When I received an email from Mason-Dixon VFW Post 7234 Jr. Vice Commander Fulton Loppatto, asking me to highlight the fine work, fine people and fine food of Post 7234, located at the end of Cedar Neck Road on the Indian River Bay at Quillens Point in Ocean View, I had no idea how involved members are, both locally and statewide.
According to Post Commander Michael Grabowski, who is also a teacher at Selbyville Middle School, “VFW Post 7234 is the 19th largest post in the world and is still the largest post in Delaware. We have 1,412 members, with several of our guys in their 90s. We also have members in their 30s and 40s — veterans of the Iraq war.”
Before I tell you about some of the members and the ways they reach out, right up front I need to highlight this weekend’s huge fundraising event sponsored by VFW Ladies’ Auxiliary 7234. This Friday, Aug. 31, the ladies host their annual all-you-can-eat dinner buffet, including fried chicken and lasagna served in a smoke-free dining room, to benefit Cancer Aid and Research.
Tickets are now on sale at $15 each or $25 per couple. Dinner will be served from 6 to 8 p.m., but a full evening of events surrounds the dinner, including a “Chinese auction,” bake sale, handmade items, money wheel, casino games, and music and dancing with Sky Brady from 6 to 10:30 p.m.
The ladies hope to pack the house to raise lots of money for this fine cause. You can purchase tickets at the post or at the door, if they’re not sold out. It would behoove you to call the post at (302) 539-9981 to check on ticket availability.
Congratulations are in order for the Ladies’ Auxiliary. This year, they won many awards, including first place in the State Division, Cancer Aid & Research and Veterans & Family Support and the prestigious Group IV Outstanding Auxiliary Award for President Carole Keller.
This is the first of at least two columns on the VFW — I need extra, because both the men and women shared so many great recipes with me, and I also need room to highlight the varied activities they offer.
So, here’s their Web site address: www.vfw7234.com. Check it out for September’s calendar of events, a list of officers, newsletter, canteen menu, upcoming special events and much more, including an application for veterans of foreign wars to download to join the VFW. New members are desperately needed.
Captain of the Honor Guard Howard Schofield said, “We’re all getting up there in years, and the men at our meeting are extending a plea for new veterans of foreign wars to become members — World War II, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Desert Storm, the Gulf Wars, et al.” He was saddened to report that, “Last year we lost almost 70 members.”
The Honor Guard participates at funerals and memorial services at Delaware Veteran Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro, and because their numbers are dwindling, younger members are desperately needed to continue the tradition of honoring those who have served.
When I visit the Post’s Web site, the calendar gets my first click; I print it and post it on our refrigerator. I don’t have space to print the many events scheduled throughout the week. I will tell you that Wednesday’s Bar Bingo, beginning at 6 p.m., draws a big crowd, and the Tuesday through Friday lunches and Tuesday-night cheesesteak dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. are also well-attended.
In fact, lunch chef Tom Bowen has shared his own recipes, so look for him in an upcoming column. And, by the way, fresh hot crabs are offered every Thursday evening until the end of September. But if you want crabs, you must call by 5 p.m. on Wednesday to place your order (539-9981).
Labor Day is right around the corner. The post will celebrate on Sunday, Sept. 2, with food served from 3 to 5 p.m. and music with Kimosabe Joe from 4 to 8 p.m.
In my next column, I’ll go into greater detail about the ways that both the men and women of Post 7234 travel around the county and the state, visiting veterans in hospitals and nursing homes, and at-home visits, as well.
I’ll also have more room to tell you about other upcoming events, such as November’s Marine Corps birthday celebration, the Bull Roast and Veterans Day activities. And look for a photo of the new gazebo at the edge of the property used for weddings and receptions held at the post. Currently, 20 weddings are on the books.
My husband and I often attend the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch at the VFW, served from 8 a.m. until noon each Sunday through the end of September — a bargain at $9 per adult and $4 for children.
The brunch would be incomplete without George Hickman’s Famous French Toast. George, who is also chairman for the post’s National Home for Children (read more on that in my next column), led me on a tour of his area of the kitchen. He explained his technique for keeping his wares moving, from a double-sided quick dip into the egg mixture and then to the grill.
“The key to serving a large crowd the best French toast during a four-hour event is progressive cooking,” he said. “Don’t cook it too soon, or customers will end up with soggy toast. I wait until the pan is about three-fourths empty before beginning my next batch.”
When I asked George for the “yield” of this ginormous recipe, he smiled.
“Enough to feed an army,” he said.
