Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dinner, Maryland-style

As I recounted here, at the end of August, I hosted a Maryland-themed dinner for my Style colleagues, a few friends, and family. Lead times being as they are, the piece ran this month in the November issue.

My mother and I made crabcakes and fried chicken, peach cake and Smith Island Cake, and from the above cookbook, recipes from former Maryland First Lady, Mrs. Helen Avalynne Tawes, sweet potato rolls (and not biscuits, as one of the photo captions reads; that's the risen dough, below).

A labor of love, for sure, but next time, I'm trying the Maryland stuffed ham.

Go here for the story.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Free Range: Chef Mac's Louisiana Cuisine

Lauraville storefront = a little bit of Louisiana.

Go here for the review and there for the gumbo.

Free Range: The Dizz Grandview

Same as it ever was--albeit this time at the top of a Hampden apartment building. Go here for the review.

And yes, dear readers, there really is a Mrs. Woolwine...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Feeding My Head

Although the calendar may say otherwise, October is truly the shortest (and definitely the most beautiful) month.

So here we are in November. I'm just back from the Bedell Nofiction Now conference at the University of Iowa, re-charged and ready to jump back in the fray...tomorrow.

But remember these?

Here's how the story turned out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


The weather, that is. Finally.

And this means changes are afoot in the kitchen. A pork loin ringed with carrots and potatoes went into the oven, rather than on the grill, on Sunday, the first roast of the season. Soon it will be nippy enough for beef stew.

This morning, however, it's New York Times' writer, Melissa Clark's granola in the oven, filling the house with the cinnamon tempered by the clean smell of olive oil. I'm smitten with this recipe, even though I usually substitute more cinnamon for the cardamom and occasionally add sunflower seeds(today I had to substitute almonds for pistachios because I was out--drat). The olive oil keeps it crunchy and light, and I'm totally sold on the maple syrup, a slightly more expensive option than honey, but I like the subtle smokiness it imparts. Clark serves the granola with fresh ricotta, which sounds heavenly, but I'm more likely to have Greek yogurt in the fridge and that works well too, tart meeting sweet and salty, creamy contrasting with crunch.

All summer I've been waiting to scratch my baking itch, but it's just been While I don't need snow...yet...I'm more than ready for autumn. Hello Fall!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Old Wine

Saturday was not meant to be a feast, and yet a bottle of wine and a lot of exhaustion made it so.

I spent most of the day re-painting the backyard fence and bolted late in the afternoon to do some quick grocery shopping. But I was too lazy to buy wine, thinking we must have something at home to drink. We did, but most of it was wine bought during a former life, meant to be saved for a special dinner, not burgers and chips. But I did find this:

a bottle of 1997 Domaine Maume Gevrey-Chambertin.

I and some former colleagues at The Wine Source each bought a half case or so of this wine six or seven years ago when the distributor was trying to get rid of it at a rock bottom price. Some bottles were surprisingly good then, some were already well past their prime, and the last few bottles I had, I'd had to dump. This one bottle lingered, and out of desperation, I opened it, expecting nothing.

But it was lovely, a little faded, but soft and supple with just a shadow of cherry and a little rose petal. This was not a profound wine experience, one that changes your perceptions of red burgundy, Pinot Noir, life. Rather, this was a gentler experience, like the touch of a hand on sore muscles or the reminder of the potential grace in age.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

C'est si beau

K made dinner tonight.

Salade Niçoise.

'Nuff said.

Feeling Fishy

September has brought with it the bustle of preparing for our annual long weekend at the beach (which can run anywhere from three to six days) and the catching up that comes after. And so apologies for absence.

This year's respite was mercifully rain free. It was also free of photos, but full of good eating. We made our annual stop at Beach to Bay Seafood in Princess Anne to visit with Rich and Diane Evanusa and eat their fresher-than-fresh seafood. K had a whopper of a soft crab sandwich, two fat crabs balanced between white bread with tomato and lettuce, as well as Diane's homemade cole slaw and mustardy potato salad. I inhaled my own version of a fried seafood combo platter: several gorgeous fried oysters that must have been at least three inches in diameter, a sweet grouper fillet, fries (natch), and Diane's homemade stewed tomatoes, which were excellent, though I still prefer the pickled beets, sadly unavailable that day. Their rice pudding is also to die for.

