In Good Taste

By Vera Stewart
Photos by Peter Frank Edwards

Whether you are preparing a fairy garden picnic for your grandchildren or hosting the garden club for a spring fling, our new OCCASIONS cookbook has some amazing recipes and staging ideas to steer you in the right direction. 

Many times, a new vessel or an adaptation of the presentation to a tried-and-true family recipe can produce a star of the show. I love the Wee Forest Folk shadow box photographed in Cathy Dolan’s kitchen. We planned the Artichoke Chicken Spread presentation just to get that box in the shot. I had never thought of making chicken salad in the shape of an egg, but it was so much fun creating what would be an obvious showstopper at any party.

For those of you who remember the Sophisticated Ham Sandwich from the days of Vera’s Café, now you can make it yourself. This fan favorite is a refreshing twist to the traditional sub-sandwich. Serve it with the Macaroni Salad as a side to wow your audience.

Two other great recipes for any garden party are the Mandarin Tossed Salad with red wine vinaigrette and candied almonds (I honestly make extra for a snack) and the Garden Spaghetti Salad.

VeryVera’s Peach Ice Cream

Peach Ice Cream

Summer in the South means fresh peaches, and nothing tastes better on a hot, humid day than fresh peach ice cream. This recipe makes plenty of ice cream to keep in the freezer whenever the craving hits. Top with whipped cream or more peach slices and enjoy! 

Prep Time: 15 minutes 
Chill Time: 3 hours
Yield: 2 1/2 to 3 quarts 


5 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 cups sliced peaches, fresh or frozen 


  1. In a large blender or food processor, combine the eggs and sugar. Blend until thoroughly mixed. 
  2. Add in the evaporated milk, whipping cream, almond extract, vanilla extract and peaches. Blend until the peaches are broken up and the mixture is mostly smooth (a few larger chunks of peaches is fine). 
  3. Transfer half of the ice cream mixture to an electric 2-quart ice cream machine. Place the remaining half in the refrigerator until ready to churn. Note: you may need to freeze the bowl of the machine before churning the remaining half. 
  4. Churn the ice cream for about 20 minutes or until done. Repeat with the remaining ice cream mixture. 
  5. Place the ice cream in the freezer for at least 3 hours before serving to allow the ice cream to set. 

Note: Have fun with the kids and make peach ice cream sandwiches. As your sandwich component, you can use slices of pound cake or even sugar cookies! 

Garden Spaghetti Salad

A fun twist on the classic pasta salad, this dish can be served cold or at room temperature. This is a delicious spring side using classic Southern ingredients. This salad is great with in-season produce but do not fret, this salad is just as delicious with frozen vegetables.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 10–12


8 oz. dry spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
2 cups cooked corn
2 cups cooked lima beans
1 1⁄2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1⁄2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1⁄3 cup minced fresh parsley
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled 

1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄4 tsp. paprika
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions; drain and rinse in cold water.
  2. Place cooked spaghetti in a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oilor vegetable oil.
  3. Add in the corn, lima beans, tomatoes, green onions, parsley, and bacon. Toss to mixwell.
  4. In a cruet or lidded jar, combine the extra-virgin olive oil with the vinegar. Add in thelemon juice, sugar, and seasonings. Shake until the mixture comes together.
  5. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture; toss gently.
  6. Serve immediately. If you plan on serving later, mix the salad ingredients and toss withthe dressing right before serving.

Mandarin Tossed Salad

This refreshing salad is sure to become a family favorite with everybody. The sweet, candied almonds and mandarin oranges are balanced by the slightly tart red wine vinaigrette. Go ahead and candy the almonds ahead of time to cut down on the prep time for the salad. Just be sure to not snack on too many before it’s time to toss the salad!

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4–6


1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup slivered almonds

1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped for salad
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained 1 cup chopped celery
2 scallions, chopped
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
Dash freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar in a small heavy-bottomed pan set over low heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and turns golden in color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add in the almonds to the caramelized sugar and stir to combine.
  2. Remove the candied almonds to a piece of parchment paper and spread flat as best as possible. Let cool and harden before breaking into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Assemble the salad by tossing the lettuce, oranges, celery, and scallions together in a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a cruet or lidded jar, combine the vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper. Shake until combined.
  5. Toss the salad with the dressing and top with the candied almonds.

Seen in the May 2023 issue of Augusta magazine

Have feedback or a story idea? Our publisher would love to hear from you!

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RSS Augusta Magazine’s Front Porch

  • Episode 11: Jay Jefferies
    Jay Jefferies stops by to deliver the weather and much more!
  • Episode 10 - Nesia Wright
    We had the pleasure of sitting down with Nesia Wright, owner and CEO of the Georgia Soul Basketball Team. Ashlee and Nesia discuss life as the owner of a basketball team, retirement and more.
  • Episode 9: Venus Morris Griffin
    Venus Morris Griffin, one of the top real estate agents in the Augusta area, stops by our front porch to talk about her success and her upcoming book. This episode is sure to set a fire in you to go for your dreams!
  • Episode 8: Michael Romano
    Michael Romano, self-proclaimed carbohydrate king and executive pastry chef for Edgar's Hospitality Group stopped by our front porch to chat with Ashlee.


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