Marines.Together We Served

Monday, July 10, 2006

Family Time

It must be in our genetic code.

While on vacation, eating copious amounts of food is the order of the day. When the Roots side of the family gathers on these annual vacations to Maine, we often eat out at such places as Chase’s, a wonderful little restaurant in Winter Harbor where they serve blueberry pancakes. Maine blueberries are an epicurean delight! Another favorite eating establishment is Dennett’s Wharf in Castine where seafood is the main fare. Castine is a wonderfully quaint New England village with a calm harbor, much favored by sailing men in the early days of our country. British forces occupied this port during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Today, the Maine Maritime Academy is the primary industry for this historic location.

But it’s the cooking we do back at the cabin in Corea that is the most fun. Here’s a sampling of what has been baked by various family members.

My brother, John, is an excellent baker. His specialty is homemade pies. For his apple pies he uses two types of apples, Braeburn and Granny Smith. Today, he’s planning to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie – one of my favorites. Rhubarb, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this marvelous vegetable creation, is a tasty treat when cooked in pies. My grandmother used to bake rhubarb pie when I was a kid. It grew in our garden in New York. Besides the pies, John also whipped up a batch of Toll House chocolate chip cookies, and a batch of oatmeal raisin. Yum!

Sister, Joy, jumped in to the baking venue by producing some of the best peanut butter cookies you’ve ever tasted. The common lament that evening was, “You only made one batch?” Her secret? “I always put a lot more peanut butter into the recipe than is asked for,” she said.

Isaura got into the mix (pardon the pun!) when she made chocolate bread pudding with a German chocolate sauce. Man, was that good!

Yours truly had his hand in a few things as well. I made my “Killer Pancakes,” so named by my sister-in-law Maggie. Only this time I added fresh blueberries which really went over big. Joy’s six-year-old granddaughter, Bethany, helped me with the pancakes. We made personalized pancakes where you dribble some batter on the griddle in the shape of the person’s first name initial. For Bethany it would be a B, only backwards, so when you pour batter over the letter, and flip the pancake, you see the initial correctly. Kids and adults, love it! In addition, John’s wife, Lynne, asked me to make my oatmeal pancakes which she had enjoyed from a previous vacation. But the all time favorite was the popovers I made twice during our stay here in Corea, Maine. The aroma of these tasty treats is worth the time involved to make them. Family members would be standing with plate in hand to get one hot out of the oven. Those not already up, would be awakened by the smell. This is a recipe I picked up from the chef at the Cliff House in San Francisco in early June while Isaura and I were celebrating our 30th Anniversary. A specialty of this world famous restaurant is their popovers. Joy’s daughter, Holly, has worked at the Cliff House for years. So when word got around that Holly’s aunt and uncle were there for Sunday brunch, several of the staff, including the chef, stopped by to say hello. Figuring I was asking the impossible, I inquired of the chef if I might have the recipe for the popovers. To my delight and amazement, he said, “Sure! Let me get it for you.” A couple of minutes later he handed me a printed copy of the recipe. What I held in my hands was gold!

Vacations with family are special times, and eating is just one part of the whole experience. Sort of reminds me of the Psalmist declaring, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

Because I know you are all such wonderful folks, I’ll gladly share this popover recipe with you (It’s also available on the restaurant web site!). May it be as enjoyable a time for you and your family as it has been for mine. Eat one for me!
The Cliff House POPOVERS (by Kevin Weber) Prepares 36
1 Qt flour
1 Qt milk
10 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 ½ Tbsp sugar
¼ cup salad oil
Combine eggs, salt, and sugar in mixing bowl. Blend well on medium speed. Add milk and mix well. Lower the speed and add the flour. Mix thoroughly, scraping the sides as needed. Add salad oil and mix for about 20 seconds. *Chill batter up to two days ahead before baking if desired.
Pour mixture into well greased and oiled popover pans filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. If you have a convection oven, lower heat by 25 degrees and cook for 35 minutes. Popovers are done when the yellow egg color of the batter turns an even brown. DO NOT OPEN the oven too early or the popovers will collapse.
IMPORTANT! To properly season the popover pans, preheat the pan in the hot oven. When you are ready to bake the popovers, simply brush the inside of the cups with a mixture of ¼ cup flour and ¼ cup of (cottonseed) oil. Now you’re ready to fill each cup 2/3 full. This helps the popover to rise evenly.

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