From there we drove north to Delmar, Delaware to the not quite one year old Evolution Craft Brewing Company. Wednesday through Sunday $5 gets you five generous samples of their brews from the inevitable seasonal pumpkin beer, Jaques Au Lantern, made Belgian-style, to the coffee-spiked Rise Up Stout. (The Exile ESB is my favorite.)

It turned out to be a fish-filled weekend (and why shouldn't it when you're at the beach?). Twice we drove north to Rehoboth to eat at Salt Air Kitchen for fish stew and halibut over lentils (Thursday) and baked bluefish and corvino (Friday), never mind the white anchovy "pizzas" and chorizo and date skewers. Saturday I made fish tacos with fresh tuna, and Sunday we hit Rehoboth yet again, this time for Chinese at Shawn Xiong's excellent Confucius where we carried out salt and pepper shrimp, cumin beef, fiery hot pepper pork, and searing sauteed string beans--a feast made complete with a bottle of rose.

In between eating I walked the beach, watched the U.S. Open and far too many HGTV shows in a cable tv gorge akin to pounding junk food, did a little sewing, read Peter Robinson's latest Inspector Banks mystery, counted the brown pelicans, saw one dolphin and one oystercatcher, the latter picking its way across the beach at breakfast time. It was a pleasure to be away from home.

And it is a pleasure to be back.

Friday, September 3, 2010


For anyone who ever wonders if the family stories in my articles are true, the answer is, for better or for worse, yes.

Take this piece about how I usually spend my Friday nights making pizza and listening to music. This is so routine, it has become ritual, and a good one at that.

So tonight, I will put yeast and flour and olive oil into the food processor, chop up garlic, open a can of chopped clams, and put it all together for a pizza to nosh on while listening to the first Night Shift show of the season on 90.5 FM WKHS Worton. Welcome back to the airwaves, MartyQ!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lunch on Wheels

Several years ago, I woke up in Madison, Wisconsin the morning after a Hold Steady concert, and headed downtown for a cup of coffee only to find that every corner of the capital square was occupied by a lunch truck. There was a truck dedicated to sushi, another for Indian food, and still another for Mexican. I sipped and stared and kicked myself for having eaten a crummy waffle earlier at the La Quinta. This fleet of food trucks was nothing short of magnificent.

Baltimore is slowly joning the ranks of cities with food trucks, a phenomenon I explore here in September's issue of Urbanite. The trucks hit the suburbs as well as the city, and so far places like Tide Point, Hunt Valley, and the Rotunda have become regular stops. And if you're interested in starting your own lunch truck, Brian Sacks, owner of the license for Juana Burrito, offers consultation at Roll on.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Free Range: Vino Rosina

This week's Free Range review is Vino Rosina, one of Harbor East's newest establishments, and current home to former Top Chef contestant, Jesse Sandlin. On the night we visited, Sandlin's food was inventive, well executed, and on the whole, quite nice, but it was the eclectic, very smart winelist and tremendous service that gave the whole experience that extra special je ne sais quoi.

Just ask for Bassel, and tell him I sent you.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Maryland

The end of last week was a cooking whirlwind beginning on Thursday and ending on Sunday evening when I hosted a Maryland-themed dinner for Style colleagues and a few friends and family members. This was no easy task (though it was made easier by the fact that I decided to tackle making Maryland Stuffed Ham another day).

The menu included sweet potato yeast rolls and chow chow, recipes care of Mrs. Helen Avalynne Tawes, former First Lady of Maryland; Maryland Fried Chicken, recipe courtesy of John Shields, who was also a guest and brought beaten biscuits; and crabcake courtesy of my mother. Joe Sugarman made one hell of a turtle soup, and I tackled Mrs. Frances Kitchings' recipe for Smith Island Cake, the official state dessert (shouldn't that be sno-balls? But I digress.).

Smith Island Cake can have up to twelve thin as a pancake layers and as few as eight (which is what my rendering yielded). These days it's also made up in a myriad of flavors, but I stuck to the original yellow cake with chocolate icing. It's not half bad. Actually, it's pretty good, but only if you like icing. I do.

Stay tuned for a report of the whole dinner (plus photos!)in the November issue of Style.

What is your favorite Maryland dish?

We Be Jamun!

I love sweets of all stripes, but a cold case full of Indian desserts always poses a slew of questions. Why is it pink or seafoam green? Does everything have coconut in it? (No) Can something called barfi actually taste good? (Yes)

In this month's Style I learn how to make gulab jamun, little dough balls made with powdered milk, fried, and dipped in sugar syrup. They are my favorite Indian dessert, and I've been eating my parents' neighbor Veena's version for years, since she brought them to our house when I was a child.

