A tapestry hung behind the casket at Muriel Washington's funeral between the likenesses of Florie Davis and the Rev. Herbert Brooks -- both of whom played a big part in Muriel's life at First African Baptist Church in Beaufort.
Muriel had heard many sermons at this historic church. How fitting it was when the choir sang, "Take me back, dear Lord, to the place where I first believed."
Those who came to pay their respects were from all walks of life. They remembered her as a woman of character, someone who worked to make Beaufort a place of honor and kindness.
Muriel was an ambassador of sorts. She enjoyed sharing the Lowcountry with others and often invited friends and relatives to stay with her during special events in Beaufort County.
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Many at her funeral remembered her for her work with Family and Community Leaders of Beaufort, an organization made up of homemakers who seek to improve life in the community.
She loved to travel and cook and learn and share her story with others.
She was known for trying new recipes and often lamented that they didn't come out as planned -- then she would playfully accuse me of using magic in what I prepared.
When she got ill, Muriel encouraged friends to seek pre-emptive medical care for themselves as often as possible. As her health declined, she mostly ate soup and cornbread, the perfect food to bring any octogenarian shut-in. With a little love thrown in -- oh, and maybe some magic -- a warm, homemade meal can sure bring comfort to the ailing.
CHICKEN OKRA SOUP
Makes: 2 quarts
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
2 quarts chicken stock
3 to 4 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each pepper, cayenne
1 cup tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced green onions with tops
1 pound okra washed, trimmed
Heat butter in large saucepan; saute onion, celery, green pepper and thyme until tender. Add stock, chicken, bay leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne and tomatoes. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 1 hour. Add green onions and okra. Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes or until okra is tender. Discard bay leaves. Skim fat.
Source: Olga Allen of Port Royal, a former Family and Community Leaders of Beaufort member
QUICK HAM CHOWDER
2 tablespoons margarine
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cup milk
1 can cream style corn
1 cup diced cooked potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt margarine. Lightly brown ham; add onion and cook until tender. Blend in soup, then milk. Add corn, potatoes and season to taste. Let it sit awhile; then heat and serve in warm bowls.
Source: Louise Allen of Beaufort, a Family and Community Leaders of Beaufort member
SAUSAGE CORNBREAD PIE
1 pound pork sausage
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup pork sausage drippings
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brown 1 pound pork sausage, separating into pieces. Pour off drippings, reserving 1/4 cup. Sift together yellow cornmeal, flour, sugar and baking powder. Add egg, milk and pork sausage drippings. Mix thoroughly and fold in sausage. Pour batter onto a greased 9-inch round pie pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
Source: From Ervena Faulkner's personal files
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.