Food Friday: We are Toast

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As if we didn’t have enough to worry about! I listened to a report about the perils of toast and potato chips this week. The plummy BBC accents did not make the reality any less harsh. There are new threats lurking in our kitchens, thanks to our fondness for the exceptional versatility and deliciousness of bread and potatoes. Toast and fries are a menace!

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38680622

Acrylamides, the combination of water, sugar, and amino acids which are the very things that make bread toasty and tasty, are created when bread is heated in the toaster. They are what cause the browning of the surface of the bread, and make the delicious odor that wafts up from the toaster into your waiting nostrils. The essence of the the comfort we deride from toast is what is going to kill us all. Just when we need lots of hot sugary cups of tea, and plates of warm, buttery toast.

So long, toast. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/09/how-to-eat-toast

Toast is the gateway ingredient for many other delicious meals. I remember my mother bringing me a trays of cinnamon toast when I was lying on the sofa, recovering from the mumps. Nothing more delicious had ever slid down that sore throat. And cinnamon toast was the first recipe I ever managed on my own. (The next was my famous peanut butter and potato chip sandwich, a classic combination of sweet and salty, soft and crunchy.) http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Cinnamon-Toast

If you can’t have toast, you can’t have grilled cheese: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017326-grilled-cheese-sandwich Grilled cheese is the basis for many a child’s sense of independence. One feels such autonomy when trusted to cook a grilled cheese unsupervised for the first time. From there it is a short hop, skip and jump to re-heating frozen pizza in the Toast-R-Oven.

Nor can you enjoy a grilled egg and cheese sandwich the Dan Pashman way: http://www.sporkful.com/watch-grilled-egg-and-cheese-the-sporkful-way/. And nothing delightful and unexpected as this grilled cheese and kimchi sami: http://www.pbs.org/food/fresh-tastes/kimchi-grilled-cheese/ Ciao.

You won’t be able to consume French toast with abandon: https://food52.com/recipes/4622-weekend-french-toast. So long to using up that stale bread and getting to drown your hungover Sunday in sweet lashings of maple syrup.

Say bye-bye to my favorite lunch, the BLT. http://www.food.com/recipe/classic-blt-sandwich-129615 And I cannot even begin to wonder what role acrylamides play in making bacon crispy and delish. Here is a more sophisticated and complex recipe, in case you ever get tired of the purity of a basic BLT: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/ultimate-blt

When I feel like I have to order something for lunch that makes me exude worldliness, I will often order a club sandwich. Not any more, I suppose. I will be getting by with suggestions from the water sommelier. (I kid you not: http://www.eater.com/2013/8/6/6390275/la-restaurant-has-45-page-water-menu-water-sommelier) How very depressing. Thank you Pioneer Woman for this very gussied up club sandwich: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/killer-club-sandwich/

While you are at it, you might as well whisper, “adieu” to the Croque Monsieur and the Croque Madame: http://www.marthastewart.com/334699/croque-monsieur

Say farewell to the best part of Caesar Salad, the crouton. Sigh. I fry ours in bacon fat, so I guess I am killing us off twice as fast.

And that’s the swan song for French Onion Soup, too. Frankly, the dripping browned cheese and the crouton are my favorite part of onion soup. That and trying politely to wrest a mouthful of melted cheese-draped bread out of the soup bowl without bringing shame to my family. http://juliachildsrecipes.com/soup/julia-childs-french-onion-soup/

And toodle-oo to cocktail parties! No more witty banter while trying to appear poised enough to be a John Cheever character, as I successfully navigate the crowded room, a highball clasped in one manicured hand, the other winkling out a delicious toast point, coated with egg and a smidge of caviar. https://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/ToastPoints.htm

It is the end of our happy times. Godspeed.

“It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you. ”
― Nigel Slater

Mid-Shore Arts: Big Time Lawyer Ron Liebman Becomes Legal Thriller Bestseller

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For several decades now, the book publishing world has embraced and thrived with the addition of the so-called,” legal thriller” among its many offerings. From Scott Turow to John Grisham, this subgenre of crime fiction has soared in popularity with the reading public as writers use the law in the same way as police work has done in the solving mysteries.

Now with five books behind him, the former lawyer and big-time prosecutor of such high profile politicians such as Spiro Agnew and Marvin Mandell, Ron Liebman is beginning to be recognized as one of the new masters of this kind of fiction. The retired Patton Boggs attorney has attracted the attention of some the country’s most prestigious publishing houses like Simon & Schuster and Random House with his remarkable tales of legal intrigue, including his latest book entitled Big Law.

