Food Friday: Remembering Betsy Ross on Flag Day

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I guess I was actually thinking about Barbara Fritchie. I am forgetting my fifth grade history lessons. Barbara Fritchie, was from Frederick, and the Whittier poem about her is from the Civil War. Betsy Ross, equally sentimentalized and linked to our nation’s flag, was from Philadelphia, where she sewed the first flag, the Stars and Stripes, in 1776. Or maybe 1777. History is a little vague about this Colonial American legend.Move to Trash

I remember reading a fifth grade-level bio about Betsy Ross, where she smartly showed George Washington (who came to her upholstery shop, to personally discuss the flag situation with her) the beauty and economy of motion required to make a five-pointed star, when he and Congress had wanted six-point stars. It was easy to trim a five-pointer out of fabric, which she demonstrated with aplomb. I suppose it is a daydream worthy of a hardworking seamstress. http://historicphiladelphia.org/betsy-ross-house/what-to-see/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw6IfoBRCiARIsAF6q06u-QI74ao7rqysARw6DSqRL6XLQhkQxM2mrbOAdTCxaQlEB2caAhkEaAt0BEALw_wcB

Flag Day commemorates the day that the United States adopted this flag design (maybe sewn by Betsy Ross – her grandchildren waited 100 years before making their claims on the flag’s origins) on June 14, 1777. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. And so it goes.

I have decorated our window boxes and the pots of unhappy geraniums on the front porch with lots of little American flags. I am waiting for the Fourth of July before I break out the bunting and flag swags. I am also waiting until the Fourth rolls around before I start to bake (or assemble) labor intensive flag-inspired dishes. I think Betsy Ross would agree with me – speed and efficiency are required. And so, instead, tonight Mr. Friday and I will indulge in a couple of Betsy Ross-inspired cocktails. But you might want to be a little splashier with your patriotic gestures, so here are a couple of red, white and blue recipes to get you started.

This first recipe is pretty easy, and colorful. But HUGE! If you are having a neighborhood Flag Day Fete it will be perfect. You can substitute whipped cream or vanilla pudding for the custard. Vanilla ice cream works, too. It all depends on what kind of Friday you have had. Simplify!

Betsy Ross’ Berries
INGREDIENTS
3 pints cleaned raspberries
3 pints cleaned blueberries
Creamy Custard Sauce

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
4 beaten eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In large saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch, sale and milk. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil; stir and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir a little cooked custard mixture into 4 beaten eggs; return eggs to saucepan; stir well to blend thoroughly. Stir in sour cream and vanilla; blend well. Remove custard to medium bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving. Makes 3 cups.

In large bowl, gently mix together both berries. Portion about 1/2-3/4 cup berries into individual serving dishes; top each serving with about 1/4 cup Creamy Custard Sauce. Makes 12-16 servings.

http://alfafarmers.org/local-flavor/recipe-results/search&keywords=creamy+custard+sauce/

Patriotic Angel Food Cake
https://aclassictwist.com/angel-food-cake-with-coconut-whipped-cream-and-berries/

The Classic Fourth of July Sheet Cake
https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/flag-cake-recipe-1941624

Betsy Ross Burgers – of course!
https://www.farmergirlmeats.com/blog/recipes/post/betsy-ross-burgers

Our Flag Day option:
Betsy Ross Cocktail

2 ounces Cognac
3/4 ounce Ruby Port
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Grated nutmeg, as garnish

Shake with ice.

Yumsters.

There is another cocktail recipe from Epicurious that calls for a raw egg yolk. Your call – but I am not inclined to try that one. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/betsy-ross-200071

Betsy Ross (and Barbara Fritchie), we salute you!

‘“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,

But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word:

“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!” he said.’

-John Greenleaf Whittier

DrinkMaryland Returns to the Town of Centreville

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DrinkMaryland returns to Centreville on Saturday, June 15 from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. The market-like event will pop up for the afternoon at Lawyers Row and Broadway. Featuring ten Maryland wineries and nineteen breweries and distilleries, this gathering is an opportunity for
consumers to explore and learn about Maryland-made products.

The 2019 DrinkMaryland event series will pop up in three Maryland cities this summer. Kicking off in Gaithersburg on June 7, DrinkMaryland makes stops in Centreville on June 15 and in North Beach on June 29. Produced by the Maryland Wineries Association and the Town of Centreville, the DrinkMaryland series brings local wineries, breweries, and distilleries together with local artisans, musicians, and food vendors.

