Girl Power…

Layered Vegetable Cheesecake entree

September in the late 80s in Louisville, Kentucky was always a combination of very warm or rather coolish days as it asked, “Am I still summer or becoming fall?”

This early fall Thoroughbroad luncheon was an opportunity to enjoy the last of the veggies in the garden, the beginnings of pumpkin season approaching, and fruity wines on a cool patio. We would enjoy all three this afternoon at Kristen’s house.

We now remember the 80s for some unique events and discoveries. Here are a few to set the mood:

In 88 the first global warming warning was announced.

In 89 the Berlin Wall fell.

The Macintosh computer was unveiled, Phil Donahue & Oprah both had famous talk shows, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman on the Supreme Court and Sally Ride was the first female astronaut.

Martina, Borg, and McEnroe were some of the sports stars along with Tyson & Spinks, Larry Bird & Magic Johnson…at that time Louisville was only considered a basketball town, and very few people watched football in Kentucky.

MTV was on 24/7 and Miami Vice was the first TV show to use current music of the day while Dallas ran 13 seasons and the big talk of the town was “Who Shot J.R.?

Magnum PI, the Cosby Show, Cheers, and Hill Street Blues were huge hits. M.A.S.H. garnered over 123 million viewers in its final episode and the remote control became an item all had to get.

It was a pre-cable era, pre-cell phone, and pre-social media time. Socializing was done over the dinner table at your’s or a friend’s home. If you were at a restaurant, someone you knew would stop and say hi…everyone talked on the home phone or face to face, no texting, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter back then. Arcade games were the big hit with PacMan and Donkey Kong and you went to Blockbuster to rent a movie or game. Aerobics came into play along with the cassette player and Walkman which played Madonna, Michael Jackson, or the musical styles of Dire Straits. Big hair and Spandex along with neon clothing and high-waist jeans were the fashion and Spielberg and Lucas were the big names in film.

You get the feel of the times we enjoyed back then, but, now for the food at Kristen’s. She entertained us with a welcoming pineapple Sangria with large chunks of lemon, pineapple, and orange as a kabob to serve as a stirrer. They were just the thing to get the stories started. The recipe follows and makes 2 ½ quarts, but I am sure we each drank that much ourselves, it was that good.

Our special luncheon entrée was a layered vegetable cheesecake made the day before so that the flavors would marry each other. It was served by the slice with a lovely cucumber-dill sauce along with pumpkin muffins right out of the oven. We ate and drank until we thought we would pop when she served dessert. We enjoyed an almond chocolate mousse in parfait glasses.

Over this delicious day out we listened as Scarlett spoke about her husband’s predicament. He was experiencing severe disorientation, manic episodes, difficulty staying awake, and a lot of confusion. At that time we did not realize it would stop her from attending luncheons in the future. She was going to have to be available for doctor’s appointments, tests in Louisville and Nashville, and possibly Mayo Clinic to determine what was going on. It would be 2 ½ years later that at Mayo they stated it was a mental health issue. The Thoroughbroads provided support that day and many more days over the years. Scarlett eventually took over his job to provide income and allow for his long-term disability insurance to come into effect so that he would be taken care of.

The memory of the friendship of these women, the dishes they enjoyed over each other’s highs and lows, and the support, and encouragement have never been forgotten. Time moves on and our lives change. We take on new careers, we move from town to town, and we even may remarry, but some long-standing friendships can last a lifetime. Robyn and Scarlett are great examples of that as they continue this blog with the intent to turn it into a book. Girl power remains and flourishes if you feed the soul with a tribe of women who bring good food, great company, adult beverages, and their own stories to the table.

Women friends just flat our rock! Be a good friend to another. Someone out there needs it and will never forget it.

Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup golden raisins

½ cup warm water

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin

¾ tsp cloves

¾ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

11/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup veg oil

1 ¾ cup flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

Soak raisins in water 5 min. Combine next 7 ingredients and beat in raisins and water

 In large bowl combine dry ingredients make a well and pour in wet ingredient mix.  Mix well fill muffin tins that have been sprayed with Pam 2/3rds full of mixture. Bake at 400 for 20-15 min.

