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Q: What inspired you to write Sinepuxent Receipts?
My inspiration came from reading about people winning awards for annihilating the delicate taste of Eastern Shore’s Blue Crab. It made me want to set the record straight. The flavor of crab can be enhanced with small amounts of cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce or mustard; onion and garlic destroy that delicate flavor and mask that delicious crab flavor. Once the collection started with my favorite crab recipes I added other seafood dishes. Then I decided to put a collection of all my favorites, while at the same time giving recognition to the people that shared their favorite receipt with me.
Q: There seems to be a lot of history behind these recipes—or receipts—how did you go about gathering them all together?
The very first recipe I made was Lemon Sponge-Cake Pie at 11 years old. My Great Aunt Sade gave me this receipt. After tasting this most delicious lemon dessert, I had to know how to duplicate it. So began a lifetime of collecting recipes — almost 50 years’ worth now. I took each course of food and then picked my absolute favorites from the thousands of recipes and receipts collected. Over the next six years, that list grew into the 86 recipes included in this collection.
Q: Who taught you how to cook? 
My first lessons were from Mother, of course. She had a love for creating mouth-watering dishes and had a knack for providing our family with a variety of meals. After learning my own love for cooking I sought the advice of my grandmother and my great aunt — two fantastic cooks. I am still learning and watch one cooking show after another and have a love for reading cookbooks, old and new, as well as magazine and newspaper articles about food. For me the name of the game is to always provide something different on the table. I suppose like my mother I, too, am trying to provide a variety of tastes.

 Q: How much of an area’s history do you think can be revealed by its cooking? 
We generally cook with the foods that are available to us – items that are found in one’s location. Soft crabs, seaside oysters, fish roe and black duck are foods that are here, and there is a rich history that goes with them. I remember well my grandfather telling me tales of hunting black duck and being out on the Sinepuxent Bay marsh in the cold winter. He was born in a houseboat on that bay in 1896. One summer he showed me the art of sculling in a rowboat while searching the marsh grass for soft crabs. Then there is the memory of the many winters opening oysters in the garage. He would feed me the little baby crabs inside the oysters. Now when I make oyster dressing the sight of those little red crabs causes me to remember those times. The food remembers when.
Q: What are you doing with the proceeds from the book?
All profit from the sale of these books will go the Organ Enhancement Fund at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The purchase of this book is a fully tax-deductible donation. All checks should be made payable to ‘St. Peter’s Church Choir’ and deposits are placed in a separate account for this fund drive.

Q. What other volunteer work do you do in the local community? 
I’ve been the Treasurer for the Deer’s Head Center Foundation for the past 11 years. We also started an investment fund at the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore in order to provide assistance to the hospital in perpetuity. I’m also the Treasurer for the St. Peter’s Church Choir which I joined in 1957 and have been singing with since 1967, and for the past seven years I’ve been a Lay Eucharist Minister, which entails bringing the Sacraments (bread & wine) to those who no longer are able attend church services. I’ve been the Treasurer for the Chapel Branch Homeowner’s Association since May of this year as well, which is a great way to get to know your neighbors and maintain the property values of the community.

Q: What do you want people to ultimately take away from Sinepuxent Receipts? 
A: Sharing a meal with family or friends is probably one of the best examples of human fellowship. Sharing a receipt with someone extends that fellowship and lets that person know that you care about them. I have receipts in this cookbook from as far away as Hawaii and Italy that were shared with me. Now I consider those recipes a part of Eastern Shore cooking. I want people to know that I care very much about them and am only too happy to share my best receipts.
For more information on Thomas L. Clarke and his book Sinepuxent Receipts, visit: