Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Importance of February 25th

Flyboy Tucker climbing out of his beloved F-86
after his 100th mission over Korea in 1951
February 25th was never an important date for me, until I met  Arch Tucker. No, it wasn’t the day we were married, nor was it his birthday. It was far more spectacular than that as far as Arch was concerned! Arch woke up every February 25 with a smile on his face, from 1950 to 2006.
Typical of an old military guy, every time Arch told the story that I am about to share with you, he smiled bigger, laughed louder, and, shall we say, elaborated more. I am not saying the story was not the truth, because it was, totally. It was just that each time he told the story, the better he liked telling it. There were, shall we say, a few more "flourishes" with each telling of the tale.
Arch arranged to graduate early from Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas in 1943. Lots of young men were doing it….they were anxious to get into WWII before it ended. Arch picked up his diploma and marched straight to the recruiting office. On  January 19, 1944, Arch Tucker was a flight cadet in the Army Air Corps. He always knew he was going to fly.
The war ended before he barely got off the ground,  but fly he did!
Shortly after the war ended, the United States Air Force was established. Arch left Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas on the next train. I won’t go into all of the next few months following his induction, so we will move right on to February, 1949. Arch was about to graduated from flight school at Williams Air Force Base in Chandler, Arizona.  Always being the best pilot he could be, Arch was chosen as one of the top 6 cadets in his class to do the flyby during the ceremony. This was before he had his “wings”, graduation wasn’t over yet.
The six pilots climbed into their F80-As and took off. There they were, Moms, Dads, Wives and Sweethearts, all sitting in the stands, thrilled at the sound of the formation approaching. From the right, there they were. 6 of the very best from the Class of 49A.
The way Arch spent his graduation day
That is when it happened, things turned nasty. One of the pilots nosedived into the ground, right in front of everyone. You guessed it…..

Cadet Arch Tucker did a whoops! 
He had an airspeed problem and was too proud to admit it. They say he was conscious when they rushed to the plane; according to witnesses, he was swearing like a madman!  It took a long time to remove him from the wreckage. He was thrown through the instrument panel and into the motor. Arch didn’t remain conscious very long, so his tale of the rescue was lacking details. It was probably a good thing. Arch’s back was broken in 5 places, along with multiple other bones. He was taken to the military hospital in a coma and it was thought he would not live through the night. 
Late that night, after all of the other cadets had graduated and were headed for their first assignments, Robert L. Scott, World War II flying ace (and future author of “God is My Co-Pilot”) quietly slipped into Arch’s hospital room, and placed Arch’s new “Wings” on his broken body. Scott and all of the command officers assumed Arch would never survive the night, much less wake up to see his wings, to know that he was indeed, at long last, a PILOT!
Arch always said if they had known he was going to survive, they certainly would not have given him those wings. After all, Arch had just destroyed a multi-million dollar aircraft! Arch spent the next year and a half recovering. Luckily, the spinal column was not severed. The injury was to the bones, which he was determined to heal.  He laid in a body cast for months, most of it under the influence of heavy morphine. In early 1950, he was fitted for a back brace that made him walk  like Frankenstein, but at least he was mobile, sort of. Shortly after the size of the brace was reduced to manageable, Arch was given the duty of accompanying soldier’s bodies back from Europe. They were still finding casualties from World War II.
At last, late in 1950, Arch was released for flying! Can you imagine the queasy stomach his commanding officer had when he released another jet to Arch! But Arch had no fear, he knew he belonged in the cockpit.
So, you see, February 25th was a day of celebration. Arch became known as the first jet pilot to survive a crash of a jet aircraft. He was a fighter pilot in the United Stares Air Force for 33 years. He flew in combat missions over Korea and Vietnam. He lived around the world, but no matter where he was, he celebrated on February 25th!

