« December 2009 | Main | February 2010 »

5 posts from January 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Memories of the Olney Inn


I have memories.  Memories from my teenage years when in 1974 my father purchased The Olney Inn in Olney, Maryland.  It was a wonderful place to dine and had been a staple of success in Olney since 1926 when Clara May Downey opened the restaurant with 3 tables.  Dignitaries, Congressman, and Presidents and their families dined in the beautiful Olney Inn.  The ambiance was spectacular and so were the rum buns.  You couldn't have a meal without sinking your teeth into our chef "Mr. Bill's" famous rum buns.  That wasn't the only meal that was famous.  And if you are lucky, I might share a recipe or two with you here.



I recall riding the school bus home from high school and being dropped off in front of the Inn where I would study in the Fireside room and then help out with the salad bar or the coat closet or seating guests.  It was how I earned a little extra money during my teen years.  I even helped my mother make the costumes that the waitresses wore.  My father and mother chose the pattern for the long historic dresses the waitresses wore.  My problem was that I liked them all and wanted a change of pattern.  I couldn't settle for one dress and be satisfied with it.  I had to have at least 5 dresses for a different change every day of the week.  I know - spoiled, but my mother taught me how to sew and then she helped me make my own dresses.  In some cases, I purchased my own fabric with my own money.  I think that was the moment I realized just how much I loved to sew.



The Olney Inn was the first place I went on my first date.  Oh, that was something.  I was worried and nervous about everything, from the way I looked to the way I ate in front of this boy I had an eye for.  I was 15 years old and the boy was Matthew K.  I discovered Matthew loading groceries at the Giant Food Store next door to the Inn.  I would make excuses to run to Giant to get something for the kitchen.  We had dinner at the Inn, and I recall spilling something onto my lap.  I was mortified, but he had a good dinner and we were treated by my father to the best table for two by the window in the main dining room. It was beautiful, but I was too nervous to notice.  That night, as Matthew drove me home, I squirmed.  He reached over and held my hand and I felt fire going through my veins and thought I would faint right there in his car.



He pulled up in front of our home in Brookeville, told me to stay seated, and he walked around the car and opened my door, treating me like a lady and making me feel special.  He walked me to my door and he kissed me.  I felt my knees go weak.  I had never been kissed before! 



Yes, the Olney Inn holds many memories for me.  Some good and some bad.  I did a bit of dating at the Olney Inn. That is where I met Alberto.  He played the accordion in the Fireside room and had a bit of a "thing" for me by the time I was 17.  He asked me out, but we both knew that my father would not approve, so we snuck a date here and there in private.  You see, Alberto was 17 years older than I.  But boy was he a hunk of burnin' love back then.  All the women swooned over Alberto.  I felt pretty incredible that he only wanted me.  When my father found out about me seeing Alberto, he was pissed, and every time he didn't know where I was he sought out Alberto.  Both of my brothers were after him too.  I can't say that I blame them, really, especially now that I am a parent too.  Eventually, Alberto sat down with my father in the main dining room of the Olney Inn and asked if he could marry me.  My father's response? - "You're Fired!"  Alberto left, and eventually we broke up.  I wasn't really dating him.  I just thought he was fun.  Would you believe that Alberto and I are still friends?  We are.  He lives in Virginia, and for a while there, while Big Bear and I were living in Woodbine, Maryland, he would visit and bring the children donut holes from Dunkin Donuts. 



I grew into a young woman during those family Olney Inn years.  I'll never forget them.  I had a favorite meal there too.  8oz Sirloin Steak on toast with french fries and rum buns.  To this day, when we go out and I order a steak, I order a sirloin steak (or NY Strip) with white toast unbuttered and fries.  It's the best ever.  You should try it.  Take a bite of steak and then take a bite of toast.  Yum.

The bad memories - there were a lot of bad memories. A lot of hanky panky goin' on at the Olney Inn.  A lot of oversexed employees I suppose spending way too much time together.  That's all I'll say about that thank you very much.



