Saturday, 9 November 2019


I had planned to write a profound (ahem) review of Nancy Isenberg's important work "WHITE TRASH. The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America"  (Viking 2016) but today's welcome early morning rain and cool temperatures caused my "profound synapses" to seize up.

This too shall pass.

So it's spuds.

I had never heard of Hasselback potatoes

until this morning, when I saw them at Trader Joe's.

Oh my goodness.  So very good!  I cooked mine (from frozen), and  then slathered them with cheese, and with some Lemon Butter and Dill sauce in which I had cooked a bit of Haddock.

Food fit for the synapses impaired!  ( I made up for the unhealthy aspects of this meal by also including some broccoli.)

I could become addicted, save for the fact that T.J's is a past master at withdrawing popular items from their shelves, and that two of their frozen Hasselbacks cost $3.39 - that's a mighty expensive way to buy and eat spuds!

Friday, 8 November 2019

Lighting the Mourning Candle again

Saturday November 9, 2019, 2:00  p.m.

My silence and prayers at that time will be for Mary Holmes, another one of those great women who have strengthened my christian faith, and called forth my better angels. I was privileged to be her student, pastor and rector for six years.

Memorial service for Mary Holmes:
Saturday November 9, 2019, 2 pm
St James’s Episcopal Church
1991 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02140

Mary and her daughter Michelle

 Mary as remembered by Michelle.

Mary Holmes was born Sept. 25, 1931, the 5th and last child of John Beresford Marshall and Ruth Etta (Woods) Marshall. Her older siblings were Charles, Richard, Ruth, and Lillian. She also had older half-brothers from her father: John, Stanley, and Andrew.

They lived on the 2nd floor of the family homestead at 194 Franklin St. in the Central Square area of Cambridge MA.  On the first floor lived her mother’s sister Grace (Woods) Sato and her husband and children. Another sister, Esther (Woods) Henry, and her family lived in the house in the back, at 192 Franklin St.

Mary’s father John sadly died when she was 5 years old. As this was the Great Depression, the family was quite poor, but resourceful.  Mary remembers that she and her siblings would follow the coal delivery truck and pick up the pieces of coal that blew off to take home to burn in their furnace.

One summer, Mary’s older siblings got the chance to attend a summer sleep-away camp for underprivileged black children. They felt that since they were all going, Mary should get out of the city too, even at the age of 5. This was quite a formative experience as she later encouraged her own children, and some of her grandchildren to experience the independence of summer camp. It probably also influenced her later work with camps and youth.

When Mary was 12, she received a pen-pal through her Girl Scout troop.  She was an English Girl Guide named Gerda Styles. This led to a life-long friendship and visits to each other’s country.

Mary graduated from what is now called Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. Both her mother and her grandson Tano graduated from the same school. After high school, Mary had several jobs as a youth worker, continuing even after her marriage to Kenneth Holmes in 1954.

She worked for the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club, Camp Lapham in Ashby, MA, and The Red Barn Camp in Marshfield, MA.  The Red Barn was a summer camp for at-risk teenage girls. In 1958, she brought along her 3-year-old daughter Michelle and newborn son David to The Red Barn. Michelle remembers having many loving babysitters from among those teenage girls!

In 2010, the tables were turned as Mary was staff aide to Michelle as her daughter ran a regional Wood Badge, the highest-level training course for adult leaders in the Boy Scouts of America, at Camp Sayre in Milton, MA.

After the birth of her third child Philip, Mary worked as a school crossing guard near their home in West Medford MA.  She later worked as an assistant to the head coach of the Buckingham Browne and Nichols School, which allowed her grandson Omar to attend day camp there at a very reduced rate.

Mary always loved knitting and crocheting hats, sweaters, mittens, and afghans for her family members, often in their school or favorite sports team colors.  She also made these items for charity.  She was a life-long Episcopalian, and sang for years in the choir. She was one of the founding members of the Watoto Club, a social networking club for mostly black women, long before Facebook was invented.  The Watotos still meet.

Mary’s grandchildren are Omar, Tano, Johnathan, Leianne, Steven, Lauren, Lucy, and Henry.  Her great-grandchildren are Taylor, Jackson, and Fiona.

"Bet you wish you'd known Mary". (jmp)

Thursday, 7 November 2019

In all my recent talk about food I had forgotten some important news.

I am sorry that I have not told you this previously.

