By now you know how much I love to cook and prepare foods to look nice. I’ve made things many times for other people for free and parties just for fun.Well, one day a friend of mine, Brenda Touchstone and I were asked to cater a surprise 50th wedding anniversary party. What a feather in our caps, we thought. People liked our food well enough to pay for it!! Now we needed to really get creative ! We started days ahead of time with getting out our best platters and using silver and cut glass plates and bowls. We fixed the punch with fruit and froze it and made pretty little flower mints and wrapped them tightly. Then came the meatballs, made from scratch of course and then put in a crock pot with pizza sauce to blend well and the cocktail weenies with chili sauce is prepared the same way. The cheeseballs were next and easy, just needed my husbands hands to mix it up well , then we could fix it in whatever shape we wanted. Some rolled in crushed nuts while others in parsley or paprika. The fillings for the tiny sandwiches could be done ahead but we needed to put them together after we got to the place for maximum freshness. The chips just needed pored into their pretty bowls. As you can see we were giving it our all. The day finally came and we were ready. With all we had to carry we decided to drive my camper van with the bed over the front seat. When we got to the party place we found no one around. My they were running late, we thought. We sat for a while then decided we’d better find someone to open the doors so we could get started putting the food out. It was a weekend so there was not a soul on duty. Finally after knocking on many doors we found someone who had a key. They reluctantly let us in. Nothing was ready, not a table or chair in sight. We started making phone calls but the only people we got ahold of were the parents of these two sisters who were surprising them with this party. So we couldn’t a say a word about our dilemma to them. Time was passing and we couldn’t figure out why not a person was showing up. Finally someone we reached told us how the party had been changed to another location and the only people they forgot to tell were the caterers. The people with all the food and drink!! Anyway, since my friend Brenda grew up here in Tennessee and I was a transplant from Ohio she felt she could drive faster and know short cuts since we now had to go leave the area we were in, drive through downtown and across to another mountain top to where the party was now being held. She drove as fast as she could and I sat at the little table in the back cutting up fruit and making sandwiches that had to have the crust cut off and made into shapes. We arrived there in time to unpack and the sisters were there to help carry everything in. Without a word to each other we went straight to work making the tables pretty with all our best dishes and arranged them in order, like the chips went on the table with the sandwiches and the mints and nuts went with the punch and punch cups. The sisters were very apologetic and tried to help as the time for their guests to arrive was quickly approaching. As we poured the last of the punch into its bowl……people were starting to come in the front door!!! We were going to slip out the back door when we realized there was not a back door. We were a mess in old cut off shorts and punch and strawberry juice all over us. What were we to do!!! People wouldn’t want to eat what we had so skillfully prepared if they saw how messy we looked ! We noticed there was room under the bar for the two of us to hide. So there we hid all evening ! The sisters felt so badly for their mistake of not telling us the party place had changed that they kept handing us bottles of good wine, which we enjoyed as we sat quietly in hiding.The party went off without a hitch and we were excited to hear first hand of the compliments people gave about the food!! To this day neither of us remember how we got home driving that big camper, but we did and here are a couple of the recipes you might enjoy with the holidays just around the corner.
I used to make these meatballs from scratch but now I buy frozen Rosina Italian meatballs and put them in the crock pot and cover with Ragu pizza sauce. Heat and serve with Parmesan cheese.
PECAN CHEESE BALL
4-3oz pkgs. cream
6 oz Cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz blue cheese (optional)
2 tsp. parsley
1 T onion, grated
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 C chopped pecans
Soften cheeses and mix everything together. Chill for at least 1/2 hour and then form into a ball or log and roll in crushed pecans.
PINEAPPLE/DATE/ NUT CHEESEBALL
2-8oz pkgs cream cheese
1-81/2 oz can crushed pineapple
2 C chopped pecans
1 C chopped dates
Soften cheese and mix all together.Chill for 1/2 hour ,then form into a ball and roll in chopped pecans. Chill again before serving.
