Salmon Summer Supper


I’m always amazed when guests say things like “you make entertaining look so easy” or “I could never have you over to my house”.  You know what?  I’m actually an exceptionally lazy cook and a lousy housekeeper.  But, I LOVE to entertain.  (I have a regular cleaning service which I consider an essential household expense and critical for my sanity).  I believe the most important part of entertaining is enjoying HUMAN CONNECTION!  Is this heightened by great food?  Sure!  But you don’t have to put on a gourmet feast to entertain successfully.

Tonight, it was just my brother Luke and my boys here for a Sunday night supper on the porch and I made my favorite summer dish.  Of course, it has to be served on a platter because that’s what I do…. serving food family-style creates a greater feeling of intimacy and connection around the table, in my humble opinion.  It also just looks pretty!

So, how do I go about this particular meal?  This is the menu:  Poached Salmon with steamed Asparagus, Roasted Baby Potatoes and a Horseradish Mustard Mayo.  I promise you that this is simple.

To serve 6 people you’ll need:

SALMON: 2 – 2.5 lb side of salmon, 1 bottle of white wine (prosecco works too), half a bottle of orange juice or more, water if needed to fully submerge salmon.  POTATOES:  1.5 – 2 lbs baby potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. ASPARAGUS: 2 lbs asparagus.  GARNISH: 1 orange thinly sliced in rounds, half a lemon cut in wedges, chopped parsley. SAUCE:  1/2 cup of Mayo, 1 TBSP Horseradish (or more), 2 TBSP Grainy Dijon mustard (or to taste).


Do you own a roasting pan?  I have a big oval one with a lid that was initially used exclusively for my Thanksgiving Turkey.  During the summer it’s my go-to pan for poaching salmon.  I have a GE Café Stove with an elongated middle burner which I think was really designed for the griddle pan for pancakes and the like.  I bought it because I knew it would be perfect for poaching salmon!  Don’t worry though, you can just place the pan over two burners on your stove if you don’t have the middle burner and you could actually cook it in the oven too.

So, for this dinner, I took a 2lb side of salmon (serves 6) and put it in a mix of orange juice, white wine, and water.  I’m not going to be exact about quantities.  If I’ve got a bottle of wine on hand that I’m not going to drink, I’ll throw that in the pan.  If I’ve got plenty of OJ, then the poaching liquid will be all wine and orange juice.  If I don’t have enough, I’ll add water.  No big deal. Anyway, I bring the liquid to a boil first and then place the side of salmon in it, bring it back to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, preferably with a lid on, however if it’s fully submerged in the liquid then it’s not necessary.  If it’s done cooking before everything else, I’ll just turn it off and let it sit in the warm liquid while the vegetables are cooking.  To see if it’s done cooking – stick a knife into the thickest part to see how pink it is inside.



Meanwhile, as for the potatoes, I prefer the baby variety!  I’ll leave the tiny ones whole and halve the slightly larger ones.  Throw them in a roasting pan, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until they look like they are crispy enough for you!


While it’s totally possible to roast the asparagus, but because the potatoes are roasted, I like to steam it.  An inch or so of  boiling water underneath a steam basket with a lid, for 5 to around 7 mins depending on the thickness of the spears, should do the trick.  Depends on how al dente or soft you like your asparagus.


With everything cooked, it’s time to assemble it on the platter…. Salmon first.  In my case, it inevitably breaks up when I transfer it to the platter.  That’s why I garnish with sliced orange and parsley to hide the damage. Feel free to drizzle some of the poaching liquid on it too.  Then, I pile on the asparagus garnished with sliced lemon, then the roasted baby potatoes.  Because the salmon is quite sweet and silky, I love to serve it with a punchy Dijon Horseradish Mayo…literally made up of those 3 ingredients to your liking.

So, there it is!  Simple, pretty, with a variety of textures and flavors.  My kind of cooking.  If you are cooking for a bigger crowd, simply increase the quantities, I often will cook a couple of sides of salmon together in the same pan.

Enjoy!  Here’s to a fabulous summer!