Layered Veggie Cheesecake

1 ½ cups dry breadcrumbs

1/3 cup melted butter

2 8oz packs of softened cream cheese

2 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1 8oz carton of sour cream

¼ cup minced onion

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¾ cup shredded carrots

¾ cup diced green pepper

¾ cup diced red sweet peppers

Cucumber Dill Sauce

1 8oz carton plain yogurt

1 /3 cup Mayo

½ cup unpeeled cucumber chopped

¼ tsp salt

1/3 tsp dried dill weed Combine cover and chill yields 1 ½ cups

Combine breadcrumbs and butter and press on bottom and 1 inch up sides of a spring form pan. Set aside.

Beat cheese at high speed until fluffy, add eggs one at a time and beat well, add flour and the next 4 ingredients beat until blended.

Pour ¼ of sour cream mix into pan, sprinkle with carrots top with 1/3 mix and sprinkle with green peppers Top with half remaining mix and sprinkle with red peppers then top with remaining mix. Bake at 300 for 1 hour until set turn off oven and partially open door of oven and leave the cheesecake in for 1 hour, then remove let cool cover it and chill in refrigerator. Serve with sauce above. Serves 6-8

Almond Chocolate Mousse

1 cup heavy cream

 4 oz semi sweet chocolate morsels

 ¼ cup Amaretto

2 egg whites room temp.

Whip cream until peaking and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Over low heat melt chocolate remove and blend in Amaretto, then beat egg whites until stiff and fold them into chocolate then pour egg chocolate mix into the whipped cream Blend and spoon into parfait glasses chill and garnish with toasted almonds and a little of the amaretto flavored whipped cream.

Pineapple Sangria

1 20 oz can pineapple chunks un-drained

1 apple unpeeled, cored and cut into chunks

1 lemon sliced and quartered

1 750 milliliter of Burgundy wine

 1 46 oz can pineapple juice ¼ cup brandy

¼ cup sugar

Drain pineapple reserving juice, skewer apple, and pineapple, lemon and orange chunks onto skewers

Combine reserved pineapple juice, Burgundy and all remaining ingredients into container add the skewered fruit and chill at least 1 hour. Serve over ice with a kabob skewer..yields 2 ½ quarts.

Almond Chocolate Mousse

Robyn’s “Roughing It” Beer Bread…

Gap Pals Camping

Steve and I made our first corporate move after 3 months of marriage. Two years later, a promotion sent us back to my hometown. It was at this time that we met Bob and Suz. We hit it off immediately. Every weekend we were eating together and played Hearts into the night.

In the summer, they suggested that we go camping with them. They had a Coleman pop-up camper with a bed on each side. We would camp on private property. There was a small house on the property that was no longer inhabitable but the outhouse was kept in working order. A short ride down the gas line cut in their Jeep would get us to the river for swimming and fishing. I was not sure that ” roughing it ” was my thing but I will try most anything once.

Suz and I handled the food. You would be amazed at what you can cook on a 2 burner camp stove and a campfire. A bread called beer bread was popular at that time. Suz and I decided to give it a try at the camp. The dry ingredients went into a plastic bowl with a lid and I packed a loaf pan. There was always beer in the cooler. What about an oven you ask?

We built an oven. We found an old 5-gallon paint bucket, a small piece of metal grating, and a piece of sheet metal. The bucket was placed on its side on the edge of the campfire with the piece of grating inside for a flat surface. We mixed up the bread. Huckleberries had been found on a walk in the woods and those were tossed in as well. The loaf pan was placed on the grating. We then positioned the sheet metal to close the opening. We had no idea what the temperature would be so we waited. Other than one charred corner, it turned out perfectly. We ate it right out of the oven with some butter slathered on it. Our husbands were properly impressed by our ingenuity.

Turns out I did like roughing it a little. It was a secluded spot in the mountains and I loved the serenity of it. Lots of laughing happened there. Many memories were made. Suz and I are now widows. We share those memories and laugh again. She is now an expert bread maker but we still make beer bread.

