A Valentine’s Day Menu

Be My Valentine Courtesy of http://dribbble.com/shots/892286-Be-My-Valentine-Sketch-WIP

The following Valentine’s Day menu was imagined for The Rainbow Room when restaurant impresario Joe Baum was in charge.


Diamond-cut Toasts with Roses of Salmon

Hearts of Artichoke

Love Boat of Oysters, Clams and Shrimp

Baby Pot-Likker Dumplings


Doves Roasted with Lovage and Rosemary

Breasts of Chicken Nested on Fingerlings

Grilled Bass Wrapped (modestly) in Grape Leaves

Ring of Angel Hair Pasta


Salad of Frisée Garnished with Forget-Me-Knots


Upside Down Pair of Tarts

Coeur à la Crème    Love Apple Napoleon

Honey Ice Cream   Rose Petal Mousse

Cold Violet Soufflé

Seasons EATings

Traditional Christmas Pudding

Here I am to wish you joy and love in my very own words (MP3 download: 3.15mb) on WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

The holidays are upon us…

Santa is arriving in the nick of time so once again we can strengthen old links in the chain of memories and forge new ones.

We all like to conjure up Currier and Ives real or imagined remembrances of skating on the just frozen pond followed with hot chocolate, spiced cider or mulled wine, but if this isn’t in the cards this year, just be happy you will not be stranded in the airport.

Food Gifts for the Holidays

An Edible Christmas by Irena Chalmers‘Tis the time of year to be jolly but if you are a bit short of cash this year, perhaps you’d like to consider a handmade gift.

Ages ago I wrote Edible Christmas: A Treasury of Recipes for the Holidays. It is a dopey title but was well-intentioned at the time. I gathered heaps of absolutely brilliant recipes; the photography cost the earth. I just checked it out on Amazon and see you can buy it today for exactly One Cent! (A single penny!)

How depressing.

Cookbooks have a shelf life of somewhere between milk and yogurt.

Chapter One: Gifts in Jars includes these goodies:

  • Four-Pepper Relish
  • Five-Alarm Salsa
  • Sweet and Fiery Red Pepper Chutney
  • Coriander and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
  • Golden Peach Butter
  • Blueberry-Lemon Jam
  • Microwave Lemon Curd
  • Ginger-Pear Marmalade
  • All-American Barbecue Sauce
  • Onion-Thyme Marmalade
  • A Crock of Simmering Potpourri Spices
  • Rosemary-Lime Vinegar
  • Walnut-Herb Olive Oil
  • Several flavored vodkas
  • Apricots and Prunes in Brandy…

Let me know if you would like to have any of these recipes. I’ll send them FREE!




Pumpkin Pie Oh My!

Did you know that many pumpkin pies are not filled with pumpkins but rather with squash?

I’ve never understood Americans’ love for pumpkins or pumpkin pie for that matter, though my children always seemed to insist on it at Thanksgiving when they were little. And I would give in, or be grateful when someone else offered  to bring it for the Thanksgiving feast.

Instead of grumbling against tradition, let me share this poem by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1982) on:

The Pumpkin

Oh, greenly and fair in the land of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o’er Nineveh’s prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,–our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o’er it baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!




Food Job: As Easy as Apple Pie

If there was a parliament of pastry, Apple Pie would be the prime minister and Johnny Appleseed its roving ambassador.

They say nothing is as American as apple pie but Isaac Newton, knowing the gravity of making such a claim, could have upset the apple cart by pointing out humble pies appear throughout the world.

Some think the best apple pie is topped with ice cream.  Others insist an apple pie order isn’t complete without a slice of cheddar cheese. Modern folk mindlessly munch mini-pies nuked from the microwave; others dream of apple pie and visualize Norman Rockwell’s Mom in her red checkered apron with the straps criss-crossing like a pastry lattice across her back.  They say nothing is as loving as a pie, golden, delicious and hot from the oven baked for the apple of her eye.

Adam and Eve, George Washington, Norman Rockwell, McDonald’s and Steve Jobs had vastly different views of apples and apps.

Clearly apple pie is a state of mind.

For the fortunate an apple pie is a pie of cake.

Food Job: Bake your own unique apple pies and become a valued supplier for restaurants, country clubs, food trucks and wherever great food is offered.

Food Writer Job:  Become the world’s greatest expert on the topic of apples. Here are a few subjects to cover:

Apple pie origins

Adam’s apple (was it worth the bite in the Garden of Eden? Were Adam and Eve the only couple who were truly made for each other?)

Apple computer

An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Apple brandy

Apple cider

Apple in mouth of a pig (why?)

Apple martini

Apple nutrition

Apple picking

Apples that don’t fall far from the tree

Apple use in aromatherapy

Applebee’s (restaurant review)

Apples dippers at McDonald’s (opinion of)

Apples in art

Apples in history

Apples in literature

Apples in religion

Bobbing for apples

Candy apple

Curious customs associated with apples

Dried apple dolls

Golden apple of Hesperides

Johnny Appleseed

Lifecycle of an apple from seed to harvest

Newton’s apple

Snow White and the poisoned apple

The Big apple (origin of name)

Varieties of apples

Where apples grow

Which variety to choose for baking an apple pie

You get the idea?  It is a form of word association. You can do this with virtually any single food subject. Begin a blog.

Quote: The first written mention of a fruit pie:
“Thy breath is like the steame of apple-pyes.”

Robert Greene (1590) ‘Arcadia’


Food Jobs: Give an Heirloom

Well before 1776, women and girls delighted in decorating the everyday objects they used in their living and working space. Their work reflected the spirit of the times. Utility came first, beauty followed.

Samplers were not only for decoration; they were used to teach children reading, writing and arithmetic.  Sewing was no hobby in those early days but a necessity. All the clothes had to be made at home. Mothers and grandmothers made quilts and rugs to keep themselves warm with no inkling they were creating art.

Men and women have always been artisans, using whatever materials they had at hand; metal and wood, tin and pewter, rags and bones, clay and scraps of cloth.  Neither fancy nor frivolous, their work is filled with the exuberance of experimentation. It may be described as naive, but its very innocence is the essence of its charm.  Small wonder, then, that these many objects, these heirlooms, have endured and become part of our heritage.

This tradition continues today. A new handmade gift is cherished every bit as much as an heirloom. Like the work of those who came before us, we can get by with little or no formal training.

Courtesy of theheritagecook.com

The important thing is to continue to create our own unique gifts to share with those who will appreciate them.

To express your love for a friend, you could give a basket of heirloom tomatoes or a collection of your favorite recipes tied with a bow (or a bottle of nicely crafted bottle of gin!).

ICDT! (I Can Do That!)