For Danville recipe club, presentation is the name of the game

March 17, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

Lemons, limes and oranges made to look like roses float in the punch bowl. Green and white-checked ribbons are tied around the foil covering the entre, Undercover Chicken. For dessert, chocolate is drizzled on a plate before a pear with a stuffing of ginger snaps is placed on it. Presentation is the name of the game for members of a Danville recipe club that has been meeting for 20 years.

The club began as an offshoot of the Newcomers Club, says Karen Miller, who is a co-chairman.

"This, bridge and the book club are the ones still going," she says, explaining that the Newcomers Club formed when several families moved to Danville to take jobs at Whirlpool.

"Eighty families came in a two-year period," Miller says.

Eventually Miller and others dropped out of the Newcomers Club, but they didn't stop gathering for festive lunches.

"We do it because so many of us are retired and we don't enjoy everyday cooking. We can experiment here."


The club held its March meeting at Mary Bell's Danville home. She has a reputation in the circle for her ability to garnish and make dishes beautiful. She made the fruit roses in the punch and says it's easy to do.

"You peel them real thin and roll them," she says.

Each meeting has a theme. Some of the past ones have been easy morning eye openers, anything on a stick, make ahead foods, six ingredients or less, favorite heirloom recipe, sandwiches, formal tea, winter soups and breads and health-oriented. For March, members decided to concentrate on low-fat, sugar and carbohydrate recipes.

"We're striving for healthy and easy and things you might have on hand," says Miller. "This is where we're all at right now. We're trying to be healthy."

Members always bring enough copies of their recipe to go around. Miller says they make sure the recipe is on 8 1/2 by 11 paper so it can be inserted into a book.

"I have two huge notebooks of recipes," says Miller says.

An extra assignment for this meeting was to share a tip for saving time and energy.

Each course is assigned

Over the years, members have learned some of the pitfalls of a recipe club. One of the things they try to do now is assign a course to everyone. Someone is responsible for salad, another brings vegetables and there are entre and dessert assignments.

They learned about the importance of having courses after having an Irish-themed lunch.

"Everybody brought potatoes," says Shirley Scully.

For the March meeting, Scully modified her dish for the lunch crowd. Instead of a chicken breast, she used a couple of chicken tenders for her Undercover Chicken. The meat was topped with green and red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and Italian seasoning.

Presentation is a major part of the fun.

"It's learning how to make macaroni and cheese and putting it on a plate so that people say, 'Wow,'" says Jean Mliner.

Mliner enjoys growing herbs so she can jazz up some of her dishes. She has three types of rosemary.

"If I need a little green to go on something, I can go pinch off something."

Being in a recipe club means always being on the lookout for new dishes. The women enjoy checking out Southern Living magazine's offerings.

Scully says members never mind being guinea pigs.

"We can try it on us because we like anything," she says.

One of the newest members, Aase Todd agrees that it's good to liven up the courses.

"So often food gets boring," she says.

The women try to work their schedules so they can spend a couple of hours having lunch.

And like any hard-working chef, sometimes the women decide they need a break.

"Sometimes we just go out," says Miller.

Members not mentioned in the story are: Nancy Marcussen, Janine Miller, Joan Stafford, Carolee Todd and co-chair Sandy Mitchell.

Undercover Chicken

1 green pepper

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

4 skinned and boned chicken breast halves

1 jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cut green bell pepper into thin strips, thinly slice onion and mince garlic. Drain oil off tomatoes and chop.

Place chicken, bell pepper, onion, garlic and tomato evenly in the center of a 4-inch square of a heavy duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle evenly with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Fold and seal. Bake 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes.

Ginger Pears

4 medium pears, peeled, halved and cored

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup finely crushed gingersnaps

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pear halves, cut side up in a 12- by 7- by 2-inch baking dish. Drizzle orange juice over the pears. In a small bowl, combine gingersnaps, walnuts and butter. Sprinkle over the pears.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until fruit is tender. To serve, drizzle a place with chocolate sauce and lay a pear half on top, or serve each half in a small glass bowl.


12-ounce can frozen cranberry-raspberry juice

12-ounce can frozen lemonade

2 cups water

64-ounce bottle ginger ale

Lemons, limes and oranges

Thaw juices and mix with other ingredients.

Use an extra 1 1/2 cups of cranberry juice and 1/2 cup of water and pour into a mold. Freeze.

Cut lemon, lime and orange peels very thin and roll to form a rose. Lemon leaves can be used for the rose leaves. Then add the roses to frozen mixture in the mold, and pour more cranberry and water mixture until it's full and freeze. Grapes and nectarines can be added between the roses.

Mix punch ingredients and place mold in bowl.

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