Unlike traditional wine tasting events, the DrinkMaryland series is an open marketplace for visitors to explore. Tasting passes allowing the sampling of wine, cider, mead, beer, and distilled spirits are available to buy; though, public entry to these events is free.

WHO: Maryland Wineries Association, Town of Centreville, attending public, and media

WHAT: DrinkMaryland: Centreville

WHERE: Lawyers Row & Broadway, Centreville, Maryland 21617

WHEN: Saturday, June 15, 2019, 12:00-5:00PM

Members of Maryland Wineries Association and participating vendors can be scheduled for interviews through Jim Bauckman.

Food Friday: Green Garlic

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Are you enjoying the bounty of spring vegetables and fruits? Are you rhapsodizing poetical as you cavort around the farmers’ market, gazing affectionately on new asparagus, young beans, tender strawberries and brilliant, jewel-like radishes? Have you found your way yet to the shrine of green garlic? You must search until you have achieved the bliss that comes with spring and young garlic.

There are some notable folk who do not enjoy garlic, and keep it off their menus and out of their kitchens, these poor sad, misguided creatures. The Queen, for one, cannot abide garlic. Which is why, perhaps, that at the grand state dinner at Buckingham Palace this week, this was the menu: steamed fillet of halibut with watercress mousse, asparagus spears and chervil sauce, followed by the meat course of Windsor lamb with herb stuffing, spring vegetables and a port sauce. There were no double cheeseburgers. There was no shrimp scampi. It looked as it it was delightfully bland mélange of locally raised meat and produce, without a trace amount of garlic.

Enjoy the tender, young green garlic while you can. It is deelightful. And it is not like the truculent garlic we depend on in the winter to get us through the long cold nights without Jon Snow. We need that strong, reassuring garlic in our spaghetti sauces and our beef bourguignons and garlic roasted pork chops with winter vegetables. We need heaps of garlic in the winter. But now, as we trip into summer, something lighter and more merry is in keeping. Something like the smell of onion grass when the lawn has just been mowed. Something ineffable, like the scent of warm tomatoes as you walk past the tomato patch, sneaking a peek at the burgeoning zinnias, whispering encouragement to the nascent sunflowers. We are not coping with the oppressing heat of summer just yet. Our dog still likes lying in a liquid puddle of buttery sunlight. We are enjoying the emergence of fireflies. Life is good.

I, for one, could live on this garlic bread. My apologies to Her Majesty. This is sheer genius. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inx8GlcdIOw

https://www.thekitchn.com/jump-into-spring-with-green-garlic-lets-try-something-new-218135

I expect that this recipe will send out plenty of scented warnings, so any errant Windor-Mountbattens who are wandering by my house will keep on their royal way: https://www.marthastewart.com/341743/pasta-with-three-kinds-of-garlic Thank you, Martha.

And in case you want to explore more garlic avenues all year long, here is a handy dandy garlic cheat sheet: https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/ultimate-garlic-cheat-sheet-which-type-garlic-goes-best-with-what-0156924/

“Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime…Please, treat your garlic with respect…Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screw top jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.”
― Anthony Bourdain

Mid-Shore Food: Jordan Lloyd Takes Over Eagle’s Cafe

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It’s not often that you hear of people going out of their way to have lunch at a golf course. But then again not many golf courses have chef Jordan Lloyd taking over the Eagle’s Café at the Hog Neck Golf Course. Featuring a new and tempting menu which ranges from pulled pork BBQ sandwiches to pasture-raised beef burger, there are two things hungry clients can count on: they’re going to get an affordable, delicious meal and, as much as possible, the produce will be locally grown and raised. That’s because Lloyd is passionate about both quality and the farm-to-table model, and he has a plan to show others in the food and hospitality companies how it can benefit both the community and local economy.

The idea probably began when he and wife Alice opened Bartlett Pear Inn Restaurant in 2009. “We never intended on being a farm-to-table restaurant,” he says. “We never thought of this as a concept. This was just our way of life. We wanted to open up a really great restaurant, and I was always taught that the way to do that is through providing the highest quality available. We do that by making sure we know where our products are coming from, and we make sure that they’re at the freshest peak value that they can be.”