Beer Bread

3 c. Self-rising flour

3 T. Sugar

12oz. can of beer

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan. Mix ingredients and place in the loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 1 hour.

Robyn sitting on the stacked wood while the coals get hot enough for cooking beer bread.

June Bugs & July Beer…

The word Bugs has many meanings from insects to crawfish (which are called Mudbugs). It was the year of Cicadas in Louisville…seems they only come out in early summer and the Brood X variety, which are in hordes and terribly loud and annoying, come out of the ground every 17 years. It was also the year the Thoroughbroads decided to have a Mudbug and cold beer event to commemorate the bug event.

Crawfish were not as abundant at the Kentucky groceries as they are now so they had to be ordered and shipped in. We found a source and would make some dishes, Low Country Boil, some seafood crepes, swig down some quality beer, and enjoy a warm evening at Scarlett’s house. Her house was built on top of a big hill where the calmer winds blew down the back patio making it the perfect place to stay cool on a July evening. The deck could be washed off after crawdad shelling, and garbage cans could be placed to hold the shells and any beer cans or plastic cups and plastic utensils and plates so clean-up would be easy. A table with an oilcloth cover was used to pour the Low Country Boil on top after it had cooked and folding chairs would be used so they could be hosed off as well after the event ended.

A keg of beer was brought by a couple whose wife told us her motto “When God was handing out legs I thought he said kegs and I told him I would take two big ones.” We have never forgotten that and to this day remember Pat every time we drink beer. Now, with the craft beer frenzy, that is quite often.

Scarlett also taught everyone to sing a southern song that goes like this…” Whatcha gonna do when the crawdads come honey…whatcha gonna do when crawdads come babe…whatcha gonna do when the crawdads die…sit on the banks and cry cry cry honey oh baby mine.” Those who attended this hot July event probably sing that song every time they eat crawfish, I know she does.

If you have never had Low Country Boil you have missed out. It can be made with all types of seafood but shrimp usually is the go-to, but in this case, we wanted Mudbugs. The recipes follow that were enjoyed that evening in the 80s and they are still popular with a few of us that live below the Mason Dixon Line.

Shrimp, crab, and crawfish in this low country boil with sauces and warmed butter to dip them in.

Low Country Boil Recipe

Yield: 8

Fill a large pot with crawfish, shrimp, or crab, along with spicy sausage, corn, and potatoes, and boil using the ingredients below, then fish out with a large strainer and place on the oilcloth table or a table with layers of newspaper on it and enjoy!


  • 1 (3-ounce) package extra-spicy boil-in-bag shrimp-and-crab boil
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle pale ale beer
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 3 pounds of baby red potatoes
  • 2 pounds mild or hot smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Shrimp, crab, and crawfish leave in the shells and placed after a rolling boil in the pot.

Bug Juice

In a pitcher add your favorite Kool Aid powder ( preferably not red so you don’t ruin your clothing as red will not come out of clothes!) add amount of water it requests less 1/4 cup. Add sugar to taste, or a simple syrup mixture then add 1/4 cup vodka or more to your liking and throw into each glass a garnish of a gummy worm…now enjoy over ice!

May in Kentucky…

May in Kentucky is all about Derby. Actually, it starts two weeks out with Thunder Over Louisville, the fireworks and air show over the Ohio river in downtown Louisville.

This is followed by the Pegasus Parade, a marathon, free concerts on the lawn, hat fashion shows and more activities throughout the state than you can count before the first Saturday in May, Derby day.

It doesn’t stop there. The racing continues until June, but the betting never ceases here. There is always a way to put your money on the ponies in Kentucky.

May also signals that the party and event season has begun. Kentucky never misses a chance to entertain, whether you are a visitor, neighbor or family, the get-together season is here. The Thoroughbroads enjoyed their regular monthly luncheons, but also couples gourmet dining at various restaurants in town, Louisville orchestra concerts at the zoo, club events and this year an ice cream social at Scarlett’s house in the back yard.

