Donna graciously allowed more of us to take part, so on the 3rd of July thirteen of us had a great meal and a really good time.
Although the background is Pacific Northwest, the ladies with their fans, could have been sitting on a front porch somewhere in the south cooling off in the shade and sipping a Mint Julep.
Our backdrop was the Tacoma Narrows with the entrance to Gig Harbor off to the right. Later in the evening we experiences a long, beautiful sunset.
To help people relax after a warm working day, Sue and Sean Cabingting constantly offered a Sazerac (a potent New Orleans cocktail), a pimento cheese stuffed celery, and a shrimp salad in filo. One sip of the cocktail was enough for me, but I had several of each appetizer.
Although the setting was fairly formal, the atmosphere was easy-going and friendly. We all knew each other and were comfortable in each other's company.
For appetizers there were savory cheese-straw cookies and garlic roasted black-eyed peas to nibble on before dinner.
Fresh flowers gave a nice touch both inside and out.
The center piece was quite lovely.
Each place setting had a different but similar napkin ring. Mine was of marjoram leaves.
Each course was introduced by our hostess. As the first plate was set down, each person was encouraged to dine, while Donna explained the dish and it's history.
The crab cakes were absolutely wonderful. Although planned with a side of fried-green tomatoes, there were none available, so an excellent orange heirloom tomato slice sufficed. The Remoulade was excellent.
Sue made the cornbread. You can't have a southern dinner without cornbread . . . or butter for your cornbread.
The butter was whipped with sorghum syrup or molasses. Sorghum is grown throughout the south. In the movie, To Kill a Mockingbird, a young dinner guest poured it over everything on his plate. I don't think I'd pour it over my eggs, but a ham steak would certainly be tempting. The sweetened butter called for more cornbread.
There were two dressing for the salad. The pitcher contained a vinaigrette and the gravy boat a thick onion sauce, which I chose. Tasty.
The green salad contained huge blackberries, and sautéed pecans. With the cornbread it was almost a meal in itself . . . almost.
Dinner was a rosemary marinated grilled quail, with baked cheesy grits, and bacon & Bourbon collards. Also on the plate were pickled watermelon rind.
While most people chose one quail, for some reason I had two. I figure, "Take two, they're small." The collard greens were excellent with the grits. And even better with the sweetened butter. Peg offered me her collards, but not the grits so I declined. She donated two chunks of watermelon rind, however. They are a favorite of mine.
Dessert was on the counter behind me. Its eyes bored into my brain. Donna's mother always took second place in local contests with what she called The Funeral Cake. The icing wasn't fancy enough to win first prize, a judge told her.
The cake brought back memories of my mother's cake. She baked something similar with a cooked frosting. It was almost like candy. You could whack it with a spoon and crack it. Donna's cake was the perfect end to our meal. The vanilla ice cream was Ben & Jerry's, but not bought. She made her's from their recipe. I liked the ice cream, but also poured cream over the cake. Most people used the cream to cut the rich coffee. I like to sleep at night so I declined a cup.
After dessert, Sue sang for our supper. Looking into Sean's eyes she entertained us with I Will Always Love You.
Peg and I left early before the jellied Mint Juleps were served along with several brands of Bourbons. And we also missed the Bourbon Balls, little round morsels of goodness. We watched Donna slice the Mint Julep shots. We hugged her along with Sean and Sue. What a nice dinner. We had a great time and it raised $1300 dollars for the food banks. It doesn't get much better.