Monthly Archives: March 2013

Miller chef reveals secret ingredient

During dinner with friends at Angela’s Pantry in Miller Beach late last fall, I asked our waitress about the exceptional flavor in the sea bass.

“What IS that taste?” I said. “It’s wonderful.” Our server smiled and said, “It’s our secret ingredient.”

angela

Chef and member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Angela McCrovitz of Angela’s Pantry, 6132 Miller Avenue, Miller Beach, Indiana

The smile was genuine and the meal satisfied my hunger for secret ingredients so I let it go. But recently, the Chef Angela McCrovitz satisfied my taste buds’ curiosity during an interview.

“A couple was in for dinner,” she said, “and I overheard them ask one that same question … ‘this is SO good – what’s the secret ingredient.’”

“Love … That’s what makes it all worthwhile,” she said. “Cooking is an act of love.”

Perhaps that’s what makes her restaurant so special. Love, along with the freshest ingredients, house-made stocks, a lifelong passion for cooking and a wealth of experience stock Chef Angela’s pantry. And she cooks up wonderful, beautiful, mouth-watering and satisfying meals Wednesdays through Sundays at Angela’s Pantry, Miller Beach, Indiana.

Born in Gary, the Half Hungarian/Czech-half Italian McCrovitz started playing with food when she was just 7 years old. Her grandmother Margaret’s “Coconut Geminis” won the Pillsbury Bake-Off and a dance with Lawrence Welk in 1966. Her grandfather cooked for Al Capone. Continue reading

Why we love New Mexico – more on The Land of Enchantment

new mexico There are so many places to drive or fly for a winter getaway, why New Mexico?  I had just visited friends in SoNewMex  in February; this time Santa Fe was calling. And if you’ve even been to Santa Fe, you know it’s hard to say no.

During my Las Cruces years I visited Santa Fe on business and drove up from ABQ for lunch but I’d never been there to explore. Funny that I had to move to Indiana to appreciate our country’s oldest established capitol.

During a tour of the Palace of the Governors on the plaza, I learned the town was first inhabited by Native Americans in 900. When Spain began to colonize the west, it was established as a capitol of New Spain in 1610.

If you’re a time traveler, as I try to be during such visits, you can imagine a time when natives in pueblo villages dotted the dusty hills, along with adventuresome – although, yes, they were also conquistadors – settlers from Spain. It was fascinating, albeit sad too, to learn about people coming to the Americas via land bridge from Siberia, down through what is now the western US, into Mexico and Central America.

One day, after visiting the Georgia O’Keeff museum (wonderful paintings but also fun to learn she wore PF Flyers while stomping around the desert!) I had the luxury of spending several hours reading about local history.

I walked into a very inviting local book store, (Collective Books on Galisteo) bought a coffee and sat on a big soft sofa reading, “New Mexico,” by Calvin and Susan Roberts. Read 50 pages that day, came home and ordered the book. You may think you know where the story ends – New Mexico celebrated 100 years as a state in 2012 – but do you know how it got there?

The whole excursion opened my brain for more American History. That’s not been my favorite part of world history, until now. When I was a kid I wanted to be an Egyptologist (and an oceanographer.) Wanted to study “really old” stuff.

Now I know the Western US was inhabited more than 12,000 years ago. That the natives then were big game hunters tracking mammoths and bison. Geez, I was in pursuit of the best fish tacos until I started to learn about Spaniards coming over to convert the natives. My quest for knowledge once again is bigger than my appetite. (Although Santa Fe is home to some pretty tasty fish tacos, too. Pictured above is my dinner at The Shed.)

Car kills writer’s ambition

I can’t write with that racket.

If my creative setting isn’t just so, my brain goes numb. Unwanted noise stifles my fingers like a pair of boiled wool mittens.

Here I’ve gone to the trouble to call the front desk about turning on the fireplace, filled a glass measuring cup with water for Via – Columbian Roast – found my notepad and a pen, actually turned the chair toward the window. This cozy little corner of the living-dining room was going to be my writer’s den.

What do you do? YOU nonchalantly pad into my writing space and pick up the remote. Poof. Writing ideas gone. Happy writing moments gone. images

It’s 7:30 in the morning, for cryin’ out loud. Who needs the TV at this hour? And is it breaking news? When someone stops to stand in front of a TV, I expect to hear something akin to a lunar landing. What? What’s that I hear? Some nameless person rattles about car parts or car speed or car art and I’m getting more irritated by the minute.

But do I speak? No. Why not? Because this should not bother me.

We’re sharing a lovely apartment with a pretty view. I’ve got my laptop, an overstuffed chair by the window AND the fireplace. Coffee is but seconds away.

Besides, what’s a little TV chatter to a writer like me? I’ve been doing this my whole life. Second nature like, ummm, drat. Metaphors escape me. Car-man is asking some garage guys the top speed of juiced-up El Camino.

How am I supposed to turn a phrase with this TV trash turning my stomach?

I can do this. Thoughts should flow effortlessly to fingertips. There’s was a time I could write copy on a crowded bus. One morning, years ago, I wrote a mission statement with one hand and dried my hair with the other.

Not today.

Get over yourself, I say to my head. Fix the coffees, take your notepaper and sit, write. Block out the auto babble.

I can’t write. Too distracted. The flat, rectangular elephant in the room is making me crazy. The microwave beeps three times – a sound I’ve been anticipating.

Get over yourself, my head says back to me. Be thoughtful here. Not upset. I walk over to the TV watcher. Manage to pry open my gritted teeth.

“Would you like some coffee?”

“Yes, thanks.”

Polite too. That makes it worse. How am I supposed to write when the TV-watching living-room-taker-over is polite?

Taking my irritation-flavored coffee to the bedroom, I prop up pillows and nestle in for practice with pen and paper.

“Home is where the heart is,” the pen writes. After boring myself with home and heart, the pen moves on its own – like the moving-thingy (“planchette”) on a Quija board – forming other words.

“My apologies … but I write to the rhythm of my pen …” Words get crossed out; parenthesis embrace the writer’s distractions.

I gaze out the window for inspiration. Nothing. Snow falls over Santa Fe. Television murmurs through closed doors. I can’t write. I got nothin’.Photo: news.com.au