The Importance of Julia Child’s Kitchen and Mirrors with Architect Pamela Heyne

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St. Michaels architect Pamela Heyne believes her first link to Talbot County was through her friend David Morton, son of Eastern Shore hero Rogers Morton, when they were both at Yale School of Architecture together in the late 1960s. She had fond memories of the area, but it never occurred to her that she and her husband would one day be living on Mount Misery Road. That was until they decided to adopt two girls when they were seven and nine years old.

It has now been over ten years since they made the decision to trade in the urban life of Georgetown for a rural one for the girls teen years. But that has not stopped Pam as both an architect and author.

Even with an extraordinary client list, with the likes of the late Ben Bradlee, Oberlin College, and quite a few closer to home, it is her work in relation to kitchen design and the use of mirrors in residential houses that has lead her to collaborations with Julia Child and making presentations to executives of Saint Gobain, the glass & mirror company founded by Louis XIV.

In her Spy interview, Pam talks about she learned from Julia Child, her bias in kitchen design, not only in terms of design and function, but its impact of family life and what role it plays now in the American home.

This video is approximately five minutes in length

Food Friday: Thanksgiving Smackdown; Crescent Rolls or Parker House?

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Which do you prefer, crescent rolls or Parker House rolls? Or are you a cornbread kind of family? It is fascinating how holiday rituals vary from family to family. Do you fancy white meat or dark? Do you cook stuffing inside the turkey, or are you like me and err on caution’s side, and also prepare a sanitary, dry-as-sawdust pan of stuffing that goes in the oven for an hour after the cooked bird has emerged? Do you wait, ghoulishly, for the signs of salmonella to appear after everyone has gorged themselves on bowls of in-the-bird stuffing? I always picture elderly relatives gasping for breath and falling to the floor in agonizing, writhing, intestinal pain. I might have to research the symptoms a little more assiduously.

So far, no one has succumbed to food poisoning, or salmonella, at one of our Thanksgivings. There have been the occasional awkward and/or tipsy comments, but if the candlelight is dim enough you can roll you eyes, have another piece of pie and ignore the gaff until the guests have gone home. And then you can relive the moments that become family legend while washing up the good china. We mostly manage to side-step political commentary, and keep up a steady patter of latest genius baby stories, or harken back to the good old days when Dad was six, and he smacked Uncle Bob on the head with a toy gun, and discovered that it takes a lot of Hollywood magic to knock someone out cold…

Do you cook a turkey for Thanksgiving? Or did you spring from the loins of an iconoclast family that cooks ham, or goose, or Spaghetti Carbonara? Do you sneer at green beans and embrace roasted Brussels sprouts? Russets or sweet potatoes for you? Do you serve Champagne or a slighter cooler than room temperature Beaujolais Nouveau? Do you baste or do you brine? Do you have Thanksgiving dinner at noon? Have you ever had to cater to a vegetarian at this carnivore delight of a meal? Sit-down or buffet? Football or X-Files marathon? Do you plan weeks ahead, or do you buy the ingredients on Wednesday and hope for the best? And do you cook all day, and finally sit down at six, exhausted?

According to Wednesday’s New York Times we should have gotten cracking weeks ago. We should have assessed our platter collection, counted heads, calculated pounds of turkey according to the number of guests, and planned the menu and started collecting meat drippings from which to make the gravy. But they also endorse the notion that you should not be a martyr to the Thanksgiving process; “cut corners” says the venerable New York Times. So if you pick up some Pepperidge Farm dinner rolls or pop open a couple of cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls, no one will be the wiser.

