Food, Lifestyle

Pursuing your passions is a lifelong activity

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is caramel bread pudding. Find the recipe below.

By ROSALIE HARRINGTON

“Thank you for coming and visiting our class. I really enjoyed your story about how your love of cooking began.  I thought it was really funny how you used to pretend that you were on a cooking show when you were 9 years old.  And you would pretend your little brother, 7 years old, was your assistant. When you said you started liking to cook at a young age it reminded me of me. You are so lucky you got to be on a real cooking show on TC. Were you nervous when you first got up there? I would be but I love baking so much I would forget fear and be very excited. I wish your restaurant was still there, I would have loved to go there. I bet everyone loved your restaurant a lot.

With love, your friend, Anis.”

Our daughter Danielle invited my husband and me to speak about our careers to her fifth-grade class. Very shortly thereafter, we both received thank-you notes from the students. The above note from Anis was one of the many I received. I was very touched by the warmth and sincerity that was expressed by all of the children.

Danielle later told us that she thought it was important for her students to show their appreciation to us for visiting. The kids asked many questions, such as “How long did it take you to make the tasty coffee cake you brought us?” Others wrote, “What was the hardest part of managing your restaurant?” and “What’s your favorite meal to cook?” A heartwarming comment from another; “You inspire me.”

What could be better than that!

My grandchildren are a huge part of my life and I feel blessed to have them. Many couples do not have children or grandchildren. I am struck by the opportunities available to people my age, who are retired, to spend more time with young people. There are kids who need help with their lessons, with reading, writing and arithmetic, craft projects that are creative and fun, and other activities.  

My daughter Kathy, who does not have children, corresponded with Danielle’s students when she was teaching in France. She really enjoyed sending them pictures and Danielle translated some stories for the class. Kathy also enjoys sharing her time with seniors, doing art and crafts and cooking.

Alice Waters, a fabulous chef from California, has worked to introduce gardening to inner-city kids in the Los Angeles area. Teaching children about healthy food choices and the feeling of empowerment that growing your own food can generate, has inspired many to plant gardens throughout the city.

Volunteering at a school or a local Y is very worthwhile.  

Until recently, four of my grandchildren were at the same school; now two have moved on to higher grades. I feel that my presence at their school is important as a role model to my grandchildren. They have observed me making lunches, reading stories, helping in the art class, baking cookies and more as a volunteer. But it’s not just good for them: Being around young people provides me great joy and helps keep me young.

Often I meet old friends who are eager to share with me some of their newfound interests — in some cases, old interests. I hear stories about how they always loved to cook or do arts and crafts when they were young and now that there is time they are returning to those activities. One woman told me she was preparing jars of pickles to sell at farmers’ markets.

I encourage kids to pay attention to the activities that give them pleasure. I tell them that as a 5-year-old on Revere Beach I was making tarts with stones and clams while my cousins were making sand castles. My love for food has given me so much pleasure and now I can inspire young people by sharing what I’ve learned, what a gift!

Gwen Gaillard for many years was the chef at the Opera House on Nantucket, where she and her husband, Harold,  ran a successful restaurant. In addition to being a fabulous cook, she really knew how to create ambience that was eclectic, making her restaurant inviting by using old stuff. She was from the “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing” school of decorating. The walls in the restaurant were covered with art, 3-D artifacts, several chandeliers hung above the bar, which was a tiny zinc piece they found at a Paris flea market.

When I was putting together my restaurant, Gwen was my inspiration, for food and for ambience. I will never forget her making omelets in full view of guests on a Sunday at her restaurant. She delighted in chatting with guests, signing her cookbooks, including “Recipes with Love,” and turning out the best omelet you’ve ever tasted.  


Caramel Bread Pudding (Inspired by Gwen Gaillard)

Butter a casserole or baking dish well, and sprinkle over the bottom 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar.  

Butter six slices of white bread (Gwen recommends Pepperidge Farm), removing the crusts. Cut into 1-inch pieces. I use brioche when I have it handy.  

Sprinkle 1 cup or more of chocolate chips over the sugar; place the bread evenly on top.  

Whisk 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of coffee cream, 4 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 teaspoon of salt together. Pour over the bread, sugar and chocolate chips.  

Let it rest for 20 minutes, for bread to absorb the liquid.  

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  

Serve with whipped heavy cream. (“Once in a while, you can add a half cup of coarsely chopped pecans to the brown sugar,” according to Gwen.)

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