Food Friday: Relishing the Sauces

As summer comes grinding to a halt this weekend, we hope for cooler days as the leaves fall, and the crisp air lures us back outside. We haven’t started to wear our aprés ski togs just yet, so we are still imposing on Mr. Friday to do the bulk of the weekend cooking, outside on the grill. He is such a good sport, that we tolerate, nay, we encourage, his experimental cooking. He has taken a page from Ron Swanson’s book lately, and everything is about meat. And if we can wrap bacon around it, it is even better.

Ron Swanson was the blustering, endearing, meat-loving character on the network television show Parks and Recreation. Mr. Friday has had a Ron Swanson-sized hankering for ribs lately, but hasn’t quite hit upon the ideal combination: rubbed, braised or smoked short ribs? Grilled baby back ribs? What kind of sauce? Vinegary barbecue sauce that is the regional favorite of North Carolina? Root beer based barbecue sauce? Kansas City? Smoky? Tomato-y? Sweet? Savory? Piquant? Red or white? Heavens to Betsy.

Luckily, these sauces can also be used on chicken, so you needn’t worry about your heart stoppage from a massive intake of cholesterol via chunks of beef and pork. You could probably be creative with these and tofu, but I can’t go there.

Instead – let’s try the startling and unusual!

Root Beer Barbecue Sauce
1 cup root beer
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 teaspoon liquid smoke*
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Cool slightly. Transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead; keep refrigerated.)

*We do this recipe minus the Liquid Smoke – Mr. Friday has high standards. And when he is feeling adventurous, he’ll switch out the root beer for Cheerwine. Sometimes we lead a very intrepid National Geographic-kind of life.

There is a variation for smoked ribs, too. Mr. Friday has a smoker that gets lots of use in the winter. I might just be able to position myself as the chief salad maker all winter long if he keeps up his experimenting with ribs.

That being understood, we are fond of Vivian Howard’s Blueberry BBQ Sauce. It is her rather unique take on the vinegar-based barbecue sauces of Eastern North Carolina. We like to think we have mastered this recipe, but sometimes we delude ourselves. But it is nice to have blueberries for dinner, and we can do this in the oven all year long. I like having a bit of summery Maine in January.

Mr. Friday is fond of beef short ribs. I prefer pork baby back ribs. But I also recognize which side my bread is buttered on, so I will scarf down whatever he has decided to prepare. And I can get by licking the sauce off my fingers, no matter what the meat turns out to be. I even like barbecue-flavor potato chips, so that will tell you how deeply fussy I am.

Smoky-Sweet BBQ Beef Short Ribs This recipe link has a helpful video, too.

Here is a recipe with the best of two worlds – using both a rub and barbecue sauce. It is versatile and you can use it on beef, chicken and pork. They suggest that the rub can even be used on sweet potatoes. Hmmm. Let me know how that goes.

And finally, for a real change of pace, a white barbecue sauce. Crazy!

Enjoy the Autumn Equinox. And let’s say goodbye to a long, wet, hot summer!

“Leslie, you need to understand that we are headed to the most special place on earth. When I’m done eating a Mulligan’s meal, for weeks afterwards there are flecks of meat in my mustache and I refuse to clean it because every now and then a piece of meat will fall into my mouth.”
-Ron Swanson

Chesapeake Film Festival Spotlight: ‘Riverment’ Director Shayla Racquel

While every year the Chesapeake Film Festival brings to the Mid-Shore the best examples of independent filmmaking, with many of their annual selections going on to be full feature success stories with awards and a broad public audience, some of the really exceptional parts of the festival are devoted to showcasing the work of an entirely new generation of directors.

Independent to the core, creative, and with sometimes the simplest of equipment, like using only a smartphone camera, these young filmmakers can produce the same quality of storytelling in short form as their older, more experienced colleagues can do with full feature films.

Shayla Racquel is one of those new filmmakers, and Riverment is one of those films.

In 2018, Shayla completed Riverment, a short film that discusses intergenerational trauma while comparing and contrasting movements. The film follows the relationship between a grandmother and a granddaughter to highlight how women have been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of all political and social movements.

