Of fooles and flummery
It's 9 p.m. on a March evening, and Beverly and I have retreated to our shared study where we're working on columns about -- are you ready? -- food.
She's writing her "Dutch Oven" column for The Stockade Spy. Her topic is the old English dessert known as a "foole," in honor of the approach of April Fool's Day. I'm working on a piece for the Gazette's "Food Forum" blog about American comfort foods that concludes with a recipe from Julia Cella for a splendid corn pudding.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
It's a beautiful day in the Stockade and, after work, we take Maggie for a walk. A Cairn Terrier, she is very social and ever inquisitive and she loves her walks and the chance they give to her socialize. She's a perfect fit for the neighborhood where she has spent most of her young life.
We make our way across the Presbyterian church parking lot and then along Union Street to North Ferry. Across the street near the Stockade Home Market -- you know it as "Arthur's" -- we spot Werner Feibes and Jim Schmitt, icons of the community who founded The Stockade Spy monthly and played important roles in getting our neighborhood designated as New York state's first official historic district.
After some friendly banter across the street, we continue on our way.
Back home, I retrieve deck chairs from winter hibernation and uncover the grill which Beverly proceeds to clean. We had agreed earlier that it's a perfect evening for our first cookout of the season, even if it's not really spring and another winter storm might be just around the corner.
Beverly marinates shrimp and a couple of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I light the grill and wait for the heat to rise.
First onto the fire are the little multicolored peppers. They're so small and sweet, we decide there's no reason to remove their stems or seeds. They get brushed with some of the marinade and go right on the grill.
The chicken is next.
Finally, after the peppers have charred invitingly and the chicken is starting to caramelize, I add the shrimp to the grill, brushing them with a little of the same marinade.
It takes only a few minutes before we have a splendid dinner.
We serve it with a lovely Montepulciano, an Italian red that coincidentally was a gift from Jim and Werner.
Now we're back in the study, and Beverly is describing the old dessert known as a foole. It causes me to remember, from my distant past, a Welsh dessert -- or was it Scottish? -- that was adapted by the English.
"I used to make something called 'flummery,' which was a kind of pudding with fruit in it," I offer.
I find and read a definition of "flummery," a concoction thickened with corn starch and studded with stewed fruit. As I said, "pudding with fruit in it."
"There's even a 'plum flummery,'" I note, and she rejoins, "Is that anything like 'skullduggery' ... or 'tomfoolery'?"
"Yes, exactly like that."
Beverly's quickie marinade: olive oil, fresh lemon juice and zest, grated ginger, a splash of red wine, salt and pepper.
If you want to know more about "fooles," get yourself a copy of the April issue of The Stockade Spy. The comfort foods piece promised earlier with the wonderful corn pudding recipe will appear soon right here.
To tide you over, a recipe from cookitsimply.com for a Scottish raspberry flummery. It contains whisky. Find it HERE.