Veena's husband, Rustum, venerates Bob Marley ("That's all he'll listen to in the car," sighs Veena), and so I feel compelled to use as the title of this post the phrase I sing over and over when I'm lucky enough to get a Tupperware bowl of these treats (with apologies to all Rastas).

Go here for the full story.

Friday, August 20, 2010

"A Signature Store"

It's no secret Baltimoreans love their old department stores, and though Stewart's often doesn't rouse as much nostalgia as Hutzler's or even Hochschild Kohn, as Brian Lawrence points out in his Editor's Letter in the current issue of Style, people who loved Stewart's really loved it. My article about the venerable Baltimore department store can be found here.

Writing about Stewart's was a labor of love, in part due to the voluminous response I received from a query posted to a Facebook group dedicated to the memory of Reisterstown Road Plaza. To those folks and the many people who shared stories and memories of shopping at Stewart's, my deepest thanks, and apologies to folks I with whom I wasn't able to connect based on deadlines and time restrictions.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Free Range: Honey Pig Korean B-B-Q

This week's Free Range review is Honey Pig Korean B-B-Q on Route 40 in Ellicott City. A sensory overload of pop music and stainless steel swirled together with the scent of sizzling pork bellies, Honey Pig brings Seoul just a little bit closer to Baltimore. As one of the young diners at my table exclaimed, "Pass the kimchi, Daddy!"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Free Range: Bluegrass Tavern

This week's Free Range review is Bluegrass Tavern in Federal Hill. It's a sweet spot--a little country house rustic crammed into a corner bar--where over a half dozen house made charcuterie options (think rabbit rillettes or lamb and fennel boudin) and over two dozen bourbons are on offer. If the former doesn't entice me to return, the latter surely will.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pickled to death

What do you get when you combine this

with this?


I also had a jones to try pickled carrots

and stringbeans

And plans are afoot for something sweeter, like pickled beets or watermelon rind.

Making pickles is pretty easy (the most time-consuming part is the jar preparation they must be washed and then sterilized [boiled] before you fill them with vegetables and brine.). Choosing a recipe is not. Do I want sweet bread and butter Kirby cukes or zippy, garlic heavy spicy slices? Carrots with mint and toasted cumin or ginger and yes, more garlic? It's hard to decide.

I'll judge the results in a few weeks, after the pickles have rested in the refrigerator, developing flavor on the cool shelves among bottles of beer.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dare to eat a peach[cake]

If the weather hasn't already made it clear that summer is raging in Baltimore, the phone call from my mother does. "Your father wanted peachcake," she told me last week, so she got to work making raised dough and slicing fruit.

I eat peaches out of politeness rather than enthusiasm, so no peachcake came my way. It went instead to my parents' neighbors, who promptly made a pot of tea and dug some ice cream out of the freezer. The combination was marvelous, they told us.

Baltimore Sun columnist Jacques Kelly has some very definite ideas about peachcake, which he shared in this past weekend's edition. Several years ago, I visited Sharon Hooper and her cousin, Lou Sahlender, of Hoehn's Bakery to see how they make their peachcake. The bakery's website reports that they're making peachcake now, so if peaches are your thing, go and get some while the time is ripe.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Free Range: Prime

This week's Free Range, a review of Prime Steakhouse, former Top Chef contestant Timothy Dean's latest venture can be found here. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Follow the thread

This blog has a bit of a split personality. The majority of the posts have to do with my professional work as a food/features writer for magazine. Other posts give a glimpse into my burgeoning, strictly amateur sewing life. This post does a little of both.

In the current issue of the Urbanite, I profile the African American Quilters of Baltimore (AAQB) who celebrate their 20th anniversary this year with a two month long show at the James E. Lewis Museum of Art on the Morgan State University Campus, August 7 through September 30. The article discusses the guild's history and members' perspectives on African-American quilting. And as a beginning quilter, it was fascinating, inspiring, and even a little overwhelming to hear how these women imagined and completed their own quilts.

