In 2003, before "E-VOO" was a catchphrase and "Yum-O" was the name of a foundation, I interviewed a young woman named Rachael Ray, the host of a very useful food-travel show called "$40 a Day." It was easy to do: I just called her. She was a great interview -- funny, quick to share tips and very down to earth.
Next week, Ray will come through Charlotte to sign a book that's the second she's written this year and at least the 20th she's written overall. This time, setting up an interview took more than 25 emails exchanged with two members of her staff.
But when I finally got her on the line for a few minutes Tuesday morning, she was still a good interview. Funny, gracious and down to earth. Just a lot richer than she used to be.
One of the things we talked about was our husbands: We both are married to men who like to make cocktails and who are really good at washing the dishes.
"It's like we won some weird freakish lottery of the universe," she said.
John Cusimano is a musician and manager of Ray's now-wide media company. Recently, she caught herself fussing at him for cleaning the kitchen and then she stopped and thought, "What am I doing? Let the man clean!"
Ray's new book, "My Year in Recipes," has a design trick. When you flip it over, the back third is designed as a separate book,written by Cusimano, called "My Year in Cocktails."
As an appreciator of good cocktails and good husbands, I felt bad that my interview with Ray didn't have room to pay more attention to Cusimano's contribution. Since next Wednesday is 12,/12/12 and a lot of people are suggesting celebrating "lucky number day" with a cocktail, I thought I'd share one from Cusimano's side of the book.
Warm Skater's Toddy
From "My Year in Cocktails," by John Cusimano (Atria/Simon & Schuster, $29.99). He notes that this makes more whipped cream than you need for just 1 drink. So you'll have to share.
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 ounces dark rum
3 ounces boiling water
Pinch each of freshly grated nutmeg, ground cinnamon and ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
Whip the cream in a cold bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a heatproof mug. Add some of the whipped cream mixture and stir until blended. Garnish with additional grated nutmeg.