Posts tagged ‘Cooking’

Eugenie Clark

   Eugenie Clark

It’s hard to list the Ipsy’s guests in any sensible order, perhaps because they were not an orderly bunch. It does make sense for me to divide the guests into two classes. To begin with, there was the New York science-fiction crowd, all of whom I had known for some time.

In that group were most of the science-fiction people I have already written more or less extensively about in these pages. Among the ones most frequently present were Lester and Evelyn del Rey, Bob and Essie Bolster, George and Dona Smith, Cyril Kornbluth (first as a house guest of mine, then as a nearby resident on his own). Assorted other house guests of mine included Fritz Leiber from Chicago and Jack and Blanche Williamson from New Mexico.

Ted Sturgeon was definitely a regular in an unusual sense. For a couple of months one summer he never went home at all, since at the time, his finances being anemic, he didn’t have a home to go to.

The Pratts had no objection to Ted’s staying in the house when everyone else was gone. However, they didn’t offer to feed him. That was not a problem for Ted, who enjoyed a good dish of eel. He enjoyed it so much, in fact, that by the time he finally moved out of the Ipsy-Wipsy Institute, he had fished out the entire family of eels who lived by the boat dock. They never returned.

Any number of other New York-area sf people visited the Ipsy. Isaac Asimov, for instance, was there I think only once, but it was a significant visit, since Fletcher and Inga had plans for Isaac. They spent a lot of that weekend telling him what a wonderful place the Bread Loaf Writers’ Colony was for anyone with the desire, and the ability, to be a serious writer … and, I’m pretty sure, spent an equivalent period of time with the Breadloaf people telling them what a wonderful prospect Isaac was. The effort paid off. Isaac did give Bread Loaf a try; he loved the place, the Breadloaf people loved him and he became a Bread Loaf stalwart.

The other fraction of frequent guests at the Ipsy basically comprised the non-sf friends of the Pratts, many of them with ties to The Saturday Review of Literature. Some of those were actual celebrities of one kind or another, as for example Eugenie Clark, known worldwide as the “Lady with a Spear,” after her bestselling book with that name. Eugenie, as a child, had been fascinated by the works of William BeebeHalf Mile Down, the story of his adventures hanging at the end of almost 3,000 feet of steel cable in his “bathysphere,” a steel sphere about the size of a pup tent, or Beneath Tropic Seas, about his less spine-chilling but even more beautiful experiences walking through warm-water corals with only a mask for breathing.

I could understand her fascination. I had been turned on by the same books at about the same age. The difference between Eugenie Clark and me, though, was that she then grew up to become an actual ichthyologist, and I only to become a writer.

Continue reading ‘Fletcher Pratt, Part 4: The Friends of Fletcher’ »


I really love lobster bisque but only have it rarely because heavy cream is a no-no for me and the bisque is nothing without it. Now I think I may not have it at all ever again, because I just found out how they make it.

First you cook your lobster (which is to say, you boil it alive). If that hasn’t already managed to spoil your appetite, you then pick out all the lobster meat and set it aside, then you crack up the shells and boil them some more to get the extra flavor for your stock.

What’s left on the table is a mass of what look like lobster intestines still filled with what intestines are usually filled with. Don’t make the mistake of throwing any of that away, the recipe says. Just add it to the stock. It contains a very intense flavor.

Oh, I bet it does, but, you know, I’m not as hungry as I thought I was. I’ll just have the small green salad.

When I was ten years old, my mother used to have me skate down to the butchers’ on Flatbush Avenue and, for 39 cents, get half a pound of ground round steak and “watch him grind it.”

Then time passed. We got all the advantages of modern technology as they came along. By now, the butchers’ was in the local supermarket and the “ground round” was in pre-measured and plastic-wrapped packages, the healthiest-looking, reddest already ground meat you ever saw, and apart from the odd case of staph or Escherichia coli now and then, everything was just as modern and as sanitary as it could be, and of course it wasn’t 39 cents any more, either.

The other thing we knew, in a vague, generalized sort of way, was that it really wasn’t exactly round steak any more, either. That supermarket stuff is prepared in vast quantities in ground meat factories. Not all of it begins as any kind of steak; it is lips, or tripe, or stomachs, or hearts, or it is little bits and pieces of meat left over from preparing steaks and chops, and these little pieces are “bonded” together (we don’t say “glued”) with things called “meat emulsions” and “extracted myofibril proteins” to make bigger pieces which can be sliced and diced like what we know as “roasts.”

All of this, of course, sounds unpleasant, but when you buy a half-pound package of it, it fries up like any other hamburger and tastes just about the same.


What you don’t know is how much of this beef (or this pork) is produced in the so-called concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, with the addition of antibiotics as a regular part of their diet. This you really don’t want. It’s bad for your health. More significant (to me, anyway) is that it’s also bad for mine, because if you eat that sort of thing you help to evolve antibiotic-resistant microorganisms and other nuisances which wind up in other people’s bodies, including mine.

Bearing all this in mind, we decided we really wanted to know what we were eating, and so we elected to grind our own meat. We first bought the good old-fashioned kind of grinder that you attach to something really solid and power with the muscles of your strong right arm. However, that was harder work than we effete moderns were used to, so we gave that one away and invested in an electric model. That does the job quickly and comfortably and we expect to stay with it.

Another advantage to grinding our own chopped steak is that it allows us to control just how much fat we want to grind in with the lean meat. You want a decent amount of fat (“The fat’s where the flavor is,” remember), and the best way to get the proportions right is trial and error. The true gourmets among us actually might want different proportions for different dishes, but if you are one such, for that you are on your own.

So grind in good health, dear friends, and next time you’re making meatloaf, you can invite us over.

The recipe for Fred’s Cream of Potato, Carrot, Onion and Hot Dog Soup was such a hit — well, with two of you, anyway — that I am going to give you the secret of another of my closely guarded dishes, this one for my version of Ham and Cabbage Soup. For this you will need:

1 small cabbage, cut into pieces
1 smoked pork butt, or something like it, peeled if necessary and also cut up
3 medium potatoes, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 largish onion, peeled
Pepper to taste

(In a pinc`h you can use Spam in place of unprefabricated pork. Just don’t tell your guests you’ve done it.)

How long you cook the ingredients depends on how tender you like your cabbage to be. My wife likes it crunchy. I like it boiled into submission. So for me, I boil it with the meat for 15 minutes before I add the other ingredients, then cook until the carrots are tender. Taste before serving and add pepper. No salt unless some salophile diner demands it; there’s plenty in the pork butt.

Serves 4 with leftovers.

Robert P. Mills
Robert P. Mills

I have rarely been jealous of another editor — too much ego in the cosmos for that, probably — but there was a time at the Worldcon in Seattle in 1961 when I was thoroughly jealous of Robert P. Mills. He was in order for yet another Hugo — in all, he garnered three of them — and he had been telling me for two or three days how little he cared about his magazine and how little attention he paid to it.

He didn’t even read the stories that were submitted to it. True, he had some very good people reading for him, Cyril Kornbluth having been one of them, but he couldn’t remember a time when he had read every story.

“It’s funny,” he said, “but it seems the less I do on the magazine, the better the readers like it.”

It was impossible to dislike Bob; he was amiable and amusing and his wife made the best paella I’ve ever had. But I did wish for a time there that I knew his secret.

Remembering Robert P. Mills by Leah A. Zeldes


One each: potato, onion, and carrot, peeled

One kosher frank (kashruth required not for theological reasons, but because it won’t taste as good if it isn’t)

Cut up and boil in lightly salted water to cover until carrot is tender. Add one cup milk. Blend at high setting. Serve.