Recently, Robb Cadigan and I had a chance to meet and chat. Robb is the acclaimed author of the novel “Phoenixville Rising.”
Robb started out studying law and later moved to a career in marketing and television. But, in his heart, he was a novelist. He wanted to intertwine his passion for storytelling and creativity with his interest in history and community. His love of history came from his father, and his love of the arts from his mother.
From 1989 to 2002, Robb was a creative executive at QVC, in what he calls a “muckety-muck” position. We talked about QVC’s “50 States in 50 Weeks” Bus Tour, which he spearheaded, and I recalled that my first cookbook, “Downtown Kitchen,” was considered as an entry for that project. With a desire to follow his dream, Robb left QVC to focus on his writing craft and serve as a stay-at-home dad for his two small children.
In 1984, Robb met Joan Daughen on a blind date at Bucknell University. After graduation, Joan moved back home to Glenside, Pa., and Robb took an editing position at TV Guide in Radnor to be closer to her. It seems to have worked out, as they married in 1989.
Twenty-two years ago, the family moved to Kimberton. Robb set up his office for writing, and the couple became active volunteers in the schools and community. Recently, Joan accepted a job as executive director of the Phoenixville Community Education Foundation, while Robb continues to write.
Over the years, Robb wrote short stories and TV scripts, along with several novels that are not yet published. He participated in writing workshops and found supportive mentors who helped him along the way. Eventually, he developed the story that became “Phoenixville Rising.”
Robb considers his debut novel to be “a love letter to this town where the past is always present — the town I’ve come to call home.” It took about two years to complete. He tries to write each day and finds the afternoon hours are his most creative time to put his thoughts to paper. Currently, Robb is finishing up a new manuscript featuring another historic event in Phoenixville.
Robb and Joan believe strongly in supporting their community and adopted hometown. To that end, all of Robb’s profits from “Phoenixville Rising” go to charity. The book has sold thousands of copies across the country, which is pretty extraordinary for a small self-published novel. Robb has made several large contributions to charities throughout the country and locally as well.
Robb has an unabashed passion for the arts and literature. If you see him around town, he is likely to ask you what you’re reading or what your favorite book is.
Robb originally hails from Baltimore, Md. And we all know that Maryland is known for its wonderful seafood, so he is sharing one of his mom’s favorite recipes.
MOM’S CHESAPEAKE BAY CRAB CAKES
1 lb. jumbo lump crab meat
1 to 1½ tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. melted butter
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
¼ tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
½ cup finely chopped breadcrumbs or crackers
Oil for frying
Combine all of the ingredients except the crab meat, and mix well. Gently fold in crab meat (don’t break up lumps). Shape into cakes. Pan fry in oil in preferably in iron skillet, browning slowing on each side.
Bette’s note: May I suggest serving with along with a nice steamed green vegetable or salad.
Let Bette Banjack hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org. Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well phoenixvillenews.com (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.