Her home was built into a very high hill, nestled in a background of woods. But at the top of the driveway was a big flat turn around space that was perfect for an event where grills could be set up and some fun could follow. It was decided that the husbands would bring their grills and whatever kind of meat they wanted to cook, drink beer and brag about their cooking skills to each other. A “Grill Out” competition was formed. The Thoroughbroads would bring a salad, appetizer or side dish and Scarlett would supply all the drinks from wine to beer, to a non alcoholic punch, tea and coffee along with the ice cream and all of the fixin’s for a cool dessert.

The day was a huge success. The men enjoyed the competition, the food was delicious and the fellowship even better. It was a great way to welcome the party season in Kentucky. But the story does not end there.

Some of the grills had to be picked up and delivered to the party, not all of the men owned a truck. Scarlett’s and Robyn’s husbands borrowed a truck from one of the other men and picked them up and dropped them off at the top of the hill all in a row for the competition. The day after the party they had to return them all before the two had their regular golf outing on Sundays. The last grill to be delivered was owned by the man they borrowed the truck from, so it would be the last returned. Upon loading it, they noticed the handle had been broken. On a Sunday where would they find a handle to replace it? They drove to every hardware store they could find (remember this was the early 80’s before Lowes or Home Depot had been built in Louisville), it took hours but they finally found one which did not match the broken one but it would work. After attaching it, they realized they would not make their tee time at the course. Louisville is a big golfing community, there would be no tee times left on a Sunday afternoon, so there went their favorite weekend activity.

After the grill was delivered and the borrowed truck returned to the owner, the guys came back to Scarlett’s where Robyn was helping with the clean up after the party and enjoying a girl day. Both were unaware that the men had had all of this difficulty. As they came in the door it was evident that they had not had a good day. After they grabbed a beer and sat down, the girls asked about their golf outing figuring they had not played well. That is when the story of their day began, but the ending was the best. They said that when they finally delivered the broken handled grill all repaired to the borrowed truck friend’s house he was so excited. After they pulled it off the back of the truck and set it on the driveway he delightfully said, “Guys that was so nice of you to put a new handle on the grill before you brought it back to me. That handle has been broken for years and I just never could find one to replace it.” The husbands vowed that day to never borrow anything from anyone again and the “broads” have laughed about it every May to this day.

Here are some of the recipes from the Ice Cream Social for your pleasure.

Carrots and Conversation…

A painting to commemorate this April event.

A holiday month gathering of the “Thoroughbroads”always meant you went home with a few goodies. At this April event, we would enjoy a small Ball jar with a fabric lid cover in pastel colors full of homemade carrot jam, a beautiful recipe card for skillet roasted carrots, a bowl of IBC root beer glazed carrots to enjoy warmed up at home, an Easter card with a personalized note and a carrot cake cupcake to enjoy for our dessert.

We met at Scarlett’s home where the dining room was the perfect setting for a spring Easter luncheon. Antique dining furniture placed against a soft pastel floral wallpaper and a table setting of light blue bordered Lenox china, sterling silver flatware and large crystal goblets full of a banana slushie suggested we would enjoy a great meal. A large pressed glass cake stand held the cupcake gifts to enjoy later over coffee. The centerpiece was a collection of vintage Easter cards with ribbon intertwined among them which made it easy to talk over.

The talk was centered around a new show on television that featured Regis Philburn and Kathie Lee Gifford. They poke fun at one another over their personal lives. The fact it was not overly produced and the entire show not scripted made it enjoyable to watch. Turns out their onstage relationship started in 1985 and lasted 15 years, more than some of the Thoroughbroad marriages!

In honor of the show, we enjoyed Chicken by Regis and Kathie Lee as our main course along with biscuits with the carrot cake jam and roasted carrots. Everything was delightful, including our adult beverage which helped us ring in the month of the Easter Bunny. Many smiles and stories of our childhood Easter egg hunts, new dresses and the Easter meals we enjoyed in the 50’s and 60’s were shared. Looking back on those simpler times than now, our events wrapped around family and what the holiday actually stood for. It was an occasion to spend quality time with one another on a Sunday made for memories.

