Vodka with Old-World Elegance

Raspberry vodka 1In between a one-two-three punch of snowstorms, I pulled out The Russian Tea Room: A Tasting (Clarkson Potter, 1993), a book of recipes and reminiscences from then-owner, Faith Stewart-Gordon. I never went to the Manhattan restaurant but its tea (and everything else on the menu) is steeped in history. Continue reading

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A Sweet Ending

Stuffed Cougar Chocolate ShortbreadFor a dessert to end 2018, I found a recipe with just eight ingredients, all of them pantry staples: butter, two kinds of sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, chocolate, and nuts. The shortbread base with melted chocolate and nuts on top looks good and tastes appropriately decadent for a New Year’s party. The recipe comes from a classic Richmond cookbook, The Stuffed Cougar (William Byrd Press, 1973). Continue reading

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Here We Come for Cider Wassail

Cider Wassail done

Who remembers the English folk song that starts, “Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green”? That’s what I hummed when I saw the recipe for Cider Wassail in The Blue Ridge Cookbook. Continue reading

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Cranberries in a pie crust

Cranberry pie doneJust in time for Thanksgiving, my neighbor organized a pie swap. Each of us baked a pie, then sliced it up and shared a sample with the other participants. For ideas, I looked through handwritten recipes from my grandmother and baker extraordinaire, Bertie. At first all I could find was a cheese pie, which specified using “Swiss cheese from Switzerland” – perhaps an exotic ingredient in the 1930s and 1940s, when she collected most of the recipes. A more careful look yielded the far more seasonal Fresh Cranberry Orange Pie. Continue reading

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Gardening in a Time of War

Secrets with teaYou won’t find too many sumptuous meals in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy in the Civil War. You will find two women gardening to supplement their meager larder in Secrets in a House Divided, the historical  novel I just published Continue reading

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Egg Nog in August: Pieathlon Time!

Pieathlon logoThese dog days of August make frozen custard more inviting than a pie with a custard filling, but I couldn’t resist the call from Yinzerella of Dinner is Served 1972 for competitors in the 5th annual Pieathlon. Continue reading

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Got Mint? Make Juleps!

Mint Julep 2When your garden is overrun with mint, it’s time to think beyond garnishes for fruit salads. I muddled my way through mojitos and decided to make another classic, the mint julep. Continue reading

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