The Literate Chef

Archive for the ‘General Articles’ Category

Is it Autumn Yet?

In General Articles on October 21, 2017 at 10:45 AM

With the Harvest Moon making its recent appearance in the New England sky and Halloween a few weeks distant, the feel of Autumn should have been nigh; although based on our 70° weather, it’s propinquity might be a matter of conjecture. In any case like the Ant in the fable of The Ant and the Grasshopper, we thought it best to be prepared, so two weekends ago we did a bit of cooking, laying in some comfort meals for the eventual cool weather.

The key is making big batches of hearty meals that can be pre-portioned, then defrosted and heated up with little bother on those dark and chilly nights when you want to do nothing except curl up on the couch and watch Netflix.

So here they are, one old standby and two new ones: Uncle Fred’s Lentil Soup; Wild Boar Stew and Wild Boar Ragu. The Lentil Soup is an annual standby and an homage to my godfather, Fred. The Stew and the Ragu are the result of serendipity.

Half a century ago there was a restaurant on the Eastside of Manhattan called Friar Tuck’s. It was located on 2nd or 3rd Avenue, around 54th or 55th Street. It was there that I was introduced to the delights of wild game, specifically Medallions of Young Wild Boar.

Recently I received an email from D’Artagnan, a specialty butcher in Manhattan who does a great job of delivering hard to find cuts of meat to your front door (see Where have all the Butchers Gone?) The email advertised a Shoulder of Wild Boar weighing between 3 and 5 lbs. That got me thinking about Friar Tuck’s, as well as remembering a fabulous meal of Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu, that I had in a Tuscan hill town, a number of years ago.   

The Shoulder of Wild Boar, delivered by FedEx two days after placing my order online, was 4lbs. I decided to split it in half and make a Stew and a Ragu. Portioning our the Ragu and the Stew should produce 10 individual meals. The Lentil Soup should provide an additional 10 or so individual meals.

I hope that Netflix is ready for some heavy duty autumn binge-watching!




With Thanksgiving but a Week Away…

In General Articles on November 11, 2016 at 9:48 AM

…if, you are still planning your Thanksgiving menu, perhaps we can be of assistance. Last year we posted our traditional family Thanksgiving recipes; here we link them in this update, which we hope…

Source: With Thanksgiving but a Week Away…

Da’s Famous, Flame-O Chili (Five Alarm)

In General Articles on October 26, 2016 at 2:41 PM

With day-time temperatures in the 50s and night-time temperatures of 40 or lower, Fall is here to stay. And that means its the perfect time for a bowl of stomach-warming, soul-comforting chili. This is a favorite in our house and today we just whipped up a big batch of this comfort food. You should too!

The Literate Chef

Da’s Famous, Flame-O Chili (Five Alarm)Da’s Famous, Flame-O Chili (Five Alarm)

(Preparation Time – Active 1 hour; Total – 3 hours – Makes about 6 quarts)

I’ve been perfecting this chili over the past 45 or so years, in an attempt to replicate the one served at the long-defunct Alamo Chili House on West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Several friends and I used to visit the “Alamo” for the perfect hangover remedy, back in the days of youthful imbibing. A bowl of their famous chili and a bottle or three of Dos Equis, and we were ready to go back to work and get through the afternoon, relatively unscathed by the vestiges of our hangovers.

This is a seriously hot chili. The meat to bean ration is about 3:1, so adding more beans and reducing the number of jalapeños and/or dried spices, may make it more palatable to those who can’t take the…

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The Turkey That Keeps Giving

In General Articles on November 15, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Reblogged on

Source: The Turkey That Keeps Giving

The Turkey That Keeps Giving

In General Articles on November 15, 2015 at 5:29 PM

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and you probably already have your meal all planned out, Turkey, Gravy, Stuffing and Sides. If that’s you, well congratulations. But if you’ve been distracted by life, overwhelmed by work and family and haven’t yet had the time to think about the upcoming holiday feast, The Literate Chef to your rescue. Right here are all of the details for a sumptuous feast. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Literate Chef

Here it is nine full days after Thanksgiving and we are still enjoying the gifts given up by our 21 pound Plainville Farms Thanksgiving turkey. The turkey dinner and its side dishes are but a memory.  The leftovers of hot turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy, accompanied by re-heated stuffing and the counterpoint of tart cranberry sauce, as well as cold turkey sandwiches on rye bread slathered with homemade Russian dressing disappeared days ago; and now the last of the Turkey Soup is gone as well. I have had my fill of Tom Turkey and if I don’t meet him again until next Thanksgiving, that will be just fine with me. But it is remarkable how many meals one can squeeze out of a single bird.

