Malcolm and the Duchess

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‘Special Cozy and Delicious Weekend Edition

So. Those of you who follow my blog (thank you!) know that I’ve been trying to restrain myself. Limit my posts to twice a week. But I’m breaking my self-imposed rule today.

See, the Duchess of Devonshire died. Not that I knew her or anything, but I do think of her around this time of year because that’s when I dust off the le Creuset and make her boeuf bourguignon. Which is absolutely the best BB ever. (Recipe included at the end of this post. So, if you’re bored, feel free to skip ahead.)

But if you’d like to find out what the heck the Duchess of D has to do with Malcolm Forbes, read on.

Malcolm Forbes wasn’t a Duchess (or even a Duke), but he was probably pretty close to what passes for Royalty on our side of the Pond. He was powerful, he knew a lot of famous people. Besides, he had tons of money, certainly more than Debo (as she was known to her friends and fam, but not to commoners like me — or even Malcolm, I bet).

Well, Malcolm was one of the Dude’s Dad’s patients. (The Dude would kill me for mentioning this, but A) everybody in this story has passed on to the vast waiting room in the sky, and B) His Dudeness never reads my blog anyway. So hah.) The Dude’s Dad was a reknowned urologist. So reknowned that Very Important People (mostly Very Important Men, of course) came to see him. Some of them (like Malcolm) became quite attached to the Dude’s Dad. He, in addition to being a great doctor, was also a very charming man.

The Dude’s Mom was equally charming. And very persuasive. When the Dude and I were planning our honeymoon, Wayne’s Mom picked up the phone: ‘Malcolm? Wayne and Alice are getting married. Can they please stay in one of your houses?’

See, another thing Malcolm had a lot of was houses. So, Wayne and I get married in the UN Chapel, get our picture taken next to a hot dog stand, carve up our Carvel wedding cake, then hop on a plane to Europe. Where, among other things, we stay at Malcolm Forbes’ castle in Morocco. Yup, the same castle where he had his famous birthday party a few years later. The party with Elizabeth Taylor (but not us; our visit was limited to that one time).

So how was it? Grand. But kind of lonely. We were, of course, the only ones there, except for oodles of servants. I remember there was this looooong table with just the Dude and me, waving at each other from opposite ends. We would sit by the pool and watch the tour buses pull in (Malcolm’s collection of toy soldiers was housed there, and it was open to the public.) It was fun to watch people snapping our pictures, thinking we MUST be Famous.

Okay, enough already with the honeymoon and the castle. Let’s talk about food. Debo, as you can read in this New York Times obit (one of the Times’ most-emailed articles, BTW) was the last of several Mitford Sisters, two of whom were famous writers (Jessica, Nancy), and two of whom were famous Nazis. (One of these sisters, Unity, shot herself when Hitler dumped her for Eva Braun.)

Instead, Deborah, according to the Times ‘became a connoisseur of fine poultry’. Which is another thing she had in common with Malcolm Forbes, who had a famous fondness for eggs, particularly Faberge. So, while her sisters were writing books and dabbling in fascism, Deborah was figuring out how to save her husband’s estate.

Bless her, she was able to transform Chatsworth (the name of the estate and the seat of the Duke of Devonshire) ‘from a museumlike relic into a self-sustaining family business’.

Well, good on you, Deborah. So glad you did. Because, in addition to dealing with livestock, gardening, and tending to your collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia, you wrote cookbooks. One of which contains this scrumptious recipe:

The Duchess of Devonshire’s Boeuf Bourguignon

Have fun making it. And eating it. (If you make a ton, like I do, it freezes well.)

Thank you for reading this ‘extra’ post. Enjoy your weekend, whatever you’re cooking. Speaking of cooking, there’s another tasty cool-weather recipe embedded in this post:

Yup, Summer’s officially over

Amagansett, New York. September 2014

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