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Gina Touchton's celebrations



Mary Cho Realty 311 N. College Street Auburn, Alabama 36830 334 •524 •8867

832 Choctaw Ave, Auburn

811 Harvard Drive,( condo), Auburn

Great location, great price, 3br/2ba condo less than 4 years old, open floor plan, washer and dryer, stainless appliances, great for family or investment, condo fee $163/month. 129,900.00

Cute 3 br/2 ba brick home in Shelton Park. Great room with fireplace, dining room, remodeled kitchen with granite counter tops, fenced backyard with storage building, motivated seller. 159,600.00

109 S. Cedarbrook Dr, Auburn 841 Twin Forks, Auburn Nice 3br/2.5ba brick home in Shelton Park. Great room with vaulted ceiling and fireplace, sun room off master, private backyard, lots of storage space. Newly repainted. Price to sell. 159,900.00

959 Law Drive, Auburn Better than new, 3br/2ba 4 year old home in Shelton Park, on cul-de-sac. New granite kitchen counters, vaulted ceiling and fireplace in great room. Excellent condition, Available 5-15-2010. 189,900.00

Below appraised value!! Nice brick home in Cary Woods school district, 3br/2ba, excellent condition, living room, dining room, eat-in kitchen, family room, plantation shutters, great family home. 169,900.00

1064 Birch Circle, Auburn 3br/2ba home, close to shopping and AU campus. Bonus room can be sewing/ computer/or guest room, vaulted ceiling in great room with fireplace, new ceramic floor in kitchen and breakfast area . great for family or investment. Motivated seller. $ 179,900.00

310 Hickory Woods, Auburn 3br/2ba plus bonus room, great neighborhood, close to shopping, schools, and campus, multi decks in back, great for entertaining, remodeled kitchen with solid counter tops, sky light in master bath and in kitchen. Motivated seller. 189,900.00

335 S. College St. Auburn, (business only)

$ 60,000.00. Great location for any kind of restaurant. Prime Auburn location, across from campus, walking distance to the restaurant from some campus building. great price.

6156 Heath Road, Auburn Nature lover's paradise with 5.17+ acres in Auburn city limits, close to AU campus and downtown. Lots of privacy, hardwood floors, fireplace with gas logs, large front porch, 12 x 32 screened in back deck with hot tub, 2 car carport and many extras. Move-in condition. 299,500.00

Mary Cho Realty was established in nineteen ninety two. We are members of the Lee County Board of Realtors, multiple listing service, and members of both the Auburn and the Opelika Chambers of Commerce. Our company is service oriented, specializing in residential, investment, commercial, land, and more.

contents october/november 2009 6 Food

Harvest treasures

8 Garden

You’re going to pot

10 Health

Win the flu fight

11 Brawn

The low-cal lure

12 Fashion


Sew What?

14 Momitude My snacks rock!

16 Brain

Warming up to you

17 A New Voice


A literary magazine for Southern women


18 Iron Bowl Goodies

Snacks Desserts Beverages

22 Party Girl

The celebrations of Gina Touchton

26 Lee Life


Argentina in Auburn

28 Calendar

What's up in Lee Land?

What's at your tailgate? Get out your blue and orange, we’re having a tailgate party. Veteran tailgaters know you need televisions, lounge chairs, a smorgasbord of treats, and your best War Eagle hollers for the afternoon football extravaganza.

1. Put up your Auburn University pinwheel to keep track of the wind blowing good luck our way.

tailgating spot he’s held for twenty-six years. He’s sure it brings good luck.

2.Victoria Gibson may live in Sugar Land,Texas, but she knows how to tailgate with best of the Tigers, pitching the corn-filled sack for an Auburn University-themed cornhole game.

5. The Sims family from Roswell, Georgia, carries a blueand-orange basket of good eats. They’re such big fans, they even insist on blue-and-orange Tostados bags.

3. The giant regal tiger supervises the tailgate bash of Ralph Beard of Montgomery. The carnivore is a kitten to all in blue and orange.

6. Of course Amy Case of Auburn uses a football-shaped slow-cooker for her homemade macaroni and cheese. The pre-game carb boost is just one reason her tailgate gathering has unofficial cheerleaders.

4. Auburn's Tommy Coburn's War Eagle screams over the the









For the smart, savvy Alabama woman Publisher: Editor: Sales manager: Sales reps:

Beth Snipes Jenni Laidman Meg Callahan Betsy McLure Blake Jodi Harris Copy Editor: Joey Harrison Web Designer: Christine Holzmann Distribution: John Snipes

Contributors Food: Smarts: Fashion: Fitness: Garden: Momitude:

Heida Olin Debbie Smelley Taylor Dungjen Lisa Gallagher Connie Cottingham Kelly Frick

CONTACT US AT 334-332-2961









1550 Opelika Road Suite 6-220 Auburn, Alabama 36830 334-332-2961 Published by Pickwick Papers Publishing, LLC. Copyright ©2008 Lee Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited without approval. For more information, contact

The August-September issue of Lee Magazine should have credited the photograph of a Roger Brown painting of Hank Williams to the Jule Collins Smith Museum. The museum is home to this painting as well as other works by Brown, and is also home to a sculpture by Dale Chihuly written about in that issue.

editor’s note


was having lunch in some funky little vegetarian place in Athens, Georgia, with my friends Carrie and David. Carrie told me about a little journal she created. She glued the word “Satisfaction” to the cover, and decided that every day she would write down something satisfying that had happened to her. The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it, so when I got home, I started a file in my computer labeled, “Satisfaction.” Every day I write down some satisfying thing that happened to me. I’m a natural born kvetcher, so keeping track of daily satisfactions was harder than I expected. I struggle with my natural tendency to complain. I want to gripe about the crisis of the moment. So I try to look for something in the crisis that brought me satisfaction. It’s a different way to think, and for me, it’s a way of becoming unstuck. It’s a chance to let go of the problem, to alter the unhappy viewpoint, and notice the positive things I failed to adequately appreciate. This isn’t pretending that every cloud has a silver lining. Some clouds are just clouds. Some things are bad. No amount of positive thinking makes them happy. But you don’t always have to look at the cloud. Noticing the good things that aren’t clouds provides a small dose of grace. “My satisfaction is proposing a solution that put us beyond this crisis,” one recent note read. “Another satisfaction, I was up by 5 today. It was a successful morning.” I like to wake up early. Weird, I know. “I took two naps today.” OK, there’s the other side of waking up early. “Missed a phone call I should have made. Thank goodness the guy was gracious about it. Thank goodness for gracious people.” “Very productive day today. Sue (my mother-in-law) made dinner. Thank goodness.” Some days are tougher than others. Here’s a note from one of my low ones: “I made catfish, green beans, and pumpkin bread. The world didn’t end.” So happy Thanksgiving. May your day, and your year, be filled with satisfactions. Don’t forget to take note of them. Oh, and War Eagle!

Jenni Laidman



Making the most of autumn’s plenty By Heida Olin


e’re talking recipes on an early Saturday morning, sitting on the porch of the building where Pat and Frank Randle run Randle Farms. From my perch I can see the rolling hills of Lee County beyond the trellises of muscadine vines. Pat, a registered cardiac surgical nurse at East Alabama Medical Center, shared some wonderful recipes with me for the bountiful fall harvest of squash, sweet potatoes, and late-harvest tomatoes. On the picnic table sit two gorgeous squash unlike any I’ve seen in the grocery store. Pat’s son Zach said they were winter squash, one called Queensland Blue and the other a Red Kuri. Pat likes to read cookbooks. She combines recipes to make them her own. I tasted Pat’s cooking this summer during blueberry season. That’s when Pat sells cobblers, pies, coffeecakes, and more. The cobbler I bought was still warm from the oven and yummy. I asked Pat about her family’s favorite Thanksgiving meal. They’re not big turkey fans. Pat prepares a lemon-thyme roasted chicken instead. She stuffs the cavity of the bird with lemon halves and thyme sprigs, mixes lemon juice and thyme with butter, then loosens the skin of the bird and rubs the butter mixture under the skin. Squash casserole is another favorite. The following recipes all come from Pat’s kitchen. I was so excited to check out someone else’s favorites, I’ve tried them all.


ABOVE: Pat Randle

checks her late-harvest tomatoes. LEFT: Pat shows

off some squash. Photos by Beth Snipes


Since sweet potatoes are an abundant fall item, Pat Randle makes this recipe often, and her family loves it. 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces 2 medium sweet onions, cut into 1-inch pieces 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a 13x9-inch baking dish, tossing to coat. Bake for 35 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.


Pat’s family prefers this casserole to the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. I couldn’t wait to try it. It’s awesome. 3 cups cooked and mashed butternut squash (instructions follow) ¼ cup butter, melted 1 teaspoon salt ¹/8 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon minced onion ¼ cup milk 3 eggs, beaten ¼ cup buttered breadcrumbs Add the butter to the squash and beat until well blended. Stir in salt, pepper, and onion. Blend milk into eggs; add to squash mixture. Pour into a greased 1½ quart casserole; top with breadcrumbs. Set in pan of warm water and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Butternut squash for casserole Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse squash and halve lengthwise. Remove the seeds and fiber. Spray the exposed part of the squash with cooking spray. Salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with a bit of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger. Place cut-side up in a baking dish with about an inch of water in the bottom. Bake about 1 hour or until fork-tender. The squash will be lightly browned.


3/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper ½ teaspoon salt

5 medium cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 3 cups ricotta cheese 1¼ cups grated mozzarella cheese ½ cup grated parmesan cheese 3 beaten eggs 1 cup grated carrot 2 medium tomatoes 3 to 4 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs Place the grated zucchini in a colander over the sink. Salt lightly and let stand 15 minutes. Squeeze out the excess moisture. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt; sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, carrot, flour, and dried herbs. Stir over medium heat for about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in garlic and lemon juice. Place the cheeses and eggs in a large bowl. Beat vigorously until well blended. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well. Season to taste with black pepper and adjust salt if necessary. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Slice the tomatoes and cut each slice in half, forming “Ds.” Arrange on the top and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Bake in the center of the oven for 50 minutes. Cool for at least 20 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Serve at any temperature.


The late fall tomato harvest is due in October. Pat’s mouthwatering recipe is a great way to use these wonderful tomatoes. Use your favorite piecrust recipe or you can use the Pillsbury piecrust in the dairy case. Pillsbury Crescent roll dough makes a fine crust too.

Not only is the presentation fantastic, but the flavor is divine. Serve it for brunch or with crackers at a party.

1 piecrust 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded 3 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped 3 medium tomatoes cut into ½-inch slices 1½ tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups zucchinis (3 to 4 small), coarsely grated and packed into a measuring cup Salt 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup minced onion ½ teaspoon salt Black pepper to taste 2 tablespoons unbleached flour 2 teaspoons dried basil ½ teaspoon dried oregano ½ teaspoon dried thyme

Place crust in a tart pan or pie pan and trim the edges. Prick holes in the bottom of the crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Cover bottom of crust with cheese and sprinkle on 2 tablespoons of basil. Place the sliced tomatoes on top. Brush tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper Place the tart on a baking sheet on the lower rack of the oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon basil on top. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. -LM Heida Olin is a local caterer and educator. You can reach her at










UNCOI NTAINED  beauty Pots for winter gardens By Connie Cottingham SUPERSIZE ME — at least when it comes to containers for gardening. Since discovering how to use pots in the landscape, I’ve fallen in love with the biggest ones. Container planting adds color to the garden, lifts plants to different levels, and brings life to patios, porches, and decks. Containers are great for adding summer color to outdoor living spaces, but I think they can add even more in winter. My favorite grouping for the winter container combines evergreen structure, annual color, kitchen essentials, and a spring surprise. First, decide where you want to place the container. One of the benefits of containers is they are moveable, but design this container for where you see it spending this winter. Will this container receive sun or shade? This isn’t as critical in winter as in summer, but you should choose plants that prefer the sunlight you have to offer.


Now think about color. If your home is grey, almost any color scheme complements it. A silver-grey conifer dances in front of a deep green holly or burgundy loropetalum, but has a soft, romantic effect against a white home or fence. But take care with color against an orangey-red brick. Blue or white looks great, but other colors are not as flattering. If you want orange and your home is reddish brick, place the pots where you can see them from indoors, against evergreens or a weathered wood fence, instead of near the brick. Containers should be at least sixteen inches, preferably twenty inches, and absolutely, positively have a drainage hole. The style and color of the pot needs to suit the space. Two or three matching containers in various sizes makes an attractive grouping. The smaller containers (still at least ten inches) can hold annuals with bulbs or individual shrubs. Never use garden soil in a container. Purchase a soilless mix,

(usually labeled “potting mix”) made for container planting. Make sure you buy enough, and don’t skimp on quality here. Because these mixes are sterile, it is up to you to add nutrients. This is easily done by choosing a mix with added fertilizer or adding a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote. Start by buying a sizable evergreen in a one- to three-gallon container. Conifers are one of my favorite choices, with foliage colors including silver, russet, and chartreuse. The broad-leaf evergreen camellia offers glossy, deep green foliage and blooms if you choose a plant in bud. The evergreen provides the container arrangement structure. While planting the evergreen, toss in spring flowering bulbs to add color and surprise in March. Keep your color scheme in mind as you choose the bulbs. White pansies under a pink blooming camellia will go from soft and sweet to bold when yellow daffodils or bright pink hyacinths bloom. Of course you need annuals at the base of the shrub. Pansies are an obvious choice, blooming all season long. For many of us, a container on the deck is the only place our pansies are safe from deer. If deer are a problem, snapdragons, available in both taller and shorter varieties, are a wise choice. If the container is large enough or you are planting a grouping of several containers, there is room to mix snapdragons, pansies and ornamental cabbage. I like to add a curly parsley plant, which adds texture, bright green color, and flavor for the kitchen. Come spring, I usually keep the shrubs and bulbs in the containers and replant summer annuals around them. When a shrub gets too large in a few years, it moves into the garden. Other choices would be to give it to a friend or donate it to a plant sale. Professional landscapers are using inexpensive Leyland cypress as evergreen accents in commercial plantings, treating them as annuals and moving or composting them at the end of the season. There is no reason why you cannot do the same with your containers. I prefer to add to my collection of conifers by buying a valuable specimen

in a size that fits my budget and letting it mature as part of a container planting until it is large enough to move into the landscape. Don’t stash empty containers because the summer annuals are gone – plant them to liven up your winter landscape. -LM DRINK UP Although not nearly as thirsty as they are in summer, plants need water in winter too. A container in full sun or in a windy area will need a little more water than one in a protected spot. A hydrated plant handles cold weather better than one that is stressed. But remember, over watering is one of the most common causes of death in plants, so make sure every container has a drainage hole. The best test is the simple finger test: Stick your finger in the pot. If it is moist it probably doesn’t need more water; if it’s dry, add water.

Connie Cottingham is licensed in three Southern states as a landscape architect. You can reach her at

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Block That Bug! W

hat’s the best way to deal with this year’s flu bugs? We asked Benja Morgan. She’s the infection control manager at the East Alabama Medical Center. Here are her top ten suggestions. • Wash your hands. Wash them after you shake hands. Wash them before you touch your eyes. Wash them before you touch your face. Wash them all the time. • Carry water-free cleanser. Carry it everywhere. And use it. It’s an effective germ killer, but it won’t perform miracles if you’re hands are visibly soiled. • If you’re sick, stay home. The office will not collapse without you. Really. It will collapse, however, if you infect all the other employees. • Wash your hands. Flu virus can live on surfaces for months. Err on the side of caution.


