Monday, August 30, 2021

A Conversation with Walter Schroeder, Mapper of Missouri's Presettlement Prairies

This is a short post. I'm just sharing a video with you. I hope you enjoy it.

I sure did.

For those of you who don't know, while I was in elementary school and junior high, my dad spent a decade meticulously researching the original handwritten descriptions of Missouri's landscapes made by the original land surveyors, who worked before Missouri was opened up to settlers, who plowed up the prairies, cut down the woods, suppressed natural fires, introduced cattle, etc.

From the surveyors' notes, he created a map (in the days before computers) of what parts of Missouri had been prairie (grassland) and which were wooded. The map was published by the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1981 and is still incredibly useful for conservationists and others who want an idea of how a piece of land was vegetated before settlers came in and altered it.

My dad's had a long career in both physical geography (landforms) and historical geography (especially settlement patterns). Many people in Jefferson City know him only from his popular books about the capital city and its German immigrant community—books he's written in retirement.

In this video, he touches on a lot of these subjects. A longer video, incorporating more parts of the interviews, is in the works, so stay tuned.

Also, be sure to check out the Missouri Prairie Foundation at

I'm really pleased that the nice folks at MPF saw fit to do these interviews with my dad. I'm biased—I know he's a big deal—but it's nice to see others honor him, too.

Fun fact: my Grandma Schroeder was a charter member of the MPF. She and the other Garden Club ladies viewed native prairie conservation as integrally related to their gardening and landscaping interests. It seems that Grandma always spoke gushingly about the beauty of the prairies. She always pronounced it puh-HRARE-ie.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Stone Hill Ozark Hellbender Red: A Great Wine for a Greater Cause

Hey, I want to remind you to pick up a few bottles of Ozark Hellbender next time you’re out buying wine.

Now if you’re going, “whatever is she talking about?” then you need to read on, because this is really cool.

In 2018, Hermann, Missouri’s own Stone Hill Winery—the historic 1847 winery that, with its restoration in the 1960s, almost single-handedly started the renaissance of Missouri’s wine industry—started producing a dry red blend they call Ozark Hellbender.

Why the weird name? A portion of the profits go to help fund the research and restoration efforts of several conservation organizations to restore the Ozark hellbender, an endangered native Missouri aquatic salamander.

Actually, in the past year, both of Missouri’s subspecies of hellbenders have been declared federally endangered, so restoration efforts are more critical ever.

Here are some links to learn more about hellbenders, their conservation status, and the Saint Louis Zoo’s captive breeding and restocking efforts.

In a nutshell—as if you could fit one into such a small place—hellbenders are huge, slimy, brown salamanders with small eyes and loose skin. They spend most of their time hiding under big flat rocks in cool, fast-flowing Ozark streams. Adults can be 11 to 20 inches long, making them the largest salamander in North America (three relatives in the giant salamander group are larger and live in East Asia; all of them range from threatened to possibly extinct in the wild). Missouri is the only state to hold both subspecies of North American hellbenders.

The reasons for their decline are numerous and are compounded by the fact that females usually don’t breed until they’re about seven or eight years of age. And even then, they may only breed every two or three years. They typically live for three decades in nature, but that’s assuming their streams remain habitable for them, and even then, their small, vulnerable offspring need to have a decent shot at surviving to breeding age. One hellbender was documented as living to age fifty-five—no wonder they don’t breed until they’re seven or eight; they’re kinda like us.

And so there’s a captive breeding and restocking program, which, combined with efforts to improve and protect their natives streams, might bring them back to the point where their populations are stable.

A personal reverie: MU’s legendary zoology professor Dean Metter used to keep the university’s herpetology collection (enclosures with live snakes, lizards, and such) in a hallway on the second floor of Stewart Hall. My dad, with the rest of the geography department, had their offices in the basement of that building. Often, when we were there to pick up Dad after work and there was a delay of some kind, I’d go upstairs and visit Doc Metter’s herps.

As a pigtailed Campfire Girl, and before, as a tagalong little sister with my brother’s Cub Scout den, we had a guided tour of the collection by Doc Metter himself. I’ll never forget him gently removing a speckled kingsnake from its cage and letting me hold it.

