Now that it's Monday and the neck brace is back on, it's time to hide behind my computer and reflect. I'll work backwards: The wedding was held at The Trust Venue in Old City, Philadelphia. Originally a bank and now an art gallery, most of you will recognize the building as the Real World Philadelphia house from 2004. For the real fans out there, I thought you'd like to know that they actually kept that unisex bathroom in tact - and it's still pretty awesome. As was the food, which was catered by Steven Starr, owner of some of Philly's best and most famous restaurants. We had our choice of food from Buddakan, a trail blazer in Asian Fusion, or Barclay Prime, home of the $100 cheese steak. Naturally I took a picture of the menu, all of which I consumed.
After three hours on the dance floor doing my own awkward version of 'the robot', appetites were satiated thanks to arguably the BEST goody-bag-stand-in to date: soft Philadelphian pretzels and bottles of water to go! I left the candy for the kids.
Ah, the wonders of Cheese Whiz:
In juxtaposition to this weekend of debauchery, Mother's Day Weekend was beautiful and calm. I spent it walking, talking and eating with the Woman of Honor and her suitor (Dad). Our menu was simple and fresh: marinated flank steak, grilled then thinly sliced, sauteed mushrooms kissed with marsala wine, a mixed green salad with a homemade Dijon dressing, and baked sweet potatoes which were given a quick char on the grill - simply delicious. Gifts included a Spring bouquet of light pink peonies and an even bigger picture of myself to grace her walls (what?!) The picture was in jest - I was given a poster-sized photograph of myself from a photographer I worked with - and the only person on Earth who could possibly want that is a Mother. Even so, I expect it'll be stored away with all the other non-wall-worthy pictures (Aka, every picture taken between the ages of 11-14. Damn you bangs!)
One gift that did make the cut was actually given to me by my Mother: a recipe box filled with old recipes from my Great Aunt Doris. While I never met my Great Aunt, I feel some kinship having read something as intimate as her recipe box. Hand written notes, magazine clippings, doodles, name's and sketches gave me a small glimpse into her life - and my history. I've always been interested in the historical context that certain ingredients, methods and recipes suggest. For me, the history of a dish goes far beyond the taste and texture.
For most families, food is a source of tradition and familiarity - you can find the same dishes gracing dinner tables from decades past. And many of my childhood memories are linked to my taste buds. Pats of liverwurst from my Grandmother's meat drawer. Tea with milk and honey on sick days with my Mom. My Aunt's famous banana nut bread, which I stash in my freezer for a slice of family anytime. Even family members I never knew have a taste bud dedicated to them: my Great Grandmother's 'quick and easy' appetizer - Ritz crackers topped with chili sauce and bacon. Vanilla ice cream topped with fresh raspberries - my Great Grandfather's summertime specialty.
After combing through dozens of recipes (ten cheese ball variations, two dozen casseroles, chex mix, spaghetti pie and countless recipes that included cream of mushroom soup - God love her), I've pulled out a few recipes from my Great Aunt's collection to add to my own repertoire - and my history:
Great Aunt Doris' Shrimp de Jonghe
(Shrimp de Jonghe is a casserole of shrimp covered in garlicky, sherry-flavored bread crumbs - give it a try!)
- 3/4 cup firm butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1t. salt
- 1 cup lukewarm dry sherry
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 3/2 cups bread crumbs
- 2lbs cooked, cleaned shrimp
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Beat butter with an electric mixer until very light, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, salt and sherry, a little at a time.
- Add chopped parsley and 1 cup of the breadcrumbs, reserving the 1/2 cup leftover for topping.
- Toss cooked shrimp in 1-2T of melted butter and place in a baking dish.
- Cover with breadcrumb mixture.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, top with more bread crumbs, plus some more melted butter.
- Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.
- 1 bottle of Wishbone Russian Dressing
- 1 cup apricot jam
- 1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix
Back to my brace,