Fried Stuffing

Traditional British breakfasts can be a little on the heavy side, a bit like a traditional American breakfast but with the addition of fried mushrooms, fried sliced tomato, and-- wait for it-- baked beans. However one element of an English greasy spoon that I will at times add to my weekend breadfast is fried bread.

In the UK slices of white loaf are added to hot bacon fat. As the bottom absorbs some of the fat and crisps in the pan, it is flipped and crisped on the other side. It makes for a delicious side for bacon and eggs and takes nary a minute.

For the faint of heart, you can toast your slice slightly first, inhibiting its ability to suck up bacon fat. It will still crisp nicely.

This morning I had a revelation. It is December 2nd, and we're almost out of Thanksgiving leftovers, down to a little cranberry sauce and Susan's delicious stuffing. What is stuffing? Bread. What if I added a couple of handfuls of stuffing to the hot bacon fat?

Wonderful, crispy, savory, deliciousness, the perfect foil for a fried egg and a couple of slices of bacon, that's what. I'm sorry I didn't think of this last week. My arteries probably aren't, but I am.

Got any stuffing left over from your Thanksgiving meal? Fry it up in bacon fat. Out-bloody-standing.


Michael's Beef Stew

My friend Michael posted a couple of handy beef stew tips recently during a Facebook exchange with another friend seeking stew advice. His suggestions include a layer of caramelized onions, whose sweetness would be a rich addition to just about any dish, and deglazing with Guinness. I had a couple of bottles of Edmund Fitzgerald porter from Great Lakes Brewing (a Cleveland brewery, superb beer) so I substituted that.

Typically I'd skip the onions and deglaze with red wine, a more classical French stew. But I was intrigued, and as I had the beer, I went for it.

See that brown stuff in the pan? That's the fond. It's the caramelized sugars from sauteeing the onions low and slow for about 40 minutes. (The panful of 5 medium sliced onions cooks down to about a cupful of concentrated onion goodness.) It's full of flavor. To release it, you add liquid to the hot pan (over a flame, so it stays hot) and scrape it with a spatula. (It's a good way to "clean" a pan, too.) This is called "deglazing."

In this instance, I used beer, which got nice and foamy in the pan. After you scrape up the goodness, you boil the liquid and let it reduce. Basically, you cook the water out of the beer, making a concentrated, thick, flavorful melange of beer flavored with sweet onion residue.

What's this? Leftover beer? Can't waste that...

The red pan above has had a couple of things happen to it. First, I heated oil in it. I cut up 3 lbs of beef chuck into pieces about the size of a pack of smokes and seasoned them liberally with salt and pepper. I then dredged them in flour and seared them in the hot oil. I let them get a good crust, working in batches so as not to crowd the beef. If you crowd the beef it will steam and will not get crusty nor will it leave a fond. Took about 30 minutes in all. (The beef is resting, with the onions, in the pan behind.)

When you cook beef in hot oil it gives off beef juice, which has a lot of sugar, so it reacts the way the sugar in the onions does... it forms a fond. It's very concentrated beefy goodness... it is the essence of beef. You treat it exactly the same way as you did the onions. But first I cut a carrot, onion and stalk of celery into fine dice and sauted that in the beef pan to soften; you can see them in the photo above. After 10 minutes, I added the reduced beer from the onion pan to the cooked dice vegetables, and another glug of beer, cooking it until it was nearly all gone.

Then I returned the beef to the pan and added about 2/3 quart of chicken stock and about a cup of tomato sauce, both homemade and both from my freezer. It almost covered the beef. I brought it to a low simmer, where it remains. More on this later.


Tweaking a Classic

The Vieux Carre, named for New Orleans' French Quarter, is a terrific cocktail first served in the Carousel Bar in the 1930's. It is equal parts rye, brandy and sweet vermout, stirred in a rocks glass over ice with a hint of B&B and dashes of Peychauds and Angostura Bitters, garnished with a twisted lemon rind. It is a terrific drink.

It's a cool night and I wanted a rich, warm cocktail, but not necessarily icy. I opted for a V.C., but built it as I would a Sazerac, but one with no ice. It's delicious. You can taste the harmonious blend of all the different components, and the sweetness of the rye is not lost to the cold.

Here's how it's done:

Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice, set aside.

