The Inn At Brandywine, the authors’ childhood home on the lake, is the setting for countless memories dating back decades. From the time the property was purchased in 1955, complete with a dilapidated farmhouse, crumbling barn and acre upon acre of brush and trees, through its transformation into a beautiful sanctuary, vacation getaway and retreat, it has seen the Damewood family through thick and thin.
It was the backdrop for countless holiday celebrations, family reunions, barbecues and swimming parties that lasted well into the night. It welcomed five children to their first home, served as ground central for more than a few fledgling businesses and was the place to go, any time, for a cold beer and a good laugh. Lively debates and intricate, hilarious practical jokes were common. Horses roamed the property and filled every stall in the barn. Work and chores always came first, regardless of a family member’s age, but every day ended with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude. And when unthinkable tragedy occurred, the years that followed nearly saw the “house on Brandywine Lake” fall into new owners’ hands. But that was not to be.
Through it all, the dining room table and the food that it held each evening at dinnertime was the constant that each family member could count on. Seldom did the house not smell like food whether it was homemade jam, bacon and eggs, roasted chicken or a late-night banana nut cake coming out of the oven. And dinnertime, 5:30 each evening, was Helen Damewood’s time to shine. She enjoyed a self-cultivated love of food and cooking and was creative and adventurous in the kitchen long before the internet, Food TV or Chopped. Her kids wouldn’t truly appreciate her talents or hard work until later in life, even though every time they ate at a classmate’s or friend’s house, they definitely noticed that other people’s cooking really didn’t compare to Mom’s. So, without even knowing it, she inspired that same love of food and cooking in her daughters and they have nurtured and embraced it for as long they can remember.
The Best Thing is a collection of favorite recipes that range from comforting dinner dishes to decadent desserts and, of course, a few cocktails. From old family favorites that Helen made for her family and friends to a few that that Cassie and Tricia discovered on their own, each has a special place in our hearts and memories.