- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Month: January 2012

Vote for Cape May as America’s Coolest Small Town

Vote for Cape May

Budget Travel‘s readers nominated a record 647 towns this year – and now they’ve narrowed that list down to just 10 standout communities across the country. Cape May is currently holding down a respectable 6th place, but you can still help us climb higher by just clicking the image to your right. It takes just a second (you don’t have to type anything).

You can vote once daily, so be sure to get all your votes in before the contest closes on January 31st.

Contest Page
View current standings


Wendel White’s Schools for the Colored: Highlighting the Life and Soul of the Franklin Street School

Schools for the Colored – a collection of photographs by Wendell White, professor at Stockton University – depicts the landscape and architecture of historically segregated schools in northern states. Each B&W photo shows the school as it is today – or in some cases where it once stood – with all other elements in the picture grayed back. A nationally renowned New Jersey photographer, Professor White emphasized his rationale for this dramatic effect was to symbolize the “veil” caused by segregation.

Also included is an exhibit highlighting the life and soul of Cape May’s Franklin Street School. A video of the Franklin Street School in Cape May showed the attendees the progress of the rehabilitation of the historic building.
Opening remarks were offered by Cape May Mayor Edward Mahaney, Jr a well as exhibit sponsors Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities president Doug McMain  and Center for Community Arts director Bernadette Matthews.


Free admission Jan. 14-April 15. Gallery hours and days vary. Co-sponsored by the Center for Community Arts (CCA) and the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC).

Sharon and Mark Bostrom are Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities’ (MAC) Volunteers of the Month for December

Pictured Here: (photo credit: Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities): Volunteers Sharon and Mark Bostrom man the Physick Estate hospitality center Dec. 3 on the first Christmas Candlelight House Tour of the 2011 season, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). The Bostroms were chosen as MAC’s Volunteers of the Month for December for putting in many volunteer hours decorating the Carriage House at various times of the year – Christmas and Halloween being two of their favorite holidays.
Mark and Sharon own an extensive collection of elaborate holiday decorations that grows yearly from which they draw materials and inspiration. The Bostroms find joy in decorating for the holidays. “Halloween is one of our favorites, although we go all-out for Christmas. We’ve been collecting for many years. We just enjoy the holiday,” Sharon said. One year, the challenge of how to decorate the tent pole on the patio behind the Carriage House for Halloween resulted in a life-sized King Kong suspended from the top with a Barbie doll in tow. “I can come up with the ideas and Mark is the one who helps put them together,” she said.
The Volunteer of the Month award is given to a person who demonstrates a high degree of dedication, commitment and constancy to MAC’s volunteer program. For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at

Looking forward to 2012

Conceptual drawing of the new Convention Hall

While many look back at what has transpired the previous year, we here at have decided to look forward. We asked a few of the movers and shakers in Cape May to tell us what they are looking forward to on the Cape May landscape next year.

Cape May Mayor Edward Mahaney, Jr.

This year marks the 80th Queen Maysea Coronation

  1. A happy, healthy, prosperous, and enjoyable 2012 Year for all our residents and business people.
  2. The completion of the City’s high priority economic development initiative with the Grand Opening of our new multi-purpose Convention Hall facility with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops on Memorial Day Weekend.
  3. The initial functioning of the new Tourism Utility which should result in a more comprehensive, planned approach and strategies by the cooperating public and private sectors to promote and market Cape May more effectively and efficiently as a premier tourist destination in all four seasons.
  4. The formulation and passage of an overall municipal budget (including current fund, water and sewer utility, beach utility, and the new tourism utility) which provides the requisite programs and services expected by the public while maintaining the affordability for all of us to continue to live, work, and visit here and shifting the cost burden of tourism activities from the residential and commercial taxpayers to the participants in tourism-related activities.
  5. Continued progress on our detailed continuum of initiatives to achieve State-certification for Cape May’s Plan Endorsement program and to repeat our certification as a Sustainable Jersey community at the Silver Level so that we solidify Cape May’s long-term future as a sustainable town economically and environmentally as well as in terms of infrastructure and quality of life.

