Southern Ladies At A Church Social

Guest speaker and visual artist Candy Cain created an inspired silk batik painting, a floral arrangement-in-holy setting within a short hour — surrounded by admiring Southern ladies wearing distinctive hats of every dimension. As they had arrived at Oak Ridge House, almost everyone audibly gasped, “Is this all for us?!”

The Pre-Derby Day Southern Soiree: A Run for the Roses spring event for Episcopal Church Women of St. James’ happened last evening. Lovely, near-perfect event. Not nearly enough friends participated, but the ladies who did attend beautifully presented themselves and their faithfulness.

All arrived to a Hall of clothed-to-the-floor white tables for eight, each featuring silver chargers and cutlery centered with vases of red roses. Nobody could miss the tall Granny Smith apples-based bouquet of dozens of deep red rosebuds. That stunning arrangement presided over a trio of buffet tables offering appetizers — cheese with crackers and Benedictine Spread — and the main course: Steamed Asparagus, Tomato Aspic, Corn Pudding, Baked Ham with Biscuits, and Kentucky Hot Browns; on the dessert table were Kentucky Derby Pies and Bourbon Balls. Yum.

ECW President Tippy Garner greeted and directed all to the beverage station, where Past-President Coleen O’Brien personally prepared and poured Mint Juleps or white or red wine. Event Chair Joanna Hunt and ECW Treasurer Alice Douglas received  well-deserved accolades for the decor as well as for overall design and execution of the event. ECW members prepared the food, and all donations benefitted the Episcopal Relief and Development supporting Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Communion in Japan, in its efforts for the earthquake and tsunami.

Guess whose 12-Week Program walked right out the French doors onto the lawn — where additional deep red and white-clothed tables with chairs offered more roses and Cheese Straws?! Oh, yes: Mint Juleps and wine trumped the diet!

The night was magical — even the vacationing rector, the Rev. Christopher Powell, stopped in to visit and admire — and certainly worthy of my slight departure from The Program. No regret, and today’s another in my quest to become visibly different.

But more about that next week. Today I’m happy to share requested recipes — enjoy, and let me know you do! Have a happy and blessed weekend.

Mother Wessman’s Tomato Aspic

Heat 2 cups tomato or V8 juice plus 1 cup water to boiling. Use some of the hot liquid in a separate cup to dissolve 2 beef bouillon cubes. In another measuring cup, dissolve 6 envelopes Knox gelatin; add 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Add totally dissolved gelatin and bouillon to tomato or V8 juice; stir well. Pour the mixture into a two-quart mold and finish filling with additional tomato or V8 juice. Refrigerate to congeal; this can require 4 to 5 hours, but time can be less if mixture is refrigerated in individual molds — I use muffin pans. Unmold and serve the aspic on a bed of lettuce with a dollop of Hellman’s or Duke’s mayonnaise on each serving.

Old Southern “Cawn Puddin” from Old Southern Tea Room, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Combine 1 number 2 can cream-style corn, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 5 well-beaten eggs, and 3 cups milk (I used non-fat half-and-half.) Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a tablespoon of water and add to mixture. Pour into a greased, ,shallow 4-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until custard is firm. Yield: 6 to 8 portions.

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