The Spy asked the Mid-Shore resident to talk about his new book as well as his own experience as a lawyer at one of the country’s largest and most successful law firms.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. Big Law is available at local bookstores and on Amazon here.
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Food Friday: The Common Cold

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The temperatures have been dancing up and down, although it hasn’t seemed too much like a grim winter yet. Oh,dear. I’ve gone and offended the winter weather gods, and we will have blizzards thoughout February. My apologies.

But that’s OK. I can just rack up some more quality time spent in bed, with my box of tissues, my dry up pills, and my Kindle. It is thoroughly demoralizing to be felled by a cold. Are there special colds, or just the common denominator kind? I have lived through car accidents, broken bones and childbirth, and nothing has made be feel more puny and vulnerable than a cold.

There is none of the middle-of-the-night drama of appendicitis, or the heaving violence of intestinal flu, thank goodness. I just lie against the pillows, hoping that I look vaguely like Camille, and cough cough cough. So attractive. And even more so now that my nose has gone a positively incandescent rose madder red from all the blowing. Who needs mousse? My hair stands up in spikes, all by itself.

Sadly, Luke the wonder dog speaks cough cough cough. He scuttles over from his comfy cushion in the corner of the bedroom, to sitting worriedly by my side of the bed, staring sadly at me. I wonder what doggy expletive I am shouting out to him whenever I cough. He does not react well to swearing as it is.

I let out a stream of oaths the other day when I dropped a bottle of wine, and it smashed to smithereens on the kitchen tile. Luke was so worried about that blue streak of swear words that spewed unbidden from my otherwise lady-like (Camille, remember?) lips, that he scuttled over as if he had been to blame. (I might yell at myself for stupidly dropping a bottle of cheap white wine, but I would’t yell at him. The poor dog has a misplaced sense of guilt and responsibility.) That is the sad, sincere, guilt-ridden face I see staring up at me whenever I have a coughing jag.

Luke does not let his responsibility for my cough cough coughing interfere when his internal clock announces that it is time for a walk. He might just be mutt of a dog, but he has a great facility for telling time. He might be Swiss, because at 8:00 AM, 12:01 PM and 4:59 PM he makes a dramatic show of wagging and wriggling himself about with anticipatory pleasure, insinuating himself between me and the computer, or me and the drawing table. That is very charming behavior normally, but when I have to drag the sneezy snotty cough cough coughing self out from the warm embrace of my Black Watch Pendleton blanket nest, and take someone out for walkies, I am aware of the injustice in the universe. I can hardly wait for the weekend to come, when I will either feel better, or Mr. Friday can walk Luke the wonder dog.

In the meantime, when I am not whingeing about poor, poor pitiful me, here are some things you can use to tempt your patients to consume; things that will improve their outlook and their poor raw noses.

Tissues – be sure to stock up on boxes and boxes of the kind suffused with lotion.

Fluids – Ginger ale, orange juice, Gatorade, tea

Bendy straws

Beef broth – you too, can pretend to be on the Queen Mary, wrapped in a thick wooly cruise ship rug, reclining on a spindly teak deck chair, watching for icebergs while sipping the warm broth as supplied by the nameless (yet attentive) deck hand.

Chicken noodle soup – when Mr. Friday had the cold he went through a couple of gallons of this.

Kindle, Netflix enabled or with any recent bio of Queen Victoria; the book will outlive the cold. It took me a week of steadily plowing through one biography, and King George VI had just died, and Victoria had just turned 18. If my cold worsens and I come down with pneumonia, maybe I’ll get to the wedding to poor, dear, doomed Albert.

Snacks – forbidden childhood favorites. Utz cheese balls. Yumsters.

Ice cream – for your sore throat

Drugs – you name an OTC cold remedy that we haven’t tried. Our Go To drug seems to be NyQuil, for its reliable powers to knock you out. Thank heavens. Otherwise Luke wouldn’t get a wink of sleep at night.

Here is a recipe from our clever friends at Food52. But I think you can cheat and use a can of Campbell’s. Shhh. You didn’t hear it from me! https://food52.com/blog/1395-beef-stock

“The only way to treat the common cold is with contempt.”
William Osler

Senior Nation: An Adult Son and Aging Mother Find a Solution at Dixon House

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Perhaps there is no greater and more difficult decision to make for an adult child of an aging parent than to determine that independent living has come to an end for their mother or father. While “aging in place” has become an increasingly attractive and realistic alternative for many in their senior years, those who enter their 90s, or in some special cases even their 100s, simply are not physically capable of maintaining houses or apartments.