John Cooke, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May

  1. More businesses getting involved in social media, such as Twitter to promote their businesses as well as Cape May.
  2. The pedestrian shopping mall becoming dog friendly in 2012. In 2010, at least 60% of 115 million households traveled with a pet.
  3. A community wide effort to engage line employees in customer service training.
  4. The possibility of headlining acts and other great shows in the newly constructed Convention Hall in Cape May.
  5. A reduction in the occupancy tax levied upon visitors to Cape May allowing them more spending power in the local economy.

The National Lifeguard Championships returns to Cape May in August 2012

Bernard Haas, publisher of and Cape May Magazine

  1. The Race at the Cape: Renewing the Cape May Motor Car Challenge 1905-2012. Cape May Forum is planning a reenactment of the 1905 famous car races on the beach which included Henry Ford and Louis Chevrolet – only this time they are doing it with energy-efficient cars! The event takes place on Saturday, May 19. Details to follow.
  2. The return to Cape May of the 2012 National Lifeguard Championships August 8-11.
  3. The anticipated April 6 (Easter weekend) opening of Stewarts Root-Beer Restaurant at the corner of Decatur Street and the Washington Street Mall. Stewarts takes over the old Atlantic Books location. The décor is expected to resemble an old-fashioned Stewarts Restaurant a la 1924.
  4. The 2012 municipal elections. Mayor Edward Mahaney, Jr and Councilmember Terri Swain are up for reelection. Will they choose to run again? If so, who will against them, if anyone? Also, the elections are Nov.6 this year. Traditionally they have been in May but residents voted to change that in a 610-232 vote cast in November 2010.
  5. The first snow blizzard of 2012.

Cape May City Manager Bruce MacLeod

Stewarts Root Beer will be opening in the old Atlantic Books

…was a little more fluid in looking toward 2012.

  1. It might have something to do with his being preoccupied with balancing the city’s proposed 2012 budget which generally comes in around $15 million and change. There is also a Water and Sewer budget of $6.2 million, a Beach Utility of $2 million and a new Tourism Utility budget – the exact dollars are unknown as yet. MacLeod estimates $80,000 will go into from the occupancy tax collected from the accommodations businesses. $50 from each mercantile license issued will also be deferred to the Tourism Utility – in prior years it went to the Tourism Commission which has been abolished with the advent of the new utility. Rental of the two retail spaces should garner $130,000 – $65,000 per store is the starting bid for the spaces. One space has been rented by Pete Smith’s Surf Shop, which used to be located in the now defunct Solarium. The other store front has yet to be rented. Revenues will also come from leasing the space for weddings, conferences, seminars, and concerts as well as programs the Recreation Department has traditionally offered at Convention Hall – among them, summer camp, dances and exercise classes.
  2. So it stands to reason one of the City Manger’s top wishes for 2012 is the “successful opening of Convention Hall and that it be completed on budget.”
  3. The completion of the first phase of Carpenters Lane improvements to Carpenters Lane beginning with the 500 block. The goal is to provide a connector or side street leading to the center of the mall. The project begins in January or February and is the beginning of three phases to be done in the winter months.
  4. Beach replenishment. “Back passing” began in December. Sand was moved from Convention Hall beach to Trenton Avenue beach. The sand collected is being placed at Wilmington Avenue, near Poverty Beach – a spot which is particularly vulnerable to beach erosion. The project involves 70,000 cubic yards of sand.
  5. More beach replenishment. This involves the dredging of sand four miles off Cape May beaches. The 620,000 cubic yards of sand is being dredged to replenish the U.S. Coast Guard Base Training Center’s artillery range which has suffered a sizable amount of erosion recently. The project is expected to be completed in January.

80th Annual Cape May Baby Parade

So that’s what those in the know are looking forward to. We here at are looking forward to:

  1. The opening of Convention Hall Memorial Day Weekend.
  2. The celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Queen Maysea Coronation and
  3. The celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Cape May Baby Parade.
  4. We are also looking forward to listening to the Cape May Music Festival, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for Arts & Humanities, inside a proper venue, i.e. Convention Hall.
  5. We are positively pining for the return of the Cape May Jazz Festival.

Hey, tell us what you are looking forward to seeing in Cape May in 2012. Meanwhile Happy New Year and Happy Trails.

What you thought about 2011

When something happens in Cape May, we post it on Facebook, and we always love hearing what you have to say about hot topics affecting your favorite vacation spot. Here are some of the highlights of 2011 and what you thought about them.

Between Broad and Lafayette, Elmira goes two-way

“I don’t like the two way idea. I use Elmira to bike from Acme area, and it’s wide enough for cars to get around me with no trouble. Two way will be traffic chaos.” – Frank Mason 

“Love it. It will be GREAT to drive straight into town on Elmira!” – Doug McMain 

Elmira Street in Cape May New jersey

Elmira before it opened to two-way traffic. April 2011

We have new parking meters (again)

“Which means they work now?” – Catherine Coleman-Dickson 

“Aren’t parking meters against the historic integrity? I thought there was some kind of Victorian standard building code to preserve all that nostalgic charm. Would Queen Victoria have fed a meter? :)” – Stacy Novak Conrad 

new Cape May parking meters

New parking meters are on for the season. May 2011

Cape May plans to restore, not replace, the water tower

“In Hallandale Beach, FL the city held a contest for the water tower to be painted. We have a colorful beach ball now….looks great!” – Shirley Lebato 

“I think that the city should build a new one out of plastic…and then paint a lighthouse on it to match the welcoming lighthouses by the parkway entrance.” – Jonathan Arbogast 

“So lets forget about putting bricks under horses hooves and paint the tower instead?” – Sandy Nickel 

Cape May water tower

The Cape May water tower. August 2011

The old drive-through bank on Decatur transforms into a private garden

“Absolutely beautiful, it truly enhances the city of Cape May. They are to be commended for that. Well Done.” – June Arnold 

“Lovely. Private or public, it’s better than before.” – Shirley Swardenski 

“Can’t wait to see it!!! What a green idea!” – Mary Coan 

The Empress transforms what was a drive-through bank into a garden. August 2011

The Beach Theatre meets the wrecking ball

“It just goes to show that we really are a throw away society!” – Kim Christian Krieger 

“Who ever owns it did as they saw fit. If anybody wanted to do anything different they should have made an offer.” – Joe Rodriguez 

“Glad that they at least saved the sign.” – Sue Kirk Wood 

Beach Theatre demolition in Cape May New Jersey

The Beach Theatre, which stood since 1950, faces the wrecking ball. September 26, 2011

After more than 30 years, the Lemon Tree closes its doors

“The lemon tree and the bagel brunch will always be part of our cape may memories and a regular stop for us sorely missed!” – Kimberly Devine 

“I will miss the Hungry Duck – best sandwich in Cape May :(” – Jennifer Brodbeck 

“Will miss it so much- best iced tea and grilled hot dog and my husband loved the Fanta Birch rootbeer on tap. You all deserve the retirement after years of faithful service……….” – Diane Gargus 

The Lemon Tree in Cape May New Jersey closes

The Lemon Tree. October 28, 2011

Things to do in Cape May with Your Dog

Cape May dog park

Cape May dog park. Photo courtesy of Debbie J Hudson

Beach? In January? Well, yes – to enjoy now as well as to plan for warmer days ahead! And that’s not all there is to do with your dog in Cape May. Here are a few of my favorites for you and your dog(s) to enjoy. And some people/doggie etiquette reminders so we can all enjoy these activities together now and later.

First, some basic etiquette

Whenever I go out with my dogs and mingle with other dog people, I want to be sure to have my dogs under control so they do not “rush” other dogs and people, even those who ARE dog lovers! If there is another dog, I always ask if my dogs can say, “Hello.” Guinness loves to say hello to other dogs and people, too. He will even cry if he doesn’t get to do so. Jameson would rather look for and chase down squirrels, but is nosy and jealous enough to not want to miss anything.

Dogs enjoying Hawk Haven Winery. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Garrity

I try to always be careful to not let them go up to another dog at the same time, so they aren’t “ganging up” on the other dog(s).

