On Aug. 10, Harriet Brown Smedley blew out candles representing her 75 years of life and joined the women of her 1955 class at C.A. Johnson High School as a Diamond Diva. Seven of her classmates were there to wish her well.
The Diamond Diva Society was started this year when Norma Furgess Myers was the first of us to reach the age. It is something we quietly prayed for and, now that we are members of this great society, there is no wonder how we will live. We would not trade anything for this journey. One thing is for sure, we plan to be prayerful and enjoy life. We have inched along made the great age with sound mind, as sound as a mind can be. We love to read and share thoughts about our reading.
The love of reading comes from our childhood when our mothers would carry us to town and purchase books for us; the town's only public library required us to take public transportation. Every time they went into town, they'd buy us another book.
We learned all the ways of living from sitting with our mmothers, watching while they cooked. Harriet tells of her mother saying, "If you make your bed hard, you have to lay in it. What you choose to do in life, you have to live with your choices." She was taught that the road of life would be of her own choosing, but through dedication her goals would be attainable, through hard work and education her possibilities would abound.
After earning a bachelor's degree from Benedict College, Harriet became a social worker in Mount Vernon, N.Y. She chose to further her education at Fordham University, earning a master's degree in social work. Other things in her life came in twos: two husbands, not at the same time, two daughters. Both husbands were the love of her life, and each one died too early.
Early risers, we Diamond Divas often chat as we plan our days, discussing the things ladies of our age should and talking about doing the things that ensure a good quality of life. There are projects we want to complete and there are places we want to see. Most of all, Harriet talks about tthe importance of exercising and having a healthy diet.
"But, I cannot forget some of the food from Mama's pots," she says. "I just have to cook the dishes a bit differently."
She shares recipes from her birthday party menu, as well as recipes from her travels.
1 package (12 ounces) tricolored rotini, uncooked
1 large tomato, diced
1 large red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 envelope Good Seasons zesty Italian salad dressing mix
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup oil
Prepare pasta as directed on package; drain. Rinse under cold water to cool; drain well. Toss pasta with tomato, onion and celery in large bowl. Prepare salad dressing mix with vinegar, water as directed on envelope. Add dressing to pasta mixture; toss to coat. Cover. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.
1 container (16 ounces) sour cream
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cubed cantaloupe
1 cup cubed honeydew melon
1 cup cubed fresh pineapple
2 oranges, peeled, sliced
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin orange segments, drained
2 bananas, sliced
For sauce, stir sour cream, sugar, juices and cinnamon in medium bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. For fruit salad, mix melons, pineapple, peaches, grapes and oranges in large bowl; cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir bananas into fruit mixture. Spoon into individual serving dishes. Top with sauce. Garnish with cherries.
JALAPENO HONEY-GLAZED HAM
1 8- to 10-pound boneless smoked ham, cooked
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeno pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground cloves
8 to 15 whole cloves
Heat the ham according to the package directions. Remove the ham from the oven 30 minutes before it is done. Score the outside of the ham with sharp knife in a diamond pattern 1/4-inch deep and about 1-inch apart. Combine the honey, brown sugar, bourbon, jalapeno pepper, dry mustard and ground cloves. Mix well and brush over the outside of the ham. Stick a whole clove in the center of each diamond. Continue baking the ham for 30 minutes, basting frequently. Let the ham stand at room temperature 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
HARRIET'S STRING BEANS
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (16 ounces each) whole tomatoes, cut up
1 can ( 6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
4 cups water
2 pounds green beans
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone cheese
Heat oil in medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; cook and stir until tender. Stir in tomatoes, paste, oregano and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Bring water to boil in 5-quart Dutch oven or saucepot. Add beans; cook, covered 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Spoon small amounts of tomato mixture into Dutch oven. Top with half of the beans, cheeses and tomato mixture; repeat layers. Cook, covered, on medium heat until cheeses melt and mixture is heated through.
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at email@example.com.