My news is that I have Dog.   His name is Zion.  He is a charmer and a delight.

I know that you will be happy for me.

Here he is.  We are on the Riverwalk in Bradenton, FL., waiting to see the Tropicana Train cross the Manatee River, as it lumbers south from Port Manatee.

Here am I.  

With my tongue firmly in my cheek!

Tee Hee!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

A tip of the hat to Belgium ( the new P.B. and J Sandwich)

I first encountered the Belgian made "Lotus Biscoff" cookies as a snack which was provided on the late and lamented airline AIR-TRAN

Other airlines now hand them out (whoopee!) and they are also sold in many U.S. stores.  They are good! Probably my all time favourite biscuit.

Lotus also sells  a cookie "butter".

I can lose all sense and eat it by the spoonful.

It is also a fabulous alternative to the traditional Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich; for those who are allergic to peanuts,  and for those who are willing to try a delicious riff on the usual PB and J.

More Good Eating

I stopped by Captain Brian's Seafood restaurant yesterday to buy some fresh fish.

I saw fish called Hake  (part of the same family as Cod and Haddock).  I bought some, having never seen it before in an American seafood joint, or American fish-monger.

It was good!   Hake has a richer flavour than its cousins Cod and Haddock.

The local "chippy"  (Fish and Chip Shop) of my youth was called "Evelyn's".    We'd get our fish and chips there. Mostly it was codfish, but if there was hake (slightly more expensive) we were instructed to get that for Mum (we, the children had to settle for cod!)

Mum's first name is Evelyn, so I suppose she deserved the best that "Evelyn's" could offer.

Captain Brian's also offered another fish which I'd not seen or thought about in scores of years.

 This is Skate  ( I think the "wing" of a ray type fish).

On my very first visit to Mum's home town she bought Skate with  Chips at her Aunt's local chippy, even as she exulted in its wonders.

I was not a happy little boy  -  skate is so bony.  The trick is to run your fork down the bones to harvest and eat the fish. I was not up to that trick!

Now I suspect that I would like Skate, but having bought both Hake and Haddock at Capt. Brian's yesterday my "old man experiment in eating Skate" will have to wait until by next visit to the fish counter.

Monday, 4 November 2019

O.K. you *Yankee tourists". Lay off your criticism of toast in the United Kingdom

*  "Yankee" being a European word for all Americans.

So you go to the U.K. or Ireland as a tourist. You stay in a B and B, or a Hotel and return to the U.S.A. full of complaints about the breakfast toast.  "It's cold", you say, or "it's too hard.

You are complaining about this; which has been set at your table.

What is your problem?  Do you truly think that it is inferior to to the under-toasted and soggy bread which will be served to you as toast in an American diner or breakfast house - with a hard butter pack, and a small "plastic packed"  bit of what purports to be jam or jelly.

You must turn your thinking around.  U.K. and Irish breakfast toast is to be thought of as more like a Crostini  but served with butter and jam, rather than with bruschetta.

BUT WAIT! there is more.

We of U. K. origin also delight in thick slices of bread, well toasted, smothered with butter, and laden with good jam.

Such was my breakfast today!

Well toasted

Slathered in butter

Brought to perfection with premium made jam.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Memory failure - re Dundee Marmalade

A few weeks ago a friend, (I remember that it was a woman), lamented that she could not find Dundee Marmalade in the stores.

I spied some today at my local Publix Supermarket, and bought a jar (for her).

Now, in my older age and subject to brain-farts, I cannot remember the name of the woman who lamented her inability to find this product.

If it was you, please call me.  I'd hate to waste it.

Speaking of Marmalade -  as one often does....   I was never fond of it as a child.

Mum loved it and would buy the U.K. Robertson's brand Marmalade: "Silver Shred" (lemon based), and "Golden Shred" (orange based) to spread on her morning toast,

I did not like the marmalade because of the "worms" as I called them;  (the wee bits of orange or lemon skin in the marmalade.

Strangely enough, my objections to "marmalade worms" did not extend to Rose's Lime Marmalade which I enjoyed.

Those who are, or have been parents will not be surprised.  They know that children are bafflingly  inconsistent about their food preferences.

Remember of course that Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds..." (but read the entire quotation to understand what he meant).

In the meantime, please call me if you are the person who longed for a jar of Dundee Marmalade.  I won't eat it .....  the worms are too big!