In a shaker over ice, stir together 3/4 oz (1 jigger) each rye, brandy, and sweet vermouth until chilled. Add a dash or two of both bitters.

Empty the rocks glass and swirl a touch of B&B in the chilled glass to coat the glass.

Strain the chilled mixture into the rocks glass, then twist over the glass a thick slice of lemon peel-- I use a vegetable peeler for a wide, thin twist bereft of bitter pith. Drop the twist, its precious, flavorful oils gaily now skimmng atop your cocktail, into the glass.



A la Provence

Those tomatoes and eggplants weren't getting any younger. I perused a Patricia Wells' book of Provencal cooking and found three simple recipes for roasted vegetables on a cool late summer night: roasted tomatoes,  new potatoes roasted on a bed of chunky sea salt, and roasted eggplant with tomatoes. Prep time, 20 minutes, roasting time, 30, 45 and 60 minutes (in that order)
Amazingly, given the provenance of Provence, no garlic or even onions in these dishes-- though their addition, perhaps along with some anchovies, would not hurt.

Cut up a big handful of any fresh herbs. I used mostly basil, oregano, parsley and a bit of rosemary.

Preheat oven to 400.

1. Roasted tomatoes
Core and halve (around the equator) six or eight large-ish tomatoes. Saute cut side down in a hot saute pan with some olive oil. (Do two batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan.) After they caramelize (about 5 minutes), transfer them to a baking pan. Deglaze the saute pan with 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar and pour this concentrated goodness over the tomatoes. Roast about 30 minutes. Lots of liquid will form. I drained this and kept it and will add it to my next batch of soup, chili, or stew.

2. Eggplant and tomatoes
Slice one large, two medium, or a bunch of small eggplants lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Score lightly, season with S & P, and add to a backing dish which you've rubbed with a tbls of EVO. Sprinkle some fresh grated Parmesan over the eggplant, then top with this slices of tomato. Sprinkle fresh chopped herbs all over and roast for one hour.

3. Sea-salt roasted potatoes

Scrub a pound of small new potatoes, and place in a baking dish with 1/2 cup of large salt crystals. Top with a sprinkling of salt and roast for 45 minutes. If you add a sprig or two of rosemary to the layer of salt it will perfume the potatoes like magic.

Barley Risotto with beans and greens/turned into soup

Wifey wants more whole grains. I suppose my thickening, middle-aged trunk could benefit from this too. Barley makes me think either of soup or risotto. I googled (or binged?) barley risotto and was referred to a recipe on for barley riso with beans and escarole. I thought this a good place to start, so headed out to the garden to see what we had.

We had red chard.

My chicken stock was frozen, but three sandwich bags worth of frozen peels and onion stubbs created a quick vegetable stock while I started the dish. (OK, there were a couple of chicken femurs in there too.)

Stem the greens, rinsing well. Finely dice the stems, and saute these, along with a chopped medium onion, a grated carrot and a chopped celery stalk in some olive oil. Don't skimp on the oil. Use about 3 or 4 tablespoons. Season with s and p and allow to cook down and sweeten, about 10 minutes.

Add a cup of pearl barley and stir to coat with the vegetables and oil. After about a minute, maybe two, add 1/2 glass of white wine. Stir until absored.

Start adding ladlefulls of hot stock to the barley. You'll need about 5 cups in all. It shouldn't be dry, though nor should it be soupy.

Add a few handfuls of chopped greens and allow them to wilt, about two minutes. Add 1/2 can of cooked beans (I like to use a little of the liquid too; it adds a nice mouth feel). Check the seasoning.

You could top this with a drizzle of olive oil, some parmesan cheese, shredded basil...

The leftovers were taken to work the next day. That evening, the final leftovers were introduced into a soup. I sauted onion, carrot and celery, added the leftover barley (and some leftover lentils from Sunday's evening meal, see below), some chopped cabbage, some chicken stock, a frozen arugula pesto ice cube from this spring's early crop, a couple of leftover canned tomatoes and their juice, and some sauteed sweet potato cubes. I sauteed these in duck fat because I had it and it makes them taste good. It was very tasty. Soups are easy. They can be anything.


