My sister, Wendy, is back in sunny, warm Fort Myers. I dropped her off at the airport yesterday.
She was here for 10 days and I miss her already. I’m going to miss pigging out with her too.
One of the few good things about her living in Florida is that I got a new pair of Uggs out of the deal. She found them on sale in Fort Myers and, not one to forgo a great deal, she bought them. Of course, they’re not exactly practical in 90-degree, humid weather. So she wore them up and left them. We wear the same size. 🙂 I haven’t survived a Maine winter without Uggs since our mother first got them for us, like 35 years ago, when they first showed up at the Sugarloaf Ski Shop.
I still have that first pair. They were the calf-high ones. They’re now, like, ankle-high, having been chewed up and torn and basically destroyed by various dogs and boyfriends, but they make great, if not exactly attractive, slippers. I’m cheap.
Anyway, here I sit, with my little poopers, Elliot and Ruby-2-Shoes, and Bunny, the free-loading stray cat I’ve come to love, though she has to camp out in a back room, as Ruby despises her. Ugh.
Thanks to all the pigging out with Wendy, I have a fridge full of leftovers – both from dinners at home and doggy bags from restaurants.
We managed to cover a lot of ground, food-wise, and drink-wise, while she was here, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to savor every food item or meal we’d hoped to get to.
Here are a few of the things we had planned to do/eat before running out of time:
1. Wasses: A hot dog stand in Rockland, it serves the best hot dogs in the world. They come with onions fried in peanut oil. Mum went there (under a different name then) as a kid, after movies at the Strand across the street. We. Love. Wasses. And we never made it there this trip. Possibly our greatest regret.
2. Salt fish dinner: My mother loved it, and so did we four kids. Dad hated it. He rebelled by having a bowl of Pilot crackers with milk whenever we had it – kind of the antithesis of salt fish dinner. I had gotten a box of dried salt cod at Pinkham’s to have while Wendy was here. Bummer. I’ll give you a recipe for it in a couple weeks, whether you want it or not. It’s awesome.
3. Cheese fondue: I had just bought some pricey cheeses and a bottle of cheap brandy when I got a call from my sister in Fort Myers that our mother was very ill, in April. I stuck the cheeses in the freezer and headed south. (It was a very sad trip, but I’m not going to get all maudlin here.)
4. Breakfast at Moody’s: Wendy and I try to get there for a great breakfast of pancakes, sausage, cinnamon buns, and coffee whenever she’s in Maine. Too bad, so sad, we never made it, but at least we could still button our jeans when she left.
We did manage to get plenty of good stuff in. Wendy, our brother Peter, and I spent a day with old family friends at Square Lake in Alfred. Nancy Small was one of our mother’s besties, and her kids were some of our besties.
It was a totally awesome day full of great food, conversation, and wine. Nancy, with help from her daughter-in-law, Paula, made spaghetti and balls, garlic bread, and salad. Lise and Kenny Roy, two of Wendy and Peter’s childhood besties, who fell in love and got married many moons ago, live on the far side of Square Lake and drove over to join us.
Lise – a great cook (but don’t ever try to tell her that) – made cream puffs using the recipe I shared in a column a month or so ago. They were better than mine, which was a little upsetting to me, but after another glass of wine I got over it.
I made my favorite childhood dessert: chocolate bread pudding. Here’s the recipe:
Heat 2 cups whole milk in a saucepan till hot. Throw in a square (1 ounce) unsweetened choco and a cup breadcrumbs. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl (duh), and throw in 6 tbsp sugar and a healthy pinch of salt. Add the choco mixture after it has cooled a bit. Stir in 1/4 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg. (Those two spices with chocolate are sublime.) Throw in 1/2 tsp vanilla. Bake in an oiled dish set in a pan of hot water for around 40 minutes at 350.
Make hard sauce: mix confectioner sugar, butter, and a dash of milk. A spoonful of that on top of a bowl of warm chocolate bread pudding? OMG. (If you need measurements for hard sauce, email me – I have run long on words and short on time).
P.S. Nov. 13 was World Kindness Day. And in keeping with the kindness to strangers theme (remember the seemingly homeless man in McDonald’s from last week?) I handed a street person on the median strip outside Trader Joe’s a $5 bill yesterday.
He had walked by me and was standing next to the car behind me when I found the $5 in my wallet. I called him over and gave it to him, and guess what? When he walked back to the car behind me, I saw that driver hand him a bill too. Power of suggestion? I love that.
And the beat goes on. See ya next week.
(Suzi Thayer paints, feeds stray cats, eats good food, and drinks Manhattans. She’d love to hear from you with ideas and recipes for her column. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)