But running a successful fine-dining eatery that only had 30 seats, was not making financial sense and in 2016 they decided to close the restaurant while continuing to operate the Inn. The lessons learned, however, were invaluable and ones he felt he could teach others to do. They included: how to create superior food, how to hire quality management, how to incorporate fresh local produce, and how to create the right atmosphere to attract clients who appreciated quality service. He turned his focus to Hambleton House, LLC, the contracting and consulting company he and Alice formed when they first went into business. Through Hambleton House, Jordan Lloyd would use his vision to transform the hospitality and food business, all while supporting the local economy.

After taking on a couple of DC-based restaurants. Lloyd invigorated their recipes, changed their menus, and trained new staff. The reshaped businesses picked up new customers and rave reviews. With those accomplishments under his belt, he began looking for something local that fit the scope of his dreams. It appeared when Nauti’s, the new seafood restaurant project at the Ferry Point Marina, asked him to oversee and design their kitchen operations. Despite that project being currently on hold due to permit issues, other opportunities arose as his successes became known.

The next venture was the retirement community, Londonderry on the Tred Avon. Lloyd redesigned their menus, hired a chef, and brought in Chesapeake Harvest to provide some locally sourced foods to the restaurants. Chesapeake Harvest, part of the Easton Economic Development Corporation, connects farmers to the consumers (both wholesale and retail) through an online farmer’s market that Lloyd helped create. “The carbon footprint impact with Londonderry buying local is huge, he said. “That’s thousands of dollars a year in the pockets of local farmers.” But his excitement didn’t end there. “The residents were coming to me saying, ‘Jordan, ever since you started cooking here my feet don’t swell. Ever since you started cooking here, I don’t have headaches like I used to.’ I mean, we are making real nutritional impacts with food. In the past, if their feet were swelling, they may have taken medicine. Now, it’s being helped with good nutritious food.”

Which brings us back to the Eagle’s Café at the golf course. Right now, Lloyd says, they’re able to tap into the best of what is available locally. “The café is serving Hummingbird Farm tomatoes. It has Bramble Blossoms Farm lettuces. It has Shi-Mar Farms pork shoulder. All available like good local products at a concession stand.” Affordable, locally sourced, flavorful food, served in a beautiful setting excellent has led to some fantastic feedback from clients. “It was just a matter of resetting the facility with products and a nice menu,” he says. He’s equally proud that the ‘amazing foundation of employees,’ despite all the changes, are enthusiastic and want to remain with the café.

And that’s the whole point Lloyd feels. “If you’re bringing in Hambleton House you are bringing in a company that has a constant pursuit for higher quality. We will be relentless for that pursuit because we believe that’s what makes great businesses great. The quality that they execute and that quality is not just food and beverage, but it’s also in its people and its atmosphere, and it’s in its presentation. So, it’s quality across the board is really our pursuit.

Next on their client list is Pope’s Tavern in Oxford. “I’m there to set them up with a business plan,” Lloyd says. “Really good food for sure, but on a consistent level that the staff on-site can execute consistently with quality and with understanding. For example, if they’re ever having trouble with a particular soup, I’m either going to work extra hard to train them on making it correctly, or we’re just going to change it to something easier for them to execute.”

Lloyd also sees Hambleton House’s mission as being an incubator for other businesses. Starting June 1st, Amanda Cook, a world-class pastry chef and baker will be moving into the area and starting a wholesale baking company at the Bartlett Pear Inn kitchen. Lloyd, looking at the future, doesn’t discount a storefront retail situation, but for now, the focus will be to support her on the wholesale side.

Not surprising, Hambleton House’s reach has extended beyond the restaurants and cafés. As part of a task force, Lloyd has been meeting and working with Maryland Delegates and Senators to create a state level bill called Maryland Food for Maryland Institutions. The goal of this proposal is to mandate that a percentage of all food procured by state institutions be bought from in-state farms. “Imagine how this impacts the farmers in our area,” Lloyd says. The bill is expected to become law within the year.

Stay tuned. There is much to be done and much that Jordan and Alice Lloyd would like to accomplish. “I would say our mission as a couple and as community participants is that we really do care. We care a tremendous amount about the success of the community and anything that we can do to support the efforts of our community business leaders or community aspects, we’re 100% there.”

Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.

