Category Archives: Emma Christina

Kitchens I Have Known and Loved: The V House

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Friday, 13 April 2018

Food is memories.
Hassan Kadam, The Hundred-Foot Journey

It’s hard for me to write about this kitchen, now my mother is no longer puttering around in it.

This is the downstairs kitchen at the V House. Even though the place has been in our family for 50 years now, we were still calling it by the previous owners’ last name, to distinguish it from the other houses my parents used to have.

Finally, 1 1/2 years ago, when I moved here, to the upstairs loft, I decided to rename it the V House. My father’s first name starts with V, and so does mine, so why not? Plus, the people who built it, a German family, their last name starts with V.

Growing up, I always thought this kitchen was…not so great. The counters were a yellow-and-white Formica, and the walls a kind of strange-colored tile. Is it salmon? Or coral? I’m not quite sure, but I’m leaning towards coral. And to make matters worse, the tile was trimmed at the top with a deep purple tile, I’ll call it eggplant.

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Three Soups, Zeppelin, and Curry

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Friday, 16 February 2018

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
-Rabindranath Tagore

Yesterday afternoon, after I’d been to court, to face the woman who was responsible for my mother’s death, I was done for.

Emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted.

Headache and heartache.

Starving and feeling all alone in the world.

I had decided in advance, the night before, that after I went to court, I would comfort myself with my three favorite soups. I would have a progressive lunch, taking the afternoon to eat three soups, from three different places.

I ate French Onion Soup and Coconut Soup at two different restaurants, savoring the heat of these delicious soups, and soaking up their lovely interiors, along with the smiles of their warmly engaging waitstaffs.

The French Onion Soup was from Wunderbar Bistro, on upper Warren Street, in Hudson, NY. It was served in a small, dark-brown McCoy-like bowl, rich with beef broth and sherry, topped with bread and the requisite thick slab of Swiss cheese, then garnished with green.

One of my favorite songs was playing as I began to eat, Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea, and I felt secure and sheltered by the Bistro’s dark wood interior, with amber pendant lighting, varnished butcher block tables, and pretty, black-clad servers, sporting buns or long straight hair, dark lipstick, and large gold hoop earrings.

In the back lounge, there were art nouveau posters, a brown leather couch by the fireplace, and a peaceful, romantic, ski lodge-kinda vibe.

The Indian restaurant is where I ate (or should I say drank?) the Coconut Soup, along with a piece of nan, and a small bowl of rice pudding. It was served by a young man wearing a mango-colored shirt, with a wide and dark, pleasant face, and the friendliest of smiles.

The Wonton Soup came from Spring Garden, a Greenport staple, and was sold to me by the ancient Asian bartender/takeout guy, with the wicked underbite and witty sayings.

I took a double portion home, to be eaten later, since it warms up nicely.

After I ate the two soups and soothed my soul, I drove along Fairview Avenue, blasting Led Zeppelin, and stopped at an independent bookstore to buy a book I’ve been wanting to read for a very long time.

Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

My new mantra of healing and self-discovery.

 

[MORE INFORMATION]
To read about Radindranath Tagore (1861-1941), a Bengali poet:
https://www.biography.com/people/rabindranath-tagore-9501212

Yes, that’s Steph Curry, pictured in the third photo. He and his lovely wife, Ayesha Curry, were featured in the November issue of Food & Wine magazine, and I bought it just for their article.

Steph is a basketball player for the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Ayesha has been on several cooking shows, and has a cookbook called The Seasoned Life. They have two daughters, Riley and Ryan, and are expecting a third baby.

 

 

EMMA CHRISTINA: The Things I Carried

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Ghent, NY  I  Thursday, 19 October 2017

The oval, cut-glass bowl on the top left came from Goodwill in Greenport, NY. The gorgeous cut-glass dish on the top right belonged to my father’s mother, my Grandma Emma Christina. She gave it to my mother, Carol, and now, finally, it’s been passed down to me!

The two pretty dishes on the bottom came from Deseret Industries, a thrift store in Utah. The rectangle tray, on the left, is pressed glass. The oval fanlight or sunburst on the right is cut glass.

When you’re traveling cross country by airplane, like I did earlier this month, you have to decide what to put in your carry-on luggage, and what to check.

Because, as we all know, sometimes the airlines lose your checked luggage. Sometimes it turns up hours or days later. But sometimes, it’s never found again. In December of 1995, my garment bag, containing all my favorite dresses, it disappeared into thin air and was never seen again. Thank goodness I learned this lesson early in life, and only with clothes!

So, when I was flying on this trip, I carried with me my white Herschel backpack, the one I got on a fantastic sale at Urban Outfitters, which used to be by my work in downtown Salt Lake City. I paid $20 for a bag which was $75 normally.

Can we talk about pockets? “Because you know how a bear feels about pockets!”