It was 1978.  My father was wanting to move on to other things in his life.  He had always been active in real estate and politics and had burned the bridges you might say of restaurant ownership.  He did a wonderful job of rebuilding the Olney Inn, but we couldn't really afford it any longer.  In March, 1978, my father was preparing to go to settlement to sell the Inn.  He hated doing it but knew that it was something we had to do.  He was devastated into a stroke after that tragic day and was never the same.  He died just a few years later in 1980 at the tender age of 55. 



The Inn burned down just an hour before settlement was to take place.  He wanted to make sure that the Inn would be preserved and he had had it placed on the Historical Society's preservation list.  The people who wanted to buy the Inn wanted to tear it down and my father flatly refused.  The day it burned down, 2 men in suits walked briskly into the Inn.  My brother, Mike, asked if he could help them and they didn't respond.  Instead, they walked into the Fireside room and looked around some more, saying nothing, they left as quickly as they had come into the Inn.  My brother thought that was odd.  An hour or so later, an employee at the Olney Barn Shop next to the Inn ran into the front door and exclaimed "The Inn is on fire!  Come quickly!  Call 911!"  My brother grabbed the fire extinguisher and ran outside only to see the entire side of the Inn in flames.  He quickly ran inside and called 911 and escorted the guests outside.  People helped gather antiques and all that could be saved and threw it onto the front lawn - all before the fire overtook the entire Inn.  My father stood on the front lawn in tears grasping his chest.  His insurance had lapsed an hour prior to the fire.  The insurance, instead, had been transferred to the people who were scheduled to purchase the Inn.  My father got nothing, but the people who were going to purchase the Inn walked away with over $700,000 dollars and decided not to buy the Inn - leaving my father, and our family in ruins.  It changed us forever. 

A few months later, we had a purchaser for the property where the Inn once stood.  Next thing we knew, the Sandy Spring Bank was building their main office onto the property.  For years, the Sandy Spring Bank had wanted to build where the Olney Inn stood.  I often wonder if the bank had something to do with the fire.  I'm only saying.  I'm not accusing.  It was arson. This is simply my opinion, that's all.

My father passed away in December, 1980.  He was 55 years old.  It was that fire that sent his health and blood pressure over the edge. 

Ultimately, it has been the good memories that I hold onto.  Memories of first dates and first kisses.  Memories of music and important guests.  Memories of seeing a boyfriend walk through the 2 sets of double-doors to my surprise.  I felt tingling up and down my spine every time I had an unexpected visitor and was working at the Inn.  Those were special times. Memories of rum buns and 8oz steak sandwiches.  Memories of Chef Mr. Bill.

I do feel sorry for the poor guy who was talking to me at the coat closet one evening.  His hair caught on fire from the candle sconce next to the coat closet.  We put out the fire to his hair, but I don't think he ever returned.  I can't say that I blame him really.

Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' with it.  My walk down memory lane.

Now for several of the Olney Inn recipes:




Serves approximately 6

4 cups canned sweet potatoes, mashed
1 orange, juice and zest of the rind
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet sherry
2 egg whites beaten stiff
1 orange for slicing
chopped walnuts for topping


Combine first 6 ingredients in a 2-quart bowl, add salt and pepper to taste and pour into a 10-inch square baking pan and dribble with melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and serve, topping each scoop with a thin orange slice and chopped walnuts.

Would you like to have this recipe?  Just click on the recipe box below and print it off for your favorite recipe collection:



* * * * *





In 1926, Clara May Downey opened the Maryland Olney Inn in Olney, Maryland in the original Farquhar home, with 3 tables. It soon became "the place to go and dine" and was frequented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It burned in 1978 in spite of 18 pieces of equipment and more than 100 firefighters. What remains are a few treasured items, some dishes and antiques, and some cherished recipes that are simple, elegant, and delicious.


40 min | 20 min prep







  1. Place crabmeat in large bowl, after removal of cartilage and shell.
  2. Mix mayonnaise, pimento, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and Tabasco together.
  3. Pour over crabmeat and toss GENTLY, not to break lumps.
  4. Divide crabmeat between 8 shell-shaped baking dishes.
  5. Top each shell with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise.
  6. Sprinkle with paprika.
  7. Place baking shells on shallow baking pan (jelly roll type).
  8. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.
  9. Garnish with sprig of parsley, or cross 2 strips of pimento.


