ONCE upon a time there was a lady who hated Washington winters. Reluctantly, every November 1st she would put on her high warm boots, a bright red scarf and a warm overcoat. She would not remove them until April 30th.
Some days, when the winter sun would come into her window, she would get out her beach towel, and the suntan lotion. She would put on her bikini and pretend that she was on Paradise Island in the Bahamas drinking pina coladas, eating boiled fish and johnny cake. If she closed her eyes very tight, she could even smell the sea, but she couldn't swim, so when the sun went down she would just take a hot bath.
Maral: boiled fish and johnny cake are good any time of year, especially with pina coladas. This combination is an excellent lunch or dinner treat, but in the Bahamas johnny cake and boiled fish are usually eaten for breakfast. Here are the recipes:
Serves 4 1/4 pound slab bacon 2 medium onions, thinly sliced 1 green pepper, thinly sliced 3 medium potatoes, quartered 1/2 cup lemon juice Water 2 pounds filet of rockfish, snapper or cod Salt, freshly ground pepper, Tabasco to taste
Fry out bacon, add onions and green pepper. Cook until soft. Add lemon juice, potatoes and sufficient water to cover. Simmer gently for 30 minutes.Add fish filet and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco.
Serves 4 4 cups flour 2 tablespoons baking powder 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 pound butter or margarine 4 large eggs Water
Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut butter or margarine into dry ingredients until it looks like cornmeal. Add eggs and just Enough water to make a firm dough. Knead well and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Flatten to a height of 2 inches. Bake in a 350 degree oven on a greased cookie sheet for 35 minutes.
Serves 1 3 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice 3 ounces Coco Lopez cream of coconut 3 ounces light rum 3 ounces light cream (optional) Crushed ice
Place all ingredients in a blender. Combine until frothy.
Sometimes, after a week or more of gray, dark, rainy days the lady would remember when she was young and lived in France. She would call up her friends and invite them for an afternoon city picnic. She would go to La Cheeserie, 2312 Wisconsin Ave. NW, and buy some of Toni Baptista's famous pate de campagne, mousse de porc and terrine aux pistasches. She would go to the Georgetown Market, 3206 Grace St. NW, and buy a selection of cheese from the cheese stand and an assortment of beautiful fruit from Hudson Brothers. She would go to the Bread Oven, 1220 19the St. NW, and buy French bread and pastry. Then she would go to the wine shop and buy a gallon of the least expensive red wine. (It would remind her of the red wine she would drink in France for 20 cents a bottle, including deposit.)
The group would meet at a spot in Washington that reminded her most of Paris, speak French, feast all afternoon, and if it was above freezing, feed the birds French bread crumbs. The birds are smart; they don't come out if it's below freezing.
The lady thought that snow was the best part of winter. She liked the sonw fall at night, especially if there was a moon, when the earth was quiet and still. The fresh down would cover the ugly bareness of the earth and make the world look clean. In celebration of new-fallen snow she would take friends into the night with bottles of champagne from Francke, fresh Beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea, lemons from Florida, plenty of warm toast wrapped in cloth napkins, glasses, a spoon and a knife. After finding a place to sit down, they would pack the champagne in snow and make open-face caviar sandwiches with lemon juice on the warm toast. When the champagne was cold enough they would open it and toast to the special beauty of a snowy winter night. Everyone would feel warm and happy. It is important to take the time to see how beautiful the world can be even in the coldest winter, even if it's just an ordinary Wednesday night.
She knew that even in the middle of the deepest, darkest winters there were a few days when the south winds would blow, a warm sun would shine, and pale cave dwellers would stumble out into the world in search of the promise of spring to come. She felt that this reprieve from the gods should be marked with a Roman holiday, especially if it fell on a weekend. She thought that all children should be released from the bondage of Batman, and that the whole family should wander into the forest to break bread in the bopsom of Mother Nature. There really wasn't a better time of year for a celebration picnic, after all; the ants, bees and flies had gone to Florida for the winter and the snakes were safely asleep underground. There was a speical beauty in the winter forest. Sometimes it was possible to see deer running through the trees as there were no leaves to hide them. The sight of animals and children running free in the woods made her heart smile. To make your heart smile, here are some suggestions for a Roman holiday picnic.
Stocking a picnic basket, chest or hamper beforehand saves time and effort. It could be kept in a closet and mightg contain the following: utensils, plates, cups, wash-ups, a cotton sheet or blanket, napkins, a portable radio and some board games.
As far the place, any woods will do. Rock Creek Park, Sligo Park, Fort Dupont Park, Carderock and Glover-Archbold Park are among the possibilities, but there are many others in the Washington area.
The menu could consist of a hearty main dish that has been prepared beforehand and placed in the freezer. On the morning that the south wind blows, heat it piping hot in the oven. Wrapped in towels and blanket, it will stay warm for hours. A loaf cake, also prepared beforehand and frozen, is defrosted at the same time. Fresh fruit and mulled wine or fruit juice complete the meal.
Great Northern Bean and Beef Stew
Serves 4 to 6 1 pound great northern beans, soaked overnight 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 medium onions, sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 pounds lean beef, cut in 1 1/2 cubes 2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped 3 tablespoons tomato paste Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 1 bay leaf 1/2 teaspoon oregano Pinch of cayenne 1/2 teaspoon allspice Water
Drain beans and boil in unsalted water until tender. Drain and reserve. In a large pot, heat oil. Fry onions and garlic until golden brown. Add meat and fry until all sides are brown. Add tomatoes and saute gently. Stir in tomato paste and beans. Add salt, peoper, bay leaf, oregano, cayenne, and allspice. Cover with water and bring to a boil and simmer gently until meat is tender.
Sour Cream Spice Cake 2 cups flour 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 1 cup sour cream 2 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 2 tablespoons honey 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 1/2 cup raisins
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, sour cream, eggs, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add honey, nuts and raisins. Blend. Grease a loaf pan (8" x5" x3") and fill with dough. Bake at 350 degree for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. This cake may be thinly sliced when cool and keeps extremely well when wrapped in waxed paper and foil.
Simple Hot Mulled Wine 2 quarts dry red wine (or substitute 2 quarts of cranberry or other fruit juice) 5 whole cloves 2 whole cinnamon sticks 1 lemon, sliced 1 cups granulated sugar (if fruit juice is used, add sugar to taste)
Combine all ingredients in an enameled or stainless -steel Pot. Bring almost to a boil. Remove from heat and place in a vacuum bottle. CAPTION: Illustration 1, no caption, by Roberta Sabban; Illustration 2 Snow Cones Fill a glass with fresh, clean snow. Pour a generous amount of any of the following over it: Benedictine, Chartreuse, Grand Marnier, Galliano, Blue Curacao. Drink or eat with a spoon. by Roberta Sabban; Illustration 3, no caption, by Roberta Sabban.