Leftovers again/hot Thai P.M.s

This one was a real mash up of cultures and styles. Fortunately it worked.
I had:

a piece of salmon

two leftover grilled wild shrimp

preserved lemon




fish stock

So, dinner Sunday was broiled miso salmon (Japanese) on a bed of lentils with chopped shrimp (French) with preserved lemon (Moroccan) with a slice of prosciutto resting atop 4 seasoned olives on the side (Italian).

(I also invented "salmon lardons." Basically, this is the crispy salmon skin sliced up and sprinkled over the finished dish.)

The lentil take longest. I made them in a very traditional way, sweating off half a chopped onion, a chopped stalk of celery, and a shredded carrot. I added a cup of dry lentils and stirred these in, bathing the lentils in the flavored sweet vegetables and residual oil. Then I added the warm stock and let this simmer for about 25 minutes.

I marinated the salmon in a little miso, shredded ginger, chopped shallot, soy sauce and sesame oil. To broil it, I first fired up a cast iron pan on the stovetop, seasoned it with a little vegetable oil, and placed the salmon in skin side down. After two minutes it went under the broiler for another five.

To assemble:

Mound some cooked lentils onto the middle of your whitest plate. Top with some cooked salmon, skin removed.

Spoon a bit of preserved lemon off to one side.

Add four-- not three, not five!-- olives to one corner of your square (yes, didn't I say square? Square is best) plate. Drape a lazy slice of delicious, sweet, salty prosciutto atop. Finish the dish with the salmon skin, which you've chopped up into little slices.

A lot going on-- sweet umaminess, salty/crispy, citrusy goodness. You'll never make this dish of course, but let it be an inspiration when you're looking to clear out the fridge.

Wait, that's not it. That's Thailand's gorgeous new P.M.

There it is.

Thai Salmon and Risotto

With a side of seared scallops with lime-cardamom dust, naturally.

This is a tasty dish, requiring a bit of work, but very nice for a dinner party. It can be largely prepared in advance, with ten minutes of work prior to serving. This is for four people.

Salmon Marinade:
Combine two chopped shallots or half an onion, two cloves chopped garlic, two tablespoons shredded ginger, juice of a lime or two, two tablespoons of brown sugar, 3 tablespoons of red curry paste, a teaspoon of fish sauce, 1/2 a teaspoon of sesame oil, and 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and mix really well.

Cut a pound of salmon into 4 filets and cover with about 1/2 the marinade. (Save the rest to add to the risotto and drizzle around the finished dish.)

Lime Cardamom dust
Crush a dozen little black cardamom seeds from inside the pod in a mortar and pestle; save a pinch for the risotto, below. Zest a lime. Mix the two in a small microwave-safe bowl and zap for 10 or 15 seconds at a time until the zest is dry. Sprinkle half of this dust on both sides of 8 sea scallops. (Save the rest for the finished dish.) Season them with salt and pepper too.

This can be half-cooked ahead of your dinner party. Mix together a tablespoon of cumin, a teaspoon of sweet paprika, and the leftover pinch of cardamom dust. Heat 4 cups of seafood stock until it simmers and keep it aside. In a large saucepan or saute pan, saute a chopped shallot in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add a tablespoon or two of shredded ginger, two cloves crushed garlic, one teaspoon of red chili paste and the spice mix and saute for 30 seconds. Add one cup of short grain rice and stir to coat the grains in the flavor mixture. Start adding the stock, a ladle or two at a time, and let the rice simmer away. You can do this until about half the stock is absorbed, then stop. The risotto will be half-cooked but you can pick it up again just prior to serving dinner-- the salmon will be broiling and the scallops will be searing at the same time. But for now, go relax, have a drink, chill out with your guitar before your guests arrive.

Bringing it all together
After several cocktails with your guests, maybe a salad or something to start, preheat the broiler. Start heating the remaining fish stock and the turn on the heat under the risotto. Heat a saute pan. Open a can of coconut milk. Get ready to multi-task.

The rice will take longest, about 10 minutes so start that first. The scallops will sear about two minutes each side, and the salmon will broil in five minutes, so you'll start these when the rice nears completion. Or, wait til the rice is done before starting the seafood. It'll hold for a few minutes.

