Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Back...

Well, here we are at the end of 2017.  It is common at this time of year to see articles on “The year in review”, or “The (gulp) Best of 2017” on and on.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post for some good and not so good reasons.  Got me to thinking about the Feeder’s year so I’ll cave in and join my journalistic brethren with a few highlights from the year gone by.  Conscientious readers might find their memories tickled a bit…

Spring Journey

We made an inland waterway trip from Charleston (Foodie Mecca) to Jacksonville:
seeing things like lovely historic Southern homes:

 And who has had an oyster scald at Hog Hammock, Sapelo Island, Georgia?

Or “gone Shrimpin’”?

Summer Journey

An extended MOMSTER road trip to the Midwest to see FOJTE in STL (see "best" below) and FOJTY in Kansas City (BBQ mecca)

(featured in latest Southern Living magazine)

Then to Holland, MI, to deliver MFO’s organized Morris “Mose” Moody’s WWI archive to Holland, Michigan

And then some from the Craig side (My mom’s) to Michigan State University in East Lansing (my home town!)

Which included a lovely dinner at the MSU Hospitality facility of Kellogg Center

Fall Fun
A lovely Thanksgiving dinner hosted and attended by good friends

where's mine?

Somewhere in here the “not so good” part kicks in.  will keep it short (as was my breathing) which eventually resulted in a week’s accommodations in John’s Hopkins palatial guest rooms

Where I got to get scanned, imaged, injected, measured, poked and prodded, but a diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension has been levied, and medications have greatly relieved my symptoms.  I also am now in 24/7 Oxygen, but that is livable and I’m learning to adjust (one of many to come).

But I was “sprung” in time to get back to the digs and was able (with the help of friends) 

to enjoy our Christmas tree and displays once again

FOJTE was able to break free and came and visited for a few days, wonderful to see them….  
and so sad to see them go

TY was obligated by his police officer schedule to stay in KC, but we talked by phone several times.  So it was the first Christmas at “home” for the Feeders in all the time we’ve been in Maryland.  Who knows what the sand in the top of the hourglass holds.

Okay enough of that… I hope you all had a wonderful holiday period with friends, families, and good memories of those who were here in years past.

And, I’ll use the word I generally despise and criticize, but it applies in this case.
The BEST meal (with a nod to KC BBQ) I had in 2017 was at

Everything fit, was in harmony beautiful setting, exemplary service

And exquisite food

Another case where two dimensional image doesn’t do the original justice..

And now that the holidays are behind us (save tonight and tomorrow), soon you will see a piece on one of my favorite whipping boys: “Chains”.

So if you’re going out tonight, act sensibly and make sure you are



Monday, December 18, 2017

Hoppin' at Hopkins..


So with the help of medication I seem to be getting able to move around more without gasping.. we’ll see

So anyway, with the time sort of on my hands, a few random notes about recent “stuff” 

Cheese Please:
Before our sojourn up here,  got a very thoughtful gift from a dear friend, in the form of a hockey puck

Which, when explored further turned out to be a lovely cheese wheel of Beekman 1802 Blaack Cheese (“Blaak is an Italian-style semi-hard cheese made from a 60:40 mix of goat and cow milk giving the cheese a mild but distinctive flavor”)
Which is a good description, except we detected a little mor bite and sharper flavor than alluded to above

Which made a lovely cheese to accompany the Whitley’s Mixed Nuts, our new cocktail favorite.

As I’ve often said, cheese may be the most perfect food..   A great friend..with impeccable taste

Boat Parade:
As long time pax dwellers might know, a traditional part of the “Christmas Walk” on the Solomon’s Island is the “Boat Parade” wherein local boat owners decorate their vessels with holiday themes, not unlike maybe the Rose Parade.  It varies with weather and schedules, but upwards of a dozen boats are not uncommon.  We used to assemble at the Dry Dock to view the procession, but  have fallen off for a few years.  So, I took a shot out of the windows in the digs, and you can get the feel maybe, even though the image is nowhere near frame worthy.