If you want to do the math to reduce his recipe, go for it! But I think that by using the same ingredients and George’s guidelines, side-by-side with a small-batch recipe, you’ll produce some mighty good French toast.
This past Sunday, when my husband and I went to brunch, we arrived at 11 a.m. George said he’d been at the post since 3:30 a.m. Did you read that right? George and all the other folks (15 to 20 at least) who cook, serve and clean up are volunteers and, on a Sunday morning, George arrives at the post at 3:30 a.m. to provide you and your family with the very best. And he doesn’t just do French toast; he pitches in wherever he’s needed, as do all the volunteers. If you’d like to volunteer, they will welcome you with open arms.
George’s Famous French Toast
? 1-1/2 gallons liquid eggs, at room temperature for one hour before using (If using actual eggs, according to George, plan on cracking 128 eggs.)
? 1/2 cup cinnamon
? 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
? 1/2 cup vanilla extract
? 1/2 gallon milk
? Thick loaves of sourdough bread, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thick slices
? 10-X confectioners’ powdered sugar
Method for French Toast:
Mix liquid eggs, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla; whip this mixture well. Add the milk and whip again.
Taste for sweetness and add more cinnamon, sugar or vanilla, if necessary.
Heat a greased grill or griddle to 350 degrees F. Dip the sliced bread into the mixture; do not soak. Place on grill for 2 minutes on each side. Place toast in a medium-size pan lined with paper towels. Using a sifter, sprinkle slices with confectioners’ sugar. Yield: Enough to feed an army.
Post Service Officer Rick Delaney shares his recipe for Zesty Shrimp Bisque.
Zesty Shrimp Bisque
? 1/4 pound butter (1 stick)
? 1 pound tiny raw shrimp (frozen are fine)
? 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
? 1/2 cup chili sauce
? 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
? A few drops of Tabasco Sauce
? 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
? 1 pint heavy cream
Method for Zesty Shrimp Bisque:
In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add shrimp and cook until pink (avoid scorching). Sprinkle flour over shrimp and blend well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Put the entire mixture into a blender for a few seconds. Heat and serve (do not boil). Yield: 4 servings.
I was glad that I received so many great soup recipes (some are hearty enough to serve as entrees) and many that freeze well. Tina Lambert, a member of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, shares her tasty recipe for Taco Soup. According to Tina, “This makes a huge batch of soup and also freezes well. We often serve it for football parties, and depending on our guest list, I might also add chopped jalapeños.”
? 1-1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef
? 2 cans (16 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
? 2 cans (16 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
? 1 can (16 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
? 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with juice
? 1 can (10 ounces) Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chilies
? 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
? 1 package taco seasoning
? 1 package dry ranch salad dressing mix
? 1 medium onion, chopped
? 1/2 teaspoon salt
? 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
? 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
? 2 cups water
Method for Taco Soup:
In a large soup/stock pan, crumble and brown the ground beef; drain and return to pot. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and simmer the soup for one to two hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Serve with tortilla chips, corn chips or Mexican cornbread. If desired, top with your favorite shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Yield: At least 8 to 10 servings.
I grew up on my mom’s applesauce cake, made in a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan, but Jackie Umstetter’s Applesauce Spice Cake with Raisins has more spices than Mom’s and is larger — baked in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan or a tube pan. I can’t wait to make it.
Applesauce Spice Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
? 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
? 2 cups granulated sugar
? 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
? 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
? 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
? 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
? 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
? 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
? 1/2 cup soft shortening (such as Crisco)
? 1/2 cup water
? 1-1/2 cups applesauce
? 2 eggs (1/2 cup)
? 1 cup raisins
Method for Applesauce Spice Cake
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add the soft shortening, water, applesauce and eggs; beat for two minutes. Fold in raisins. Pour into greased and floured 13-by-9-by-2-inch oblong pan or a tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes for the 13-by-9-inch pan, and 30 minutes if using a tube pan.
Above, I mentioned my mom. She was one very fussy eater. I remember the first time she tried Crab Imperial. We were in her favorite restaurant, the Erin Pub in Norwood, Pa. She ordered her usual fried flounder, but she kept eyeing my Crab Imperial and finally asked for a taste. One taste and she was hooked!
