It’s All Part Of The Club

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Did I tell you that I joined the garden club in our little town?  (My grand-girls think they are members too since they get to go with me each month!)  Someday I’ll share some of our duties but today I’d like to tell you about the very first meeting of the year back in January when a notebook went around the room for the members to fill in what month they would like to host the meeting and meal in their home.  It’s not a requirement and the really great thing is that we have access to a nice room in the Museum where we can have our meetings and potluck, but there is something about going to someone’s home that is really special.

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Everyone kindly reassured me that I was not expected to host a meeting my first year.  But when the notebook got to me and I saw that July was empty I put my name down for lunch on my Hilltop.  I was so excited!  I asked my little Grand-girls if they would like to help host and they looked forward to it as much as I did I think!

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When I am going to do something like lunch for 20 ladies I try to keep it as simple as I can.  I have learned the hard way that big meals for a lot of people are not enjoyable.  So when I was planning my menu I kept that in mind.

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Salad

How can you possibly go wrong with a beautiful salad full of all fresh locally grown veggies?  I made it with several different lettuces, cucumber, tomatoes, red cabbage, red and yellow bell peppers, and cheese tortellini.  I also grilled chicken tenderloins and cut those up for anyone that desired to put in their salad.

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Caprice Salad

With it being summertime and a beautiful supply of fresh tomatoes and basil this was such a beautiful addition to the meal!

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Focaccia Bread 

I adore Focaccia Bread.  There are many recipes online and the one I use is really no different than any of the ones you find.  I use rosemary and sea salt in mine and it is divine!

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Grilled Okra (not pictured)

I missed a picture of the grilled okra but I will tell you very quickly how I make it.  It is so simple.  Cut the stem and end off the okra and then slice each okra in half long wise – so that you have two long okra slices.  Do this until you have enough for a large cast iron skillet.  Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in your large cast iron skillet until it is very hot.  Throw your okra in the skillet and stir so that the oil is disbursed on all the okra.  Cook it for just a few minutes, stirring every minute or so.  You want the okra to get a little brown, but not overly cooked.  Once it is tender crisp, pour it onto a large patter and sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.  You will never, ever want to eat okra another way I promise you!  

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Drinks

Because we are in the South there is really nothing to offer in the way of drinks except for ice tea (both sweet and unsweet) and fruit tea.  Have you ever had fruit tea?  My favorite recipe is here.  Try it… you will never go back!   Since I didn’t have enough glasses to go around and I did not want to use to disposable cups, I served the drinks in pint size canning jars!  My favorite go-to for drinking glasses for a crowd!

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Dessert

I had so many offers from the ladies to bring dessert, but I told everyone no as I’ve been looking for an excuse to make pies!  I love making pies.  So I made Lemon Meringue, Peach, and Chocolate Cream.  Oh they were good.  I tried cutting them in tiny slivers so everyone could have a piece of each and I think most of us did!

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I served the meal buffet style on my large island in my kitchen.  It works perfect for crowds like this.

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Of course we ate outside on my porches overlooking the beautiful valley and it was such a lovely day.  I set the tables with cloth napkins and silverware; no paper or plastic!  For centerpieces I used flowers from our flower garden simply arranged in pint size jars.

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The weather was perfect, there was a little breeze that kept the heat and the bugs away and we sat on the porches and enjoyed good food and good fellowship.

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Obviously we did have to actually have the “meeting” part of the lunch but we also did that on the porches and it was so restful, where we drank coffee, ate pie and looked out over the valley.

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One of the things I really love about being in the Garden Club is that each of us bring “specimens” to each meeting.  It is so fun to see what is growing in our yards and gardens and share in the beauty of it each month.  The July meeting was lovely because everyone had the most amazingly beautiful things to bring and share.  They filled my kitchen table and we all enjoyed looking over every bloom and vegetable!

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Another thing I love about our monthly meetings is that the Hostess plans an activity.  At one meeting someone came and showed us how to make flower arrangements, another month the hostess had us painting rocks (SO much fun!), another time a Bee Keeper came and told us all about bees.  Everything is so fascinating.  I really struggled with what to plan.  Suddenly it occurred to me that what would be the most fun would be a simple tour of our Farm Fresh flower garden.  It’s at the bottom of the hill and requires a little drive alongside the hay field but most of the ladies were game and before everyone left for the day, that is what we did!

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It was so much fun.  I think my little grand-girls just loved telling all the ladies what was growing and how we pick and arrange the flowers for the flower stand.

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We talked butterflies and bees, flowers, weeds and insects!  Not a subject we didn’t cover down in the flower garden!

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When I told everyone goodbye, my heart was full.  And I realized in just six short months these ladies have become very dear to me.  They are all a treasure and I’m so happy I got the privilege to have them in my home on the Hilltop!

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If you ever get a chance to join your local garden club, do it!  And have the courage to host a lunch at your home.  Oh is it ever worth it!

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Until our gravel roads cross again… so long!

 

Dori

Leave a comment 7 Comments

  1. Laura says:

    What a wonderful event you had! Thank you for sharing your photos and menu.

  2. Candace Segar says:

    Hi Dori,

    That was just a beautiful story with great pictures of your event. I have to say those pies looked quite alluring. It looked like so much fun! Thank you for sharing this with us. Candy

  3. Jennifer Chappell says:

    What a lovely time! It’s all so beautiful.

  4. Donna Kozak says:

    It certainly looked like a perfect day to dine outside and enjoy your great view and check out your Farm Fresh Garden with all the beautiful flowers and butterflies – your lunch looked delicious !

  5. Marilyn says:

    Thank You for this interesting post. It looks like every one has a good time. Your granddaughters are beautiful young ladies.
    Joan,Marion and Marilyn

  6. Judy from Maine says:

    Wow, that looks like fun. I’m not so much of a gardener, but I am a quilter…did I spy quilts that you made used as table coverings? Beautiful and a perfect use, I love seeing quilts used. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Judy allen says:

    Such a heart warming story. Nothing like a great porch with good friends.

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