Madrigal Dinners
We attended  the Madrigal dinners at Historic St. Mary’s City for the Nth year.  We went on the first evening which traditionally is populated by board members and the 1634 Society.  There was a paucity of both. While I know that some loyal readers are associated with “the City”, I do have to be truthful in my reports.  I thought that although enjoyable, this session was not quite up to some in years past.  Of course due to my health issues I did not attempt to climb the stairs in the State House to get to the little bits and bites and some wine.  On that night there were fewer than normal tables, making the “All Hail! Wassail!” ritual a little less robust.  The food was good as usual

(taken before Fried Oysters were served)

The seasonal music from St. Maries Musica was very entertaining, but we did miss the vocal talents of the Ping Group (from St. Mary’s College/Larry Vote).  Of course as always it’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.  If you haven’t been, go next year.

Well, it’s been almost a week that I’ve been here, medical progress is being made, but still no firm diagnosis (of the source or type of Pulmonary Fibrosis) .  I get to meet a lot of nice people on the staff, and the doctors seem compassionate and interested in making me “better”.   It is just taking a while   At one point tomorrow (Tuesday) was a goal, but I suspect that is fading…  I do have a nice view from the window of the original Johns Hopkins

But I would gladly trade that for the view of “my clock” and the dancers at home..

Where I could be in something else besides scruffies to


Saturday, December 16, 2017


dark period caused by entering Johns Hopkins Hospital to continue the search for the cause of my shortness of breath.   Some progress being made/observed by eliminating an excess liquid in the bod.   Pulmonary Fibrosis has many guises and finding the correct one is difficult (and slow).

those of you who also dabble on (my) Facebook can see some of the pictures of the cuisine d'Hopital... not having been incarcerated recently, i don't have a standard.  I am on a (thank you) enforced "heart healthy" diet.  mountains of vegetables (see facebook), but a couple of the main proteins have been edible.  Salmon was very good, sliced oven roasted turkey breast not so much.

doing images for this audience is lacking due to no equipment on scene, which MFO is remedying today..

were things normal (apparently nevermore) i would launch into a building rant about the yearly editions of car commercials.  The crown jewel this year is from Lexus, where, for reference, "manufacturing is centered in the Chūbu and Kyūshū (Japan) regions, and in particular at Toyota's Tahara, Aichi, Chūbu and Miyata, Fukuoka, Kyūshū plants".  okay, the spokesperson for these mostly off shore created vehicles has a distinctly British accent.  the most stupidest (IMHO) version opens with a smug little female of eight (?), who, get this, cuddles up to the front fender of a white Lexus.  Oh, did i mention she is attired in white yoga pants (?) a red velvet blazer, high boots, and a jaunty beret, also of red velvet.  Anyway, she lays her head ON the fender and (I swear to God) whispers into the grill how much she loves the car (eight, remember?).  Fast forward to when she is "grown up", same outfit, same posh driveway, same car.  Once again she goes prostrate over the fender, while the announcer intones: "leht youhr inna child caahm out".   gag..

Chevy also remains disgusting.  have you seen the one where they deliver a cheeevvvy to the valet parking customer who, although it is not their car, get in for a look.   At one point the customer says: "this feels like a luxury SUV!"  Small question: how would they know???

been wanting to get those off my chest.   feels better. 

so, i sit and wait for Lasix to work.. nuff said. 

and, you don't want to know how i


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A need fulfilled!

Finally, we’re rid of all the talk (but not the leftovers!) associated with Thanksgiving.   So we can get on with other things of foodie importance.  Like a little tour of a newly opened area, which of course features the famous two phrases of our County’s thoughtful plan of “Controlled expansion” First:

Usually followed shortly by:

The former is yet another in a never ending series, but the latter is supposed to provide a step up in Grocery providers.  I’ve never been in one, but I have heard some conflicting reports on this particular brand, none of which are glowing.  I was surprised to learn it is under the umbrella of the Kroger empire.  I would have this harbinger of long ago was defunct.   But, no, apparently they still exist, and apparently quite well, and I find out they also own: Cala Foods, City Markets, Copps, Dillons, FoodsCo, Fred Meyer Stores, Fry's, King Soopers, Mariano's Fresh Market, Metro Market, Pick 'n Save, Quality Food Centers (a.k.a. QFC), Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Smith's Food and Drug. Personally, I have never heard of any of those.   I don’t believe they are in the league of Whole Foods, for instance.  I had kind of an email debate with a friend whether this area would support a Whole Foods, she thought yes, I think no.  Gosh, we got Aldi, Walmart, innumerable “dollar stores”, all of which are routinely mobbed.    Anyway, we’ll see what happens.  I think this Kroger clone is close to being available. 