That was certainly the case with Eric Horst and his mother, Natalie Horst. Eric, Natalie’s only living child, had difficulty at first convincing his mother, who was a healthy person overall, that it was time to leave her own home. She had led an active life as a realtor and was a very social person. He comments, “She wasn’t managing the household well anymore, her hygiene habits had changed and she wasn’t cooking meals any longer.”

He adds, “I had heard good things about Dixon House being a well-run facility from community members. It was also an affordable option for us and I was really impressed by the staff here. With its 18 rooms, it felt like a Victorian boutique hotel.”

Eric and Natalie came for a visit and looked at a room adjacent to the second-floor screened porch. He recalls, “The room was unoccupied and stark, so I decided to decorate it for her with blue and white bed linens and valences, in her favorite colors, her artwork from home, and some temporary furniture. I brought her back for the second visit and she stayed the night.”

Eric remembers that the first week of Natalie’s stay at Dixon House, she got her hair done and had a pedicure. With her usual sense of humor, Natalie quips, “I came for a haircut and pedicure and decided to stay!”

Natalie has made friends at Dixon House and Eric feels she is content. Eric’s partner, Mike Thielke, now also serves on the Dixon House Board of Directors. As a special treat on Natalie’s birthday each year, which she shares with one other resident, Eric buys crab cakes for all the residents and staff and hosts a birthday party. He also contributes throughout the year as needs arise, recently donating a flat screen television at Christmas. He comments, “I am a big fan of Dixon House. I have peace of mind that my mother is safe and being cared for here.”

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information on Dixon House, please go here.

Sharing the Light by George Merrill

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I’ve accumulated lots of junk over the years. It’s nothing short of remarkable.

Most people confront the enormity of accumulated junk only when moving. I notice it when preparing for the holidays. When getting out Christmas decorations, I rummage through closets and drawers that have remained dormant for eleven months. I can’t believe what I see.

I’ll find grocery lists written years ago, a small bell with no clapper, a tiny shelf clock that looks like a parrot, little metal objects with no apparent purpose. I’ve found old wing nuts, ribbons, coasters, ballpoint pens with no ink and product information for appliances we’ve long since pitched. I’ll pick them up, scrutinize them, wonder why I ever kept them at all. Then I put them back just where I found them. I have trouble letting go. Sometimes even simple decisions can be hard to make.

Every year, from a junk filled drawer I unearth one small seasonal decoration. It warms my heart. It’s a little wooden figurine of the Magi, the Three Kings who, in Christian lore, followed a star to bring their gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh to Jesus. In the liturgical calendar the commemoration of the event is called Epiphany. I place these three kings on the windowsill until the feast of the Epiphany has ended on January seventh.

The decoration’s a little hokey but its sheer innocence has always endeared it to me and as I pick it up, I smile. It also reminds me of one Epiphany I celebrated as a boy, and how, on that occasion I understood more about light and how sharing it with others can make your day.

In my boyhood years I gave little thought to Epiphany until our priest initiated a rite to celebrate it. The priest told us this was the time we symbolically carried God’s message of light and love to the whole world. We were to do this with candlelight. At the end of the service, we received individual candles lit from the candles at the main altar. Our task was to carry our candles, still burning, all the way home. I almost succeeded. Franny and I left the Church after the service and with candles in our hands walked the six blocks bound for home.

Franny was one of our trio that walked together on Thursday nights to and from choir practice. Mrs. Sontag was old (younger than I am now) and Franny was about six years my senior. I had a crush on Franny. She had long blond hair. I thought she was pretty and she also treated me as if I was her age, like one of the big kids. I always walked next to her; we talked and I liked the way she smelled, like sweet lemon.

