Christine’s Cassoulet

Christine’s Cassoulet


I was discussing, on Facebook this past week, the fact that I couldn’t find my favorite cassoulet recipe. My husband, bless him, dug through my many cookbooks and a three-inch, 3-ring binder of recipes, and found it for me. As several people wanted a copy of the recipe, I decided to put it here. Enjoy!

Christine’s Cassoulet – Made on November 4, 2017

This recipe is an amalgamation of what I remember from the Food & Wine version, and from a version that I found on the Internet in September 2004, on a website that no longer exists (yes, we checked). My husband found the printed version after I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t find my original F&W recipe. However, I love this one, as it sticks close to the F&W recipe. I’ve made several changes, as noted.

Time: 30-45 minutes preparation time. At least 8 hours in a crock pot on low.

Servings: At least 8, possibly 10. It’s a terrific wintertime meal with good friends. Just pair with a crusty French bread and a good red wine, and you’ll have a meal that will make memories.


½ pound small white navy beans (can substitute 2 cans white beans if you forget to buy the navy beans…which I have).

4+ cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, plus 2+ cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, cut into chunks or rounds, as you prefer

2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes, with their juices, or canned diced tomatoes

3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

2 – 3 bay leaves

¼ pound salt pork in 1 piece

Note: If you can’t find salt pork, use ¼ pound whole slab bacon. If you can’t find that, use 5 or 6 bacon slices. 

4 sausages I’ve used sweet Italian, or chicken apple sausages – you can also use spicy Italian if that’s your style

1 pound boneless pork – shoulder, boneless rib meat, pork chops (whatever you can find)

1 turkey leg (or 2 duck legs, if you can find them, or 4 chicken legs)

½ pound any type of good beef steak (or stew meat)

Note: The second or third time I made this, I forgot what type of meat I needed to put into the cassoulet, and bought a steak. After I got home I realized it didn’t call for steak – but I used it anyway, and I find it gives the whole dish an added boost of flavor.

Chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or water, or a mixture, as needed…probably 4 – 6 cups

Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Step One:

Chop all veggies.

Step Two:

Brown all meats (including the salt pork) in a large skillet and transfer them to the crock pot.







Step Three:

Add crushed garlic, chopped onions, and chopped carrots into the crock pot. Add beans, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves.


Step Four:

Add stock mixture to cover by 2 inches, IF possible, as your large crock pot will be full. Cover, and cook on low for 8 hours (high for 5 hours). Don’t feel like you have to be home the entire time – go out! Have fun! Enjoy! When you get home, your kitchen will smell like heaven, I promise you!



<– I like adding 1/2 chicken bone broth, and 1/2 beef bone broth.




Note: Most cassoulet recipes that I’ve found have you leave all the meats whole when serving. When I first made this recipe in the late 1990s, I had two boys who were under the age of 10. Leaving anything whole, in a hot broth, was not practical. Therefore…

Step Five:

After 8 hours, when the meat is falling off the bone of the turkey leg, pull all the meats out of the crockpot and let cool enough to touch, while setting the crockpot to “Warm.” Once the meat is cool, shred the meat, extracting any fat and bones, and put all the meat back into the crockpot. Feel free to give the extra fats and skins to the dog. He’ll thank you for it.


Taste the broth – it should be rich and meaty, and need little extra seasoning. However, add the reserved minced garlic, and S&P to taste if needed (this one didn’t). Keep on warm until you’re ready to eat.

Note: The French typically put a breadcrumb crust on this. I never have, and I’ve never missed it. But if you wish, by all means, please do!

Note: This recipe can also be made in a Dutch oven; do everything in one pot, including sautéing the onions and carrots and garlic in the fat left behind by browning the meats. Cover with stock by 2 inches; cook on low for at least 5 hours. Check to see if the meat is falling off the bone before you take it off the heat.

Bon apetit!


Alone in the Publishing Wilderness

Alone in the Publishing Wilderness

All the advice for writers on the Interwebs has been making my head spin the past year or so, and lately that advice is really getting on my nerves. Advice such as the following:

Blog 3 times a week or more.  The more you blog, the more people will come to your website.  Twitter twice daily, for at least fifteen minutes each time, but be a real person. Facebook is the way to make friends and informally chat. Become a book bloggers’ best buddy, and they’ll be happy to push your book for you.  And don’t forget to comment on every blog you can, every day. Give, give, give your time and energy to your fellow bloggers/authors and they’ll give back. Push your brand!

Self publish, but do it the right way. You don’t want to be a publisher, you just want to write? Grow up, be a big girl, pull up your panties and get over it. With the internet revolution regarding the written word, writers have to do it all now in order to be successful.

Some more tidbits of the revolutionary “truth”: Don’t bother with New York Publishing anymore, they’re the Titanic and they don’t see the iceberg in front of them. Agents? Who needs agents? Please, agents are so Twentieth Century.

All that advice gives me a headache.  Plus it makes me feel very alone. I long for the years when it was simpler; when a writer’s job was to write a damn good book, then get an agent, and the agent found you a publisher, and you were half way to a career. Note that I said simpler, not easier.

Is it wrong for me to still want a contract with a big New York publisher? Is it wrong for me to want an agent, someone who will help me, guide me in this new and confusing world? Is it wrong for me to want to work with those professionals who have so much to offer? That’s the message I’m getting from bloggers that I like, trust, and care about, that what I want is wrong – and that makes my stomach hurt.

I’m not denying there’s a revolution. I just want to have tea with the Queen, just once, before her crown is crushed underfoot by the internet.

I feel there is no way I can measure up to the “new” way of publishing and the social media expectations. Thinking about all the things I “should” be doing (other than writing) is draining, especially since I have a full time job and a family (and no assistant, no trust fund, no financial safety net, and most importantly, no backlist).  Doing all the social media stuff has become a chore, where it used to be fun. (I miss my 1k1hr buddies on Twitter!)

 Even writing became a bit of a grind for awhile. In a fit of desperation, I talked to

“…a fierce, take-charge Aluna is the kind of heroine who is easy to get behind.” Publisher’s Weekly

Jenn Reese, a lovely writer who was one of the very first to encourage me, all those years ago. I had a story that I liked that I was working on, but the plot seemed to be missing (maybe because I was trying to squeeze writing in between bouts of Facebook and Twitter).

She asked me why I was drawn to write in that world. And she gave me a homework assignment, to write a list of everything about that world that I was passionate about, that I wanted to write about.

The list flowed. Writing became exciting again. After Tai Chi on Saturday, and over yummy sandwiches at Bun Me, she pressed the point home to me. Write what you’re passionate about, she said. Don’t write to the market. Don’t force a genre on the book. If you know the book’s ending, you’re half way to a solid plot (so many books don’t follow through on their opening). Most of all, keep going!

In thinking about her advice, I realized it could also be applied to social media for the writer. So here’s my personal Writer’s Manifesto, that I’m sure will get tweaked as I go along:

Be passionate about your work, and that includes social media. Don’t do what you’re not comfortable with. If you get in too deep, excuse yourself and get back out (this includes participating in group blogs, volunteering for your writer’s group, or anything else that doesn’t focus you on your own writing).

Follow your dreams, whether that is a contract with a New York publisher, getting an agent, or self-publishing a book every other month.  Make sure those ARE your dreams though, and not dreams thrust upon you by well-meaning bloggers that you  know, like, and trust. (Because their dreams ARE NOT your dreams, though they may look similar.)  Above all? Focus on writing that you are passionate about, and then send it out into the world.

I realize I’m probably in the minority, wishing the publishing world wasn’t changing so rapidly. Like so many other big businesses, it’s an effed-up industry and has been for a long time; but it was effed up in a way I understood. This new world is one I don’t fully trust, and while I’ve learned a lot in the past 18 months, I am still going to reach for my personal brass ring.

I don’t want to be my own publisher; I want a knowledgable partner to help me through the publishing business. If that makes me seem like an ostrich with my head in the sand, so be it.

thanks to Peter Hall “Ostrich Dance”

 But I’d much rather believe I’m an ostrich, dancing.

Three Wildly Different Reds…

Three Wildly Different Reds…

These are not my normal wine-tasting wines. The first is from a wine tasting at my office – no, I’m not kidding. That’s one of the perks of working with a small, intelligent batch of scientifically-inclined gentlemen. Every now and then, on a Friday, the boss will bring some wildly expensive (to me) wine for us to taste.

The second wine was send to me by the winery – its a new wine, and try as I might to find it in my neighborhood, I haven’t been able to. So there’s that.  And the third wine – well, it’s label tells the story, so I’ll wait on that. None of these were below $10; but it’s been an interesting couple of weeks, tasting-wise.

Summerland Winery 2007 Pinot Noir Monterey  County Alcohol 14.1% by volume. Found online for $40 a bottle. (Remember folks, I didn’t pay a dime for this one.)

On the Label: “Summerland Winery finds its inspiration in the relaxed, friendly lifestyle enjoyed throughout California’s serene coastal towns. We offer a line of stylish wines that reflect the best of the Central Coast’s diverse growing regions. This well-balanced Pinot Noir exhibits an array of aromas and flavors, showcasing black cherry and clove, with a distinctively smooth texture enhanced by aging in small French oak barrels.”

My Take: I was expecting fireworks from this. Or at least, a yummy, juicy late-afternoon tipple. I got neither, unfortunately. This wine was thin in taste, and it had a sharp, almost astringent aftertaste. Not juicy in the slightest. Could it be too old? Perhaps. Did I enjoy a few ounces of this wine? Of course. Did it pass the Smoking Loon test? Um. No…I prefer to drink my $6.99 bottle of Smoking Loon Pinot Noir than to shell out $40 for this vintage. Maybe a later vintage is better. I do not know. And for the record, the gentleman who brought this for the tasting couldn’t remember how he came about it. So there you go.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ but hugely overpriced.