On one of my trips to California I was dreading the food choices I would have for something to eat. I’m never organized enough to pack my own and the trip for me is too long to go without! When the airline stewardess came by and handed me the menu folder,I chose the best I could knowing the bread would be too hard and the sandwich itself be too dry but I was hungry so I would suffer through! When my sandwich came tightly wrapped in clear wrap with several layers, I unwrapped it and took a bite. Wow, I thought as I took another bite. To my surprise it was delicious! So I knew exactly what I would order on the way back home. When my trip was over and I was headed home I asked the stewardess for the same sandwich only to be told it was only served during breakfast hours!! Oh well, I remembered it well and here it is for you to try. Thanks Delta Airlines! Think you could serve it all day?
Bagel bread thinly sliced
Spread with cream cheese on both sides
Roasted turkey (not smoked)
American cheese or whatever you like
Salt & Pepper
Here is the pie recipe so many of you have been asking for!! Enjoy!! 🍓🍓
1 pie crust, you can use the frozen
crust and bake according the pkg. or use a graham cracker, sugar or chocolate already made crust
1/2 C heavy cream or half & half
1/4 C sugar
1 8oz cream cheese or mascarpone cheese (the Italian version of cream cheese)
! T finely grated lemon or lime
Beat all together in an electric mixture
And pour into the crust. Arrange any fruit on top or do like Alycia and make a pretty pattern using one pint each of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Put in the refrigerator a half hour before cutting. YUMMY!!!
When I went off to college at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky I learned, like many others, how differently people lived. Until then I pretty much thought everyone lived life the same. For instance in my home Sunday was a holy day made up of going to church. We would all get up, dress a little nicer than we did for school , eat a bite of toast or cereal and head off to Sunday school followed by a church service. After that we all went home and had a lovely dinner in the dining room with Mom’s good china, silver and crystal goblets. She always said her ” good ” tableware was for those important to her and that no one was more important than her family . This was our biggest meal of the week. We’d have a ham or roast with all the trimmings , even dessert, and we sat and ate together, after the blessing of course, and had fellowship with each other for hours it seemed and we looked forward to that all week. There was never supper on those evenings because we had eaten so much during that meal but fruit was always available. The rest of the week was busy for all of us in school and work, mom was a teacher and enjoyed her chosen profession so much and daddy was the editor of a our church denomination’s monthly magazine. So it was help yourself in the mornings and a light supper was always our menu through the week days. This is why in college I was so confused to see students line up at the cafeteria on Sunday evenings. I asked, “What are they doing?” I was told they were going in for supper. And when I answered ” but we’ve already eaten today ” they all laughed at me. Well, since it was part of my meal plan I figured I’d go and see what there was and came out with fruit to keep in my room for the week. Being from Ohio and now living in Kentucky I was introduced to some new ideas for salads that I still enjoy today. I gained more than an education there and here are a couple of the salads I enjoyed. All very easy to prepare and can be done ahead of time.
BANANAS ON LETTUCE WITH NUTS
Slice as many bananas as you will need lengthwise
Cut those lengths in half
Spread with mayo or salad dressing
Top with crushed nuts, I prefer peanuts but any you like will do
Serve on lettuce
PEARS WITH MAYO AND CHEESE
1 can halved pears
Small amount of mayo on top
Place shredded cheddar cheese on top of mayonnaise and place a cherry in the center
Pumpkins are everywhere and I love everything pumpkin! I come from Pumpkin Town, Circleville, Ohio where they have the Greatest Free Show on Earth called Pumpkin Show, of course, where anything possible is made from pumpkin. Delicious concoctions from pumpkin pancakes to pumpkin burgers!! But if you look around there are many other fruits and vegetables that are just as tasty!!! Squash in all shapes and colors and apples in abundance . But people over look the white puffball mushrooms that come up right in their own yards. ☔️After a fall rain, for the next couple of days, these mushrooms pop up everywhere. I took my granddaughters and let them pick them the other afternoon and I allowed them to jump and squash the ones that weren’t perfect. Only prepare the good ones. They need washed very well, take off the thin outer layer and slice. They will be completely white and have a good texture to them. Here’s a couple recipes I use from my brother, Jonathan, who should have become a farmer like our maternal grandfather.
Fried White Puffball Mushrooms🍄
Wash, peel thin outer layer ft
Soak in egg and milk mixture
Roll in flour with salt and pepper
Fry in butter all at the same time because the butter will easily burn
🍄Sautéed Puffball Mushrooms
Wash and dry mushroom, peeling off outer layer and slice in thin pieces
Wake up your lettuce, like mama would always say , by salting, washing and cutting it up in small pieces and placing it in colander covered with paper towels and putting it in the refrigerator for awhile.