• If you’re a boss, encourage sick employees to stay home. • Get your flu vaccines. This year there is a seasonal flu vaccine and a vaccine for “swine flu • Every year the flu vaccines are adjusted to meet the new flu strain in circulation. The swine flu vaccine is really just another adjustment in the never-ending adjustment to the flu bug. Get it when it becomes available. The U.S. Center for

Benja Morgan

Disease Control and Prevention says children under nine years of age, who have immature immune systems, will need two doses. Everyone else needs only one dose. • Sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue. Really. Then go wash your hands. • Avoid people with symptoms. If you’re a mom caring for coughing kids, now is the time to teach them to use a tissue, to cover their nose, and to wash their hands. • If you have a high fever, aches, chills, a cough that you can’t control, or you have flu symptoms and an underlying illness, check in with your physician. • If you are sick but are able to keep your fever under control, and keep water and food down, then you probably don’t need to see a doctor. You do need to stay in bed. This is one time no one wants you to share. -LM





By Lisa Gallagher




When her trainer moved away, she stopped working out. Almost immediately, she started gaining weight, and gaining, and gaining. She tried eating less, but the pounds kept coming. Her clothes were tight. She felt out of control, so she panicked. She threw $800 at the problem, and joined a weight-loss clinic. What convinced this hard-working small-business owner to let go of that much cash was the clinic’s veneer of expertise. Diane has 160 pounds of lean mass, the staff person told her. Wow, that sounded good. She was leaner than she thought. We have a plan for you, the weight-loss people told her. We’ll tell you what to do. Sadly, Diane already belonged to a fitness center that could have offered the same body composition information for free. The lean body weight figure accounts for the weight of our bones, muscles, and organs. It rises and falls with weight gain and loss, simply because it takes more muscle to carry more weight. The fitness instructor at her medically based fitness center didn’t give her an upbeat sales pitch, however. He told her what he thought was important: her total weight and body fat percentage. But to Diane it felt like he’d told her only negative stuff — too much fat — and not the good news — that she has more lean mass than she thought. So, she signed up with the weight loss clinic. After initial paperwork and impressive-looking tests, the clinic made good on its promise of telling Diane exactly what to do.

WHAT ABOUT VERY LOW CALORIE DIETS? They put her on a very low-calorie diet, told her what to eat and when, and instructed her not to exercise. And in fact she will lose weight, and pretty fast, by eating less food than her resting metabolic rate will require. So, what’s the problem? A 1992 report from the National Institutes of Health states that as many as eighty percent of people who start a diet don’t finish. It seems reasonable that the more restrictive the diet, the higher the drop out rate. The same report asserts that even the successful dieters regain weight within a year, and the rest regain it within five years. Twenty-five percent of the weight lost when we diet and don’t exercise is muscle. If your muscles were engines, you just traded in your eight-cylinder engine for a four-cylinder. By reducing your muscle mass, you have shifted calories burned to calories stored. If by sheer will, a person sticks to their diet plan, it becomes even easier to gain weight.

There is a darling term for this phenomenon: creeping obesity. If you haven’t been exercising, you have lost a half a pound of muscle a year, beginning in your late twenties. If you’ve been dieting, you probably lost even more muscle. Dieting isn’t the whole answer, and can be part of the problem. We need to stop looking to “experts” to help us get control. Instead, think of your own effort as taking charge. If this sounds too hard, maybe you’re not ready to make a significant change right now. It’s OK if you’re not ready to give up doughnuts or to start a walking program. Do what you are ready for, and realize that you’re OK just as you are. And above all, don’t panic. You’ll be fine. You are fine. -LM Lisa Gallagher, director of the Fitness Center at the Opelika Sportsplex, is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and group fitness instructor. You can contact her at LEE MAGAZINE 11






What a stitch!

More than one way to stay stylish

Rita Woodham models one of her own creations.

By Taylor Dungjen


ut down the off-the-rack clothing and back away from the department store. There’s a new attitude in town, and it’s keeping women in stitches. The women of Lee County — and women all over the country — are arming with needles and spools of thread and assembling their own garments. We didn’t always see the value of making our own fashions. For some of us, homemade was synonymous with poorly constructed. If you suspected someone made her clothes, it was a bad thing. If you think that now, you are so out of step. Businesses that specialize in sewing machines see it in their customers: New mothers and more young women want to learn to sew or want to expand their skills. “The young mothers, we find, are our No. 1 growing business,” says Rita


Woodham, co-owner of the Opelika Sewing Center. “Five years ago I’d say we didn’t have young mothers in shopping.” It’s not necessarily the economy driving these moms to put foot pedal to the metal, Woodham says. In fact, creating garments from scratch is often much more expensive than purchasing off-the-rack clothing. What these new-wave sewers seek is a creative outlet, art at the point of a needle. All these new seamstresses are boosting the sewing machine market. Sales of basic machines are up from last year, but embroidery machines sales, which have been steadily increasing for the last three years, are the real growth market, Woodham says. Most of these new sewers make garments, and often those garments are gifts and children’s clothing.

Seamstresses often pattern their kids’ clothing on high-end designs, so cost savings can be a factor. But so is the chance to select quality fabrics to create clothes that will outlast store-bought items. ome new seamstresses are starting small independent businesses, which has become easier with online shopping and selling forums like Brooke Henninger, twenty-three, of Auburn, launched Baby Darling on Etsy last year. She and her husband, Nick, began creating cute baby gear when she was pregnant with Noah, who was born the summer of 2007. “We were looking for crib bedding and we couldn’t really find anything we liked. My husband actually said, ‘Oh we could do that,’” Brooke says. So she refreshed her memory of seventh-grade home economics


classes, and bought a machine. Her husband created the designs that allow Brooke to work from home. When she has her second child in January — a girl this time — she’ll be well supplied with new things for the baby. Beth Smith of Opelika, whose Etsy. com site, Sewing By Beth, has attracted customers from California, supports Name brand andyoung designer the sewing boom among women. clothing, shoes, purses and “Both of my nephew’s wives, both in their jewelry for ladies, teens twenties, took sewing lessons from me.” and young adults Her own daughter, Ashley, twenty-five, has taken up sewing recently too. But Beth learned when she was nine. Now she makes clothing forNOW children. She is also part of a group that sells hand-sewn items at a booth at Angels Antiques & Flea Mall, 900 Columbus Parkway. “Our group ranges from their twenties to fifties. I’ve had several young people I’ve encouraged. I feel it’s definitely on the rise.” Woodham has been sewing since she was fourteen. She started when the woman who is today her mother-in-law said if she wanted to marry her son, she would have to learn to sew. Already, Woodham knew he c-7 was M-0 the one, busy. proof Y Y- so 62she at got 90% But you don’t have to proof P -c-0 m-62 y-0 at 90 % have such a powerful motivation to take up sewing. There are plenty of classes available, and women are crowding in. At Opelika Sewing Center, class sizes have increased from about six students each lesson to as many as fifteen. The sewing center also added to the number of classes it offers. At Auburn University, students enrolled in the fashion design and fashion merchandising programs are required to take basic sewing. Woodham teaches some of the AU classes and says she’s seeing the surge in enrollment there as well. Want to learn or improve your sewing technique? There are scads of people ready to share their skills on Web sites like Alabama also has a chapter of the American Sewing Guild. Based in Birmingham, it serves the entire state. For more information on the Alabama chapter, e-mail birmingham@ -LM Taylor Dungjen is a freelance writer who often covers fashion. Write to her at








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Melani Flynt's first grade students at Ogletree Elementary taste tested the butterfly snacks for Lee Magazine readers and gave them a peanut buttery thumbs up. From left, Kelsy France, six, Carson Alexander, seven, Savannah Kempfer, six, and Lauren Finch, six.