Food Friday: Broccoli

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Fun facts to know and tell: broccoli has as much calcium, by weight, as milk. And yet, it is a much livelier color, especially after you steam it. With only three more weeks until summer officially starts, you should be working on your repertoire of simple summer foods that are tasty and nutritious, and won’t keep you in the kitchen a moment longer than is necessary.

You can steam broccoli in five minutes. Which leaves you plenty of time to go back to streaming Fleabag. Fact #2: the longer you steam broccoli, the more nutrients you lose. Which means we shouldn’t follow our mothers’ rules for boiling broccoli into submission. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=9

You can grill it, too. Which will take it outdoors. In our house, cooking outdoors means that Mr. Friday takes over the cooking responsibilities. Grilled and roasted broccoli are his new passions. The smarties at Bon Appétit have a recipe that he just loves for steak and roasted broccoli: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/pan-roasted-steak-with-crispy-broccoli. He is also a sucker for doing steak indoors in a cast iron pan these days. I have found him reading recipes online, which he enthusiastically abandons in favor of his innate instincts about these matters. And mostly he pulls off his experiments, for which I applaud him. I do my fair share, washing up behind him. He generates a lot of dirty pots and pans in his creative cooking frenzies.

Mr. Friday’s Spicy Hot Grilled Broccoli

INGREDIENTS (Mr. Friday eyeballs all of these measurements, and you should, too.)
3 – 4 crowns fresh broccoli
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 – 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 tablespoon Maldon salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Clean the broccoli and remove from the stalks. Put broccoli in large bowl and add olive oil. Stir lightly to coat the broccoli with oil. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Stir again.

Set the grill temp to high. Use a sheet of aluminum foil or we have a perforated pan for grilling vegetables. Lay the foil (or pan) on the grill, and spread the broccoli. Close the grill lid, and cook at high heat for 8-10 minutes. Voilà! C’est bon!

When they were little it was hard to persuade our children to eat broccoli. They had a sixth sense about avoiding steamed broccoli, but sometimes we could persuade them to try it with a tasty side of ranch dressing. They are too sophisticated now to fall for bottled salad dressing, but I bet they would try these dips:

Basic Vinaigrette
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oi
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Maldon salt
Pepper

Combine the vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper in an old mayo jar. Cover and shake to dissolve the salt. Add the olive oil and shake to blend. Taste for seasoning.Keep in the fridge for other salad and vegetable needs.

Greek Tzatziki
Mix Greek yogurt with olive oil, chopped cucumber, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Wowser.

Even Martha weighs in with a simple honey mustard dip for raw vegetables: https://www.marthastewart.com/339751/vegetables-with-honey-mustard-dip

And these recipes are not just for the younger set, they are also good for cocktail hours, when you are having a cold drink with friends and want to lessen your existential angst and ward off cancer. The virtue of broccoli!

“Listen to your broccoli and it will tell you how to eat it.”
― Anne Lamott

Food Friday: Memorial Day Salads

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It’s Memorial Day Weekend! Hurrah! We can all use a three-day weekend to prepare for summer. It’s time to pull out the white shoes, iron linen dresses, paint the Adirondack chairs, get the boat in the water and head to the beach. There is going to be a lot to do! Some of us are even going to entertain. I’ve strung the lights on the back porch, and have already seen some fireflies return the compliment. Summer is almost upon us!

I love ritual celebrations. I love small town parades. Once, back in his misspent youth, Mr. Friday and his chums had a martini stand at the annual Memorial Day Parade. And back in those days, when one could drink with impunity before noon, we sat in lawn chairs with martinis in hand, and cheered as the Scouts, the school marching bands, the firefighters, some vintage cars, town officials and proud veterans paraded past us. And then we went to a Memorial Day cookout in a park, under the trees, on the river. It was a warm and sunny day, as most happy hazy memories tend to be.

There are many ways to have a Memorial Day cookout. You can go fancy, or you can take an effortless route. Guess which I suggest? There is no need to get elaborate, even with freshly ironed linen. Here are some favorite: traditional and manageable cobbler https://www.bonappetit.com/story/cherry-biscuit-cobbler?, hot dogs or sausages and hamburgers are swell American foods and are great for any Memorial Day picnic. I usually whip up a batch of potato salad, but a bag of Utz sour cream and onion potato chips is never out of place! Is it too hot to bake a cobbler? Just bring out some Bergers. You will be a hero. Or slice open a frosty cold watermelon. Put beers and glass bottles of Coke in a bucket of ice, and don’t forget the cheap white wine.