Here is a handy dandy checklist for your Thanksgiving countdown: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/12/dining/a-thanksgiving-checklist.html?_r=0

Crescent Rolls

http://www.marthastewart.com/333830/buttery-crescent-rolls#Thanksgiving%20Bread%20and%20Roll%20Recipes|/274695/thanksgiving-bread-and-roll-recipes/@center/276949/everything-thanksgiving|333830

Parker House Rolls

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/parker-house-rolls-recipe2.html

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/parker-house-rolls

Pull-Apart Butter Rolls

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2009/11/12/the-one-thing-i-have-to-bake-every-thanksgiving-pull-apart-butter-buns/

Cornbread

http://www.nytimes.com/video/dining/100000003221154/brown-butter-skillet-corn-bread.html

Sides

http://gardenandgun.com/article/guide-sides

“My mom makes something called green pie, which I thought was a delicacy that many people only had at Thanksgiving, but it turns out it was just Jell-O with whipped cream on it. And it’s delicious.”
Bobby Moynihan

Note: Since we are traveling, we will be bringing a tray of pre-fab Pepperidge Farm Parker House rolls with us. But on a very nice, new platter, which will be a hostess gift. And a flock of Beaujolais Nouveau. ‘Tis the season!

Food Friday: Thanksgiving Mini Pies

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Don’t you even think about relaxing this weekend! What are your Thanksgiving plans? Have you checked the china? Have you counted the silver? Do you have enough napkins? Where are the platters? Have you thought about ordering your turkey? You have only got three weeks to get your ducks and turkeys in a row, so get cracking!

For only the second time in twenty years we are not having Thanksgiving at home. What a peculiar feeling! I’ll still order a turkey (or a turkey breast) so we have the requisite leftovers for sandwiches, but for once I will not be coordinating dishes, arranging flowers and standing in the kitchen directing potato peeling or turkey basting.

This year we are traveling to our daughter’s house for the first away-game Thanksgiving for all of us. There is a new baby to coo over, so we want to make every thing easy peasy. This will not be a Martha event, although we are hoping to have some nice touches. There will be the aroma of the roasting turkey, the glow of candles (and football on the television) and affectionate warmth as we gather around the table and give thanks, as we share a meal and a flock of Prosecco.

Some families have reliable traditions like NPR’s Susan Stamberg with her grandmother’s Thanksgiving relish: http://www.npr.org/series/4175681/susan-stamberg-s-cranberry-relish-tradition. Truman Capote baked fruitcakes with his aunts. We do not have any public broadcasting or American literary pretensions here. In this house, invariably, with almost clockwork precision, I forget to cook the green beans. Luckily, over the years, we have found that we like our beans lightly steamed; heated just enough that they appear bright green and lustrous. Forgetting them annually is not a huge glitch in the Thanksgiving schedule. Though neither is it a rollicking yearly joke. What if we were one of those families whose holiday depends on a Campbell’s mushroom soup green bean casserole? Crickey! I would probably also forget the canned crunchy onion rings! These are among the blessing we count.

I will be contributing is a dessert. Which is always fun and show-off-y. I am baking a variety of wee, small, diminutive pies. We have always have chocolate-y desserts at Thanksgiving. Or rather, when we hosted Thanksgiving, we erred on the side of chocolate. Now with new family members, we have to consider that pumpkin and apple pies might be in order, too.

I will make the usual chocolate pudding pie, topped with clouds of homemade whipped cream, only in miniature. Also some itsy bitsy pumpkin, cherry and apple pies. This way everyone can sample a variety, no one needs fine china or sterling because they will be practically bite-sized, and I’ll still get a chance to fuss with minutia when assembling them.

As always, I advocate buying pre-made pie crust, rolling it out and cutting out small circles of dough to fit into cupcake pans. A nice scalloped edge cookie cutter will give you the illusion of piecrust fluting, or you can press the edges of the piecrust down with a fork to create a pattern. You can make tiny latticework for the doll-sized cherry and apple pies, but be sure to chill the dough before you start weaving your magic.

Also remember– don’t try to bake all the pies at the same time. The fruit fillings cook faster than the pumpkin, and you will need to do the chocolate pudding pie separately anyway, because the shell needs to be baked before it is filled. And if you attempt an exotic lemon meringue pie there is the delicate browning of the meringue. Maybe you should think about Key Lime pie instead. Traditionally it calls for a whipped cream topping, too. Heavens!

