Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Miss you, Dad

I come by my food addiction honestly. At age 83, my mom cooks incessantly. I'm not kidding. She is always making food for someone who is ill or malnourished or something. I think she just looks for people who are in need so she can cook. Oh yeah, and she entertains constantly. She's always throwing cocktail parties for her q-tip friends. They drink a lot of wine, too. Go Mom.

But the heart and soul of my food addiction comes from my Dad. Next week marks the 11th anniversary of his passing. I still miss him. But I rejoice in my wonderful memories. My dad never forgot a meal. You could ask him what he ate on September 18, 1968 and he could probably tell you. He loved to cook, too. He developed his own recipe for Beef Bourguignon which is kind of interesting, given the revival of that dish today thanks to Julie and Julia. Of course, his called for a can of golden mushroom soup which embarrasses me to even tell you, but whatever.

He once went to Galatoire's in New Orleans and had a dish involving eggplant and crabmeat. He loved it and immediately recreated his own version. Several months later, Bon Apetit (yeah, he was an avid reader back in the day) published the restaurant's recipe. He tried it but decided that his own version was much, much better. He called it "Stuffed Eggplant a la Edwin."

And then there is the crab story. Being from Baltimore, he loved nothing better than steamed crabs. So one day we went to the local farmer's market and bought several big boxes of live crabs. We took them home and then Mom and I decided to go shopping, leaving Dad to deal with all of those clawing, energetic crustaceans.

You can guess what happened next. As he was transferring the boxes of crabs to the back yard (headed for the big pot of boiling water waiting on the grill), the bottom dropped out. Can you say "Jail Break?" The things went everywhere! Even by the time we got home, my dad was still trying to coax them out from underneath the shrubbery. I'll bet some of them are still rejoicing today that they were spared from our feast that night.

His last name was Cromwell. Guess it's only fitting that, some years ago, Henry and I traveled to London and stood gazing upon the statue of Oliver Cromwell just outside Parliament. I knew immediately that I was a direct descendant. Two words: THUNDER THIGHS!

Here is his recipe for barbecue sauce. It's the best. Make it, marinate your chicken in it for as much time as you can, then throw it on the grill. Use medium heat, as it will caramelize quickly.

Here's to you, Dad!

Ed Cromwell's Barbecue Sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes over low heat. Cool, then use to marinate chicken.

(Note: because I am Jewish and so I always cook way too much in terms of quantity, I always double or quadruple this recipe. But hey -- that's just me).

P.S. the book in the picture was his favorite barbecue book. It is stuffed with his recipe clippings also. It makes me happy to look at it from time to time.......


  1. Thanks for sharing such a great memory! Seeing the picture of your dad I can so visualize your mom & he together on your porch enjoying themselves while indulging in the many fond stories of their lives.

  2. i just found your website. I was looking for a mussel recipe. I am hooked. You are very entertaining and I can't wait to try your recipes. I think I have bookmarked everything.

    Keep cooking!