Along one, rather dark wall was a big, long, galvanized tub about waist-high. It must have had a chiller on it, in addition to the circulation/filtration. It was always humming and moving the water around. And there, in the tub, was a fourteen- or sixteen-inch-long hellbender. It never seemed to move, except to kind of waver a little with the current; it just rested in there like a shadow. It was there forever, it seemed. Knowing what I know now, it’s sad to think of that creature living in a galvanized tub in a lonely university hallway, educating those of us too young or citified to discover hellbenders on our own.

Nature had designed it for a life creeping around on Ozark stream bottoms, exploring amid boulders and bunches of watercress, crawling under large flat rocks, hunting crayfishes. Of living as one with the quick freshness, in the higher oxygen content of springfed sections of the river, and the richness and quietude of the pools.

. . . Anyway, there’s something primordial and shadowy about hellbenders; something uncanny and otherworldly. Very fascinating. It’s heartbreaking that something so . . . so . . . seemingly eternal could become extinct, wiped from existence forever.

So, this wine helps raise funds to help the hellbenders.

But it does a few other things, too.

It shows the maturation of Missouri’s wine industry, when one of its leaders is able to step well beyond the tried-and-true, by now rather formulaic marketing angles of “quaint local winery,” “historic ethnic German winery,” and “have your wedding receptions here, folks!”

I really like how Stone Hill, with this project, is connecting with Missouri's natural history and showing a dedication to its future. The “German heritage” angle is an obvious focus and starting point for most Missouri wineries, but this is showing Stone Hill's maturity as an institution.

Also, German immigrants brought a tremendous love of nature with them to the New World. While the English-derived Americans liked trees, grass, and gardens when they were trimmed, mowed, or planted in rows, the Germans held romantic feelings about wild places, where plants and animals grow free and take the forms and patterns innate to them. Yes, many German immigrants were (or became) master horticulturalists, but alongside their love of cultivation, they held a deep love of untamed nature. So this project, which celebrates an aspect of wild Missouri that many Missourians would feel squeamish about, continues that Germanic love of wilderness.

When I communicated this idea recently on Stone Hill’s Facebook page, I got this nice reply from someone at the company: “Thanks for the kind words! We are really glad we can play a small part in continuing that tradition and supporting this special Missouri species! As farmers, it is so important to keep our natural world healthy for the future.” . . . To which I say, Right On!

I don’t think they’ll mind me flat-out copying their descriptive text for the 2018 Ozark Hellbender wine:

BLEND INFORMATION: Since the Ozark Hellbender spends most of its life secretively hiding under rocks in the bottom of Ozark streams we are keeping our blend a secret as well. But we’ll give you some hints! All variety of grapes used are grown in the Ozark Mountain AVA. Some grapes aged for one year in neutral oak barrels to bring out complexity, softness and drinkability. Then just before bottling, like any good family recipe, we add the final variety which is held secret only for our winemakers to know.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION: Alcohol - 13%; Residual Sugar - 1.5%

TASTING INFORMATION: A smooth red blend with aromas of sweet cherry, blueberry and a touch of toasted oak. Creating a soft, complex and very drinkable wine, made from grapes all grown in the Ozark Mountain AVA. *A portion of the proceeds from every bottle of Ozark Hellbender wine sold is donated to the Saint Louis Zoo and hellbender conservation. (750ml)


Bronze - 2019 Missouri Wine Competition

Yes, it's an award-winning wine! In fact, just recently, the 2019 Ozark Hellbender won "Best of Class Semi-Dry Red," and the 2018 Ozark Hellbender received a gold medal, at the 2021 Missouri Wine Competition. Way to go, Stone Hill!

Seriously, what are the grapes, you wonder: Here’s what they told me (in response to my Facebook question, subtly hinting if Merlot was one of the ingredients): “No Merlot in it! It is a blend of three grapes: Norton, Chambourcin, and #3 is a secret. [Finger-to-lips "shh!" emoji.] All three are grown on our own vineyards though.”

Norton is the strongest part of the blend. Have you ever tasted Norton wine? It’s distinctive. It’s North America’s native, sophisticated dry red grape variety. It’s Missouri’s premier wine grape. It has a fascinating history; if you want to read more, I heartily suggest Todd Kliman, The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine.

Norton isn’t for everybody. It has a distinctive flavor. It’s like this: If you’re hankering for oranges, a grapefruit will taste just wrong; it’s so close, it seems almost an insult to oranges; so close, well—just give me an apple. But the fun of wines is their variety. Thank goodness wines aren’t all the same! There are many really good wines—you simply won’t like all of the types. In his insightful essay “Knowing Nothing about Wine,” John Thorne described it like this: “Needless to say, wines with the same rating don’t taste equally good (Malbec, for instance, is a varietal that tastes rather like ink; a highly rated one tastes like delicious ink).”

But Thorne goes on to talk about how really good wines, highly rated ones—even if you don’t end up liking the variety—will still be worth trying, because you can usually see why some people really like them. They offer food for thought. They’re interesting. I suggest trying Norton with this in mind.

I heard somewhere that Ozark Hellbender red became the top-selling red at Stone Hill Winery in Hermann when it was released (apparently, it still is). That’s pretty remarkable, because the average Missourian typically prefers sweet wine. That Hellbender Red is selling so well could mean that Missourians have suddenly become conscientious consumers, choosing products that give back to good causes . . . or it could mean that Missourians have suddenly developed more cultivated palates . . . or it could mean that Ozark Hellbender red is a deviously clever blend that offers enough berry flavor to satisfy the average palate but enough complexity to make it good for people who prefer dry reds. And serving it chilled makes it smoother for red-wine newbies. Indeed, this blend can be kind of a “gateway drug” for Norton, and even “dry red” appreciation. Or it could be a combination of all three.

I think lot of people would like to drink dry red wines because of their purported health benefits and because, as you sit among your friends, a glass of deep red wine simply looks groovier than white—but many can’t make the leap in terms of flavor. I can see someone trying a Norton varietal and thinking, “I can’t enjoy this.” But after a few weeks enjoying Ozark Hellbender red here and there, you could easily acquire an appreciation for Norton: “Oh, this is that unique flavor I’ve come to enjoy in my Ozark Hellbender red, only more of it.” . . . And if this is what Hellbender red achieves for Stone Hill, then bully for them! Smart-smart-smart-smart-smart.

I hope you will go out and try a bottle of Ozark Hellbender red—for the tasting experience . . . and to help the hellbenders.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Grandma Schroeder’s Peach Kuchen Recipe

Here is the venerable kuchen recipe from my grandma Edna Schroeder. It’s a family favorite; every time I make it, all the Schroeder-clan people ooh and ahh. I grew up understanding that a kuchen was a special, special thing.

From my youngest age, I remember our family going to visit Grandma in Jeff City, and if she’d made a kuchen, there’d be excitement (which Grandma herself helped to generate): “Look what I made for dessert!” “Ooh, a kuchen! What kind is it?” “Peach!” “Oooh, a peach kuchen, I can’t wait!” . . . If it was a larger family get-together, each group to arrive would go through the same ritual, so I often heard it numerous times in a day, as my uncle and aunt and cousins arrived, as Marie arrived, as anyone else came. “Look, Mom made a kuchen!” “What kind?” “Peach!” “Oh, boy!”

Apparently Grandma never wrote down the recipe, but fortunately my Aunt Carole made notes one day as Grandma was making it. I’m not much of a baker, but I’ve been plugging away trying to master this recipe for a few decades (hard to master when I don’t make it very often). But even when I’m not personally satisfied with the texture, it has always tasted incredibly good.

First, let us review our German. In German, Kuchen means “cake” or “something baked,” so the word applies to a huge variety of Germanic baked goodies. Think of how we use the word “cake” for a wide range of dishes—pancakes, birthday cake, cheesecake, crabcakes, sponge cake, coffee cake, angel food cake, pound cake, fruit cake . . . This explains why your German grandma’s kuchen is nothing like my German grandma’s kuchen.

Well, Grandma Schroeder’s kuchen is like this: it has a shortbread-cookie-like “crust,” which is topped with fresh fruit lubricated with a gooey custard matrix and baked; when that is fairly set, it is topped with meringue and browned. (The meringue topping explains why the type of fruit is always a mystery; you can’t tell what kind of fruit was used just by looking at it.)

This is a wonderful way to celebrate whatever kind of fruit is in season. Right now, the peaches are perfect. Lovely, sweet, divine peaches. So we’re making a peach kuchen in this post.

A typical serving of this dessert (or coffee cake) is a 3 x 3 inch square (so, 9 servings in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish). I often stretch this out, using more fruit and meringue, to a 9 x 13 inch size, for groups.