Fix the corn in the microwave by wrapping in paper towels, husks and all, for 4 minutes . When you take it out cut off the bottom then hold the corn silks and shake. The corn will fall out and you don’t have the silks to worry with!
Use cherry tomatoes cut in half. heirloom if you can find them, the taste is well worth the difference in cost.
A small amount of black beans straight from the can add a southwestern touch.
Medium to large size shrimp, fresh or frozen, cleaned and deveined then put in a skillet to sauté with olive oil and seasoned salt for flavor. Add any spice to kick it up like Emeril would say. Cayenne is good to use.
Then you take out the lettuce and arrange the salad in bowls putting in the amounts each guest likes and to add that California flair top it with avocado. A vinaigrette dressing is good on this but use any dressing you like.
When I was first married we found ourselves living in a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio. My husband was an assistant pastor and full time youth director of a small Methodist church there. Money was tight so it wasn’t long before I found work to help out with expenses like school loans and food. I’d not had much work experience except for babysitting but was thrilled to be accepted as a phone magazine salesperson. Just up my alley. I loved people and people seemed to love me! A perfect match, talk and sell magazines and make money to boot! When could I start? The following Monday morning couldn’t get here fast enough!! My husband dropped me off, we could barely afford the one car, downtown and I walked up the long dark stairway to the sales office to be quickly lead to my own little cubicle. Anxious to get started my fingers could hardly dial the correct numbers but at first try I got a real person. Soon I realized as I tried to read off my printed script that the elderly lady on the other end of the phone needed an ear to listen to her talk about her troubles and the fact that she didn’t even have enough money to pay her phone bill much less order magazines left me feeling sad and I knew I’d do better with the next caller. Well, the next call went through and I sold a few, then on to another lonely or broke person again needing conversation more than magazines. I thought I was doing ok but by the end of a very long and hard week I knew this was not for me. It wasn’t long till I landed a job with JC Penny’s in the children’s department and loved it. I worked with several older people and they all seemed to be thrilled to have someone willing to listen to them talk and I didn’t have to bring up buying magazines. Several of these associates were happy to take me under their wing and since we lived so far away from our own parents it was a very needed opportunity for us as well. Anyway, after a few paychecks my husband and I had put back enough money to treat ourselves to an all you can eat seafood buffet at Howard Johnsons which was a very popular Friday night event back in the late 1960’s in Ohio. So with our mouths watering as we entered the restaurant we asked to be seated close to the buffet. We didn’t want to waste time having to walk too far from all that wonderful food. Fried shrimp, fried clams, fried oysters, fried walleye from the Great Lakes near by, well you get the picture. Anyway, we ate our way through unbuttoning our pants to continue just a little bit more. We finally felt we had gotten our money’s worth and more and knew we couldn’t even hold one more tiny little shrimp without the breading so we paid our bill and headed home. One short stop at Penny’s to pick up my paycheck and then off for home happy to spend the rest of our Friday night evening digesting our food and watching “I Spy” with Bill Cosby and Robert Culp and “Playboy After Dark” with Hugh Hefner running around in his bath robe and all the girls wearing those little rabbit ear headbands on their heads ,which when you think about it must have been one of the earliest reality shows, from one of the three channels available back then. As I walked into the store an associate came up to me and excitedly said “Aren’t you on your way to Catherine’s for dinner now?” You see Catherine and her husband had both worked for Penney’s a long time in the Men’s Suits department a coveted place to work. They themselves dressed to a T each day, he wearing his 1930’s style hat with his suit and Catherine in her appropriate ladies ensemble. They were the cutest little couple and I actually mean that literally because they were both the shortest two adults I’d ever met, but in stature only. They were otherwise very polished and respected and looked upon as the Monarchs of the group. They knew their politics and current events and history and about anything you could bring up in conversation. Penney’s was happy to have them and allowed them to share the same schedule. So each day they would go home for lunch or dinner together according their schedule and we would hear of the finest meals they would prepare together that would give quite some competition to any 5 star restaurants anywhere. It was just the two of them each day living their lives together and talking to anyone would listen of their only child, a son, they called Ziggy. As older parents do they would tell the stories of things he did when he was young and they were younger and life was so good. To be invited to eat at their house for a Friday night dinner was envied by many. But since there were no cell phones for texting or Internet for e-mails and I wasn’t scheduled to work that day, I FORGOT !!! So I said to the sales clerk, “Oh, we were just on our way right now.” Of course I now had the job of convincing my very full husband who was waiting outside in his blue 1968 Pontiac LeMans that we had to go eat dinner again. I just couldn’t disappoint this precious couple whom I was sure had spent most of their day preparing for us to join them on what otherwise could have been another lonely Friday evening for them. We had to go! As my husband and I discussed this, we were walking around and around his car trying to digest some of the food we had already eaten. Slowly we drove to their house still so full we couldn’t even think of eating again. When we knocked on the door and they opened it together and we saw the happy smiles they gave us we knew we had done the right thing but we were still unprepared to see what came next. As we entered their home the smell of Italian food hit us smack in the face. It would have normally made our mouths water, but how were we going to get anymore food into our stomachs today? Like I had mentioned earlier they were at the top in of the scale of proper so we were lead to the living room or parlor as they called it. We sat to visit and of course the appetizers were already sitting out and it was all homemade cheese balls of various kinds and fancy crackers. As we talked I was thinking of ways to take up time to allow our stomachs to do their job of digesting. It even crossed my mind if there had ever been anyone who had died from eating too much? It was easy to get them distracted talking about their son. Remember Ziggy? Well, he should have been ashamed of himself! His parents adored him and had kept every picture and newspaper article and magazine he was ever in. Come to find out that their little Ziggy was a big wig in Washington DC and like a lot of politicians with so called big important jobs, as they liked to think, was simply too busy to put his adoring parents on his list. So we looked through album after album and walked the house looking at pictures and listening to stories, anything to help pass time. At one point we found ourselves outside looking at some new landscaping their son had paid for. My husband kept giving me the eye in disbelief that we would soon be eating again. As we were finally lead to the dining room there it was! A beautifully set table with Waterford crystal and Paragon fine bone china from England. What a masterpiece of dignity. Ziggy could have even brought The President of the United States and been proud. Mr. Catherine , because I can’t remember their last name, had us sit down as Catherine brought out our shrimp cocktail. My husband slightly kicked me from underneath the table as we each looked at MORE shrimp! As the dinner continued the Caesar salad came next and that was a new creation for us at the time. We were moving our food around as much as possible and asking as many questions as we could think of to still take up time even excusing ourselves to go to the bathroom with mouths full of food to simply spit out and flush whenever possible . The main course with all its carbs had not even been served yet. When it did arrive not only was it spaghetti with meat sauce but there were meatballs and pork chops and Italian sausage in the sauce . If looks could kill! My husband had been doing his best so far but now what? How were we going to get this down? And of course let’s not forget the garlic bread!! We again moved our food around and went to the restrooms and even tried to hide some under lettuce. Before dessert I was able to talk Catherine into allowing me to help her clear the table and put some things away before we again retired to the parlor for coffee and Italian almond cake with fresh whipped cream. I know my husband and I had never been more full in our lives nor have we ever been since but I took away with me that night the desire to learn to cook. Not just to eat but to make it an art. To find new and exciting ways to prepare foods. To serve it with flair! I wish I could tell Catherine now what a difference she made in my life and all those hours that sweet couple spent on that one meal had not been wasted one bit. Thank you, Catherine wherever you are. I wish you could have had a daughter too.
Here are recipes written in her own hand writing.
Flying to Santa Barbara from Georgia to visit with family that also enjoys cooking is an adventure in itself to the palette ! My husband and I got up at 4:00 am to catch an early flight because when you love to cook you have to schedule your flight so it arrives in LA in time for you to rent a car, drive to SB , have lunch by the ocean and meet up with family, all in time to go to the Farmer’s Market before it closes at 7:00pm Pacific time!! Whew !! My sister and her husband and their daughter and her two sons all met us downtown where they close off the streets and the market treats begin. My nephews and I were so thrilled when we found purple carrots and yellow watermelons. As we tasted our way through, we added to our gatherings apples, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, heirloom cherry tomatoes and very black avocados. On our way home we saw some romaine lettuce and corn still in its husks that couldn’t be left out of my niece Alycia’s, eco friendly bags. Wow! Look at the masterpieces we came up with after a good night’s sleep.