My personal calendar -- which marks winter as January, February and March -- tells me that the dreaded season of dark and cold is officially halfway over today.
Hooray! (Sorry, winter-sports enthusiasts.)
To celebrate the midway point, I have started spring cleaning early, beginning with my email inbox:
I've been hearing from folks who are sad about the coming closing of the Andersons stores (including two in central Ohio) and would like the recipes for some of the prepared foods the stores sell.
I learned from Debra A. Crow, senior manager of corporate communications, that the company won't release the recipes. (I even offered to feature them in a story.)
"Unfortunately, these recipes are proprietary, and we will not be making them public," Crow said in an email.
She did not respond to a follow-up email asking why the company wouldn't share the recipes (in my opinion, the best way to ensure a legacy for the Andersons' foods) or whether the stores were planning a cookbook with the formulas.
My advice: Buy and eat your favorites now because they will be gone in a few months.
Monday is Presidents Day. A number of cookbooks have been written by former White House chefs that make for interesting holiday-weekend reading and good eating, too.
-- "White House Chef," by Walter Scheib and Andrew Friedman (Wiley, 2007)
-- "All the Presidents' Pastries" (Flammarion, 2007), "Dessert University" (Simon & Schuster, 2004) or any other book by former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier.
-- You'll have to hit the library or search online for a vintage copy of "The White House Chef's Cookbook" (Doubleday, 1967), by Rene Verdon, the French chef hired at the White House by then-first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
-- For those who want to go really far back, there is the original: "The White House Cookbook," published in 1887 by Hugo Ziemann, who served as White House steward, and F.L. Gillette. (A revised version was released in 1996 and might be easier to find.)
All of the books include tales of the first families, state dinners and kitchen intrigue at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Sharing some lore
Finally, I leave you with some words of wisdom from my dad, my favorite storyteller.
During a recent visit, Dad shared with me a Middle Eastern proverb passed on to him by his uncle, a Lebanese immigrant:
There once was a king who asked his servant to prepare for him the sweetest of all dishes.
The servant prepared tongue.
When the king asked why, the servant explained that the tongue, when it was used appropriately, was the sweetest of all.
A few days later, the king asked his servant to prepare for him the saltiest of all dishes.
The servant again prepared and served tongue.
When the king asked why, the servant explained that the tongue, depending on how it was used, could be the saltiest of all.
Just a little food for thought.
-- Lisa Abraham writes about food for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @DispatchKitchen.