The location of this new grouping, anchored by said Teeter, is at the corner of Southbound 235 and Route 4.   What used to be some woodlands and a trailer park and fringe businesses  has been replaced by a new “shopping center”.   This is good controlled expansion because it brings much needed services and products to our area.   Many things are in short supply around here.  For instance, we sorely need another outlet for

Oh, wait, there are approximately 2,793 existing sources for that.    Well, okay, here’s another scarce restaurant type we need:

Hold on, there are more of those around here than you can shake a Taco at (interesting thought).

And now you don’t have to drive miles and miles for that special bottle of hootch, so coming soon!

Hmm, I think there are at least 5 of those within two miles of the digs..

And I’m sure that the ladies are rejoicing that there is yet another place to fix those pesky

Intriguing name..... teach those talons to do maybe somersaults. 

So once again, our county opens its land to just more hack chains.

Mod Pizza:  (HQ Bellevue Washington) with hundreds of stores on both coasts; Café Rio Mexican Grill: (HQ in Salt Lake City, Utah, that hotbed of Mexican culture) at least three in the mid-Atlantic (not counting this one);  Harris Teeter (HQ in Matthews, NC) dozens in the mid-Atlantic; Nail Trix and Spa (HQ indeterminate) around 20 in the Alexandria/DC/Baltimore corridor. 

There are still some dark storefronts…  perhaps maybe a noodle store?   Sub shop? We need more of those… As yet, there doesn’t seem to be a fast food, er, excuse me, “quick service” place plopped in the middle of things.

Anyway, just another set of stores that dilute the customer dollar, making it yet even harder for independents to make a buck.  With multiple installations, you can absorb losses at one of them and spread them out, but if you only got one, you’re done. 

Other this and that’s:

Most of this may be old news, but I’ve had a full plate lately… 

San Souci:
Coffee Quarter gone, replaced by:

Home Goods: 

"Home-decor chain stocking a variety of furnishings, bedding, kitchenware, holiday goods & more. Introduced in 1992, HomeGoods operates in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. This chain has both a standalone and superstore format, which couples HomeGoods with a T.J. Maxx or Marshalls" 

No news on the “corners” on the square.  One rumor is that a “Mexican” restaurant will go in the Loic space, and keep hearing of nebulous plans for Cow and Fish to move in someplace.  Other end of block no interest (at least that I have heard).

Lexington Park:
Rumors there is a new suitor for “the Roost”.

Apparently there is a coffee shop in the peculiar shaped building just down Shangri-La Drive.  The people that started St. Inie’s coffee down in St. Inigoes have moved into the “upstairs”.  Couldn’t help but notice that the surname of one of the owners is “Grube” which is a name associated with Woodlawn and Slack Wines. 

Bottom Line, sort of:
We keep seeing a continuing invasion of chains, who, judging by parking lots, seem to be a hit.   How about somebody opening a real central American restaurant rather than yet another damn burrito palace, or a real Italian/Mediterranean place and if you mention never ending breadsticks, I’ll slap you around.  

Anyway a few things off my chest:

But never, never forget to

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Bye Bye, Birdie

Well, there, it’s over.  Another “turkey day” is in the bag (as were some diners no doubt).

We had a lovely dinner at our friend’s house with a couple of other guests (although two of the “regulars” were absent this year), and had a quiet low stress afternoon and dinner, with some very well behaved “ever hopeful” guests as well.

We began with apps and drinks, while waiting for the bird to “firm” (while it has its basis in culinary good practice, it’s always a good excuse to drink)

Notice the always good “ranch oyster crackers”, plus we had a very good Salmon Pâté (recipe available upon request), and also some baked brie with cranberries in pastry shells...
Eventually the fowl was laid to rest on a platter and bed of kale, nestled on a lovely decorated table.

And with the juices retreated into the bird as well as other juices in the guests, the surgeon went to work

At this point, consumption took over from documentation, and the bird, mashed potatoes, dressing, green beans, cranberries, gravy(!), and the rest of the fixings were greatly enjoyed with good wines.  There was even room sort of “left over” to fill with MFO’s famous Apple Pie (and of course a good cheddar)

And in the end, all of us felt a bit like this resident

So finally with many thanks we bid a fond adieu to our hosts and other guests (both two and four footed) and all agreed that it was one of the best gatherings in our recent celebrations of the day.  Hope yours was as rewarding as ours.  