Arch had been retired from the Air Force almost 20 years when I met him. He loved to attend reunions with the Class of 49A. There was always at least one old buddy who would be absolutely flabbergasted to discover Arch had not died that graduation day in 1949.
So, how did we celebrate? It usually involved martinis, and meat and potatoes.
Arch was the epitome of a carnivore. His abilities in the kitchen were amazing. I could cook for 100 people, no problem. But, God forbid I should have to cook for one! Arch on the other hand was a genius at cooking for just one. He had almost as many cookbooks as I did when we got married. Mine were more beautiful, elegant foods. Arch’s were of two categories….meat and foreign meat!
As he traveled around the world, he fell in love with the foods of Europe and Asia. He collected and developed recipes as he went along. What I am about to share with you is one of Arch’s recipes, developed, corrected, adjusted, etc., through the years. It is truly amazing. I know when you read it you will see the list of ingredients and think “no way”, but when you read the directions and discover it takes up to 3 weeks, you will probably say “not only no, but Hell No!” But don’t forget this recipe. Someday you are going to need to a spectacular meal for a very special occasion. Trust me, this is the one!
Arch has been gone 5 years now, I think it is time for me to share his Wild Boar with the world!

Colonel Arch Tucker’s Mock Wild Boar
1 whole fresh ham, approximately 20 pounds
     (a fresh ham is the back leg of the pig, the same cut as  used for a cured ham, only this is fresh, not cured)
2 tablespoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Accent® seasoning mix
1 teaspoon allspice
1 large bay leaf, crumbled
1 teaspoon crushed caraway seeds
3 cloves garlic, mashed
4 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 large onions
1 large carrot
2 ribs celery with leaves
1 cup olive oil
1 1/2 ups red wine (I naturally use Somerset Ridge Flyboy Red)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup cognac
For the Archibald Sauce:
strained marinade from Wild Boar
2 cups Flyboy Red wine
2 cups beef gravy, homemade is best, but you can use jarred gravy
1 cup beef stock
1 to 2 tablespoons red currant jelly
salt to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Have the butcher remove the rind (skin) from the ham, leaving the layer of fat on the ham. With a small thin bladed knife, make small slits all over the ham. Combine all of the herbs,spices and orange zest. Rub all over the ham, coating well, making sure to get rub down into slits. Place ham in a large container.

Chop onion,celery and carrot. Saute in the olive oil. When veggies are soft, add the 1 cup of wine and the vinegar. Bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat, let cool to room temperature, then add the cognac.
Pour over the ham, adjusting the ham so as much of it as possible is covered by the marinade.

Let ham marinate in the refrigerator for 15 to 18 days, turning the ham in the marinade at least once a days, preferably twice a day.

To roast the meat: Remove the ham from the marinade. Do not dry off or try to clean off! Place on a rack in a large shallow roasting pan, fat side up. Roast in a 300 degree oven until meat thermometer reads 165 to 175 degrees. Remove ham from roasting pan. Let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

In the meantime, strain the marinade, squeezing as much liquid as possible from vegetables. In a large saucepan, combine the strained marinade, 2 cups wine, and beef gravy. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce the sauce by half over medium heat. Arch had a special wooden spoon that he marked the depth of the sauce before he reduced it. You want the sauce to be a little thicker than you want the finished sauce to be. This part of the sauce can be prepared as soon as the meat is removed from the marinade.

Heat beef stock to boiling, pour into the roasting pan to deglaze all of the caramelized meat juices from the bottom of the pan. Scrape bottom of pan well, then add contents of roasting pan to the sauce. Add currant jelly and adjust salt. Add pepper, green onions and parsley. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes to combine flavors.

Serve either a soft polenta or mashed potatoes with sliced boar along side, all topped with the sauce.

If you are willing to help me salute Arch on the 25th, fix your favorite beverage (Arch loved a Gin Martini, dirty) and during the Happy Hour, let us lift our glasses to The Colonel!

One of My Favorite Quotes.........................

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the
same.".....Ronald Reagan

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker