remembering barbara mertz


food and drinks

More auction news…Wed. May 11


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And once more in response to some expressed interest, we’re posting this news on an upcoming local auction at Trout’s Auctioneers in Frederick, Maryland.  Items can be viewed on line, but there will not be on-line bidding (absentee bidding seems to be accepted, though).

Different parts of Barbara’s massive book collection will be showing up in various venues in upcoming months, and since some have asked for updates and news, we’re trying to oblige.  To Trouts went her collection of pop-up books.  (Yes, you heard us aright — she also collected pop-up books.  She loved how they folded out in amazing ways when you opened them.  One of her favorites (of which many family members and friends received copies over the years) was called “America the Beautiful” and featured scenes of the US accompanied by stanzas of the song.)  There are also some children’s books included in the Trout’s collection from MPM.

… there are certain beloved readers … you know who you are … to whom we are considering sending warnings  (**don’t go, you know you don’t need more books!!**)  (on other hand, most of us book lovers could use that warning!!)

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In addition there will be all kinds of non-book items (notice how we categorize stuff!), from a baby grand piano to the ornate shelving used to house Barbara’s extensive martini glass collection (when that woman got into something, she really got into it — and her “refreshing beverage” was definitely gin, rather than Amelia’s favorite whiskey & soda… ergo the ebullient display of martini glasses above!)

This is the kind of local auction at which Barbara loved to muddle about, coming home with various “treasures” after hours of happy digging of a non-Egyptological sort.  From a safe distance, we who don’t share that delight can simply point those of you who are “local” and similarly insane toward this latest outcropping of MPM madness… (…albeit, perhaps, with a *wistful backward gaze*)

A drink on the Nile is a drink in style!

Barbara's martini glass collection (No, they were never all in use at the same time!)
Barbara’s martini glass collection (No, they were never all in use at the same time!)                    photos of lotus/lily pond, garden, and home interior by Summer Kelley Photography

On food, cats, Amelia, books, gin, cats, gardens, oh, and gin….

Two years after Barbara’s death, we who loved her want to mark the occasion in an appropriate way.  The heading above just begins to list her many passions; as one friend noted, “Barbara was an enthusiast!”  She was enthusiastic about her many hobbies — some of which originated in research she did for her books.  She was enthusiastic about her family and friends, the state of the world, her beloved cats, chocolate — and oh, did we mention … gin? (surprisingly, not whiskey!)

“Confound it, Peabody,” Emerson shouted … “Drink your whiskey like a lady…” (from Seeing a Large Cat)

Since there isn’t much to Barbara’s  recipe for a martini (wave the vermouth over the gin, add two ice cubes) (actually, just skip the vermouth part altogether) ….  we thought we should honor the occasion with a different recipe, one that was passed down to Barbara by her mother, who got it from a beloved neighbor in Oak Park, Mrs. MacDonald.  The aim of the recipe was to get as close as possible to the fabulous chocolate cookies that were obtainable at that time only from Marshall Field’s.


Mrs. MacDonald’s Frosted Chocolate Drop Cookies (per Barbara)

1/2 c. Spry  (ok, the recipe’s a bit dated)*        1 egg           1 c. brown sugar        1.5 c. flour       1/2 c. sour milk (add a little vinegar to milk)     pinch salt     1/2 t. soda                  vanilla              2 sq. chocolate, melted (or 3/8 c. cocoa)


DUMP IT ALL IN A BOWL AND BEAT.  (Very typical Barbara rendition of a recipe)  DROP FROM tsp. ONTO GREASED BAKING SHEET, BAKE 7-10 MIN. IN MODERATE OVEN.

FROST WITH CHOCOLATE ICING (a couple of squares melted chocolate plus conf. sugar and water.  If you want to get fancy, add a little butter.)   (No wonder this was so popular.  Not much more work than a cake mix.)


This brings to mind one of Barbara’s favorite J.K. Rowling quotes:  “Professor Lupin was breaking an enormous slab of chocolate into pieces.  ‘Here,” he said to Harry, handing him a particularly large piece.  ‘Eat it.  It’ll help.'”

So, lift a cup of a genial beverage (your choice!) and have a bit of chocolate on Barbara.  She would tell you that there is no woe that cannot be cured by the application of appropriate food and drink …. (or perhaps other remedies of a similar sort — more on that soon!)

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