As the rice nears completion-- you're tasting as you're going, right?-- add about 1/3 can coconut milk and stir well. Add about a tablespoon of the leftover marinade and stir again. Lay the salmon filets on a foil-lined baking sheet and throw under the broiler. Add some bacon fat, duck fat, or vegetable oil to your hot saute pan and saute the scallops for about 2 minutes per side.

To assemble:
Mound some rice in the middle of each of four plates. Top with a piece of broiled salmon. Place two scallops next to this, which a small pinch of leftover "dust" next to the scallops. Drizzle a little marinade around the edge of the plate.

This would be nice to top with a little chopped cilantro and a couple of Thai basil leaves... a quarter lime would not be out of place. I'd drink a New Zealand sauvignon blanc or a crisp lager with this.


Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches. They've come a long way since two greasy slices of Wonderloaf surrounding molten American Cheese/food product. The two main ingredients (those would be "bread" and "cheese") offer so much variety as to create an infinity of delicious combinations. (Having said that, even a basic sandwich of whole wheat bread filled with shredded Cheddar is downright delicious.)

Let's all explore the universe of grilled cheese sandwiches. Let's get slightly adventurous with additional fillings (without drifting too far from the path of righteousness). Let's use that expensive cheese that ought to really only be served by itself, bereft of honey, balsamic vinegar, or chutney and nuts. Let's use bread that doesn't come in a plastic sleeve. Who's with me?

Basic grilled cheese:

Preheat oven to 350.

Preheat cast iron pan over medium heat.

Butter two slices of whole wheat bread.

Turn one slice over, butter side down (ew).

Cover this slice with lots of grated Cheddar.

Cover with second slice of buttered bread (butter side up).

Carefully transer the greasy mess to the hot pan.

After a couple of minutes, gently lift the bottom of the sandwich with a spatula; when it is golden brown, flip the sandwich and place the pan in the oven.

After approximately 5 minutes, remove the pan, remove the sandwich, cut it in half-- diagonally is nice-- and scarf down.


Beans and Greens

I like canned beans. I like the mushy texture. I'm growing to like the viscous liquid they're packed in. Generally, I'd drain the beans and rinse them well. But when used judiciously, the liquid in the can thickens dishes and adds a pleasant creaminess.

Our garden is ripening. Pea pods have appeared, though they still resemble snow peas. A single green fruit adorns one tomato plant. Most of the spring greens have aged to the point of toughness and bitterness, though we can still pluck the occasional tender leaf. The beats are of varying size. Yesterday I thinned them, primarily to get the leaves, which I turned into beans and greens.

Saute half a chopped onion in olive oil.

Add some cleaned, chopped greens like beet greens, chard, kale (from which you've cut out the tough central stem). Use more than you think, they'll cook down significantly. Season well with salt and pepper.

After the greens reduce, about two minutes, add a few cloves of chopped garlic and half a can of white beans, with a little bean liquid. Add half a cup of chicken or vegetable stock or water, and a bit more salt. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Cover and let cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes. Remove lid. If too moist, allow to simmer lidless for a few minutes.


Thai Beef Salad

We have big lettuce leaves available to us in our community garden. And cilantro, mint, chives and basil. Got me thinking of rolling and dipping things into sauces, as we did in Hoi An, Vietnam a couple of years ago. But spring rolls and banh xeo are beyond the commitment I was prepared to make on a Friday evening. The prep work alone would interfere with my ability to enjoy a cocktail.

A modified Thai Beef Salad would be a good compromise, and except for the beef, I had all the ingredients on hand-- or at least enough to approximate the dish.

Five minutes prep work, then you have a couple of hours to kill (read: drink) while the marinade works its flavor magic.

This is a great dish for a hot night, especially delicious when paired with cold lager.

1. Season your steak well S and P. I used sirloin, a mid-priced cut that grills well.

2. Make the marinade. Mix together:
one chopped shallot (or half an onion)
grated ginger, about the size of a ladyboy's thumb
two cloves minced garlic
juice of two limes
black pepper

Let this sit and stew for a few minutes while you replenish your drink.

four tablespoons vegetable oil
two tablespoons brown sugar
one or more tablespoons red curry paste (this is mild)
splash sesame oil (optional)
splash fish oil (optional)

3. Set half the marinade aside-- this will be the dipping sauce. Marinate the steak in the rest, for a minimum of two hours, preferable many more.

