What’s Going on in Gail’s Life? Scarves, Glazes & Lamb Stew

What’s going on right now, Gentle Reader?

Look to your left, see in the left column of the blog? That’s a poll! Please take it. Thanks. (Not mobile friendly.)

Otherwise, here’s some insight into my brain and other organs…

Occupying My Ears: No Such Thing As A Fish Podcast. I love QI and I love this companion podcast, they are informative, funny, and quite British.

Occupying My Neck: This scarf: 32” Square Silk Multicolour Petal Rose. I’m pretty much living in it these days. Something about the color pallet just seems to go with everything I choose to wear right now.

Occupying My Nose: Giovanni Sugar Scrub, Hot Chocolate An old favorite of mine that always seems relevant in winter, partly because of dry skin, partly because of the delicious smell. I recommend this as a gift, it came into my life that way. I’ve sensitive skin and I worried I might have a reaction, but it’s always delivered smooth chocolaty goodness.

Occupying My Eyes: 5 TV Characters of the Year I haven’t watched any of these, not for lack of interest but for lack of time. Hoping I can carve out a bit of spare time over the holidays.

Currently Coveting Gadget: The Wurf Board. I can’t stop wanting this right now. I don’t know if it would help with all my hip and other writing-related issues, but I’d sure like to try it and see.

Occupying My Touch: Aloe Vera Gel I’m really into this stuff right now in my quest to minimize surgery scars. This one is organic and a little runny and it absorbs really fast.

Occupying My Pantry: TJ’s Balsamic Reduction Glaze (find at your local Trader Joe’s in the vinegar section) I usually make my own, but then I’m down a bottle of balsamic vinegar and the apartment smells like pickling for days. This is a lot easier and just as tasty. I use it in or on everything. To add depth to gravy or soup, on its own as a salad dressing, to drizzle over the goat cheese on a platter (here’s a crostini recipe). If you are on any kind of salt restriction diet this baby is a lifesaver.

Currently Coveting Clothing: Tie-neck Cotton Knit Dress from Eshakti


Come in Tomato & Crimson Red, Kelly Green, Purple, & Navy

Occupying My Mouth: By FB request, here’s a lamb stew recipe I made recently that caused me to be a mite tipsy on twitter (I drank the wine that did not go into the stew). It’s based off a recipe for rabbit stew from a Victorian cookbook that I unearthed somewhere (can remember were, bad scientist, not citing source). I am not the kind of cook who is precise, more slap dash, which suits Victorian recipes. I’ve tried to be careful about the recipe below, but it’s not always possible. You can certainly fiddle with the portions, adding more meat, more veg, omitting a veg, whatever. So if you are a baker who likes things JUST SO the following may not work for you…

Gail’s Victorian Stew

2lb of lamb/rabbit/pork/chicken thighs cubed into bite size pieces 1-1.5″, dried with paper towels
1 cup flour (gluten free is fine)
2 med onions chopped (can use pearl onions)
1 cup chopped celery
4 cups chopped carrots, parsnips, potatoes, or other firm root vegetables (I’ve also successfully used squash)
8 oz chopped mushrooms
2 cups chicken (or whatever you have to hand) stock
2 cups water
2 cups dry red wine (I like Chianti)
1/2 stick butter (4 tbsp) sometimes more
1 bay leaf (optional herbs: rosemary for lamb/rabbit, sage for pork, thyme for chicken)
salt & black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In large oven safe soup pot: Saute mushrooms in oil, remove, put aside.
  3. Saute onion & celery in butter, remove.
  4. Dredge dry meat pieces with flour. Brown in butter on all sides over med heat in batches, adding butter as needed, put aside. Do not overcrowd the pan. Do not skimp on butter. This is key, and time consuming, but it really helps the meat stay tender. Remove.
  5. Place more butter in pan plus remaining flour to create a rue. Do not burn, but do cook flour as you would for gravy.
  6. Add meat, onion & celery, seasoning, back in. Stir a bit.
  7. Add in bay leaf (dried herbs if using) and all liquids (gradually in batches).
  8. Cover and put in oven for 1.5 – 2 hours.
  9. Remove from oven, if broth is not thick enough can add in 1-3 tbsp starch (mixed with cold water into a paste, of course)
  10. Add in root veg and mushrooms (and fresh herbs if using).
  11. Return to oven and cook an additional hour.

Prep time: 1 hr. Cooking time: 3 hr.

It is time consuming and best made well ahead of time if you are hosting a dinner party. Cooking times are dependent on the size of your chunks of veg and meat, the bigger the chunks the longer it will take. Obviously, this recipe could be adapted to a slow cooker (switch to the crock pot after step 6). Can be kept warm on stove top for a party or made a day ahead of time. It freezes well.

It easily feeds 6, with large portions and a nice rosemary roll on the side.

Leftover stew also converts well to become shepherd’s pie or vindaloo if you did not use herbs. Summer variation can be made with white wine instead of red, chickpeas & kale instead of root veg.

Low Sodium Option: Omit added salt, use unsalted butter, and use home-made salt free stock. (Low sodium store-bought stock usually isn’t very.) Add a generous tablespoon or two of reduced balsamic vinegar, AKA balsamic glaze, along with the liquids.

{Gail’s monthly read along for December is Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix, skinflint alternative is Ridiculous by D.L. Carter.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Magasin des Demoiselles Date-  Sunday, June 1, 1845

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Handmade Parasol

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
What The Octopus Can Teach Us

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
“Writing, I explained, was mainly an attempt to out-argue one’s past; to present events in such a light that battles lost in life were either won on paper or held to a draw.”
~ Jules Feifer


  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Out now!
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Starting edits soon. Available for pre-order in the US.

Gail Carriger’s Books! 

 The Finishing School Series (1850s ~ completed)
1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies,
3 Waistcoats & Weaponry, 4 Manners & Mutiny


The Parasol Protectorate Series (1870s ~ completed)
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence

Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels (1870s)
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:
Lesa’s Book Critique’s says: “Manners & Mutiny is a brilliant ending to this series. It’s a series that featured wit, courageous young women, fascinating supernaturals, stories of class systems overcome by love and strength, and fascinating plots. Bravo, Gail Carriger.”

Quote of the Day:
‘What does he think of it all?’
‘He’s absolutely rattled.’
‘Ripping! I’ll be toddling up, then. Toodle-oo, Bertie, old man. See you later.’
‘Pip-pip, Bicky, dear boy.’
~ Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. JamiSings said:

    Can't take the poll, I never read any of those books. I read your's, The Dog Master & The Dogs Of Christmas by W. Bruce Camera, Psycho, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, The Last Werewolf, several Agatha Raisin and a Hammish MacBeth book (M.C. Beaton), all three of the Howl's books (as in Howl's Moving Castle), right now finishing up The Boys From Brazil – and several others I now can't remember the title of because they weren't good enough to remember.

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