Would you like to have this recipe?  Just click on the recipe box below and print it off for your favorite recipe collection:



* * * * *

And, saving the best for last ...


Rum buns with glaze


This will take about 5-6 hours to prepare and worth every minute.

This recipe will make enough for 24 people so ya better have a party!

The Olney Inn was famous for its Rum Buns.  Hogates and a few other flagship restaurants in Maryland adopted the famous rum buns for serving their guests.  This recipe for sweet rum-flavored buns with raisins and cinnamon and topped with a sugary glaze is taken from an old Olney Inn recipe book. This yields 2 dozen buns but you can cut the recipe in half if you want.  The best thing about it is that you can easily freeze the buns and then heat them up for a delicious breakfast with coffee.

3 hours | 2½ hours prep

SERVES 24 , 2 dozen



2 pounds all-purpose flour PLUS ...
1 ounce all-purpose flour
6 ounces granulated sugar
5 ounces raisins
4 ounces vegetable shortening
4 ounces butter (unsalted, room temperature)
2 tablespoons grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground bakers cinnamon
1 ounce table salt
1 cup water (100 degrees F)
4 ounces fresh yeast
1 cup pasteurized or fresh eggs
2 ounces rum extract
1 cup whole milk

***Cinnamon-Sugar Mix***

2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup sugar


1 cup water
1/2 cup rum extract
6 ounces granulated sugar


2 ounces rum extract
2 ounces light corn syrup
1 ounce unsalted butter (melted)
12 ounces confectioners sugar


In a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook, combine all dough ingredients.

Mix for 20 minutes until dough is smooth, place on floured tray and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Then refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Flour work surface and roll dough out 4 inches by 20 inches. Brush with melted butter (not in above ingredients) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix as needed.

Roll dough strips tightly together. With knife, cut into sections three fingers wide and place in greased (not in above ingredients) muffin pans.

Place a towel over the buns and proof them (let them rise until double in size.takes between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the temperature of the room). Then bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Turn pans occasionally for even baking. Remove from oven and brush with glaze immediately. Cool for at least 10 minutes, then coat with icing before serving.

Would you like to have this recipe?  Just click on the recipe box below and print it off for your favorite recipe collection:


Enjoy!  Now go and make some memories of your own and cook up some good fixins' with these recipes!


Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer





Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Take a Stroll with Me Through Charlotte

Have you ever just gotten in your car and driven around your city, or out in the country - enjoying the scenery?  Well, Big Bear and I did just that last weekend and we had a nice time driving around Charlotte.  Old Charlotte.  Historical Charlotte.  It was beautiful.  It reminded us of why we love living here.  The city of Charlotte is a clean city, unlike most of Baltimore that wasn't very pretty. 

Enjoy the drive with us as we share with you the homes of Charlotte, just on the outskirts of the city...



I love the homes.



And the mature trees.



And the beautiful tree-lined streets.  Even in winter they are beautiful.



The homes have character.



And charm.  Doesn't this look like a house where your grandmother might live?



On the other hand, we also saw homes like this.  I wouldn't want to have to clean the windows.  I do love the entrance though.



It was the community side streets throughout the city that caught my attention. 



And the homes of Charlotte that give it its character.



Southern charm.  Everything about the homes and their surroundings here speak of old Southern charm.



Just beautiful don't you think?  Those bands you see around the trees protect them from some kind of worms I think.



Even the smaller homes have multiple fireplaces and distinct Southern personality.



Big Bear really liked this house. 



Naaah.  This is more my style.



I do believe this house is for sale.  A bit too big and ostentatious for my taste.  I'll bet it is beautiful on the inside, though.



Big Bear had his eye on the English tudors throughout Charlotte.



I thought this house was really neat. 



All the streets had charm and distinction.



And big homes.



And Southern homes straight out of Gone with the Wind.



And homes that almost say "won't you come in and have a cup of coffee with me?"



And others that say "you won't get past the great danes hiding in the bushes so don't even try."



We really enjoyed the drive around Charlotte.



And looking at all the lovely homes.  They are all so well kept.



And the landscaping is inspiring too.