The recipes follow below:

Chicken by  Regis and Kathie Lee

2/3 cup long grain rice

2/3 cup thin spaghetti

1/3 cup olive oil

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup broccoli flowerets

1 cup chicken, julienned

¼ tsp crushed thyme

½ cup green onions chopped

¼ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup diced red peppers

Heat olive oil in a large pan, add rice and spaghetti and sauté 5 min. Add chicken broth and brig to a boil then add remaining ingredients and cook covered for 15 min on med to low heat.

Carrot Cake Jam

1 ½ cups Carrots skinned then pulsed in processor making pulp

1 ½ cups ripe Pears skinned and pulsed in to pulp

1 can unsweetened pineapple chopped small

3 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 pkg Fruit pectin powdered

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

6 ½ cups sugar

In a 6 – 8 quart sauce pot, combine the first seven ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the pears are tender. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the pan. Remove from the sauce pan from the heat, and stir in pectin.
Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Slowly stir in the sugar and return to a full rolling for 1 minute, making sure to stir constantly to avoid boiling over. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a metal spoon. Ladle into small sterilized Ball jars and let cool before you screw on the lids. Makes great gifts.

Skillet Roasted Carrots

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb of rainbow small carrots trimmed and cut on the bias

Kosher salt to taste

¼ tsp black pepper

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2Tbsp honey

1 tsp fresh thyme

If carrots are thoroughly scrubbed clean no need to peel them.

Heat olive oil in skillet over med heat. Add carrots and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally until they are browned but tender crisp (6-8 min).

Add vinegar, honey and cook stirring until bubbly. Remove from heat and sprinkle with thyme leaves and serve.

Banana Slushies

4 cups sugar

 6 cups water

1 46 oz can pineapple juice

1 46 oz can orange juice

 5 mashed bananas

½ cup lemon juice

5 Qts ginger ale chilled

Serve over crushed ice

How we felt after eating that delicious meal and swigging down those slushies!

Coming In Like A Lion…

The month of March is full of not only wild weather but happenings like Scarlett’s birthday, the annual Daylight Savings time change, Girl Scout Day, the Ides of March, Fat Tuesday (this year in 2022), St. Patrick’s Day along with National Irish American Heritage month are just a few to single out. With Fat Tuesday landing in March of this year, Scarlett decided to make Gumbo for dinner on her birthday. It would be the perfect meal on a rainy cool nite and she could bring out the unique porcelain china that her mom had bought when Scarlett was 15. It was a complete set for serving a gumbo or etouffee meal and the china was from New Orleans. It had 6 deep bowls, a medium sized compote with lid to hold rice and a larger compote with lid to hold the gumbo or any other “Nawlin’s” type dish served over rice.

While growing up, Scarlett’s mother owned a fashionable antique shop in Atlanta, GA.named FiFi’s Antiques with a reputation for fine furnishings and accessories for the distinguished southern buyer. At 15, Scarlett had gone to work for her after school to dust, sweep, take the garbage out and maintain the restrooms to earn money to buy a car. One afternoon, Scarlett was behind the register getting the key to the vending machine for a Coke when a young woman, well dressed and in her mid twenties ventured in while FiFi was with a customer. The woman asked her if the shop owner bought items. Thrilled to be acknowledged for something other than a clean restroom, she answered with a professional “Yes quite often. Let me get the owner for you.” She then proceeded to see if her mother could help this young lady. FiFi stepped away from her client to see what the young woman had in mind. As it turned out, she had three huge boxes of items she wanted to rid herself of. Seems that the girl had gotten married in New Orleans to the son of a wealthy family there…and I mean wealthy. She confided that the marriage had only lasted a few months when she found out he enjoyed an alternative lifestyle. She divorced him and walked away with these wedding gifts but only if she promised not to cause a scandal for the family in Louisiana. Moving back home to Atlanta, she brought three big boxes full of Waterford crystal vases, exquisite glassware and bowls, new and old sterling silver items that ranged from trays to unique serving pieces and candelabras, high quality housewares and the compete set of the china mentioned earlier which was from the early 1800’s. It was maker’s marked porcelain with a transfer pattern as its decoration. Scarlett helped to bring all of the boxes in as FiFi made an offer on it all and the young woman accepted. Near closing time, the two loaded up the boxes to take home and investigate what all had been purchased.

