May 2008 Issue
By The Book
The caterer of the Thurber House Literary Picnics in Columbus offers suggestions on great meals to eat while reading a good book this summer.
Want to avoid the angst of finding the ideal spot to delve into a good book this summer (on the beach, sitting on a porch swing, out in the garden)? Thurber House in Columbus invites readers to unwind on their grounds during their Literary Picnics, where popular authors read their latest works as the crowd dines on a meal based on the book’s title or theme, catered by Pat Baker and her staff at Party Panache in Columbus.
River of Heaven
Lee Martin, a professor and creative writing director at The Ohio State University, reads from his latest novel, River of Heaven, a story about the high cost of living a lie.
Baker says Martin’s book screams for sweets. “The word heaven makes you think of pillows and clouds,” she says. “In terms of food, you think small, trifle dishes with whipped cream –– things that are light and frothy and heavenly.”
Sweet: An Eight-Ball Odyssey
Columbus native Heather Byer –– now a freelance writer and editor in New York –– will read from her first book, Sweet: An Eight-Ball Odyssey, which recounts her experiences learning about the game of pool and discovering the its colorful competitions.
Baker says that Byer’s book lends itself perfectly to fun bar food. Her favorite type to serve: Buffalo chicken wings. “They’re so easy to make,” she says. “It’s only three ingredients.”
Baker’s favorite Buffalo chicken wing recipe:
• 2 ½ pounds chicken wing pieces
• ½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Pepper Sauce
• 1/3 cup butter
Bake the wings for an hour at 425 degrees. Combine sauce and butter. Coat wings. Serve with celery and blue cheese. “It helps cut down the fire of the hot sauce,” says Baker.
Most importantly: “Be sure to bring plenty of napkins.”
The Kindness of Strangers
Dayton native (and middle-school English teacher)
Katrina Kittle reads from her new book, The Kindness of Strangers, which chronicles the tragedy of one family in a small suburban town.
Baker says that the thought of Kittle’s small, suburban, Midwestern town brings to mind an old-fashioned, summer picnic. For her, that classic fare includes fried chicken, deviled eggs, meatloaf sandwiches, potato salad and a colorful JELL-O mold.
Baker’s twist on some of those classic menu items:
• For potato salad, stay away from a mayonnaise-based recipe. “If it’s a hot, summer day, you don’t want to risk it sitting out for hours,” she says. Instead, try balsamic or red wine vinegar. “But you’ll still need to keep it cold.”
• The fried chicken should be served cold. And try soaking the raw chicken in buttermilk before frying it. “It adds wonderful moisture to it,” says Baker, who got the tip from The Joy of Cooking –– or, as she calls it, “my encyclopedia.”
An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England
Brock Clarke, a University of Cincinnati creative writing professor, will read from his latest novel, An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, the tale of a man who accidentally burns down the historic home of Emily Dickinson in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Baker says that Clarke’s book lends itself to a New England-themed meal:
• Maple-syrup ham
• Vermont cheddar cheese
• Yankee Doodle pasta salad
• Iced tea (for the Boston Tea Party connection)
Baker’s thoughts on how to serve great iced tea for your picnic include to “never use instant: It always has a chemical or powdery taste.” Instead, make either brewed or sun tea (setting it in view of the sun so the natural heat can brew it).