Coming Soon

  • Elizabeth Cornwall

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Every family has a system. It gets more interesting depending on who shows up in the genetic lottery and how many. A family of five children with four boys and one girl who is the youngest makes for an interesting system even before you factor in the sins of the fathers and the mothers.

Kerry was always an outlier and this image was strengthened by the fact that he was extremely quiet and in his own head — an extreme introvert with a reading addiction and a need for speed.

When he was a toddler and the last boy was born, he acted like this baby was his. He carried him around like those homemade bean bag frogs. folded over, plopped in half and perilously close to the floor. I really don't know how he reacted when I was born, the long awaited girl, because no one recorded it. But the last boy was always his.

After having four boys, my mother recalls that she was sick of washing and ironing blue jeans and shirts and promised God that if she had a girl, she wouldn't complain about ironing the frilly dresses common in the 1960s. In fact, when she was pregnant, she told her doctor that if she had another boy she would jump off what was then the tallest building in Dallas. He told my dad that he was worried.

There is the story that when my mother was heavily pregnant with me, she was hand washing something in the bathroom sink, and Kerry was "sitting on the pot" as the story is told. Yes, we had indoor plumbing. He was deep in thought and most likely in some sort of time out until he produced.

"Mama, what do we wear when we go to Heaven?"

"I don't know, but how about 'I gotta robe, and you gotta robe, and all God's children gotta robe,'" my mother recalls.

At that, Kerry jumped up, pulled up his blue jeans with no whipping, and said, "Then I won't go."

It was pretty much like that until he was 33 years old. Me too, but I'm still alive.

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  • Elizabeth Cornwall

I can point to multiple women whose reaction to adversity was to double down on the abundant, the gracious, and the the extravagance of freshness and simplicity.

There is the duchess who refused to turn her back on her guests— walking backwards — after serving them as a way to honor them with all humility. Then, there is the story of the woman locked in a World War II Japanese internment camp, who took that opportunity to write a cookbook with all the most long forgotten luxury ingredients, complete with generous portions of butter and olive oil and all the good things denied them in captivity.

As we wait out the postponed delights of spring and look forward to the fruits of summer, it's well to pull out Elizabeth David's "Summer Cooking" with hope. She became Britain's first lady of food during the mid-twentieth century leading cooks out of the colorlessness of postwar austerity to the then-exotic use of fresh herbs and garlic — books such as "An Omelette and a Glass of Wine," "Mediterranean Food," and "Summer Cooking."

"Summer Cooking" includes a chapter on fresh herbs, jams and other preserves, buffets, and picnics, as well as the usual categories. On vegetables, she writes, "The tender young vegetables of early summer, broad beans, green peas, new potatoes, new turnips, young carrots, are nearly always best quite plainly cooked and eaten with fresh butter ... the time and trouble necessary to the preparation of fresh vegetables, as will as their delicious fresh flavor, deserve full recognition."

As we all slow down and experience a slower sense of time, let's plant some vegetables and look forward to harvesting them this summer. There is nothing like going outside, picking a fresh eggplant, slicing it, tossing with panko crumbs, and frying in olive oil. Toast up some good bread with slices of gouda cheese or mozzarella, add Duke's mayo or a homemade aioli, a few leaves of fresh basil from your garden, and you will forget anything in the time of the plague.

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  • Elizabeth Cornwall

Nourishment in the age of pandemic or any time of stress calls for simplicity and delicacy. A piping hot Reuben sandwich at such a time can overload the digestion and mental clarity — I will share at a later time how I felt when I sat in front of one in Las Vegas. But when one needs nourishment and quickly, let me recommend a pasta dish with tummy-soothing fennel seed that gives your sauce a Italian sausage taste without the hard-to-digest sausage itself.

I always keep fennel seeds, Turkish bay leaves, pasta, and canned tomato paste, and sauce on hand. I have rosemary growing outside my kitchen door, and I highly recommend it. Onions, carrots, and celery are essential aromatics as well — what the Italians call the battuto or soffritto or the mirepoix in French and used in a 2:1:1 ration.

Try this quick recipe and see if you and yours are soothed.


1 medium carrot, finely diced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

1 small onion, finely diced

1 bay leaf

1–2 teaspoons sugar or to taste

splash or two of apple cider vinegar

copious olive oil

1 teaspoon or 2 of unsalted butter

1 can tomato paste

1 small can tomato sauce

1 box farfalle

1/2 teaspoon fennel

1-2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary added at the end

1/2 red pepper flakes

Start pasta water.

In an iron skillet, add the finely diced vegetables to the butter, olive oil, and bay leaf (who can measure, just add more as needed) over low heat. Sprinkle the sugar and stir constantly until vegetables are translucent. You can speed things along by adding — after 10 minutes or so — 3–4 tablespoons water and cover to sweat and soften.

Add tomato paste and sauce and stir on low. Include the fennel and in 5 minutes or so add the rosemary and pepper flakes. Serve forthwith!

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