Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yolla and Marie for Lunch

Yolla, Marie and I had our lunch. And you'll be glad to know, there was no grilled cheese or tomato soup to be seen!!

I had fun planning for these two ladies from another generation. I knew they would appreciate me using my finery just for them.

So, I pulled out my china, (Oh my goodness, when is the last time I used this??!! Do you all use your china? Please tell me when and how. Give me inspiration!) and some beautiful glassware that either came from a grandmother or a great-aunt.

I covered the table with a cloth that was made by my grandmother. Truly amazing. How did the women of two generations ago have the perseverance to get through these huge, intricate projects?

My sweet friend, Danelle, had given me flowers just the day before our lunch. How timely! They were repurposed into a new arrangement in this silver, footed tea/coffee pot.

And, so, onto the menu. I decided on something safe and easy and delicious. Parmesan Chicken Fingers. I know we've all been cooking and eating these since we first found out chickens had fingers in the '80s, but if you don't have a melt-in-your-mouth, totally-awesome, company-can't-get-enough-of-it recipe, I'll slip one in at the end of the post. I've served these cold at a picnic, room temp as an hors d'oeuvres, and piping hot as a meal. Always delicious! And always served with a bowl of marinara for dipping in. Mmmmmmm!

But what to serve with it? Yolla called me the day before the lunch. Could she make and bring some tabbouleh? Could she? I tried not to sound too desperate and eager. Oh, yes, yes, please. Bring tabbouleh! She taught us how to eat it . . . Lebanese style . . . using romaine lettuce like a little boat, filling the boat with the tabbouleh, wrapping the edges of the lettuce up and around, and bringing the whole package up to your mouth like a lettuce and tabbouleh burrito. Divine. Was that the Mediterranean Sea I could hear lapping in the distance?

(Oops, horrible, blurry picture . . . sorry . . . I took it in a hurry at the table so these ladies would not think I was totally strange photographing my food. I don't think they would understand about blogs!)

Fresh South Carolina peaches and blueberries were a quick and easy, sweet and tangy addition.

And so was this sourdough, multi-grain bread from Publix. (Must try if you have a Publix near!)

We laughed and talked about children and grandchildren (theirs not mine . . . yikes!), and how to cook lentils, and Marie living in NYC during 9/11, and Yolla living in Beiruit during the 17-year war, and how they met their husbands.

And then we finished up the meal with these delights. Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars. It was an experiment. It worked! Instant family favorite. My niece calls them Addiction Bars. You must try them!

I got the recipe from this wonderful blog.

And then we sat and talked some more and Marie played the piano for us,

and Yolla showed us pictures of bombed-out Beiruit and beautifully reconstructed Beiruit and the blue, blue Mediterranean Sea that laps right up against her home city.

And then it was time to go and we hugged and knew we were friends.

We women connect like that. Different generations, different countries. But the same hands that comb our children's hair and put dinner on the table and thread a needle . . . even if it's just to sew on a button. And the same hearts that tingle while planning a wedding and worry when our children are home late and feel a forever empty ache when our husbands are gone.

We ate. We shared. We connected. It was just lovely!

Parmesan Chicken Fingers (Serves 8)

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 cups dry bread crumbs (I use the pre-packaged Italian crumbs)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I use, yes, the powdery kind)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I leave this out . . . it scares the kids)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup butter, melted

Cut each chicken breast into 4 "fingers." In large bowl combine crumbs, cheese, salt, pepper and parsley. Saute' garlic in butter. Remove from heat. Add chicken fingers and let sit for 3 minutes (I think this step MAKES it!). Dip chicken in bread crumbs and place in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Top "fingers" with more bread crumbs and pour remaining butter over all. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes. Enjoy!!!


  1. I love this! How wonderful and how often we forget what we cnalearn from others when we hang out with people not in our "circle".
    Ahh.... so many comments to make. But... 1. The farm from my blog is a family farm in Virginia. We lived there before here. 2. For your china - I have been watching this silly show late at night on the FitTV station while I feed Otto Fox and this guy loves to mix old with new and put things in unexpected places. He is always using china outside or on picnics or to serve very casual food. It's a fun idea. 3. I JUST discovered tabbouleh and have already made it twice this week- but I keep forgetting to use the lettuce leaves to eat it. I love the stuff though!! And I think that's all!!!

  2. It sounds like you had a truly wonderful time and new friends thrown in for good measure - just perfect.

    Nina x

    ps. I'm thinking stick to just the red and white too though I do like the idea of a red, white and blue blanket so I may leave that for another day.

  3. The tablecloth you used is so beautiful. The food looks delicious (and I will try your recipes!). Your china is so pretty and no, I don't really use mine either. I want to, I just don't think about it when everyone is here AND I don't have enough place settings for my whole family.

    I think the best thing though is that your hearts connected. What a wonderful blessing that is. I'm sure you will be having frequent lunches with these lovely women.

  4. This post just warmed my heart thru and thru. What a wonderful lunch you had with your new found friends. They are beautiful women and I know the wisdom and experience between them could write volumes.
    That was sweet of you to make them feel special. Thanks for the recipe and for sharing your day with us.


  5. Everything about this post was beautiful. Gorgeous ladies, lovely dishes and tablecloth, the food looks divine...absolutely beautiful.

  6. Just have to let you know, I love this post. What a very special day you all must have had together. One you'll never forget, and I venture to guess, your guests will not forget it either.