I always want to pay attention to what my dogs are doing, mostly so I don’t miss a “package” and can pick up right away. Picking up after my dogs is so very important, because it leaves the area nice for everyone else to enjoy, and insures that we have a good reputation and are “welcome back.”

If we are walking around Cape May, as we do every day, or visiting one of the dog-friendly places in town, I stop or slow down, pull my dogs off to the side, or cross the street if there are others nearby or on the sidewalk coming our way, especially if they have a stroller, children, or a dog. This way, I not only allow them space to pass by comfortably, but in the event they are frightened or shy of dogs, it’s more comfortable for everyone. If they “want” to pet or see the dogs, they’ll ask, and we are always more than happy to accommodate as long as it gets us some attention from someone new and friendly.

The great outdoors

Maggie enjoying the vineyard. Photo courtesy of Hawk Haven Winery.

As I said before, we like walking all over town, and go a different way every time. But, there is also the dog park! Located on Lafayette Street near the corner of Broad, the dog park has a gazebo, toys, and a water source for when the dogs get thirsty during play. The park is double gated for easier entry and introduction. Passes are available at City Hall or at Swain’s Hardware.

Other dog friendly activities which are favorites of ours include Cape May Winery where you and your dogs can do a wine tasting and/or sit in the new meeting room. Sit out on the newly expanded patio, or sit on the upstairs deck to enjoy a glass (or a bottle!) of wine and enjoy the view of the vines. Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery and Natali Vineyards are also dog friendly.

Interested in wildlife? Is your dog a natural sailor? Try the Cape May Whale Watch Boat. The captain is a dog lover and is very happy to have your dog aboard. Just make sure your dog doesn’t bark and chase away all the great wildlife you’ll enjoy seeing while on board – everything from hawks and herons, to dolphin and sea turtles! Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum and Historic Cold Spring Village are also dog friendly, and your feet will be on solid ground at both places, even with dreams of soaring overhead!

Dining with your dogs

Al fresco dining that's also dog friendly! Photo courtesy of Zoe's

There are so many dog friendly restaurants in Cape May, and they all have great food in an al fresco setting. Food ranges from 4-star to casual, but all are great fun, and the dogs get lots of attention and “snacks”! Usually they will bring water for the dogs, even before you think to ask!

Here are some of the ones we list for our guests at Billmae Cottage:

Zoe’s – Beach and Stockton Place

Rusty Nail – 205 Beach Avenue, at the Beach Shack

Gecko’s – 31 Perry Street, in Carpenters Square Mall

Tisha’s – 322 Washington Street

The Blue Pig – 39 Perry Street, at Congress Hall

The Ugly Mug– 426 Washington Street

Jackson Mountain Cafe – 400 Washington Street

Dry Dock – 1440 Texas Avenue


The beaches along the Delaware Bay welcome dogs year-round.

And, now back to where we started – the beach. Most of the Delaware Bay beaches are dog friendly all year, as long as you keep your dog leashed and under control, and pick up after your dog. We like the beaches near the ferry entrance, which I call Ferry Beach (though I don’t think that’s its real name). We also like Higbee Beach and Sunset Beach, which are dog friendly off season. Cape May beach is only dog friendly November through April. My dogs and I prefer the Delaware Bay beaches if we’re going to swim because there is less surf so the dogs can enter easier if they are a little shy of the water. My other dog Cheyenne loved the water, but wouldn’t get her face wet, so she really liked the bay beaches and even more on a calm surf day. She was a bird-dog, so if she saw a bird, she would probably swim to Delaware to try to get it! I had to keep her on a long leash so she could swim, but so I could reel her in as needed.

So, come to Cape May to enjoy so many dog friendly activities – even in winter. Gee, you may even get lucky and have sea, sand, and snow!

See dates and map of dog-friendly beaches

Good Read Recommendation for the month:

Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan.

This book is worth cuddling up with a warm drink, dog at your feet or in your lap, for a great story of survival, recovery, and strong bonds of love.

The Cherry House

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Cape May Magazine.