A nice variety of petite pies, borne into a warm house on Thanksgiving, will be festive. And maybe there won’t be any leftovers to bring home, back over the river.

https://food52.com/recipes/8064-rum-raisin-mini-apple-pie-bites

http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/mini-pies-in-a-cupcake-tin/8f1f2894-2665-49ba-905a-146c352bd16f

http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/11/how-to-make-mini-pies.html

http://www.pinterest.com/bjd0316/mini-pie-recipes/

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
― Oscar Wilde

HSKC Pet of the Month: Lexi

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LexiOne frigid February day, Animal Control Officers found a chained dog surrounded by trash and junk, standing atop a log- the only space not covered in snow. Holes filled her dog house roof and the only available water had long frozen over. Food was nowhere in sight.

It was in that moment HSKC seized this dog, and the staff named her “Lexi”. Like many dogs Animal Control seizes due to neglect, this two-year-old Boxer/American Staffordshire mix actually blossomed in the shelter environment. For the first time in her life, she received care and attention.
Grateful for the love given from staff, volunteers and visitors, Lexi has proven to be quite a love bug with people of all ages. She gives kisses freely, enjoys cuddling and loves to walk on a leash. She is completely housebroken and enjoys playing fetch.
Lexi is a quiet dog, not a barker. For that reason, she would do well in an apartment or town home. Lexi would do best in a home where she is the only pet as she takes a long time to warm up to other animals.
Lexi has been at the shelter for a very long time. Please help find a forever home for Lexi by sharing her story.
 ~Carolyn
Carolyn Thompson
Director of Community Engagement

John Bartram Lives

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John_bartram00The Chestertown Garden Club cordially invites you to An Evening with John Bartram, America’s first botanist, horticulturist, explorer, and royal botanist to King George III in the new world. The program will be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 7:00PM at the Chester River Yacht and Country Club, 7738 Quaker Neck Road, Chestertown, MD.

Kirk R. Brown will portray John Bartram in the evening’s presentation. He will be reenacting the life of colonial-era plantsman, John Bartram, “the father of American Botany”, dressed in a spouse-created waistcoat, stylish breeches, buckled shoes and with carved snake-adorned walking stick in hand. He will regale you with political jokes, life-long accomplishments, and complaints.

John Bartram (1699-1777) was a third-generation Pennsylvania Quaker. He was imbued with a curiosity and reverence for nature, as well as a passion for scientific inquiry. Bartram purchased 102 acres from Swedish settlers in 1728, and systematically began gathering the most varied collection of North American plants in the world including Franklinia alatamaha, extinct in the wild since the early 1800s. A self-taught man, Bartram had the quintessential “can do” American spirit that continues to inspire us today. His travels – by boat, on horseback, and on foot, took him to New England, as far south as Florida and west to Lake Ontario. In 1765, Bartram was appointed the “Royal Botanist” by King George III. At home, Bartram founded the American Philosophical Society with his friend, Benjamin Franklin. His garden was a source of inquiry and pleasure for luminaries like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

The lecture/program on November 4 is open to the broader community and is made possible through a generous bequest from Shirley and William Susen to the Chestertown Garden Club for the expressed purpose of education for members and the community about horticulture and design.

The Chestertown Garden Club hopes to see you at this interesting and enjoyable program.

