Don the Beachcomber Las Vegas interior.
Tiki is all about living the good life. It’s the lure of sleepy lagoons, sand drenched beaches, swaying palms, tropical plants, cool breezes, exotic drinks —- far from the pressures of day to day living.
Although Don the Beachcomber’s Polynesian restaurant first opened in Hollywood in 1934 and Trader Vic’s Tiki restaurant was established three years later in Palo Alto, generally speaking, Tiki culture first captured the imagination of Americans in the 1950’s. It was a combination of things—stories and souvenirs brought back by servicemen returning from duty in the South Pacific, James Michener’s book Tales of the South Pacific, the Rogers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific and, of course, the statehood of Hawaii in 1959.
Tiki bars and restaurants sprang up in many large cities. Some Tiki enthusiasts even went so far as to create their own Tiki bars at home.
(Written with Gail Hartzell)
Friends and family gather at Gail Hartzell’s home in Ohio for a taste of cookie history.
“In the childhood memories of every good cook, there’s a large kitchen, a warm stove, and a simmering pot of love.”
Cookies aren’t an American invention but you wouldn’t know it around Christmas. The tradition of baking homemade butter cookies, cut into various festive shapes and frosted green and red is as sacred as Santa. Millions of bloggers swap recipes, decorating tips, all wrapped around the lore of “the family who bakes together, stays together.”
Gail Hartzell of Uniontown, Ohio takes this time-honored pastime to new heights. She just hosted her second annual Heritage Cookie Swap to honor treasured memories of time spent with her grandmother, Mary Endlich, gathering friends and family to share stories of Christmases past, swap vintage recipes of cookies and recall family traditions.
Grandma Endlich would be 122 years old this Christmas.
Using Grandma Mary’s handmade aprons, rolling pins and antique bowls, Gail and her daughter, Katie, baked their favorite one hundred year old year recipe of Grandma’s Ginger Cookies to honor this years’ Christmas Tradition.
The idea of the annual cookie swap was inspired by a cookbook/scrapbook that Gail crafted paying tribute to Grandma Endlich’s farm lifestyle and the love and pride that went into her cooking and baking. True to her Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, Grandma Endlich was a simple, “from the earth” farm-raised cook who grew and canned most of her own fruits and vegetables. She used sight and feel for measuring ingredients–a lump of lard the size of a walnut or an egg was the exact amount for a flaky crust.
Gail’s collection of vintage recipes, post cards, photos and farm memorabilia are rich reminders of Christmases past.
The use of fruits, nuts and molasses in her recipes instead of chocolate or marshmallows was another signature technique, telling of Grandma Endlich’s Pennsylvania Dutch roots.
“When I bake ginger cookies using my Grandma Endlich’s 100+ year recipe, I’m participating in a tradition that has endured in our family for over a century.” says Gail. “With each bite I taste, I remember my most cherished childhood memories of Christmas; Grandma in her warm kitchen baking and the two of us spending time together.”
(Next page: See photos of Gail’s annual cookie swap)
Kinston, North Carolina.
Ever hear of it?
It sits somewhere between here and there in Eastern North Carolina, in one of the poorest congressional districts in the state.
Kinston was a tobacco town, not a culinary destination–that is, until Chef Vivian Howard showed up.
Enter Stage Right
Howard and her husband, Benjamin Knight’s love story reads like a familiar Southern classic. Howard, a Southern bred chef who describes herself as “seemingly cool and calm but panic stricken underneath” meets Knight, an “over reactor,” while working in a New York City restaurant. They fall in love and are married.
Chef Vivian Howard went home again (Kinston NC), defied the odds (opened a farm-to-table restaurant in a tiny rural community) and thrives (a new series “A Chef’s Life” on PBS).
Vivian Scarlett Howard eventually wanted to open her own restaurant and was offered the financial backing to do so by her successful, hog farming parents, John and Scarlett Leigh Howard.
There was one catch: She would have to build it in Kinston, NC where, by her own admission she would “NEVER return.”