All Welcome at the Community Feast!

Share

 

Brandon, David Ryan (pastor both First United Methodist Church & Christ United Methodist Church), Cheryl Hoopes (coordinator for the weekly dinners)

Have you been to the Monday Community Dinner at First United Methodist Church in Chestertown? You’re invited. You’re missing a real treat if you haven’t been yet.  The food is quite good.  It’s all fresh and prepared that afternoon by community volunteers. And it’s free, yes, that’s right, free – though donations are accepted.

The church is the big red brick one on the hill with white trim and columns and a tall steeple.  There’s lots of convenient parking on Park, Mill, or Calvert Streets.  Use the side entrance to the church and come down the stairs to the basement.  Tables will be already setup with napkins and silverware.  They use real plates and utensils – no paper unless you request one of the take-out boxes, which are recyclable.  Dinner is served starting at 5:30. Reservations are not needed but we recommend you get there by at least 6 p.m. to avoid having any of your favorite items run out.

First United Church – facing High St. on the corner of Mill Street.   For the community dinner go in the side door on Mill St. then down stairs on the right

Begun by the Rev. David Ryan in September 2016, the Monday dinners regularly serve between 75 and 100 community members, most of them regulars. The cafeteria-style meals feature a generous choice of main courses, desserts, and beverages. There is a dinner every Monday, even if it’s a holiday, Ryan said.

The church kitchen is spacious and Spic-and-Span clean.

Voluntary donations help support the meal, which Ryan estimates costs $2 to $3 a serving. Even many of the low-income diners chip in a dollar or two, while others sometimes donate as much as they’d pay in a restaurant. And the “customers” represent all ages and income levels. Ryan said the donations jar typically yields $75-150 toward the cost of the meal.

150 ears of “cooler corn” with a crockpot of melted butter to dip them in. Picked that day and donated by Redman Farms

Much of the food is donated to the church from local farms and gardens, restaurants, and grocery stores. The first time we went, J.R.’s Lemon Leaf Café provided mashed potatoes while some of the vegetables came from the Kent County Middle School garden, and Redman Farms had donated 150 ears of corn on the cob.

The corn, by the way, was “cooler corn.”  We had seen coolers full of corn at picnics and reunions before but had never realized it had a recipe.  We just thought that corn was cooked in the regular way on the stove then put in the cooler.  But no, it turns out you cook the corn right in the cooler!  Who knew?  You just fill a clean hard-sided cooler (no styrofoam, please) with corn.  Pour in boiling water.  Close the cooler.  Load it in the car.  By the time you get to the party, the corn is ready. And the cooler will keep it warm for hours.  A quick Google search will reveal lots of recipes, reviews, and discussions of cooler corn.  Ours was delicious!

During the school year, the Washington College dining hall donates surplus food. Restaurants and schools often donate food that was prepared but not served.  In most cases, the food would have been thrown out if not for the church dinner.  College students also help with the preparation and serving when classes are in session. Emmanuel Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown also help with preparation, especially when Pastor Ryan is out of town. Other volunteers set tables, work the cafeteria-style serving line, wash dishes, and make sure everything runs smoothly.  All were clearly having a good time.

This family had four generations with them at the dinner.

David Ryan, pastor of the two Methodist churches, cooks and helps with cleanup, too.

Preparation begins early in the afternoon, around 1:00 pm when Pastor Ryan and parishioner Cheryl Hoopes arrive.  They begin the prep and setup, see what is in the pantry and do all the other things included in planning and preparing a dinner for a hundred people.  Ryan joins in the cooking. Cheryl Hoopes, who coordinates volunteers, said that Ryan’s previous parish also had a regular dinner, but the church women wouldn’t allow him to help with the cooking. One of the reasons he started one in Chestertown was so he could get in the kitchen!  And he’s a good cook.  Just ask his wife!

Recent menus have included roast pork, stuffed peppers, corn on the cob, sauerkraut, mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, applesauce, with a selection of cookies, cupcakes, and pies for dessert. Beverages included water and iced tea.