4. After a few cocktails, nonchalantly light your grill. Grill steak to MR, then let it rest for at least five minutes. Slice it and serve it with lettuce leaves and lots of fresh herbs. Roll up the meat and the herbs in the leaves and dip into the flavorful sauce. Don't wear your best shirt. In fact, eat naked.


Sardines. Spinach. Beans.

Waistline. Winter. Widening. But it's all coming off. One day. Honest.

Couple of spoonfuls of yogurt for breakfast... I suppose lunch was vaguely Atkins like-- not that I espouse dieting except the "eat less exercise more" kind.

Anyway, it was very tasty, filling in a way that only lots of protein can fill you, and probably healthy as well-- though "healthy" comes last in my book. If something is unhealthy but tasty, eat it anyway if you enjoy it. The happiness it brings you outweighs the calories.

1. Pre-heat broiler. Open a can of sardines packed in olive oil. Drain, reserving the oil.

2. Saute a chopped shallot (or a bit of chopped onion) in a little of the oil. (Or lightly saute a finely chopped garlic clove for a few seconds until fragrant.)

3. Add half a bag of baby spinach and a few tablespoons of canned white beans to the pan and some salt and pepper and saute about a minute until just wilted.

4. Transfer spinach to oven-proof dish. Top with sardines. Top sardines with break crumbs, and drizzle the crumbs with a bit of the leftover oil.

5. Broil until just browned, about a minute. Add a squeeze of lemon and eat your way to thin.

I also baked a loaf of focaccia this morning and am now going to eat some with some cheese and a beer, nullifying any lightening effects of my earlier meals. Dinner out with friends at Elements, a restaurant known for its charcuterie... And tomorrow I'm determined to have spaghetti and meatballs.



I was going to write about the bouillabaisse I made for Valentine's Day when I realized I'd already put up the recipe for fish soup. It sounds better in French: Soup au poisson. Fish soup sounds a bit downmarket. But it is very satisfying and not difficult, if somewhat time consuming.

This batch was different though. Rather than a pureed smooth soup, I left large pieces of fish intact in the broth. In a real bouillabaise restaurant, these would have been served seperately, ahead of the soup-broth course.

So, into my garlicky, tomatoey fish broth went two fillets of red snapper and four large shrimp. Off to the side I'd steamed a dozen mussels in a little water and chopped shallot; they went in, along with the mussel broth. I then sauteed a couple of really big scallops in some very hot butter, and in they went.

I got out my griddle and and got it hot, and brushed some slices of ciabatta with olive oil, and grilled them til grill marks appeared. I can think of nothing that isn't improved by grilled bread.

The rouille was good and garlicky.

(Lady enjoying "fish soup")
I made brownies for dessert, sprinkled with flakey sea salt before baking them.

Minimalist Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons-- quartered lemons mixed with salt and left to marinate for a few weeks-- are a staple of Moroccan cuisine (and a nice addition to tuna salad, it turns out).

When Mark Bittman announced his retirement from the NY Times Minimalist column last week, the paper published a pastiche of his most viewed videos. I was intrigued by his recipe for "quick" preserved lemons. Cutting the lemon took a couple of minutes only, then a quick stir with some salt and sugar (2:1) ratio and then let it sit for an hour.

A tablespoon full made a great addition to a chicken and chickpea tagine, whose leftover sauce became the base for a pot of harira (which also benefited from the addition of the lemon).

The lemons are tart but also sweet, and offer a pleasing, tight texture.

Following a recipe

Sam Sifton named this as one of his favorite new dishes of 2010 recently, a whole wheat pasta and chick pea dish from Del Posto.

I made it recently and it really is good... though I agree with Susan that it might have benefited from a bit of lemon zest.

It's rare that I follow recipes to the letter but I think I did with this one, down to including the "juice" from the canned chickpeas, something I'd ordinarily spurn. (Canned beans are a standby for me. I do love home-prepped dry beans, but when you're in a hurry....)

Bonito-- shaved, dried tuna. I bought some ages ago to make broth for miso soup. It really does add a briny dimension to the dish. I bought it at one of the Asian stores in the Strip District.

The dish also reheats well. I melted some butter and sauteed the leftovers in it.