The Spy sat down with Shayla in College Park last month to talk about her life and film work.

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

The Spy Columnists: Craig Fuller

There have been more than a few lucky moments in the Spy’s nine years of existence but none more so than the serendipitous formation of a unique team of volunteer public affairs columnists who now grace its pages every week. These highly respected leaders in their lifetime careers, gifted with intellect, imagination, and passion, spanning from the political left to right, has been one of the most significant assets of our hyper-local and education-based news portals.

The commentaries of Howard Freedlander, Craig Fuller, George Merrill, David Montgomery, and Al Sikes have considerably enhanced our community’s civil debates on the most pressing issues of our times. And while the written word is their chosen medium, the Spy, a great believer in multimedia with now over 2,000 video productions, has been grateful that they have agreed to be interviewed as our country enters into one of its most important elections in recent memory.

We continue our series with Craig Fuller who started his remarkable career in politics as a real “Reagan man” while a student at UCLA during the future president’s two terms as governor of California. Connected to Reagan through a issue related to  state-funded internship programs, Fuller had all the traits that Ronald Reagan sought out with his top aides; a gentle form of conservative thinking, a congenial approach in building relations, and, of course, a genuine sense of humor.

Fuller was tapped early on in Reagan’s successful campaign for the presidency in 1980 and joined the Reagan-Bush Administration in 1981, first as Assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs and then becoming Chief of Staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush during the second term of the Administration. He co-chaired the President Bush Transition and then entered the private sector in Washington leading public affairs consulting firms, associations and serving as an officer of a major consumer packaged goods company.

After years enjoying Bethany Beach as a retreat from Washington’s hectic pace, he and his wife, Karen, eventually decided to move to Talbot County a few years ago as their permanent retirement home to play a more active role in the community, be closer to old friends, and enjoy easy access to the Chesapeake Bay for their beloved “Ranger Tug” boat.’

Since that move took place, Craig has made good on his commitment to dive in and help on the Mid-Shore. From joining the Board at the Academy Art Museum, growing a beard for the “Cover Your Chin for Charity:” in Talbot County, or even helping Chestertown find a new restaurant, the native Californian has fully embraced his new Eastern Shore commitments.

This new life also includes the world of politics. As someone who still considers himself a Republican, and as recently as 2016 was supporting Jeb Bush for president, Fuller has grown disillusioned with Trumpism. The current administration’s confrontational approach to policy, its inability to compromise, the use of fear and Tweeter-based intimidation, and lack of moral standards,  stands in such great contrast to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, that Fuller is now fully committed himself to Jesse Colvin’s efforts to replace Congressman Andy Harris in the November midterm election.

The Spy sat down with Craig at the Bullitt House a few weeks ago to talk to him about the America’s state of affairs, his frustration with his own party, and his hope that the country can once again return to Reagan’s famed “shining city upon a hill.”

This video is approximately seven minutes in length.


On Having Opinions by George Merrill

I’ve been thinking about opinions, lately. I’ve noticed how time has altered many of my own.

If we have nothing else in life, we have opinions, hundreds if not thousands of them. Sharing our opinions is one of the ways that we affiliate with one another, get fresh perspectives, gain a feeling of the personality we may be dealing with, or just catching up.   Take a dinner party; there will be typically more opinions expressed around the table than there is food on it. If you are unfortunate, you will have been seated next to a person who is opinionated. Such people don’t just have opinions, they have answers. They have answers for questions you’ve never asked or even more for some you’ve never even considered. They never entertain questions of their own that indicate they have any doubts. I’ve found such people possess the remarkable ability to hold court nonstop while showing no physical signs that indicate they have ever taken a breath.

Newspapers and magazines welcome our opinions. They thrive on them. The press sets aside space for readers to text their opinions on just about anything. Opinions are also heard on the air and seen on TV regularly. Politics is particularly popular in opinion pieces. Since politics occupy such a significant place in our common lives, it’s a subject about which almost everyone has an opinion and, I would add, for at least the average citizen like me, marginal knowledge of how it all works.

