November 13, 2011

The Bridesmaid Luncheon

Mother said, "Now we must set the dining table with gorgeous seasonal flowers. We will light the candles, even though it's going to be daytime. As the bridesmaids open their gifts, which were engraved sterling silver charms, I am going to serve some sort of pate', those beautiful pastel petit fours, cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches, my famous hot pepper cheese straws, a huge basket of fresh strawberries with a leaded crystal side dish of Grand Marnier whipped cream, and a still life of fresh deli cold cuts. We will put the silver tea service on the buffet with piping hot coffee and tea. The Pièce de résistance will be my Rose' Champagne Punch!"

 "Now, for our luncheon, Miss Sarah will be serving her chicken salad with fresh grapes and almonds, individual broccoli puddings, fresh spinach salad and  homemade crescent rolls. This will all be displayed on Grandmother's Estelle's fine china and Grandmother Grace's lace heirloom lace table linens."

Mother was ready with a plan! We rushed up to The Sunflower at Maywood Mart and picked up boxes of those absolutely divine frosted fudge brownies and the sweet Mexican Wedding Cookies. These were to be placed on the sterling silver serving tray, along with the fresh pastries from Miss Martha's kitchen of eclairs and napoleons. Now, I think we are ready!

A lovely sunny afternoon on November 17th, 1972.......my bridesmaid luncheon. It could not have been more beautiful. I loved the southern elegance and time honored tradition of it all.

 I have come to learn that this is a piece of the wedding event that is fading. The bridesmaid luncheon has now evolved into a bachelorette party. Perhaps, this is one of those generational gaps, but this is a tradition that I am sad to see has changed. Give me the good ole' days and those sweet southern traditions!

10 to 12 ounces frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
 2 tablespoons butter
 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Dash pepper
 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or light cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)
 3 large eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 2 1/2-quart casserole. Arrange the cooked and drained broccoli in the casserole. Heat the butter in a large skillet; add onion and sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes, until onion is tender. Stir in flour until well blended and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the pepper, nutmeg, salt, and half-and-half. Continue cooking over low heat until thickened. Stir in cheese and cook just until cheese is melted. Add about 1/3 of the hot mixture to the beaten eggs; add back to the hot mixture, blending well. Pour over the broccoli. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the broccoli casserole comes out clean.

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