Isn't this gorgeous?  Now see... I just love this house.  There is just something about it I really like.



And as we were driving, we came up upon one of the largest homes in the communities surrounding Charlotte.



And on the front porch of that home, you can sit comfortably in the porch rocker and read the morning paper with your cup of coffee.



And roam the gorgeous gardens.



And that home is the Duke Mansion. Duke.  As in Duke University Duke.  Yeah, that Duke.  And yes, this is one big honker of a Southern Plantation.



And as we turned a few corners, we headed into downtown Charlotte.



With its high rise views



And clean city streets.  But then, I was tired, and all I wanted to do was ...



go home. 



Where the bluebirds visit.



And the deer roam freely.



And the Barred Owl in our back yard whoooots all night long.



Home - beautiful even without any landscaping across the front.



Beautiful in winter when we get the occasional snow that makes its way over the mountains and into our frontier.

Yes, I love Charlotte.  But the best part of living here is always - coming home.



Monday, January 25, 2010

Is there Hope for Haiti?


 "What Else Can I Do" by Karla Anderson

Add natural disaster to poverty, despair, homelessness, and hunger, disease, and being orphaned, and you might just get a twinge of the helplessness the world feels in trying to reach out to the people of Haiti.  What we have begun to feel as helplessness, though, is not hopeless.  The images are truly amazing and heart-wrenching - if not altogether miraculous.  A small child smiling and hurling his arms as wide as the world itself.  A teenage girl being pulled from the rubble after more than 8 days motionless and without food or water under a barrage of concrete.  A precious 15-day old baby crying and recovering from head injuries.  There is a God - a good and loving God, even in the quake of despair you feel His presence - as angels from around the world reach out, feed, hold, hug, cry, grasp, care for, and pray for the living, and the souls of those who lost their lives and were never afforded a proper burial.  It breaks my heart to pieces.

Haiti8This past week we have all been deluged with images that make us - to some degree - no matter how small or how large - take a deep breath, tense up our jaws, and want to catch the next plane to Haiti to help.  I have found myself overcome with grief for a people that I didn't give a second thought to before last week's earthquake, not so much because I didn't care because I do, but mostly because I, like many of us, found myself preoccupied with my family, our life, our own troubles.  What could I possibly do to make a difference in another part of this world?  And it brought me back in my mind to the images of the aftermath of the 2004 quake beneath the Indian Ocean that resulted in a Tsunami so devastating along the coastal communities of Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Indonesia as to have swept away over 250,000 lives in nearly a blink of an eye.  Or, more emotionally - to the images of September 11th that left nearly 3000 innocent souls at the gates of death, and thousands more grief-stricken and scarred for life.  However, 9/11 was created by evil and hatred, Satan himself showing his cunning presence in our world - not by natural disaster.  

Boy with ArmsWhat frightens me is knowing that the stories and images of war and natural disaster will desensitize our children by overexposing them to scenes of cruelty, violence, and suffering.  Should we feel shock and distress? Absolutely.  We are not expendable.  We are human.  In a world filled with so much negative, how can we find the positive?  Are human beings on the other side of the world or the other side of the street of such little significance when compared to an overall purpose as to be abandoned and ignored?

My friend, Charlie Pratt, recently wrote: "There are lots and lots of other pressing problems in the world. There are plenty of things to compare it to, reasons that will keep you from sharing your blessings with those who have less.  And yes, there are liars in the world, corrupt politicians, greedy businessmen, shady clergymen, drug dealers, thieves, and the rest. A sinner’s buffet, around us all the time. These things anger us, threaten to distract us from the fact that the helpless are dying.  Down in Haiti, right now, there teems the cruel result of the juxtaposition of extreme poverty, despair, and natural disaster. Insult to injury. A speedier death to those already dying. A fast-forward to a living hell.

Haiti7.jpgThis isn’t a guilt trip. This is a heaviness. It’s part of you too. Give yourself a moment to feel it. Allow yourself the gift of sharing the burden with them. It’s a heaviness there, crushing these people, these fellow humans into dust."