Of the many blessings of American democracy, one is that we are not expected to actually know anything about the opinions we express, and particularly the issues where politics and religion are concerned. Has not folk wisdom warned us regularly not to discuss religion or politics in polite society? It has always been regarded as perilous terrain: abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Years ago, I remember a couple came to my office seeking help for their marriage. Their complaint: All we can talk about any more is religion and politics. Although I remained cautiously hopeful, their complaint did not suggest an encouraging prognosis for a happy reconciliation.

I have been writing essays since 2002. I have written op-ed pieces in righteous anger only later to cringe when some new data appeared which made it clear to me that I had only a minimal grasp of the complexities expressed in my rant; I’d gone off half-cocked. I must confess there is a kind of fleeting intoxication that occurs, especially if the opinion – at least while I’m expressing it – is as right as rain. The need to be right can be hazardous to our health.

The kind of opinions being expressed can often be identified by the tone and the volume by which they are delivered. Opinions that share general observations are delivered in well-modulated tones that are collegial and inviting. If the opinions being shared are in the service of correcting what somebody sees as my misguided opinion, or trying in some way to win a point, the volume steadily rises while the tone loses any lyrical quality and grows increasingly dissonant.  

Anyone who has raised children, gone through their adolescent years and survived to tell the story, knows that being right has limited value in maintaining a happy family. This truism has found expression in the playful quip: Would you rather be right or stay married? The point here is that there are some things that are critical for our ongoing happiness and being right is rarely one of them.

Not long ago among the letters to the editors in the Star Democrat, there appeared a heated exchange of opinions on whether trickle-down economics works. For a few days, letters shot back and forth as each delivered his opinion with the measured authority and profound conviction. One letter explained that the policy was a success during the Regan era, while marshaling facts and figures to prove it. Another opinion piece quoted facts and figures that demonstrated how it had clearly not succeeded. Who knows the truth of the matter? We are so often left only with opinions, some interesting, some tedious, each defended fiercely, eloquently documented, and at the end of the day, hardly any are reconcilable.

It is both a blessing and a curse in how differently we can see the same things.

I do not propose that any of us should refrain from expressing opinions.  I do suggest that the wise treat their opinions tentatively, the way I once plotted courses during my sailing days. In determining the course, I chose to follow. I’d remain alert to any changes in the atmosphere that may indicate that maintaining my present course will be hazardous. In exchanging opinions without creating a storm and for safe sailing, Miss Manners and Bowditch’s, American Practical Navigator, are a must read.

Opinions, should have an element of flexibility and never be doggedly clung to as if they are eternal. Change is at the heart of all existence.

An old tale tells of the student who went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel distracted; I can’t focus, I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!” “It will pass,” the teacher said. A week later, the student came back to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so focused, so peaceful!” “It will pass,” the teacher replied.

Time and experience, if our minds remain pliable, are supposed to change our opinions and if not, at least modify them for no other reason that everything is changing. An inability to change them suggests a kind of psycho-spiritual paralysis, or worse still, that rigor mortis has finally set in. American poet, James Russel Lowell, said of such intransigent folk: “The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.”

It’s really ok to change our minds.

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: Hurricane Prep!

The Spy Test Kitchens are facing a new challenge this week – Hurricane Florence. We are getting ready for the storm, and are planning our emergency supplies in case we lose power, or worse. The kayak might be our only reliable transportation in a couple of days.

Still, we are smiling through the stress as we check off the many lists. We lived for twenty-something years in Florida, so this should be rote behavior. Forgive me if you have already made your plans, or if you have Dade County Code-approved hurricane impact windows, motorized rolling hurricane shutters, or are conveniently located atop a hill with a generator and a big deep freeze full of home-grown delights. We felt we fended off hurricanes for a few years because we bought a second cat carrier. Laughably, we no longer have the cat, or the carrier, thus putting ourselves in our current pickle!

We do have to be responsible for Luke the wonder dog, so I have made sure that we have a new bag of kibble, plus a traveling bed, bowl and a baggie of treats in case we decamp to a hotel. He will also have a couple of gallons of drinking water.

