All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for January 2004

Hospitality Is Legacy of Clarke County Hostess

Timeless Recipes Will Score Touchdowns for Super Bowl Gatherings

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Nancy Talley
The Winchester Star

Hospitality is timeless. Not only does its impact last, but its details also carry over from one generation to those that follow.

Although the late Frances Richardson Crawford of Clarke County wined and dined friends before the Super Bowl became a centerpiece for gatherings, the recipes she left in local cookbooks and in family files, translate into superb fare for homestyle football feasts.

Franny enjoyed entertaining young adults. A favorite evening began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for a crowd and ended for the stayers-on with her signature spaghetti casserole and red wine.

To the Blue Ridge Cookbook (1951), she contributed methods for Bourbon hot dogs and a seriously gourmet chipped beef; to the Powhatan Cookbook (1971), a chocolate mousse that, always practical, she suggested serving in small paper cups perfect for Super Bowl informality.
Also from the Blue Ridge Cookbook come deliciously different cookies named Vanilla Kipkfert, along with Never-Fail Hollandaise Sauce that makes a carefree yet impressive dip for vegetables. Call it retro, call it camp, but serve it with confidence — this is real food.

Franny had an enviable setting for dinner parties at Fairfield, the family farm to which she returned with four children after her husband Walter Webb Crawford, a broker with the Chicago firm Betts Borland, died suddenly in the late 1940s.

While she grew up in Chicago, graduated from St. Timothy’s School outside Baltimore, and made her debut according to custom, she spent summers at Fairfield visiting her grandparents and, later, her parents.

An accomplished equestrian, she trained during one of those summers at Fairfield with the Olympic Equestrian Team in Front Royal, although not with the idea of competing in the Olympics.

She took over the operation of the farm for her father, Ralph Richardson, in 1949, possessing little background for such a task.

“It was a full-scale working farm that fed a large family,” said her daughter, Franny Crawford of Boyce, who recently outgrew the prefix “little” that differentiated her from her mother. “She was in charge of the chicken yard, of canning and freezing the vegetables, of preserving and pickling, and she also did the books.”

Because Fairfield was a well-known landmark — built about 1765 by Warner Washington I and probably designed by John Ariss, who also designed Kenmore for George Washington’s brother-in-law — strangers often came to call. ”Mother took her role as steward very seriously,” her daughter said. “When tourists drove in and said they’d read about the house and wanted to see it, she opened the place to them, telling them its connection with George Washington (he and Mrs. Washington are believed to have visited Fairfield as early as 1769) and its history in her own family.”

But Franny, whose grandfather John Donald Richardson bought Fairfield in the 1830s, did not let the business of running the farm consume her life. Soon after coming to Virginia, she entered the 1953 American Fashion Competition of the Chicago Times-Herald. She placed among 36 winners whose dress designs were made up subsequently by couturiers and modeled professionally. Her black afternoon gown with a decorated belt took honors with a white peau de soie evening gown designed by 21-year-old Bill Blass.

Needlework and handcrafts were as second nature to her as being what her family terms “a born clown.” “She did a wonderful mock tightrope act,” said her great-niece, Walker Thomas of Berryville. ”She used an umbrella — you know, she had a bad leg — and would throw her bad leg out and get it back on the line, sort of making fun of being lame. Then she made a purse for my mother (the late Peggy Richardson) with a tightrope-walking stick figure on it, and something like ’Watch Your Step, Peggy’ written beneath.”

Franny was in her element entertaining friends, and she could make last-minute changes with grace. Her great-niece, Robin Greenhalgh of Boyce, remembers a snowbound weekend when her parents John and Peggy Richardson, who lived next to Fairfield, were away and Robin had a friend home from school. “I must have been 15 or 16,” said Greenhalgh, “and the snow was pretty darn high.

“Aunt Franny was planning a really nice dinner party and had put a standing rib roast in the oven when the electricity went off. She called off the dinner, and called us up. I remember that we had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, served at a round table in the breakfast room where there was a fireplace, just as elegant for the four of us as it would have been for her guests. The timing couldn’t have been better for us.”

One of the defining elements of Crawford’s character was her ability to do what she did in spite of multiple sclerosis. She contracted the disease at 44, soon after moving to Virginia, and it became more and more debilitating. Not until 1974, however, did she give up running the farm, move to Berryville, and remodel Marshall House at 103 North Church St., adding an elevator to the upscale refurbishments.

