On a beautiful spring or summer day, I love to host a luncheon on my screened porch. Good food and a casual fresh-air setting are always a treat—whether the group is my husband, Bill, and me with friends, or a "just us girls" get-together.

On the menu are Curried Carrot Soup, Ham on Biscuits, Chow Mein Chicken Salad and Creamy Lime Sherbet with Candied Flowers.

Curried Carrot Soup is full of flavor and such a pretty color. The curry is pleasant but not overpowering, and thyme adds another dimension. It's a wonderful starter.

"Remarkably good" is typical of what guests say about Chow Mein Chicken Salad. Crisp lettuce, toasted almonds and sesame seeds, and chow mein noodles make it nice and crunchy. I prep the ingredients the night before. A glass pint jar works great for shaking up the dressing.


Bringing Home Blue Ribbons

I've always had plenty of jars around the house. For many years, we had a large garden, and I canned pickles, preserves and more. Not to brag, but I brought home many blue ribbons from the Maryland State Fair.

When State Fair officials asked me to be a food judge, I was delighted. I was still allowed to enter any category that I would not judge.

Other than fair prizes, I've won about 15 food contests—for candy, veggies, salads and recipes using Maryland crabmeat. I've won the Pillsbury Pie Contest twice—with my damson plum and cherry pie recipes.

Instead of sandwiches for my luncheon, I like to serve Ham on Biscuits. I use Smithfield Southern cured ham, but whatever kind you like will taste great on the tender homemade biscuits.

Creamy Lime Sherbet is smooth and refreshing. While it's delicious on its own, dressing up the servings with Candied Flowers makes a lovely finale for a luncheon menu.

My daughters and granddaughters were delighted by and eager to know more about the flowers. To coat the petals with the meringue powder mixture, I use a kid's paintbrush. Yes, they are edible—delicate and delicious!


Not "Retired" from Cooking

Field Editor Betsy Hedeman

I've recently retired from judging and competition at fairs. And Bill and I have moved from our home of 30 years into a retirement community. But once a cook, always a cook!

I quickly broke in the kitchen in our smaller quarters and got involved in soup parties, appetizer challenges and other food events here.

When Taste of Home arrives, I sit right down to read and digest the recipes. I'm still adding new ones to my bread box-size Plexiglas recipe file. I've always said, "If the house catches on fire, that box is the first thing I would grab."

I've compiled some of my favorites into a "Granny's Grub" recipe book for my granddaughters. I pulled this popular luncheon menu from my big box, too. Hope you enjoy it!