New Year’s Letter – 2016


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Yes, after 23 years here in Sweet Grass County, I can report that there is still no parallel parking in Big Timber. You can still pull your outfit in vertically with it’s nose facing the store. **Yes, “outfit” is something you drive not wear and “Gant” means thin and not a famous shirt maker. A Mexican drag line is a shovel not a bunch of Carmen Miranda impersonators kicking up their heels. And ‘casting a cow” is not getting her a good part in “City Slickers III” but tying her down on the ground.

There is still not one stoplight in a county whose square miles equal the state of Rhode Island. The anarchist in me loves that idea as much as I love roundabouts instead of 4 way stoplights. Hate being told to stay put when there is no good reason.


Mike continues to impart the Tao of Cow.

A Haiku – Advice

“Remember that it’ll all work out;

Until it doesn’t;

Then switch to Plan B.”

Haiku 2 – Rules

The number one rule

Of the cows at feeding time;

Let the big dog eat.

I continue to write bad poetry:

Cicada Rhythms

“Not one more Christmas will I spend here.

I must escape the snow and chill.

Who would of thought that by end of next year

I’ll deck the halls with boughs in Catskill.


Just a second home, so don’t be glum

That I’ve forsaken Mike and the critters.

This Cicada will jet to Catskill and from

Better than Bourbon and a dash of bitters


Evie Taloney keeps tabs of movies:

An overlooked movie from 2015 was Russell Crowe’s directorial debut “The Water Diviner”. It’s always brave to make a movie that questions the idea of empire and war. An old holiday 1947 movie that would probably never get made now is “It Happened on Fifth Avenue” with the rich girl questioning why she should have two huge mansions while the veterans coming back from WWII have no where to live.

A great year for dialect work from the south of Boston to the frontier of Montana; from Chile to Los Altos; a housewife in New Jersey; a Truth teller from Washington state. A doctor from Nigeria and a surgeon in New York; FBI agents; True Detectives and Nice Guys; Great Walls and more Walking Dead folks; Some Kinds of Heroes and and cray cray chess players. Looking forward to this year’s crop of spies, geniuses, and a Superman.


I made the best turkey stock I’ve ever made. I finally decided to understand what I was doing rather than just follow a recipe. This is a variation on a Gourmet recipe from 2006 though. Try to find a turkey back, neck gizzards and a couple legs or wings (about 6 lbs). Or get a small turkey and grab those parts. Roast them for 45 minutes at 500º. Put them in a large pot with 2 1/2 quarts of water and 2 quarts of chicken stock. Put 2 large onions skins on but halved in roaster with the turkey fat along with three carrots and three stalks of celery. Cook 20 to 25 minutes until nice and golden brown. Then add to the stockpot. Add parsley or thyme; a bay leave and 10 peppercorns.

Put the roaster with the turkey juices and fat on two burners and add some white wine and water – 2 cups and get all the juices, bits and fat up. Add to the stockpot and simmer, partially covered for 3 hours. Strain the stock and then see if you have 13 cups. Boil down if more than 13 and add more chicken stock or water if not 13.

Cool down completely to very cold. Then you can easily take the fat off the top.  You can freeze this for a couple months.   Or make soup.

For One Quart of Gravy:

Melt *4 tablespoons of butter and slowly add 3 to 4 tablespoons of Wondra (fine flour) to make your roux. Cook until it is a rich brown color. Slowly add one of the three quarts of stock. Finish off with a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and alcohol of your choice like white wine, Madeira, or dry sherry. Or not.

*last time I made gravy for Mike’s mashed potatoes, I used up some bacon grease from breakfast with the butter. That was good too.


And speaking of stock and stockpots. A friend introduced me to a new word;

Rachauffe. (ray-sho-FAY). As a noun it means “leftovers”. Used as a verb, it means “to warm over or rewarm” as in rewarming leftovers.  Friend Tim found that the OED has a phrase using the word from a 1931 author of “melancholy recipes”. For ‘happiness’.‥ How to ‘rechauffe’ the stock-pot of desire. What a phrase!

 I look forward to rechauffe my friendships of bygone years and make some new friendships along the way.

 Love and good wishes for a Happy, Healthy, and Peaceful New Year.

The Maven

**The first paragraph is a rechauffe of a letter I wrote back in 1993.

One response to “New Year’s Letter – 2016

  1. You never stop amazing me !!! Have a great New Year

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