DIRT, WORMS, AND BUTTERFLIES The yummiest snacks for the competitive mom By Kelly Frick


here are certain things in life I dread: Taxes. Funerals. Wearing a bathing suit in public. But the biggie is ... Snack Day. The note comes home saying John has snack day in three weeks — which means I have to provide snacks for his class of twenty five. So of course three weeks later, John comes home from school and yells, “Mom, don’t forget I’m Snack Leader tomorrow!” Panic. Sweat. Swearing under breath. More panic. You see, I don’t cook. I mean, I can. Just not very well. But I’m also highly competitive so Snack Day represents an opportunity to one-up that snooty mom that I just can’t stand who always brings the world’s most perfect snack, then sends home the recipe just to rub it in. So once I get over the panic attack, I get to work. I call in my secret weapon: my sister-in-law, the kindergarten teacher (Ta-Da!). “Hey, Kendra, I need a clever, but easy, snack for first-graders. Whaddaya


got?” (And yes, I start talking trucker, good buddy.) Since Emma’s days in preschool, she has yet to fail me. And along the way, I’ve actually picked up a recipe or two from Mrs. Know-It-All. Dang her. So here are my top five easy, breezy recipes for entertaining elementary students. (Of course, you’ll need to check on allergies before bringing them to class.) Feel free to pass them on to moms of preschoolers everywhere.


GO FISH. Bag of pretzel rods, jar of peanut butter, and Goldfish. Put a gob of peanut butter on a plate; sprinkle a pool of Goldfish to the side. Kids dip pretzel rod in PB, pick up Goldfish, and eat everything. Huge hit. (I’ve used this many, many times. Emma has now banned it from any of her school functions. John’s still game though.)



Grapes, strawberries, bananas, kiwi — you name it — on a stick or thin straw. I’ve seen magazines show it on a pretzel

rod, but I haven’t managed to do that without mangling the fruit. Bonus: The teacher praises you for bringing a healthy snack.



one came from a co-worker’s mom, who actually extended Snack Day to her twenty three-year-old son’s first week of work. A little nutty, but she gets credit for creativity.) Layer a Nilla wafer, orange-colored frosting, a Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie, green-colored shredded coconut (just squirt food coloring on the coconut), more orange frosting, another Nilla wafer. Get it? Put together it looks like a mini Big Mac. And the combo tastes good too


YUMMY BUTTERFLIES. A threeinch section of celery filled with peanut butter. Stick two pretzels (thinstyle) into the peanut butter to look like a butterfly starting to open its wings. Add some red or black (again, thin) licorice for antennae and M&Ms for eyes. I’m not

DISASTER HAPPENS jazzed about this food combination, but kids think differently. And boys particularly like the idea of tearing off the wings and eating them. Go figure. EAT DIRT. Snack size puddings,

preferably chocolate. Pull back the tops, throw in a gummy worm, and sprinkle with crushed Oreo cookies. Looks like dirt on top and the kids will love finding the worms. I recently saw this listed on a fancy restaurant’s dessert menu. I’m totally hip. Not feeling the creative juices flowing? Feel free to fall back on my time-honored, never-fail treat: chocolate-chip cookies from the nearest bakery. You may not get praise from the teacher, but I haven’t heard a kid complain yet. And no sweating involved.

Kelly Frick is a writer and mother of two.

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KUMON OF AUBURN - OPELIKA 334-501-8586 Flint’s Crossing 1550 Opelika Road, Auburn, AL 36830



Chilly hands, chilly heart? By Jenni Laidman


onsider the following scene: Two women are in an elevator. Woman No. 1 is balancing a tall stack of papers and holding a hot cup of coffee. A briefcase hangs from her shoulder. Her cell phone starts ringing from somewhere inside the briefcase. She shifts the stuff in her arms to grab the phone and sets off an avalanche of paper. Woman No. 2, who carries only a purse, offers to hold the coffee. A moment later the elevator doors open, and both women step out. Woman No. 1 has shoved everything into her briefcase. Now she has a free hand. Woman No. 2 hands back the coffee. Both women go their separate ways. So, here’s the question: How does woman No. 2 feel about the receptionist who


greets her at her doctor’s appointment? You don’t know? Come on! You have all the clues. Let’s try it this way: Everything is the same, except now Woman No. 1 is carrying a iced Frappuccino. The same scene plays out, and when the elevator doors open, Woman No. 2 hands back the Frappuccino and walks into her doctor’s office. The receptionist says, “This is your lucky day.” All the doctor’s clients — he happens to be a plastic surgeon — can receive either a free skin treatment, or sign up a friend for the free treatment. Which will Woman No. 2 pick? You still don’t know? How many more clues do I have to give you? How about this one: The same part of your brain that registers the warmth of a




mothers’ love, that recognizes the warmth radiating from that kind person you just met, also registers the sensation of a warm heating pad. The brain structure is called the insula, also referred to as the insular cortex. It’s about the size of a prune, shaped something like a clamshell, and sits near the ear. It keeps track of how our body feels. And it activates in situations of emotional warmth and during warm baths. Lawrence E. Williams of the University of Colorado and John A Bargh at Yale published a study last year in the preeminent journal, Science, that demonstrates this link between temperature and judgment. In the study, people who momentarily held a warm cup of coffee were more likely to assess a person as “warm” than people who momentarily held an iced coffee. hen we say someone is “warm” we mean they seem to like us. They’re friendly. They’re helpful. We trust them. Psychologists consider this weighing of warmth one of the most important appraisals we make. And a cup of coffee can affect it. The study further showed that people who held a warmed IcyHot, and, moments later were offered a choice between a gift for themselves and a gift for a friend, were more likely to choose a gift for a friend. People who held a chilly IcyHot more often kept the gift for themselves. The researchers make the point that in infancy we made the association between physical warmth and emotional warmth when we found comfort in Mom’s arms. We build on that connection as our brain develops until our internal state is affected to some degree by an unrelated external state. It’s probably best not to get too carried away with this. For instance, it’s probably not proof that coffee drinkers are generally kinder than soft-drink guzzlers. But it does show that what happens to our bodies is inarguably linked to what happens to our brain — which we sometimes forget is actually part of our body — and how little we know about our own subtle motivations. Coffee, anyone? -LM




By Lindsay Wood


he Southern Women’s Review is a new online literary journal featuring women writers from south of the Mason-Dixon line. And if you ask Helen Silverstein, an Auburn resident and managing editor of the Review, it was created by magic. Once upon a time, Alicia Clavell, editor and co-founder of the Southern Women’s Review, was so inspired by the Southern women writers who attended the Southern Women’s Writers Conference, that she began dreaming about a literary magazine that would honor Southern women’s voices. So Clavell began contacting all of the professors and writers she knew about the idea and developed the bare bones of the Review. What happened next was the magic part. Clavell attended the writers’ conference held by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Chicago, and that’s where she met Silverstein, a short story writer. Clavell and Silverstein sat at the same table and hit it off immediately. “It was magical. I think the momentum and co-creative energy gave the journal life,” Silverstein said. Silverstein loved the idea of the journal so much that she volunteered to advertise for submissions and help Clavell in any way she could. So with Clavell’s foundation of writers as the Review’s editorial board and Silverstein’s enthusiasm, the Southern Women’s Review was created. The twice-yearly online journal proved a hit with women from all over the South.

Helen Silverstein

Photo by Christopher Lee Kelley

Southern Voices

Auburn woman helps midwife new women’s literary magazine “We had a large number of submissions, over 200 I think,” Silverstein said. “The issue was full. We wanted to accept them all.” The May 1 submission deadline came and went while Silverstein, Clavell, and the editorial board sifted through the entries to complete the first issue on July 15. Silverstein hated to turn any of them down, and asked a number of writers to resubmit their work for upcoming issues. Clavell and Silverstein see the Southern Women’s Review as an exploration of Southern roots and voices, whether the author or artist is a born Southerner or a transplant like Silverstein. The free online journal includes stories, photography, and poetry. Silverstein hopes the Review will include women who are not writers, but have stories full of “Southern flavor.” She is cooking up a plan to gather stories from the women of Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka.

One piece in the last issue particularly struck a cord with Silverstein: a poem by Melissa Blackburn, a sculptor, mother, and Auburn University graduate. “A pet dies, a divorce alters one’s life forever, a baby is born, a house burns down, another is built. Each day fits into the next in one fluid motion. What seems solid and secure passes with a flash we may not even notice,” Blackburn writes in “You Asked What the Birds Mean.” They are words, Silverstein notes, any woman can identify with. In its first issue, the Review accepted 46 poems, photographs, and stories, both fiction and nonfiction. The deadline for submissions for the January 2010 edition is October 31, via the Website, -LM LEE MAGAZINE 17

trifle by drizzling caramel sauce over the top. Serve with whipped cream or Cool Whip.

CHAMPAGNE CAKE with Butter Cream Frosting

Dessert do-overs

Leftovers with style These are the Transformers of the desert world. Make a Spice Cake for Thanksgiving, then transform the leftovers into Apple Pan Trifle for the Iron Bowl. Or how about transforming Thursday’s Champagne Cake into Friday’s Champagne Trifle? Caterer and Lee Magazine food writer Heida Olin passes along these marvelous recipes. The trick to making these creative do-overs is having enough leftovers. Our advice? Make extra.

FALL FAVORITE SPICE CAKE 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1 1/2 cups applesauce 1 cup peanut oil 3 large eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1 cup chopped dates 1 cup chopped pecans Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan or loaf pans with baking spray and dust with flour.


Beat sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix well. Stir in dates and chopped pecans. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until cake pulls away from the edges slightly, or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake for 10 minutes in pan on rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or ice with a glaze. Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, milk added 1 tablespoon at a time until of drizzling consistency.

APPLE PAN TRIFLE Leftover Fall Favorite Spice Cake, cut into cubes 2 cans apple pie filling 1 jar caramel sauce (I like Mrs. Richardson’s brand) Whipped cream or Cool Whip Butter a 13-inch-x-9-inch pan. Scatter half the cake cubes over the bottom. Cover with one can of apple pie filling. Layer the remainder of the cake cubes over the pie filling and top with second can of apple pie filling. I like to heat this in the oven for 30 minutes but it’s not necessary. Finish the

1 Duncan Hines Moist White Cake Mix 1/3 cup canola oil 3 large egg whites 1¼ cups dry champagne + ¼ cup for frosting 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup butter, softened ¼ cup whipping cream 2 teaspoons vanilla 4 cups powdered sugar (extra if needed to make spreading consistency) Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 13-inch-x-9-inch baking pan with baking spray and dust with flour. Combine cake mix, canola oil, egg whites, and Champagne in a large mixing bowl and beat with mixer set on low just until combined. Scrape the sides and continue beating at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 30 minutes or until cake pulls away from the edges. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in pan then turn out onto a wire rack and continue to cool completely. Beat butter, whipped cream, Champagne, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth. Add extra powdered sugar if needed to make the frosting of a spreading consistency. Spread on cake.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHAMPAGNE CAKE TRUFFLES Left over Champagne Cake (frosted) ¼ cup melted butter (use 1 tablespoon at a time) 2 to 4 ounces of baker’s white chocolate. Crumble the frosted cake using a fork and add the butter one tablespoon at a time until the cake looks a little like damp sand. Form mixture into balls and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Dip each frozen ball into white chocolate. Let the chocolate set up about an hour. -LM

the palette of any imbibing guest.. A myriad of flavor need not come at a terrible cost. Value and taste can pair as easily as turkey and dressing. THE WHITES:

A dry, savory, and insanely good value in white wine for the holiday table is a Grüner Veltliner. Gru-Vees (as they are known to wine geeks). These have a solid reputation as food-friendly wines. This varietal is increasing in popularity as more folks discover its delicious qualities. A less dry alternative would be a nice late-harvest Riesling; think Washington or Oregon. These Rieslings combine pleasing fruit forwardness with a complexity that satisfies the “cork heads” at your table. Yet they are sweet enough for Great-Aunt Ginny’s white-zin tooth. THE REDS:

Tempranillo can thoroughly handle all the challenges of our spicy, sweet, and savory side dishes at turkey dinner. Both earthy and fruity, it’s rich with lots of plum and berry flavors balanced by herbs and spices. Most guests — even your cabernet lovers — will enjoy the bright, food-loving acidity all wrapped up in velvet. One of the most traditional flavors for Thanksgiving is the tried and true Pinot Noir. Look for ripe fruit and spice notes

Making memories

Show your holiday spirit By Leigh Clark In our home, festive beverages do not just enhance the table, they supplement the entire scope of the holiday experience. A good glass or two should open conversation, engender positive reminiscing and create wonderful, warm memories to return to every year, — just like the good china. We don’t just pair bottles with food, we pair wine with the emotion evoked at Thanksgiving. The varied and eclectic flavors offered on our Thanksgiving table can marry seamlessly with many wines and beers. With the wide variety of fare, why limit yourself to only one or two choices? Choose reliable, dependable bottles that please not only GreatAunt Ginny’s devotion to White Zinfandel, but that will please

that enable the wine to pair well with a beautifully roasted bird and all the fixings. Pinot Noir has both elegance and earthiness to lend complexity. Lastly, don’t be afraid to shake things up with hard cider or a selection of craft beers. Welcome guests with a nice light-bodied Pilsner or Lager; move on to sturdy Belgian-style ales with dinner, and pair dessert with a rich stout or porter. Just make sure the beer is sweeter than the dessert. Of course the best flavoring to accompany your special meal is the love of your family and friends. Take this one day to relax, sigh and enjoy a bit of life’s grace. -LM Leigh and Andrew “Gus” Clark own Fine Wine and Beer By Gus LEE MAGAZINE 19


Turn holiday meal into tailgating fare By Dr. Jacquelyn P. Horne


hat do you get when you combine a long holiday weekend, the AlabamaAuburn football game, tons of friends and family plus weeks of anticipation? Iron Bowl weekend on the Plains in none other than Auburn, Alabama. The biggest football rivalry is the matchup between the University of Alabama and Auburn University. Annually, these two vie for one more year of bragging rights. When our toughest competitor comes to town, so do their adoring fans and friends, meaning the Plains are totally packed for the weekend. This year that weekend coincides with Thanksgiving. While coaches and players are perfecting their game plans as they plot their way to another Iron Bowl victorysomebody will win-many of us are equally busy putting last minute touches on our Thanksgiving dinner. Typically a time for reflecting on the joys and triumphs of the past year, for those of us in Lee County Alabama, Thanksgiving 2009 is also a time for preparing tailgating treats to take to the big game. With just a little planning,


you cook once and eat twice, leaving lots of time to visit with friends and family. Most associate holiday dinners with ham, turkey, dressing, tons of vegetable dishes, salads and desserts. Tailgating Tiger-style is no less impressive. To make life a little easier for tailgating Iron Bowl ‘09, I have few tried-and-true tricks: • Pick up extra bread, rolls, tortillas, various types of lettuces and condiments for making interesting sandwiches from left-over holiday meats. • When baking Thanksgiving dishes, throw in a dozen baking potatoes for “Twice Baked Stuffed Potatoes”, a comfort food that everybody likes. • Use a variety of marinades and sauces to dress up left-over meats to take to the game. • Use disposable food containers so that everything can be tossed into a garbage bag, leaving no mess to take home. • Stock up on plenty of ice so that cold food can bekept cold; food borne illness is a real loser.