This should make my heart sing, not having to cook for a few days. But absence does make the heart grow fonder. I am sure that after a couple of days of apples and peanut butter sandwiches I will be longing for complicated and subtle bouillabaisse: or boeuf bourguignon: Until then, it is survival of the fittest. And Dinty Moore beef stew, straight from the can. Yumsters.

Here are things to stockpile because you never know when bad weather will keep you marooned at home:

Water, juice boxes, Gatorade
Apples – they stay fresh without refrigeration for a long time
Peanut butter – or almond butter – and jellies
Long-life milk, rice milk or soy milk in individual or family-sized boxes
Pasta and rice
Marinara sauce
Canned ravioli
Canned veggies
Canned tuna, salmon

Dare we say it? – Spam
Protein bars
Pudding cups
Trail mix
Low-sodium soups
Ramen noodles
Mac and cheese
Packets of sauces: mayonnaise, mustard, catsup, soy sauce

Store everything up on high shelves. In case of flooding.

Don’t forget to check your batteries. The Dollar store is a good place to stock up on candles.

Fill a cooler with ice. Make extra ice by filling gallon sized baggies with water and then freezing. It never hurts to have extra.

Before the storm comes, clear out your fridge. The smell of rotting meat is something that you will never forget.

Boil the eggs, cook the bacon, make hamburgers. Have a pre-hurricane feast.

Be careful!

“The first rule of hurricane coverage is that every broadcast must begin with palm trees bending in the wind.
Carl Hiaasen

Mid-Shore Goes Purple: Say It Three Times – Addiction Prevention Starts in Childhood

While having robust and sustained recovery programs for those suffering from opioid addiction is critical to the war against drugs, where communities see the highest return on investment is when it creates a similar or even more significant commitment to the area of prevention.

That is the point that Talbot County Public Schools Superintendent Kelly Griffith, Talbot County health officer Dr. Fredia Wadley, and Talbot County Dept of Social Services director Linda Webb are all eager to make during Mid-Shore Goes Purple campaign in September.

In fact, prevention works best when it can be applied to young children who have had adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs as professionals call them. These include such things as divorce, incarceration of a family member, child abuse, mental illness in the household, and other stress-inducing conditions that can be directly linked to drug addiction behavior later in life.

Now, these three organizations have teamed up tonight for a special presentation starting 6 p.m. at the Easton High School Auditorium, called “Creating a Conversation about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Building Resiliency,” with featuring speaker, Tonier “Neen” Cain-Muldrow, a trauma survivor and internationally-recognized Trauma Informed Care Expert.

As part of the program, the highly-acclaimed documentary “Healing Neen” will be shown followed by a community conversation on how best to educate the public about the impact of childhood trauma on the brain and building resilience for a successful and long life.

The Spy sat down with Fredia and Linda at the Bullitt House in Easton yesterday to discuss the enormous research that backs the claim that early childhood intervention can show dramatic results in preventing both drug addiction and mental health issues.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. This event is free to the public. The first 200 participants will also receive a copy of the book, “Healing Neen.” For further information, call 410-770-5750.

Women and Girls Fund’s Purple Grants in Action: Rising Above Disease with Bonnie Scott

As noted in our first Women & Girls Fund Goes Purple interview Sherry Collier with Restoring H.O.P.E. in Women it could be said that the  WGF has been wearing purple a long time before Talbot Goes Purple started their successful awareness campaign last year. A philanthropic organization committed to empowering women and girls; it also seeks to help with the unique health needs, both physical and mental, of women in our community who are trying to rebuilding their lives after a life of drug or alcohol abuse.

In the Spy’s ongoing Grants in Action series with the WGF, we turn our attention to Rising Above Disease’s women-only recovery house founded by Bonnie Scott.