The biggest challenge I usually have with this recipe is getting the center of the fruit/custard portion to bake firm enough to have meringue spread over it, without also overcooking the crust. This recipe can (and should) use a variety of seasonal fruits, so the juiciness can vary a lot. Therefore, I advise reducing the amount of custard for juicy fruits like peaches—just drizzle it on, but don’t force yourself to pour it all on, if it will make a pool of “soup” in the middle. I have the best results with sliced apples (apple kuchen)—where the fruits are somewhat dry.

The final result should have, at the base, about ½ to ¾ inch crust/cake; then about ¾ to 1 inch of fruit, within a gooey matrix of custard; then, on top, about ¾ to 1 inch of meringue. The corner pieces will have the most cake; the center pieces will be the gooiest.

Grandma made all kinds of kuchens, depending on what was fresh—Concord grapes, plums, blueberries, peaches, and combinations of these. Dad says Grandma never deseeded her Concords; she just put them in whole and let people chew on the seeds(!) My own variations have included a banana kuchen with peanut butter in the crust (recipe is here), and a kuchen with sliced tart apples plus big golden raisins that I’d soaked overnight in vanilla–infused cognac. (Grandma would’ve loved that one!)

I have seen what are apparently very “authentic” German recipes for plum kuchens that skip the meringue and are much flatter and more spread out. These are made in 9 x 13 baking dishes or cookie sheets. The plums are washed, halved, pitted, and placed on the crust in a decorative, overlapping pattern. Some type of glaze (sometimes heated-up jam) is drizzled or brushed over the top, then it’s baked, and that’s that. You can find several recipes for this plum kuchen (Pflaumenkuchen) online. You can certainly do that with this recipe, simply omitting the meringue and making a wider, flatter dish.

The base of the kuchen, in many recipes, is made with a sweet yeast dough (similar to that used for cinnamon rolls), but that’s not the way my grandma made it.

By the way, we always assumed that Grandma’s kuchen was a recipe she learned from her mother, who immigrated from Germany, but I found a very similar recipe in a cookbook that my Grandma used in her high school Domestic Science (home ec) class. Indeed: that particular page of her book (p. 412) is firmly adhered to the facing page by hundred-year-old, dried-up cooking goo. (I didn’t dare try to peel the pages apart; instead, I found a scanned version of the book online.) Some of the many kuchen dough recipes and variations in that book are very similar, too. So perhaps Grandma learned this recipe from her high school cooking text, The Settlement Cook Book, 11th ed., 1921. (Digitized versions of several editions of this book are online at the Hathi Trust; here’s a link to the 1921 edition.)

So here you go, another family secret unveiled . . .

Grandma Schroeder’s Peach Kuchen Recipe

Overall ingredients list:

  • 2 + ¼ cups flour (divided)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • ½ + ½ + ½ cup sugar (divided)
  • ¾ stick butter
  • 4 eggs (divided: 1 beaten; the other 3 separated)
  • ½ + ⅓ cup milk (divided)
  • 2–3 cups fresh peaches, sliced (or other fruit)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar

1. Make the dough. Combine the following:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ stick butter (it helps to use a pastry cutter and rather softened butter)

. . . then, add 1 beaten egg and enough milk (about ½ cup) to make it the consistency of cookie dough (e.g., rather stiff and sticky).

Spread the dough in the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9 x 9 inch baking dish (Pyrex is good); with the dough so sticky, I spread it with moistened hands.

2. Make the custard. Separate the 3 eggs (reserving whites for meringue); beat together the 3 yolks, add ⅓ cup milk, ½ cup sugar, and about ¼ cup flour. This is for the custard matrix for fruit: depending on the juiciness of the fruit, consider making less, or using less milk, or including a whole egg instead of a couple of the yolks. (I usually make the full amount of custard; then whatever isn’t drizzled over the fruit in the kuchen I pour over additional/extra fruit in a couple of single-serving ramekins and cook in a bain-marie as a fruit custard.)

3. Fill the kuchen. Spread approx. 2–3 cups fresh fruit (sliced peaches, or whatever) evenly over the dough. It helps to gently press the fruit down into the kuchen; the crumb will raise and puff up, and the fruit will add moisture to the crumb. Drizzle custard on top of fruit. (See previous comment about not using too much custard—you don’t want it too full of liquid in the center.)

