Goucher Eats: Christmas lists

Jessica Gude

Features Co-Editor

Sitting on the windowsill in my kitchen at home is an unassuming wooden box. Inside are recipes divided into categories by haphazardly labeled index cards. Between the dividers is a combination of recipes cut out of magazines, handwritten recipes, and recipes typed out by an old-fashioned typewriter, both on yellowing index cards. Those written in curly neat script or typed come from my maternal grandmother. Those printed on cards that are less yellow or clipped from magazines belong to my mother. My grandmother’s recipes have names like “Oatmeal cookies (for Saturdays)” and “Christmas Candy for Children to Make.” These are recipes of imprecise measurements like “flour to thicken- perhaps 6-7 cups” for the yeast rolls that adorn our table at Christmas and Easter. “Lep Kuchen” is typed on a past-yellow-and-verging-on-brown card. We make this each year at Christmas. Apparently “Lep Kuchen” means “cookie” in German (or so I was told growing up), but these are something between a brownie and a spice cake dotted with walnuts and rolled in powdered sugar. They’re my Uncle John’s favorite, and we mail him a tin full every Christmas.
These are sent along with the fudge and banana bread, which are both traditions my mother started. Both of the recipes are pretty standard, but also an integral part of my memories of Christmas. We have pictures of a six year old Jessica standing on a kitchen chair, her apron tied twice, stirring fudge in a make shift double boiler with a wooden spoon the size of her arm. We prepare for the banana bread all year round, saving the overly ripe, past-yellow-verging–on-brown bananas in Tupperware containers in the freezer.
Cutter cookies used to be made four times a year: Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, but as I’ve grown up and the number of school sponsored holiday parties dwindled, these have been relegated to only Christmas (and the occasional Easter). These are simple sugar cookies, but the cutters we use are the same as those used by my grandmother (with a few new ones- like all four of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Making these cookies is usually a three-day process, with the dough made on day one, the cookies cut and baked on day two, and frosted on day three. Frosting the cookies has always been the best part. My brother Eric, who is now a chef at a five-hundred seat restaurant in Orlando, would make the most intricately decorated cookies, which took about four times longer than the icing smeared creations my mother and I produced. In recent years, the simple sugar cookies have are now accompanied by my meticulously cut gingerbread men; the first tradition that I have contributed to the family.
Every December, my mother’s routine becomes a never ending cycle of making these treats, wrapping them up with ribbon, and delivering them to her ever growing catalogue of friends and family, including everyone from her four brothers to our veterinarian and mail man.
Our holiday season resembles a list of traditions that must be mixed, chilled, left to rise, rolled out and baked. As I close my grandma’s recipe box and place it back on the windowsill during the last few hours of Thanksgiving break, I can’t help but smile. I know it and that list of obligatory desserts will be waiting for me when I return in just a few short weeks. It’s a list that has been built over three generations; it’s a list that I can already see forming as December unfolds. It is a list that I look forward to every year and one that I can see growing indefinitely.

Goucher Eats: Pieces of perfection

Jessica Gude

Features Co-Editor

One of my favorite things about home is going to work. For the past four summers (and during the school year before I started college), I have worked in a small seafood restaurant, appropriately titled Off the Hook. It has been a really wonderful experience with a lot of great people and out of this world food. Seared Ahi tuna, buttermilk battered calamari, grilled swordfish, white cheddar grits, corn and jalapeno crab bisque, trust me it’s all good; fresh, local seafood at its best. But my favorite thing on the menu isn’t fish; it’s not even an entrée. No, it’s the chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake.

The cake first graced our presence in the winter of my senior year of high school. Walking back to the kitchen with my hands full of plates, I saw my manager and several of the servers gathered around the prep station. “That should be illegal” one of the servers said as I came back out. “What?” I asked as my eyes fell upon the huge caramel covered mass in front of me. “Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake” my manager told me, each word like a prayer. I grabbed a fork.

