Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Anniversary Nana & Papa

Nana & Papa's anniversary was September 28th. Maria Meurs of Grace & Simon Meurs and Giles Davis Clark, Jr. of Helen & Giles Davis Clark, Sr. Today would have been their 70th anniversary. They were married in 1940. Their wedding took place at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Albany, New York. Papa's family was Episcopal and Nana's family was Lutheran but they agreed to be married in the Episcopal church.

I have seen one photo in a newspaper clipping of Nana's bridesmaid and flower girl. There were four bridesmaids and one flower girl. They all wore floor length gowns with long sleeves and even the bridesmaids are wearing small veils with large "poofs" on the top! Their flowers were gardenias, lilies of the valley, and white roses. I love their classic. Velina Ingalls, bridesmaid; Grace Sandleitner, maid of honor; Harriet Gade, bridesmaid; Evelyn Dyke, bridesmaid; and Barbara Burke, flower girl.

Nana & Papa went to New York City for their honeymoon. Then came back to live with Nana's parents on Van Buren Street in Albany, NY until they could save money to buy a house of their own. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor happened on December 7th, 1941 and Papa decided to join the Navy. He had training as a lab tech so the Navy put him in a position titled HA1 or Hospital Apprentice First Class. When he got out of the Navy his title was PHM1C or Pharmacist First Class. Papa joined in December of 1941 and was sent to boot camp near the Great Lakes in January 1942. After that he was sent to Mare Island and the Oakland Airbase in Oakland, CA. He received his orders to go oversees in August 1942 and was sent to New York where he waited until December 1942 to be shipped out.

On December 10, 1942 the set sail for Casablanca, Morocco. He was among a set of three destroyers from the Navy. His ship was called the Argentina. While they were in route to Casablanca they were attacked by German submarines. Papa remembers his ship dropping "dep charges" on the submarines and all three of their ships were left alone. They landed in Casablanca on December 24, 1942.

Once Papa arrived in Casablanca he remembers that the German's bombed near his base on New Years Eve 1942. A large group of the wounded were brought in by the Navy's sailors to the medical area. Papa remembers helping to care for the wounded including German Nazi prisoners that were brought to his hospital. He said that the German prisoners were the friendliest and spoke the best English.

Papa spent one and half years in Casablanca. December 24, 1942 through May 1944. While Papa was away, Nana worked for the Army near her home. She made a salary of $38 a week. She worked in some kind of artillery warehouse for the Army. She still lived with her parents and saved every penny she made and saved all of Papa's paychecks that were sent home from the Navy. Papa said Nana wrote to him every day. He received it and it was called "V mail." The letters were photographs on huge reels to be shipped overseas to the soldiers. Then when they arrived they were re-printed and delivered to the soldiers. Papa says he does not know what happened to all of these letters.

One of Papa's memories from Casablanca is of an old Jewish man. Papa still has the photograph that he took of this man sitting by the side of a brick building in Casablanca. He said he took the photograph in January 1944. Papa was walking through Casablanca one day and saw this man. He started a conversation with him. Apparently, the man was a Jew who had escaped Hitler and the Nazis and was hiding in Casablanca.

Once Papa came back to the United States he was stationed in a Navy Training Base called the Solomon Islands south of Washington DC. He was then sent to the Marine Corp in Quantica, VA to work in the field artillery. He was discharged from the Navy and Marine Corp on May 25, 1945 between VE day and VJ day. He left with the title Petty Officer First Class and was eligible for a chief position.

While Papa was still in the service, Nana purchased a piece of land with the money she had saved up. Papa did not know she bought it until he came home and she took him there to surprise him. He was proud of her for saving up the money and doing this. They built a brand new home, fully furnished it, and bought a new car all for $12,000 and paid cash for everything. This occurred between 1945 and 1946.

Nana & Papa's first home was at 19 Lauden Parkway, Laudenville, New York. It was about 4 miles from Albany. The house had two bedrooms with a loft upstairs. The car was a 1946 Plymouth four door. Papa said he paid $960 for it and sold it for $1200. Judith Anne Clark, their first daughter, was born at this house.