2017: My Top Ten Food Experiences


I woke up on New Year’s Day 2017 in New York City.  My first meal of the year was Steak Frites at Le District by the waterfront in Lower Manhattan.  Little did I know that 2017 was going to take me to some places I had never been and encounters that I could never have imagined.   And I’m not talking about traveling.  I decided to review my year of food by picking 10 experiences/themes, in random order:

ONE:  @frommyporchtoperu

I embraced Instagram this year and have loved it.  Yes, I’m that obnoxious person that posts food photos.  I love it!  It’s fun and I have drawn endless inspiration from other foodies along the way.  After my Breast Cancer diagnosis this summer, one of the first things I thought about was: what could I take control of during treatment and in the future?  One evening, whilst grasping for inspiration, I found it on Netflix in the form of the documentary Forks Over Knives.  I was sold.  It all made so much sense.  Control what you put in your mouth and you can tackle what ails you.  It became my mission alongside the necessary medical treatments.  I found it fascinating to change the whole concept of what food meant to me.  Me….a vegan??!!!  Good grief.  A few months later, I can report that I’ve had lapses but ultimately it’s a lifestyle that works for me, in my unique way.  I kind of see a “Pesce-vegan” thing working.  I just can’t give up oysters.  They are just such a huge pleasure in life, right?  And lobster, crab, shrimp, mussels……. I used Instagram as a method of expressing my creativity, but also my accountability.  So for all of you who encouraged and acknowleged that, I thank you.  It meant an awful lot




Breast Cancer aside, 2017 also brought some romance into my life.  While it didn’t stay the course, I’ll be forever thankful that this lovely man came into my world.   We had been dating just four months when I received my diagnosis.  When I called to tell Andy the news, I told him that I absolutely didn’t expect him to stick around because it was too much to ask.  He was horrified and showed up at my appointment with the Surgeon the next day.  Yes, he is that kind of guy.  He breathed life into me while it momentarily felt like I was losing it.  We ate in lovely places, had some fabulous experiences and I think I can speak for us both when I say we learned a lot from each other.  The way to this girl’s heart is to make dinner reservations and that he did many times!  He even tolerated me taking pictures of our food.  There are many to choose from but I think my two favorites were these two.  The first was dinner at The Boathouse in Rockett’s Landing where we had a table on the deck overlooking the river.  We ate our oysters, the AMAZING Burratta Salad and perfectly Seared Scallops while watching a huge storm roll in.


The second restaurant was Dutch & Co, which I already dedicated a whole blog piece to, but it bears repeating.  Beautiful, innovative food in a great space.



FOUR:  Eating and sipping on my Porch

Despite being pretty gregarious and loving to entertain, I treasure my alone time on my porch.  During warmer months, I’ll sit there with a cup of tea in the morning and often I’ll come home for lunch and enjoy some quiet time.  As it’s west-facing, the evening sun hits it, which in the summer makes it brutal but on cooler spring and fall days, it’s perfect.  Below is a picture of a bowl from Local Vibe Cafe, a new favorite of mine that I plan to write about in more detail soon. The food is delicious, healthy and so beautifully colorful.  Eating it in the sunshine on my porch was just a delightful experience.  Also pictured is a glass of bubbly I enjoyed one warm Friday evening, the perfect way to start the weekend.



FIVE: Camden’s

Andy Howell, my longtime friend and catering partner is the owner of Camden’s Dogtown Market, so I feel a little bit like I’m a part of the place.  He has created beautiful food for many years in various different restaurants that he has owned.  I ate here a number of times this year, but one of my favorite dinners was the pre-Valentine’s Wine Tasting.  Another meal that already has a piece on here in its own right.  I had two truly “aha” moments when I drank two wines that I don’t normally care for on their own, but paired with the food, sprung to life for me.  That moment when you get schooled in the most fabulous way….yes!   The first wine was Complicated Chardonnay which he paired with a Crab Quesadilla with Peach Salsa, a glorious marriage of flavors.  The second was Rosa Regale which he paired with a dark chocolate pate, ricotta cheese and a pine nut cookie.  Quite possibly one of the loveliest dessert combinations I’ve ever had.


