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Let’s Cook: Veggies bring you Beauty, Health and Flavor

Whether you live in a mansion or a purple cottage by the road, your home is the background for your personality. I was blessed to have a mother who taught me this. It was the reason that she purchased an antique drum table with pedestal mount and claw feet and placed it in our living room. Next, she positioned an airy fern in a brass hammered planter on top of a large, crocheted doily done in the pineapple pattern and ecru in color. These three elements brought not only beauty but vitality as the growing fern made lace patterns on the wall.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson that she passed along to me was this: anything and everything can be transformed into a symphony of harmonious color tones with the encouragement of creativity and desire. For me, colorful table ensembles have been the canvas of choice when sharing the joy of color enchantment. When entertaining, one can never underestimate the inspiration that a well-set table gives. I truly believe it improves the appetite and as guests congregate around the table; they know that this is going to be a good experience. It may involve a bit of hand dishwashing, but they will get over it.

I feel that I am safe in saying that Jan and I were talking china patterns, the joy of coffee from bone china, and the many wonderful tablecloths this world has to offer by our third date. Back in our day, boys were allowed to visit the girls’ dorm only on certain nights. When Jan invited me to her dorm room for coffee and we sipped a medium roast from her Royal Albert bone china cups, I was in. Granted, I was taken by her intelligence, great sense of humor, organization and piano playing prior to this. True to form, Jan had selected her china pattern that featured forget me not flowers in shades of lavender, soft pink and various blues. For these colors represent calm, steadfastness and beauty, and that certainly is her.

Jan knows me well and when she walked into our home with a soup tureen that looked like a giant pea pod, we started another collecting adventure – garden vegetable dishes! We both agreed that we would only purchase them a rummage sale and the price had to be under $3.

You would not believe all the stunning, colorful and darn cute vegetable dishes that one finds at yard sales.

For the past three years, this collection has rested upon the kitchen cupboards at Edgewood in the East Activity room. I cannot begin to tell you all the wonderful conversations that have started because someone had the grapes or the celery tray; one woman simply loved beet dishes. It is, however, the comments made by residents who had planted several vegetable gardens out of necessity that I treasure.

One resident told about her garden being a friendly place because neighbors came to visit when she was pulling weeds. Another told of the smiles that came from handing someone fresh products from their labor. Talk often turned to the many hours of work involved with tending a garden and uprooting all weeds. This often resulted in a beautiful garden. There is a life lesson to be gleaned from these seniors and their garden labors. If we are to nurture a beautiful mind, we must uproot and toss away negative weeds in our awareness and needless thoughts such as selfishness, greed, fear and arrogance. These vegetable dishes that started out as a whim have been the source of many interesting and inspiring conversations. Their presence has brought to mind that more than ever seeds of kindness, love, concern and goodness need to be planted all year long.

Recently, our Life Enrichment Department had the pleasure of serving our seniors several fresh vegetables and homemade dips. Several of the vegetable dishes came down from the cupboards to make the table look attractive and to remind us once again that we eat with our eyes first.

Here are a couple of dips that I know you will like. They are easy to make and enjoyed with vegetables and variety of crackers. The deviled eggs are stuffed eggs which I featured in a column earlier this spring.

Daisy’s Dill Dip

1 cup real mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 tablespoons of parsley flakes

1 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated onion

2 teaspoons dill weed

2 teaspoons Lawry’s season salt

2 drops of Tabasco sauce

Mix all of the above together and refrigerate. It is best if refrigerated overnight. Cut up raw vegetables of your choice to dip.

Eggs-tremely Good Dip

1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of finely grated onion

2 teaspoons of prepared mustard

1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco

1 teaspoon Lawry’s Season Salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup real mayonnaise

6 hard-cooked eggs

1 package cream cheese softened

2 tablespoons of finely chopped pimiento

In a mixer or a blender combine lemon juice, onion, mustard, Tabasco, seasoned salt, pepper and mayonnaise. Add eggs one by one and blending well after each addition. Once this mixture is smooth and light add cream cheese and blend. Stir in pimiento by hand and spoon into colorful bowl such as orange and garnish with parsley sprigs. Set on a deep blue plate and arrange raw vegetables and crackers in an attractive pattern.

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