Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Susan's on Smith Island" bed-and-breakfast in Ewell and Smith Island Cake

 "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first."  ~ Ernestine Ulmer

Susan Evans of Ewell is the embodiment of hard-working Somerset County.

Susan commutes weekdays by boat from her home on Smith Island to Crisfield, where she works in McCready hospital’s human resources office.

She also is involved part-time in cosmetic sales, operates a quaint bed-and-breakfast inn and knows the secret to baking decidedly delicious Smith Island cakes.

It’s the latter that has garnered Susan, 44, some unexpected – and frankly, humbling – attention.

Her recipe for a 10-layer cake – that’s right, 10 LAYERS – is included in a new cookbook, “Dishing Up Maryland: 150 Recipes from the Alleghenies to the Chesapeake Bay.”

And it all came about by happenstance.

Freelance writer Lucie L. Snodgrass and a friend stayed at Susan’s on Smith Island Bed and Breakfast a little over a year ago and enjoyed their stay immensely.

“They were having such a good time, they didn’t want to leave the porch” with a view of the Chesapeake Bay, Susan says whimsically. “I finally told them I had to go to bed.”

Susan makes sure her guests get to sample a real, homemade Smith Island cake, named the state’s “official dessert” by the Maryland legislature in 2008. It joined jousting, the Black-eyed Susan and the Chesapeake Bay retriever as unique state symbols of life in Maryland.

Snodgrass apparently was in the midst of gathering string for a book of unique Maryland recipes from appetizers to main courses and  needed a simple, sweet dessert. A chocolate Smith Island cake from Susan’s kitchen proved to be the ideal way to cap it off.

Susan, a 13th-generation Smith Islander, eagerly shared a basic recipe that most of her friends and neighbors typically use to get started. A snapshot of her life’s story accompanies it as well.

On March 24, she traveled to an Annapolis museum for an official book unveiling. Susan almost didn’t attend, but a friend talked her into it.

“I’m so glad I did go,” she said.

Susan was among a handful of recipe contributors featured in the book who were invited to the event, which attracted (Md.) Gov. Martin O’Malley and the First Lady, Catherine.

“They rolled out the red carpet for me,” she said.

Susan posed for pictures with the author, the book’s photographer and the governor.

“I met so many interesting people,” she said. “I had no clue” it was going to be such a big deal.

Susan says a national women’s magazine also has expressed interest in talking with her about her entrepreneurial spirit – and cake-baking talent.

“I really can’t believe this is happening to me,” she says. “I love the publicity  I’m getting out of this.”

Promotional material for the book promises “a portion of proceeds from (its) sales … will be donated to Maryland’s Best program to promote the purchase of locally grown and raised products for the benefit of the state’s farmers, watermen and related businesses.

The book, which sells retail for $19.95, is available online and at local book stores.

Susan Evans, left, shows McCready hospital colleague, Marie Witt, a hot-off-the-press cookbook featuring 150 Maryland dishes.

Check back next week for a sampling of Susan's Smith Island cake.


Lew said...

I heard about the 50 ways to leave your lover. Does this mean there are 150 ways to cook a crab?

Patty said...

Lew: I am sure locals could come up with 150 ways to cook crab but this 150 page cookbook also covers a wide variety of non-crab dishes. Can you believe that? From fried chicken to turnips,it's enough to make you want to dust off the good cooking pots.

The book is actually built around farm-fresh products.