I supposed we’re at the age that it takes a major life event to cause us to take inventory. Last November our dear friend Kay McDuffie crossed over to the next performance stage. She spent her life bringing joy and laughter to all she came in contact with. Her energy was invigorating and her talent, immense. Her passing caused us to visit our own immortality. We miss her every day.
Kay was an instigator. She was one of the founders of The Mississippi Picnic in New York City. They held the 34th Picnic Saturday and remembered Kay by planting a tree in Central Park. Kay also was one of the original cast members of The Group, a song and dance ensemble at The University of Mississippi…when the children of GLEE were…well, never mind.
Because of the professional quality performance standard The Group possessed and some still-amazing charts by Andrew Fox The Group was highly sought after in Mississippi as well as around the globe. Their favorite stories are from their European USO tour. I’ve been hearing the stories for over 15 years. Every time these fabulous friends get together the stories get more elaborate, louder and just down right hysterical. Some of the alumni were passing through Memphis this weekend so we decided to have “Kay Day” to celebrate this wonderful performer, teacher and friend. When these friends gather…a good time is always had by ALL!
Brandt Edwards, my partner joined The Group in its second year of existence…just in time for the USO tour. He requested a classically Southern menu. When it comes to memories we have to return to the comfort food of our roots.
If it’s Southern and especially if it involves Ole Miss alumni it starts with a pretty cocktail. This is Watermelon Lemonade. A dear friend from Pelahatchie, MS gave me a wonderful homemade watermelon syrup. I made fresh lemonade and added the syrup…plus, cranberry vodka, white wine, tonic and mulled mint. This, under the huge magnolia tree in the garden…yes, ma’am!!! At the risk of being redundant…a good time was had by all!!!
We began with nibbles that included Goat Cheese Log with French Thyme and Bacon, Deviled Eggs with Tasso Ham and BLT Canapes made with Bacon Jam, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic Aioli and Micro Greens. Yes, in the south Bacon was a staple before it became trendy and got put on donuts and in ice cream.
Those that saw my posts from our recent trip to California saw that we’ve established our own meal called Lunner…it’s late lunch and early dinner…a big meal early so you don’t go to bed on a really full stomach. We all came in from the garden around 4pm for Lunner.
I had to think about what mom would’ve done. I didn’t do chicken and dressing…although she would’ve no matter the 90 degree temperature. However, I did honor her by getting out the “Fry Daddy”, making a Banana Pudding and her signature Coconut Cake.
Southern Fried Chicken Tenders with Honey Glaze and Fleur de Sel
Mom’s Potato Salad made with “fresh-out-of-the-ground” potatoes
Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Spicy Shrimp, Fresh Spring Peas and Dill
Fresh from the Market
Boiled Corn-on-the Cob
Roasted Broccoli, Yellow and Purple Cauliflower with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Glaze
This is mother’s “green salad”…that old traditional Lemon-Lime Jello Salad made but with Strawberry and Orange jello…as I heard one guest say…to match the flowers!!!
…and for dessert the afore-mentioned Coconut Cake and Banana Pudding.
We believe strongly that those that go before us stay close to us in spirit. As we sat down to eat Brandt poured a glass of wine for Kay so she and we knew that she was with us. He then moved around the bar to “fix his plate”. Suddenly a 4″ diameter ceramic decorative orb fell from the shelf above the bar, hit the bar inches away from him and landed on the floor, unbroken. The occurrence was LOUD and startling. The orbs have been on that shelf for two years and have never moved an inch. There are four others that did not move, at all. After the initial shock wore off we realized Kay was in the house and had made her presence known as only she could.
Can you tell these folks love the stage, the camera and an audience!!!
Good food, great friends and wonderful memories. Kay, we love you and miss you but your memory will be with us so that every day is “Kay Day”. I know you would’ve said the house was “Divoon” and even in your absence a good time was had by all!!!