Crooked Cleopatra…

…and “Gandalf’s Cold Chicken and Pickles”

I just finished reading Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra. It was okay; I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads, then put it in my book bag as a donation to wherever, since I don’t plan to read it again. My takeaway was this:

1. Politicians were incredibly corrupt.

2. The 1% ruled the world and didn’t give a shit about the remaining 99%.

3. A truly powerful woman will certainly not be a saint, but she will undoubtedly engender all sorts of opposing, distorted, and often blatantly mendacious stories about her conduct. These will generally be written by men who are threatened by her very existence. Cleopatra had a virtual squadron of conservative male writers who gleefully set about writing whatever they could to bring her “reputation” down.

Hmm. This sounds familiar.

Nihil sub sole novum.

From “The Hobbit”—Bilbo’s Pantry

I guess (mostly) all of us have a sweet spot for Gandalf in our hearts. He’s wry and witty; magical and majestic—the archetypal wise old man. If you had to hang out with such a person in real life, however, he might be kind of annoying. He’s certainly annoying to Bilbo, who later has to console himself with some biscuits (check out my next post). Gandalf rather condescendingly asks Bilbo to “Put on a few eggs (future post!), there’s a good fellow!” then requests “cold chicken and pickles.” Next thing you know, he’ll be patting Bilbo on the head. Insufferable, don’t you think?

You can use chicken (or leftover Thanksgiving turkey) from your own roast or use prepared grilled chicken strips. As you can see below, this is a low-carb recipe, unless you make a sandwich out of it all.

“Gandalf’s Cold Chicken and Pickles

  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ cup English (seedless) cucumber, peeled or not; sliced thinly
  • ½ cup radishes, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup celery, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
  • ¼ cup red onion, cut into ¼” slivers
  • ½ pound cold cooked chicken
  • ¼ cup light sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

In a 1½ quart saucepan, combine the first 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil and stir just to dissolve the sugar. Turn off heat and add the 5 vegetables. Cool ½ hour. Put in a covered 3-cup container and refrigerate for 1 hour; stir a couple of times. Drain to serve.

Shred, slice, or dice the chicken. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings, if desired. Dollop sour cream sauce on chicken or combine as a salad. You may serve this plain with the pickles on the side or as a sandwich with the pickles as a relish. Cover and refrigerate leftovers separately. Vegetables look best the first day; the color fades afterwards. Both keep about 3 days. Serves 2-4.

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