There is a  long dessert table each week.  And next to the dessert table is the take-home table with bread and vegetables and other items that anyone may pick up as you leave.  Some are from people’s gardens; others are items near their expiration dates donated by groceries or bakeries. If you prefer, you can get your meal in a recyclable take away box. The recyclable boxes, Ryan said, are a little more expensive than the more common styrofoam boxes, but he felt that being environmentally responsible was more important than saving a few cents. Only a few people opt to just get a takeaway box and leave right away.  Some eat at the church then fill up a box for a family member at home.

While many people sit with friends or family members — there are three- and four-generation families who come regularly — it’s also a good place to make new acquaintances. One volunteer brings his four grandchildren – all under the age of 10 – and the kids help on the clean-up crew. Ryan said the dinner has been an opportunity to meet many people who aren’t members of his congregation, including many from the immediate neighborhood of the church. Now many of them stop and talk to him on the street.

Come and join in.  Any Monday at 5:30 pm.  Perhaps you’ll become a regular or a volunteer, too.  Tell ’em the Spy sent you!

Photos by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell

                                                                         Some of the “regulars.”

Cans bought or donated and ready to go.

Cupboards and drawers are all carefully labeled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take-Home Tables

Take-Home Table – Vegetables, often grown in local gardens and assorted other food items often donated by local groceries and bakeries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the Sprout Kitchen: The Milkman Cometh

Share

Editor’s Note: The Spy is pleased to continue our special food coverage by partnering with Sprout’s Kitchen on a series of educational programs related to food and the special backstories of  their ingredients and partnership with local producers. Sprouts’ owners, Emily and Ryan Groll, the two entrepreneurs behind the Mid-Shore’s innovative food delivery service using locally sourced products, have strong opinions and experience in what makes food so special.

First up for Sprout’s Kitchen when they started a year ago was finding the right milk guy. For most culinary enterprises the need to purchase milk is simply a matter of checking off how many gallons they need on their food distributors order forms. In most cases, they have no idea where that milk comes from, what the conditions of of dairy farm is or how well the animals are treated.

That was not good enough for Sprout’s Kitchen. Owners Emily and Ryan Groll, had made it part of their mission to find and develop a long-term relationship with a local farm who shared their high standards for their milk, yogurt and butter. That’s when Nice Farms Creamery came into the picture.

Located a few miles from Federalsburg, Nice Farms is now on its third generation of family farmers who have bred their 40 dairy cows specifically for grazing. maintain annual and perennial pastures, supplementing the cows diet with quality hay, hydroponic fodder, and almost zero grain.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For information about the Sprout’s Kitchen and their meal plans please go here

 

Chestertown’s “Taste of the Town” Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Share

Taste of the Town celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 7.  From noon to 3:00 pm, Fountain Park was filled with guests enjoying samples from 18 local vendors.  There were food and drinks from an even dozen restaurants plus four wineries and one brewery.  This is the first year that the vineyards and brewery participated – a welcome addition to a popular Chestertown tradition.

Co-chairs Tara Holste and Andy Goddard did a great job organizing the event.  About 250 people from all over the region filled the tent in Fountain Park.   The tent even had a large sunlight section in its roof. Attendees voted for their favorites in three categories:

Attendees voted for their favorites in three categories: Most Creative – Best Use of Local Ingredients – Most Flavorful.  Ballots are currently being tabulated.  So stay tuned for the results of these People’s Choice awards.

The Whistle Stop Winery was one of five wineries at the event.  Also present were the Clovelly Vineyards, Crow Vineyard & Winery, Dove Valley Winery, and Olney Winery.  Beer lovers got to sample the wares from the Bull and Goat Brewery.

Lockbriar Farms ice cream was very popular!

Fish Whistle – Jeff Carroll and one of his cooks prepare Clovelly Beef Sliders.

Participating restaurants were Barbara’s On the Bay, Chester River Yacht & Country Club, Evergrain Bakery, Figg’s Ordinary, Fish Whistle, The Kitchen at the Imperial, Lemon Leaf Cafe, Little Village Bakery, Lockbriar Farms, Luisa’s Cucina Italiana, O’Connor’s Irish Pub and Procollino’s Italian Eatery. Serving wines were Clovelly Vineyards, Crow Vineyard & Winery, Dove Valley Winery, Olney Winery and Whistle Stop Winery. Beer drinkers could sample the products of Bull & Goat Brewery.

