Bless Your Spoon — Spring brings variety of greens and growth

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2022

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

The arrival of spring stirs a longing for gardens — a bounty of greens, veggies, and fruits, with vibrant, colorful flowers for arranging. Garden enthusiasts gathered at Forsyth Country Club for the Garden Club Council’s Celebration Luncheon. The sold-out event commemorated 90 years of protecting, preserving and beautifying our environment. Founded in 1932, the Garden Club Council includes 21 garden clubs and over 800 members.

The menu for the event was perfect. Fresh, locally grown Bibb lettuce was lightly tossed with roasted Roma tomatoes, candied peppered bacon, crispy shallots, Grana Padano Parmesan, herb buttered toasted pecans, freshly sliced cucumbers and grated carrots. The salad was topped with a lemon beurre blanc marinated chicken breast. Two dressings were offered — a delicious Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette and classic Buttermilk Ranch.

Dessert was a specially designed, hand-painted sugar cookie depicting a secret garden with lock and key. Cookies were individually crafted by Canvas Cake Studio on Jonestown Road in Winston-Salem.

Attendees gathered at round tables for 10 covered with floor-length burlap cloths. Using various containers, plants, flowers, and designs, stunning centerpieces were created by award-winning designer Morgan Moylan of West Queen Studio, based in Hillsborough. Lucky silent auction bidders carried them home. 

Renowned guest speaker was book author, founder and editor-in-chief of Flower magazine, Margot Shaw. Shaw delighted guests with a signed copy of her flower design book, “Living Floral, Entertaining and Decorating with Flowers,” with foreword written by Charlotte Moss.

Then came the moment we’d all been waiting for — to hear Shaw share her creative uses of outdoor naturals. But guests received more than they’d paid for — a message. Shaw opened her talk by thanking her Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, who had brought her up and out of an opioid addiction 26 years ago. Her foray into flowers had been a journey of faith. A passage in Shaw’s book reads, “It must be said that, in my experience, especially in the darker seasons of my life, beauty and especially natural beauty, have buoyed me in an almost supernatural way.”

Her book’s dedicated to her beloved husband — a farmer, pastor, mentor, counselor, trusted friend — and the one who brought them together. Shaw could never have foreseen where life would take her in the future. But she followed her instincts, focusing on and honing her God-given talents.

God has a plan for each of us. Like a gardener, he plants seeds in our hearts and then waters them. He sees, hears and guides us, and supports us with grace and compassion. Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God brings us out of life’s pitfalls — and we’re made stronger through our trials. So continue to have faith, and pursue him wholeheartedly.

Today’s recipes include green salads topped with simple, marinated meat. A classic salad can be simple or complex, depending upon the season and what’s available. If you want crispy greens, wash in cold water, dry with a salad spinner and refrigerate in airtight Ziploc bags.

Enjoy the greens of spring.   

Apple Toss Green Salad

• 8 unpeeled, diced red, yellow, green apples

• 1 head torn Boston lettuce

• 1 pkg. torn fresh spinach

• 1 lb. diced Swiss cheese

• 1 cup dry-roasted cashews

Poppy Seed Dressing

• 1 cup Wesson vegetable oil

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1/3 cup wine vinegar

• 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

For the salad, in a bowl, toss three different colored apples with a little fresh lemon juice. Drain and add torn lettuce, spinach and cheese. For the dressing, combine oil, sugar, wine vinegar and poppy seeds in a jar with tight lid. Cover and shake to mix. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, add just enough dressing as desired and gently toss to coat. You can use greens and apples of your choice. Top salad with slices of marinated meat.

Pear, Nut and Cheese Green Salad

• 4 cups arugula

• 4 cups torn butter lettuce

• ½ cup crumbled blue cheese

• 2 thinly sliced ripe pears

• ½ cup toasted walnuts

• Salt to taste

Shallot Dressing

• ½ cup Wesson vegetable oil

• 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1 minced shallot

• ½ tsp. sugar

• ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the salad, in a bowl, combine arugula, butter, lettuce, cheese, sliced pears and toasted walnuts. For the dressing, in a bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, shallot, sugar and pepper. When ready to serve, add just enough dressing as desired and gently toss to coat. Top each serving with slices of marinated meat.

Very Cherry Green Salad

• 1 torn Bibb lettuce

• 1 torn leaf lettuce

• 1 torn romaine lettuce

• 11 oz. drained mandarin oranges

• ½ cup dried cherries or cranberries

• ½ cup toasted sliced almonds

Sesame Dressing

• ½ cup salad oil

• ½ cup sugar

• ¼ cup cider vinegar

• 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds

• 1½ tsp. minced onion

• ¼ tsp. paprika

• ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad, in a bowl, toss Bibb, leaf and romaine. Add drained oranges, dried cherries, and toasted almonds. Gently mix. For the dressing, in a blender, combine salad oil, sugar, vinegar, sesame seeds, onion and paprika, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, add just enough dressing as desired and gently toss to coat. Top each serving with slices of marinated meat.

