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Anne's Kitchen: Old friends, new memories

 

During an annual reunion of girlfriends, Anne Freeze of Columbus and her

During an annual reunion of girlfriends, Anne Freeze of Columbus and her "team" prepared a Mexican-themed dinner on their assigned evening. The menu included chicken enchilada verde casserole, like that pictured, and a sopapilla-like dish for dessert. The recipes are included today. Photo by: bellofthekitchen.com

 

Anne Freeze

 

 

Well, the fourth annual retreat for the B-52's is over, and it gets better and better each year. We went to Mineral Bluff, Georgia, 7 miles from Blue Ridge which has gone from sleepy little town to an artsy craftsy little town with boutiques and restaurants. Our house had nine bedrooms and six and a half bathrooms, both extremely important for 17 approaching-the-hill women. (You try getting 17 women -- of any age -- out the door to make an 11:30 lunch reservation 30 minutes away! Just as the front door opens every single one has to make a last-second bathroom run. Is it gender or age? I think both.) 

 

But we had a ball. And I recommend each game we played: Left, Right, Center as well as the one with a ginormous ball made from plastic wrap with little presents wrapped inside. Goal is to unwrap the ball before you have to pass it to the next person. A display of WWW wrestling technique was displayed by Peggy and Oby. And we talked and talked about things important to the world and not-so-much. We looked at old camp photos and sang camp songs. The house had a movie theater room complete with marquee outside the door and 12 reclining puffy seats and movie candy and popcorn machine. We watched "Bye Bye Birdie" one night and danced for hours to Kitty's doo-wop collection of DVDs the next. I don't even like doo-wop, but you couldn't have guessed. 

 

Best of all, my oldest friend Pooh Hodgson Ossa made it all the way from Nanaimo, British Columbia. She is a triplet and comes to see brothers Joe (Nashville) and Tom (Athens, Georgia) once every three or so years. She hadn't seen most of this group since high school and was a little nervous, but was welcomed with kisses and hugs and very soon was back in the groove. We are thrilled she has already committed to coming next year (Lake Oconee, Greensboro, Georgia). 

 

 

 

Good eating 

 

The food was outstanding, with each team putting thought and skill into their meal. We had Chicken Marbella ("Silver Palate" cookbook) which Marsha started the night before marinating and prepping. We had fabulous lasagna brought by Helen from a caterer in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kitty brought the Athens, Georgia, classic Chicken Boudine, a recipe made locally famous by her grandmother, renowned caterer Mrs. Cobb. We look forward to this every year.  

 

My team had the first night, so Peggy, Penny, Pooh, Gina and I decided on a Mexican theme complete with sombrero fascinators, a Mexican tablescape (of sorts) and a rousing dancing entrance while chanting "La cena esta servida" (I think, don't quote me). I made scratch margaritas from simple syrup and fresh lime juice and we had guacamole, homemade salsa and jalapeno poppers for appetizers. Dinner was chicken enchilada verde casserole with a fabulous salad and a sopapilla-like dish for dessert. Yes, the eatin' was good. 

 

In addition to games, walking, swimming, shopping and eating we also had our first book club. About 10 of us read Richard Grant's "Dispatches from Pluto" and wanted to discuss it. I took Birney Imes' "Juke Joints" book to better show rather than try to describe the type of music venue described in the book, as well as two of Martha Foose's cookbooks (she is the author's friend who lured him down to the Delta). Susan came to the discussion dressed in camo pajama bottoms, a Highway 61 T-shirt and a hunting hat (rather, a jungle safari hat) with a patch on it with the book's hunt club initials. She carried a (play) gun and a stuffed snake (read the book). So, then we were ready (with a glass of wine) to discuss race relations from our perspectives, the education system, the author's motivations and more. I missed his talk recently in Columbus, but had emailed him questions so we were prepared with a little of his perspective. Gina had suggested the book, I arranged the event and Jane A. led the discussion. That's how we work. 

 

Here are a few recipes from the Mexican night. I made cookbooks for everyone with recipes from our past retreats, and now we can collect them for as long as we can make the trips 

 

 

 

A PERFECT MARGARITA 

 

Makes 1 cocktail 

 

 

 

2 tablespoons simple syrup 

 

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice 

 

1/4 cup good tequila 

 

 

 

  • Mix and pour over ice. Drink and enjoy. 

     

     

     

    CHICKEN ENCHILADAS WITH SALSA VERDE 

     

    Makes 4-6 servings 

     

     

     

    2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, breasts or combination 

     

    1 small white onion, cut in half 

     

    1 tablespoon kosher salt 

     

    1 pound tomatillos, husks and stems removed, rinsed and dried 

     

    1 teaspoon vegetable oil 

     

    1 small white onion, chopped 

     

    1 jalapeno, stemmed, halved and seeded 

     

    1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves 

     

    2 tablespoons lime juice 

     

    1 garlic clove, minced 

     

    Salt 

     

    12 corn tortillas 

     

    8 ounces queso fresco or cotija 

     

    Mexican crema 

     

     

     

  • Place chicken parts in a large saucepan with onion and salt and cover with water. Heat over high to a boil, then reduce to medium and let simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool and shred meat. 

     

  • Heat broiler and put rack 6 inches from element. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Toss half of tomatillos with vegetable oil and transfer to prepared sheet. Broil until spotty brown and skins begin to burst, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to blender or food processor and let cool. 

     

  • Halve remaining tomatillos and add to food processor with broiled ones. Add onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse until slightly chunky to smooth, depending on how you like it. 

     

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and spread a little sauce on the bottom. Soften each tortilla in a dry hot skillet for about 8 seconds per side, then coat lightly with sauce. Lay each tortilla on a plate and sprinkle about 1/3 cup of shredded chicken in the middle and roll into a cylinder. Repeat, lining up tortillas tightly in the dish. 

     

  • Spread the rest of the sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with queso fresco or cotija, crumbled. Cover with foil and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Dollop with crema. Serve with chopped or sliced onions, additional salsa, or sliced avocados if desired. 

     

     

     

    PEGGY'S SOPAPILLA 

     

     

     

    2 cans crescent roll dough sheets (can use regular crescent rolls, but you have to pinch seams together) 

     

    2 packages cream cheese, room temp. 

     

    1 1/2 cups sugar (save out the 1/2 cup for topping) 

     

    1 teaspoon vanilla 

     

    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 

     

    1 stick butter (melted) 

     

     

     

  • Unroll one can of dough onto bottom of ungreased 9-by-11-inch Pyrex dish. Spread with fingers if needed to cover bottom and into corners.  

     

  • Whip cream cheese and 1 cup sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and combine. Spread this mixture evenly over dough. Unroll second can of dough and place on top of cream cheese mixture.  

     

  • Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Pour melted butter over top of dough, then sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over butter. Bake at 350 F. about 20 minutes. Let cool before cutting into squares.

     

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