4. Bake at 350F for about 20–30 minutes. Watch it, because ovens vary; it’s done when the dough is cooked (browns) and the custard is relatively firm. Sometimes it never quite firms up due to the juices; it usually firms nicely with apples but rarely with grapes, blueberries, or peaches.

5. Make the meringue. This is a standard meringue recipe, as I don’t have any indication about how Grandma made her meringue. Beat the 3 room-temperature egg whites on medium with ½ tsp. vanilla (if using) and ¼ tsp. cream of tartar for about a minute (until soft peaks form); then switch to high speed and gradually add up to about ½ cup sugar; beat for about 4 minutes, or until shiny and stiff peaks form. If making meringue seems like kind of a pain, remember that Grandma used a manual rotary eggbeater.

6. Finish the kuchen. You’re in the home stretch, now. Spread the meringue carefully on top; dabbing it into artistic shapes, and return it to the oven to brown the top. Let it cool gradually. Store it in the refrigerator.

If it falls apart when you cut it, who cares? It's delicious! And I'm sure you'll love it.

. . . My people do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Boat Ramp Scavenger Hunts

Here’s a new summertime activity that works well with pandemic-inspired desire for social distancing: collecting boat ramps!

Just kidding, sort of. Here’s what it actually is. As some of you know, I’ve been working for several years as a freelance contractor for our state conservation agency providing writing and editorial services for one portion of its website. As I’ve used the site over the years, I’ve noticed that of the hundreds of conservation, natural, and fishing access areas that appear among the “Places to Go” on their website, several don’t have a representational photo—like, not even a thumbnail image to appear as you scroll through the lists of search results. (And a few are kind of lame—like a closeup photo of the area’s sign.)

Mostly, the ones that don’t have photos are access points along rivers (boat ramps—so not very compelling, photographically), and community lakes where the state agency has a partnership with the local government (so, not 100 percent the state agency’s job to promote). Still, it’s the web, and you know . . . pictures!

Anyway, since I have a camera that takes pretty okay pictures (good enough for web, anyway, and in some cases equal or better than the ones used on the website) . . . and since I can edit that part of the site (although I’m not in charge of it), I’ve been adding pictures here and there for the areas that need them. Yeah, for free. In fact, until recently, they invited users to upload their own photos, so it’s not like I’m going crazy here.

It started a few years ago, when I’d use the site myself to find directions and noted there was no image. Well, since we would be there, I might as well take a few clicks and provide a pic here and there.

And so Sue and I have been taking little excursions on weekends. I make a list of places that don’t yet have pictures, we figure out an itinerary, and off we go. We see how many boat ramps and backwoods public lands we can visit in an afternoon. It’s been quite an adventure, connecting these dots, going places we’ve never been before, occasionally missing a turn from one gravel county road onto another because the road sign has been knocked over and is laying in the weeds (Osage County, I’m talking about you) . . . but you know. Adventures.

We’ve seen a lot of beautiful places.

And a lot of boat ramps.

LOTS of boat ramps.

. . . All manner of boat ramps.

We usually have a picnic while we’re at it. It’s easy to find a pleasant place to sit.

It’s nice to get out of the house and do something together. We take pictures of all manner of beautiful and strange nature things. Then we go home and try to identify what we've seen, if it's something new.

Fun fact: this is a lot like something else we did when we first moved back to Missouri—we were living in Columbia, and Sue had never lived there before, and I thought she should get to know the university better. So many buildings! So we made a scavenger hunt out of visiting and entering every campus building we could. Why not? Those are public places, and we’re Missouri residents and taxpayers! Also, many of the buildings at the University of Missouri are beautiful examples of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century public architecture, so it’s a treat to step inside them.

We had a campus map and a checklist. Also, irreverent but in a nondestructive way, we had a roll of adhesive paper dots that we used to mark our conquests. In multiple-story buildings, we sought to put one dot on each floor. We made sure no one saw us while we were marking the buildings this way, and we’d stick the dots in odd, not-quite-conspicuous places. The tops or sides of door frames. The side of a light fixture. The top edge of an elevator door. A few times, in plain sight, but on a surface where the heads of screws, for example, created a pattern where one more little round circle wouldn’t draw notice. I think we might’ve put one above a switch on a classroom’s light-switch plate, which looked like someone might have marked “this switch” as somehow special.

