Mary Ellen Psaltis lives locally and eats globally. You can reach her at TheRecipeWriter@hotmail.com.
In Richmond, Virginia, the heartache and pride of history can be felt everywhere. Its emanates from life-sized statues of presidents and generals. Listen closely with your ear to the walls and I believe you can hear the voices of Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson.
On a recent visit, I walked in the same places as George Washington, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln. Time has erased the footprints, but the memories remain. It is a town that deserves your attention.
Walking along the reconstructed canals to the James River and visiting the statehouse helped work up an appetite for lump crab. Crab cakes appear on many menus, and I tasted more than one. Everyone has their special recipe, but here is the main theme: Use a lot of lump crab and not much else. With a pound of crab, you can add a little mayonnaise, an egg and a bit of breadcrumbs, but you dont want the "fillers" to hide or overshadow the crab. Some add seasonings like Old Bay, parsley, pepper or mustard. Gently form cakes. You can bake them, fry them or broil them, and you can certainly enjoy them. Serve with a fun sauce like a tangy vinaigrette or spicy basil cream.
The stories and recipes for this column have been inspired by my adventures around Olympia and the world. It has been a heartfelt joy for me to open chefs' kitchens to you while giving you a taste of my experiences. I have liked smiling at your from inside the newspaper.
Would you like to come to a tea party? In times past this was an innocuous question, but these days it sounds like an invitation to a political event. I am not polling you for your voting record, because I have in mind the kind of tea party that involves Willow Blue China dishes and curls of steam coming from the spout of a cozied pot.
Does your life ever seem complicated or scheduled to the limit? These days most of us call that normal. As I see the end of December approaching and 2010 slipping into the history books, I decided to take a few moments to remind myself that joy often lives within the simple components of life.
Twenty-one minutes from my house, I discovered a door that opened into one of my favorite slices of Mexico, the supermercado. It felt like I was in Zihuatanejo. The comforting smell of corn tortillas swirled through the air; I took a deep breath and believed that I might be on vacation.
Simply put, I love peanut butter. A sandwich of peanut butter with a veneer of cream cheese and a drizzle of honey provides me with a happy lunch.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could solve all our problems with spices? Maybe that's a little too optimistic, but every day there are more reasons to season. Spices enhance our health in addition to delighting our senses (and recipes). We can appreciate table salt and black pepper as truly basic, so it is time well spent to open our eyes and noses to the world of spices beyond these two standards.
You have seen Kokopelli before but might not have known his name. This lively fellow is the humpbacked flute player with the wild hair-do who is associated with Native American cultures.
Singer/songwriter Billy Joel made it sound so simple, "A bottle of red, a bottle of white. It all depends on your appetite." That might be true, but the number of possible red and white (and let's mention rose) wines to choose from are mind boggling.
At this time of year, if you look closely and peek under the cuffs of my pants, you will see that I am wearing festive socks - ones with sparkly green trees or smiling reindeer. They are smile creators for me and for those who catch a glimpse. There are many ways to celebrate the holiday season. It might be with the choices of particular clothing items, or, of course, choices in food, which is a popular venue for almost everyone.