When my friend, Betsy, and I walked into JFK’s presidential library recently ( https://www.lightsonbrightnobrakes.com/alice-waters-pantry-travel-tales/ ) my first question to her was, “ Where were you the moment you heard President Kennedy was assassinated?”
Betsy looked at me oddly. After a long pause, she said, “Mary I wasn’t even two years old yet. I don’t remember it.”
I did the math. She was born in 1961. I was born in 1944. Holy Moly, I thought, she’s right! My first life-altering moment wasn’t even on her radar screen. “Mine was the Challenger explosion [1986 ],” she later added.
Our 17-year age difference became an additional thought-provoking layer during our week-long libraries journey. Many things that I remembered, she’d only learned in school. There were other situations we both recollected but recalled through our different generational lenses.
Every generation has its shared moments, life-altering events when we still remember where we were when something happened. This week I asked both friends/family to recall their first public experience that helped shape the adult they’ve become.
For 24-year-old Kacey Mahler, The Gant’s Customer Service Manager, it was 9/11. That was the consensus among the front office staff. But Bellman Chris Malone, 28, said, “Mrs. Hirsch, you may not like this but for me it was watching OJ Simpson being chased in his white Bronco by the police.” Malone, who was 7 at the time, explained, “That’s when I first realized heroes could be criminals.”
The responses were as varied as generational:
Hurricane Andrew. (a home lost);
Princess Diana’s Death;
Governor Orval Faubus closing all high schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1958;
Apollo Eleven’s Moon Landing;
Team USA upsetting the Soviet Union, 4-3, The Miracle on Ice, at the Winter Olympics in February 1980;
For my daughter, Melissa, it was about Jimmy Carter and her initial disillusionment with politics. “I remember listening to his energy crisis address when he was president,” she says. “It flipped everyone out – the idea to conserve energy – but I remember as a kid thinking it was a good idea. The result was President Carter got crushed in the re-election.”
My Norwegian son-in-law’s first life-altering moment? ( “Yup, Mom,” Melissa e-mailed, “Swear to God, this is Stephen’s answer.”)
“The 1975 non-call of offensive pass interference against Dallas Cowboys/Minnesota Vikings game that allowed the Cowboys to win and go on to the Superbowl.”
Realizing this man is the love of my daughter’s life and father of my two granddaughters, I have no comment except, Go Vikings!
While you’re pondering how you would answer this question, here’s what I cooked up this week. My showstopper is undoubtedly Yvette Van Boven’s Sticky Chocolate Cake in Your Coffee Mug in 3 Minutes. There aren’t words to describe its fudgy appeal. Skeptical? Try it. A perfect dessert for one or two sweet tooths.
I made two recipes for this month’s Cottage Cooking Club from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. The first, Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Tart is a keeper, something I’ll stick in my back pocket to bring out to impress guests. You may use a traditional round tart pan, an oblong pan which makes finger-friendly portions for appetizers or a regular baking sheet. Try other flavorful combinations such as Tomato, Thyme and Goat Cheese; Tomato, Rosemary and Pecorino or Tomato, Blue Cheese and Chives. Pretty and Tasty.
Honestly, I am seldom disappointed with Hugh’s recipes but Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry didn’t work for me. Cauliflower, yum. And, I love curry. Still, this is a healthy recipe that, with its ingredients, should be packed with flavor. Although I’ve posted pictures of my effort, I need to return to the kitchen and try again. Back to you in a few weeks. Or, not.
STICKY CHOCOLATE CAKE IN YOUR COFFEE MUG IN 3 MINUTES
Adapted from Yvette Van Boven, Home Made Winter cookbook
Yield: 1 mug-sized cake
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
4 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, whipped
3 TBSP milk
3 TBSP sunflower or canola oil
3 TBSP chocolate chips or grated chocolate
If you wish, sprinkle with confectionary sugar or add any syrup, liquor, ice cream or whipped cream.
1. Mix the dry ingredients in the coffee mug. Add the egg and whisk together with a fork. Add the milk and oil and whisk some more.
2. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Place the mug in the microwave and “bake” the batter for 3 minutes on high. The cake will rise above the rim of the mug. Use a saucer under the mug as it “bakes” to catch any drips. Let it cool for a bit.
4. Add any desired topping.
Thanks to Betty Pollack-Benjamin for introducing me to Yvette Van Boven.
TOMATO, BASIL and MOZZARELLA TART
By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall by River Cottage Veg
Serves 4 to 6
Canola or Sunflower Oil
13 ounces all-butter ready-made puff pastry
1 large egg, beaten, for brushing
12 ounces tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 1/2 ounces Mozzarella cheese
2 TBSP shredded basil, added after the tart is baked
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly oil a baking sheet or tart pan.
2. Roll out the pasty fairly thinly and trim to a rectangle measuring your pan. Put it on the baking sheet or tart pan. Cut a 1/2-inch strip from each edge. Brush these strips with a little beaten egg. Stick them onto the edges of the rectangle to form a slightly raised border. Brush the edges with a little more egg. Even if you are using a lipped tart pan, reinforce your edges.
3. Thinly slice the tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch slices. Discard the stalky top and skinny bottom slices. Scatter the garlic over the pastry. Then, arrange the tomato slices on top, overlapping them only slightly. Season with salt and pepper and trickle with a little olive oil.
4. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and lightly browned.
5. Take the tart out of the oven, scatter over the cheese. Add another twist of pepper and a trickle of oil. Return to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melty and bubbly and the pastry golden brown.
6. You can serve the tart hot. Whittingstall recommends serving it half an hour or so after it comes out of the oven, with a green salad.
Cottage Cooking Club is a virtual group cooking its way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. It is skillfully managed and inspired by our leader Andrea from The Kitchen Lioness.