We only put the dots onto metal or painted stuff, nothing that was finished wood. . . . I wonder how many of those are still there. I wonder if other people discovered these dots and wondered about their significance. Hah. We ought to make a new project of going back to those buildings and looking for the dots. We even put them on the parking structures.

We didn’t finish our little project—we didn’t conquer the University of Missouri. But we had fun walking around that beautiful campus in a lot of majestic buildings, marking them as “ours” in an exceedingly mild way. Just like we're having fun visiting all these boat ramps.

I hope you're having a fun summer, and that you're all staying safe and well.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Famous Vines on Broadway Goat Cheese Balls

Today’s an anniversary. On August 9, 2018, Lorie Smith opened up Vines on Broadway, and our street suddenly became a genuinely cheery place. What sunshine she brought to our neighborhood, and our city, and everyone who met her.

Sigh. Even though she’s left this mortal coil, and Vines is closed, we all still have fond memories. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see my earlier posts here and here.

To commemorate Lorie and celebrate what would have been the third anniversary of Vines, today I’m posting her secret(?) recipe for the famous “Vines Balls.” It’s something she and some of her friends/waiters made up one night using things they had on hand. Once they tried it, they knew they had a keeper. As far as Lorie could tell (based on internet searches), these were a wholly original creation, and all hers. She was tremendously proud of them. She had a sign in the front parlor at Vines: “Ask about our balls.”

Here’s what I wrote about them a few years ago:

And at some point, you’ll have to “ask about our balls.” One night last winter, Lorie and her friends were in the kitchen experimenting with making white-chocolate-dipped bonbons, and they produced a completely unique combination of creamy, tangy, sweet, rich, crunchy, chewy flavors and textures. She kept going around to her customers, asking them, “try one, and tell me what you think is in it.” Few people could guess, because the flavors blend so mysteriously and so well. I won’t tell you what’s in them, but it’s a very tasty, not-too-sweet, grown-up truffle—and “unique” does mean “there are absolutely no others like it.”

It’s the same basic idea as for Oreo cookie balls, little truffles made by combining three dozen pulverized Oreos with an 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese, rolled into 1-inch balls, which you freeze for about 10 minutes, then dip into 16 ounces of chocolate (melted) (it helps to use a toothpick to dip them) and set aside to harden (and keep ’em refrigerated after that). Lorie made these Oreo balls occasionally at Vines, usually later in the evening, after most people had eaten. She’d bring a tray around and ask people to have one. Often, she used white chocolate for the dipping.

So what’s in the famous Vines Balls? It’s really simple: goat cheese, chopped dates, and chopped pecans, dipped in white chocolate. Use the basic technique as for the Oreo balls recipe. I never got any official quantities, and she may never had written it down.

Heady with success, Lorie and her friends tried to think of a name for their creation. “A Date with a Nutty Goat” was one top contender.

These goat cheese–pecan–date–white chocolate balls were a perfect little sweet for her wine-and-appetizer bar. Indulgent, but small. Sweet, but not cloying. Rich, but bright. The ingredients balance each other well, so that no one ingredient overwhelms the others. Definitely a grown-up dessert.

It was fun to hear people’s guesses about what was in them. The guesses were all over the place. One friend of mine shocked me by guessing cilantro might be in it. When I first tasted them—standing in the little kitchen at Vines—I got the goat cheese and pecans right, but then I guessed that the chewy, fruity pieces were dried cranberries. Bzzzt!

Anyway, tonight Sue and I are gonna have a few of the famous Vines Balls after a snacky meal with a rich red wine. We’ll toast to the memory of Lorie, and then we’ll watch a movie or something.

The Famous Vines of Broadway Goat Cheese Balls

(a.k.a. “A Date with a Nutty Goat”)

  • 8 oz. goat cheese (chèvre)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dates
  • 12 oz. white chocolate for melting

Blend together the goat cheese, pecans, and dates: pulsing it in a food processor works well. Don’t overdo it. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls, place them on a tray, and put them in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. While those are chilling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Line a tray with wax paper or prepare a rack. Dip the balls into the chocolate (a toothpick works well for this operation) and set aside to harden. Keep the balls refrigerated. Will keep for about a week, if they last that long. Makes about 18–20.