Nana & Papa sold this house and bought a larger home on the same street. Barbara Anne Clark and Nancy Anne Clark were born at this home. Papa told me they chose the middle name "Anne" for all three daughters because they did not want to "offend" any relatives by choosing or not choosing their name for a middle name. Papa said all of the babies were baptized in the same 100 year old gown.

Papa told me about Aunt Louise, as well. She was Papa's Aunt. She was not married and had no children. She stayed with them in the Spring time and helped take care of the three girls. The girls loved Aunt Louise.

During this time Papa worked for Sterling Drug Company making and testing medications. After this Papa went to work for Fasson, an adhesive label and stamp company. They moved from Laudenville to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida when Fasson relocated Papa. After this they lived in Norwalk, Connecticut for one and a half years. Then they were transferred to Chicago and Papa was made a district manager of Fasson. They lived in Wheaton, Illinois on Ranch Rd. and Frazier Ct. After living here for a time they were transferred to Los Angeles, California and Papa was the manager for Fasson in the western states. Nancy was in high school by this time.

Last June my mom and I visited the homes in Illinois. It was fun to see where Nana & Papa lived, where Nana cooked, where my mom's bedroom was, where her school was, etc. This May we visited the house in Upland and saw my mom's high school and where they lived there.

Happy Anniversary Nana & Papa!

This picture was taken when Nana & Papa lived at Forrest Place in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Hope you all enjoyed the story!
Papa told me all of this in January. I write down anything he tells me now.

Here is a picture of me with Nana & Papa!

This picture was taken at my wedding last July 18th. Papa with all of his grandchildren, one great grandchild, and the second great grandchild "in the oven!"

As I was writing this story, Papa called me. He remembered their anniversary was yesterday and said he can remember their wedding day clearly. It was the happiest day of his life. He vividly remembers Nana walking down the isle in her beautiful gown with her father. He said, "70 years is a LONG time!"

Fig Gorgonzola Crostinis

These are a great little hors d' oeuvre for a party!
They are very easy to make and a lovely combination of the sweet fig, the salty gorgonzola, and the tangy balsamic.

*The spreads taste best when prepared the night before and refrigerated overnight*

1 Baguette
2 cups Dried or Fresh Figs
1 cup Walnuts
1 cup Crumbled Gorgonzola
1 package Cream Cheese
4-6 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
1tsp Salt


In a food processor puree the gorgonzola and the cream cheese until smooth. Place in a container and refrigerate overnight.

If using dried figs, let them sit immersed in a bowl of warm water for 6-12 hours or overnight if possible to rehydrate.
Puree the figs, walnuts, salt and balsamic in the food processor until smooth. Refrigerate overnight.

To Serve:
Slice the baguette on an angle and toast slightly under the broiler.
Spread with Gorgonzola mixture.
Top with a spoonful of the fig-balsamic mixture.
Drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar or a balsamic reduction.
Chiffonade the basil and garnish the crostinis.

Photography courtesy of Maryangelo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I planted way too much basil this year. I always have a hard time getting basil to grow. This year it took off! So I am trying to make as much of it into pesto to enjoy this winter!

5-6 cups Fresh Basil Leaves
2-3 cups Fresh Parsley Leaves
4-6 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Pine Nuts (I also use Walnuts & Almonds)
1 TBS Salt
1 TBS Lemon Juice
3-4 TBS Olive Oil (or more if needed)

Food Processor or Blender


Wash Basil & Parsley and place in food processor.

Add all ingredients except the Olive Oil.

Blend until the mixture is well pureed.

Continue blending as you add a steady stream of olive oil to emulsify the mixture.

Once the mixture is the consistency you like it...a thick paste. The pesto is done. It is delicious to use fresh like this on pasta or chicken.

I freeze it in small containers to use in cooking throughout the winter.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tricolore Bruschetta

Tomatoes are just about at their peak right now so here's a recipe to use up all the colorful varieites you have. I used pear tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and sun gold tomaotes. I love the combination of the three colors with the basil sprinkled in!

2 cups diced tomatoes
3TBS basil, chiffonade
1 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated


Wash and half or dice tomatoes.

Chiffonade the basil and add to tomatoes.

Add salt, garlic, and lemon juice.

Serve on crusty baguettes or crostinis.