And, although our hostess sent us home with leftovers, they quickly disappeared in the digs, so MFO provided more poultry for us for the real reason of thanksgiving!

Oh yeah, although it seemed secondary at this point, we were (sort of)


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Take this... and

Stuff it!

Just a (not so, it turns out) quick Thanksgiving eve note to wish all the hundreds, well, dozens, okay, my few readers a happy day tomorrow.  The hell with the turkey, it is what it is, and we’ve discussed that anyway.  Just enjoy the company of friends, family, and special people.  Take tomorrow and live it.

Also not to leave food alone, there was another food section from the Washington Post (you can think what you want about their politics, they do have a good food section).   The theme of the section was stuffings, a dish close to my heart.  I think I mentioned that aside from the bird, these “sides” are where you can express yourself.  The article was written by Tim Carman, who is my idol Tom Sietsema’s right hand man, and I would guess heir apparent.  He is a bit more acerbic than Tom which of course I like.

Anyway he addresses the subject of “dressings” from kind of a (forgive me) anthropologic view.  One of the great things I really like about our country is regional cooking and its variations.  Like how BBQ sauce is so different from Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, and with a nod to FOJTY, Kansas City.

This is also evident in the case of the second most important dish at the table (maybe the first -  Dessert excluded) the “South” pretty much refers to it as “dressing” while the Northern states prefer call it “Stuffing”.   I also learned that in Pennsylvania Dutch country it is referred to as “filling”.   Further, that community bases most of their recipes on potatoes.  Besides the name, ingredients reflect regional preferences:  Cajun style dressings in Louisiana, Italian-style in New York and Jersey. New Englanders rely on Bell’s Seasoning (thank God no Old Bay!!); Minnesota makes use of wild rice, southwestern leans toward corn bread and Hatch chiles.  As for preparation “in or out” is a debate.  As he sums up:  “Some call it stuffing and roast it inside the turkey (except when the don’t).  Others call it dressing and bake it in a casserole (except when they don’t)”.

If he has a point, it is that our dear friend loosely referred to as “Social Media” is blurring the regional distinctions.  Home cooks in Seattle have instant access to recipes from Alabama, and vice versa. And with the other side of the blade, ingredients are no more than a click and a day from your doorstep.  You can make Oyster dressing/stuffing/filling in Omaha if you wish.  I’m not sure this is a good thing.

He includes some “regional” recipes:
Charleston Rice Dressing (low country) with chicken livers and pee-cans
Grandma Jerry’s stuffing (new jersey) with two kinds of Italian sausage Pennsylvania Dutch – Style Potato Filling (Dutch country) - mostly potatoes
Nana’s Andouille and Corn Bread Dressing (san Antonio) – sausage and turkey giblets
West Coast Oyster Dressing (Olympia area) – west coast oysters (which he found at Costco!)  and sour dough bread

And believe it or not from my native St. Louis’s Dierberg’s School of Cooking in Chesterfield:   Theresa Lewis a manager there served her family……..wait for it….White Castle Dressing which was made originally as sort of a culinary joke on a dare (having had a long personal relationship with the late night sliders), but the family “loved it” and it’s been a staple on their table ever since..

And so at least temporarily regional cuisine lives on reflecting the rich diversity of this great country.

So enjoy your day tomorrow, convene around good food and drink, and rejoice in those around you and remember those who aren’t.   and depending on the group pick an appropriate way to


and in the spirit of the season I will postpone a rant on car commercials

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Turkey Talk

Well, a week from day before yesterday is Thanksgiving.  As I used to exclaim in the past, where DOES that time go.  Next thing you know, we’ll be seeing Christmas stuff in stores.. Oh, wait….

Anyway, in the past that absorbed all that time, I used to do rather exhaustive Thanksgiving research to help you through the day.  After a few of those, I came to the conclusion that all the hoopla revolved around trying to make an unwieldy and relatively tasteless fowl into something appetizing by  hours of brining in juniper branches, putting things under the skin, rubbing with this and that combination of exotic spices.  And then you have to cook the thing.  And given the construction of the beast, it doesn’t cook very evenly.  Moist white meat = underdone dark.  Dark meat done just right can result in dried out breast meat.  Hence the complicated and time consuming rituals of rocketing the oven temperatures around.  Blazing hot for … reduce to ….. for…. Finish with…; or cook this side up, then after… rotate for…. Flip again… etc.  Another approach is to deconstruct the whole thing and cook parts separately.  This year, every other photo of the bird has it “Spatchcocked” which makes the poultry look like it’s been run over by a Ford 150.  Poor little splayed out thing.  But it does allow more even cooking.  Probably those are the best culinary solutions, but then you miss the “ta daaaah! effect of bringing that bronzed beauty to the table.  And if you’re astute you may have a pretty good meal.

