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July 8, 2014
Home Cooks Meet Up for Celebration of Food, Friendship and Just A Pinch!
By Janet Tharpe
Add one part friendship to one part fun, toss in a heaping helping of Florida sunshine, tons of laughs and just a pinch of healthy competition, and you've got one amazing recipe for lasting memories.
A southern Florida State Park was the site of the most recent Just A Pinch member meet-up and, by all accounts, it was a weekend filled with good times and lots of good eats! "It was such a big thrill for us all to get together in my kitchen and do some cooking together," says Jane McMillan, home cook and meet-up organizer. "What a dream come true, all your friends in one spot!"
The weekend's activities included a special cake decorating class led by California attendee Dee Stillwell, a night on the town following in the footsteps of roving Food Network foodie Guy Fieri, and culminating in the mother of all potlucks complete with Just A Pinch door prizes!
A highlight for all in attendance was clearly the weekend's wonderfully orchestrated "Chopped"-style cook-off! Split into three teams, the meet-up gals cooked up a storm preparing their entries in the categories of appetizers, entrees and dessert. Judged by a panel of very lucky park rangers, the teams' dishes were ranked based on flavor, creativity, and overall presentation. At the end of the day,
the team of Juliann Esquivel of Key Largo and Connie Ottman of Orlando came out on top. As we understand it, their win was thanks, in no small part, to their stellar Mango Papaya Compote dessert! "What a wonderful time!" exclaimed Juliann. "We laughed, ate, cried, ate, sang, cooked, ate, and became good friends." The talented cook-off runners-up included Sherri Williams, Nancy Robeson, Thea Pappalardo and Dee Stillwell.
"It was an epic and wonderful experience," attests Williams. "I laughed so hard my tummy still hurts. I will cherish each and every moment spent with the best group of sisters for the rest of my life."
The Crew and I are just tickled pink to see all the creative get-togethers like this one that are being cooked up all around the country. Cooking is a real joy... one that's even sweeter when it's shared with friends.
"I am really happy to say that each [attendee] was truly like I expected them to be after talking to them here on Just A Pinch," says New Yorker Pappalardo. "I can't wait til the next time. It sounds like it will be in New Orleans...how perfect is that! Beads, anyone?"
Kim Biegacki pistachyoo - Apr 17, 2012
I know that you all had a great time by seeing all your smiling faces. This is a beautiful picture of all you ladies!!! So happy to hear about your get together in Florida and how much fun you had.
Dee Stillwell LILLYDEE - Apr 17, 2012
Thank u Janet for helping make the 1st Annual Spring Fling a big success and for including us in ur notebook this week.
It was so great meeting my fellow foodie sisters in person and forming real lifelong friendships, Sherri was an awesome roomie and we all had so much fun together... In Florida, we voted and decided that New Orleans will be a great local for our March 2013 Spring Fling. Jane & I happily turn over the planning duties to Sherri (and Donna Moralas??) I hope u can all meet us there. If this years get together is any indication..it will be a blast!
Jane McMillan-Whittaker janenov46 - Apr 17, 2012
I want to make special thanks to Dee Stillwell who got the ball rolling on our get together, and the Just A Pinch crew that donated some wonderful prizes for our Chopped Challange.
It was a wonderful weekend and I will never forget it, and you can believe I will be there next year in New Orleans!!!
PS Everytime I drive by the motel everyone stayed in I think of you all....HEY!!! Come back!!! I miss you guys!!!!
Cin Straw's Kitchen NanatomyGrands - Apr 17, 2012
That was a nice write up on you girls...way to go.
I am so glad everyone had so much fun and your Chopped-style cook-off sounds like a blast.
Stephanie Dodd skeen - Apr 17, 2012
Great article and what a fun-loving group of gals. Maybe next year more JAP ladies can join you all. Loved seeing the cooking and cake decorating!!! Such gracious hosts too, Jane and GW!!! Awesome individuals!!