Bless Your Spoon: Mike Hendrix Dinner Club

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 27, 2023

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

If I can enjoy a beautiful dining experience that takes me back in time, I want to be there. If the night involves joining delightful folks to play card games, I’m ready to sign up. Throw into the mix a few vintage touches, like setting a gorgeous table using your Mama’s finest porcelain, and you’ve touched my heart.

The once-a-month card night was hosted by Mike Hendrix at his residence in Bermuda Run. The home reflected elements of yesteryear, informing me that an old soul lived there — sterling silver polished to a reflective patina, fine crystal that sparkled in light and a romantic aura cast from candles’ soft glow that gave the place an exquisite ambiance. I felt as if the red carpet had been rolled out and royalty was coming for dinner, and guests were treated as such. Mike’s home told a story without saying a word. The joy, peace and love that abided there were palpable. With precious heirlooms passed down such as old hand-sewn quilts and an antique wood organ, I could feel Mike’s love for family. And I loved him for that.

Let me just say, hands down, the hot dinner served was divine, and the friendly hospitality was every bit as warm. Rotating homes each month for 5 years, club members were a good mix of folks who have gelled well over the years. When the club began, there were 12 members — all who attended the same church, First United Methodist Church in Mocksville. Mike has been a member of the church since he was 4 and was church organist for 41 years.

A delicious menu was planned, and the hosts provided a meaty entrée while each couple brought savory side dishes that rounded out the meal. Then came time for a fun card game — Shoes and Socks. But it was the loving circle of friends that my Spirit recognized. Truly, there’s something to be said about the history we share with long-time friends. Jesus is a model for friendship and also a source of friendship for us.

So first, let’s take a look at how Jesus loved and treated his friends — Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Jesus often dropped by their home to visit those with whom He shared close bonds. Living in Bethany, the family loved Jesus and were hospitable — Jesus was welcomed into their home, many times, and the friends shared meals together.

In the Gospel of John 11:5, we read of Jesus’ love for these three close friends. “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” While Jesus was beloved by many, He had a small yet intimate group of best friends. Like Jesus, we have to use discernment and choose wisely those who will be part of our inner circle. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” One does not need a multitude of friends, just a few close ones who are generous, supportive, honest and trustworthy.

By the same token, we need to be faithful to those with whom we are closest. Recently I heard some of the most honorable words spoken about another. Regarding a friend, the man shared, “You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has a negative thing to say about him.” We should all have such kind and respectful words about the ones we love, and for that matter, everyone. A friend honors and upholds one’s best qualities and is not quick to judge or find fault. Proverbs 16:28 reads, “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”

In 1 John 3: 21-24, John writes of the way Christians should love one another — as brothers and sisters living in Christ, as He lives in us. A man who fellowships with God can be more of a friend, than one’s own brother.

I believe it’s worth asking ourselves, what kind of friend am I?

Jesus is also a wonderful source of friendship for every one of us. I’m reminded of the words to this beautiful old hymn written as a poem in 1855 by a preacher and found in my Methodist hymnal — and one I’m sure Mike Hendrix lives by and has played many times on the organ.

“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”

Creamy Baked Chicken Breasts

• 4 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved

• 8 slices Swiss cheese

• 10 ¾-ounces undiluted cream of chicken or celery soup

• ¼ cup dry white wine

• 1 cup crushed, herbed stuffing mix

• ¼ cup melted, salted butter

Arrange chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with cheese slices. In a mixer bowl, combine soup and wine and mix well. Evenly spoon sauce over chicken and evenly sprinkle top with stuffing mix. Drizzle melted butter over the crumbs. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45-55 minutes. You can use up to 1 cup of wine or substitute chicken broth for the wine. (Nan Neal/Southern Living)

Scalloped Corn Souffle

• 1 chopped, medium onion

• ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

• 14 ¾-ounce can creamed corn

• 2 11-ounce cans drained niblet corn

• 8 ½ ounce package corn muffin mix

• Small jar of chopped pimentos

• Salt, pepper, dried parsley, to taste

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté chopped onion in butter until translucent. Transfer onion/butter mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 baking pan or Pyrex dish Stir in remaining ingredients. Bake, uncovered at 350-degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until bubbly and golden. Serves 8-10. (Mike Hendrix)

Sunshine Carrots

• ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. orange juice

• ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. maple syrup

• 2 Tbsp. orange marmalade

• 2 (16-ounce) cans drained, small whole carrots

In a saucepan, combine orange juice, maple syrup and marmalade. Bring to a boil while constantly stirring. Add carrots and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook 5 minutes. Serves 6. (Lester and Jerrie Cozart)

French Rice

• 10.5-ounce can undiluted onion soup

• ½ cup melted, salted butter

• 4 ½-ounce jar sliced mushrooms

• 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts

• 1 cup uncooked regular rice

In a mixer bowl, combine soup and butter. Stir well. Drain mushrooms and water chestnuts and reserve liquid. Add enough water to the reserved liquid to equal 1 1/3 cups. Add mushrooms, water chestnuts, liquid and rice to soup mixture. Stir well. Pour into a lightly greased 10 x 6 x 2-inch baking dish. Cover and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Serves 6. (David and Claudia Hunter/Mrs. Lloyd Reynolds, York Pennsylvania)

Two Apple Slaw with Dressing

• 1 head cabbage (large bag slaw cabbage)

• Marzetti’s Slaw Dressing

• Mayonnaise

• 1 each, red delicious and Granny Smith apple

• 1 tsp. sugar

• 1 Tbsp. vinegar

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1 Tbsp. Ball brand Fruit-Fresh (optional)

• 1 cup cold water

Chop cabbage as you desire, either coarse or fine. Add enough slaw dressing and mayonnaise to cover cabbage. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Chop washed apples into small pieces, leaving peel on for color. Mix Fruit-Fresh with cold water; drop apple pieces in water. Fold apple pieces into slaw mixture. The amount of slaw you make will be determined by the number of people planned for your meal. Serves 6 to 8 people. (Mike Hendrix)

Cranberry Salad

• 2 small package regular or sugar-free Cherry Jello

• 1 ½ cups boiling water

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 can whole cranberry sauce

• 16-20 ounce can drained, crushed pineapple

• 15-20 ounce can drained, mandarin oranges

• ½ cup finely chopped celery

• ½ cup chopped pecans

In a saucepan, dissolve Jello in boiling water. Add other ingredients and mix well. Pour into a 13 x 9 Pyrex dish or into a 1 ½ quart mold. Chill until firm. Serves 10-12 people. This recipe was prepared by Mike’s mother, Lois Hendrix, every Thanksgiving and Christmas for many years.

Coconut Caramel Pies

• ¼ cup softened, salted butter

• 7 ounce flaked coconut

• ½ cup chopped pecans

• 8 ounces softened cream cheese

• 14 ounces  sweetened condensed milk

• 16 ounces thawed, frozen whipped topping

• 2 prebaked, 9-inch pastry shells

• 12 ounces caramel ice cream topping

In a skillet, melt butter. Add coconut and chopped pecans. Cook while frequently stirring until golden brown. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, combine cream cheese and sweetened milk, and beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Layer ¼ of cream cheese mixture in each pastry shell. Drizzle ¼ of caramel topping on each pie. Sprinkle ¼ of coconut mixture evenly over each pie. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients. Cover and freeze until firm. Allow frozen pie to stand at room temperature 5 minutes before serving. Yields two 9-inch pies. (Tom and Brenda Graham/Southern Living)