Food chat: board of ed(ition)

Jun. 10, 2014 @ 09:16 AM

It’s something that happens, but no one ever talks about: we do have favorites.  It’s true, people in retail have favorite customers.

Years ago, when The Kid was in preschool, and everybody was doing the Macarena, I worked at a small neighborhood bookstore for my friend Bosco. 

We had lots of regular customers.  Some of them we dreaded.  Most we did not.

Usually, we were pleased when a familiar face came in.  There were folks like Mrs. Vinegar, a lovely older woman from South Africa, and Jim; a nice man whose son, like my father, was in the Coast Guard. 

And then there was Heidi.

She always wore a smile, and purchased many books for herself and her children.  Bosco and I looked forward to all her visits.

A few years later, after Bosco had closed the store, and moved on, I read in The Herald-Sun that our friend Heidi Carter was running for the Durham County Board of Education.  I admired her courage to run and her commitment to the children of Durham.

And then Heidi won.

It’s been 10 years, and Heidi’s still on the board, for the past two years as the chairperson. 

Even though she and the rest of the board were actively in the midst of choosing a new superintendent, Heidi took some time out last week to have a food chat over coffee at Bean Traders (105 W. Highway 54, Durham).

Because she’s a runner, she loves her carbs (or maybe she runs because she loves carbs so much). Whatever the reason, she’s healthy and she loves food, both the cooking and the eating of it. 

Her homemade grilled pizza is a favorite of the Carter household. She loves hanging out with family and friends, picking out toppings and firing up the barbecue.  She not only makes the crust from scratch, she makes many different kinds of breads, including hamburger buns (not an easy thing to do well).  

Pasta is also a big hit in the Carter family. Her vodka sauce and macaroni and cheese are beloved by her kids. But Heidi’s fave mac and cheese is still her mom’s.  Even when dining out, noodles are a go-to; Pulcinella's Italian (4711 Hope Valley Road, Durham) is a much visited neighborhood eatery.

Somehow, our conversation kept coming back to burgers. Like many other Durhamites, she can’t get enough of the yummy food at Bull City Burgers and Brewery (107 E. Parrish St., Durham). Also on her downtown list is Taberna Tapas (325 W. Main St., Durham).  She likes the many choices and small plates of this trendy destination.

Sweets and desserts have an honored place at her table.  Pound cake and Moravian sugar cake are her top picks. But she has a soft spot for an easy homemade treat. It’s a Chex cereal mix coated with chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar, sometimes known as “Muddy Buddies” or “Puppy Chow.” With the anti-oxidant power of dark chocolate, and the protein of peanuts, she eats it as fuel for long runs. 

From her description, I came up with this recipe, and I also took some literary license and renamed it.

Heidi’s Running Buddies

6 cups Chex cereal (any kind and combination)

2 cups peanuts

1 cup raisins

1 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Put chocolate and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl. In 20 second increments, microwave, stirring and re-nuking until melted. Pour in cereal, nuts and raisins. Gently stir to cover everything .Place sugar in zip-top bag. Add cereal mix, and massage until coated in powdered sugar. Remove to a sheet pan, and allow to harden. Makes nine cups.

When I told Bosco that I would be seeing Heidi, I asked him if he would like me to give her his regards. 

This was his response: “Yes. She was always one of my favorites. I thought at the time she joined the school board that she was too nice and she'd never survive, but I was certainly wrong about that. (Not the nice part, though.)”

I have to say I agree with my friend Bosco.

Thanks for your time.


Debbie Matthews lives, writes and cooks in Durham. Her email address is