I hope readers enjoyed a relaxing Mother's Day weekend with family and friends.
My family's celebration with my parents included treating them to a trip to the Drury Lane Dinner Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. to see the stage musical "Oliver!" and also spending time visiting with my mom's favorite teen memory crooner Pat Boone.
Boone, 79, and his wife Shirley are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this year in November. And my parents will celebrate that same special 60th anniversary just a couple months sooner, in September.
When Indiana Gov. Mike Pence announced Sunday that former Indiana Gov. Otis Bowen died Saturday, it ended a chapter in Hoosier history.
Bowen, 95, died at a nursing home in Donaldson, a community about 25 miles south of South Bend that is near Bowen's hometown of Bremen.
Bowen had four children with his first wife, Beth, who died of cancer on New Year's Day 1981, just days before her husband's second gubernatorial term ended. His son, Robert, tried to extend the Bowen family election success, but lost to another second-generation politician, Evan Bayh, in the 1986 race for Indiana secretary of state. Bayh was later elected governor.
Thank you for the great attendance at last Friday's free From the Farm Spring Cooking Show I hosted with my parents at St. James Manor in Crete.
The fine folks at St. James are experts in hospitality, and certainly know how to roll out the red carpet for guests and residents.
And I discovered they also have some wonderful events scheduled for this month, including:
School memories and lessons learned in the classroom long outlast the walls of any school structure.
We had our small town's annual school alumni banquet dinner on Saturday honoring the students from a school that had been demolished.
We paid tribute to the graduates who attended from the classes of 1939, 1948, 1953, 1958, 1963, 1973, 1983, 1993, 2003 and of course, our new graduates of 2013, who now attend neighboring North Judson-San Pierre High School. Since I graduated from the class of 1988, this year marks 25 years since my high school days.
Spring is the best time for "fresh new ideas" and learning favorite recipes.
So I was happy when St. James Manor and Villas, at 1251 E. Richton Rd., in Crete, asked my parents to join to host a free cooking show for readers as a great way to spend a Friday afternoon to welcome the weekend.
My "Spring From the Farm Cooking Show" is at 2 p.m. April 26 and promises plenty of fun, complimentary food and refreshments, excitement and lots of prizes for guests. And best of all, it's a free event.
The following reader letter, which I received this month, started me thinking about the hot meals on lunch trays served in school cafeterias of yesteryear, while I was growing up in the 1970s.
"Dear Phil: I hope you can put this request out to your readers. I'm desperate to find a recipe that goes back to my grade school days at Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Arizona Street in the Hessville area of Hammond. Back then, we had a real cafeteria, with real homemade food, made by real cooks. This was late '50s and early '60s. The menu concoction I still remember and long for is a blend of ground hamburger meat in a gravy poured over mashed potatoes. Sounds simple, but it was sooo good. Maybe someone out there has the recipe passed down from their relative that worked in a school kitchen at that time? It brings back a warm and fuzzy memory that I'd like to re-create now in my kitchen. Truly hope you can help me. Your faithful reader, Jeanne Newell"
Thank you Jeanne for writing to me.
I always have a great time with my parents when invited to speak at group events.
Often times, it's my chance to learn just as much from readers, as they learn from my presentations.
Last month, I accepted an invitation by Janet Will of Valparaiso and spoke at a luncheon in Valparaiso hosted by the Christian Women's Association, for a relaxing afternoon down memory lane.
Not only are we in our Holy Week, but the start of Passover began at sundown on Monday.
While doing our series of demonstrative speeches for the public speaking course I teach at Valparaiso University, one of my students, Guy Shabtay, 28, a Jewish Israeli student attending VU on a soccer scholarship, shared his family's recipe for Israeli Salad.
Shabtay, a senior and majoring in mathematical applications and analysis, will graduate in May. While sharing his story and recipe with me, he noted he had to make sure he emailed it to me during the day on Monday, since he would not be permitted to use any computer devices after sundown in observance of Passover.
I never expected to see a day when the popular line of Hostess snack cakes would cease to exist.
It's one of the reasons I was contacted by Munster reader Marge Bukvich requesting where she could find a favored substitute recipe to satisfy her family's cravings.
"Hi Phil: Our family enjoyed the Valentine's Day event you hosted at Tiebel's last month. There's always good food and friendly people. And the Mock Hostess Ho-Ho Cakes your mother Peggy made to serve to all the guests were so delicious! I remember you printed your mother's recipe for this special cake in your column in The Times several years ago, and I saved it at that time. And I have misplaced it. Would you help me find it again? Thank you, Marge Bukvich"
Thank you to all of the contestants, guests and organizers for last Saturday's Lupus Foundation of America, Indiana Chapter 11th Annual Chili Cook-Off at Merrillville High School.
Greg Geimer, 31, of Portage, took home the first place award from the judging panel. His unique recipe for Buffalo Chicken Chili, garnished with crumbled blue cheese and a celery stick has a fantastic flavor.
Sponsored by the Merrillville High School Key Club and the Lupus Foundation of America, Indiana Chapter, the cook-off drew nearly 300 people to Merrillville High School on Saturday. Visitors sampled the inventive chili recipes of this year's 12 contestants.
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