WGF board member Talli Oxnam once again introduces Bonnie and her extraordinary personal journey from addiction to recovery, and her commitment to supporting women as a tribute to her son who tragically lost his life due to a drug overdose a few years ago.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Rising Above Disease please go here

This is the ten in a series of stories focused on the work of the Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore. Since 2002, the Fund has channeled its pooled resources to organizations that serve the needs and quality of life for women and girls in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties. The Spy, in partnership with the Women & Girls Fund, are working collaboratively to put the spotlight on twelve of these remarkable agencies to promote their success and inspire other women and men to support the Fund’s critical role in the future.

AAM Celebrates 60 Years: A Chat with Artist Julia Vogl on Social Sculpture Celebrating Place

Turning sixty years old for any institution is a big deal, but it is particularly true for a beloved art museum. Summing up six decades of art exhibitions and the art education of literally thousands of art students over the years is a formidable task, but the Academy Art Museum has filled a year with lectures, galas, open houses, and exhibiting its permanent collection.

It also, appropriately so, has commissioned a public art project to commemorate its founding in 1958 by bringing on London-based artist Julia Vogl to lead the charge. Vogl’s social sculptures incorporate civic engagement, architectural interventions, and color.

Working with close to fifty volunteers this week, the project will focus on creating Academy-60th-themed linoleum plates to print bunting flags, which we will hang streaming in the Courtyard for the party. It will be unveiled in the Museum’s Courtyard during the Museum’s birthday party this Saturday.

The Spy sat down with Julia a few days ago to discuss the project and the importance of celebrating a sense of place.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum and its 60th Anniversary please go here


The Eye Of The Needle by George Merrill

Confucius, the story goes, once dreamt he was visiting the damned who’d been consigned to Hell. But Hell was a beautiful banquet room, with all the damned sitting around a table piled high with delectable foods. These poor souls were allowed to eat anything they liked, but they had to use chopsticks, and the chopsticks were five-feet long. The damned were starving, staring despondently at the uneaten food before them knowing that even with all eternity in which to solve the problem, it could not be done.

Then, Confucius was taken to Heaven to see those accommodations. It was an identical banquet hall, with a table full of delicious food. The people seated around the table, however, were happy and well fed, but they, too, had to obey the same rule. The food could only be eaten with chopsticks that are five-feet long. The blest were blessed because they had learned to use the same chopsticks, not to feed themselves, but to feed one another.

For many years we have been close friends with two Roman Catholic missionaries. They are, a nun and priest, who belong to a missionary order known as the Maryknolls. They have traveled extensively serving the needs of many disenfranchised people in the third world. They were witnesses to the countries living with poverty and political oppression. The level of deprivation in which many inhabitants in those countries lived was heart rending.

Our friends would tell us story after story about how the indigenous people invited them into their squalid shacks to offer them shelter, food and water, all of which the natives had little to spare. But it was how they offered hospitality that was so moving. They gave no evidence that they were doing this begrudgingly and even though they gave from their scarcity, you’d never know it. They gave willingly and with lots of warmth and laughter. My missionary friends had repeatedly been the recipients of one of the most ancient virtues in the history of the human race, the virtue of hospitality. As the poor extended their hospitality to their guests, it was apparent they were having fun doing it. It’s an odd thing that by surrendering what little they had, the act of giving away satisfied some primal need. It’s a timeless truth, but it seems that it’s harder for some privileged individuals to experience this joy in giving. Many seem mostly invested in protecting their assets and making sure they increase.

Jesus spoke about the mire that the wealthy and privileged get caught in: “Again I say to you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Does amassing great wealth necessarily poison the soul of its beneficiary? It depends on the character of the beneficiary. I do think that there are millionaire men and women of character who see their wealth an opportunity to do for others, no, maybe even more than that; they see their wealth as an obligation to do for others. I suspect the character of the successful millionaire is more the issue than the amount of the wealth he or she has accrued. I would imagine Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates, would probably be as gracious if they had only little as they are with plenty.

I find Confucius’ Heaven and Hell allegory instructive, specifically in how it speaks to question of how we regard our responsibility to others. In the allegory, I notice Hell is not defined by how much food is available for its inhabitants, or by how little; it’s defined by the way inhabitants in each realm think of and use the resources they have in relationship to each other. In Hell, the residents are concerned mostly about how to feed themselves with no apparent interest in the needs of any others around the table. In Heaven, everyone is engaged in taking care of each other and not only are they well fed, they are happy.

