by Anne Kingsbury

For the Dishwashers

All things are one

If heart delight

in working, if hands

join the world right.

Wendell Berry, 1982

after noon meal and 

before Woodland Pattern reading

Food and meals with performers have always been a big part of Woodland Pattern. Honoring our writers with home cooked food became a tradition; partly because we couldn’t afford to take people out to dinner and partly because it seemed a more direct gift to prepare the food oneself. In the beginning from 1979 to 1988, all the visiting writers, musicians and performers stayed in homes with Woodland Pattern staff or volunteers – most often with Karl and myself.  We served over a thousand dinners, lunches, breakfasts and after-performance receptions.


Coffee (or tea) in the morning became my favorite part of the visits.  (Bathrobes and pajamas have a tendency to make a person more relaxed.)  At the beginning, I didn’t know enough to worry about more than making a prereading or performance meal which was often shepherds pie, roast chicken or some kind of soup. Conversation became the seasoning,  and most people ate second helpings.  I learned to ask about food restrictions after Clark Coolidge confessed he was allergic to nuts just as we were sitting down to chicken with peanut sauce.  (Luckily, there always is something else in the fridge.)   


bp Nichol read classic mysteries and introduced me to Edmund Crispin’s Moving Toyshop.  Joan LaBarbara was a Trekie, Malcolm Goldstein swallowed an overly paprikaed Tuna pot pie (which was so hot it was almost unedible) with grace and charm: “hmmmm – really (gasp) unusual and …. ah… good.”  I can remember John Giorno marching animal crackers across his peppermint ice cream.  Ronald Johnson, saying kindly facing the unknown cook, “ I really don’t eat much before a reading”, then having multiple helpings. (“Oh, you use an egg in that pie crust..”) Lyn Hejinian after her reading, trying to find a food that did NOT go with the peanut chicken sauce (ice cream, bread, apples, celery, crackers)  


Here are three recipes that have been popular over the years (be sure to check for allergies!)  


Karl Young’s Chinese Chicken and Peanut Sauce

Boil 2 #chicken breasts with a slice or two of ginger, 1 Tbsp. rice wine and a green onion until done.  Cut chicken and chop lettuce. 

Mix together:    4-5 Tbsp peanut butter 

5 Tbsp. peanut oil

4 Tbsp each, soy sauce and sugar

4 tsp. white Chinese vinegar

1 tsp. sesame oil

cayanne pepper to taste  (3/4 tsp.)

2 Tbsp minced green onion


Pour sauce over chicken and lettuce or rice.


Jack Gazdick’s Fish Chowder 

(Jack was my high school physics teacher.  He was well known for summer cook-outs and woodtick races.)


This is best made with fillets of panfish with the side bones cut out and then cut into chunks.  (I use anything.)


2 cups of fish chunks 2 medium onions diced small

4 Tsp butter 2 medium potatoes diced _”

2 slices bacon cut into 1/8” pieces

2 carrots sliced thin 1 tsp/ salt

black pepper to taste 1 _ cups of fresh milk

_ cup frozen corn 1 cup celery finely chopped


Saute onion and celery in 1 Tbs. butter then add potatoes, bacon,carrotsandcorn.  Simmer in 2 cups water (add water till carrots are tender).  Add milk (don’t boil or it will curdle) and add the rest of the butter and fish.  Bring to ALMOST a boil, take off heat and let it sit till you can’t wait any longer, then eat.  (I now add _ cup Penski Spice House chipdip seasoning to the chowder when the milk is added – seems to make it richer in flavor.)  Leroy Jenkins especially enjoyed this chowder.



Phoenix Street Café Fruit cobbler, South Haven, Michigan

The owner of the Café bakes her own deserts and was very generous in sharing this recipe.  If you are ever in South Haven, treat your self – it serves splendid meals.


(you can use sour cherries, peaches, blueberries, rasberries, etc.)


Spread 6 cups of fruit in a well greased 9 x 13 pan.


Mix: 2 cups flour

1 _ cup sugar

1 cup  milk

2 tsp. baking powder

_ tsp. salt

1/3 cup soft butter or oleo


Beat till smooth.  Batter will be thick.  Spoon and spread over fruit to the edges so that all the fruit is covered with batter. Set aside.


Mix together: 1 _ cup sugar

2 Tbs.corstarach

_ tsp. salt.

Sprinkle over batter evenly.

Pour 1 _ cups boiling water over all and bakeat 350 for 1 hour.