Home / News / The menu for the February lunch event includes both memories and green pea salad.

The menu for the February lunch event includes both memories and green pea salad.


It is a fascinating chain of events where life finds a way to come full circle so that the past meets the present.

While donating blood during a community drive before the holidays last year, a man donating just a chair away said he recognized me from my columns and from seeing me speak at a luncheon event hosted by his wife “many years ago.”

“My wife will be very surprised when she finds out who I crossed paths with this afternoon,” he said.

“Would you like to speak to him again at his lunch event, and if so, can I have your contact information?”

This reader with sharp eyes and a steel trap memory is named Mike Abercrombie from Munster and his wife is Donna. I certainly remembered the luncheon event he described, which I attended with my family in the gathering space of Southside Christian Church in Munster.

What surprised me was that this previous speaking appointment in the past was in December 2007, much longer ago than I thought. It became an easy date to pinpoint when Donna Abercrombie showed me a framed image of a follow-up piece I wrote about speaking to the group of 100 people.

Earlier this month, on February 13, I once again shared Fat Tuesday 2024 as a guest speaker in the same church meeting hall. Among the 64 guests were several names and faces who had attended 17 years ago.

Speaking at schools and groups has always been one of my favorite ways to reach readers and radio listeners. At the last moment my family chose not to come here from the farm with me to share memories, menu and fun moments.

Donna Abercrombie is known to many for her career spanning more than two decades as a first grade teacher at Kenwood Elementary School in Hammond.

After we met in 2007, I wrote a column about their daughter, whom I described as the “veterinarian of the stars.”

42 year old Dr. Bonnie Abercrombie graduated from Munster High School in 1999 and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University. St. in the Caribbean She attended Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine on St. Kitts Island and then completed her studies at Colorado State University in 2006.

After earning her veterinary degree in September 2006, her first job was to take a staff position at an animal emergency clinic in Aspen, Colo. Here he began his career treating the dogs and other animals of prominent people who spent their free time on the slopes.

Donna and I both agree with a laugh that Bonnie is more impressed by her canine teeth than her notable client list, which includes the collars.

“One day he called me and said: ‘Mom, a famous actor is coming for his dog, and I think he’s married to an actress. Who is Robert Wagner?’” Donna told me.

“Of course I was so excited and told her all about him and that he was once married to Natalie Wood and was now married to Jill St. I explained that she was married to John. “After meeting him when he came to pick up their dog, Larry, he called me back and said he was such a nice guy and couldn’t believe I was old enough to be a veterinarian.”

You should also know that Robert Wagner celebrated his 94th birthday earlier this month on February 10th. His wife, actress Jill, is 83 years old and the couple has been married since 1990.

Considering the beginning of the Lenten season, one of the recipes served at Donna’s lunch meeting caught both my eye and my taste buds and was perfect to share this time of year. Chilled Pea Salad recipe courtesy of Sue Schmidt, who also attended the luncheon.

The recipe for Mrs. Schmidt’s Chilled Pea Salad includes the surprise ingredient twist of a can of mixed vegetables that appeals to the eye and appetite, giving the finished result a colorful and delicious confetti quality. (Philip Potempa/Post-Tribune)

My 2010 “red cover” cookbook, “Further from the Farm,” includes a wonderful “Snow Pea Salad” recipe from my third-grade teacher, Ms. Erna Eckert, but its main ingredient of crumbled bacon makes it less suitable for Lenten menus. Ms. Schmidt’s recipe features a surprise ingredient twist on a can of mixed vegetables, giving the finished result a colorful and delicious confetti quality that’s eye- and appetizing.

Columnist Philip Potempa has published four cookbooks and is director of marketing at Theater at the Center. You can reach him at pmpotempa @comhs.org or email him with questions: From the Farm, PO Box 68, San Pierre, Ind. 46374.

Mrs. Schmidt’s Chilled Pea Salad

Makes 10 servings

1 can (15 ounces) sweet peas, drained

1 can (15 ounces) mixed vegetables, drained

2 boiled eggs, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup sweet relish

1/2 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper


1. In a large mixing bowl, combine mixed canned vegetables and peas.

2. Add chopped eggs, onion, celery and sweetmeat.

3. Add mayonnaise to the mixture and gently combine.

4. Add salt and pepper according to your taste, cool for at least 1 hour and serve cold.


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