The few quilts I've made have been for friends' newborns, like this one:

But this spring I took part in my first quilt swap via Modify Tradtion blog. In a nutshell, I told my secret partner what I like in a quilt and she made me this:

My secret partner recipient (not the same person who was making my quilt) told me what she liked in a quilt, and I made her this:

Sarah's quilt is beautiful enough to be included in a show. My technique still needs work. But the challenge of making something based on someone else's taste for someone I don't know one bit is an experience I'm looking forward to repeat, and the internet makes this incredibly easy. Although in our interview, one of the AAQB quilters speculated that fewer women are quilting, the plethora of sewing blogs, virtual quilting bees (where one quilter sends material and block patterns/suggestions to a group of other quilters who make blocks and send them back to the original quilter to put together as a quilt), quilt-a-longs, modern quilt guild chapters, etc. suggests to me that quilting is alive and well, even if the quilting community is diffuse rather than concentrated.

Monday, August 2, 2010

For Richard, 1914-2010

We received news today that an old friend from Chicago, Richard Gengler, passed away this weekend. Richard was a native Chicagoan, World War II veteran, bachelor, sailor, church usher, dahlia cultivator. He loved playing the stock market and reading about the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje. He mixed Manhattans and bragged about his salads, counting off the number of ingredients he managed to scrounge up from the refigerator, with equal pride. He left long, loud messages on our answering machine, always beginning with a hearty, "Helloooo!" He cherished a good strawberry rhubarb pie, and he always had a word (and a flower) for a pretty woman. Until the last few years of his life, he lived in the house where he was born in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood. He would have been 96 in December. Although we hadn't seen him in several years, we will miss him, and tonight, though it is much too warm, we will mix a Manhattan--a perfect Manhattan, with dry and sweet vermouth, as Richard liked to remind us--and drink in his honor. Requiescat in pace.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A study in green

From the Waverly Farmers' Market

Kirby cucumbers for pickles. String beans to be pickled too. Jalapeños will be made into jelly (!). Pattypan and okra are just for dinner. Corn too.

Abundance even in a drought. We are fortunate.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Free Range: Shaheen

If you are a lover of Indian food (and I myself certainly am) you must visit Shaheen. Located in an ugly concrete building next to the Macy's in Security Square Mall, it will win no prizes for aesthetics, but the food, not to mention the lovely service, will quietly impress you. All meat is halal, you can bring your own alcohol (no corkage fee), and be sure to order the samosa chaat, a samosa made even better (if this is possible) by a fiery, chickpea-laden sauce. Open very late, this could be your go-to spot after a night at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Review is here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fruits of my labors

Labor seems such a grand word for planting two tomato plants and a handful of herbs, and truth be told, little work paid off only in little amounts this summer. It's just been too darn hot.

The small, yellow pear tomatoes are called, oddly enough, yellow pear tomatoes.

The larger ones bear the slightly more poetic name of Lemon Boy. They even taste slightly lemony--and I tasted and noted this before I went out to check their name. Scout's honor.

To be able to grow anything from a city rowhouse is a real treat, and while a half dozen fruit from $1 plant is still small tomat--I mean, potatoes--the harvest, however limited, still yields a small thrill and a little pasta.

What are you growing this summer?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I think it was the Fourth of July...

"We'll stay inside and drink a glass of champagne," said my British friend Norma, describing her post-church activities this morning. Not a bad plan for the 4th of July when temperatures threaten to hit 96 degrees.

I, on the other hand, will be attending a cookout at my parents' house. It will be not unlike the 4ths we had growing up, though today I eat my hamburger on a bun and will pass on the root beer and sparklers (unless the sparklers in question are champagne). We might make it home in time to catch the fireworks downtown from the parking lot of the Rotunda or we may just hear the booms and see a few flickers through the trees in the park across the street.

Because I'm lazy. I want fireworks to come to me, like they did when we lived in Chicago. On any given 4th (and 3rd and possibly 5th) of July, we could see fireworks displays from the beach, looking north over Lake Michigan towards Evanston or from our 6th floor apartment window looking north and west towards Skokie. One year when it seemed like fireworks were exploding in every direction (including on the beach below, care of my rock star neighbors, Ed and Roxie), I moved the old green armchair to face the window, propped my feet on the radiator, and listened to Pretzel Logic as we watched blue chrysanthemums burst and silvery fish swim in the sky. Come to think of it, it's a given that we'll be listening to some Steely Dan tonight too.

May your holiday sparkle in whatever way pleases you best. Shalom.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shopping around

I'm working on a piece about the old Stewart's department stores in Baltimore and have had some fascinating conversations with former employees and nostalgic shoppers. It's hard to imagine a time when a department store sold ladies stockings (not pre-packaged pantyhose) or offered knitting lessons and a gourmet lunchroom or hand-delivered an item to your home if it wasn't available in the store, but Stewart's (and probably many of the other local department stores) did.

My article about Stewart's will be published in the September 2010 issue of Style. Until then, catch up with some other Baltimore department store pieces about the Hecht Co., Hochschild Kohn, and Hutzler's, the other three stores that made up the "Four Corners" at Howard and Lexington.

For another possible project, I'm interested in recipes from any of the department store tearooms or restaurants. Anyone with info or recipes, please email me or leave your email in the comments below. Thanks!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back to Nature

On these scorching June (June?) days, I wish I lived closer to someplace like this.

King's Landing, Calvert County, Maryland.
Photo by Dave Hawxhurst.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thirty-two flavors and then some

“Ice cream is a social product,” says Sean Smeeton, CEO of Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, the socially conscious ice cream company I profile in my latest Food for Thought column. “It’s easy to bring people together.”

Smeeton’s right about the inherent social quality of ice cream. Eating ice cream alone suggests sneakiness, the furtive gulping right from the pint with the freezer door open. Eating ice cream out with others is a sign of friendship, of games won, and successful first dates. It just tastes better, and really, it’s hard to be angry at anyone with a spoonful of mint chocolate chip melting on your tongue.

Eating ice cream was always an event in our family, as well as a reward for good behavior, and often a bribe. Many evenings, my father would recreate the drugstore soda fountain at home, turning Suburban root beer and Sealtest ice cream into a volcano of overflowing creamy bubbles, a kind of alchemy in gray gas station glasses. On summer nights, we would kiss tall spirals of chocolate soft serve at Berg’s Dairy in Perry Hall after a game of miniature golf across the street. And an ice cream cone from Hillcrest on Jarrettsville Pike was the only way my sister and I would tolerate the long, hot drives to “the country” a Sunday mandated. On those afternoons inside the faux wood paneled shop, Kathleen would order a scoop of chocolate with chocolate sprinkles, while I’d have black raspberry, vividly purple on an unnaturally orange-ish cake cone. We’d walk back to the parking lot, rest against the wood rail fence, watch the cows, and lick our ice cream. And when everyone had finished, we’d pile back into the car along with a newspaper wrapped gallon of peach or strawberry ice cream that somehow survived the ride home and remained solid no matter how hot it got.

As I mention in my article, I think about making ice cream throughout July and August but end up making it only once. Instead, I'll satisfy my ice cream jones at Taharka Brothers in Mt. Washington. I'll be the one licking a scoop of salty caramel.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Free Range: Two for One

Last week's Free Range review of Highlandtown's Mi Viejo Pueblito can be found here. This week's review is Byblos, a small Federal Hill storefront that features homey, suthentic Lebanese food. Each is the kind of charming, inexpensive, ethnic restaurant that is always a welcome addition to Baltimore's dining scene. Try them both!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I'm not worthy...

of this beautiful quilt.

While I was away in California (and still working on my gift for my secret partner), look what Sarah sent me from Sheboygan.



Look at the tiny, tiny triangles embedded in a square:

The detail of the quilt is even more amazing. Sarah chose Ocean Waves, a classic Amish pattern, for her design, and she included tiny white piping around each gray square to make it pop and give it clean, beautiful lines. The quilting ranges from free motion squiggles to more straight lines. And she even pieced several squares to the back.

I can't decide which side I like better. Thank you, Sarah, for this thoughtful, creative gift.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Man, Eater

He's 63 now, the tall blonde one with the powerful pipes. He plays with John Oates (the short, dark one) only occasionally. More often he's found at home playing with his band and guests at Live From Daryl's House. It's a music gig, but all that singing works up an appetite, and so the internet concert show also has a cooking segment.

I've loved Hall's voice every since I could sing a few lines of "Rich Girl." I speak to him here about food and the magic of sharing meals together. It was a treat.

Basted, not bound

I'm working like crazy to make the deadline for the Modify Tradition mini-quilt swap.

Here's a shot of the top mini-quilt for my secret partner:

And here's a look at some of the preliminary quilting:

I hope she'll be pleased with the results!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Free Range: Grano at Chestnut

Don't you love that motto?

Grano Pasta Bar was one of the first reviews I wrote for City Paper. I liked the place for its characters, its crazy-tiny suck-in-your-breath-to-find-a-seat-at-the-bar space, and for its solid pasta. I said then if you make pasta at home, you might not need Grano, but who doesn't like putting down the saucepan and going out for quality food?

Grano at Chestnut is larger, homier, more expensive than its little counterpart, but equally charming. I'm glad I can walk there.