Figg’s Ordinary serves gluten-free goodies – flatbread with assorted toppings.

There were over 20 raffle prizes that covered a wide range of items, including gift certificates to many restaurants and local stores, two tickets to any Garfield Center for the Arts production, a hanging basket from Unity Church Hill Nursery, and a jar of goodies from Gabriel’s of Chestertown.

Taste of the Town is presented by the Downtown Chestertown Association with the help of many volunteers and generous sponsors.  Tech support was provided by Butch Clark. For more information see Taste of Chestertown,   Downtown Chestertown Association (DCA),  Chestertown.com

Maryland 3.0: Screaming and Shaking at Justine’s with Tyler Heim

Share

There is something rather extraordinary about a small town ice cream parlor. It inevitably strikes a nerve of memory and nostalgia for many Americans as they recall their families special trips in the early evening of summer to the local stand on Main Street.

And one of those very special places is Justine’s Ice Cream Parlour in St. Michaels.

Known for having the longest lines in town during the summer months, including those eager to visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Justine’s over the last 30 years has become on those iconic snapshots of life on the Eastern Shore.

But behind the counter is another great American story of young entrepreneurs taking the concept of the summer ice cream place to an entirely different level. And that was the motivation behind the Spy’s recent interview with ice cream maker Tyler Heim,who, along with his brother, Jared, has been managing Justine’s for the store’s owner (and aunt) Kathleen Lash over the last few years.

When we talked to Tyler last week in the store last week, Tyler gave us an excellent overview of the world of local ice cream, the art of milkshake making, and plans to scale up the Justine brand in the years ahead.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information on Justine’s please go here. Maryland 3.0 is an ongoing Spy series on entrepreneurship on the Mid-Shore. 

Spy Profiles: Chesapeake Harvest with Deena Deese Kilmon

Share

There seems to be a good bit of nostalgia about the traditional family farm on the Eastern Shore as of late.  Going back centuries, the idea of a self-sufficient, agricultural enterprise that’s focused on locally grown produce has had a minor renaissance as consumers continue to seek out healthy alternatives to commercial grown “fresh” fruit and vegetable sections.

That’s the good news. The not so good news is that in order for those local farmers to be competitive they are increasingly asked to certify their agricultural practices in order to qualify in the wholesale and retail markets.

This is not an easy undertaking. And that is why the work of the Chesapeake Harvest project formed by the Easton Economic Development Corporation is so critical to this important transition.

With the help of a federal grant, Chesapeake Harvest has made it its goal to work with 30 of these family farmers over the next three years to prepare them for USDA gap certification, the most common and well respected endorsement, while at the same time branding and marketing the notion of being “Bay-friendly” through the adoption of these production conservation standards.

Leading this marketing and outreach effort for Chesapeake Harvest is Deena Deese Kilmon who has not only had the invaluable background of coming from a family farm background, spent time in the wholesale food world but also owned restaurant in St. Michaels before joining the organization.

We caught up with Deena in Kent County a few weeks ago before she and her team of volunteers worked with the local farmer to do a risk assessment of that farm’s practices and make recommendations that will move that farm into a gap certified agricultural center.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake Harvest please go here

Maryland 3.0: Sprouts Starts to Take Over the Eastern Shore

Share

Just so you know….perhaps one of the most significant “foodie” experiments in the country is taking place on the Mid-Shore.

A young couple, primarily trained in nutritional science and fitness, decide to escape the rat race of the Western Shore and relocate to Trappe to start a food delivery business dedicated to high quality prepared meals with locally sourced produce and meat.

The concept was simple. Rather than send clients the raw materials to make a nutritious meal (think Blue Apron), Sprout owners Ryan and Emily Groll would take it to the next level and actually cook the meals for its customers.

Sprout would do all the work. Whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a snack, Ryan and Emily identify local farmers within a 200-mile range that produce some of the most exquisite examples of fruit, vegetables, chicken, pork, or beef in the region to produce meals that could be left at your doorstep twice a week.