It was a tough year at Camden’s though, as Alix, the front-of-house manager, tragically passed away.  I spent many an evening at the bar, chatting to her, trading advice and gossip.  She loved fashion, hair, make-up, art, music and relished giving me dating advice over the couple of years that I knew her.  She even persuaded me to dye my hair red.  I like to think I was the older, wiser one dispensing words of advice, having more years behind me, but in retrospect, she was wiser than me in many ways.  She lived for the moment, spoke freely (often punctuated with profanity) and charmed everyone she served.   She made me laugh!  When she was suddenly taken from us, it was so shockingly sad and left such a painfully huge void.  So much so, that Andy stopped serving dinner for a few weeks.  You never know who might have a big impact on you and sometimes we sadly don’t realize it until they are gone.  Alix mattered, she touched many lives and I know I’m certainly the better for having known her.



I have been here many, many, times over the years.  So many great memories.  This time, it was just Polly and I, on a perfect warm Fall day.  Steamers, hardshell pound-and-a-quarter lobsters, a bottle of Chardonnay…..sitting on the dock.  Always my favorite culinary experience.  What a treat.




My birthday fell right in the middle of my radiation treatments, but I celebrated nonetheless with my lovely friends.  I turned 45.  Moving into the latter part of this decade, I know I’ll continue to face more challenges but hope that perhaps they may be a little less dramatic than those I’ve faced in the first half!  Ladies Night at home, then a weekend involving dinner at the The Brickhouse Run then a recovery brunch at Ammo with guava mimosas in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, was a great way to celebrate!




Radiation was a little more challenging than I thought it would be.  I’m still working on a blog piece about the experience as a whole.  My last treatment fell on Wednesday 1st November, our usual Ladies Night.  I had vowed to drink Veuve Cliquot to celebrate and that I did!  I was surprised with another delicious vegan chocolate cake from Buttermilk Bakery, decorated in the most appropriate way, with one red boob.  We drank plenty of good champagne and it was warm enough to sit on the porch.  Despite being exhausted, sore and so ready for healing, I felt buoyed once again by the love and support of these incredible women.  A night I’ll never forget!




When in the throes of divorce, it’s kind of strange to be involved in working in at least a dozen weddings a year!  But each is always different, lovely and interesting in its own way.  Andy and I catered three this year; a large outdoor wedding at Glenward Gates in Carson on a gorgeous Saturday in May, a lovely intimate small Fall wedding at Folly Castle, and last, but not least, our friends Kate and Mark’s party to celebrate their recent nuptials.  I have known Kate since she was a baby so to be part of this was really special.  No gifts, no formalities, they just wanted friends and family to gather and celebrate with them.  They had a couple of specific requests for food but otherwise left it to Andy and I to come up with a menu.  It’s always fun when you are given creative and artistic license.  It snowed that day but it was cosy, warm and festive inside the house.  Joan and Lawrence have traveled the world so we used a lot of the gorgeous pottery that they have collected.  A joyful occasion that was an honor to be a part of.




Our friends Alain and Aimee have, without a doubt, the coolest abode in Petersburg. Alain built a pizza oven this year and on a unusually warm evening a couple of weeks ago, they invited us over for pizza.  Just being in their house is an adventure but they are truly dear friends.  My cousin Georgia, Geoff and Jake had arrived for Christmas and so we all walked over there and were in for a treat..  I think what made this experience particularly memorable was the interaction with the youngest members of our party.  Jake at age 8 just loved the pizza making process, as did Rory and Ben.  But it was our conversations whilst eating it that really made an impression.  The emerging of powerful personalities with opinions and plenty to contribute.  I loved that Jake kept whispering to me, asking when and if the subject had changed.  He desperately wanted to keep up.  A delicious evening.




Having family join us from England for Christmas was the best gift ever.  My mother would tell you that Geoff taking over the cooking was the icing on the cake.  He produced a gorgeous dinner of Rib Roast, Yorkshire Pudding, Leeks in Bechemel Sauce, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots and Peas.  Finished off with Traditional Christmas pudding, of course!  There’s nothing like family and to have them here with us, especially after a tough year, made it joyful indeed.  The addition of dear friends, plenty of wine, Christmas Crackers and Charades by the fire completed our festivities.  I felt the most at peace this Christmas than I have in years.



