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A Belgian Picnic Confab with The Naptime Chef

Introducing the wonderful Kelsey MacMillan Banfield

A shout out to someone we adore and admire!

We have known Kelsey, the Naptime Chef creator, since   she was a Cooperstown teenager.  Her parents own a  historic house (with the most enchantingly beautiful       walled garden imaginable) across the street from the         little River Street cottage that served as our HQ while Brewery Ommegang was being built. Kelsey first         babysat for our daughter Claire.  Later she became a favorite intern at Vanberg & DeWulf  and the brewery.

 

 

Ruth's Classic Book on Belgian cookingPost college, off she went to launch a career in the development and non-profit worlds. Kelsey married Duncan. Then baby Daphne arrived. Being a resourceful, enterprising, self-possessed Emma Willard grad…instead of returning to a corporate office, Kelsey launched a business from home – one that permits plenty of self-expression and time with her young daughter and husband. Naptime Chef is not only a popular syndicated blog (for foodies who don’t want to give up cooking and eating well with a baby in the house), it is about to be a book. Running Press intends to debut it in time for Mothers’ Day 2012.

Kelsey and I exchanged emails this morning as she sped her way on the Acela bound for Philadelphia. The photo shoot for the book is taking place there this week. On board with Kelsey… 3 jars of  her Dad’s pickles, 2 quarts of Blueberry Pie Filling and a giant jar of granola.  We can’t wait to see the book & really appreciate that she’s devoting posts this week to our Belgian beer and cooking with beer collaboration.

Our Belgian Bookshelf

We started talking about the Belgian cooking theme this spring. Naturally that sent me to our cookbook collection. (Nach Waxman at Kitchen Arts & Letters has said we have the largest collection of books on Belgian cooking in America). Not that we have a ton of competition in that category…..Anyway we decided to illustrate this week’s posts with a smattering of covers of these well- loved books. They have been our constant companions wherever we’ve lived. Here’s to Bemelmans,Chantraine, Colau, David, Elkon, Hazelton,  Gordon & Shirley, Morleghem, Blais & Plisnier whose recipes and approaches to the art of gastronomy have inspired  more Belgian beer dinners across America for nigh on thirty years than they could possibly imagine.

For a taste of Kelsey’s fluid writing style read on….

“In the two summers, and several school vacations, I worked at V&DeW I learned all about the fantastic world of mussels and frites, real waffles, Axel Vervoordt, artisanal cheeses and chocolates, Tin-Tin, and, of course, Belgian-style home cooking. In fact, my first day From Don & Wendy's Belgian bookcaseof work Wendy handed me a copy of Ruth’s book, Everybody Eats Well in Belgium, and my parent’s and I cooked from it, exclusively, for two months straight. The whole experience was a little strange for me at first, having listened to everyone wax poetic about France and it’s culinary treasures I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Belgium. I mean, why had I never heard much about this country? Did it want to be ignored? It turns out that the country of Belgium is just very small which is why people seem to have an easier job dismissing it then, say, Italy or Spain. But, I can attest, Belgium is packed with cultural treasures and talented people, it deserves it’s share of the spotlight. http://www.thenaptimechef.com/2009/06/napping-in-belgium-sunday-dinner-series_798/

What has Belgian beer got to do with The Naptime Chef, an all girls’ school Jane Fonda attended, and fair trade?  Permit us a digression

Kelsey (with a strong assist from her mom and dad) is directly responsible for making sure Claire went to Emma Willard, her alma mater, and a super-duper all girls’ school in upstate NY.  Our mutual commitment to Emma is what has kept us in touch in recent years. We have both served on the board. We have all (Claire taking the lead here) been active in sustainable issues at the school. Want to know what kind of  school this is? It recently became the first Fair Trade high school in the nation. We had absolutely nothing to do with this development. It was all the girls’ own efforts, but we are mighty proud of them and the school:  http://news.change.org/stories/introducing-the-first-fair-trade-high-school-in-america

Next up:   Kelsey’s picnic and some background our friend Ruth Van Waerebeek (author of Everybody Eats Well in Belgium) and yet one more Cooperstown connection. We’ll be reposting our exhaustive compendium of recipes on the blog soon. Promise!