Our Thanksgiving feast this year started out with a gift of more than two dozen deliciously sweet and briny East Dennis Oysters™ compliments of John…

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Linguine with White Clam Sauce (Linguine con Vongole)

In General Articles on July 29, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Linguine con Vongole – It’s what was for dinner last night when three cousins came to dine with us. There were six for dinner, so except for the bottled clam juice, we upped each ingredient by 50%. There were no leftovers. For secrets to Clam Shucking, see the linked article which is also in the Article Index.

The Literate Chef

Linguine with White Clam Sauce (Linguine con Vongole)

(Serves four)

4 doz. medium-sized Cherrystone or Littleneck clams, about 5 lbs.
4 tbsp. of finely chopped garlic, about 12 cloves
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat (Italian) parsley
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ cup of dry white wine
2 8 oz. bottles of Clam Juice
1 & ½ lbs. dried Linguine (Barilla, DeCecco or other premium brand)

These steps can be performed in advance of serving the meal

1.    Set a large pot (6-8 quarts) of water on the stove, cover it and bring to a boil. When it begins to boil, reduce heat, keep covered and hot.
2.    Clean and shuck the clams, reserving the juices, you should have about 3 cups. Set aside 12 clams unopened – 3 for each pasta serving.
3.    Chop the garlic.
4.  …

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With Thanksgiving but a Week Away…

In General Articles on November 24, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Here’s a post that we did for Thanksgiving two years ago. The menu will be repeated this year, with one substitution, If you are a last minute planner, hopefully some of these suggestions might appeal to you and be on your table as well. Happy Thanksgiving to all of our subscribers and friends.

The Literate Chef

…if, you are still planning your Thanksgiving menu, perhaps we can be of assistance. Last year we posted our traditional family Thanksgiving recipes; here we link them in this update, which we hope that you will find helpful.

Ready and Waiting for the Carving Knife

This year, as our long-time close friends, Marge & Dan, as well as their 3 children and their families will be joining us, we will have 22 at table. Accordingly, we will be doubling up on the Roast Stuffed Turkey with Dorothea’s Italian Sausageand Mushroom Stuffing, and tripling up on the sides of Fresh Cranberry Sauce, Bourbon Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts Roasted with Hazelnuts.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Brussel sprouts with Hazelnuts

In addition to sharing this special meal with special friends, we will enjoy the added bonus of a double quantity of Turkey Soup after the feast is but…

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Memories of Grandpa and Summers at The Shore

In General Articles on August 9, 2014 at 4:20 PM

It’s August and the tomatoes are in full ripeness. Go get some along with fresh basil garlic, and whip up a big batch of Grandpa Tom’s tomato salad. We’ve done so for tonight’s dinner.

The Literate Chef

Grandpa Tom's Tomato SaladGrandpa Tom’s Tomato Salad  (click link for recipe)

I was 7 years old in the winter of 1950 when my maternal grandfather disappeared from my life. In my childhood memories, he was big and loud, gregarious and full of laughter, and when he died I missed him greatly and still do, all of these years later.

Grandpa TomGrandpa Tom

Grandpa Tom owned the Maple Grove, a hotel/boarding house inAtlantic Highlands, NJ. We used to visit him every summer and sometimes at Christmas, from what I can recall. On the summer trips my parents would usually stay for a week and then return to NYC, while I would stay on for several more weeks with my cousins. Getting to Atlantic Highlands from the Inwood neighborhood of Northern Manhattan, without a car, was quite an adventure during the 1940’s, and to my 5 and 6 year old mind, seemed to consume…

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Crab Cakes Creole with Sauce Rémoulade

In General Articles on August 3, 2014 at 6:24 PM

We made this the other night for dinner for four. I had forgotten how easy it is to make and how delicious it is.

The Literate Chef

Crab Cakes with Sauce RemouladeCrab Cakes with Sauce Remoulade

(active preparation & cooking time about 1 hour – makes 6 to 8 crab cakes as a meal or 22 to 25 as hors d’oeuvres)


For The Crab Cakes

1 lb. lump crab meat
1 cup thinly sliced scallions, about 7 scallions, both green and white parts
1 cup of chopped, roasted, red peppers, about one 12 oz. jar, drained
1 and ½ cups plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
3 tsp. of Hot Hungarian Paprika
2 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

For The Sauce Rémoulade

2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp. capers, drained
1 tsp. granulated garlic, or ½ tsp. minced fresh garlic
4 tsp. whole milk
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp. Hot Hungarian Paprika


1.    Prepare the Sauce Rémoulade by combining the 6 ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisking together briskly…

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Summer Serendipity

In General Articles on July 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM

A few Sundays ago, Sam Sifton of The New York Times had an article in the Magazine Section on Chef Bobby Flay and his Pan-Roasted Chicken With Mint Sauce. In it, Chef Flay explained how to obtain a good crust on a roasted chicken breast, as he does at his restaurants. I clipped the article with the intention of trying his technique some time in the future. However, as with so many good intentions, if too much had gone by, I would have no doubt forgotten all about the article. But serendipitously, two unconnected events happened shortly thereafter.

