Sandpoint Eater: Puttin’ on the Ritz

By Marcia Pilgeram
Reader Food Columnist

Lately we’ve been faced with some challenges, both locally and nationally. Like many of you, I’ve spent a lot of moments pondering the actions of others that make me both anxious and angry. For my own preservation, I refuse to remain idle. Locally, it was easy to jump into action for our beloved Reader with a somewhat impromptu Reader Rally at the Idaho Pour Authority. And, even more close to home, I was happy to jump into action when my Moscow team arrived to spend the weekend with their favorite Mimi (Shh! But it’s true, I’m everyone’s favorite grandma). 

The oldest of that team of adorable children, 11-year-old Alden, is just getting to the age where he has a hard time deciding if he’d rather stay home and hang out with his friends or come to my house for the weekend. I remember my own son’s painful transition to adolescence, so I’m always grateful for any extra time before he outgrows his childhood (and yes, his Mimi).  

He accompanied me as I gathered gift cards and other donations from our local and loving community for the Reader. Thanks to these donors and advertisers as well as readers and supporters, the rally was successful beyond my wildest imagination. Running these errands gave Alden (wise beyond his 11 years) and me a chance to talk about local, national and world events, and though there are more than 50 years between us, we have similar qualities. Besides activism, we both love to cook and comfort others with our food offerings. I also learned that week that we have another similar trait: planning and throwing impromptu (and elaborate) parties to ease the angst that ails us.

Alden’s theme for our Sunday night meal was Dinner at the Ritz, which was also a gift to his younger brother Will, who’d gotten all dressed up to go out for lunch that day, only to be sadly disappointed when we ended up at a burger and beer joint. Alden is also an accomplished artist, so our evening included a sophisticated looking menu, with lion’s head artwork and a strict dress code. 

I often teased our very sensible Ryanne that we got “the wrong baby” as she was never much for fancy dresses or fancy meals. This night, she admitted, “Momma, I think you were right all along.” But for the love of her children, my sensible daughter donned the Japanese silk dressing gown that belonged to her great grandmother (she’d roll her eyes in embarrassment, when years ago I’d posture in it, serving high tea).  

In full compliance, Ryanne put on the Ritz, complete with the accessory requirements for ladies: a fashionable scarf, pearls and hair worn up. There were separate rules for the gents including a tie. And sensible, common rules for both genders: cover your private parts, use silverware and don’t twitch. Honestly I think those are great rules to live by every day!

Though my closet is still a disaster, young Will wasn’t one bit disappointed in our evening and managed to find everything he needed to make his dapper appearance, resplendent in top hat, cane, diamond watch and a pair of umbrellas for him and his younger sister, Fernie.  

Our evening was loads of good fun and a great respite from robo-caller worries and dogmatic partisan politics plaguing our well-being. Before Alden left in the morning, he had my solemn vow that I will continue to work hard to leave his world in better shape than it is today.

 I know I was complacent for many years, a wrong many of my friends and I work hard at righting every single day. Hell hath no fury like angry grandmothers, albeit ones filled with mindful determination and hope for a better world.                                                                                                                       

 I’ll continue to fulfill my promise to him: a demonstration sign in one hand and a rolling pin in the other. If you feel an urge to arm yourself with a good recipe, you won’t find anything more comforting, delicious or addictive than these Maple and Bacon Muffins.

Maple Bacon Pecan Muffin Recipe (yields 12 muffins)

These may become your best fall friends! Delicious paired with soup and cider, on a chilly day.


• 2 cups flour

• 1 Tbsp baking powder

• 1/2 tsp baking soda

• 1/8 tsp salt

• 1 egg

• 2 tsp vanilla extract

• ¼ cup Greek yogurt 

• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

• 1/2 cup brown sugar

• 1/4 cup bacon grease, reserved 

     from cooking bacon

• 1 cup buttermilk

• 8 crispy bacon strips, crumbled 

     (reserve 2 for streusel)


• 1/4 cup brown sugar

• 2 Tbsp sugar

• 1/3 cup of flour + 1 Tbsp

• 1 Tbsp maple syrup

• 2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

• 2 crispy bacon strips crumbled

• 3 Tbsp crushed pecans


Fry bacon crisp (don’t burn)!  Drain on paper towels, reserve bacon grease into a separate bowl. Set bacon strips aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 and line with muffin papers

In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, sugar, maple syrup, bacon grease, vanilla extract, sour cream and buttermilk until all smooth.

Make a well in dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Whisk together until smooth.

Add crumbled bacon and mix until evenly incorporated. Set batter aside.


In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, white sugar and flour. Mix well until all dry ingredients are incorporated evenly.

Pour in melted butter and maple syrup. Just toss -Streusel should be large crumbs. 

Fold in crumbled bacon and pecans.

Fill muffin pan cups ¾ full with muffin batter.

Sprinkle about two tablespoons of streusel on top of each muffin and place in the oven.

Bake for 22-25 minutes (Do a toothpick test to check if they are done.).

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