Marjorie Boone (88) is the kind of person you meet once or twice in your life — and, you are better off because of it. Such is the case between Marjorie and me. I mean, I am the one better off.
“Marj” joined the federal government just out of college. She earned a master’s degree in American history at George Washington University in D.C. and started as a typist with the U.S. Information Agency. She stayed for 35 years. Around 1960, the government began allowing women into the Foreign Corps and she was accepted into the program as a Foreign Service officer. She traveled extensively throughout the region and sampled and cooked any new cuisine she discovered.
She loves to tell the story that when she arrived in India, her last assignment, she was met at the airport with a limo and given the royal treatment as if she were a high-level, U.S. dignitary. She loved the treatment but it didn’t take her long to figure out it that was all a misunderstanding. Someone had inadvertently gotten her name wrong. Instead of “Marjorie Boone,” they named her “Major Boone.”…as in United States Army Major Boone!
She retired when she had lost so much hearing she felt she couldn’t do her job as well. She says if she knew then what she learned since about technology and cochlear implants, she could have stayed on. However, she and her sister, Betty, combined households when they both retired. Betty was a retired teacher and widow with grown children. Marj had never married, so it made sense to “set up housekeeping” together in the Washington, D.C., area.
I met Marj and Betty when I began as editor of Hearing Loss Magazine. She wrote a standing column for the magazine as a volunteer. In other words, I inherited Marj and that was a good thing. She quickly took me under her wing and showed me the ropes on all things life. Even in my salad days, I knew Marj was someone I wanted to grow up to be like.
She is a complete optimist, self-effacing with an unsurpassed sense of humor. She is outgoing, a book collector, and a gourmet cook. Add impish and quick witted and you see why I admire her so much. Beyond all that, she is good to the bone and generous.
The sisters loved entertaining; Betty prepped the table and arranged the flowers and Marj cooked.
Marj and Betty took a trip to Italy and stumbled upon the world’s best tiramisu. Marj cajoled the chef into giving her the recipe. He also told her that in Italian tiramisu means “pick me up.” Marj came back and added this dessert to her repertoire.
When Marj and Betty took their second retirement and moved further south into a retirement community, they downsized their home. Marj gave me her glass bowl that was used exclusively for tiramisu. She knew I had a lot of entertaining yet to do as they were wisely preparing for their next chapter in life.
I made the recipe last week, served it in Marj’s bowl, and received the familiar reviews: “This is the best tiramisu I have ever eaten!” As I grated the chocolate and whipped the mascarpone with the sugar and eggs, I remembered my times with Marj.
From my heart, thank you, Marj.
Tiramisu Recipe (From Italy via Marjorie Boone)
Serves six but can easily be “enlarged” (Marj’s word)
- ½ lb. mascarpone cheese (do not substitute cream cheese, this type is smoother and tangier)
- 3 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon dark rum or liqueur (adjust to your taste, I use 2 tablespoons of Amaretto)
- Chocolate: 2 oz. semi-sweet, shredded coarsely/grated; and 2 oz. sweet, shredded coarsely/grated
Hint: I also use white chocolate. Use whatever chocolate you like, you can even add more than the recipe calls for, I do! You can easily grate your chocolate in a food processor.
- 2 packages of lady fingers
- ½ cup triple strength espresso coffee, cooled (again, adjust to your taste, I make really strong coffee and chill it)
- Whipped cream, fresh
In a large bowl. Combine egg yolks and sugar; beat two minutes until light.
Add mascarpone and rum (or liqueur) and mix until smooth
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold egg whites into the cheese mix, one-third at a time. Cover and chill. (That means the cheese, not you, as you still have a little bit of work to do.)
Split lady fingers, place on baking sheet and brush with coffee.
Use a glass trifle bowl to show the layers. It makes a great presentation.
Arrange one-third of the lady fingers in the bowl.
Spoon one-third of the mascarpone mix on top of the lady fingers, spread evenly
Sprinkle with one-third of the chocolates
Repeat, making two more sets of layers.
Topped with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate. Optional toppings can be toasted almonds.
Refrigerate and cover until serving time. Best to make the day of the event. However, you can shred the chocolate ahead of time, brew the coffee and chill it, and make the mascarpone cheese mixture and chill it (no more than a day ahead).
[Photo of Marjorie by Cindy Dyer]