January 18, 2007


   Home Page

 News & Features


 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note





 Pop Culture



   Video Games
   CD Reviews




   Grazing Guide



   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts





 Find A Hippo




   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad




 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover

The writing foodie
A poet finds her groove with pie crust
By Susan Reilly  news@hippopress.com

Hope Jordan has helped put Manchester on the map as a poetry hot spot, helping to organize open-mike poetry nights at Bridge Café. Here she discusses the virtues of unsalted butter and food as a recurring character in her poems. Jordan works in development at Plymouth State University.

What did you eat growing up?
I grew up I in a farming community in upstate New York in a Dutch and German family. I think that the way I cook has been heavily influenced by that; we grew up eating simple foods, lots of chicken and dumplings and casseroles. I did not have my first bagel, Chinese food or Middle Eastern food until I went to college at Syracuse.

Do you eat out a lot?
No, not really. We stay away from all of the chain restaurants that everyone around us seems to flock to on Loudon Road in Concord … [I]t has forced us to be more creative and to cook more at home.

You told me that you shun bread machines.
Yes. I once wrote a poem with a working title “Death to the Bread Machine.” For me, bread from a bread machine is like drinking a non-alcoholic beer. I have no interest in it. It is as much the process as the end result.

Do you try to stay away from processed foods?
We do. But I am also a mom who buys Red Baron frozen pizzas for her son because he really likes them. It is a compromise.

Have you written any other poems about food?
I am not a food writer, but food is a recurring character in my poems. The poem about bread machines became titled “It Rises.”  Food is part of who I am and it appears in my writing. I wrote a poem about a bowl of soup at the Bridge Café and how it lifted me out of a winter depression on that particular day.

Do you cook Sunday dinner?
I try to as much as possible. But we are a busy family. My daughter cooks when she is home, and since she is a vegetarian, we all eat vegetarian and it is wonderful. As it is, we only eat meat once or twice a week.

Is there something that you really enjoy cooking?
Yes, apple pie. I believe that it is just one of those things — that I was born knowing how to make really great crust.

Do you ever do anything else with the crust?
Not really. Once when my kids were small they picked a lot of wild berries and I made a pie with them. To this day, it is the most amazing pie we all remember. Other than that, it is apple. With apples from a local orchard, preferably ones that I have picked myself.

Crust can be difficult. Any tips?
It is just something that I am really good at. Seems simple, because it is just three ingredients, but it isn’t. Plus, my kitchen is cold, and I think that helps with the pastry.  A friend once asked me to show her how to make apple pies. She wanted to make some for a friend who was battling cancer. That was when it hit me that they are so good that people find them comforting. The pie always tastes very good, but doesn’t always look pretty.

Do you find that with cooking you don’t follow a recipe?
I cook both ways, with and without recipes. But I cannot do soups. I have never made a soup that I have been really happy with, with or without a recipe. Maybe my expectations are too high. I think that people have a knack for certain things — mine is crust.

What is in your refrigerator?
An old tube of black olive paste that I keep telling myself I will find a use for. Lots of homemade chicken stock from a chicken I roasted over the holiday. Capers — my son loves chicken piccatta — and unsalted butter, plus all the other usual stuff.

Just curious — why unsalted butter?
It started in college. My roommate had a cookbook, something like “Pasta and Cheese,” that I stole, and every recipe called for unsalted butter, so it became a habit. I just read an article about the merits of unsalted butter and how it allows the butter flavor to come through in cooking. I am flexible with a lot of things, but I always have unsalted butter and King Arthur flour.

Hope’s recipe
Hope’s chicken and dumplings
Serves 4
Stew ingredients:
4 cups chicken stock (homemade is best)
2-3 lbs. boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 carrots, peeled & sliced into 1-inch lengths
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
freshly ground pepper and salt
Dumpling ingredients:
1 1/3 cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening
½ cup milk
Bring chicken stock and chicken pieces to a boil in a large soup pot. Quickly lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Add the vegetables and bay leaf and simmer, partly covered, for 15 minutes. While the stew is simmering, make the dumplings. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and cut the shortening in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the center, add the milk, and stir just until the sticky dough comes together. After the chicken and vegetables have simmered for 15 minutes, spoon off any fat that has risen to the surface. Add the thyme, pepper and salt. Be careful with the salt — if you use commercial chicken stock, it can be very salty, so taste carefully. Dip a tablespoon into the stew, and then use it to scoop a spoonful of dumpling dough. Drop it on top of the stew. Repeat this until you have made about 10 dumplings covering the stew. Cover the pot tightly and let it simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Before serving in shallow bowls, discard the bay leaf. Enjoy!

1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot

1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
07/13/2006 Relishing the raspberry
07/06/2006 Are your edible souveneirs kosher?
06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch