Posts Tagged ‘cooks’

Four Disasterous Dinners

November 1, 2010

DISASTEROUS DINNERS

Thanksgiving will be here soon. My favorite holiday and I remember the first dinner I made when I became a newlywed. Parents, hubby’s and mine, gathered in the dining end of the living room and hubby carried the beautifully browned bird to the table. I had been worried about my mother-in-laws opinion of my cooking. She had been cooking and baking since she was twelve when her mother passed away and she became the cook for her father, two working older brothers and a younger sister; a job at which she excelled.
My hubby flourished the knife, stuck the two-pronged fork (a set given as a wedding present) into our first turkey and began to carve. Halfway through dinner I realized I had never removed the giblets or the neck. They were still in the little bag stuck in the cavity. Fortune smiled-no one noticed.
The second misadventure happened when my hubby invited long-time friends from his dance class to dinner. It was spring and asparagus beckoned. I trimmed the stalks and rinsed but not enough-the sand remained. Ignored by all. It took a few years and many more dance classes before that dinner was mentioned. Hey-that’s what friends are for and it said dancers have iron stomachs.
Friday-in the days when Catholics just permitted fish-no meat allowed I invited two close friends for dinner and hubby spent hours extracting the meat from lobsters. I made a delectable salad and placed the bowl in the fridge. A few hours before dinner – horror of horrors – I opened the door of the fridge and placed a bottle of white wine on the same shelf. The bowl of lobster slid out of the fridge and smashed in fragments. Lobster, mayonnaise, celery and glass all lay in a shiny, glop of a mess on the kitchen floor. My poor guests had tuna fish that night.
Then there is the tale of Lasagna. Vegetable Lasagna with Marinara sauce – baked ahead and frozen. Misreading the directions, I baked the dish for one hour and served. Still frozen. I checked the directions. When frozen-bake for two hours.
Forget about my cooking and learn more about my writing – please log on to http://www.elisewarner.com My cozy, mystery eBook titled Scene Stealer is available at http://www.barnesandnoble.com, http://www.amazon.com, http://www.borders.com, http://www.carinapress.com
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A CARNIVORE NO MORE

September 6, 2010

My husband’s eyes are as big as a starved puppy’s. Tonight his dinner will be pasta with marinara sauce and a big, mixed salad. Yesterday he was served salmon, vegetarian baked beans and a big, mixed salad. Tomorrow–chicken marsala is on the menu along with noodles, green peas and a big, mixed salad. He longs for a thick medium-rare porterhouse, a succulent rib roast with oven-browned potatoes on the side or my specialty in days long gone by– juicy leg of lamb with pineapple stuffing. Whenever guests were invited to dinner, leg of lamb was on the menu.
My taste for meat began to its slow journey to oblivion when I auditioned, got the job and worked as a singer at New York City’s Radio City Music hall. The holidays had begun and I joined a large ensemble of singers, dancers and Rockettes performing in the Music Hall’s annual Christmas Show. Dressed in 18th Century finery we sang a medley of carols, and then dashed to our dressing rooms to change into our costumes for the major highlight of the show-the procession to Bethlehem. Clad as common folk, we accompanied the three wise men from the east and walked across the Music Hall’s huge stage as we made our way to the manger to worship the Christ child.
Joining robe-clad singers and dancers were camels and sheep and I began to bring
carrots to feed the sheep between the shows. My favorite, Sally, a wooly charmer, began gaining weight and one day she missed a performance. Since the motto for both chorus members and animals is “The Show Must Go On,” I rushed to Sally’s dressing room as soon as the Nativity Scene ended and discovered Sally in her stall, now a proud mother of lambs. Before the end of the holiday season, the lambs had joined the procession.
There was no way I could serve a festive dinner whose main dish were members of the theatrical profession. I had trod the boards with soft, warm, cuddly and affectionate fellow performers. Lamb was now off my menu.
I began to take a closer look at cows. I no longer saw a prime cut, to me they were big eyed bovines with long lashes; introspective and calm creatures, wanting nothing much out of life but a chance to chew their cud in a green meadow under a sun-filled sky. Soon steaks and roasts, stuffed peppers and cabbage, chili and my famous (amongst friends and relatives) meat loaf went the way of legs of lamb and lamb chops.
Somehow I don’t feel the same way about chicken- a most versatile item on my bill of fare. And if someone has a chicken for a pet, please…I don’t want to know about how charming, funny or intelligent she may be. I admit to worrying about our oceans, over fishing and the poor fish that are being slowly poisoned with PCBs. But hey…I’ve been married a long time and marriage is a compromise.
Still, I love pasta-pasta marinara, pasta ai fungi, pasta with egg plant, pasta with clam sauce and then there are risottos-vegetable, mushroom, cheese or seafood. For a change I may serve cheese blintzes, cherry blintzes, apple blintzes and blueberry blintzes topped with non-fat sour cream. And what about all the things you can do with vegetables?
Speaking of vegetables, someone once asked me if I had ever heard a carrot cry; I don’t think that’s true, do you?
For more information about me – http://www.elisewarner.com Scene Stealer my mystery may be purchased at barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, carinapress.com and anywhere eBooks are sold

