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.
My mom Peggy enjoyed talking to guests such as Joy Sexton and Carol Ailes, with both ladies being from Valparaiso, but sharing connections to other families from down near our family farm town.
Mrs. Ailes is the aunt of my mom's friend Ruth Schumacher, whose recipe for glazed meatloaf I shared with readers earlier this year. She mentioned that years ago, she had worked at our small town's grain elevator.
During our table talk, while we enjoyed our lunch menu, I recommended a recent new recipe shared by one of my students at Valparaiso University.
Kirsten Goodwin, 19, of Highland, is one of my students in my public speaking class. For her demonstration speech earlier this semester, she whipped up her family recipe for an elegant, sweet grape salad, which is a perfect side for a range of menu possibilities, equally ideal for carry-ins as it is served up for a fussy ladies' luncheon with petite portions.
"When I made this salad in my high school cooking class and have made it for parties, it's always super popular," Kirsten said.
"I hope it's something Times readers add to their list of favorites."
Elegant Sweet Grape Salad
3 pounds seedless grapes, white or red
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) carton of sour cream
1/4 cup of white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 ounces of chopped pecans
DIRECTIONS: Wash grapes and remove stems and pat dry. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, white sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Fold grapes into the fluffy mixture and stir until coated. Combine chopped pecans with brown sugar and use a fork to blend to create a topping mixture. Sprinkle pecan and brown sugar mixture over salad and chill before serving. Makes 8 servings.