Cape May’s streets are lined with beautiful and historic homes, built by notable architects for some of the city’s most influential families. The Cherry House on Hughes Street is an excellent example. Built (supposedly) by notable local Lemuel Leaming in 1849, the Federal-style architecture harkens to a bygone age when Cape May’s thriving tourist trade made the city the “Queen of Seaside Resorts.”

The house, or parts of it, is old for sure. But there are some odd quirks in the old girl’s history. In Cape May, Federal style architecture had mostly given way to Victorian architecture by 1849. And Leaming only owned the property for five months. If he built it, he was a very fast carpenter indeed.

Could the home (or a part of it) have been built before 1849? Is the elegant Federal-style façade just that – a façade – added onto an existing structure? Was the original building used as slave quarters? Like most buildings in Cape May, the Cherry House has been added to, renovated and rehabilitated so many times; it’s difficult to tell what came first and what was added later.

The speculative stories make great conversation, but let’s start with what the research supports. The last slaves in Cape May County were freed in 1823 . The island itself was heavily influenced by Quakers from nearby Salem County, who did not believe in slavery, and the founding Presbyterians in Cape May Point, who were more interested in converts. Servants quarters? Possibly.

The Cherry House is currently the home of Frank and Beth Acker (and maybe a ghost or two), Pennsylvania transplants who bought it in May of 2000. Before that the home belonged to Lois Kulp, who bought the house in 1969 and stayed there until she was in her 90s. Beth Acker tells me that Lois’s family was among the founders of Bucknell University. It seems Lois was very fond of the house, and may have stuck around to make sure it was well cared for.

“Interested in a ghost story?” asked Beth. “Okay. When we bought the house we had issues with doors opening. During our first winter here, we would close the doors of certain rooms to save on heat. Well, we’d find them open all the time. It was only the two of us here and I kept telling Frank to close the doors, but he insisted he was closing them.

“We also heard some noises too, and had some issues with a rocking chair – there was motion in the house. We were going for lunch one day and we closed all the doors – for certain. When we came back all the doors were open. But we just lived with it. In fact a neighbor told us there had been sightings of an elderly gentleman on the steps. But I didn’t pay any attention because I always had a good feeling about the house.

“About a year later we were renovating the kitchen over the winter and we were living in Pennsylvania at the time. We had a friend come and check on the house. He told us the workers were leaving the door open. I called the builder and he said he WAS closing the doors.

“So the workers got really into it and would deadbolt the doors from the inside while they were there. But when they looked back, they’d be open again. This goes on and it gets to be a game.

“Then one day a contractor came in to use the phone. All of a sudden the room got real cold and out from the wall comes the apparition of a little old lady. He went screaming out the back door and never came back. I think it was Mrs. Kulp checking up on us. The workers met up at the C-view later and the guy told that story. But we haven’t had anything since then.”


According to Beth, the name Cherry House comes from the family that owned the house in the 1920s.

“Lucy Bolton-Cherry purchased the house in 1925 and paid $6,000 for it. They stayed for 22 years. But we were interested in researching the early years, before it was named for the Cherry family. We back tracked it to the Revolutionary War.”

The Revolutionary War? Really?

“Well, the property anyway,” said Beth. “Back then Hughes Street was just a cow path on the plantation of Memucan Hughes. Memucan’s son was Israel Hughes, and Israel’s six kids inherited the parcels of land around Hughes Street when he died. Sophia Hughes inherited this lot – what’s currently 637 Hughes Street. She was married to Aaron Bennet and they had six children. She died three years after her inheritance. In March 1849, Lemuel Leaming purchased the lot for $265 and the property at the end of the Street for $164. He sold the property five months later to Samuel and Martha Swain for $300.

There’s a sign in front of the Cherry House, a sort of historic marker, claiming Leaming built the structure.

“If Leaming built this house in the five months he owned the property, well, he was pretty good. Or was there a house already here? Some local historians think the house is older than 1849. But when you go back through all the deeds, they don’t mention houses, just the property,” said Beth.

I asked Beth why she thinks the house is older than 1849.