Revenge on the Chestnut by Bobbie Brittingham

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The word revenge might be a little too strong for this situation, but it really felt good to say it. There are several different kind of chestnuts. The color of a horse for one. I had a beautiful big 17 hand horse named Shannon when I was a young woman many years ago, but I still can see how bright his coat shinned after giving him a bath as he stood in the sun. He had a lovely bright chestnut color. I loved it. Horses also have a small hard scaly growth on their legs called a chestnut. There is the chestnut wood used in fine furniture, and it has beautiful rich grain to it. A woman with chestnut color hair as Maureen O’Hara had, to be envied by many. THEN there is the chestnut tree. A tree that produces sought after edible nuts. More about them later. I want to inform you about the beauty of this tree. It is rather a medium to fast growing deciduous tree that can eventually reach 75 to 100 feet. In the early 20th century, a fungal blight carried by a hitch hiker almost wiped out the American Chestnut. They are breeding them now in hopes that they can create a tree that will be resistant to this deadly blight. Large oval serrated leaves that cover wide sweeping arching branches. The bark has an interesting rough grey-brown bark. The spring brings forth a beautiful white cascading candle-like blossom, and it has a slight sweet fragrance. They were so prominent on the Appalachian Mountain tops that when they were in bloom it was said to look like snow on the tops of the mountains. These blossoms drop and will create drifts that can clog the gutters.

Close up ChestnutThe architectural branches add great interest to the winter landscape too. They are a very lovely tree with many attributes, but they do have a major major (that is a double major) drawback. Word of caution, my language and tone might change as I reveal the very despicable side of this tree. In the fall these stately trees drop a round, hard, thorny, sharply, bristly, prickly, spiky, covered ball. They are treacherous to step on and it will go thru a flip – flop. Yes, I really do know about this from firsthand experience. The tree should never, ever, be planted near any path, door or opening within 100 yards of where inhabitants or cohabitants are living. Mine is !!!!! Located on the drive side of the house, right where anyone who gets out of a car steps on them, and I walk almost daily. This is my real reason for the extreme disdain I have for this particular chestnut tree.

But the chestnut does have a little secret inside these tennis size monstrous balls. There is a sweet delicious buttery nut. This is the first year I took the challenge, or rather an attempt at doing something with them. After all, I had to find a way to wage revenge on the tree. I really didn’t want to cut it down since I love my trees and have planted over 87 trees in three years on a few acres. This seemed like a reasonable excuse to salvage some decent kind of reward from the continuous raking and cleaning up these nasty —- spiny, prickly things that the devil grew. The little nut inside will luckily loosen from the surrounding barricade and to descend with a thud to the ground. The only thing is that between the squirrels and me was an hourly dash to grab Chestnut treewhat we could before the other did. I had collected a nice bag of these exquisite chestnuts and decided this would be my revenge. These are the nuts that romantic, holiday songs have been written, and people pay dearly for from a street vendor. They are of culinary fame from soup to, well, nuts is one word, but I will say just deserts. So I looked up on Goggle how to roast these prized gems. I bought a special roasting pan and a special tool for cutting the ends in a cross pattern. I invested all of only $68.00 at Amazon. This proves they really do have everything.

I invited a friend over to enter into this process with me. I was making sure that if I were poisoned from this experiment, someone could tell my children how brave I was. I followed the directions from Miss Martha (you know THE one) and opened a bottle of white wine to help with digestion. The special frying pan was scattered with about fifteen prepared nuts. I turned the gas on to medium and stood back in admiration of this fulfilling moment. Soon the cross started to peel away from the inside treasure. All was waiting for REVENGE. Some butter was melted, and some salt was ground and then the moment of complete ecstatic REVENGE !!!! YES– YES– YES. Almost as good as When Harry Met Sally.

Now you can make up your own mind about whether you want a Chestnut tree . If I had my choice, I would never plant one close to the house. I would certainly plant one just far enough out of the way so that it does not cause undo pain, but still close enough that I can race the squirrels.

An Evening with John Bartram, Nov. 4

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Food Day Celebration Includes Food Drive to Benefit Community Food Pantry

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On October 24th and 25th, Chestertown residents join Food Day, www.foodday.org, the nationwide celebration that inspires Americans to change their diets and our food policies with a Two Day Food Drive to benefit the Kent County Community Food Pantry. The Downtown Chestertown Association (DCA) and Chestertown Natural Foods have organized the Food Drive with generous help from Washington College Sorority Alpha Omicron Pi.