Fast-forward one year later Sprouts has become an increasingly important provider on the entire Eastern Shore as well is in Annapolis. With Ryan’s mother in Chestertown, the couple continues to seek a local partner to help as a delivery station, which they call a “Sproutlet,” but they hope to cover the entire Mid-Shore within the next two years.

The Spy spent some quality time with Ryan in his portable kitchen in Trappe to discuss the couple’s courage and conviction it took to start a business of this kind and their aspirations over the next few years.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Sprouts please go here

Mid-Shore Food Culture: Psst….The Bartlett Pear is Totally Open for Business

Share

The Bartlett Pear has been one of those special gifts that a small community rarely is the recipient of. A beautiful historic downtown building is reactivated by a “from here” young couple who converts it to a first class boutique hotel and dining venue.

After years being mentored by some of the top chefs in America, Alice and Jordan Lloyd returned to their native home of Easton in 2009 to develop their own vision of what hospitality means regarding food and lodging. And throughout a particularly painful economic recession, the Bartlett Pear persevered by offering locally-sourced culinary delights from the morning until the late hours of the night.

But even with that remarkable track record, the “BP” has had to reset its business model to more accurately calibrate what the owners do and when they do it with the realities of being a young family with two children.

The result of this hard-nosed evaluation led to a different approach for the current Bartlett Pear. Jordan, at the height of his earning power as a chef, decided to commute to DC during the week and return to the extremely high-end dining scene there while Alice would operate the hotel and bakery.

The Spy had a brief chat with Alice about these changes as well as her gratitude for the Pear’s very loyal patrons for quickly adapting to its pivots over the last nine years.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about the Bartlett Pear please go here

Museum of African American History Director Visits Sumner Hall

Share
Dr. Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Director talks at Sumner Hall roundtable.

Dr. Lonnie Bunch III, founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Director discusses locally produced exhibitions to be shown along with the upcoming Smithsonian exhibit “The Way We Worked”.

It’s not often one gets to visit with the founding director of one of the country’s most prestigious museums, let alone be cheered on and counseled for one’s endeavors.

And yet, Friday, Sumner Hall hosted a roundtable discussion with National Museum of African American History and Culture Director Lonnie Bunch III to talk about Chestertown’s participation with the March arrival of the Smithsonian’s “The Way We Worked” traveling exhibition.

The photographic exhibition was adapted from an original project created by the National Archives and offers a lens into the shared experience of work, the history of its changes and how work shaped the American experience. By honoring the history of work as the backbone of society nationally and in Kent County, the exhibitions seek to portray commonality and the unifying experiences of life.

The traveling exhibition exploring the history of work in Kent County are sponsored by Maryland Humanities and Smithsonian and the participation is cosponsored by Sumner Hall and Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

Bunch, who visited C.V. Starr Center three years ago has taken a shine to Chestertown. It was during that visit the historian and museum director became interested in the restoration of Sumner Hall and its development into a masterpiece of cultural preservation and learning center. “A museum is a constructed space. This is a sacred space,” he said, noting that the 100-year-old structure embodied the spirit of preserving and curating history.

Dr. Lonnie Bunch III

Dr. Lonnie Bunch III

“How humbled I am to be here,” Bunch said. “It is my hope that a museum is a safe place that people trust, and what you have done here is the best of what this could be—to focus not on what divides us, but what brings us together.”

Bunch spent an hour at the Sumner Hall roundtable listening to and answering questions from student interns, high school teachers, and volunteers involved with researching and creating the regional exhibits that will complement the traveling exhibit. Downtown Chestertown Association, RiverArts, Kent County Historical Society, Sultana Education Foundation, the town of Chestertown, Kent County Public Schools and other local organizations will be contributing to the three-week event.

Bunch praised the direction the individual groups were taking. “In essence, what you have done is to recognize the most important thing a community can do: remember. By remembering you honor the past and help shape the future.”

When asked for his recommendation about how a film-maker could contribute to telling the story of Kent’s past, Bunch said, “start with the present and work your way back because that allows people to see the continuity righty in front of them.”