For picnics and cookouts we like made-ahead and cool foods. If you are hosting a gathering, or are asked to bring something to a holiday event, made a nice, simple salad: corn, fruit, potato, Caprese, pesto, green salads are easily prepared ahead of time, and can be a side dish or a main dish if you have pesky pescatarians lurking:

The Kitchn’s Corn Salad – no cooking required!
https://www.thekitchn.com/corn-salad-268340

Bon Appétit’s fruit salad: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/fruit-salad-fennel-watercress-smoked-salt

My Popular Potato Salad
This is a recipe that people actually ask for – and not just because they are my in-laws and trying hard to be polite! It that constantly evolves and adapts, and each summer brings a new twist. I don’t always have green onions – Vidalias work just fine. No red potatoes? Go for Russets. A little fresh thyme? Why not? It is dependable, tasty and can be adapted and stretched to feed the masses. Just add more potatoes and more mayonnaise. Particularly fine for large picnic gatherings. It tastes best if it has a little time to sit and mellow, so if you can make it in the morning, it is just right by suppertime.

Many, many servings…

2 pounds little new, red potatoes
1 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise thinned with milk
1 bunch green onions, chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until tender. While warm (but not still steaming hot) slice potatoes and begin to layer them in a large bowl – 1 layer potatoes, then a handful of green onions and salt and pepper. Pour on some of the mayonnaise mixture. Repeat. Gently stir until all the potatoes are coated. You may need to add more mayonnaise mixture when you are ready to serve, as the potatoes absorb the mayo. Put on the table and stand back – the stampede might knock you down!

We are always big fans of Caprese salad – it is so delicious and such an easy supper to whip up when it has been a frantic day in The Spy test kitchens. We tend to have a line up of tomatoes on the kitchen window sill all summer long and with the basil growing like kudzu on the back porch, there is no excuse not to invest in tomato futures. I plan to indulge in a fresh ball of mozzarella every couple of days to help keep our basil plant well-trimmed and feeling useful.

Caprese Salad
(For which you don’t really need precise measurements.)
Eyeball what you have in the fridge.
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup small mozzarella balls
3 to 4 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 generous pinch Maldon salt

Arrange the basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella on a plate or in a Tupperware container and drizzle the olive oil dressing over the top. Add salt and pepper as desired. Apply sunscreen and adjust your hat. Instagram. Ah, Tuscany.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/insalata-caprese-13232

Pesto Salad
We like a nice light pesto sauce for fresh pasta when the temperatures rise. Years ago we stopped adding the pine nuts, and instead make a nice thick paste of basil, olive oil, garlic gloves, salt, pepper and fresh Parmesan cheese, that we swirl around the mini-food processor for a moment or two. If it seems too thick, we thin it with a little pasta water. We gave up the pine nuts because they were hard to find, are chock-full of cholesterol, and are expensive. Some people substitute walnuts, but I don’t like walnuts, so I have opted for simplicity.

Basic Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
2 large cloves garlic
½ cup olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine basil leaves, oil and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely minced, and then smooth. Add the cheese and process very briefly, just long enough to combine. Store in refrigerator or freezer, because you will need a container of sunshine in your fridge for a rainy day.

Enjoy your weekend!

“‘Never plan a picnic,’ Father said. ‘Plan a dinner, yes, or a house, or a budget, or an appointment with the dentist, but never, never plan a picnic.’”
― Elizabeth Enright

Food Friday: Celebrating Sophie Kerr

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Sophie Kerr, one of the patron saints of Washington College, in Chestertown, wrote very popular women’s fiction in the early twentieth century. She grew up on the Eastern Shore and started her career in New York, writing magazine pieces, editing the famous Women’s Home Companion, while writing books, plays and short stories. Sophie Kerr was wildly successful in her field, and her financial legacy continues to endow an annual literary prize at Washington College. This year the Sophie Kerr Prize is $63,912, and will be given to one lucky, ambitious student writer on Friday, May 17. Here are some recipes for a jubilant celebration. Please add lots of good Champagne.

https://chestertownspy.org/2019/05/14/the-2019-sophie-kerr-prize-will-go-to-one-of-six-wc-seniors/

Sophie Kerr’s fiction is littered with plucky heroines, and her food writing is full of great regional, American dishes. In the Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Kerr wrote a section called, “American Cooks are Good Cooks”, countering arguments that American foods were hopelessly provincial, and lacked the subtleties and sophistication of European gourmet dishes. Stuff and nonsense! Gingerbread, spoonbread, strawberries, clam chowder (with or without tomatoes) – all-American dishes that could turn everyone in the twentieth (and twenty-first) into foodies.

