Saturday, October 26, 2013

Holiday Treats: Blood Sausage!

Throughout Europe, Asia, and Central and South America blood sausages, also known as blood pudding or black pudding, are part of the everyday staple diet. But not so here in America.

Depending on the particular culture the ingredients begin with raw blood from farm animals or wild game and fowl, and will include such fillers as onions, rice, buckwheat, rye flour, barley, oatmeal, even potatoes to absorb the liquid - plus a wide range of spices. During the holidays special ingredients such as apples, nuts, raisins, and cream can be added to make it an extra-special treat. It can be served like a pudding in neat little rounds or squares, or squeezed into a sausage casing.

My rich employers like to try exotic fare and prefer costly artisan sausages of course - their favorite recipe being venison blood, wild rice, pinion nuts and French cognac within the sausage, and a wild-mushroom sauce on top.

For some reason however, blood sausage never really made it big in the United States. I'm not sure why that is, but I suspect it has something to do with the Puritans who introduced many elements that underlie the American culture. Perhaps they had an abhorrence to pagan blood sacrifices. Who knows?

Having said that, you can find it in many ethnic neighborhoods across America. Or you can get on Google and ask "where to buy blood sausage" in your city. Some of these specialty shops, if paid well enough, will make your recipe to order. Which is precisely what I resort to since I'm not about to make it myself.

It's not really hard to prepare, but it's time consuming and will cost you a fortune. It requires a full-service butcher shop (very rare in America) that offers up every part of the animal from brains and stomachs to tongue and blood - and you might pay a hundred bucks for a gallon of fresh blood. If you're adventurous and dedicated to your job as butler you might find a local slaughter house that would let you fill up a gallon of fresh blood yourself - which I'm not about to do. I'd rather find a new job in a house full of Puritans.

But if you're looking for something unique and exotic to serve for the holidays you might give a thought to blood puddings - served in neat little rounds or squares, or squeezed inside a sausage casing - and they can be bland, spicy, or sweet, depending on your event and palate. Indeed, if some of your family members or friends have any noticeable vampire tendencies, whether overt or latent, this might be just the thing.

Best wishes during your holiday preparations,


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Confusion in the Mansion!

It's happening again - the Mister is being nice to me and I have no earthly idea what's going on! We've been through this nonsense before, which normally lasts only two or three days, but this time it's been going on for almost two weeks.

As the butler here I'm accustomed to dealing with rich peoples' oddities and quirks, of course. But this bizarre behavior on his part will eventually drive me crazy.Without question, I'm highly suspicious. Something's definitely up. What does he want?

Sometimes when he's nice it's just to butter me up so I'll serve as a dependable character witness in whatever lawsuit is at hand. But normally that's just a couple of days before the court date, and then over and done with.

Maybe it's because he's suddenly carrying on two affairs at the same time, and simply wants me to accept it without questions and keep my mouth shut. Very possible.

More insidiously, however, I'm suspecting he's trying to make me feel uncomfortable so I'll quit my job voluntarily and not cost him any unemployment-insurance contributions. Very possible, indeed. The old goat really knows how to get under my skin.

We'll see. But this happy mood he seems to be encouraging is certainly no way to approach the dreaded holidays to come - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, in rapid order. Will let you know how this horrible mess develops. But if this keeps up, I've got to get out of here.

Thanks for stopping by tonight,


Friday, October 11, 2013

Luxury Mattresses for the Rich!

You know, a good night's sleep is one thing but what's going on in the titillating world of mattress manufacturing is really getting crazy. Apparently manufacturers have discovered their cash cows lie among the super rich - and they're pandering to them left and right. I totally understand the bragging rights for a new Ferrari or Patek Philippe watch - but a new mattress?

Did you know there's a British company called Savoir Beds that offers rest and comfort in the $10,000 to $20,000 range? And that's their low end. In fact, in commemoration of Regina's sixty years on the throne they're making sixty custom-made 'Royal Beds' for $175,000 each. To be fair, this price does include a canopy with drapes, in case you're wondering.

The reason this comes up, I had an email from a reader name Sonia who was shopping for a new mattress and inquired as to what brand my billionaire employers prefer. While I hate to disappoint, this house is full of reliable Sealy Posturepedics - I'm guessing in the two to three-thousand range.

Having admitted that, we do add expensive mattress toppers and the sheets on these relatively-inexpensive mattresses are from Pratesi in Italy, upwards of $5,000 a set.

Sonia also asked about how often a mattress should be switched out. I know the manufacturers are currently promoting eight years as the time to buy a new bed, but whether this is based on scientific evidence or just meant to promote sales, I haven't a clue. (I mean, doesn't it make a difference if the mattress is accommodating a young couple romping and sweating their way through the night, or an older couple who barely turn over once or twice during their sleep?)

All I know is that around here mattresses are seemingly switched out between each and every marriage. Which in  my opinion is entirely appropriate, don't you think?

Before closing, I might also mention you can get a decent comfortable mattress from Walmart for considerably less than $175,000. Trust me on that point. 

Thanks for dropping by,


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Practical Strategy for Christmas Shopping!

Good gosh, October's here and the holidays are closing in fast. Already on TV we're seeing the Energizer Bunny ads for all the gadgets and toys under the Christmas tree. The Pillsbury Doughboy is popping up on every channel. And all those silly sexy perfume commercials are well under way.

But if you plan everything carefully there's really no need for stress or panic - and I thought perhaps you'd like to know how we handle all the shopping madness in a billionaire's home. The simple key is to divide your gifts into rank and groups, then proceed accordingly. Here's the categories we follow around here:

People You Hate: This would be your neighbors, your co-workers and distant relatives who've heard about your success and money. Try to get these token gifts out of the way as soon as possible so you can get into the joyous mood of holiday shopping. I recommend Harry and David where you'll find gift baskets of cheese, candy or nuts - from cheap to expensive. You'll probably want to go cheap in this category since it's the thought that counts, right?

People You Need: This category includes your top employees, your corporate CEO, your business partners, your attorney (who has saved your butt more than once from frivolous lawsuits), maybe even your massage therapist who'll run over in a moment's notice. In addition to a bonus, again I'm going to recommend Harry and David, although this time you'll want to go high-dollar with expensive wines and cheese included in the gift basket.

People You Like: Of course, this will be a short list and can be dispensed with quite easily. There's a wonderful store called Hammacher Schlemmer in New York that has the most amazing and exciting gadgets and gifts you can find anywhere, from low dollar to high. You can shop online, and they'll send the gifts for you.

People You Love: This list might include your mother, a new girlfriend, your children, perhaps even your wife. Whatever the case, get ready to spend some big bucks in this category. Neiman's, Bergdorf, Tiffany and Cartier come to mind. And you might want to make this effort on your own, instead of sending out your house staff or personal shopper.

So you see, all said and done, this need not be a stressful time of year. Just get organized - divide and conquer as it were, and get started.

Thanks for dropping by, and happy shopping!