{Photos by Roy-Joy}

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pear Brown Sugar Crisp with Toasted Walnuts

This is an easy dessert to make! Pears are in season this time of year! I had an abundance of miniature pears from the event we did last week. We picked them green to decorate with but they have ripened up beautifully now. So I decided to make a crisp. I used brown sugar instead of white sugar in the topping. The pears were so sweet they didn't need sugar in the filling. And I toasted walnuts to add a nutty flavor and crunch to accompany the soft pears.

Here's where the pears came from for our La Lune Events dinner.

2-3 lbs of Pears
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Cloves
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 stick Butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Oatmeal
1 cup Walnuts, toasted


Chop pears into 1 inch cubes. I leave the skin on but remove the stem and core.
Place pears directly into your baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon and cloves.

In a mixer or a large bowl combine soft butter, flour, brown sugar, salt, and oatmeal. Blend until mixture comes together into "pea sized" pieces. If it is too dry, add a splash of milk or water. If it is too wet add a little more flour.

In a saute pan on the stove top or in the broiler, toast 1 cup chopped walnuts until golden brown. Be careful not to burn. Toasting only take about 1 1/2 minutes.

Add the toasted walnuts to the butter-flour mixture.

Top the chopped pears with the butter-flour mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Harvesting & Planting Garlic

This year we harvested about 80-100 heads of garlic from our garden. We aren't sure of the variety but I think it's Kilarney Red. I will use all of that garlic for cooking during the next year so we decided to plant a larger crop this year...over 200 heads.

We harvested our garlic crop in mid August. We should have planted our new crop for next year toward the end of August so it could form roots and sprout a little bit before the snow. We just planted our crop last night. The cloves will start to form roots over the winter and in the spring will sprout like tulip bulbs. It grows all summer in the garden and is a crop that requires almost no maintenance. You can plant your crop up until the first snow and if you forget or don't have time this fall you can still plant the cloves in early spring. You will just yield smaller sized heads when you harvest.

Here's some photos of our harvest and planting.

These are garlic scapes. They are the top part of the plant. Usually you can cut them off when they are still tender and green and use them for cooking or to make Garlic Scape Pesto. We let ours dry on the stalk but I still use them in cooking. They are like a small bulb of garlic. You can plant these but they will yield much smaller heads of garlic. They are much harder than a regular clove of garlic but have the same flavor!

It's mid to end September and we just planted our crop for next year.

We saved the largest heads from this year's harvest to plant.

You break up each head into individual cloves.

You plant each clove like a tulip bulb with the pointy tip facing up.
You plant the cloves in a hole about 4-6 inches deep so the tip of the clove is 1-2 inches below the soil.

You can plant them about 6-8 inches apart in rows.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Steak Gorgonzola Paninis

I had left over Fig & Gorgonzola spread from La Lune's event last week. I thought I should try to make another recipe with the decadent gorgonzola. So here it is: Steak Gorgonzola Paninis with fresh Heirloom tomato and basil from my garden, drizzled in a balsamic reduction! It's salty, sweet, tangy, and rich! Enjoy!

Two 6-8 ounce Steaks
4 slices Crusty Bread or Artisan Bread
(I used this recipe.)
4 slices Tomato
6-8 leaves of Basil
1-2 TBS Olive Oil
Balsamic Reduction or Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Gorgonzola Crumbles
4 ounces Cream Cheese
1-2 TBS Milk or Half & Half


Gorgonzola Spread
In a food processor (or by hand) blend the gorgonzola, cream cheese, and milk or half & half. Set aside. This is your spread for the slices of bread.

Grill or Saute your steak.

Drizzle pan with Olive Oil. Warm your slices of bread up in the pan.

Allow your steak to cool for about 5-8 minutes then slice it to retain the juices in the meat.

Spread you warm bread with the Gorgonzola spread. Add slices of steak. Add top slice of bread and saute in pan for 4-5 minutes each side until bread is a golden brown. If you'd like a "flatter" panini you can weight down the sandwich with another pan or with a brick covering in foil. Or if you have a panini press, this would be even better!

After the panini is golden brown, remove the top slice of bread and add sliced tomato and shredded basil. Replace top slice of bread and drizzle with a balsamic reduction.
This meal pairs well with a rich glass of Red Wine!