Concannon Conservancy Crimson & Clover, 2010 Livermore Valley Red Table Wine Alcohol, 13.7% by volume. Price: $18, but hey – I got it for free from the winery to review. Full disclosure! Releases Spring, 2012

On the Label: “My dad, James Concannon, began his winemaking career over 50 years ago. Following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, he remains one of California’s most innovative and inspiring winemakers. This velvety wine is a living tribute to my father, who was the first to bottle Petite Sirah which continues to thrive in the gravelly soil of the Livermore Valley.

A vibrant red blend of signature Livermore Valley varietals, Crimson & Clover honors my dad’s enduring spirit that runs deep in the Irish roots of our family. This lush wine has deep flavors of blackberries and rich chocolate balanced by a long, silky finish. Pair with black pepper crusted filet mignon or grilled artichoke with tarragon aioli.”

My Take: Okay. At first, I thought it was a scam – so when the delightful young lady approached me via Facebook and asked me if I’d like a free bottle of wine to taste and review, I said but of course! and I told her I couldn’t guarantee a positive review – not really expecting her to send it to me. But she did. (Um – and not wild about the name, but sentiment rules in families, so I’ll not really quibble.)

Okay, all that said – this is a 2010. There’s a lot of Petite Sirah in this wine; after checking the marketing materials they sent me, it’s 50% Petite Sirah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah and 10% Zinfandel.  Which actually got me to thinking…okay, okay. About the wine.

At first taste, it’s a bit brash. Young. It needed considerable airing before it mellowed out enough even for me; I like to be able to drink it straight from the bottle without too much fuss. However, I will say before the bottle was done, I wished I had another bottle to hold for six or seven months. I even looked in the grocery stores, not realizing until right now that it’s not released yet. (Okay – how cool is THAT?!!) Upshot? I enjoyed the wine. The next day, hubby and I were still talking about it – so that means something, right?

My Take: ~Very Drinkable~ With the possibility, after a bit of age on it, of it moving to the top tier ranking of a Slut Wine. I am looking forward to having this wine again.

The Winemakers Winner’s Wine 2007 California Red Wine Crushpad, Napa, CA  Alcohol 14.5% by volume $12.99 at BevMo!

On the Label: “Wine. Man, I love the stuff. I love pairing it with food. I love enjoying it with friends. I love talking about it. What about making wine? Well there’s an idea. Winemaker. I can’t think of a better job. But winemaking is tough enough when you’re born in wine country with loads of money. For an outsider like me, it seemed like a distant dream. Then The Winemakers comes along. Here’s a chance to see if I’ve got what it takes! If I can outdo11 other wine lovers and prove my place is in the winery, my dream becomes reality. The challenges and the challengers were fierce. Now you hold the prize in your hands. I hope you enjoy drinking it as much as I did making it.”

My Take: This is a reality series I’ve never heard of. When I googled it, it came up as a web-based series…? At any rate, I couldn’t get the damned label off, didn’t watch the thing to begin with, and only bought the bottle because it was the only one in the BevMo like it and I considered it a novelty. To my utter surprise, I enjoyed the wine. Until this morning, and the rest of the day, when I had the headache from hell and yes, I’m blaming the wine for it. Deal.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ This was a red blend that had enough age behind it so that the flavors all jelled, mellowed out, and became more than the sum of its parts. I did enjoy this wine very much – I just hated the headache that came with it. I also don’t like the fact I can’t buy more of it. Nor will I ever know (unless someone out there in Blog Comment Land tells me) which person won, and whose wine I drank (and can blame for said headache, lol).

So, there you have it – three wines you can’t run out and grab at your local grocery store today. But keep your eye out for the Concannon – pick up a bottle maybe if its on sale below $10, and then stash it somewhere for a few months. You might be surprised!

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Have you read it yet?

My Rating system: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable and the ever-popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!

I’m Not In England

Hey folks, don’t worry, I’m not stranded in England (who in their right mind goes there in the summertime?). I’m here in the States with family – no emergency, no funds needed, but not very near internet connectivity, either. I’ve been hacked to the extent that I can’t access Facebook AT ALL, nor do I have ANY email contact list at all, and no messages after August 2nd.

I apologize, and hope whole-heartedly that the folks that hacked me will have Karma biting their butt very soon.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to straighten out Facebook and Yahoo, but so it goes. When I get everything right again, I’ll post here and on Twitter.

Peace out, people, and thanks for your concern! I’d email you individually but – you’re no longer in my email address. SO sorry!

And how’s your Wednesday morning going?