Our Town


… A richly timeless commentary on nothing less than the tragicomedy of human existence…

Pull up a chair and a steamy cup of Earl Grey.  This is the place to share stories and revel in each other.  Right here in our little town.  Well, it could be your town, too.  Thornton Wilder tried to show us with a three-act spotlight.  First we’re here, then we’re gone. We all have aspirations  and dreams, some are in the kitchen, some are more lofty than the soufflé au fromage on page 163 of, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, (oh, don’t worry it’s not another blog about HER, but do use tons of pungent cheese and maybe throw in some chopped chives).  Like life…….just jazz it up!

(picture above is a section of a post card advertising The Land of Goshen Community Market)
www.goshenmarket.org……..someone please send me the artist info, so I can credit properly



The other evening I had a little dinner party for my friend, two of her children, and her uncle.  We had such a great time, and I think we all needed some home-style comfort.

Anyway, I made them a roast chicken (rosemary, olives, lemon wedges, tons of fresh market garlic), which I think turned out scrumptious, according to them all, as, G and I , didn’t partake, since we have grown so accustomed to our own Rosemary free ranging in the backyard.  We left the poultry to them, but we had fun with the yummy salad with the soy/Dijon/balsamic vinaigrette, the roasted vegetables, bread,  cheese board, pasta.  Oh, I tried a recipe for vanilla gelato using some of my new beans.  Well, that was smooth and delicious, then there were cakes..oh, my.  My friend said it reminded her of Babette’s Feast, and we laughed because I said I hope you love this meal, as we will be dirt poor from here on out 🙂   Kind of like a last supper.   Ah, but it was super.

They came in to flickering candles, guitar music softly playing, and the garden glowing through the living room window.  Flowers were on the table, and the house was filled with cooking smells of crusty bread, roasting nuts, roasting bird.   It was a soothing meal full of conversation, relaxation, laughter, with oohs, and aahs over the food.  A catharsis.  It made me so happy to be able to do that for them, well, and for me.  G played some piano, M played some piano.  D regaled us with tales of Ireland past and future, as he is leaving very soon for another trip.
Anyway, for a time all was right in the world.
I love the saying:  “Life is short, use the good china.”

And we did.


It was such a special evening.  I just wanted you to know, so you would be inspired to just go ahead and have a little get together with friends.  You can truly make someone happy down to their toes.  It doesn’t have to entail all the aspects of my dinner.  It can be as simple as rice and beans, but do light a few candles, have some music, some cloth napkins…whatever it is that you do to show someone you value them and their company in your life.

Just so you know and will not feel overwhelmed to produce extravagance, our next happening is going to be a game night with snacks, wine and maybe root beer floats, oh, or maybe warm brownies with vanilla ice cream melting on the top, or maybe big, fat soft molasses cookies.  Pass Go and collect some happy friends.





Yesterday our town was visited by my new friend, Laetitia, from Rouen, France.  Rouen is in Normandy in the Northern part of France.  It is home to the gorgeous Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen with the tallest church tower in France.  I mention that fact, because this is a true church for bakers, as it sports an ornately decorated tower of yellow stone called the Tour de Beurre (Butter Tower).  I read that this Gothic tower was paid for by funds raised from people who wanted to be allowed an indulgence to eat butter during lent, or it might just be the fact that it is built from yellow stone.  Rouen, with that buttery tower, is a favorite of tourists, but one city, that perhaps, Joan of Arc may have wanted to avoid.

Laetitia was happy to talk about her home, and I was happy to share mine.  She is on a month-long trip to the U.S. taking in the culture and increasing and practicing her language skills.  What came in mind to do?  Make brownies!

Once when I was in Paris, I came upon a shop that sold only brownies and doughnuts, the quintessential American cuisine.  It may have started as a curiosity, but there was a line as my children and I went in to buy brownies for dessert for our picnic by the Seine (which, by the way, was a prelude to our underground tour of the Parisian sewers).

Anyway, I thought that since Laetitia was here, she might as well learn how to make great U.S. brownies, so my daughter and I rolled up our sleeves and held a little impromptu baking class in our kitchen.  We measured, melted, and stirred.  Then as the house filled with that wonderful aroma of baking chocolate, my daughter showed her how to create beautiful jewelry.  They sat around the table, turning copper wire and beads into art, as the Brazilian beat of Marisa Monte softly came through the speakers, and I penned a copy of the recipe trying to convert everything to metrics and centigrade (350 degrees Farenheit to Celsius..hmm…-32÷9×5) , so our French friend could make some chocolate goodies for her family back in Rouen.  We teased that when we visit her city we will find her there with a brownie café of her own.