Last week, Grammy noticed that the basil plants on our deck were in full bloom and that unless the leaves were picked soon they would be lost. To our minds the best use of an abundance of basil is Uncle Fred’s Pesto Sauce. So she whipped up a batch and refrigerated it that same day.

Then, the other day, she announced that she was going to defrost a split chicken for dinner that night, and was going to roast it. That’s when I remembered the Sunday Times article and was fortunately able to put my hands on it. After a quick perusal of the article, I announced that I would take care of the chicken if she would prepare the Sautéed Spinach. She gladly accepted and the result can be found at Pollo con Pesto (Pesto-Crusted Pan-Roasted Chicken)!

She proposed and I disposed

In General Articles on July 5, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Grammy suggested fish for dinner. She was thinking of something light, and juicy! Maybe with tomatoes? And salty! Perhaps from olives and capers? And she proposed that it be served en papillote, wrapped in aluminum foil and baked in the oven.

Since it was incumbent upon me to dispose, I opted for parchment paper, instead of aluminum foil, as it would not be reactive to the taste. I agreed with juicy, and yes, from tomatoes; and of course salty, olives and capers would provide plenty of that.

The perfect fish? Something mild, yet substantial enough to stand up to all of that flavor. As luck would have it, our local fishmonger had Day Boat Halibut that morning. Yes, that would do. I’ll have one pound please, skin removed, if you don’t mind.

The supermarket provided the tomatoes and pimento-stuffed green olives. Our larder provided the capers, parchment paper, paprika and olive oil. Mission Accomplished!

Now to put it all together see Pan-Seared Halibut Elisabetta, En Papillote.

Pork Chops with Hot and Sweet Peppers

In General Articles on February 27, 2014 at 11:44 AM

We made this last night to serve to new friends, but working in a kitchen that is not ours, we did not have access to our usual utensils. Accordingly, we adapted the recipe for a non-stick skillet and prepared the bulk of the dish in advance. These updates are noted in Notes 1 & 2. Flexibility is key to any recipe.

The Literate Chef

Quick, easy and delicious! Quick, easy and delicious!


•    6 boneless center cut pork chops, about ¾ inch thick, approximately  2.75 – 3 lbs total
•    Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
•    3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
•    7 cloves of garlic, sliced
•    2 cups of dry white wine
•    1/3 cup of sliced hot cherry peppers, stems removed
•    2 large (35 oz.) jars of fire-roasted sweet peppers, about 4 cups sliced
•    ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar


1.    Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides.
2.    In a heavy stainless steel or cast iron skillet that has a cover, heat the olive oil on medium/high. (note 1)
3.    Add the garlic and stir for 2 -3 minutes, do not let it brown.
4.    Raise the heat to high and add the pork chops, brown for 5 minutes…

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Uncle Fred’s Steamed Kale with Black Olives

In General Articles on January 5, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Recently there has been a lot of press about the benefits of including Kale in your diet. In our family, we have been consuming it regularly, following a recipe from my godfather, Uncle Fred. We first posted this recipe 2 &1/2 years ago, but in case you missed it, here it is again. Good and healthful eating!

The Literate Chef

Preparation & cooking time with easy to use fresh Kale from Glory Foods, 20 minutes

To read about Uncle Fred, please refer toUncle Fred, The Godfather


2 lbs. kale, washed, thick stems removed and discarded, leaves and tender stems chopped coarse*
2 cups of oil-cured black olives, preferably pitted
12 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed hot chili peppers
2 cups water


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté until translucent. Do not let burn.
  3. Add the olives, and stir well. When they begin to puff up, shut the heat and add the hot pepper flakes and stir well.
  4. Return the heat to medium, add 1/4 cup of water and add the kale in bunches stirring continuously so it does not burn. Continue adding water and kale until…

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Big Mike’s Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce

In General Articles on December 22, 2013 at 3:01 PM

This is a great and inexpensive winter meal. Who wouldn’t enjoy their veggies with macaroni?