The House of Twining

August 30, 2010

I love London, the theatre, the streets, museums and castles and tea. Tea always tastes better in London and on day, my husband and I discovered Twining’s.
H.R. Twining & Co., Ltd, London, a trailblazer in specialty teas for almost three centuries began with the purchase of Tom’s Coffee House by Thomas Twining in 1706. Located in the rear of its present site at 216 Strand, it attracted gentlemen who engaged in serious discussions and scalawags who frittered away time in frivolous chatter while indulging in brandy, rum and arrack (an alcoholic drink distilled from rice or molasses) and drinking water from Bath and Bristol. Thomas soon offered a new drink that had begun to gain favor with the public – tea. Of course, a woman of social standing never placed her dainty foot inside a coffee house; a lady would wait in her carriage while a manservant fetched the refreshment.
Eleven years later, Thomas opened The Golden Lyon. Despite high taxes and dire warnings issued by the medical profession and the church against the brew, tea became fashionable and members of Court Circles and the Royal Household patronized the establishment.
In 1797, Tom’s grandson, Richard Twining, built a doorway on the Strand opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. Above the shop’s Royal Crest, centered between two colorful Chinese figures, he incorporated the symbol of the Golden Lyon, attracting the eye of the beholder to The House of Twining. Today, the fragrance of choice teas and coffees still wafts past the entrance offering an irresistible invitation to the passer-by. Teas range from Prince of Wales, Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, China Black or Lady Grey to the finest Assam plus a selection of over 13 different types of coffee.
Accompanying the teas are an assortment of fine crackers and jams, neckties, aprons, tea towels, mirrors, bone china mugs, cups and saucers, coffee makers, limited edition teapots and teapots shaped like bears, vegetables and birdhouses.
A portrait of the founder, attributed to William Hogarth, welcomes memorabilia addicts to the Museum at the rear of the shop. Displayed are a copy of the Royal Warrant issued to Richard Twining II by Queen Victoria in 1837, a Buddha, carved from the roots of a tea bush, invoices dating back to 1715 and pictures of Thomas and his son Daniel on a 1737 tea wrapper. Maps and advertisements for tea, coffee, chocolate, sage and snuff adorn the walls along with prints of tea trading. One that appeared in the London Chronicle, in 1770, states business would continue as usual despite a warehouse fire.
The back room is also home to Victorian tea tins, the first Twining illustrated advertisement for packet tea (introduced during the 19th century,) and 19th century tea scales. Models and photos of delivery vans (with and without horses,) and an Edwardian double teapot are exhibited along with a T.I.P. – To Insure Promptness – box. The box was nailed to the wall in coffee houses and parched patrons who desired good service would place money in the box.
Damaged during the Second World War, 216 Strand was rebuilt in 1952 ensuring its reputation as the oldest company (Teamen to connoisseurs, by appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II) to have traded continuously on the same site.
For more information about me, please visit my website http://www.elisewarner.com To purchase my mystery Scene Stealer please visit http://www.barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, carinapress.com and any site that sells eBooks.

A Maine Dinner

August 7, 2010

Spent a few hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday feasting our eyes on some of the works by master painters and sculptors. Breathtaking. then to the Trustee’s Dining Room where hubby and I could fill our tummies with fantastic food. Most of the year, the dining room is only open to trustees and folks who can contribute large sume of money to keep the exhibitions in tip-top shape for the rest of us, but during the summer the room is open on Friday and Saturday evenings to the average subscriber. Lucky us.
From our table we could see two fortress-like towers. Towers that could set the imagination soaring. Streaks of white clouds traveled through the sky and trees swayed as if the wind were a choreographer newly hired by the city ballet.
A basket of rolls with butter that cannot be found in your average supermarket and an olive tapinade were set on the table along with our glasses of Pinot Grigio. A corn chowder with peeky crab followed. Peeky crab conjures up an image of a feminine crab with long eyelashes and a tendancy to flirt. Wish I had the recipe. Second course-mussels au gratin. Sweet and crunchy…how many recipes are there for mussels? Then the lobster-no bib needed. The lobster has been shelled, centered on the plate and surrounded with snow peas, Harticote Verte and warn radish. A bit different from the Maine I remember. Dessert? Peach crisp with vanilla ice cream. A wonderful dinner to savor on a special occasiond or when you need a pick-me-up. Here’s to next summer and another delighful dinner.