Cooking With Myra: Make memorable appetizers

By Myra Starkey
June 25, 2013 at 1:25 a.m.

Belgian endive stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts

Belgian endive stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts

I do not believe in coincidences. There have been too many occasions in my life when there has to have been divine intervention for the event to occur. There are times when I think of a friend, and the phone rings, and it is the friend I was thinking about.

I think that there are times when God whispers to us, and although we cannot hear his voice, he communicates to us in mysterious ways. There are events that occur that are simply beyond our human understanding.

I visited Lake Charles several weeks ago to celebrate Father's Day. My dad is rambling around in the house where my parents have lived for the last seven years. My mom died about a year ago and over the last several months we have been preparing the house to put it on the market.

My dad wants to downsize and now is a great time. For some reason I was digging around in the attic and looking at the baby pictures of me and my sisters. This caused me to think about our baby spoons and cups. Most of the attic has been cleaned out and so I did not expect to find much.

Many of our childhood keepsakes were likely discarded when they moved from the house where we grew up and so I had little hope of finding the cups or the spoons. The heat forced me to leave my excavation project and retire to the air conditioned downstairs.

My sister Cindy and I were preparing supper and reminiscing about our childhood when I opened a drawer looking for a slotted spoon and way back in the back of the drawer was a baby spoon. It was tarnished and appeared to have been in a brief garbage disposal incident but it was intact.

The unusual part of the story was that we had cleaned out that drawer already, reducing the contents to a group of necessary utensils which belonged together and allowed the drawer to shut easily.

We had given the rest of the utensils to the local Goodwill and since I was the one to perform the task I am absolutely certain the spoon was not there.

For a skeptic it might seem like I simply overlooked the six-inch spoon. I see it as a blessing that linked me to my early childhood.

Sometimes, events occur that are hard to figure out. Last weekend, Taylor and I were shopping in Rockport. He was forced to go with me to a clothing store because we were there in one vehicle. He waited patiently while I looked through clothing racks. I noticed a lady with blonde hair shopping at the same time.

She was of slight build and stylishly dressed, and she also had her husband in tow. He looked around the small store and then left to sit in the car. We both went to the checkout counter at the same time, and I smiled and commented on the weather but gave no thought to her because she was a stranger.

Taylor and I then went to his favorite thrift store named Castaways. Neither of us found any good deals, and it was past noon, so we were both ready for lunch. We saw a new barbecue restaurant named Hatfield's, so we decided to stop in and give it a try. The sign boasted that they made the Texas Monthly Top 50 list, and that was good enough for us. We both chose pulled pork sandwiches served on pretzel bread, and they were delicious.

While we were sitting there up to our elbows in sauce, I noticed the same couple enter and take a seat a few tables away. She was wearing white pants like me, and I thought that if I got out of there without being stained with sauce it would be a miracle. There was no miracle. They smiled, probably noticing they had seen us earlier.

We left and drove to Corpus Christi to visit the South Texas Museum of Art. It was a beautiful day, with just enough wind to keep a person cool. The museum is built on the edge of the bay and the views are magnificent. Taylor was trying to be accommodating, so he asked where else I might like to go. I told him to drop me off at the shopping center at the corner of Doddridge and Alameda where there are several nice women's clothing stores.

He told me he would pick me up in 30 minutes, which I laughed at because the average woman shopper, such as myself, could not possibly look through multiple stores in only half an hour. Maybe he thought that would keep me from buying anything. I raced from one to another.

It is weird to be in a town where you don't really know anyone, and I had this thought in my mind as I entered the last place named Julian Gold. I shopped for awhile and Taylor arrived. He again was being a patient husband and sat down in a grouping of chairs next to another patient husband.

The interesting thing was that it was the same guy we had already run into twice that day, and I glanced across the store to see his wife. I assured them that we weren't stalking them, and they laughed. Taylor and the other guy, Larry, started chatting. He was from San Antonio. He mentioned he was a banker.

Taylor told him he had an old friend in that business there, Ted B., who used to live in Victoria. Not only did Larry know Ted, but they were friends in college, worked in the same bank and now even have offices next to each other. I am unsure why we happened to run into them so many times, but it is unlikely to be just a coincidence. I wonder if we are supposed to have some part in their life or they in ours.

Most of life's events seem random. Actually, since I go to the same job every day during the week and hang around my same circle of friends and go to most of the same stores, I would have to say that most of my life is rather routine and not random. I don't mind that. I like things to be predictable and comfortable. I sleep best when I use the same pillow every night.

My spiritual self tells me there is something beyond the routine - only most of the time I can't see it. I just plod along and do my best to complete the day's tasks and to be nice to others in the process. Could it be that each person we encounter in a day is for a reason?

I have a sense that there is a bigger picture and deeper meaning in all of our lives. It is only in hindsight and through the eyes of age and wisdom that we can get a glimpse of it. And we may never fully comprehend it on this side of death.

Summer is hot, so I have prepared these Belgian endive appetizers for years, and they are crowd pleasers. The endive may prove to be harder to find, but your grocer will special order for you.

The combination of sweet mandarin oranges, savory of the blue cheese and crunch of the walnuts and endive make this appetizer memorable. Serve with a cup of gazpacho and you have a perfect summer meal.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email



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