It was a huge year!  But once again, I’m reminded of the pleasure of sitting around a table with great company eating fabulous food.  I’m grateful for the many wonderful experiences I had doing just that in 2017, with the host of phenomenal people I am surrounded by.  Here’s to a great 2018, cheers!


Celebrating Love in New England



I don’t really need an excuse to go to New England for a weekend, but a lovely wedding is the best kind.  Three weeks ago, I squeezed in my 10th radiation treatment before heading to RIC.  Thankfully I was feeling great!  I always get a thrill arriving at Richmond Airport to go somewhere, but when the destination is Boston, I’m particularly tickled.   Somehow I’ve always arrived there on a clear beautiful day regardless of the season and September 29th was no exception.  I was heading up for Steve’s cousin Tim’s wedding in Dover, NH.

My mother encouraged me to go, and kindly took over teenager and puppy duty for the weekend so that I could join Polly for all the festivities.  I caught the S&J bus service from Boston Airport to Dover, fantastic!  Polly picked me up, we checked in to the Hampton Inn and before we knew it we were invited to a fun dinner with the Nordahl clan.  I sat next to Yuri who had much in common with me and we had a great conversation.


Breakfast the next morning saw us reunited and newly acquainted with family and friends.  Whilst we should have rushed out to see the delights that I’m sure Dover has to offer, chilling in our room on a drizzly day was a lovely alternative.  Once primped and ready, we headed over to St. Joseph Catholic Church.  It’s always lovely to arrive at a wedding where you know you are getting ready to see a whole load of people you love and eagerly anticipate the nuptials of two of them.

Catherine and Tim are one of those couples that just fit.  Even the Priest affirmed this when he said that upon meeting them in preparation for marriage he knew it was for real because Tim wouldn’t stop looking at Catherine.  They are both in caring professions, he’s a Physical Therapist and she’s a School Psychologist.  Both are the sweetest, mildest-mannered people you could ever meet.

I don’t like to take photos during a wedding ceremony so there won’t be any in here, but I’ve seen some lovely ones!   Needless to say the bride was radiant, the groom was handsome and we were all thrilled to bits for their union.  I’ve been to many a wedding and worked many more than that and this was the real deal.

Transportation was provided from the hotels to the Reception and I couldn’t have been more thrilled that it was a yellow school bus!  A first for this Brit!  We wound our way through the New Hampshire countryside that was starting to show the telltale signs of Fall, before arriving at the lovely Lodge at Parker Mountain. Catherine’s uncles own the beautiful property in Strafford and, despite the overcast skies, it’s a stunningly gorgeous place.  A cabin overlooking a pond, between which a huge tent was pitched.  As it was a chilly day, guests were drawn to the inside, next to the roaring fire.  I believe this is typically rented out as an Airbnb, what a treat that would be!


With a bar stocking signature cocktails, beer and wine, the party got started!  A delicious array of hors d’oeuvres were laid out on the porch for us all to enjoy while watching the official photos being taken down by the pond.  The weather was overcast but the mood was most definitely sunny!  Also, let’s face it, the photos are usually better in this lighting too.  An important detail to add at this point is that the porch was decorated with strings of origami cranes, ONE THOUSAND of them!  Marie and Caitlin had painstakingly made them over a period of several months, a symbolic gift to Tim and Catherine for good fortune.


After the cocktail hour, we were ushered to the tent to find our assigned seating.  The wedding party was introduced to much applause and Tim and Catherine took their first dance.  Just lovely, followed by Catherine dancing with her father and Tim with his mother, Marie.  Justifiably proud and happy parents.


I particularly love this photo as it shows the joy we all felt!


