She's the one with the fancy big kitchen and all the appropriate pots and pans, but he's the one who does the cooking. While there's nothing wrong with a man taking charge in the kitchen, it would be a whole lot easier if she didn't live in Manhattan and he in Washington.
Their jobs keep them apart on weekdays, though they did manage to arrange a honeymoon early last December. So, Maury Povich, host of "Panorama" and co-anchor for Channel 5's "10 O'Clock News," and Connie Chung, weekday-morning and Saturday-night anchor for the NBC network newscasts, will have to wait until Saturday to celebrate the most romantic holiday of the year.
"We can't possibly be together," said Chung from her New York studio office. They both regularly put in 12-hour days, his starting around 10 a.m. and hers around 5 a.m. "It's very sad," she said, "but you can bet we'll make up for it over the weekend."
They knew two weeks ago most of what would be on this weekend's menu -- steak, salad and Major Fries. She's thinking of his mother's lemon meringue pie for dessert, but doesn't know whether she'll ask him to bring one along when he makes the commute to New York. "Lemon meringue pie is my favoride dessert," she said, and "Maury's mother makes the best."
"It's such good old 'merican food," said Chung of their Valentine's Day menu. "You know what I mean, real 'merican food." Other than the pie, it's also the first meal Chung and Povich ever made together, back in 1978 when she was a co-anchor in Los Angeles and he a co-anchor and early-morning talk-show host in San Francisco.
By the time Chung leaves the studio following her 6:30 p.m. newscast this Saturday, Povich says, he'll have decorated their New York dining room table with candles, flowers and "maybe" chocolate kisses. Though Povich claims the title of cook in this family, this is one meal they'll make together. He cooks the steak and tosses the salad, and she makes The Fries.
"They're just spectacular," said Chung of her only culinary specialty. "These aren't just fries, they're Major Fries." Though Povich always opts for cutting up only two potatoes every time they make them, they end up using three large potatoes and there are never any leftovers, she said.
"The secret," Chung said, "is the wok. I cook virtually nothing else in it but Major Fries." Even the dishes that her mother, "an exquisite Chinese cook," is just recently teaching her to make are done in a non-stick skillet. "Skillets and deep fryers just don't work as well for fries," she said. "The wok has depth and doesn't splatter . . . You just slap those devils in there and cook them until they're golden brown," Chung said. The other secret is using corn oil no more than twice; after that it tastes rancid.
But Povich said he makes sure there is always leftover steak for cold sandwiches the next day. "We splurge on steak," Povich said. "We get the good stuff -- center-cut tenderloin -- and cut it into long slices." Their leftover sandwiches consist of cold steak, lettuce, tomato and ketchup, Povich said. "Connie in her inimitable ways will only eat Wonder Bread. Wide slices, at that," he said, still somewhat amazed. He prefers rye or pumpernickel, so they keep at least two types of bread stocked in the New York and Washington kitchens.
"We've never shared kitchens before ," said Chung of their relationship, which has always been long distance. "Now we share two kitchens. Essentially he knows where everything is in the D.C. kitchen and I know where everything is in the New York kitchen," she said. "Personally, I like being the visiting team. The home team has to make the dinner reservations and stock the refrigerator. This way I just sort of land."
Since steak and fries make up their favorite meal, Povich and Chung thought it the only appropriate meal to have at their wedding reception, which they held in her apartment Dec. 2. "But my mother, this demure Chinese lady, convinced me that I couldn't serve it to 65 people," Chung said. So they ended up settling for more traditional lamb, pasta primavera and crab and lobster wrapped in leeks. Their only holdout was six types of pie instead of wedding cake, including Chung's favorite -- lemon meringue. But she didn't get any pie that day; she was too busy saying goodbye to guests. "She wouldn't have liked it anyway. It was too gushy and the meringue didn't hold to the pie well," said Povich, who tasted all six varieties.
Here is the recipe they have both grown to know and love -- one where the meringue holds quite well to the lemony custard. Povich's mother, Ethyl Povich, got it from her daughter, Lynn Povich-Shephard, two years ago. It's also the one that Connie Chung hopes to find on her dining room table this Saturday night. POVICH FAMILY LEMON MERINGUE PIE (Makes 1 9-inch pie)
For the crust: 1 1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into tablespoons 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water For the filling: 4 egg yolks 1/2 cup lemon juice Grated rinds of 2 lemons 1 cup sweetened condensed milk For the meringue: 4 egg whites 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/2 cup sugar
To make the crust, mix flour and salt together. Cut in butter, mixing with your fingers or two knives until mixture resembles tiny peas. Add just enough water to bind mixture. Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic, chill 30 minutes. Roll crust to fit a 9-inch pie plate with an extra 2-inch border. Carefully remove to the plate. Roll the 2-inch border and crimp edges. Weight bottom of crust with dried beans or pie weights; place in a 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, remove weights and cool.
To make the filling, beat yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Add remaining filling ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
To make the meringue, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat 1 minute. Add sugar a couple tablespoons at a time and continue beating until whites are stiff.
To assemble, pour filling into cooked crust. Carefully spoon meringue on top of filling, swirling the tips in a pretty, even pattern. Place in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until meringue is nicely browned.