“Leaming paid $101 more than the lot at the corner and they were the same size. Was there already a building here? I’m not sure. But there must have been something here to make him pay more for it.”

There’s the rub. The house seems compartmentalized, as if successive owners built additions onto the original structure. Different portions of the house are on different levels. The roofline is the same – not one uniform line, but different pitches and different heights. But determining which section of the house is the original is the tough part, since the real estate records from the 1800s didn’t mention the structures, just the lots.

The center of the house, with a large fireplace, is reminiscent of colonial slave quarters, at least the ones at Colonial Williamsburg; just one room, perhaps 20 feet by 10 feet with a big fireplace. Could the center of the house, the section that’s now the dining room, be the original structure, built to house servants?

“This area was a plantation during slave times,” said Beth. “Someone told me that this dining room was the slave quarters. Then as different families acquired it, they added onto it. But that’s all hearsay.”

Frank says the basement indicates there have been many modifications to the house.

“There are three separate parts of the house,” said Frank. “If you look in the basement, there’s a very tiny space in the back, but there’s a full basement under the basement, and then under the front of the house is a crawl space.

It’s the owners of the house in the mid-1800s who most interest the Ackers. James MeCray, who is the listed owner from 1854 until 1892, was a local physician who studied at the University of Pennsylvania and operated the local pharmacy.

“He entered the Navy and served as a surgeon during the Civil War. We actually own some bottles from his pharmacy,” said Beth.

The house passed through several different families, including the Miller family (Jonas Miller built the first Congress Hall) in the 1890s, the Cherry family in the 1920s and ’30s, and several owners in the mid-century. John Heckel, a local dentist, owned it in the 1960s until Lois Kulp purchased it in 1969.

“A woman contacted me a few years ago and told me she was born in this house. Her maiden name was Cherry. Her grandparents owned the house.” said Beth. “Another woman stopped by this summer and told me she was married in this house. Her name was Spect. The Spects owned the home in the late ’50s.”

Like the real estate records of many Cape May homes, the transaction records indicate several $1 transactions throughout the years.

“I don’t understand [that trend],” said Frank. “I don’t know if it was because of bankruptcy or what.”

“There’s one transaction in the deed history where Lucy Cherry sold the house to a man named Hogan for $1 and then bought it back the same day for $1,” added Beth.

The Ackers tell me the windows in the front of the house are original. The porch on the side is now closed to the outside, but was probably open at one time. Frank found an old piece of granite that he thinks was part of an old outhouse. The kitchen was in the back of the house. Beth thinks the kitchen may have been the servants’ dining room. The shutters are working shutters and are numbered so that if they were removed, they could be put back in their proper space.

Today the Cherry House is a comfortable home and is featured on the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts historic home tour. And like all good historic Cape May structures, it’s still in use.

New Year, Old Traditions

sunday dinner recipes, family dinner recipes

It almost seems like a requirement that my January column will be about whatever is perceived to be new, hip and trendy for the New Year. As my brain tried to climb out of its bourbon-laced eggnog induced haze, words such as sustainable green foods, pomegranate boutique vodka martinis and meat glue began to emerge. These thoughts were all pushed aside by an innocent question from my 12-year-old niece Kathryn. “Uncle Persnickety, Whatever happened to Sunday dinner?” She innocently asked. The question hit me like a ton of leftover Christmas fruitcake. It triggered a flood of childhood memories of mouth-watering Sunday afternoon feasts, orchestrated by my mother and grandmother. It also made me realize that somewhere between high-school and entering the real world, Sunday dinner disappeared.

Of course we still eat food on Sundays, but we are more apt to settle for pizza and takeout rather than pot-roast or baked ham. Food has become a spectator sport like the NFL or NBA. We enjoy watching the food network, top chef or Hell’s Kitchen, but the thought of actually picking up a knife or turning on the stove to making real food is just too much of an ordeal for some people. This is a real tragedy. Sunday dinner was never about organic free range chicken or trying to replicate the latest 43 ingredient entrée from the hot celebrity chef of the moment. For me, Sunday dinner was about family and community. These components plus homemade cooking made with hands with the all-natural ingredient of love is what made the food so soul satisfying.