Java jabber

Sitting here with my second mug of the morning, it's hard to remember a time when I didn't drink coffee. But as I explain here, I was a tea drinker until the age of 19, when I had my first coffee as a student in Glasgow.

Since then, coffee and I have been inseparable, and while I don't drink large amounts (with all the topping off and small sipping, I probably swallow a little over an entire mug rather than two full ones), I want it to be good. This has led to mail ordering beans from Alterra in Milwaukee (thanks, Anne Sprecher, for that tip)and treating myself to coffee from Princeton's Small World Coffee when I'm in the area (which is frequently).

Grumpy Monkey blend is my favorite of the Small World Blends, though I myself am not a grumpy monkey. At least most days.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


...about my mini-quilt for the Modify Traditions Quilt Swap.

From the images and notes she posted, I think my partner falls more towards traditional composition with lots of modern colors. She also looks like she likes things busy--which is a fun challenge.

These are some preliminary thoughts--the quilting equivalent of freewriting--though the end result may be completely different. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Peace and Hominy

I'm behind on linking to articles, so here's one from the March/April Style.

I'm always looking for subjects for my Food for Thought column, and my folks suggested talking to an acquaintance, Chris Manning, whose grandmother began selling what's now known as Mrs. Manning's Hominy from her East Baltimore rowhouse. Food for Thought often focuses on ties between historic Baltimore foods and their modern counterparts (there's also a fair bit of my own personal experience sprinkled in the columns too), so hominy seemed right up my alley. Except I knew little about it, and even less about how it might be used today. A chance Sunday visit to Tortilleria Sinaloa (1716 Eastern Ave., Baltimore,[410] 276-3741) in Fells Point for tortilla chips reminded me about posole, the Mexican soup that features hominy as one of its main ingredients. The folks at Sinaloa graciously allowed me to observe the posole being made one very cold morning, and the results are in the column.

Although I don't have a written version for posole, an experienced cook can probably follow the description in the column and make her own (though I haven't yet). What I did try, however, was the Winter Vegetable Chili from Food and Wine magazine, which pleased even the non-vegetarians at my dinner party. The parsnips, carrots, and red pepper combo make it a little sweet, and I even added butternut squash to the pot, which probably didn't help. But the canned chipotle in adobo tempered the sweetness with a little fire.

If you have any ideas for future Food for Thought columns (or any food/features), please let me know. The Baltimore food frontier is still ripe for exploration. Thanks.

P.S. Thanks also to Style Senior Editor Laura Wexler for the terrific header.

And now for something completely different...

Most posts on this blog concern food or writing and usually both.

But not this one.

In my non-professional life, I sew a little. And I've just joined my first virtual quilt swap (I know, I know) via the Modify Tradition blog. I read a lot of craft/sewing blogs, like this one, this one, and this one. Oh, and this one and this one too. (Actually, I read dozens. Will post more links later.).

The jist of this particular swap goes like this: I make a small, "doll-sized" quilt for one participant and a quilt is made for me. None of the participants know who will be making their quilts, thus we share our likes and dislikes in an inspiration mosaic (see above) and with a few notes. Here are mine:

I love geometrics, log cabins, hexagons, half square triangles, anything based on a nine patch, applique. Generally, no stars.

As for fabrics, yellow and gray are always cool (together or apart), as are red and white, orange and anything, black and white. I love birds, Echino prints, 30's repros. I want to work more in solids. I'm not so hot on pink, Civil War repros, batiks. I like clean and elegant and modern rather than cute or fussy or busy.

All that said, the combination of modern fabric and sensibility and traditional quilt patterns as has been demonstrated on the Modify Traditions blog is right up my alley. I will be thrilled to make and receive a quilt in this spirit. Many thanks to whomever I've just thoroughly confused or frustrated with my pickiness!

Back to food soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"We could learn from each other"

In my line of work, I'm fortunate to be able to meet and hear the stories of many, many people. But few stories have touched me more deeply than the ones shared by the folks profiled here who attended the Worton Point Colored School No. 2 during the 1940's and 50's.

Now the home of the African American Schoolhouse Museum under the direction of Karen Somerville, this snug, one-room schoolhouse in Kent County merits a visit, not only to see the desks and cloakroom, the school photos and report cards that line the walls, but as a reminder that learning can happen--and is happening--in places we often overlook or ignore.

(Photograph by Kirsten Beckerman, care of Chesapeake Life Magazine)