“The residents of Chestertown are famously enthusiastic and supportive of real food. Our Saturday morning Farmer’s Market features produce grown by our neighbors making a Food Day celebration a logical and much welcome celebration of real nutritious food.  I urge all Chestertown residents to participate in our inaugural Food Day celebration and make it the success I know it will be,” noted Mayor Chris Cerino.

Collection boxes will be at Acme, The Freeze, Walgreens, 7-11, Twigs & Teacups, Chesapeake Bank & Trust, and Chestertown Natural Foods on Friday the 24th and Saturday the 25th.

The fourth annual Food Day will see thousands of events in all 50 states aimed at promoting “real and just” food for all. All year round, Food Day is devoted to mobilizing support for policies that advance healthier diets, promote sustainable and organic agriculture, reduce hunger, reform factory farms, and support fair working conditions for food and farm workers.

Food Friday: The Julia Child Effect

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Twice a day, Luke and I eye each other for a few moments after he sits, on command, before he falls on his bowl of kibble. He is waiting for me to give him the okay to start eating. What trills out of my mouth is my bad imitation of Julia Child shrieking in falsetto, “Bon appétit!” We have been doing this for two years. The poor dog. He lives in a bad Saturday Night Live sketch, sans a Bass-o-matic.

Although I should report that I just stalked back into the studio from the laundry room where I stood, and looked accusingly at Luke, as he retreated from attempting to inhale the stinky cat food. Wouldn’t Julia Child have shouted out, “Bad dog!” in French? “Luc, tu es un vilain chien!” (That was my best Kevin Kline French accent, by the way.) These are the daily trials that challenge people who work from home. If I had been in a proper office exchanging bon mots with my talented and creative colleagues, Luke could have carried out his mission in triumph, and no one would have been the wiser. The cat would suffer in her usual silent, moribund fashion. Bon appétit, indeed…

I hear Julia’s voice like Handel’s fanfare announcing the arrival of the Queen of Sheba when I think of certain foods, like quiche Lorraine, cheese soufflé and babas au rhum, and of course, coq au vin. Julie Powell wrote cleverly about her fascination with Julia Child, but I think we all have a little bit of Julia Child’s spirit when we return to the kitchen after our summer hiatus, and take up the challenge of cooking warm, nurturing meals for our dinner companions and loved ones. Julia is whispering inside our pointy little heads that we can be French chefs, if only for the weekend. Walk away from the grill, put down the pizza dough and file the take away menus. Light the stove. Open the wine. Let’s cook!

Coq Au Vin [Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms and Bacon]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Feeds 4 to 6 people
A 3- to 4-ounce chunk of bacon
A heavy, 10-inch, fireproof casserole
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cognac
3 cups young, full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Chianti
1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
12 to 24 brown-braised onions (recipe follows)
1/2 pound sautéed mushrooms (recipe follows)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
Sprigs of fresh parsley

1. Remove the rind of and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4-inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry. [Deb note: As noted, I’d totally skip this step next time.]
2. Sauté the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
3. Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole.
4. Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
5. Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.
6. Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.
7. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms (recipe follows).
8. Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off the fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
9. Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (buerre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
10. Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If this dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
11. Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot enough.
12. Sever from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with spring for parsley.

Oignons Glacés a Brun [Brown-braised Onions]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

For 18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter:
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
A 9- to 10-inch enameled skillet
1/2 cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine or water
Salt and pepper to taste
A medium herb bouquet: 3 parsley springs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth
When the butter and oil are bubbling the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.
Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.

Champignons Sautés Au Buerre [Sautéed Mushrooms]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

A 10-inch enameled skillet
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions (optional)
Salt and pepper
Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Sauté over moderate heat for 2 minutes.
Sautéed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

(Thanks to http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/12/magnificence-au-vin/)

Here are one hundred of Julia Child’s favorite dishes:
http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/06/01/julia-child%E2%80%99s-100-favorite-recipes-revealed Mmmmm. #37, braised calf brains…

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
― Julia Child