Food for Thought

Cold Stove, Warm Fridge

In late September of 1985, I cautiously trudged through cold river water in darkness to check on a family boat. The tide had risen about a foot or so above the dock. As my dim flashlight reflected off the water and back onto my face and sharp pellets of rain made me squint, it was…

Emily Post in a Pandemic

Last fall I purchased a wondrous curiosity of a book at the Oxford Fire Company’s annual antique sale. Published in 1945, Emily Post’s Etiquette, The Blue Book of Social Usage was an item not to be passed up. I had planned to read the antiquated 654-page bible of good manners throughout the winter and write…

Popsicles Provide Summer Comfort

As I sit down to write this article, I am enjoying a popsicle my son made by pouring cranberry juice into a silicone mold. It’s 84 degrees out, a little humid and this homemade popsicle tastes just right. I’m not at all bothered by the juice dripping down my fingers as I delight in its…

“Time Well Spent,” Part Two

When we are used to buying almost any food we want when we want it, we consequently become spoiled with this privilege. This is a privilege that many people around the world do not have; a privilege that perhaps only the last few generations have known. Scarce are people still living today that remember the…

Time Well Spent

In mid-March, I wanted to bake a pecan pie and subsequently discovered there were no eggs in the house. I put my plans on hold and added eggs to my store list for the next day. After some investigation, there were apparently no eggs in Easton, at least I couldn’t find any. In fact, there…

Tomato Season

I have been known to draw attention to those around me, the date and time in which I eat my last garden tomato of the year. This usually happens in late October or, if I’m lucky, early November. When this moment occurs each fall, the day becomes overcast. It is at this time I may…

“Where’s the Beef?”

Martha, the Passenger Pigeon, passed away on September 1, 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo. She was the last of her kind. It almost seems an impossibility given passenger pigeons once filled the skies in such numbers as to block out the sun. In 1860, an estimated 3.7 billion pigeons flew across Fort Mississauga, Ontario. So…

The Promise of Seeds

Seed company catalogs appear in my mailbox every January and February and it’s one category of catalog I truly look forward to receiving. The covers display gorgeous glossy photos of incredible tomatoes and stunning flowers. These breathtaking visuals are something I count on. In the dark depths of a cold and overcast winter, it is…

Wishing You an Imperfect Christmas

In my early teenage years, a friend and I decided we were going to surprise our families with homemade taffy for the holidays. While my mother was off at the grocery store, we found a recipe and began our taffy journey. We read about candy thermometers, gathered equipment and assembled ingredients. In the beginning of…

The Case for Home Economics

In middle school and again in high school I actively participated in home economics and shop classes. These weren’t elective courses, they were required and, throughout the many years of instruction in these courses, I learned a wide variety of very useful skills like sewing, cooking, childcare, household budgeting and how to make a bookshelf.…

Achieving Breakfast Zen

Cooking up “Yin and Yang eggs” was a happy accident one morning at my house. Amused by it, I took a picture. I found it very symbolic of breakfast because, as the modern story goes, many people are too rushed to sit and enjoy a breakfast, yet, it would probably be in their best interest…

Nightshades – Naughty and Nice

In many Eastern Shore hamlets, country stores have been the epicenter of rumor and truth and everything in-between about one’s neighbors, local lore and public warnings. You are known by the company you keep, and the nightshades family of plants is a great example of this social convention. It is hard to overcome speculation and…

Where Food and History Happily Collide

On the corner of Routes 662 and 404, history and food collide, and it is the perfect combination for an article. Straddling the border between Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties lies a modest wooden structure with a long story to tell. Accented by our state flower, the Black-Eyed Susan, the Old Wye Mill property might…

Campfire Cooking

On a dew filled August morning, the sun leaks into my tent, brushes my face, and I am comforted by the smell of bacon cooking on a nearby fire. On this particular morning, I will be making our Mountain Man Breakfast. There are no mountains here on the Eastern Shore, but a late night of…

Forgotten Foods

“To spitchcock an eel you must split a large eel down the back and joint the bones. Cut it in two or three pieces, melt a little butter, put in a little vinegar and salt, let your eel lie in it two or three minutes. Then take the pieces up one by one, turn them…

Children in the Garden

When I was very young, possibly four, I recall a bare patch of ground near our house. I remember my mother handing me a packet of carrot seeds and telling me to sprinkle them on the earth. Opening the packet, I peered inside at some very tiny seeds. My mother helped me carefully pour a…

Practicing Food Patience

With a prolific number of recipes available to us through so many resources such as websites, cookbooks, magazines and cooking shows, it seems as though our options for dinner are almost endless. Coupled with the availability of food flown in from every region of the U.S. and other countries, the world is literally our oyster…

A Historical Perspective on Food and Family

Do you ever drive back roads on the Mid Shore and wonder what the landscape looked like 40 years ago? If you grew up here and are pushing 50, you can probably remember. I do. There were fewer houses, fewer stores, and less manicured roadsides. Do you ever drive around and wonder what the landscape…