Think about your favorite foods as a child. Now think about ordering those dishes in a fancy restaurant. They never match up to the memory. Macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes have often been given the gourmet treatment by professional chefs, myself included, often with less than stellar results. Food made by loving hands and a person with passion for the ingredients always trumps pedigreed products produced by soulless kitchen staffs. How can we return love and passion to the food?

I think Kathryn has the right idea. Sunday dinner is a good place to start. It is also good that she is cooking at a young age. There is no need to try and cook Julia Child’s recipe catalog from A-Z. The scrambled eggs, French toast and spaghetti she makes now are great dishes to start with. Dishes with a high probability of success will help keep the passion burning. I think cooking one meal a week as a community or family would go a long way in restoring our passion for food and community.

My ideas for a good Sunday meal include spaghetti and homemade meatballs with Caesar salad and garlic bread. The meatballs can be made by all age groups and is a fun hands-on activity. Chicken and dumplings is good cold weather fare that is also simple to make. Fried chicken and macaroni and cheese can help teach kids, and parents, that chicken has shapes other than nugget and that mac-n-cheese doesn’t only come from a blue box. Roast beef, pork or chicken are also good beginner meals to make. Their longer cooking time allows for unhurried making of salads and other side dishes. Mash potatoes are another dish everyone enjoys that can be hands-on fun. From peeling to mashing, it can be a group activity.

Don’t worry if these first-time forays end up with some skin still on the potatoes or lumps. That’s just extra love going into the food. The more often you cook together, the better the food will become.

Yes, Kathryn the traditional Sunday dinner has temporarily disappeared from our kitchens and tables. I am hoping that you and others of your generation can help bring it back. Cooking in the kitchen together as friends and family can be fun. It is those meals and experiences that led me to cooking as a career and lifelong passion. Katherine, let me know when you and I can make Sunday dinner together for the family. The menu is your choice. For everyone else, Sunday dinner is a simple and fun tradition you can begin with the New Year. Start with these easy recipes: Seven Layer Salad, Roast Pork with pan gravy, Scalloped Potatoes, and Berry Cobbler. Until next month, Bon Appétit.

Seven Layer Salad

Served in a footed trifle bow. This recipe is inspired by my mom, who used to make it hours ahead. No, I am not mathematically challenged and yes, there are more than seven layers.

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, cored and torn into medium pieces
  • 1 head romaine, cored torn into medium pieces
  • 12 strips bacon, cooked cooled and diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 6 eggs, hard cooked and diced
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 cups crumbled croutons

The dressing

  • 1½ cups mayo
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp Dijon mustard

Mix dressing ingredients and chill.

To assemble, mix lettuces. Put half on bottom of trifle dish. Alternate half of the remaining ingredients then spread half the dressing in middle layer. Repeat process until bowl is filled. Top with remaining dressing and crumbled croutons.

Roast Pork

  • 1 5-lb pork roast
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp rosemary
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 onions quartered
  • 5 ribs celery
  • 3 carrots split

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line roasting pan with celery, carrots and onion. Place pork roast on top. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper. Spread bread crumb mix on top. Cook until internal temp is 145 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Remove roast to platter to rest. Heat roasting pan with vegetables still in it. Dust with 3 tbsp flour. Stir well. Add 4 cups beef broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes. Strain and serve with pork roast.

Scalloped Potatoes

  • 8-10 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼-inch
  • 12 oz shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 10 scallions, diced

Custard Mix

  • 6 eggs
  • 1½ pints cream

Soak potatoes in custard mix. Layer in 9×11 casserole dish greased with butter. Sprinkle each layer with salt and pepper. Pour remaining custard mix over potatoes. Top final layer with cheddar and bread crumbs. Cover with foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 more minutes.

Berry Cobbler


  • 8 cups mixed frozen berries
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice


  • 1¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 cups Bisquick®

For the top

  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon sugar

Mix well. Let sit 20 minutes. Place in greased cast iron skillet. Mix crust ingredients. Drop onto top of berries. Spread evenly. Drizzle with melted butter and cinnamon sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.