Here is one of Kerr’s recipes from The Best I Ever Ate, by June Platt and Sophie Kerr Underwood, 1953:
Strawberries Romanoff
“Cleaned and capped strawberries are lightly sugared, then chilled for two hours in a mixture of one-half fresh strained orange juice and one-half Curaçao. Serve with heavy cream sweetened stingily, whipped and flavored with vanilla.” That is a writer’s recipe.

There have been many American newspaper and magazine writers who have reliably enlivened our food culture. A few of my favorites are: Nora Ephron, Alex Witchel, Ruth Reichl. (Disclaimer: I am currently reading Ruth Reichl’s latest memoir, Save Me the Plums, and it is terrific! Go grab a copy!)

Nora Ephron, the food writer, novelist, and filmmaker, was a powerhouse of creativity. She was witty, acerbic, clear-eyed and romantic. She could cook. And bake. https://offtheshelf.com/2016/07/reading-nora-12-essential-books-for-every-nora-ephron-fan/

Nora Ephron’s Famous Peach Pie
Preheat oven to 425°F.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup sour cream
3 peeled and sliced peaches

Put first 4 ingredients into a food processor and blend until a ball is formed. Pat out into a buttered pie plate. Bake 10 minutes at 425° F. Remove from oven. Beat 3 egg yolks slightly. Combine with 1 cup sugar, flour and sour cream. Arrange peaches in crust and pour egg mixture over peaches. Cover with foil. Reduce oven to 350° and bake 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 15 minutes or more until filling is done. Yumsters!

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/nora-ephrons-peach-pie-1259999

Alex Witchel is a James Beard Award-nominated staff writer at The New York Times. She has written a poignant memoir about her mother’s decline into dementia, All Gone, but she has also written some hilarious stories, one about trying to find an ashtray in Martha Stewart’s daughter’s carefully curated minimalist hotel: Girls Only. She also knows quite a lot about food and writes a monthly column, Feed Me for the Times. This will be just the thing for a festive literary celebration:

Lemon Mousse for a Crowd
From Alex Witchel, The New York Times Magazine, May 24, 2006

Ingredients
1 cup egg whites (from about 8 eggs)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 1/2 large lemons)
1 cup light corn syrup
3 cups whipping cream

Instructions
In a double boiler or bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the egg whites, sugar and lemon juice. Whisk the mixture over the simmering water until smooth, airy and very thick, about 5 minutes. Add corn syrup and whisk just to combine, then remove from heat. Transfer egg mixture to a large mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour.
Remove from refrigerator and add whipping cream. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture until thick enough to hold stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Spoon the mousse into dessert cups or bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 15 minutes to 1 hour before serving.

Ruth Reichl, another writer who will enliven any literary soirée, has been a chef, a journalist, a food critic, the last editor-in-chief at Gourmet Magazine and a television producer for PBS. She will make you weep with delight when we celebrate the latest Sophie Kerr Prize winner. Follow her haiku-like tweets on Twitter if you would like to smile every day: (@ruthreichl)

Ruth Reichl’s Giant Chocolate Cake
INGREDIENTS
FOR THE CAKE:
1 ⅛ cups/100 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process), plus more for dusting the pans
¾ cup/175 milliliters whole milk
1 ½ teaspoons/7 1/2 milliliters vanilla
3 cups/375 grams flour
2 teaspoons/10 grams baking soda
Salt
1 ½ cups/340 grams (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups/356 grams dark brown sugar
1 ½ cups/300 grams granulated sugar
6 eggs
FOR THE FROSTING:
5 ounces/143 grams unsweetened chocolate
¾ cups/170 grams (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup/225 grams whipped cream cheese
1 teaspoon/5 milliliters vanilla
2 ½ cups/312 grams confectioners’ sugar

Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter two large rectangular baking pans (13 by 9 by 2 inches) and line them with waxed or parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with cocoa (you could use flour, but cocoa adds color and flavor).