Normally, Franny and I didn’t walk home together after Sunday services. On that Sunday in Epiphany, however, Franny and I, with illuminated candles, left church together to make the trek home. We both had a good shot at getting there with candles lit since there was little wind that afternoon. Soon, however, a puff of wind blew out my candle. Franny was older and I was sure she knew more about things like this. I asked her if she thought Fr. Rogers would think I was cheating if I reignited my candle by using hers. “ No”, she said, “You’re just supposed to keep it burning as best you can.” I relit my candle with hers and when I left Franny to go the rest of my way home, just shy of my house the candle blew out again. I was sorry that Franny was not there. If she had been, I know I’d have kept the light shining until I got home. I need others to help me walk with the light.
Holiday times evoke memories. I think of memory like the closet or drawer that over the years gets cluttered with curios and bric a brac. At first memories appear as images in my mind’s eye. Some of those images, like junk, I can’t make much of. Some seem mundane, at first, like the little statue of the Three Kings. It’s as if my mind retains most all the stories of my life in small symbols and icons, as if my mind had discovered how to save space. After all, there are so many stories in a single life and new ones arrive daily.

It’s not been easy this year to walk in light. I suspect we all know at least one person who keeps us in the light. When overwhelmed by shadows it helps me to find someone who has light, and ask them, “Could you share some of it with me.” And I know they’d be delighted because Franny assured me more than seventy years ago: “You’re just supposed to keep it burning.”

Walk in the light.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Food Friday: Extra Cheesy

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Yes, I know we should all still be attempting to better ourselves and brighten the corners where we lurk, but we are about to get some snow, and I am switching into feral animal mode. I want to be warm and cosy, and not venture out into the cold. The last thing we need is a trip to the grocery store on slippery roads, when we could be curled up with our new Christmas books, or binge watching The Crown. We need lots of hot, gooey, creamy cheese.

Mr. Friday and I do not normally believe in kismet, because, for one thing, why haven’t we won the lottery by now? And we don’t venture far from home often, but after Christmas we took a little road trip to Raleigh, North Carolina. We probably should have been following in the footsteps of the great eater and food writer Calvin Trillin, tracking down some obscure, yet magical, backwoods barbecue, known only to the discerning and deserving. Instead we stumbled into one of Ashley Christensen’s restaurants, and were converted.

We had just read a recipe in The Wall Street Journal for the Macaroni au Gratin which Christensen prepares in her restaurant Poole’s Diner in Raleigh. Sadly, Poole’s Diner isn’t open at lunch, when we were hungrily roaming the downtown streets. We found Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, another of Christensen’s food emporia, and managed to grab a couple of stools at the crowded bar. We then devoured some fantastic fried chicken. Mr. Friday ate a quarter of a fried chicken, with a side of creamed collard greens, and I had a fried chicken biscuit, drizzled with honey and mustard, and topped with slices of pickled tomato. And since I was not driving, I managed to enjoy a rather tasty IPA. The bartender was charming. The hand lettering on the chalkboard menu was stylish. The crowd was neatly hip. The tattoos were multitudinous. And we fit in. Kismet.

Later this summer Food Friday will attempt one of the Poole’s Diner Cookbook’s fried chicken recipes. Right now we are concerned with winter comforts. We made the Macaroni au Gratin last weekend for a main dinner dish, and had the leftovers for a side dish Tuesday night. Yumsters, both times. And with a winter storm approaching, I am going to stock up.

I think the key to this dish is the cream. When I first learned how to cook macaroni and cheese in junior high school (when I wore an embarrassingly un-hip, rick-racked apron that I had sewn in Home Ec the previous year) we started macaroni and cheese off with a Bechamel sauce. Nonsense. Lumpy, flour-y, anything but indulgent creamy goodness. Go for the gusto – go for the cream. And be sure to use the best cheese you can find. I had to look up the Grana Padano called for in the recipe, and wound up using a nicely aged, hard Parmigiano-Reggiano. (I shudder now to think of all the chemical-laden boxes of Velveeta Mac & Cheese I served to the Tall One and the Pouting Princess every Monday night for their entire childhoods…)

Thrill factor: There are an enjoyable couple of moments when the macaroni au gratin is positioned briefly under the broiler. Fire! Melting cheese! Danger! Browning cheese! Sizzle! Hiss! Such is our level of enjoyment that you can see why we think it is practically a wizarding triumph for us to walk through the doors of a restaurant recently mentioned in The Wall Street Journal. I think after the snow this weekend we will have to get out more.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/ashley-christensens-recipe-for-macaroni-au-gratin-1482418450

We bought a copy of the Poole’s Diner Cookbook, and you should, too. It will keep you from going off the rails with nonsensical New Year’s resolutions.

It probably goes to show that kismet really isn’t about having any degree of cool, but being hungry in the right place and time. And if you find yourself in Raleigh, visit any of the Christensen restaurants, and I am sure you will fulfill your own personal destiny: Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s, Bridge Club, Chuck’s, Death & Taxes, Fox Liquor Bar, and Joule Coffee & Table.