We do need to feel it - down to the core of our being.  We need to feel the grip of their suffering and let it grip at our heart so that we reach out and help.  Why?  Because there is an angel in all of us, and nothing in this world feels quite so remarkable as helping, giving, sharing, caring, and loving another with no thought of recompense.

Please give to the people of Haiti.  Please reach out to help.  And then, when you have done all you believe you can to help the people of Haiti, give something to your neighbor.  Reach out to a friend, a stranger, or a family member.  Live with a forgiving heart and a sensitive soul.  Our time on this earth is precious and short, and we should treasure each other who share this world with us.  Cleanse your soul of Haiti12  hate and regret, bitterness and judgment.  Find God's presence and goodness in your own heart and make a difference - today, tomorrow - this year and in this lifetime.  If we all, or even just a few more of us, tried to understand and care for our fellow man, this world would be a glorious heaven on earth in which to live for us all.

There is Hope for Haiti (and our world) - and it begins with you - and me, today.

Please Give.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Why Men Need Trucks


My brother Bill.  Oh, he's funny, very entertaining, and I miss him something awful since he lives in Florida and I live in North Carolina.  And, like my Big Bear, he has been out of work since September 2008, so they share a lot of stories, and have a bit more time on their hands to do yard work.  Unfortunately, Bill does not own a truck, so he wings it - those trips to the dump and so on that require a man's truck - leaving him no other choice but to use his car.

Just this past weekend, Bill decided to prune his palm trees, and as he wrote in his email to me ...

Susan -
The frick'n palm trees we inherited next to our house grow 3 feet a night in summer.
Attached is a photo of a few "palms" I needed to unload at the dump after
a light pruning on Saturday morning.....
Think I need a truck?
Your brother...

So, imagine how humored I was when I saw this picture:


Hey Bill - 

Nice ornamentation you got goin' on there.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Unemployment and my Mother


At breakfast this morning, we determined that my mother was single-handedly responsible for the current economic climate and unemployment. 

You see, during breakfast - Bob was cooking (isn't he a honey), and the rest of us were sitting around the table eating and getting on each other's nerves when the phone rang.  After digging through all the model airplanes strung across the kitchen table trying to find the portable phone, I answered the 1-800 number that was calling.  I have a rule - if I say "Hello" and they don't answer within 3 seconds, I hang up.  That began a family conversation ...



Bob said that he is sick of creditors calling and actually telling us to borrow money from a friend to pay our outstanding bills (you see, if you have been around here for long and reading my blog, you know that my Big Bear has been out of work since Sept. 2008 - in other words, we're broke).  



Well, my mother had the perfect solution ... she said "tell them that your friends are on their calling list too and are calling you asking you for money.  That'll shut 'em up."  We laughed so hard our sides were hurting.  I actually spit my orange juice when she said it.  My mother - the family comedian.



Thing is, she began to tell us this story about how, when she and my father first married (in her early 20s), she got a credit card from Sears.  It was her first credit card and she did not know much about them accept that she could go to Sears and purchase drapes for their apartment and other things.  Then the bills started rolling in and she paid them, until she couldn't - and they started calling her and Dad every day.  So, one day, after taking the phone number from the lady who was calling her, she decided to get even.  One day she called the number.  The lady answered.  My mother waited a few seconds and then hung up.  Then she waited about another 30 seconds and did the same thing.  Then again.  And again for about 4 more hours. A few days later Sears called, but this time my mother noticed she wasn't talking to the same person.  My mother asked what happened to the lady she was originally speaking to ... the new lady responded "She quit."



So Bob, in keeping with the conversation, said, "Well, you can't do that anymore, the systems are automated," and I responded "that explains it.  After my mother's escapade with the collection agency, they developed automated systems and laid off all the people working the phones, causing an unemployment crisis of epic proportions.  Next thing you know, to save money, big corporations begin outsourcing their customer service personnel to the overseas market to save money."  To which Bob replied "SO! That's why this country is such a mess.  Your mother is single-handedly responsible for the unemployment crisis - the automated systems that replaced American workers - and outsourcing!  All because of her unpaid Sears Card!"

The laughing at our breakfast table was priceless. 

Hope everyone has a great weekend!



  • Raisin Toast Blog

  • Subscribe to Raisin Toast

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • A Site for You