So while the focus is of course on the couple, we do have to talk about the food too, right?  They opted for the newly popular family style service of dinner.  Something I love!  No long lines for a buffet and no being confined to one set plate of food.  Instead, delicious platters and bowls of food that included all food groups and diets.  I’ve already talked about platters of food in this blog, but I’ll say it again: it promotes and celebrates the shared experience of enjoying food.  They chose well; sliced beef, chicken, a veggie pasta dish, roasted rosemary potatoes and haricots verts.  It’s always great when there’s wine on the table too!  Kudos to the excellent catering staff, diligently working out of a truck and a tent.  As someone who caters weddings, I know the challenges.


Tim’s best man, his brother Patrick, made a lovely speech before raising a toast to the newlyweds.  Heartfelt and loving from what I know is a close relationship.  And then it was time to dance!!  And yes, we did!  So much fun!  Here’s a selection of photos to show the rest of this lovely celebration:

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The school buses returned to pick us up in shifts and Polly and I took the second one.  We were given treat bags for the ride home; a freshly baked cookie, a bottle of water and an apple.  What a lovely touch and the perfect end to a most beautiful day!

So, did Polly and I party on upon our return to Dover?  Ummm…nope.  Went to bed!  Slept beautifully and then enjoyed a lively breakfast catching up with everyone the “morning after”.  It was great to chat and laugh and have one last chance to hear about how everyone’s lives were going.  I sat next to Caitlin and Cliff who had traveled from Nairobi for the wedding and our conversation ended up with an invitation for the boys and I to go and visit them and they offered to help book a safari….uh oh.  Don’t have to ask me twice to go pretty much anywhere!  But the thought of a safari with my boys next summer had me racing to look at fares and guide books.  Fingers crossed I’ll be blogging from our Kenyan adventure next August!

The one thing I always have to do when I go to New England is, of course, to eat lobster.  I had let Polly know that and on Sunday morning, asked her how far we were from York, Maine.  Less than 30 minutes!!  My request to pay a visit down memory lane was instantly granted and after saying our goodbyes, we took the back roads to York.  It was a perfect New England fall day and we wound our way through lovely countryside to the place that Polly and Ed used to call home and a place I had adopted as a favorite, chock full of memories.  I first met Ed and Polly there, Steve and I drove all night from Virginia when I was just 20 years old.  We had many Thanksgivings there, always taking a frigidly cold walk by the beach before indulging in pie.  Ed and Polly threw us an engagement party there.  We brought our boys up here pretty much every summer.  The last time I had visited, 3 years ago, we came up to let Ed and Polly know that we had reached what would turn out to be an insurmountable issue in our marriage, not a happy time.  However, on this day, with Ed surely looking down on us and smiling, we drove to all our favorite spots and had the most lovely day.  Time does, and can, heal.


Lunch just had to be at Chauncey Creek.  An absolute favorite.  My grandparents went there, many friends from Virginia were taken here.  My boys tried lobster for the first time in high chairs here. So here we were, just the two of us this time, enjoying a perfect sunny day, sipping wine and eating pound-and-a-quarter lobsters and steamers, whilst enjoying each other’s company.   Polly had been on the road for 5 months cross country and around Canada visiting National Parks, mostly by herself, processing her grief at the loss of her beloved Ed.  When describing the experience, she concluded that it had made her realize and believe that she “could do anything by herself”.  Music to my ears.  It’s a powerful thing to discover about yourself  and I couldn’t be more thrilled for her.  It would have been easy for her to have stayed home and mourn, but she hit the road and 15,000 miles later, had stories and experiences that will propel her into this new chapter.  Pretty awesome.


We hated to leave but it was time for me to get myself to Boston Airport, using the shuttle once again, this time from Portsmouth.  What a beautiful weekend celebrating the start of marriage for a truly lovely couple, as well as a gorgeous trip down memory lane.





EDWARD DICKINSON  9/3/36 – 11/26/16

The first restaurant meal I experienced with Ed Dickinson was during the summer of 1993. I was just 20 years old and meeting the couple who would become my parents-in-law 4 years later.  There was a twin lobster special for $15.95 at The Weathervane in Kittery, Maine.  It was the first time I had eaten lobster and where better to do so than in this part of New England, a place that I would grow to adore.  Ed, Polly and Steve patiently and painstakingly instructed me on the art of dismantling this delicious crustacean, making sure I didn’t miss a single part.  Dipped in melted butter, I enjoyed every last mouthful and so began my love for lobster.  Ever since then, whenever I’m in Maine, there is rarely a day when I don’t eat it in some form or another.  Years later our favorite place to go was Chauncey Creek, a delightful place on a dock in Kittery, where you can take your own beer and wine and sit at colorful picnic tables by the water.  We would eventually bring our own kids there. I’m not sure if we ever paid for a single meal there or anywhere for that matter.  Ed loved to take his family out to eat.




