By Margaret McCormick
Do you know an excellent home cook from Central New York who is 55 or older? Nominate him or her for this feature! Email details, including contact information, to Margaret McCormick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Moyer is the main cook in his household these days, but that hasn’t always been the case.
For a long time, Moyer’s husband, Lester Allen, had more time to cook — but it wasn’t his favorite thing to do. “He’s a good cook, but preparing a meal is a chore to him,’’ Moyer explains. “He does it well, but for him it’s just following the required steps, it’s not a joy or hobby. He sees no benefit in learning more about the process, methods, combinations, aspects of flavors, colors and textures. For me, I’ve less time, but I’ve more curiosity about all that, and concern for nutritionally balanced meals. Like much in our relationship, it easily and organically evolves over time.’’
Over the last year, Allen, 80, has been challenged with memory loss and other health issues, so Moyer, 67, has assumed more of the meal preparation and cooking. And that’s fine with him.
Moyer’s position as a licensed associate real estate broker with Hunt Real Estate keeps him busy, so weeknight meals are fairly simple — something with a green salad, usually, and something that gives him leftovers to work with. He also takes advantage of prepared store-bought entrees and adds a salad or a vegetable slaw. On weekends, and as he and Allen get back in the habit of entertaining small groups of friends and family — safely — Moyer gets a bit more adventurous and creative.
Moyer and Allen live in DeWitt and enjoy travel and outdoor activities whenever possible.
How did you learn to cook? “A combination of watching others, watching cooking shows, my natural curiosity and enjoying books about the chemistry of food. Inspiration also comes from enjoying new foods prepared by others, or ethnic restaurants … but more than anything else, I’d say it’s the classic necessity being the mother of invention. You do what you have to do when dinnertime comes and learn to do at least a little planning ahead of time.’’
How would you describe your cooking style? “Eclectic, sporadic, but rarely exotic would be the best description. I stay away from baking, that would be too dangerous, resulting in an expanding waistline.”
What’s your favorite thing to cook on a weeknight? “A fresh green salad is almost always part of dinner, often soups in winter… and anything else, often with chicken protein included somewhere. Many things can be cooked in quantities that allow for leftovers, which we enjoy, either as a repeat or dressed up in a different way, or freezing portions for another time.”
What do you like to cook when family or friends come over? “Last summer, outdoor dining was the safe way to enjoy a small group of friends and family. I took full advantage of all the prepared dishes, such as lasagna, available for purchase at places like Costco, and would prepare a large salad such as chopped kale or a slaw ahead. All those already prepared or pre-prepared items, as well as having an hors d’oeuvre ready beforehand, minimized time in the kitchen away from company safely outdoors. Asking guests to bring, when circumstances allow, a dessert or some part of dinner, also makes entertaining others easy to accomplish.”
What have you been cooking during the pandemic? “I thought I would be expanding my range and trying more things, but that hasn’t happened yet. Keeping fresh, often seasonal fruits and vegetables at home has been a priority.”
What’s your favorite recipe resource? “Like many of us folks ‘of an age’ who had a full life before the internet age, complete with shelves of cookbooks, we have a drawer full of pages of recipes ripped from magazines and also handwritten ones. An internet search is always easy, I do that as often as I look through a printed cookbook.”
Where do you like to shop? “Wegmans, as an experience, including pleasant and helpful staff, has always been tough to beat. Yet during the pandemic, the joy of seeing and talking with so many folks you bump into was greatly diminished. Aldi’s, especially with the recent remodel of the stores, and Trader Joe’s are both easy to get in and out of early in the day, without big crowds, offer interesting and compelling choices and are often a better value.”
Do you know an excellent home cook from Central New York who is 55 or older? Nominate them for this feature! Email details, including contact information, to Margaret McCormick at email@example.com.
Photo: Steve Moyer (left) holding a homemade dessert he cooked, “Terrine of Summer Fruits.” Next to him is his husband Lester Allen.
Steve Moyer’s Favorite Dessert
Terrine of Summer Fruits
Recipe from Delia Online (www.deliaonline.com)
12 ounces small strawberries
8 ounces raspberries
12 ounces black currants, red currants and blueberries (4oz., or mix-and-match as you like!)
15 fluid ounces sparkling rosé wine or white grape juice
2 ounces sugar
2 packages (0.4 oz.) gelatin powder
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 non-stick loaf pans, 2 pounds
(7½ by 4¾ by 3½ inches deep)
Note: It is necessary to add part of the liquid after the mold has set to avoid over-filling and spilling the bottom layer when you weigh it down with the second pan. Weighing it down makes it easier to slice!
At serving time: Turn out the terrine by dipping the tin very briefly in hot water and inverting it onto a plate. Use a very sharp knife (first dipped in hot water) to cut the terrine into slices. Serve the terrine with a drizzle of heavy cream or with yogurt, if desired.
Remove any stems and stalks from fruit. If the strawberries are large, cut them in half or in quarters. Then mix the fruits together in a large bowl, being very gentle to avoid bruising them.
In a small saucepan, heat half the rosé wine or grape juice until it begins to simmer, then whisk the sugar and gelatin into it. Make sure that everything has dissolved completely before adding the remaining wine or grape juice and the lime juice. Then pour the liquid into a jar or pitcher and allow it to cool.
While the mixture cools, lay the mixed fruit in one of the loaf pans. Arrange the bottom layer with the smallest, prettiest-shaped fruit as this will be on top when the terrine is turned out.
Next, pour all but 5 fluid ounces of the wine or juice mixture over the fruit. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the mixture in the loaf pan. Place the other pan directly on top, then put two unopened canned goods to weigh down the top pan (see note at left).
Put the whole lot into the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until the fruit-gelatin mixture has set.
When set, warm the remaining juice mixture and pour it over the surface of the terrine. Re-cover with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator overnight to set firm.