Arriving home, Scarlett brought the boxes in and they shared the adventure with her dad as the three of them unwrapped one item after another. It was a magnificent buy. There would be lots of money to be made on this find. When the complete set of china came out they were in for another treat. Two of the pieces had been repaired on the back side with iron clips similar to staples. Scarlett had never seen anything like that, but her mother rejoiced because this helped date the pieces. Repairs like this were rare to find due to the fact they usually were holding cracked items together so the crack would not open and ruin the piece. Items repaired like this had to be carefully cared for. Scarlett immediately told her mother “When you no longer want them please pass them to me instead of the three other kids.” FiFi agreed and when she came to live with Scarlett many years later, she brought the china with her to pass it on as she had promised.

These iron staples were placed into the crack to keep it from coming apart, thus salvaging the piece. They are not visible on the front of the dish.

Many of the items in the boxes were stored in the attic at her mother’s home and were given as wedding presents, birthday gifts, etc for years to come. She and Scarlett never bought anything before going up in that attic to see what was left out of that great buy.

This day, the china would hold her gumbo in honor of her birthday, then it would be hand washed and dried and put back in the Victorian mahogany cupboard with the hand-blown glass doors that stood in her dining room to await another special occasion. It had turned out that FiFi’s decision to set these and other pieces aside for Scarlett had been a good one. She was the only one out of the four children that appreciated old things and went on to sell antiques herself. Speaking up for what she wanted and showing an appreciation for tradition and respecting history had made her mother aware that she was eager to learn and follow in her footsteps. She often said ” You have a good eye and I have taught you well. Now use that knowledge to make something of yourself”

Scarlett has carried on her mother’s legacy by instilling that same message to her step son Paul. His apartment is full of Mid Century modern soft goods but antique maps, decanters and hand crafted early wood furniture. He shares in her love for old things, including her as she turns 69 on this birthday.

The seal on the back of an 1800’s New Orleans found antique porcelain set of bowls.

they are deep for a reason….
Full of homemade Gumbo honoring Fat Tuesday and Scarlett’s birthday…recipe to follow.

Robyn’ s Admission…

As I have said before, I was always surrounded by good cooks. My mother, grandmother, and later my mother-in-law. I admired them and learned so much from them. I wanted to master those tried and true recipes. But here’s the thing, I have a huge curiosity about the world. I am all about trying something new. This curiosity encompasses food. When I travel, I am always excited to try a local food that I have not had before. That’s how you learn about different cultures. In Kenya, I ate a cheese that was black. Great tasting. Sounds pretty tame right? I have a friend who will not drink my breakfast smoothie because it is green. I am guessing she would not go for the black cheese.

My real exploration of food began in 1975 when I picked up a Bon Appétit magazine. I have no idea what was on that cover but I was hooked. So many things I had never heard about or seen. Things that could not be found in my grocery store I wanted to try all of it. I immediately got a subscription. Now I had all this delivered to my door. Of all the things that tempted me, I became especially enamored with chocolate.

Chocolate, food of the gods. I will be forever grateful to the ancient Mayans for showing those European explorers chocolate. So many ways to use chocolate. In 1984, the February issue arrived. There was an article titled Valentine Desserts. And then, I saw it. Truffles with real gold on top! Who knew one could eat gold? It must be 23 or 24 karat but you can eat it. How decadent is that? Forget Russell Stover and Godiva. I was going to eat chocolate AND gold. Straightaway, I took myself to the local art supply store and purchased a booklet of 24 karat gold leaf sheets. Tearing the gold leaf into tiny pieces takes time and patience. Do not exhale heavily or God forbid sneeze because it will fly everywhere! My sweet husband Steve always did this part for me. The chocolate alone is delicious. Adding the gold makes it that something special we so enjoy.  A truffle topped with gold, a glass of champagne, and someone you love, the perfect recipe for the best Valentine’s Day.