Here are some other recipes from the New York Times for mac and cheese, but I think you should give the Christensen recipe a try. After all, they go through 10,000 pounds of cheese a year – they know what they are talking about. And she won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast in 2014.

http://gardenandgun.com/article/poole%E2%80%99s-diner-mac-and-cheese-recipe

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”
-Neil Gaiman

A Spy Visit to the Chesapeake Bay Russian Embassy Estate

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Editor’s Note:  In light of the United States government’s actions to prohibit Russians access to their retreat in Queen Anne’s County yesterday, The Spy would like to share a previous story we did on the property in August of 2013.

For more that twenty years, through international crisis and diplomatic tensions, Washington’s Russian Embassy has used their country retreat, known locally as Pioneer Point, a few miles outside of Centreville to quietly host the Sailing Club of The Chesapeake’s annual Labor Day Cruise. And the tradition was started by none other than long serving Russian Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, apparently a  friend of sailors and Pizza Hut.

It’s also one of the few times that the estate, on land once owned by the Tilghman Family, is open to Americans. The Spy tagged along for the last holiday bash this past weekend and was welcomed to take some photographs of this remarkable property.img_0844 img_0847 img_0853 img_0839 img_0848 img_0860 img_0864 img_0841 img_0846 img_0849 img_0856 img_0858 img_0865 img_0857 img_0854 img_0840 img_0850 img_0852 img_0859 img_0861 img_0842 img_0845 img_0851 img_0855 img_0863

Food Friday: Foolproof for the Holidays!

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Are you ready for the weekend? Hanukkah, Christmas, parties, church, temple, relatives, nosy neighbors. They are all banding together to cause a seismic event that we haven’t seen for, oh, almost a year. Don’t take the easy route and guzzle the cheap white wine; I can assure you that you will regret that decision. Instead, plan ahead and arrive with armfuls of the simplest of treats. Just don’t tell anyone how easy they were to prepare. You are sworn to the Spy’s Test Kitchen’s Oath. Peace on earth, good food for all.

‘Tis the season! The famous test kitchens at Spy World Headquarters have been a veritable beehive of activity this week. There was a flash mob of publishers, editors and artists flinging flour, dropping cookie sheets, confusing baking soda with baking powder all in the name of research. We have been debating Christmas cookies and holiday treats of every variety – particularly those that we remember from childhood. We’ve gone through quite few glasses of milk testing these recipes, because we want to be sure you have only the very best to leave out for Santa this year. Don’t forget the carrots for the reindeer! Organic, please.

I am trying to simplify this year, as I say at the beginning of each Christmas season, and very shortly thereafter we are generally wading through my complications. My usual baking assistants have flown the coop, and editors and publishers are a mercurial lot. And writers? They just want to taste the results and protect their sources. After the initial taste testing, all of the support staff evaporated! I did not have any extra hands to set up an assembly line mixing dough, rolling the dough, cutting cookies, baking, cooling and decorating enough cookies for general distribution. The thought of doing it alone was just exhausting! So in the end, this year we will bake luscious bars, which are generally simple, satisfying and completely sinful. Even the cranky research chief will like these.

I always do fudge for the neighborhood, which I love it because it tastes deceptively dense and complicated, as if I had stood for hours over my warm Aga, with a fistful of exotic free-market cocoa beans, brandishing my trusty candy thermometer. I am sorry to disappoint, but this is the easiest recipe I know that requires more than peanut butter, a knife and a couple of slices of bread.

Foolproof Fudge
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (DO NOT USE EVAPORATED MILK!!!)
Dash of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Line 9” x 9” pan with parchment paper

Melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and salt in heavy
saucepan. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Spread evenly in the pan.
Walk away. You can chill it for a couple of hours – I do not suggest cutting it until it is
quite cool and firm. Last year I jazzed it up with some rum-infused vanilla, and
our true blue letter carrier, Ron, mentioned especially how much he had enjoyed
this year’s batch. So you can probably experiment a little bit with other liqueur
flavors.