The Literate Chef


1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
12 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, separated
1 pound of Linguine
Kosher salt or sea salt
Freshly ground Locatelli Romano cheese
Dorothea’s Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce


1.    Fill a six quart pot with water, bring to a boil.
2.    Add the cauliflower and cook until fork-tender.
3.    In the meantime, pre-heat a large cast iron frying pan on high, then add the olive oil.
4.    When the oil is shimmering, reduce the heat; add the garlic and sauté lightly, do not let it brown.
5.    Remover the cauliflower from the boiling water, remove 4 cups of the water for developing the sauce and reserve the rest for cooking the linguine.
6.    Add the cauliflower to the oil and garlic, and mash it in the pan continuing to break it down until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes.

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Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf

In General Articles on December 7, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Meatloaf! It’s what’s for dinner tonight!
When its cold and damp on foggy Olde Cape Cod, one’s thoughts return to comfort food, and “Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf” is guaranteed to make you feel warm and cozy.

The Literate Chef

(Serves 4 to 6. Preparation time – 30 minutes; cooking time – 75 minutes)


For the Meatloaf:

2 tbsps. minced garlic
1 cup finely diced celery (2 stalks)
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1 medium sized onion)
2 tbsps. of unsalted butter
½ cup of chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped sage
1 tbsp. chopped thyme
½ cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 lb. ground veal
1 lb. ground pork
1/3 cup of sour cream
3 eggs, whisked
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 12 oz. bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce
Freshly ground pepper

For the Gravy:

Two 28 oz. packs (6 cups liquid) of Swanson Beef Cooking Stock (no sodium or less sodium variety).
1 lb. sliced cremini(also calledBaby Bella) mushrooms.
2 tbsps. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ cup dry red wine
¼ cup flour (Wondra, preferably, because it…

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In General Articles on September 8, 2013 at 11:54 AM

As the night time and early morning temperature begins to drop into the 50’s and 60’s here on The Cape, and the days are free of humidity and sunny, (September really is the best month) one’s thoughts begin to turn to soup and what better soup then Lentil Soup to warm our innards and pay homage to Uncle Fred, The Godfather. Today we cooked up a batch following the recipe first posted here almost 2 years ago. SOUP’S ON!

The Literate Chef

Active time, 30 minutes. Soak lentils overnight. Cooking time, 1 hour.  Makes 6 quarts.


2 1 lb. packages of lentils
1 medium onion, chopped fine, about 2 cups
5 cloves garlic chopped fine, about 2 tbsps.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small can (6 oz.) of tomato paste
1 package of Lipton Dried Onion Soup Mix
2 smokedham hocks
2 9 oz. packages of frozen chopped spinach


1.    Add the lentils to an 8 qt. pot, cover with water to about 4 inches above the lentils and soak overnight.
2.    The next day, drain and rinse the lentils and rinse the pot.
3.    In the rinsed pot, heat the olive oil on medium, add the onions and garlic and lightly sauté until translucent, do not let brown.
4.    Reduce heat to medium-low and add the tomato paste, mix well.
5.    Add the contents of one…

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Luigi the Barber

In General Articles on July 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM

That bastion of the male world, the Barber Shop, with its candy-striped pole, leather strop and copies of the Police Gazette lying around for your perusal as you wait for your favorite barber to call you next, may have for the most part disappeared; but the art of conversation between a man and his barber (for want of a gender-neutral term) has not. For the past 30 or more years I have had my hair cut by Luigi, who with his brother Enzo, runs “The Isaia Hairstyling Salon” in the Riverdale section of The Bronx.

Luigi (Louie) and Enzo emigrated with their parents from a town near Salerno in the Campania region of Italy when they were children. They started life in America in the Belmont section of the Bronx, also known as Arthur Avenue. When Louie was a stylist working at Vidal Sassoon in Manhattan, he was known as Bernard. That name stayed with him for a time after he left, but eventually he became Louie once again, as the brothers’ own business began to flourish, back in Da Bronx.

When my hair used to grow more quickly, I’d schedule a visit to Louie about once every 4 or 5 weeks. These days visits are usually 8 to 10 weeks apart, and it’s not because I’m letting my hair grow longer, there’s just less of it to cut. So I figure that Louie and I have had at least 250 conversations over the years. We’ve discussed politics, sports, the economy, crime, religion, family and the changes in the neighborhood. But every visit has included a conversation on our two favorite topics, movies (principally Italian Cinema) and food.

Louie enjoys cooking and sometimes, when he knows I am coming in for a haircut, he surprises me, as he recently did, with something he whipped-up the previous night. On our most recent visit to our hometown New York, which included a haircut from Louie, the surprise was Mussels Marinara, not with linguine, nor tagliatelle nor penne or some of the more fashionable cuts of macaroni, but with good, old-fashioned, comforting, spaghetti. It was delicious and Grammy and I devoured it that night when we returned to Falmouth.