Note: leaving the truffles in a ball shape makes them easier to handle and more stable at room temperature.

This is the page from the old magazine with the recipe…send us a comment and your email and we will type up the recipe for you and send it!

An Alabama New Year’s Eve…

Robyn’s New Year’s Eve Celebration

The large open concept dining room had a table set with a Waterford crystal vase full of ruby red roses and winter greenery as its centerpiece. On a white damask tablecloth, green charger plates were set for three people. The Christmas china had an emerald green border, crisp white linen napkins and lovely silverware laid out beside the plates. There were crystal goblets that would be filled with the appropriate red wine. They were big and bulbous to allow the wine to air properly. An early New Year’s Eve dinner was going to be served. Scarlett and her husband had come to visit Robyn during the Christmas holiday but would have to return home before the first of January. so celebrating the New Year with Robyn in Alabama had to come early in order to be shared together.

A wonderfully delicious meal of short ribs slow roasted in red wine with potatoes and carrots that were rough chopped so as not to disintegrate, a mixed green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing was dinner fare. All was enjoyed with a bottle of Lindeman’s Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon which lived up to its reputation and is now one of our favorite red elixirs. Dessert, a homemade mincemeat pie, Scarlett’s favorite. But, her husband would never give that kind of pie a second look. He feared it was full of some sort of “fruity” weird meat. Tonight it would be different. He always enjoyed Robyn’s cooking and trusted her so he would give it a taste. He LOVED it! He ate two pieces right there at the table and ended up finishing half of the pie later that evening. Her presentation made it even more attractive as you can see in the photos below.

This pie is not hard to make if you follow the recipe on the jar of Nonesuch brand of mincemeat. A New Year’s Eve meal will always have to end with a slice of this pie…it is officially now a tradition with gal pals and others. If you find this brand in your grocery, buy more than one jar…it can be very hard to find.

Short Ribs in Red Wine Sauce
Homemade Mincemeat Pie
All that Scarlett’s Husband Left After His First Slice
Best Brand Ever!(Follow the recipe on the jar)
Robyn Outdid Herself!

The Living Tree…

During the year the Thoroughbroads would break up into couples groups to enjoy events outside of the monthly luncheons hosted by one of the gang. At holiday time, Robyn and Scarlett along with another friend and their husbands would get together to see the Living Christmas Tree at Walnut Street Baptist Church in downtown Louisville. It was a free event, but you had to request tickets early as it was always a sold out crowd each year. The men would put on their best jacket or sports coat with a mock turtleneck underneath while the women were decked out in red, green or black velvet or taffeta skirts. A sweater with BIG shoulder pads ( remember this was the 80’s) made the outfit. They would top that off with a pair of Carlton Ridge earrings or broach. Or they might choose a big white collared prairie style printed dress and stylish flats with a buckle or bow on top. After all it was holiday time.

The tree was amazing! Made up of at least 100 choir singers stacked like firewood on a big stage with greenery and Christmas lights all around them. It was beautiful and they were marvelous singers. The holiday music put everyone in the spirit for the season. We would get back to one of our homes and laugh because there was always something that happened at the event. A crazy festive outfit worn by an attendee would be pointed out, an unruly kid crying or standing up in the audience singing along, dancing in an aisle or the one night one of the singers fainted down into the tree from the crowded space they had to stand in. The greenery was set up to their necks and the heat was intense from those old Christmas lighting that could burn your house down. The funny part of that event is that the tree kept singing and most of the audience never knew it had happened. The show must go on.

One special night back at Robyn’s we were handed champagne flutes with red and green plaid ribbon tied to the stems and filled with a fabulous pouring of Asti to toast to the holiday. A beautiful display of various round wheels of Brie cheese with various toppings to spread on specialty crackers or sourdough bread squares was preset on the dining table. We enjoyed all of it. Brie is not something you can save for another night. There were 4 wheels on a large serving tray, one topped with mincemeat, another with Kahlua softened walnuts, a honey and golden raisin topping and a Grand Marnier inspired topping with dates and orange zest. All delicious and not a bite was left.

