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Spring is Perfect Time for Brunch Outdoors

We have enjoyed an unusually pleasant springtime in Southwest Georgia—warm, but not too warm; occasional showers, but not deluges; and flowers everywhere. On one of these perfect days, call together some friends to join you on the patio or deck, or on a picnic table in the yard: it’s time for a Saturday brunch.
The thought of “entertaining” drives some of us into fits of apoplexy: the house needs cleaning, the chairs are old and a bit lumpy, the yard could use some fresh planting—there are hundreds of reasons (excuses) we can come up with to prevent action. But if we wait until the children are grown, or the house is perfect, or all the flowers are blooming at once, and the recipes are fail-proof, and all the friends we’d like to invite are available and anxious—good luck. Most of us never get to that perfect state where stars align and everything works in our favor. So we gather our friends together anyway. And forget that the silver doesn’t match (if there is any silver), or that the napkins are a bit ragged (paper napkins work fine), or that the roses all bloomed last week. Put together a few tried and tested recipes that are easy to prepare in advance, and call a few folks you’ve been planning to have over (at some future date). Do it now. Life has a way of rushing past, folks move away, opportunities are lost, there are…as someone has wisely said…no dress rehearsals for life. So pick up the phone.
Here are a few suggestions and three recipes that will make any brunch a hit with friends. A good foundation for an easy brunch is baked ham with homemade biscuits. (If you can’t make biscuits, the ones in the grocery’s frozen section are far better than they once were.) For those who do not eat pork, have plenty of homemade jams and jellies and the biscuits will be just as good without the meat. That’s a start. Put together a bowl of fresh fruit that includes cantaloupe, pineapple, bananas, strawberries or raspberries, blackberries or blueberries—any fruits you like and that are pretty together (green kiwi makes a nice colorful addition). Then add the Brunch Eggs and Marinated Asparagus in the recipes below and your meal is complete.

Brunch Eggs
Boil 12 eggs.
Devil eggs with one half of an 8 oz. carton sour cream and enough mayonnaise for right consistency
Put eggs in casserole dish (filled side up)
Make sauce:
1 chopped bell pepper
1 chopped onion
Saute in one quarter cup butter and add
1 and a half 8 oz cartons sour cream
1 can mushroom soup
1 small can chopped mushrooms
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Parsley flakes, salt, pepper, celery salt
Pour this mixture over eggs and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Marinated Asparagus
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup vegetable oil (I prefer olive oil)
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 lbs. fresh asparagus

In saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes. Cool.
In large skillet bring one half inch water to boil; add asparagus, cook 3 to 5 minutes, covered, on simmer. Drain and rinse in cold water. Place in large plastic bag, add marinade, seal bag, turn to coat. Drain and discard marinade when ready to serve. (The original recipe called for draining after 2 hours. I have made this a day ahead at Thanksgiving, leaving asparagus in the marinade for at least 15 hours, and it was perfect.)
To top off this lovely day, make a large container of white sangria. The recipe I use comes from Calvary Episcopal Church’s cookbook, “Food and Faith,” and was submitted by Dianne Hall. It is light, refreshing, delicious.

White Sangria
2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 limes, thinly sliced
1 Red Delicious apple, thinly sliced
one and one half cups sugar
2 (750 ml) bottles sauvignon blanc
1 cup brandy
2 (1 Liter) bottles lemon-lime sparking water, chilled
Green grapes, frozen
Combine lemons, limes, apple, sugar, sauvignon blanc and brandy in a large pitcher. Stir well. Chill at least 2 hours. Gently stir in chilled sparkling water and frozen grapes before serving. Serve over ice.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net