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The Carnation – a symbol of Gamma Phi Beta since 1888.


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Gamma Phi Beta: “Founded on a Rock” at Syracuse U – 1874

I recently sent off an email to a friend from my Colorado College days, asking how she was doing;  her quick and kind response was, “Bless you, dear sister!”  The wording caught me off guard.  All of a sudden I felt a little pang – sad that I’d never had a “real” sister.

Andy, on the other hand, has a sister, Helen – though Helen doesn’t have a sister either.  A little of life’s ironies.   Today’s Andy’s Corner is all about having a sister AND a skateboard scooter.  And it’s about memory.

Despite never having had a real sister, my CC Gamma Phi Beta sisters are pretty special.  Our group of about 25 (we all pledged between 1962 and 1964) has kept in touch for all these years, and many of us have travelled to such Destination Spots as Santa Fe and Vancouver and Charleston, and, yes, Glen Ellen to attend our biennial reunions, often with our mates but more often without them.  Our annual newsletter, going on now for over 50 years, could probably be excerpted and published as a overview of middle American women’s lives from 1966-2018.

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Thanks, CC GPB Diane, for sharing this gorgeous photo of the Grand Lake, Colorado, area

Thirteen of us just got together in Grand Lake, Colorado.  Some of us (yours truly not included) still remember the password needed to get into the chapter meeting, the secret Latin words never to be spoken aloud, and at least a couple of the names of the founders.

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A “Serious Minded Group of Girls”: Mary A. Bingham, E. Adeline Curtis, Frances E. Haven, Helen M. Dodge – circa 1874

Admittedly, I might be the first to gripe about sororities and much of what they stand for, but this special group of women has been great to share life’s journey with (sounds like our post on Ithaca, doesn’t it).  They’re smart, active, interesting, involved – and, despite life’s crazy ups and downs, still strong.  I think the sorority founders, who were looking for a “serious minded group of girls,” would be proud of us – unless, of course, they frowned upon the raucous laughter and empty wine bottles that accompany our serious talks. 🙂

The two food-obsessed Sisters, Diane and I, made dinner one night for our Grand Lake group.  With the star ingredients being home-grown tomatoes, shrimp, chicken thighs, freekah, pita bread, and apples, we created a pretty impressive – and VERY tasty – four-course meal.

Granny’s Tomato Tart was a no-brainer just because of its name – but it’s also beautiful and oh so good.  Diane recommends lightly pressing the tomatoes with a paper towel to remove some of the moisture – before popping the tart in the oven.  Definitely don’t salt the tomatoes until they come OUT of the oven, and consider using store-bought puff pastry if you want a really really simple recipe.   Excellent tomatoes and the gruyere are the key ingredients.

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Granny’s Tomato Tart

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Coconut Shrimp with Orange-Chili Dipping Sauce

These shrimp were a huge hit at our dinner party.  The coconut is the surprise flavor when you bite into these little gems.

Coconut Shrimp with Orange-Chili Dipping Sauce

  • Servings: at least 4 as an appetizer
  • Print

Recipe adapted from

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • about 2 cups canola, vegetable, or coconut oil, for frying


  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/3 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste

To a small bowl, add the flour, salt and pepper, stir to combine.  In another small bowl, add the eggs and whisk well.  In a medium bowl, add the coconut, Panko, stir to combine.

To a Dutch oven or large skillet, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat. While oil heats up, begin the battering process.

Dip 1 shrimp in flour, dunk in egg, and dredge very well in the coconut-Panko mixture pressing it on as needed to ensure shrimp is very well coated; set aside on a platter while you repeat battering process with all remaining shrimp. After all shrimp have been battered, begin frying.  The oil should be 325F – 350F for best results; wait to fry until your oil is hot enough to ensure a crispy coating.

Add the shrimp in small batches (4 to 6 at a time) to the hot oil, frying for about 2 to 4 minutes, flipping as necessary, and frying until as dark and crispy as desired. Frying time will vary based on pan size, size of shrimp, and personal preference. Frying in small batches helps the oil stay at a hotter temperature which ensures a crispy crust. After frying, remove from oil, place on paper towels, and continue the frying process until all shrimp have been fried.

To make the sauce add the marmalade, Thai chili sauce, optional salt, optional cayenne pepper to a small bowl and stir to combine.  Taste, and adjust ratios if desired.

Serve shrimp and sauce immediately. Shrimp are best warm or just barely down to room temperature.  Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Reheating in a 350F oven is better than microwaving to help coating stay as crispy as possible.

Recipe brought to you by Diane in Los Altos and

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Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush and Freekah

With lots of help from Yotam Ottelenghi and Nigella Lawson, I put together this flavors of the Middle East main course medley.   The Za’atar Chicken is so easy and so unusual that you really must try it.  First, find the spice, Za’atar, which is generally a mixture of sesame seeds, thyme, oregano, and sumac.  I can find it at our local Oliver’s market, but (of course) Amazon has it too or you can make your own.  For lunch the night after our dinner, Diane put together a tasty salad using the leftover chicken (diced), a little of the yogurt sauce, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and freekah.  How cool and chef-y can you get!


The seasoned pita chips really make this recipe, but I’ve read recipes that save time and energy by simply tearing up toasted pita bread and then sprinkling it with olive oil before adding to the salad. Store-bought pita chips will not be the same at all.


  • 5 T olive oil
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 T sherry vinegar
  • 1 T pomegranate molasses (or maple syrup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-3 tsp sumac for sprinkling on the top of the salad (optional – and can be omitted if you’ve used the seasoned pita chips)

Salad ingredients

  • 1/2 lb of cucumbers, chopped (peel unless they’re Persian or Armenian)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch radishes, chopped
  • 2 Little Gem lettuces or 1 Romaine lettuce, cut crosswise into 3/4″ strips
  • 1 c parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c mint leaves, chopped
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, chopped – or 2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
  • about 2 c Seasoned Pita Chips (see recipe or buy them)

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

Seasoned Pita Chips

  • 2 8″ pita, torn into  1 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/2 c sliced, unsalted almonds
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp chile flakes
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.  Add the pita and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes; try to get all of the pita coated with the butter and olive oil.  Add the almonds and continue stirring and frying until the almonds are golden and the pita is crunchy..  Remove the mixture from the heat; mix in the sumac and chile flakes and 1/2 tsp salt.  Spread the mixture out on paper towels to cool and crisp up.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

Yogurt Sauce for Za'atar Chicken

  • 1 c Greek yogurt (whole fat)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sumac

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

Za'atar Chicken

This recipe is easily cut in half.  Adapted from Nigella Lawson

for the chicken :
1/2 cup olive oil
1 chicken (approx. 3-1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces or 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons za’atar (I like to use as much as 4 tablespoons; you don’t need to worry about za’atar being overwhelming)
4 tsp kosher salt – or about 1 tsp per pound of meat

Place the chicken in a single layer in a large roasting pan and pour the oil over the pieces, rubbing them to give them a glossy coating.  Sprinkle over the za’atar and salt, and then work it into the skin of the chicken so that each piece is well covered.  Turn each chicken piece skin side up and then allow the meat to marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.  If you’re in a hurry, you can skip that refrigerator time and just let the chicken sit at room temperature (in the oil and za’atar) for an hour before roasting.
If you’ve refrigerated the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you want to put it in the oven – or approximately 2 hours before you want to serve it.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place the chicken in the oven – uncovered – and roast for about 45 minutes.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

Fancy Freekah

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced thin
  • 2 c cracked freekah
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 1/2 c chicken broth
  • chopped parsley (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan (which has a lid) over medium low heat.  Add the onion and stir and fry until it’s golden brown and soft – about 15 minutes.  Add the freekah, allspice, coriander, salt, and some black pepper.  Stir well and then add the chicken broth.  Turn the heat up and when the broth boils, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for another 20 minutes or more.  Before serving, add the parsley to the freekah, if you wish.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

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French Apple Almond Cake

Diane’s French Apple Almond Cake is both beautiful and yummy.  You might serve it with sweetened whipped cream, but I don’t think it needs it.  Be sure to sprinkle it with powdered sugar just before serving – for both looks and taste.

French Apple Almond Cake

If your only baking powder expired in 2011 and it’s 2018, we recommend using a scant 1 tablespoon instead of 2 tsp of it! Recipe adapted from

  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I used all Honeycrisp)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon apple brandy (or regular brandy or dark rum)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1½ tablespoons sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour an 8″ or 9″ springform pan.

With an electric mixer, beat egg and 2 tablespoons sugar at medium speed until pale in color, about 2 minutes. Stir in melted butter, brandy, and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1 cup  sugar. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.

In a large bowl combine 1 cup of batter with all but 1/4 cup of the apples.  Mix gently but well, and then spread evenly in the pan.  Top with the remaining batter, smoothing with a knife. Press reserved ¼ cup apples into top of batter, and sprinkle with almonds.

Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cover loosely with foil if the cake begins to brown too much.

Let cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around edges of cake to loosen before removing from pan. Let cool completely on base of pan before serving.

Recipe brought to you by Diane in Los Altos and


  1. Becky Versteeg says:

    Everything about that evening was wonderful—-food and friendship and in Colorado! I’m so glad you and Diane have signed up to do it again. I’ll follow you anywhere.


  2. Bob Carleton says:

    Ann’s sorority sister event is the main benefit of attending a residential school… you don’t get anything like that from a commuter campus (I cannot even remember the name of one “classmate” from my undergrad years).


  3. Bob Carleton says:

    Ha. I’m such a Philistine I had no idea what Freekah could be… So I Googled it, and along with the definition came a sorta related recipe for Mujaddara (from Budgetbytes) that looks like a good one to try. The Za’atar chix sounds great, too. Always enjoy the Ragged Recipes.


  4. Janet says:

    The day after the reunion, our newspaper had a story titled, “Californians are smarter about food than we are. Just ask one.” But after eating the terrific meal prepared by you California girls, I think it’s probably true! Thank you.


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