The other day,  I made a visit to The Clam Man, our local fishmonger, and as luck would have it, they had a batch of big, black, shiny mussels. With an eye to preparing Louie’s mussels and spaghetti, I bought 2 dozen of the bivalves. Remembering what Louie had told me about his three special additives: brandy (I used Martell Cognac, which I use for my Steak au Poivre), jalapeño pepper and Knorr’s Caldo con Sabor de Camarón and guessed at the proportions. I don’t think it was exactly the same as Louie’s version, but it was delicious.

So here it is folks, the real deal, Mussels Marinara with Spaghetti alla Luigi.


Attention, Garlic Lovers!

In General Articles on July 28, 2013 at 7:06 AM

If you’ve been following our postings, you no doubt know that to us, garlic is essential to life itself. And if, like us you love garlic, but hate to peel those little cloves and don’t want to spring for the costly pre-peeled garlic that usually goes bad before you can use it all, then we have the answer to your dilemma. Just ask Martha!

That’s right folks, Martha Stewart has a video on how to peel all the garlic you will ever need. Now you can have garlic with breakfast, lunch or dinner, no mess, no fuss. Garlic and orange juice, why not? Garlic in oatmeal? Sure! Ham and cheese on garlic bread? No problem, mon!

We don’t have two bowls that are same-sized, so we tried this trick using the two smaller bowls of a metal three-bowl set. For whatever reason, it didn’t quite work; while several cloves did separate from the head and some were actually peeled, we didn’t experience the same results as Martha. Maybe it was because the bowls were not the same size, or the garlic was too old, or too young, or we didn’t shake it long enough.

So we tried a different technique. We first separated each clove from the head, then cut off each clove end. That minor modification worked just fine!

So, you can go from this:

Garlic 1

To this:

Garlic 2

In a matter of minutes.

Try it and let us know your results.


Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Mango Salsa

In General Articles on July 26, 2013 at 8:39 AM

Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy – Fish on the grill, served with a fresh homemade salsa of pineapple, mango, cilantro, red onion and lime juice, with a little heat provided by chopped jalapeños and Anche chili powder. Serve that with grilled vegetables and sautéed mushrooms, prepared in advance, and you can entertain easily AND, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

The Literate Chef

(serves six)

I went to the localfish market yesterday, intending to grill a fillet ofstriped bass and serve it oreganata style for last night’s dinner.  But the fishmonger told me that the season is over; however, he did have a supply of freshly-caught, ‘harpooned swordfish‘. Change of plans necessary!

Ditch the oreganata idea, maybe hold that for a future dish of clams oreganata and head back to the produce market for mangoes, pineapple, jalapenos, red onion, cilantro and limes. Menu changed to Grilled Swordfish with a Pineapple Mango Salsa.

Preparing the Salsa:

2 ripe mangoes, skin and seeds removed, chopped coarsely
2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
½ large red onion, finely chopped
1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
Juice of 3 limes, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon of chili powder

Mix the above ingredients and lit sit for 30 minutes…

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Time to draw a line in the breadcrumbs

In General Articles on July 25, 2013 at 8:55 AM

A humorous posting with great photos. I commented on it as follows: Clever as ever! The story of the sheep reminded me of a postcard that I once sent from Ireland to an Englishman friend. On the front was a picture of a sheep at pasture, with the title “Missing Ewe”. I scribbled some nonsense on the back about hoping he’d return to me soon, and signed it, “Love, Deirdre.” His wife was not amused!

I was not familiar with the term “pangritata” and you inspired me to Google it. I discovered that I had eaten it before, in a now defunct Sicilian Restaurant in New York. It was spread on a dish of Spaghetti con Sarde, which my father had always raved about, and which his mother used to make. You have motivated me to attempt to re-create it. Thanks!

Food, Photography & France

The sheep in the adjoining field are very keen on bread, in all its varied forms. They are keen on it because we, not being farmers but eaters of farmers’ produce, have fed them the bread, for which we have no further use, and the sheep couldn’t be happier. They could be happier, but couldn’t we all. Giving them stale bread is as far as I can go in bringing happiness to sheep,  particularly as the sheep in question are barely acquaintances of mine.  A line has to be drawn somewhere and drawing it between me and sheep pleasuring is in the true spirit of the Alamo. Sacrifices have to be made.


Already I hear an uproar in the cheap seats ” Shame on you, sir, casting brioche before swine…or sheep like swine”.  There is no question that I have been remiss when it comes to stale bread. I know…

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