To give you more time to enjoy your holiday and the game, I am sharing with you a few tailgate recipes made from leftovers. Enjoy!

TWICE BAKED POTATOES 4 baking potatoes 4 tablespoons pre-cooked bacon 1 cup light sour cream ½ cup shredded cheddar, more for garnish Salt to taste 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, optional Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake potatoes for 1 hour, until tender. When cool enough to handle, cut each potato in half lengthwise, scoop out flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch shell and transfer flesh to a large bowl. Add bacon, sour cream and cheddar and mix until blended. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Spoon mixture back into the shells and discard any remaining shells. Sprinkle with a little more shredded cheddar. Arrange stuffed shells on a baking sheet (or refrigerate until ready to bake). Bake 20 minutes, until golden brown. If desired, top with chives before serving. To transport, wrap each potato in foil and place in insulated container. Yield: 8 appetizer servings


GROUND HAM MINI BITES 1 cup left-over baked ham, finely ground ½ cup nuts (your choice), finely chopped ½ cup pimento stuffed olives, sliced or chopped Mayonnaise to mix Rye rounds Capers (optional)










1 package brown and serve dinner rolls 12 thin slices of left over ham 6 ounces cheese blend, finely shredded ½ cup butter ¾ cup sugar 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon spicy mustard 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Perfect party plumage








Place first three ingredients in medium size mixing bowl; stir well. Add just enough mayonnaise so that mixture will hold together slightly. Spoon onto rye rounds. Garnish with capers. Yield: 24 appetizers



The Party Time Issue!


Lee Cannon: Celebration Central



February/March 2009

Perfect party plumage





your guide to living large M










December/January 2008 FREE






Perfect party plumage



Perfect party plumage

Take rolls out of wrapper. Using an electric or serrated knife, cut top layer off rolls and set aside. Melt butter in large boiler. Add sugar, mustard, honey and poppy seeds. Cook until mixture is not “gritty”. Add shredded cheese to mixture, stirring until cheese is slightly melted. Spread half of mixture evenly over roll bottoms. Cover with layers of sliced ham. Spread remaining half of mixture over ham. Replace tops; wrap each roll securely in foil. Rolls may be served either cold or hot. To heat, place sandwich in foil wrapper on grill for 10 to 12 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

TURKEY AND SWISS TORTILLA ROLL-UPS 3 tablespoons ranch dressing 3 Flour Tortillas (8”) Leaf Lettuce to cover the tortillas 6 ounces left-over turkey, thinly sliced 6 slices Swiss cheese Sweet onion, thinly sliced Spread the dressing on each tortilla to cover the entire surface. Cover with lettuce, turkey, cheese and onions. Each layer needs to be thin to roll well. Roll up the tortilla tightly. Insert cocktail toothpicks about 1” apart through the rolled tortilla to hold it firmly together. Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled tortilla between the toothpicks to produce 1” slices with a toothpick through each. -LM

Jackie, a retired Auburn University professor, owns The Brass Brassiere located in historical downtown Opelika.



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Public-place magazines like Lee Magazine reach more readers than home-delivered periodicals. Twelve to forty readers pick up each copy of Lee.*

Wait until you see what we can do! call us at 334-332-2961 or email Find us in more than 50 locations: doctor's offices • hair salons • Auburn and Opelika libraries • Kroger • Piggly Wiggly • Starbucks • our advertisers *Douglas/Jones Group Report and Mediamark Research LEE MAGAZINE 21

Dinner party deluxe

A Loachapoka woman masters the art of entertaining By Lindsay Waits


t’s around 5 p.m. on a humid Saturday evening in Loachapoka. Heavy air, tall dry grass, and an assortment of eager mosquitoes greet Gina Touchton’s dinner guests. They have been waiting for this evening since placing the winning bid for it at the Auburn Unitarian auction in December. The auction is famous in some Lee County circles for its unique offerings, from the somewhat uncommon (Thai massages) to the bizarrely useful (services of a confidential listener) to the simply extraordinary. Gina and Joe’s dinner parties fall into the latter category, and the dinner is a hot item every year at bidding. Tonight, the diners settle in for Joe’s “fabulous catfish fry,” which boasts catfish raised in the Touchton’s pond, homegrown okra, cheese grits, Gina’s unusual slaw, and cornbread. Inside the house, Gina puts the finishing touches on the evening’s feast. She moves smoothly around the kitchen, delegating to the friends on hand to help prepare. She cuts limes with cool efficiency. ”Just going back to my bartending days,” she says.


You wouldn’t know this was a woman with a house full of guests. But her calm is her reward for good planning. “I like to have all my ducks in a row before anyone gets here,” she says. “I want to make sure that I get to spend time with everyone.” She got the knack from her mother,

who brought together neighbors, friends, and families in her New York home. “My mom was constantly entertaining,” Gina says. “Even at 86, I couldn’t keep up with her — I had to make an appointment with her for lunch.” It was the way Mom was as long as Gina could remember. “We always had parties. We always had friends.” And the agenda was unyielding: “food, talk, party, music, and food.” “Everything she did or made was simple, but consistently good,” she says. Gina bends down to dig through a cabinet. She reappears holding a battered baking pan. “It’s the ugly pan. Ugly but magic,” she says. “You absolutely cannot make bad gravy in this thing.” The pan came to Gina from her mother, who got it from her grandmother. *** he 10-plus guests on catfish fry night include Auburn City Councilwoman Sheila Eckman. She’s a repeat visitor. “Gina is one of those happy people who is perfectly comfortable in her own skin,” Eckman says. It makes her the perfect host for the night’s meal, where many of the


Photos by Beth Snipes

Gina is the center of family fun at the surprise birthday party she threw for sister, Liz Putnam

partygoers don’t know each other. Some forty-two minutes before the guests arrived, Gina and Auburn friends Lynda King and Matilda Bryant start making cornbread, frying okra, and shredding cheese. s Lynda pours the cornbread batter into a buttered cast iron skillet, Matilda mans the cheese grater. Gina brings fresh pimento cheese and apricot preserves from the fridge. “One day, I am going to clean out this refrigerator,” she says. She molds the cheese into a mound, onto which she’ll slather preserves. She waves a cheese-covered hand in the air telling her helpers, “Use your fingers. Make a mold.” It’s hardly the messiest meal preparation on her resume. That happened in the late 1980s. Gina was about to walk down the aisle with country boy Joe Touchton. Gina, a Long Island, New York, transplant with new roots in Alabama, had never really met anyone like Joe. She was bartending and waiting tables at the Best Western on College Street when the Auburn


University agronomy professor became a regular customer. “He was so Southern, and at the time, I was still so new to the South,” she says. “I mean, he had cows. I saw cows on TV I guess, and here I was helping him giving cow medicine.” She would shove her hand into the cow’s soft mouth to deliver the pill, and bring an arm out again covered in cow slime. She took pictures of her helping with the cows and sent them to amazed friends and relatives up North. “It was like New York meets Green Acres.” reen Acres won this battle. A few days before the wedding at the old Harper Valley Lodge — now Cock of the Walk in Opelika — Gina decided that she and her four sisters, “The Cavalry,” would prepare all the food for the reception. (She’s child number seven and daughter number four in a family of eight siblings.) “Why I didn’t hire someone, I don’t know,” she says. Hoping to keep step with the foodie trends of the decade, they made a phyllo dough and spinach


appetizer. But none of them had ever worked with the dough before, and it was a hot, humid day. The dough layers stuck together. The delicate appetizers looked anything but. Nothing was working. “I just got so frustrated with it, and we were under pressure,” Gina says. So she threw it. “They threw it back. The entire kitchen was nothing but flour and phyllo everywhere.” Despite the food fight, the day turned out just like Gina had planned. “My friends sang, my niece sang, and then we danced and drank champagne all night,” she says. “It was perfect.” oday, feeding a crowd is nothing. Every June, Gina and some forty others pack spices, fishing lures, and costumes, and head to St. George Island, a barrier island off Florida. She volunteered to organize the cooking schedule. “Everyone seemed overwhelmed, asking ‘How do you cook for 40 people?’” Gina says. “But I figured it out — just double the recipe for 20.” She splits the group into smaller teams