“But I didn’t want to go,” she was quoted in a Washington Post article on April 8, 1974. “I kept putting it off and putting it off. I sent the movers back twice. The last time it was raining, and I told them I couldn’t move in the rain, but half an hour later the sun came out and they came back, so I had to go.”

She made the smaller quarters the same haven that she had made Fairfield, with the same welcome for friends, the same warmth towards newcomers, and the same elan for parties.

“Because it wasn’t easy for her to get out, it was easier for her to have friends in,” said her daughter, “The location made it a good place for friends to drop in to see her, too.”

She lived there until her death in 1976.

Franny’s recipes move seamlessly into the modern kitchen, just as her ability to make every entertainment appear effortless suits contemporary gatherings.

The following recipes will work perfectly with a Super Bowl party.

Next Sunday’s hosts need add only a well-stocked bar, a betting pool, and perhaps some popcorn.

Bourbon Hot Dogs
1½ cups catsup

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 to 2 pounds hot dogs

½ cup Bourbon whiskey

In a heavy skillet, put catsup, sugar and hot dogs, cut into bite-size pieces. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add Bourbon and simmer uncovered 30 minutes more. Serve hot with toothpicks from chafing dish.

These can be made the day before, or frozen and used when needed. Use the best available grade hot dogs.

(Mrs. Walter W. Crawford, The Blue Ridge Cookbook)

Spaghetti Casserole
2/3 pound spaghetti

3 tablespoons butter

3 medium onions, chopped

½ pound mushrooms, peeled and sliced

2 large cans peeled whole tomatoes

1 clove garlic, grated

10 or more ripe olives, chopped

1 pound pork sausage

½ cup sliced blanched almonds

salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water 10 minutes; do not drain, but let stand in own water awhile to swell. Meanwhile, in a large pot, saute onions in 2 tablespoons butter. In a smaller saute pan, mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter. To onions, add tomatoes, and cook down until quite thick; add garlic and olives. While this is stewing, cook sausage; mix with tomatoes. Add mushrooms and sliced almonds. Fold all into the drained spaghetti, season, and place in a casserole with a cover. Heat a half hour covered at 275 to 300 degrees. Serves 8. This may be made a day ahead, frozen, and/or multiplied.

(From “Choice Menus for Luncheons and Dinner” by Gladys T. Lang, St. Louis, 1930; privately printed)

Chipped Beef
½ pound chipped beef

2 tablespoons butter

1 pint sour cream

1 can artichoke hearts

Dash cayenne pepper

1 good tablespoon grated

Parmesan cheese

Sherry to taste

Pull chipped beef into shreds. Cover with boiling water and parboil for a slow minute. Strain off water. Melt butter in frying pan. Add sour cream and stir until lumps have disappeared. Slice artichoke hearts thin so they will blend better, then stir into cream with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, the sherry, the Parmesan cheese, and the beef. If the sauce seems thin, stir in a sprinkle of flour. Serve over toast. Serves 6.

(Mrs. Walter W. Crawford, The Blue Ridge Cookbook)

Never Fail Hollandaise Sauce
Place bowl in pan of boiling water until hot. Remove pan from water and cream 1/12 cup butter. Beat into this the yolks of 4 eggs. Add the juice of half a lemon and ¼ cup boiling water. Return bowl to pan of boiling water and beat with egg beater till mixture gets thick. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne. May be made in the morning and reheated over hot water.

(Mrs. Walter W. Crawford, The Blue Ridge Cookbook)

Vanilla Kipfert
1½ cups flour

1 cup finely chopped nuts

½ cup sugar

4 tablespoons Crisco

1 teaspoon vanilla

Dash salt

3 to 5 dashes grated lemon rind

Mix Crisco well with flour. Add sugar and chopped nuts, salt, rind and flavoring. Work to a dough. Add more flour if necessary. Make into round balls. Bake at 350 degrees about 15 minutes. Be sure the oven is not too hot.

(Mrs. Walter W. Crawford, The Blue Ridge Cookbook)


Mousse au Chocolat
6-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

5 tablespoons boiling water

4 eggs, separated

2 tablespoons dark rum

Whipped cream (optional)

Put chocolate chips and coffee in electric blender; cover and blend 10 seconds. Add egg yolks and rum; cover and blend on high speed 5 seconds. Fold mixture into 4 stiffly beaten egg whites and chill one hour. Serve with or without whipped cream. Serves 8. Will fill about 14 small paper cups.

(Mrs. Walter W. Crawford, The Powhatan Cookbook)

© Copyright 2004, The Winchester Star