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!