Millionaire’s Shortbread
Our friends at food52 have a recipe for Millionaire’s Shortbread which sounds divine. Mr. Friday and the Tall One spent some time gamboling around the hiking trails of Scotland, and developed a predilection for genuine Scottish shortbread. Wait until they try some home-baked, with generous lashings of chocolate and caramel.

http://food52.com/recipes/6932_millionnaires_shortbread

Secret Family Recipe Brownies

My mother never used cake mixes; they offended her New England sensibilities. She would never have considered Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix, although I can assure you, it is a very fine product; many a box has migrated through our kitchen. When I was growing up my mother baked brownies made from scratch, and they were equally delish. These were from my grandmother’s secret family recipe, written down on a faded and thumb-printed index card. It was a family treasure, kept in a little wooden box in the pantry. A secret family recipe? Ha! Like most family secrets this was life-altering in its cunning and simple deceit – our Secret Family Recipe was pretty much word for word the recipe on the back of the Baker’s Secret Chocolate box! Except that we left out the nuts.

Helen Foley’s Secret Family Brownie Recipe
4 squares Baker’s unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
Heat oven to 350°F.
Line a 9” x 9 pan with parchment paper.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudge-y crumbs. (Do not over bake.) Cool completely.
http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/bakers-one-bowl-brownies-54515.aspx

Happy Holidays!

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Food Friday: Office Party Strategies

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The holiday office party can be an ordeal. Or it can be a balm to your relationships with people you spend too many hours a day. Don’t you want to be the fun one? Don’t you want to sail home at the end of the day with your empty platter, smug and satisfied that your dish was Hoovered up by all and sundry, and not left to languish like the kale salad, or the tofu meatballs made with grape jelly? And it is much better to be the one who made a creative effort to please, instead of the loser who stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for donut holes because you forgot the day of the potluck. Shame. Shame. Shame.

You need to stratgize. The Seven Layer Dip is a party standard. And though it is a party staple, it gets ugly. Fast. And then there it’s boring presentation, everything glooped into a big bowl, which might work at a family barbecue, but is never going to survive the onslaught of the hungry guys from IT. Presentation, at least for the first few minutes, is an important consideration.

Consider the individual cup o’Seven Layer Dip. Petite. Colorful. So appealing! I would also suggest using either an assembly line (it’s time to rope those children into helping you!) or put each layer of ingredient in a piping bag, and make each cup beautiful. Remember, you want to be the cool kid. It will be worth it. Honest. VP Sherri will surely recognize your doggedness, now. And your creativity. And your joie de vivre!

Strategy A:here is your basic boring unimaginative, uninspired, might-as-well-just-buy-it-ready-made-from-the-grocery-store version. http://www.mccormick.com/recipes/appetizer/7-layer-fiesta-dip

Strategy B: and this is the magically delicious and oh-so-cute version: http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2011/12/individual-seven-layer-dips.html If you have any germaphobes in your office (and don’t we all?) this is the way to go. No double-dipping. No excessive food handling by others! And the tiny cups are adorable. Be sure to have some extra chips on hand, because you know people will want to keep coming back to your marvelous party dish.

Strategy C: The same little serving cups can be used for all sorts of tastiness. Chex Mix! Brownies! Stuffed tomatoes! Parmesan spinach balls! White bean dip! Bite-sized Caprese appetizers!

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/pws_chex_party_mix/
I did this version of the Pioneer Woman’s Chex Mix for Thanksgiving. Using the fresh garlic and the hot sauce gave it a nice kick, which we really needed to sustain us as we set about preparing the enormous (and labor-intensive) Thanksgiving feast. You might think about the possibility that people will want to squirrel away a little stash to get them through that long, draggy, low-energy part of the afternoon.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robert-irvine/cherry-tomatoes-stuffed-with-chicken-apple-salad-recipe.html

http://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/entertaining/easy-party-food-ideas-that-won-t-break-the-bank-pictures

http://www.marthastewart.com/274717/easiest-party-foods#165899

http://ourbestbites.com/2013/07/bite-sized-caprese-appetizers/

Here are links to find the little cups:
basic: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Diamond-Multi-Purpose-Mini-Cups-With-Lids-2-oz-50ct/17056809
fancier: https://www.amazon.com/Appetizer-Catering-Supplies-Disposable-Shooters/dp/B01EQDTRFK/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1481226164&sr=8-18-spons&keywords=mini+plastic+serving+cups&psc=1
Little red Solo cups – probably not work appropriate: https://www.amazon.com/ALAZCO-Glasses-2-Ounce-Holiday-Tailgate/dp/B0152KLRU4/ref=sr_1_26?ie=UTF8&qid=1481226263&sr=8-26&keywords=mini+plastic+serving+cups

“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused— in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened— by the recurrence of Christmas.”
― Charles Dickens