Yesterday the middle Blandings boy claimed, "My stomach hurts." He's lean and fair with a face full of freckles so when he's sick you can usually see it in the shadows under his eyes. He seemed less bouncy than normal, but not a hint of that "look." "Are you sure? Are you really sick? I have a very busy day." Yes. He was sure. And dizzy.
Called the school, shifted some plans, settled in to a day at home. "Can I watch TV?" This is not the deal. When you stay home sick at the Dream House and your symptoms are questionable there's no electronics. Still, it's impossible to read if your stomach is upset. "I suppose."
On the agenda was red beans and rice for dinner. No reason to modify the plan as I was now going to be home all day to simmer and stir. My childhood was full of this kind of food. The kind of food honest but poor folks ate in Oklahoma during the Depression. (Mostly honest. There is some speculation that my grandfather was a bootlegger, but no one knows for sure.) But this recipe called for four pounds of meat. This was more Blandings' red beans and rice than my family's.
I'm pretty sure my grandmother's recipe called for a ham hock and nothing else. When I took Mr. Blandings to my dad and stepmother's for the first time my stepmother made my favorite dish. As Mr. Blandings stood in the kitchen with a portion of rice and a portion of beans on his plate he turned and whispered to me, "Where's the meat?" "Darling, that's dinner. Mix it up. Here's the Tabasco."
He blends well wherever he goes. When he learned cornbread was part of the deal he was completely on board. Anyway, the next thing I know I hear giggling from the sofa. Pink Panther. "You're not sick." "Oh. I thought I was. I didn't want to yack at school." "Sweetie, can you think of another way to say that?" "Barf?" Not what I was thinking.
I had to run out so Mr. Blandings came home for lunch. "The beans just need to simmer. I'll be right back." When I got home he said, "I added beef stock." "Why?" "It needed a little something." As a man who largely cooks without a recipe he mostly tastes and tweaks. "The andouille, cayenne and Tabasco go in last." "Oh. That should help." Sometimes he needs to keep his silver spoon to himself.
The images, above, are Harry Hinson's East Hampton cottage from Architectural Digest, March, 1978. It is the perfect "stew" I think. An excellent mix of classic chairs and case goods stirred up with updated fabrics and accessories that blend perfectly to create a soothing spot. A timeless interior dated only by the flowers. Jennifer Dwyer did a great post recently on "Spatter," the pattern used in the dining area. You can view it by clicking here.