Friday, June 9, 2006

Keep it simple, stupid

Learn the secrets to living 'la vida Adirondack'

Express Staff Writer

Phebe Thorne

The Adirondack Mountains in northeastern New York state are a gorgeous collection of lakes, rivers, hills and camps and have inspired an original American style. Like the American West, the area is also much copied. But who gets it right, and what the heck is it anyway, other than those cool, slatted, sloped chairs?

Phebe Thorne, who lives in Sun Valley half the year and in Keen Valley in the Adirondacks the other half, has written a cookbook that doubles as an Adirondack lifestyle reader. Mind you, "Camp Cooking in the Adirondacks" is no pretty, coffee-table book. Though attractive, it is more of a book to actually put to good use in your kitchen.

Just to whet your whistle, consider some of these recipes: Poached Salmon with Hollandaise, Chicken Hash, Moussaka, Yorkshire Pudding, Crab Cakes, Crème Br√ûlée and Floating Island. Despite sounding like strenuous chores, these recipes, which happen to be some of my favorite dishes, show how surprisingly simple the book is to understand and use.

Thorne admonishes to always remember the keep-it-simple-stupid method, KISS. Intermixed with recipes, there are actual menus, shopping lists for a weekend of guests, small tidbits of history and personal experience. She also suggests what you can do with leftovers.

Thorne comes to the life of the Adirondacks through family. Her "Grandaddy" bought The Uplands, an Adirondacks "camp" in 1922 from its original owner. Her mother arrived there as Grandaddy Thorne's son's fiancée in 1938, eventually buying Uplands from Grandaddy's estate in 1965. Thorne inherited the historical lodge in 2000. She and her husband, Paul Wilcox, spend every summer there. It's a grand, shingle-style summer cottage in the old sense of the word with servants' quarters (though servants no more), big porches, huge living and dining areas, decks, stairways, old wooden furniture, bird prints and wicker furniture.

The inspiration for the book came to Thorne when a friend greeted her at a dinner party and wondered how she'd done all the cooking when she was out rowing on the lake all day.

Inspired, Thorne collected the recipes she'd gathered through the years and began compiling "Camp Cooking in the Adirondacks." One of her first secrets is to be organized ahead of time and to set the table early in the morning.

"The book translates well to any resort community where you want to be out all day and still have time to present a very wholesome meal and enjoy your guests," Thorne said. "It's also for a family who are working all day, and still want to sit around together for a meal."

Raised in New Haven, Conn., she is now "a happy transplant," she said. A longtime resident of Manhattan where she raised her three children, Thorne was a New York City Environmental Control Board judge, worked in the New York state Legislature and was supervisor of nursing at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.


Book Signing:

· "Camp Cooking in the Adirondacks" with author Phebe Thorne.

· 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, June 11.

· Chapter One Bookstore, Main Street, in Ketchum.

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