Gina's sister, Liz Putnam, reacts to her fiftieth birthday surprise party

Gina and Joe's crawfish boil painted by friend Mike Handley

and assigns them a night to cook. “We have happy hour every night at 6:30,” she says. “And oysters are absolutely mandatory. Every night. We have oysters Rockefeller, oysters casino, you name it.” Joe fishes for the oysters each night, and then he recruits people to help him shuck. he also plans the entertainment. Karaoke is a must. Last year, Gina lost her voice on the first night of the trip. “I was channeling Debbie Harry,” she says. Then there’s the talent show. “It’s for the kids, but I try to convince the grownups they’ve got to do it too.” And they do. One woman did animal impressions — a sick chicken, a ferocious Chihuahua — while twirling a baton. Gina’s own most memorable performance, though, may be the time she donned a large fake derriere to dance to “Baby Got Back.” The guests for the auction dinner mingle in the house she and Joe built. “I was in the basement the other day and I found myself looking at a cinder block. I



Gina and friends prepare for the catfish fry

thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I actually laid that thing myself.” The home design was Joe’s dream, sketched onto a small piece of graph paper. The interior is Gina’s vision: red painted walls, the artwork of friends, and a Mexican-style altar dedicated to Gina’s parents. Although the family stays in Loachapoka on weekends, for the last few years, during the week, Gina and her sixteen-year-old daughter Maggie live in their home on Thach Avenue so Maggie can attend Auburn schools. The couple threw their very first party before the Loachapoka house was complete. They roasted a pig overnight, and Gina stayed up into the morning, basting the pig with her special marinade. “That was when we were young, could stay up late, and then get up early,” Gina says. But the standards were set. The pig roast was so fun, it became an annual event and evolved into a crawfish boil. The entire backyard becomes a

playground for family, friends, and neighbors. Children run through the giant strawberry patch. Gina yells to them, “Eat as many strawberries as you want!” ne very long table is the heart of the boil, mountains of hot crawfish, spicy garlic cloves, garden fresh corn, and steaming potatoes. Another table groans with dishes brought by her guests. The potluck is surprisingly varied, with hand-rolled sushi sitting beside Southern potato salad. This summer, there were 200 pounds of crawfish and 100 guests. “I never know who all will show up,” Gina says. “I make a lot of friends at these parties!” But many of Gina’s friends first met her at the much-mourned Rattling Gourd gallery, which Gina and Joe finally closed in 2007. She loved hosting art openings for local artists there, and she loved the people it brought her in contact with. “It was a really big decision to close the


Party like a Touchton Gina’s Tips on making your Next Party the Best Yet. • Keep the guests relaxed • Let your friends help – it’s more fun that way • Keep it simple, not fancy • Prepare as much as possible the day before the event GINA’S SLAW Gina and her sister, Liz Putnam

store, but it was the right thing to do at the time,” she says. ince the store closed two years ago, Gina has had a bit more time to spend with daughter Maggie, a junior at Lee Scott Academy and one of the reasons Gina is such an excellent cook. “Maggie was a slow nurser when she was a baby,” Gina explains. “So I would either read through ‘War and Peace’ a couple of times or turn on Food Network. Food Network usually won.” The other reason she excels at cooking? By the time she was in fourth grade, she would come home to find a list of meal preparation instructions from her mother. With eight kids, everyone chips in. Now Maggie is eager to travel and see the world. “She wants to get out and explore,” Gina says. “The minute she said the words ‘cross-country,’ I was excited for her. I said ‘See ya. Bye!’” With high school graduation from Auburn High School just around the corner, both mother and daughter have some exciting choices to consider. “I have to decide what I want to be when I grow up all over again,” Gina says. “Maybe volunteer work, maybe the food thing, who knows?” -LM


Lindsay Waits is co-founder and chief consultant of the EM Group and lives in Auburn.

1 cabbage, sliced thin Large red bell pepper, julienned 2 carrots, julienned 2 granny smith apples, julienned 1 small sweet onion, sliced thin 1 cup of Craisins Juice of 2 oranges 1 tablespoon good mustard 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger ¼ cup rice vinegar 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 tablespoon honey Olive oil Salt and pepper Combine vegetables in large bowl. Whisk together next six ingredients. Slowly whisk in enough oil to make vinaigrette. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over slaw and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Adjust seasonings.

ROASTED TOMATILLO SALSA This recipe freezes well, and it is great to have on hand for company. More than a dozen tomatillos 5-6 red bell peppers Olive oil 1 head garlic 1 sweet onion 1 cayenne or jalapeño pepper Salt and pepper 2 limes Cilantro of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Place a dozen or so tomatillos and five or six bell peppers on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in 400-degree oven until vegetables are soft and brown. Cut off the top of a whole garlic head, wrap garlic in foil, and roast in oven 45 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop one sweet onion and one hot pepper. Take bell peppers and tomatillos out of oven. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and seeds from peppers and process with tomatillos in food processor or blender until smooth. Add roasted garlic and season with salt, pepper and the juice of 2 limes. Place salsa in bowl and mix in the hot pepper and onion. Add some chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley to salsa and season to taste.

FISH CAKES Here’s a tasty way to serve left over fish. If you’re using uncooked fish, blacken or pan fry seasoned filets. 1 cup milk 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1 bunch green onions 3 to 4 cups of cooked and seasoned fish filets 2 eggs Saltine crackers Salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning Flat-leaf parsley, chopped Melt butter in saucepan and add flour to make a roux. After a minute, add chopped green onions and sauté for about 3 minutes. Whisk in milk and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Break up fish fillets. Add 2 beaten eggs and the cooled sauce. Add enough crumbled saltines to make the mixture hold together. Add parsley and season to taste with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Shape into cakes and fry in canola oil on both sides until golden brown. Serve with remoulade sauce or pineapple/mango salsa. LEE MAGAZINE 25


LIFE Argentina in Auburn

Auburn tangueros hosted their first Milonga al Sur in September at the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center, attracting dancers from Montgomery, Atlanta, and Birmingham, as well as Lee County. Richard Richard and Rita Snyder of Birmingham performed their own tango choreography early in the evening, and Rick and Lynda Wilson from Atlanta danced an improvisation for the crowd. Want to try? Classes are held each Tuesday at the Dean Road Recreation Center in Auburn. For information Photos by Beth Snipes


Rita Snyder and Richard Richards of Birmingham, retired professional ballet dancers, perform Argentine tango.

Mary and Yung Cho from Auburn show how it’s done.

Roger and Linda Blashfield, from Auburn on the dance floor.

Emrah and Deniz Orhun from Auburn make a graceful showing.