In this culture of social media want it right now, easy, quick, cut corners, this year seems to be bent on “no fuss”.   The Washington Post entitled their weekly food section devoted to thanksgiving "Simplified"

And that randomly selected foodie rag promises to fix all your previous faux pas..

The Post’s solution for simplified bird?  Sprinkle it with salt, leave it in the refrigerator for “up to two days” (and where you put all the displaced food is up to you).  Then preheat oven to 375 degrees,  place the bird on a raft of celery stalks, add water, and roast for 2 to 2 ½ hours until “it’s gorgeously browned firm to the touch, and the leg wiggles easily and the juice that comes out is clear”.   Easy, right?  The title of the recipe is “Simple Roast Turkey with Simplest Gravy”.

Okay, that's probably too much ink spent on the center of the table.   The whole subject of “sides” is a (now for something completely) different matter.  Their side is predictably “Easy Bread Stuffing” which continues the no stress theme.  But, as I’m sure I have stated before "sides" is where you can go nuts with your creative abilities.  Knock yourself out.

Personally, I think the best side of all is from that same issue of Bon Appétit

With (as the article says) Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, and French’s crispy onions.  Bet you had that at home growing up.  Canned is a must!!

And speaking of “sides”, this is a bit of a detour, but somewhat relevant.  There is a class of foods that sometimes get to be trendy, but to me have little distinguishing flavor of their own.  I put zucchini in this bunch, for instance.  People spend a lot of time dolling them up with this and that, mostly to supply something in the mouth with flavor.   So when I kind of disparaged Kale the other day, I received a typical response to my rants “well, you’ve never tasted MY recipe for…..”   So a loyal reader sent the following treatment of Kale:

About Kale, well I never grew up with it, and 15 years ago asked a born and bred S. MD neighbor how to cook it.  I lost the directions, but figured steam 10 minutes and add little butter and lemon to it on the plate.  Do this with young Kale leaves and eat it before it cools down and it is divine!

She further emphasized that it is very important to use young leaves.

Another such vegetable is the venerable Brussel Sprout.   Again, personally I don’t care for them, but received another recipe for them that was touted as “best ever”.   I pass it on without comment.

Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Maple Syrup and Pecans

3/4 cup pecan pieces
2 lb Brussels sprouts
1/2 stick butter
2 T (or to taste) maple syrup
1 T cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

Carefully toast nuts in 350° oven for 10 minutes. Don't burn.
Discard outer leaves and stems of sprouts and finely shred

In a 12-13 inch skillet melt butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides, about 10 minutes

Sauté shredded sprouts for 4 minutes until wilted, stir in nuts, syrup, vinegar, salt and pepper and sauté 1 or 2 more minutes.

Add more butter or syrup to taste.

Say: "I'll never cook these any other way ever again".

A snarky give away is the instruction to “finely shred” the little cabbage family darling.  Oh, and then let’s add some maple syrup….  But, having never (as I remember) tried them this way, I should shut up..

So enjoy whatever you decide!

Would not be a complete thanksgiving report without mentioning wines.   Again, kind of a difficult subject for this holiday, and I would probably go back to my “DWTHYL” theory of “Drink Whatever the Hell You Like”.  Almost anything can be acceptable, white, red, and this year a lot of the pundits pushed sparking of one sort or another.   Another new suggestion was (hard) Cider, which is very trendy and being produced in ever increasing numbers as sort of another “craft” product.  lots of them out there on the market

Okay enough...

In closing, I must mention again as I always do on these “special” days, that while the food can add to the enjoyment, the real joy is gathering at the table with friends and family, and remembering those who were there in Thanksgivings past and now are with us in memory.  Lift a glass to them, and give a thought of thanks to those in far away places enabling us to enjoy the day.  That’s what it is really all about… 

And okay, probably you should