I love all things holiday. So, when it came time to commit to a date for our monthly neighborhood Kaffee Klatsch, I chose December.
For the past nine years, the ladies of our neighborhood have enjoyed one another’s company at a monthly coffee started by our lovely neighbor and friend Erika Updike.
Spreading the word about the coffee evolved over the years, starting with Erika walking down the street putting fliers into what she called “the tube” (bottom slot of the mailbox.) Erika’s right-hand-man Joan Menier said, “I met Erika walking down the street one day passing out fliers and offered to help”. “We have become closer because of the coffees,” Joan continued.
Eventually, the group turned to the Internet to send notices about upcoming coffees. Joan said that sending out the emails was nice because she would get little messages back from the ladies and she got to send out beautiful things and funny jokes.
Erika has since passed away, but the coffees she started continue today and seem stronger than ever. It is one event that I look forward to each month and miss when I have to be away. Today, Helen Kinsella keeps the coffee going organizing the yearly volunteer roster and sending out periodic emails about the monthly coffees.
Each hostess creates her own menu. The menus range from very simple to sometimes elaborate with ladies enjoying dishes like quiches, egg casseroles, coffee cakes, scones, sausage biscuits, fresh fruit and cookies to name just a few. I love to try new recipes so the coffee is a wonderful opportunity for me to get feedback on new dishes.
I volunteered early in the year and immediately started collecting recipes. I like to make a variety of wonderful savory and sweet dishes. “I always put out a piece of cake and something salty,” Erika said. I pleaded my case that because it was a holiday, I would prepare a brunch menu.
More than the food, Erika believed that “what really matters is that the coffee gives everyone a relaxed atmosphere to come together and share all the ordinary day-to-day happenings in the neighborhood”.
After reading many recipe magazines, going through new and old cookbooks I decided to make an egg dish, a French toast casserole, scones, fresh fruit salad, savory salad, a variety of coffee cakes, and one specialty cake.
This was my final menu:
Raspberry-Blueberry Scones – from the 2012 July/August issue of Tea Time
Brie-and-Veggie Breakfast Strata – from Southern Living 2013 Christmas Cookbook
Ham and Swiss Bagel Bites – from Southern Lady
Tomato & Mozzarella Bites – from December 2012 Good Housekeeping
Blueberry-Almont Coffeecake – from June 2000 Cooking Light
Cream-Filled Cinnamon Coffee Cake – from 2013 Taste of Home Holiday Baking
Layered Peppermint Cheesecake – from Southern Living 2013 Christmas Cookbook
As the ladies sip their coffee, they learn who is decorating for the holidays, who has visitors coming for the holidays, who is going away for the holidays, which has an upcoming surgery, which in our neighborhood needs some special attention due to illness or the passing of a loved one.
The holidays are now a beautiful memory, memories captured in pictures to be looked at and enjoyed over and over again. I have already volunteered to do a coffee in 2014, I choose August. I have already started to search for new recipes.
Note: Portions of this post were taken from a column I wrote in The Villages Daily Sun in December 2011.