Is it then, more blessed to give than to receive? Our pastor, just before the offertory, invites us to say those words with him. Most everyone joins in, but who knows who may feel that way. It’s hard to tell how anyone deals with such paradoxical issues from the outside looking in, especially where one’s economic worth is one the table. Putting money where the mouth is, has always been be a defining issue of character.

Apparently, in Biblical times, in Damascus and in Jerusalem, there were gates known as The Eye of the Needle. Because they had narrow passages and the rocky paths, getting a camel through the portals loaded with goods was challenging, if not impossible.

One interpretation of the Jesus saying is that the merchant would have to unload all the goods first for the camel to make passage to the other side of the gate. Would that mean that if the man was able to get the unencumbered camel through the gate, on the other side could he then reload the camel with the goods, like at the airport when we get our carryon back after going through security?

Personally, I believe that Jesus was playing hardball on this one. I also say that because as almost everyone knows, you may leave what’s left of your bundle to the kids but there’s no way you’re taking any of it with you.

I do not know if this is a fact, but I’ve wondered whether as we get older, we’re more aware that we’re not taking anything where we’re going and so we become more charitable with our resources than we might have been in our youth. There’s an optimum time in life when shedding our acquisitions feels even better than the excitement we had when we first acquired them.

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all peoples,” as Paul writes in Galatians.

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

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: Fall Is Coming to the Spy Test Kitchens

School is back in session. The nest has emptied. The sun is setting earlier. And it is rising later. I have seen a hint of bronze on the green dogwood leaves. The autumn clematis has swept over the mailbox in a wave of white blossoms. It is still summer, technically, but I think we can embrace the notion that fall might be around the corner. Certainly if the Halloween decorations at Target are any indication of the relentless advance of shameless commerce, so Christmas should happen along any day now.

I haven’t gotten my sweaters out yet. Nor have I turned off the A/C, so I might be able to persuade Mr. Friday to continue at his post as grill master on the back porch. But I am itching to get back to the interesting baking that I keep reading about.

There are some cream puffs from the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook that I am longing to try. Instead, I whipped up a batch of mix brownies last weekend. They were a jot easier; I just ripped open a Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Brownie box and added an egg, basically. I didn’t have the inclination to stand over a hot flame stirring up choux. But I bet the reaction when I finally do present the cream puffs will be worth the effort.

I am waiting for the The Violet Bakery Cookbook to come in the mail. I tracked down a second-hand version that is being sent via media mail, which probably means it will arrive along about Thanksgiving, when by rule of law, I can only bake the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies, and I will be yearning to bake Harry and Meghan’s elderflower wedding cake instead. A slightly scaled down version, of course. Maybe even cupcakes. We’ll see.

I have looked with yearning at a brand new, untested French bread pan I bought last year, when I felt sure that I was going to be a great bread baker. Instead, it has been tucked way back in one of the kitchen storage cabinets. Standing in the dark. The road to my personal hell is littered with lots of good intentions.

I was once given a tour of the vaunted Condé Nast test kitchens, before they moved their offices downtown, and I was enchanted by the space. Acres of pots, pans, stovetops, ovens, and turkeys being roasted in August for the Bon Appétit Thanksgiving issue. I was positively giddy feeling the zeal and enthusiasm for food there.

Bon Appétit has put out a lot of videos of their cooks and food editors in their shiny new 1 World Trade Center kitchens. I tried out this fettuccine recipe earlier this week. It was a keeper – no more fettuccine dripping high calorie heavy cream for us. This was practically health food! It was a warm pasta meal that I could make on a work night, with stuff I had actually hunted and gathered a couple of weeks ago.

I love a recipe I can prepare with food items already stockpiled in the kitchen. The less time I spend at the grocery store is good: there are books to read, and paintings to paint and falling autumnal leaves to await. I can’t wait for the weather to cool down, so I can have my own Spy test kitchen moments.

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
― J.K. Rowling