Just as he had introduced me to New England cuisine, I in turn introduced he and Polly to my English family which resulted in lots of time eating in pubs, a trip for them to Ireland with my grandfather and even a few days in Paris.  When we opened our own pub here in Petersburg, they were naturally fixtures there when they came to visit, and we finally got to buy them dinner for a change.

Just two weeks ago, the weekend before Thanksgiving, I flew down to Florida where Ed and Polly retired to, and where we have enjoyed countless visits to their home in Cape Canaveral.  This time it was not such a happy visit as Ed was seriously ill in the hospital.  Life can change in an instant. He had been living with multiple forms of cancer for 15 years but it was his kidney that was getting the better of him.  It was never going to be an easy weekend as I knew I may have to say goodbye for the last time.  I was also going to spend 72 hours with Steve after having been separated for over 2 years in an environment with many wonderful shared memories.  What transpired was a weekend that was focused on family, memories, support, and healing.  It was painful, emotional and transformative all at the same time.  I watched as my father-in-law slowly faded but all the while being lucid and aware of what was happening.  The man who had always been a bit of an anxious guy, was suddenly calmer and more peaceful than I had ever known him to be.  I hope he gained comfort from Steve and I being there together despite no longer really being together.  You just can’t erase 23 years of history and we will always be family.

The food in the hospital was in no way appetizing but this man who had always enjoyed eating and drinking, no longer had any appetite.  Steve and I spent time together in the cafeteria when we needed some food, chatting and reminiscing over such delights as buffalo chicken salad, iceberg lettuce and all the fixings from the salad bar, pop tarts and some particularly bad candy.  Here we were, facing losing such a big person in our lives at the same time as coming to terms with how our own lives had changed.

We all have our ways of coping and dealing with a crisis like this.  For some it is to provide a reassuring quiet presence in the hospital room, for others it’s running errands, some simply pray….  Me?  I get cooking.  After a day of eating barely palatable hospital food, I wanted to make sure everyone ate well at home.  For me, food is a source of nourishment, but also joy and comfort.  Cooking for others is an act of love.  I couldn’t cure Ed, but I could make sure there was food in the house for his family.  Heather arrived on Saturday and I picked steak for our dinner with roasted baby potatoes, a salad of field greens, Gorgonzola, caramelized onions, toasted almonds and balsamic vinaigrette.


As we ate and drank wine, we chatted and shared the tough realization that Ed was declining and that we were facing the inevitable.  A really hard fact to swallow.

The next day, my last full day, I prepared myself for taking over Polly’s immaculate kitchen in order to cook some meals for the days ahead.  I headed to Publix, the local grocery store which was packed full of people shopping for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  It’s always so surreal to go to a crowded public place when you are going through an intensely emotional and sad time.  It feels like somehow everyone should be sad. But life goes on and the population of Cape Canaveral needed to stock up for their dinners.  As I navigated my way through the crowded aisles, I was suddenly overwhelmed by hearing “Sweet Caroline” playing loudly throughout the store.  I found myself singing along but then memories of times spent watching the Red Sox play on the TV and at Fenway park came flooding back.  I remembered being with Ed and Steve when the Red Sox finally won the World Series for the first time in their lifetimes and it suddenly truly hit me that I was going to cook this food and then go and say goodbye.  I was alone and surrounded by strangers and started to cry.

I managed to get myself together enough to get home but then the tears wouldn’t stop.  I drove to the hospital where Steve came down to meet me in the parking lot and we walked along the perimeter of the hospital grounds, a prime waterside location with a view of the cruise ships at the Port and the Kennedy Space Center in the distance.  It didn’t feel good to be losing my composure, not helpful to everyone else at all, but ultimately a demonstration of how emotional this experience and situation was and a clear indication of how I felt about Ed and his family.  The fresh air helped somewhat and I spent a couple of hours up in the room and down in the cafeteria.  I then decided I needed to go back to the house and start cooking.

