|Fresh plums mix with cinnamon and other ingredients in|
this tasty summer pie
I learned to cook at my mother’s knee, but not because she let me help. No. In my mother’s world, planning and then creating a gourmet meal for family or company was something of an art form, the equivalent of a doctoral thesis to this 1950s housewife. Permitted only to stand at the edge of the linoleum to watch her create her masterpieces, I was in constant awe of her command of all things gastronomic.
|As a 12-year-old Girl Scout|
in 1968, I attempted to earn
my cooking badge with
|As I turned 16 in 1972, my|
mother prepared an elaborate
birthday dinner for me. We dined
in our formal dining room and used
the "good china" that evening
|On my first day as a bride in 1980,|
I stuffed Cornish game hens for my
new husband, Mike, in our apartment
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. I’m on the east coast now, with no husband, but lots of friends and a two-acre plot on which I cultivate a small garden of herbs and vegetables. Neighbors provide me with fresh eggs from their chickens. I relish the opportunity to try new recipes on a regular basis.
|Shortly after I bought my first tiny home at the age of 23, I|
began hosting elaborate parties, like this fancy
engagement dinner I threw for my brother, Dave, and his
fiancee, Loretta, in 1981. The entree was a sirloin tip roast
I invited my good friends, Robert, Jan and Jesse, for dinner over the Labor Day weekend. Never mind that I had just had them to dinner the previous weekend. I had another recipe I wanted to try and my good-hearted Guinea pigs were only too happy to serve as taste-testers once again. This time, having leftover jumbo lump crab meat from a delightful crab salad recipe I’d made the night before, I decided to make crab cakes, a dish for which Maryland is well-known. But these were not any ordinary crab cakes.
|In one of the most tender expressions|
of friendship I've ever experienced,
my dear friends, Beverly, center, and
Gil, showed me how to make Bev's
wonderful crab cakes for my birthday
|I recreated Bev's delicious crab cakes|
for my dinner guests last Sunday
As Jesse and Gil listened to their favorite 1970s rock and roll hits in another room, I took studious notes while Bev whipped up her delectable crab cakes with my utensils. It was one of the best birthday gifts anyone has ever given me, not just handing me a cherished recipe but actually going to the trouble to show me how to make it. I have never forgotten Bev’s touching gesture of friendship and kindness. And man, those crab cakes were good!
Those memories came flooding back to me on Sunday as I gently mixed meaty lumps of blue crab with pimiento, bell pepper and other ingredients, forming the components into moist, tennis ball-sized orbs. Boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into inch-sized cubes sat marinating in a cumin-yogurt bath while coals heated on the grill outside. I tossed a green salad with roasted red peppers and slivered almonds while putting the finishing touches on my mother’s classic cheddar soufflé, a dish that never fails to impress.
|I employed a pair of straw bales as a|
low table on which to serve drinks
and appetizers on my patio. The
tablecloth was hand-tatted by my
grandmother in the 1930s
As my guests arrived, I poured cool glasses of peach sangria, a summer staple I keep going in my fridge at all times, like sourdough starter. The weather was warm, so we dined on my patio while a box fan set at a discreet distance kept bugs away. The mood was relaxed and jovial as we washed down our meal with tasty wines provided by my dinner guests.
|Robert, left, and Jan relax with their|
adorable poodle, Chanel, before dinner
|Fresh plum pie was a big hit with|
Julia Child once said: “I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone’s who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give”. Exactly.