Mom is now Heaven’s Iron Chef, but I believe that she still reads every one of my columns — always my biggest fan. So, when she reads Karen Vitsorek’s recipe for Crab Imperial, I’m sure it will make an appearance on her heavenly table.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
? 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
? 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
? Juice from 1/2 of a fresh lemon
? 6 slices white bread, cubed
? 1/2 cup mayonnaise
? 1/2 cup sour cream
? 2 eggs
? 1/2 teaspoon salt
? 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
? 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
? 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
? 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
? 1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
? 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat
? 1/2 cup melted butter
Method for Crab Imperial:
With a wire whisk, mix Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and lemon juice. Add bread cubes and let sit until all liquid is absorbed. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, eggs, salt, dry mustard, pepper and celery seeds; mix really well. Gently fold in the chives, bell pepper and crabmeat, keeping the lumps of crabmeat from getting too broken up.
Place mixture into a 9-by-5-by-3-inch glass baking dish (loaf pan size). Sprinkle top with paprika and pour on the melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Yield: 4-6 servings.
Ruth Walsh says the gang loves her recipe for Football-Time Stromboli, and not just during football season. “I also serve them for parties. They go quickly!” Plan ahead; the dough must have time to defrost.
Football-Time Stromboli (Three Bolis)
? 1 3-pack frozen bread dough
? 1 pound thinly sliced hard salami
? 1 pound thinly sliced pepperoni
? 1 pound thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
? 1 pound thinly sliced provolone cheese
? 1 beaten egg for glazing dough
? California garlic powder (It’s the best!)
? Flour for rolling dough
Method for Football Time Stromboli:
Place all three loaves in a greased bowl; cover with Saran Wrap that has been sprayed with Pam non-stick spray. Let sit on counter until fully defrosted (usually 2 to 3 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with Pam.
Separate the meats and cheeses into three equal stacks.
Ruth makes one boli at a time. Stretch bread dough a little to loosen up the dough. Flour a flat surface and roll out each bread loaf into a rectangle. Begin layering – cheese, meat, cheese, meat. Brush edges of dough with egg wash; this helps keep the boli together. Roll boli short side to short side. Place on greased baking sheet and glaze with the egg wash; sprinkle boli with garlic powder. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. When the boli is ready, let it rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. These can also be reheated.
While the first boli is baking, get the other two bolis ready. Yield: 3 strombolis.
Pat Stokes’ recipe for German Schnitzel is versatile — use pork cutlets, veal cutlets or chuck steak. “This takes a bit of time to make,” said Pat, “but it’s well worth it.” In my next column, I’ll share her recipe for Marinated Flank Steak.
? Pork cutlets (one per person) (schwine schnitzel), or veal cutlets (wiener schnitzel), or chuck steak (rinder schnitzel)
? Black pepper
? Garlic powder
? All-purpose flour
? 2 eggs beaten in a little milk
? Bread crumbs
? Oil or Crisco shortening
Method for German Schnitzel:
Clean meat, debone and remove as much fat as possible. Pound both sides of meat really hard with a tenderizer until very thin. Mix all of the spices and sprinkle both sides of meat with the mixture. Roll in flour, then dip into egg/milk mixture; roll in bread crumbs. Fry in skillet over medium-high heat with about 1/2 to 1 inch of oil or Crisco. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes per side until golden brown. Top with additional paprika. Drain on paper towels.
At this writing, I have four different kinds of soup in my freezer. I love soup, summer and winter. It’s such a good way to amp up the number of veggie portions in a day. Julie Valcourt’s recipe for Cream of Cauliflower Soup fits those guidelines, because it includes onions, celery, carrots, garlic, potatoes and cauliflower.
“You can use other vegetables,” she said, “but I prefer cauliflower. This makes a huge amount of soup, but it freezes well because there is no cream in the soup to separate when you thaw it.” Julie uses a lot of chicken broth and saves money by purchasing it at the dollar store.
Cream of Cauliflower Soup
? 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
? 1 large onion, chopped
? 2 stalks celery, chopped
? 2 carrots, chopped
? 4 cloves garlic, chopped
? 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
? 2 cartons (32 ounces each) chicken broth
? 5 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
? 1 head cauliflower, separated into flowerettes and chopped
? Salt and pepper to taste
Method for Cream of Cauliflower Soup:
Sauté onion, celery, carrots and garlic in butter or oil for approximately 3 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn. Add flour and continue to stir for approximately 1 minute. Add the chicken broth to this mixture and then add the chopped potatoes and cauliflower; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. In batches, blend the soup in a blender container until creamy smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Yield: At least 10 to 12 servings.
Look for more information about VFW Post 7234 in my next column, along with many more great recipes.
(Editor’s note: If you have recipes to share, or recipes you want, contact Marie Cook, Coastal Point, P.O. Box 1324, Ocean View, DE 19970; or by email at ChefMarieCook@gmail.com. Please include your phone number. Recipes in this column are not tested by the Coastal Point.)