The act of chopping, slicing, dicing and seasoning was calming and most therapeutic.  But I continued to cry while I occupied this space where I had cooked before but under entirely different circumstances.  First on the list was dinner for after I had left.  A large Chicken Divan for the refrigerator and a smaller one for the freezer, an easily microwaveable meal that I have made and served countless times and that is always satisfying and comforting especially when reheated.  The other dish, another favorite, Beef in Beer, which was to go in the freezer.


I had somehow instinctively chosen to make “Cheesey Potatoes” for that night’s dinner, one of Ed’s favorites.  Thinly sliced potatoes layered with just heavy whipping cream, sharp cheddar cheese, salt and pepper then baked in the oven for about an hour.  Pure comfort in a casserole dish.  It was to accompany Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Apples, Pears and Onions served with green beans.  It was served again on a platter I gave Polly a few years ago.  I love serving dinner family-style on a platter as I think firstly, it looks good, and secondly, it contributes to the feeling of a truly shared experience, creating a connection between everyone around the table.


With dinner prepared for each of the coming days, I went to the hospital where the room was darkened and Ed was resting peacefully with Polly, Steve and Heather by his side.  A number of close friends and family had come to visit so he was surely tired.  He insisted that he be woken up every time someone left so that he could say goodbye.  After the shift changed, it was time to go and it was my turn.  Needless to say it was hard, a tender exchange which I will always cherish.  We all left the room feeling highly emotional, of course.  It’s truly a gift to get to say a final goodbye to someone, especially someone like Ed.

It was sort of fitting that this all happened around Thanksgiving, the holiday that was introduced to me by Ed and Polly.  I have so many memories of this holiday spent around their table in York, Maine.  We always marveled at Polly’s ability to produce the entire feast without ever messing up the kitchen, something I will NEVER master.  I remember fondly offering to help do something my first year there and being asked to peel the squash for the Dickinson classic dish of mashed butternut squash with maple syrup and butter.  I loved the dish but have since avoided the peeling over the years by splitting it in half and baking and scooping instead of dicing and boiling it.   I attempted a Polly Dickinson Thanksgiving dinner in Petersburg, once, I believe?!  Silly me….what was I thinking?  When it comes to food, sometimes it’s best just to take the spirit of the occasion and try to carry it on.

So this year, I returned home to my boys in time for the holiday, and our 15 guests.  I was feeling deeply anxious about Ed’s failing health, not being with them all, but especially grateful to be around the table with many special people.  We carried on the traditions of love, good food, family and gratitude.  We didn’t walk the beach at Long Sands in between dinner and pie like many years past, instead we walked the Centre Hill Circle and then went around the table all saying what we were thankful for.  Ed featured an awful lot.  It’s remarkable how particularly important the simple traditions and rituals of life become at a time like this.

I texted this picture to Steve, Heather and Polly when I made the butternut squash the night before:


I will always think of them when I make this every year.

Ed spent Thanksgiving at home, surrounded by family.  Not the usual fanfare, but the place he loved with those he loved, most of all, Polly.  Two days later on Saturday 26th November, he peacefully passed on to his next adventure with Polly and Steve by his side.  Steve called to tell me just as I was heading out to go to the Model train exhibition at the Science Museum, another Thanksgiving tradition.  I didn’t cancel our outing, it was yet another lovely ritual and therefore comforting.

Thank you for your kindness, wisdom and generosity, Ed.  Thank you for treating me like I really was your daughter.  Thank you for all the lobster dinners.  Thanks for always having Stoli and Schweppes or Fever Tree tonic in the house when I came to visit, even though you really only liked Absolut and generic brands of diet tonic.  Thanks for so generously and enthusiastically showing my English family around in both New England and Florida.  I think they even liked it when you forced a shot of Jagermeister on them at the end of the night.

Cheers ❤️