Happy note in shop’s closing

It’s rare that I’ll dance on a grave and celebrate the closing of a food business, because I understand the physical and financial sacrifices that go into owning one.

But I am so thankful to the generosity of the owner of this particular convenience store and doughnut shop (look at the picture; no need for it to be Googleable). The morning after the building was bought by its competitor across the street last week, our camp was invited to take whatever we could before the new owners moved in.
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Not mom’s deviled eggs


A few weeks ago, I dug into a new cookbook, “The Preppy Cookbook,” written by my friend Christine Nunn, a chef who once reviewed restaurants for the same newspaper I did.

Christine, who runs the kitchen at Grange in Westwood, N.J., will put foie gras and microgreens on the same menu as a casserole made with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Because Christine cooks from her heart and her head.

I was thinking about her the other day when a food show spread included these deviled eggs. Garish, freaky and psychadelic, and flavorwise, nothing to write home about. It reminded me how much flavor Christine could coax out of a humble egg.

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Cheater pie

I cheat. Often. I learned it from my grandmother, who is a star at turning semiprepared foods into something to crave. Her “eclair pudding” is little more than graham crackers and chocolate syrup layered with Cool Whip and vanilla pudding mix.

It was with that in mind, I began serving guests upside-down banana and chocolate cream pies. Something a touch playful, but on a quarter-per-person dessert budget.

It’s simple enough, but are two essentials to pulling it off without guests thinking you’re being lame:
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Breakfast surprise


It was seven years ago a group of investors built the 74 State boutique hotel in downtown Albany and hired a friend of mine to be its sales director. He was long gone by the time I finally got there for a night out with my wife this weekend.

Also gone: Those owners, the next owners, the owners after that … and, sadly, the restaurant, a casualty of the newest round of owners, who paid $3.8 million for it, according to a Times Union story.

So much for our breakfast, which was included in the gift certificate Julie and I bought at an auction.
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Summer camp in cold


What a great weekend!

In my 30 years in and around Christian camping, I’ve never seen a camp try to pull off what we did at Sac this weekend: Offer a winter camp program that didn’t require group leaders. Using some of our summer staff, we offered a program for more than 50 local teens, many of them unchurched, that duplicated the social, recreational and spiritual experience of camp.

And we tried to do the same with the food. Here’s a look:
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