Mock Aloo Gobi

If you keep a well-stocked spice cabinet, Indian-flavored food is quite easy to assemble. I'm sure my "curries" are non-traditional- they certainly do not follow any recipes- but they're quite tasty, quick, and nourishing. This technique (if I dare call it that), which results in a flavorful sauce, can then be customized with the vegetables, meat, leftovers of your choice.

I used cauliflower and potato, resulting in a mock Aloo Gobi. Neither were cooked, but it's a simple matter to cut and roast a cauliflower and peel, cube and boil some potatoes.

While they cooked, I made a basic mirepoix, sauteeing chopped carrots, celery and onion in some EVO with S and P. I know that this is French technique, but it adds an incomparable flavor base.

While they sauteed, I made my spice mix, starting with cardamom.

A little cardamom goes a long way. The raisin-looking green pods can be added whole to dishes; they're inedible, but add an exotic, citrusy flavor to rice dishes, soups, and sauces easily.

I also like the little black seeds (which resemble slightly larger poppyseeds) inside the pods. These needn't be fished out of the finished dishes. However I prefer crushing these seeds into powder with my mortar and pestle. If you start with about a dozen seeds it takes about 30 seconds. I have a one-ounce jar of the seeds which will probably outlive its use to me.

So, in my mortar I pestled the dozen (or so) cardamom seeds. To this I added a rounded tablespoon of cumin, a teaspoon of Tumeric, 1/2 teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon of hot paprika, same of cinnamon, then very little clove powder, grated nutmeg and cayenne. Took about a minute in all, and I eyeballed the measurements. Let's call this "garam masala."

The vegetables were still softening over medium heat, so I peeled and grated some ginger and garlic, and finely chopped the garlic. The potatoes were done, so I drained them and added them back to the warm pan to dry.... the cauliflower was starting to brown nicely at 350, but needed some more time (about a total of 30 minutes).

I added the ginger and garlic to the vegetables and sauteed about 30 seconds, allowing the aromas to bloom. I added the spice mix and stirred to coat the vegetables.

I added about a tablespoon of butter to the pan, and when that melted added about 1/8 cup of flour, stirring them together for about a minute to make a roux, which would give this saucy dish a pleasing consistency. I next added about two cups of stock* slowly, a little at a time, first allowing the liquid to pick up the burnt sugars that had cooked out of the vegetables from the bottom of the pan, then to slowly incorporate the thickening action of the roux. It took me about two minutes to add all the liquid.

I added the potatoes, then, when it was finally cooked about ten minutes later, the cauliflower. I let the whole thing mingle together for about 10 minutes, eventually adding a little more stock and salt. It then went over leftover wild rice, finished with a spoonful of yogurt. Some chopped cilantro wouldn't have been out of place, nor some chopped chives, but I had neither.

*stock: I make this with whatever I have on hand. I free all my bones and vegetable scraps for this purpose. My stocks, as a result, are never the same. Stocks are frozen in old 1-quart yogurt containers. I suspect this batch of stock had some chicken and duck bones in it, the duck leftover from some earlier duck confit. So, technically, this batch of Aloo Gobi could not be deemed vegetarian.




Beans, simmered with pork (a fresh ham hock this time).

Duck confit.

Pork belly confit.

One of my favorite dishes, ever. So satisfying, so warming, so filling.

But it's a lot of work, so I only make it once a year.

And then I enjoy it with lots of friends.

Hmmmm.... what to drink

OK, it's snowing, I'm blowing off yoga because I came home and shovelled, walked the dogs and cooked a cauliflower and potato curry. No yoga + chores = cocktail.

But what to have? I usually favor the brown stuff in colder months, but honestly I'm craving something a little brighter. I have fresh lemons... a White Lady?

Better yet, a Sidecar: a White Lady made with brandy instead of gin. I can "winterize" it with the addition of a spiced cherry steeped in booze and twist the oil from an orange rind on top, similar to another winter favorite, an Old Fashioned.


Chill a cocktail glass

Over ice stir

2 parts brandy or cognac

1 part cointreau or triple sec

1 part fresh lemon juice

Strain into chilled glass. Plop in a good quality aged, steeped cherry, then twist the oil out of a piece of orange rind on top. Tastes like Christmas, but in a place bereft of snow.