Once in, Zurich, Switzerland, my friends, Henri and Sylvia, made a wonderful fondue dinner, and I will never forget the little plates on which we ate.  Circled around the rims were the words, “Fromage et pain sont bons copains.” (cheese and bread are good friends).  Yesterday, with my kitchen filled with the smell of brownies, our plates could have said, “Chocolat et beurre sont bons copains.”

All that chocolate and butter sampling was done in the name of international relations.  Well, someone had to do it :).

posted July 26, 2011

Brownie Update:

I just received several emails from our new friend, Laetitia.

In my response, I mentioned the European cakes class I just took from pastry chef, Barry Marcus. “Funny, you are in France making brownies, and I am in the U.S. making French desserts 🙂 How fun!”  

Her email:

hello Susan and G!

How are you?
I cooked a brownie with my sisters! it was very very good!
Here are 2 pictures of our brownie!
Thank you again for welcoming me at your home and for the recipe!

Three Great Women of France/One Great Brownie

Laetitia’s Brownie

What a lovely young woman, Laetitia is.  The world has a tennis playing, aspiring engineer, who can now make a mean brownie.  She is out in the world with a racket in one hand, whisk in the other, and a calculator in her pocket.





OK…this is one photo shoot where the star will have no airbrushing. This picture shows full-blown wrinkles in all their humble glory.  The wrinkles and little tears are the beauty of this little brown bag, and they are the badges of its use.  Kathy, a market regular, always has a smile, and a good morning conversation, and this bag.  Every Saturday morning she takes the folded paper sack out of her tote, and into it goes her favorite baked treats for her morning coffee break.  She has used this bag for several years now.  Yes, years. Well, this is smart for a lot of reasons.  Reusing trumps recycling, every time.

Reuse instead …….see this little brown bag?  It is mighty.  It represents an attitude of abundance without sacrifice.  There are a whole lot of different ways of living.  Why are we so wasteful?  Why do we think we need a new something, every time?  Oh, I am sure Kathy can afford more bags, perhaps even a new bag every week, but she uses this one lovingly.  Maybe the real affluence in our society occurs when we, with purpose, don’t use our resources.

Kathy, here’s to you, bag lady conservationist.  You are a kind, happy citizen of our town and a caring citizen of the world.  You are such a pleasure to see in the early morning market hours, a time when my own renewable energy is at an all-time low.

More and more people attending the market are using their own bags and reusing them.  On Saturdays, I love seeing you all with your totes, your beautiful baskets, your rolly bags, your wagons, coming through the market, filling them with mixed greens, blue cornflowers, raspberry streusel muffins, and pottery mugs and bowls.  The market is so fun.  We are so lucky, and our lives are rich.  We can afford to tread lightly.  Maybe our biggest wealth is people like, Kathy, leading the way.  She is not asking you to do anything.  She is quietly leading by example.

“Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations.”  -Jean Paul Richter, German novelist and humorist

Unassuming Little Brown Bag.  From any angle, this bag seems so humble, but I defy you to try to speak of something so far reaching in its concept.   Only use what we need. This is how a little brown bag can save the world.

Kathy, you are so inspiring.  My little haiku tries, dedicated to you.

Do you need a bag?

Says no thanks, I brought my own.

Every time, makes me smile.


Sun comes up again.

Smart girl pulls out that brown bag.

Who knew trees could smile?








Did you know that our own town just played host to Laura and Joe?

Were you fortunate to see a young couple with all their backpacking regalia and their walking sticks come trouping through last Monday?  Check out their info via this link to their NPR interview.


They are walking to Las Vegas from Detroit to get married, and they should be there in about 4 more months.  Fortified with a breakfast of those double-sized blueberry muffins you are crazy for at the market and cheesy scrambled eggs from my flock, they were once again on their way West headed  to their desert wedding.  I will be sure and let you know if I witness their vows among the red rocks.  With a nod to my County Antrim heritage, an apropos blessing for that sweet young couple.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


UPDATE:  Laura and Joe (see post below) have asked me to be their wedding baker.  I am not sure if the logistics can be worked out, but I am honored to be asked.  Would be fun to make dessert in the desert.  As the days go by, they just keep on walking.


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