Beth Nicholson of Birmingham dances with Richard Richards



It’s Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month at the Lee County Humane Society, 1140 Ware Drive, Auburn. Adopt an adult dog for a discounted $40 processing fee. Adoption hours, Tuesday through Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Information: 821-3222. OCTOBER

THROUGH NOV. 20: Auburn-Alabama

Food Fight Auburn University and the University of Alabama are competing to see who can raise the most food for their local food bank. Last year, 212,200 pounds of food were donated locally. This event has a huge impact on the Food Bank’s ability to provide food for needy families. Collection barrels can be found at all local grocery stores. Visit www.foodbankofeastalabama. com or for more information. EVERY MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY: Join Auburn Stride Walkers at 9

a.m. in October and, starting in November, at 11 a.m., and walk at your own pace. Canceled in case of rain. The walk starting places are as follows: October 21, Kiesel Park, 520 Chadwick Lane; October 23, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, 901 South College Street; October 26, Dean Road Recreation Center, 307 South Dean Road; October 28, Ogletree Village Shopping Center, Ogletree and Moores Mill roads; October 30, Town Creek Park, 1150 South Gay Street; November 2, Yarbrough Tennis Complex, 777 Yarbrough Farms Boulevard; November 4, Auburn Soccer Complex, 2340 Wire Road; November 6, Auburn Technology Park


South, off South College Street, meet at pond; November 9, Highway 14 Bike Path, meet at Overtime Sports Bar & Grill, 2450 Martin Luther King Drive; November 11, walk canceled,; November 13, Kiesel Park; November 16, Auburn Public Library, 749 East Thach Avenue; November 18, Hickory Dickory Park, 1400 Hickory lane at North Cedarbrook Drive; November 20, Town Creek Park, 1150 South Gay Street; November 23, Charlotte & Curtis Ward Bike Path, entrance to Chewacla Park; November 25, Jule Collins Smith Museum; November 27, walk canceled; November 30, Dean Road Recreation Center. OCTOBER 31: John James Audubon's Precursors and Contemporaries at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, 901 South College Street, Auburn. Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Admission is free. THROUGH

THROUGH JANUARY 9: Elvis at 21,

New York to Memphis: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, 901 South College Street, Auburn. Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Admission is free. THROUGH JANUARY 19: Elvis &

Friends, Recent Work by Georgia artist Joni Mabe, at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, 901 South College Street, Auburn. Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Admission is free.






Photo XI: Annual juried exhibition of photographs by regional artists and photographers at Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center, 222 East Drake Avenue, Auburn. OCTOBER 20: Invasion of the Body

Snatchers screens at 6 p.m., at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, 901 South College Street, Auburn. The cafe opens an hour before the movie. OCTOBER 20: Michael Bertand lectures

on his book, The King of Rock as Working-Class Hero: The Rise and Reign of Elvis Presley, 4 p.m. at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, 901 South College Street, Auburn. OCTOBER 21: The University Club's

Octoberfest. for faculty, active and retired, and friends will celebrate fall at Creekwood Castle. For info and tickets contact Barry Dorman 334-750-7340. 21: A sneak-preview screening of Art21: Art in the TwentyFirst Century, takes place at 7 p.m. at the Chewacla State Park, 124 Shell Toomer Parkway, Auburn. Food and wine are part of the screening sponsored by The Layman Group and Art21. Admission is the park entry fee of $3, or $1 for children and seniors. OCTOBER

OCTOBER 22: The final Sundown

Concert at Kiesel Park, 520 Chadwick Lane, begins at 6 p.m. featuring Spoonful James. OCTOBER 23, 24, 30, 31: The Trail of

Terror Haunted Hayride starts at dark at Spring Villa Park, 1474 Lee Road 148, Opelika. Adults: $10, children 10 and under, $5. Information: 705-5552. OCTOBER 24: The Loachapoka Syrup Soppin’ festival begins at 7 a.m. in Loachapoka Park and lasts all day with arts, crafts, entertainment, and food.

Loachapoka Park is seven miles west of Auburn on Highway 14. OCTOBER 24: Local historian and author

Edna Edwards Ward discusses her new book on the history of the Opelika fire department, 10 a.m., Lewis Cooper Junior Memorial Library, 200 South Sixth Street, Opelika. The Genealogical Society of East Alabama sponsors the program. OCTOBER 24: The Louise Kehrer Forest

Ecology Preserve 5K Trail Run starts with late registration at 6:30 a.m. (For advance registration and follow the link.) at the preserve, 3100 Highway 14, Auburn. Information: or 844-8091. OCTOBER 26: The Howloween Dog

Parade and Costume Contest starts at 5:30 p.m. in downtown Opelika. Proceeds will benefit Rescue K9-1-1. Events include candid canine photos by Flip Flop Foot, a microchip clinic by Tigertown Veterinary Hospital, and bags of treats for all contestants. Information or preregistration: 705-6455 or visit Canine American, 108 South Eighth Street, Opelika. OCTOBER 27: The Oktoberfest street

party begins at 4 p.m. in front of the Alpen Cafe in Auburn Technology Park South with live music by Kidd Blue, German food and drink, and prizes. Tickets: $15, available before October 22 at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, 887-7011 or

Auburns 9th Annual Downtown Trick or Treat starts at 6:00 p.m. for children twelve or younger, accompanied by their parents. Activities include trick-or-treat with downtown merchants, and a best-costume contest. Contact 501-2930. OCTOBER 29:

OCTOBER 29: Opelika and Auburn host

citywide trick-or-treat night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. OCTOBER




NOVEMBER 27: Watch raptors in flight

at Football, Fans, and Feathers at the Southeastern Raptor Center’s Edgar B. Carter Educational Amphitheater at 4p.m.The center is on Raptor Road off Shug Jordan Parkway. Tickets: $5 at gate. Discount for groups of 25 are available by calling 844-6943. OCTOBER 30, NOVEMBER 6, Friday

Night Block Party begins at 6 p.m. on Magnolia between College and Gay streets. The Auburn Downtown Merchants Association sponsors the event. Information: auburnmerchants@ NOVEMBER 3: Election day NOVEMBER 5: Pulitzer Prize

nominated author Jack Sacco discusses his book, Where the Birds Never Sing, 2 p.m. at Auburn Public Library, 749 East Thach Avenue. Information: 501-3195 or

OCTOBER 27: The Fall Festival and

Children’s Carnival, an alternative to trick-or-treating, takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for children 12 and younger. With costumed kids filling treat bags, as well as entertainment, food, games, a giant slide, and more available for 25-cent tickets. At the W. James Samford Soccer Complex, Opelika SportsPlex and Aquatics Center, 1001 Andrews Road, Opelika.

NOVEMBER 6, 7, 12, 13, and 14 at 7:00 and NOVEMBER 8 and 15 at 2 p.m.:

The Auburn Area Community Theatre Production of The Miracle Worker will be performed at the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center. Tickets are available at the door 30 minutes before curtain time or in advance by calling: 7415333 or 501-2963.

8: Opelika's Annual Christmas Open House from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Start your Christmas shopping and register for special gifts. Information: 7450466. NOVEMBER

NOVEMBER 11: A Senior Health &

Wellness Enhancement EXPO takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Monarch Estates, 1550 East University Drive, Auburn. Information: 502-0977. NOVEMBER 13: The Sundilla Acoustic

Concert Series brings singer-songwriter Kate Campbell to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, 450 Thach Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. Reserved seating available until November 12 at The Gnu’s Room, 414 South Gay Street, or at the door. Ticket price: $15. Information: 334741-7169 or NOVEMBER 20: Darden House Wellness

Clinic, 1323 Auburn Street, Opelika, offers free blood pressure screening and educational program from 10:00 a.m. to noon. NOVEMBER 26: Thanksgiving NOVEMBER 27: The Iron Bowl, Auburn

vs. Alabama Football Game, 1:30 at Jordan Hare Stadium. WAR EAGLE! DECEMBER 2: Santa comes to town

escorted by the Opelika Christmas Parade. This years theme is Christmas Cards from Opelika, Be at the corner of Avenue B and South 9th Street to welcome him. For information, call the Opelika Chamber at 745-4861. DECEMBER 3: The Auburn Christmas

Parade begins at 5:30 p.m. downtown, sponsored by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. Afterwards, join the Holiday Celebration on the Samford Lawn of Auburn University at 6:30 p.m. Creekwood Castle. For info and tickets contact Barry Dorman 334-750-7340. LEE


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Lee Magazine - 2009 Oct/Nov  

Volume 02 Number 05

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