Measure the cocoa powder into a bowl, and whisk in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water until it is smooth, dark and so glossy it reminds you of chocolate pudding. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Put the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat in the sugars until it is light, fluffy and the color of coffee with cream (about 5 minutes). One at a time, add the eggs, beating for about 20 seconds after each before adding the next. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches and the cocoa mixture in 2, alternating flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour.
Pour half of the batter into each pan and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Let the pans rest on cooling racks for 2 minutes, then turn the cakes onto racks to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting: Chop the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler. Let it cool so that you can comfortably put your finger in it. While it’s cooling, mix the butter with the whipped cream cheese. Add the chocolate, the vanilla and a dash of salt, and mix in the confectioners’ sugar until it looks like frosting, at least 5 minutes. Assemble the cake, spreading about a third of the frosting on one of the cooled layers, then putting the second layer on top and frosting the assembled cake. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017692-ruth-reichls-giant-chocolate-cake

That is probably enough sweetness for one celebration. Good luck to all you Sophie Kerr contenders!

“I don’t think any day is worth living without thinking about what you’re going to eat next at all times.”
― Nora Ephron

“Part of the power of home cooking is that everything tastes better when someone else makes it for you.”
― Alex Witchel

“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
― Ruth Reichl

This is charming: https://www.washcoll.edu/departments/english/sophie-kerr-legacy/

Food Friday: Don’t Forget About Mother’s Day!

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It’s not too late to start planning a little Mother’s Day gesture. But you had best hurry up. I would advise you to put a little thought into it, though. I had an email this morning suggesting that a trip to Jersey Mike’s Subs would be a good idea; “Treat Mom to a Sub!” Perhaps not. I like a good cheesesteak as much as the next mother, and this is definitely a first world problem, but I’d like something homemade. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or well-crafted (and believe me, I have a drawer of summer camp ashtrays, plaster handprints, and dollar store jewels). Maybe this Mother’s Day I could get first pick of sections of the Sunday New York Times, some sweet and crunchy French bread, and some bacon.

I love bacon. I don’t like cleaning it up. Bacon is one of those foods that tastes better when someone else has cooked it. And then poured the bacon grease into a can, cleaned up the splatters, washed out the pan, and has tossed the dish cloth into the laundry, where more elves will take over. Such a life of fantasy I enjoy!

In real life, I tried this glazed bacon recipe from the New York Times last weekend as part of my exhaustive food research for The Spy. We also had French toast. It was divine. Be sure to get thick bacon – otherwise, why bother?

Glazed Bacon https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016900-glazed-bacon

“½ pound thick-cut bacon slices (about 6 slices)
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine

PREPARATION
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil; it should be large enough to hold the bacon in a single layer. Place bacon in pan and bake until lightly browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. While bacon cooks, mix remaining ingredients together.
Drain bacon fat from pan. Brush the bacon strips on both sides with the brown sugar mixture. Return bacon to the oven and cook another 10 minutes or so, until glaze is bubbling and darkened.
Remove bacon from the oven and transfer to a cutting board or platter lined with foil or parchment paper. Let cool about 15 minutes. Bacon should not be sticky to the touch. Cut each strip in thirds and arrange on a serving dish.”

I did not cut up the bacon – I divided it evenly between Mr. Friday and myself. With no apologies to Luke the wonder dog, who went without.

This is my standard recipe (practically foolproof) that I pull out for every occasion that calls for French toast: houseguests, Easter, vacation, first day of spring, Sundays, and even birthdays. It was featured once on Food52, although they did not use my illustration, which still makes me a little huffy.

We always have day-old French bread (in fact we have a collection of French bread in the freezer – we will never starve) and it always seems a sin and a shame to pitch it, so this is a delightful and economical way to be frugal consumers. And Mr. Friday loves the added kick of the rum on an otherwise uneventful Sunday morning.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 5 min

Ingredients:
1 cup milk (or half and half)
1 pinch of salt
3 brown eggs (any will do, actually – brown are prettier)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg – grate it fresh – do NOT use dried out old dust in a jar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 generous dollop of rum
1 tablespoon brown sugar
8 1/2-inch slices of day-old French bread

Whisk milk, salt, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, rum and sugar until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Soak bread slices in mixture until super-saturated. Cook bread on each side for a couple of minutes, until golden brown. Serve with warm maple syrup and powdered sugar. If you add some strawberries and whipped cream it will remind you of the Belgian Waffles from the World’s Fair in the 60s. Childhood bliss!
https://food52.com/recipes/4622-weekend-french-toast

Your mother will thank you for this breakfast, especially if you remember to use cloth napkins, and if you wash up afterward. Then leave her alone to wander over to her Adirondack chair on the back porch, so she can read Normal People, all by herself.