A Crock-Pot Christmas

I am not known to fall prey to the latest and greatest kitchen gadgets. It’s not in my nature. However, with the holidays omnipresent, one cannot help but be visually and aurally bombarded by television and radio commercials about the newest kitchen gadget must haves. Perhaps before we run out and purchase a new countertop…

An Easy Thanksgiving

November hosts one of my favorite holidays of the year because we focus on “giving thanks for what we have,” instead of shopping for what we don’t have. There are no mythical visitors such as the Great Pumpkin, Santa Claus, Cupid, Leprechauns, or human size pink Easter bunnies. There are no birthday candles to blow…

A Wild Experience

One day in late August, I attempted to sit down in my yard on a blanket to eat a sandwich. My yard was ripe with mosquitoes and so I had lathered myself in homemade bug spray for this special event. I had a front row seat to a live nature show. You see, around July…

Vertical Vegetables

I googled the word “farm” the other day. That sounds silly, right? We live in an agricultural community and just across the street from me is a farm complete with tractors, a cow pasture and a collection of vintage red barns. When I think about what a farm is, I think of what I am…

What’s in My Food? Part Two

In the last article, I began to explore what is in our food. The definition of food has challenged our intellect, so that educating ourselves and deciding what we should or shouldn’t put in our bodies has become paramount to our health. Here I continue to investigate food additives. Sulfites Sulfites have been used as…

What’s in My Food? Part One

When did food become so complex? Before the introduction of pesticides, chemical additives and preservatives, food was simpler – it was just food. In search of convenience, long shelf life, and a skewed perception of “perfect food” (apples aren’t naturally shiny), food is not at all simple. Looking further, I struggle when a food additive…

In Defense of Dandelions

Every spring hoards of dandelions are sentenced to death. Television commercials for weed killers often feature the dandelion as an example: “Just a few squirts of this herbicide and your weeds will be gone!” the advertisers boast. What I would like to know is where in history did the dandelion turn from friend to foe?…

Fishing for Dinner

Early one morning, when I was a young child of age 6, my father took me fishing off of the Oxford public wharf. I proudly caught an 8” spot and my father enjoyed it for breakfast. As I got older, I spent some time fishing with Mr. John. He was a cousin and very much…

Food Banks Stamp Out Hunger

On a brisk January morning I woke up at 6:15 a.m. to cook breakfast for my boys. We had eggs and home fries before I scooted them out the door into the cold darkness to catch the bus. The wind caught the door as I tried to close it and I thought to myself: “At…

Chesapeake Harvest: Reviving our Diverse Agrarian Roots

On a recent cloudy day, I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Tracy Ward and Deena Kilmon from Chesapeake Harvest. As soon as we began to discuss the mission and activities of Chesapeake Harvest, I just knew clouds were parting outside the office and their words ushered in a ray of sunshine…

Bugs, An Alternative Protein

I’ve watched videos of people eating bugs. The video locations are usually in a remote far off land in a country I’ve never been to or maybe even heard of. I have cringed at the sight of people opening their mouths and inviting in a creepy crawly. Interestingly enough, while I am cringing, the consumer…

The Lunch Packers

I come from a family of lunch packers. At a young age, my mother would pack my lunch, but as I matured that responsibility was handed over to me. The refrigerator was stocked for me with nutritious choices and from there I built my lunch. It usually included a sandwich made of peanut butter and…

My Food Allergy Paradox

Food allergies can be a blessing. Of course, I never believed that sentence when I had my initiation in to the complex and disturbing world of food allergies. I grew up in a time when food allergies weren’t on the radar. None of my schoolmates or close friends had allergies that I can recall and…

Loyally Local From the Beginning

Cathy Schmidt has faithfully provided the Food for Thought column in Attraction magazine in recent years. Learn more about her partnership with her husband, Brian, at Garden and Garnish. When Brian and Cathy Schmidt worked together busing tables at the old Masthead on Mill Street in Oxford, 28 years ago, they never anticipated it was…

Quenching Summer Thirst on the Mid-Shore

  Quenching summer thirst can be quite an emotional experience for those parched by the intense summer sun on the Eastern Shore. While most of the time ice water will do the trick, sometimes we long for something even more satisfying. Desperate for hydration on a searing June day, nothing elicits a more emotional response…

A Healing Kind of Garden

Most of my perennial herbs are now stretching their arms into the sky and appear to be fully awake. Each year, however, I seem to have a few casualties. This is the nature of gardening – you win some, you lose some, but there is always the chance for rebirth. When I first began herb…

Go Gluten Free During Gardening Season

The most wonderful time of the year is here – gardening season! With the spring rains settled into the soil and the warmth of the June sun upon us, we are about to have an explosion of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is good news for everyone, not just the gluten free community. Anyone reading…

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, But Food Does

~ Originally printed in June 2015. “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” How many times have you heard that expression? Probably more than you can count with a substantial number of those times coming from your parents, when you left the lights on all over the house or took an extra-long shower. So, what if I…

The Almighty Oyster

I am fixated on oysters right now. Perhaps because a cold snap is on its way. Consequently, as the seasons change, so does my appetite. Many generations ago, my family ran an oyster packing business. As I sit in my office and type this column, across the room in my peripheral view, is an old…

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