Words cannot truly describe this dessert. First of all, it’s cheesecake, so it’s rich and creamy but not overly sweet, with a perfect graham cracker crust. Second of all, there are mounds of cookie dough and chocolate chips hiding inside all of that creamy goodness. I’ve found that the perfect bites have all three components; my favorite spot is near the bottom of the crust, with a hunk of cookie dough and chocolate surrounded by creamy cheesecake and tucked into a cave of graham cracker.

And that’s the way I usually get to enjoy it: by the rushed forkful. We cut desserts piece by piece, which means that usually the last bit is too big for one piece but too small for two. We resolve the dilemma by cutting the cake unevenly- the big half destined to be dressed up and served to guests in the dining room, and the smaller half to be descended upon with soup spoons, cocktail forks, and whatever else is clean and can be considered a utensil. It wasn’t until I came home from college for a weekend and my parents and I went out to dinner that I had an entire piece, garnish and all. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, but don’t think that means that I shared it. Oh no, I got over the emotional trauma quickly enough and enjoyed every bite.

Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake. A mouthful of a name, but it’s my favorite dessert to recite to diners, and the one I always save for last. It’s also my favorite thing to deliver to a table. Eyes go wide as they catch sight of the cake, topped with a cookie, drizzled with chocolate syrup and sitting on a plate adorned with chocolate and caramel swirls. I smile as I set down the forks and ask if I can bring them anything else. The answer is always no, trust me; there’s nothing your life is lacking when you have chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake. When I return to ask how it is, I don’t need to wait for an answer, it’s written on their faces and the empty plate. It’s my favorite thing to force on new employees.

Whenever one of those magical misfit pieces appears on the prep table, I hunt down the newbies and make sure the other vultures save them a bite. And that bite tastes perfect every time. Whether it’s eaten off of a plate or a cocktail fork, eaten while sitting down or while walking from dish room to dining room, whether it’s the first time you tasted it or the hundredth, that bite is heaven.

Goucher Eats: “When in Season”

Jessica Gude

Features Co-Editor

There are few foods that my family restricts to certain times of the year. My father has been known to whip a box of Thin Mints out of the freezer in the middle of July, and I keep a sizable collection of Libby’s Pure Pumpkin year round. Sure, we have the traditional meals that go with certain holidays or seasons, but it isn’t like turkey in mid-April is out of the question. However, our open-minded flexibility has its limits and that line is drawn at corn on the cob. I know it sounds silly, but trust me, in Sussex County, Delaware, corn in a big deal.

My father is a stickler for quality corn on the cob. Don’t even think about buying the frozen stuff or even the cellophane wrapped packages in the produce aisle. No, he wants to see it in the husk. And even when the crates show up in the first few weeks of June, he eyes them wearily. “That’s Carolina corn,” he says matter-of-factly, despite the “local” sign tacked next to the price tag, “ours won’t be ready for weeks.” And he’s right. The fields we pass on the way home have stalks barely a foot high. “Knee high by the Fourth of July” is the adage (given we get enough rain of course), so we won’t get really local corn until a few weeks after that.

But soon enough, the roadside stands pop up with local heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, and an abundance of corn. We finally get our hands on those ears, it is clear why we wait. The corn available for Memorial Day is pathetic, with small kernels and big gaps, like a second grader’s mouth, with rows that are half baby teeth and half expectant holes. The corn that comes later (and after a good deal of patience) is so worth the wait. The entire cob is well populated with huge, sweet kernels that burst when you bite into them. Sunday, the one day I have off each week, has been ordained “summer meal” night and is always accompanied by a plate of freshly shucked corn. On the weeks when I worked all seven days, I would arrive home and bound up the porch steps at the sight of stray corn silks littering the ground.Sure enough,sitting in the bottom drawer of the fridge, are the two ears  they saved for me.

The few short weeks where we can get the best local corn, make up for the months that we can’t. I’ve come to realize that this is what makes corn on the cob (and any food worth having) special. Yes, it tastes like summer and days at the beach and nights catching fireflies, but it also reminds me that some things are only worth doing if you can do them well. It reminds me that despite what many pessimists tell you, it is still possible to buy food from the farmers who grew it. It makes me realize that the best things aren’t the things you can have everyday and that the things you love the most are usually the simplest.