Bunch, who was appointed as founding director of the Smithsonian’s new museum in 2005, implores museums and historical preservationists to take the long view of their mission to educate. “The key is to figure out how this ripples long after. You have lots of effort and people working together, but the question is what are the things you are going to do that will allow this to live forever.

Sumner Hall and its partner, Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will host the traveling exhibit along with locally produced exhibitions showcasing research on “The Black Labor Experience in Kent County” from March 31 to May 20.

Smithsonian “The Way We Worked Introduction” introduction

“Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain
Must bring back our mighty dream again.”

-Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again,” 1938

To find out more about Charles Sumner Hall and the “The Way We Worked” exhibition go here.

 

 

Design for You: Thoughts on Architect David Morton by Pamela Heyne

Share

It was always a treat going to dinner at Presqu’ile, the 1820 historic home of Anne Morton Kimberly. Proceeding down the long tree lined drive was a dramatic beginning. Then our cheerful, stylish hostess would greet us, often introducing us to new friends. Sometimes her daughter Babes and Babes’ husband Tom would be guests when they were not traveling. Dinner was usually in the formal dining room, or for more intimate occasions, in a cozy nook off the kitchen.

After dinner we would often sit in the library and continue chatting. A full length portrait of Anne’s son, and Babes’ brother, David Morton graced a wall in an anteroom. The picture showed him standing on a hill, smiling, as he gazed in the distance. David was tall and handsome, resembling his dad, 6’7 Congressman and cabinet official Rogers Morton. David had died in 2003.

I had known David much earlier, long before I moved to the shore and met Anne and Babes. David and I were classmates at Yale School of Architecture. David was a talented and brilliant fellow. I recall a handful of us gathered in his apartment as David explained to us some engineering complexities, and exactly how air conditioning worked! He had a patrician confidence, not surprising since he had spent his teen years at Presqu’ile, attended the Country School, and came from a prominent family. Yet he had a zany side too. His New Haven apartment could only be described as quirky. It sported a black hallway with a giant stuffed toy jolly green giant suspended from the ceiling.

A few years later after graduating from Yale I took a trip to New York with another classmate from New Haven, Tom Welch. We stayed at David’s home in Brooklyn. Its previous incarnation was a toilet seat factory but David was transforming it into a chic series of loft apartments. He had a grand piano in one of the rooms. Leaning next to the piano was a cane. I made conversation about the cane. Turns out it was a gift from Leonard Bernstein.

 8 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn New York

8 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn New York

The building was next to the Brooklyn bridge. As we had dinner we gazed out the wide windows as car headlights slipped across the bridge, and the lights of Manhattan glistened on the water. One felt suspended in a kinetic, magical world.

David had a lifelong partner, Tom Cordell, an architect turned artist, of whom Anne was most fond. After David’s death Tom would accompany Anne on trips and was frequent a dinner guest at Presqu’ile. Tom is still alive, and his work is handled by Fischbach Gallery in New York.Anne, who grew up in privilege in Kentucky, had a remarkable openness of mind. Though her husband was a prominent Republican, she hosted a fundraiser at Presqu’ile for Democrat Frank Kratovil and said she “enjoyed her new Democratic friends.”

David grew up in beautiful surroundings and himself created beautiful surroundings. He saw the potential in Brooklyn factory buildings before it was fashionable. Eventually settling in California, he designed homes throughout the US. One of his designs is a spectacular sliver of a house perched on a ridge in Hilo, Hawaii. Now a vacation rental, called “The Falls at Reed’s Island” it is listed in the Frommer guide as one of the “top 15 rooms with a view”.

A few years after David’s death I saw that one of his home designs appeared in Architectural Digest. I took the magazine to Anne and left it with her. She was pleased to see it, but also, really unable to speak. We both realized that a talented person left the earth way too soon.

A while back, on a speaking trip to Chicago, I visited again with old friend Tom Welch. I learned with great sadness that he, a gay man, had been beaten up on the street. In David Morton’s 2003 NYT obituary Tom Cordell was listed as a partner. Now, in Babes’ 2017 obituary, Tom Cordell is listed as a surviving brother-in-law. That little detail said a great deal and pleased me.

Pamela Heyne is head of Heyne Design in Saint Michaels and author of In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child.