Start with a wheel of Brie and take off the top layer of crust and place the Brie on parchment paper on a baking sheet and place in oven at 350 until you see the cheese just start to melt, then remove it, place it on a serving dish and pour your toppings on top and serve ( your toppings should be heated prior to your pour).

TA DA! now enjoy…

This annual event is something we all enjoy remembering at this time of year. The three couples moved away from Louisville and the church no longer has this event. However, while we lived in Louisville we never missed an opportunity to repeat this tradition of bringing in Christmastime enjoying the tree, the music, drinks, great conversation, and our friendship.

Building the tree the choir would stand on.
The finished tree

Talking Turkey…

Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe on vellum is painted by Scarlett in acrylic on paper dated 2016 in honor of Robyn

Thanksgiving! Good or bad? It all depends on the company you keep. As I mentioned before, my husband always went deer hunting Thanksgiving week. Many of you are thinking how sad. The man asked for one week out of the whole year to himself. How could I possibly begrudge him that? Sometimes I stayed home enjoying my solitude. Sometimes I traveled to spend the holiday with friends. I have spent Thanksgiving in many different places. The most unusual place was Tanzania. I was hunting big game but only with a camera. There was no turkey and the day passed with no fanfare.

We all have our traditions for the day. Dinner in my family was a fairly formal affair. We were all seated at the dining room table with the good china. The menu was turkey, dressing ( not stuffing ), gravy, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry salad ( not the jellied glob from the can ), and rolls. Dessert was pumpkin pie with whipped cream. The television was not on. We spent the day being together and talking. After dark, we went for a drive to see the Christmas lights downtown. After Steve and I were married, we would go with his parents to a Christmas tree farm. We would search for the perfect tree, tag it, and come back at a later date to cut it down.

In Alabama, I was invited to spend Thanksgiving at my friend’s lake house.  The immediate family numbered 17. Add friends and in-laws and this was a crowd! People were everywhere, inside and out. There was no good china only paper plates. The turkeys were fried. Yes, turkeys plural. Usually 5 turkeys with the first one coming out of the fryer before noon. This one was to “ snack “ on. They had perfected the timing and they were very moist. I did miss the drippings to be used for gravy. The oddest thing to me about the menu was the macaroni and cheese. In my family, this was not a dish for a special occasion. They all loved it no matter what the day. The most shocking thing was no pumpkin pie. I was craving that pie. Surely it was here somewhere. Not a single one! Their favorites were a chocolate pudding dessert & banana pudding. There was a bonfire and a game of horseshoes in the yard after dinner. The important thing was the time together.

When Scarlett and I reconnected, it was Thanksgiving.  I am always thankful for her friendship. This year I am fortunate to be spending Thanksgiving with Scarlett and her husband. Plans have been made to dine out. Another new Thanksgiving experience in a new place. Ohhhh no! No leftovers. What to do? By the way, that year with no pumpkin pie, I came home and made my own. Knowing this story, Scarlett has promised to make a pumpkin pie, of which she hates but gets rave reviews every year from others…I can’t wait!

This is my grandmother’s cranberry salad. It is not a jello salad. It is a fruit salad with just enough gelatin to hold it together. If cranberry jello is not available, substitute raspberry. All fruit should be coarsely chopped.

2 boxes cranberry jello

1 cup boiling water

2 bags fresh cranberries

2 apples,a crisp apple such as McIntosh

2 oranges & zest

1 small can crushed pineapple

2 stalks celery

1 cup walnuts

1 ½ cup of sugar

Combine jello and boiling water in a bowl. Stir until dissolved. Refrigerate until thickened but not set. Place pineapple in a colander and press to drain. Zest oranges into bowl. Section and chop oranges in a food processor, add to bowl. Quarter apples and remove the core, chop in food processor and add to bowl. Chop cranberries, walnuts, and celery separately in food processor, add to bowl. Add sugar and pineapple to the bowl, stir to combine. Add the jello to the bowl, stir thoroughly to coat all fruit. Place in a 9×13 dish, cover, refrigerate overnight.

Leftovers? Probably not but, my friend used it as an ice cream topping.