Happy Mother’s Day!

“No one can be independent of other people completely, so why not give up the attempt, she thought, go running in the other direction, depend on people for everything, allow them to depend on you, why not.”
― Sally Rooney

Food Friday: Heaps of Asparagus

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Spring is such a busy time of year.

Birds to watch: (don’t forget to clean out your hummingbird feeders and fill them up with fresh homemade nectar: 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Boil the water, add the sugar, dissolve sugar, cool, pour. Easy peasy and super cheap – do NOT add any red food coloring as you will kill our little harbingers of joy. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/hummingbird-nectar-recipe).

Gardens to mulch: I am using newspapers and mulch this year. No more black fabric. And I have very presentable hydrangea beds, and the roses are happy again. It is such a great concept – supporting our local (and national) scribes, and recycling, without contributing to landfill. I haven’t gone too radical because I have topped the newspaper with garden center-mulch, but you can skip that step if you don’t mind looking at the newspaper. I want to control the weeds without using Round Up, and I am just a wee bit proud of the hydrangeas this year, so I am adding the mulch. https://www.bbg.org/news/using_newspaper_as_mulch

Gardens to plant: We are simplifying this year; tomatoes and hollyhocks in the raised bed, basil, garlic and petunias in the back porch container garden, roses in the side garden, with some daisies for contrast, hydrangeas and yellow day lilies around the back, and day lilies and daisies in front of the spent azaleas in front. Last year we went to town with the raised bed, and learned our lesson about over-planting. Two people do not need eight tomato plants, a dozen bean plants and half a dozen pepper plants. The beans, while they made a great art installation, produced exactly two bean pods. We had the Hanging Gardens of Nebuchadnezzar in our side yard. I am sure the neighbors were highly amused.

Mass quantities of farm-fresh spring fruits and vegetables to gobble up: The farmers’ market has been a delight! Have you seen the heaps of asparagus? Holy smokes. We need to have a spargelfest like they do in Germany. https://www.tripsavvy.com/spargel-festivals-in-germany-1519702 It sounds more crowded than visiting tulips in Holland, or even the ever-popular Oktoberfest.

Sadly, I have just learned that apparently we have been cooking asparagus the wrong way. One of my kitchen gods, Vivian Howard, has taken to posting video cooking tips on her Instagram feed on Tuesdays. And she just said that our tried and true way of roasting asparagus on a cookie sheet is bad! Look her up yourself, https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/18029276176187339/ or put up with the annoying ads from the Southern Living website: https://www.southernliving.com/kitchen-assistant/vivian-howard-instagram-tips-asparagus

It makes me sad that we have been committing crimes against nature, but it has always tasted wonderful, and we learned how from a friend who worked at Bon Appétit Magazine. I guess the times they are changing, and we had best move with them. Otherwise, it’s back to 8-tracks and cassettes. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-asparagus-recipe-1916355

Ways to consume your fair share of asparagus: roasted (if you want to feel Vivian Howard’s deep and shaming disappointment in you), stir-fried, butter braised, blanched, boiled, raw, shaved, in pesto, in a frittata, as part of an antipasto, baked, pickled, puréed, grilled, fried in tempura batter, or in a salad. That should keep you busy for a while.

Here is one of my all-time favorites, from Nancy Taylor Robson – from our early days at The Chestertown Spy: https://food52.com/recipes/4034-springtime-asparagus-by-nancy-taylor-robson

The Kentucky Derby is tomorrow. I hope you have your hats ready, julep cups polished and your mint picked. After you have boiled up the humming bird nectar, you can make some simple syrup for your own nectar – Mint Juleps: https://food52.com/recipes/27858-mint-julep

“Marriage? It’s like asparagus eaten with vinaigrette or hollandaise, a matter of taste but of no importance.”
-Francoise Sagan

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