Goucher Eats: Senior eats finale

Kathryn Walker
Co-Features Editor

This is my belated thank you letter, the one that extends hundreds of miles and

Kathryn Walker ‘14 and her brothers outside Stimson Hall after moving in Freshman year (Photo: Courtesy of Kathryn Walker)

Kathryn Walker ‘14 and her brothers outside Stimson Hall after moving in Freshman year (Photo: Courtesy of Kathryn Walker)

oceans wide, the one that I should have written to so many people for so many things, the one that never came in the mail or still lies unwritten on my desk.  For the things big and small, heroic or ordinary, important or inconsequential.  For the people, moments, and places that have swept me off my feet and shaken my small corner of the world.  As the Dictionary of Obsolete Sorrows so aptly describes, a memory, a lifetime, “are not just the moments, not the grand gestures or the catered ceremonies, not the poised person smiling in photos, they’re the invisible things. The minutes, the cheap raw material of ordinary time.”
Four years ago, my family – both parents and all three brothers in tow – dropped me off at Goucher in the sweltering Baltimore heat for my first cross-country pre-season, my first real Goucher memory.  After four hours of unpacking, sweating, and bickering, I waved them off with a factitiously haughty, “I’ll see you at Thanksgiving – maybe.”  Five minutes later, I was lying on my bed staring at the cracks in the ceiling and wishing with all my heart that my family would hear my silent thoughts and come back for me and take me home.  I came to the conclusion that if this was what college would be like – silent, lonely, sweaty – then these next four years were going to suck.
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Goucher Eats: Snacks, snacks, and more snacks

Kathryn Walker
Co-Features Editor

After sitting through a four-hour plane ride, a four-hour drive, and a couple of “et cetera” hours in

Various snacks on display in the summer sun (Photo: Kathryn Walker)

Various snacks on display in the summer sun (Photo: Kathryn Walker)

between, my first day of spring break in Utah is filled with a lot of sitting and even more snacks. “Snacks on snacks on snacks,” as one of my brothers pointed out when I sent him a picture of the contents of my backpack.  Loaded-up with snacks, I start the real adventuring/ moving part of my journey as I pull into the driveway of the lodge I am staying at.
Bouncing out of the car and itching to move, to do something with my body other than sit, I dig out my hiking boots from my suitcase and strap them on.  In five seconds, zipzipzip, they are laced up my ankles. I head outside and follow the path of the setting sun over the mountainside.  The sunlight fills and glistens over everything.  I can’t help it – I start smiling to myself. Read more of this post

Eats: The land of pasta & carbs

Kathryn Walker
Co-Features Editor

I will always, till my last dying breath, be a Carb Consumer.  I will eat endless bowls of winding noodles, savor the soft insides and warmth of a fresh baguette, dole ladles and ladles of oatmeal into a seemingly endless bowl.  Carbs equal energy, plain and simple, but have also provided me with some of my most favorite memories around the table.  The spaghetti dinners with teammates, the pancakes flipped from my grandma’s stove, the radiating warmth of the boulangers’ baguette under my arm.  Scientifically, there are reasons and nerve endings and endorphins that fuel my carb-cravings; but sentimentally, I just love eating any and all sorts of carbohydrates.
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Goucher Eats: Winter winds and warm thoughts

Kathryn Walker
Co-Features Editor

In the depths of this winter arctic tundra, I seem to have switched over to an almost entirely hot-liquid diet: hot tea, hot coffee, hot soup, hot cocoa, hot stews, hot whatever. Most recently, I even tried making “hot” ice cream by pouring some next-to-boiling coffee over top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream (spoiler alert: the ice cream melts). When the winds are a’blowin’ and my fingers freeze almost instantaneously and my nose resembles Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’s, I reach for something that will transform me from a human icicle into a human capable of functioning sans shivers.
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