One of the things I loved about my new backpack was all the pockets, right down to a fleece-lined pouch in the very top, perfect for sunglasses and reading glasses, a fleece-lined laptop slot, and all kinds of other little zippered and tabbed pockets, plus a key clip. It’s lined with red-and-white stripes, a signature of the Herschel brand.

Anyhoo, on this trip, in my backpack, I carried:
-some old family photos
-my mother’s little dark-blue suede high school diploma
-two pieces of her wedding silverware. (The dinner knife was confiscated by TSA and I had to mail it to myself from the airport.)
-Black Beauty, my treasured Fujifilm X30 camera
-a bunch of camera cards
-a composition book (I use them to plan events.)
-my keys
-my wallet
-my journal
-an assortment of pencils, pens, and Sharpies
-some snacks
-October issues of Martha Stewart Living and Southern Living. I love me some fall magazines, I do!
-my Chromebook, which fell out of my carry-on tote and into an overhead bin, getting left behind. It had to be retrieved by a ramp attendant, panic!

But in a separate black Barnes & Noble book quote tote bag, I carried some other pieces I treasure too much to leave behind, and far too much to put in checked baggage. Three dishes: one of them pressed glass, two of them cut glass. I have a large collection of pretty, clear-glass dishes, picked up at thrift stores for 50 cents here, $1 there. (It’s all Cami’s fault! Her mother got me started on this hobby. But that’s an entirely separate blog.)

But these three are my absolute favorites, and I simply must have them on my table at Thanksgiving this year. My pickles and olives demand the best!

Last October, as I was moving to New York, I was determined to take two of these favorite, fancy-glass dishes, and placed them on the table for last-minute packing in a carry-on bag. But, after a rough all-nighter of closing out my apartment into storage and suitcases, then turning the place over to Thing 1 and his best friend, I was just too tired, too rushed, and too stressed to pack them.

They got left behind on the table, and I’ve missed them so.

This past trip west, earlier this month, I went to Thing 1’s apartment in Salt Lake City to drop off a bag of BLT fixins from our favorite sandwich shop in New York. (That’s a story for another day. Or another blog, as well. Or whatever.) I ransacked his cupboards until I found the two dishes.

They were coming with me this time.

Up at my parents’ house in northern Utah, two of The Rockets helped me pack at the end of my stay, before driving me, my father, and Thing 2 to my friend Tina’s house, to spend the night before flying back to New York. What good friends I have, truly. Anita took the task of wrapping the three dishes carefully in newspaper and plastic grocery bags.

Pretty sure she wanted the chance to admire them up close, since she likes antiques as much as I do!

I can’t wait to see them on the table this Thanksgiving, holding Cranberry-Orange Relish, dill pickles, sweet pickles, and black olives…

Welcome to Emma Christina @ My Copper Kitchen! New features will be available on an intermittent basis, whenever I inherit a cool dish owned by my paternal grandmother, Emma Christina. I will also feature newly acquired dishes from her era which I think she would have liked.

She, a lovely Swedish lady who died before I was born, she loved cooking and gathering her many children around her Craftsman table, with its four leaves.

I’m told that sometimes, when Emma Christina felt bad and life was wearing her down, she would head to the Implement and put a nickel down on a dish. Kinda like me, her youngest granddaughter, heading to a thrift store and picking up something inexpensive to buoy my spirits, something special and beautiful, all for 50 cents…

[REFERENCES]
“You know how a bear feels about pockets” is a line taken from the wonderful children’s book, A Pocket for Corduroy, written and illustrated by Don Freeman. I highly recommend it, and its predecessor, Corduroy, for all the children in your life.

The first book, Corduroy, was groundbreaking in that the main character, a little girl named Lisa, she and her mother are obviously not white, probably African American or Hispanic. They live in an apartment in the city, several flights up.

Considering the white-picket-fence, blond-haired, blue-eyed Dick and Jane books (used to teach children to read in the 1930s through 1970s), Corduroy is welcomingly inclusive of ethnic children who live in large cities.

Plus, Don Freeman’s artwork, scratchy black-and-white outlines, filled in with color, is truly delightful.

[VALERIE RECOMMENDS]
I love Herschel backpacks!
https://herschel.com/shop/backpacks/pop-quiz-backpack?v=10011-00001-OS

[RELATED MCK POSTS]
Read Finding 50: The Things I Carried, at:
https://mycopperkitchencom.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/finding-50-the-things-i-carried/

Read more about Grandma Emma Christina at:
A Word About Windows
https://mycopperkitchencom.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/anatevka-girl-on-architecture-and-design-a-word-about-windows/

Learn how to make Cranberry-Orange Relish for Thanksgiving at:
https://mycopperkitchencom.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/my-favorite-thanksgiving-side-dish/

[AUTHOR’S NOTE]
The subtitle of this blog is a derivation of the book title, a modern-day classic, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/things-they-carried-tim-obrien/1100228685?ean=9780618706419