Tableside Company Salad

• 1 head romaine lettuce

• 1 chopped tomato

• 1 medium chopped red onion

• 1 large, chopped avocado

• 2 oz. crumbled blue cheese

• 6 slices fried, crumbled bacon


• ¾ cup vegetable oil

• ¼ cup vinegar

• 1 minced clove garlic

• 1 tsp .salt

• 4 tsp. sugar

• Fresh pepper to taste

Prepare in front of guests. Arrange romaine at bottom of a large bowl. Chop all vegetables the same size. Arrange each veggie in a colorful row on top of the lettuce. Add dressing just before serving and toss. For dressing, combine oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar and pepper in a jar. Shake well. Top each serving with slices of marinated meat.

Roquefort and Pear Salad

• 3 cups green leaf lettuce

• ½ cup thinly sliced green onions

• ½ peeled, pitted, diced avocado

• 3 cored, chopped Bartlett pears

• 1 ½ oz. crumbled Roquefort cheese

• 3 Tbsp. candied pecans


• 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

• 1½ tsp. sugar

• 1½ tsp. yellow mustard

• 1 minced clove garlic

• ½ tsp. salt

• Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

In a serving bowl, combine lettuce, onion, avocado, pears, cheese and pecans. Pour just enough dressing to coat and toss. For dressing, in a blender, combine red wine vinegar, sugar, yellow mustard, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Blend well. Top each salad with slices of marinated meat.

Chinese Green Salad

• 1 head torn romaine lettuce

• 1 cup bamboo shoots

• 1 cup pea pods

• ½ cup chopped green onions

• 1 cup toasted cashews

• 20 oz. drained Mandarin oranges

Sesame Dressing

See recipe above

For the salad, in a bowl, toss the romaine, bamboo shoots, pea pods, green onions and cashews. When ready to serve, toss in oranges, reserving some to use as a topping. Top each serving with sliced chicken breast and a few oranges. Prepare Sesame Dressing and drizzle over top.

Sweet-Sour Marinade for Beef

• 1 cup pineapple juice

• 1 small bottle soy sauce

• ½ cup bourbon or brandy

• ¼ cup vinegar

• 3 crushed cloves garlic

• 1 tsp. meat tenderizer

• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• Choice of steak

In a bowl, combine pineapple juice, soy sauce, bourbon, vinegar, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and meat tenderizer. Mix well. Place beef in a shallow dish and pour marinade over top. Turn to coat. Cover and marinate while occasionally turning in refrigerator for 2-10 hours, depending upon cut of meat. After cooking, cut steak in diagonal strips and place on top of salad greens.

Honey Mustard Chicken Marinade

• 1 cup orange juice

• ½ cup honey

• 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

• 2 tsp. lemon pepper

• ¾ tsp. ginger powder

• 1 crushed clove garlic

• Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a bowl, whisk the orange juice, honey, Dijon mustard, lemon pepper, ginger and garlic. Place chicken in a single layer in a shallow dish. Pour marinade over top. Cover, marinate and occasionally turn in refrigerator for 3 hours or more depending upon thickness of chicken. When ready to cook, drain. After cooking, cut chicken in strips and place on top of salad greens. A variation is to cut in strips and roll in freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Citrus-Soy Marinade for Fish

• ½ cup soy sauce

• ½ cup sherry

• 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• ¼ cup Wesson vegetable oil

• 1 crushed clove garlic

• Choice of fish

In a bowl, combine soy sauce, sherry, lemon juice, vegetable oil and garlic. Mix well. Pour over fish, and marinate in refrigerator for 3 hours or more depending upon type and texture of fish. After cooking, place fish on top of salad greens.

Sugared Bacon

• 1 pound regular bacon

• ¼ cup brown sugar

• 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Set regular bacon (not thick-sliced) out of refrigerator so it will be room temp. When room temp, cut each slice in half crosswise. In a bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Thoroughly brush on both sides of each slice of bacon. Bake on a broiler pan in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes until bacon is crisp and sugar bubbles. Don’t allow sugar to burn. Cool on foil.

Orange Pecans

• 1 cup sugar

• 1/3 cup frozen orange juice

• 1 tsp. lemon extract

• 2 tbsp. salted butter

• 2½ cups pecan halves

In a saucepan, combine sugar and orange juice, and bring to a boil. Stir in lemon extract and butter. Beat with a whisk until creamy. Add pecans and stir. Turn pecans out onto waxed paper. Allow to completely cool and break into pieces.

Monterey Jack Salad Wafers

• 1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese

This recipe only works with Monterey Jack cheese. Cut cheese into ¼-inch slices. Then cut into small cracker-sized circles or squares about 1½-inch in diameter. Bake on a non-stick cookie sheet at least 3 inches apart for 10 minutes in a 400-degree oven. They will spread. Don’t overbake. Immediately remove and allow to cool. Store in airtight container.

Roasted Shallot Dressing

• 4 Tbsp. sunflower oil

• 1 tsp. walnut oil

• 1 tbsp. sherry or red wine vinegar

• Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

• 1 diced roasted shallot

In a jar, combine oils, vinegar, salt, pepper and shallot. Shake well. Toss with salad. Increase recipe amounts if additional dressing is desired. 

Basic Buttermilk Dressing

• 1 cup buttermilk

• 1 pressed clove garlic

• ¼ tsp. sugar

• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

• ¼ tsp. seasoned salt

• 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a jar, combine buttermilk, garlic, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Cover tightly and shake to blend. Store in refrigerator.