frequently, the ranchers blame the now-reclaimed wolf packs for predation on the herds, often exaggerating the volume of kills and risk to this part of the agriculture industry. It doesn’t matter that sheep in wolf habitat is a perfect predator to prey environment, or that there are coyote predators, or even that the real ultimate predator is the human rejoicing in the lamb concoctions at various restaurants. The wolf as usual is the plague and all of this plays into the mantra in Idaho.

Idaho, the unlikely State for this lovely valley, is a place that has very clear priorities and is damn proud of it. The Governor and most of the men in the legislature sport big cowboy hats in official photos, red neckties, and cowboy boots. This is an outfit that seems to speak of family values, ranching, opposition to same-sex marriage, and a form of conservatism that has brought funding for public schools to the lowest per-student in all fifty states.

The hat and the ranching theme also signal a priority for wolf-killing season to be year-around. It is a terrible irony that along with the announcement that public education funding was in the tank, the Governor proudly announced he and legislature had found $500,000 to hire consultants to kill wolves, including a paid sniper in a helicopter who shot seven wolves in the Frank Church wilderness area. Shall we review the definition of the word wilderness?

Save the WolfThis is a strange state of affairs. So it is, at this time of a charming community festival, we also took a hike wearing our Save the Wolf t-shirts.