Fresh Fall Decorating Ideas

Easy and fabulous tips for upcoming entertaining

By Muffie Vardell Wells

Autumn Table Setting

Decorating your home for Thanksgiving invites natural, earthy, golden snapshots of fall. Forage through your house and yard for natural items– gather an assortment of burlap, raffia, fall leaves, pine cones, pumpkins, gourds, apples, candles, and cut herbs. Focus on fun, inexpensive, and festive!

For a table centerpiece option, use a burlap runner. Zigzag pillar candles down the center and loosely lay eucalyptus throughout. Place red apples and pine cones randomly in the leaves for interest, or, alternately, use small pumpkins and gourds. A few large leaves could also be a decorative accent, and a fall colored tablecloth can serve as an anchor.

Try filling the lower part of glass hurricanes with nuts or berries and set the pillar candle on top. It can also be fun to fill clay flowerpots with greenery and pine cones.

Raffia is your friend. Tie it thickly around pillar candles and attach herbs, such as sage or rosemary. Perhaps you have slices of a tree stump that you can put under the candles. Try tying raffi or colored twine around napkins that hold the silverware. Stick a piece of greenery under the knot. Make place cards from simple squares of cardboard and thread a piece of rosemary at the top. Fresh herbs create an easy way to personalize the table.

Remember to make your centerpieces low. This allows eye contact among guests and encourages lively conversation.

Flickering candles make a holiday table special, and place cards are always a good idea as your guests will not have to think about where they should sit.

Finally, decorate for a fall party way in advance so that the actual entertaining is enjoyable and relaxing.





A Cornucopia of Celebration

By Margaret Clay

Although it may not receive its fair share of attention in the commercial holiday madness that starts with Halloween, Thanksgiving remains a favorite for both its time-honored family traditions as well as new ones that celebrate changes that life brings. The culmination of autumn, Thanksgiving ushers in the magic of Christmas as the last colorful leaves fade and the holiday parties and shopping begin.
For many, Thanksgiving is spent with family and friends enjoying beloved, once-a-year recipes. Rarely is a table complete without a sweet potato dish! Read Susan Slack’s article on page 88 for an interesting history of this Southern staple, which dates back to pre-Columbian South America, as well as for new recipes to add to your family’s holiday must-eats.
Another way to spice up the table this year is to explore decorating with dough. Rebecca Walker and Lillian Lippard offer tips and ideas for adding an artistic presentation to your Thanksgiving dishes. Try their suggestions on page 40, and then experiment with some creations of your own.
If you have ever suffered the disappointment in years past of discovering that your carefully baked turkey is bone-dry, read “Et Cetera” on our last page for Muffie Wells’ secrets to delivering a succulent, crowd-pleasing bird from the oven. Or, create a new tradition by serving equally delicious tiny birds locally raised at Manchester Farms. Read more about this amazing quail farm on page 102.
Sometimes family dynamics change, offering an opportunity to create wonderful new ways to celebrate this special holiday. College, work, or marriages can often mean spending Thanksgiving away from home. “Friendsgiving” is ever more an American tradition, both for those celebrating without family, as well as for those who simply want their own fete with friends. Read Anne Postic’s article on page 50 to learn more about this millennial trend. Perhaps it is time to start your own new tradition!
From all of us at CMM, Happy Thanksgiving!

Surviving a Semester Abroad

USC Student Weathered Hurricane Irma’s Wrath on St. Thomas

By Deena C. Bouknight


When USC sophomore Brittany Carter learned earlier this year she would have a chance to study abroad, she was thrilled. The Blythewood native is a Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism major, so spending the 2017 fall semester at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas was a dream. She spent the summer working various jobs to pay for travel expenses and looked forward to experiencing aspects of her college major first hand.

However, Brittany barely settled in and made friends with other islanders as well as some foreign students before Hurricane Irma threatened on September 6th.

In a travel log September 14, she shares: “Just a little over a week ago, I was sitting on the beach with my friends, gazing at the bright sun reflecting off of the clear Caribbean water. We sat there talking about how amazing it was that we got to live in paradise. It was hard to believe and too good to be true. Then of course life comes by and changes everything. Now I sit in the shelter that I have been stuck in for a week, and when I look out the window I see an island stripped of its green trees and covered in debris.”

A wall at the Univeristy of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas impaled with a shard of debris.

When Irma’s force hit the 32-square-mile island, Brittany and 149 others were locked in a concrete shelter on campus – 15 to a room. They huddled together all day feeling the building shake and watching through small spaces of boarded windows trees toppling and fragments whipping past. Miraculously, the shelter sustained minor damage, and no students were seriously injured.

Brittany and the others were not allowed to leave the shelter until the next day, and then only to venture 20 feet from the open door. She and the others were immediately struck by how the once beautiful campus was now littered with car parts, glass, trees, and even roofs. Some of the students’ cars were flipped, others missing parts. Classrooms were filled with water, glass, and other debris. Some were missing parts of roofs. A few days later, Brittany was able to venture a little farther and she says that what she saw cannot be conveyed on the television news or in photographs– from the collapsed homes to much, much worse.

For days, she and others tried to find enough cell service to text home. Brittany’s parents, Kelly and Steven, were – understandably – frantic. Brittany says her mother was trying to figure out how to get her daughter off the island.

Classrooms were filled with water and other debris.

At the same time, fellow St. Thomas native students were distraught about the well-being of family members on other parts of the island. Brittany had to help calm one island student who experienced a panic attack because she was so worried about her family.

Brittany stayed at the shelter for 10 days, relying – like others stranded – on deliveries of water and supplies by volunteer cruise ships. Then a rescue boat took her to St. Croix, which was relatively undamaged by Irma. From there she flew to Puerto Rico, which took a hit from Irma but was yet to be further damaged by Hurricane Maria. At 4 a.m. the next day, she boarded a plane to New York City, and then another to Atlanta, before arriving in Columbia the evening of September 17, missing Hurricane Maria’s destruction of Puerto Rico by three days.

Brittany, far right, was relieved to finally land at Columbia Metropolitan Airport and hug her brother, Blake, and sister, Allie. 

Even though recovery of her class credits for the fall semester is tenuous because of the devastation at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas, Brittany counts herself fortunate to be safe at home in Blythewood. Surviving Irma’s wrath gave her a new perspective, “I remember watching the news about hurricane damage in the past. I would simply think, “Wow, that’s so sad,” then continue drinking my Starbucks in the comfort of my intact home. Being without power and running water for a period of time definitely helped me realize how victims of natural disasters that I see in the news felt.”

She adds that the hurricane bonded her with fellow students in a way a normal college experience might not have. Some friends plan to return for visits together. She wants to encourage people to visit St. Thomas and support tourism there.

Cheers to Fall!

Leave Behind Cola Town’s Heat with Refreshing Cocktail Recipes 

By Helen Clay

Toast the change of seasons with creative cocktails that compliment the cooling temperatures of fall. The last summer heat still lingers, yet fall breezes begin circulating the city, bringing with them a fresh new batch of seasonal cocktails. Make sure to check out the CMM October article featuring martinis for fall as a counterpart to the drink selections below.

This cocktail selection combines intriguing and exciting flavors to creating refreshing drinks for fall festivities. Expand your beverage menu by experimenting with these enticing concoctions. After all, it is 5 o’clock somewhere…

The Forbidden Apple

3 dashes Angostura bitters

1/2 ounce Grand Marnier

1 ounce Calvados

4 ounces Champagne

Add the first three ingredients to a Champagne flute and top with the Champagne. Garnish with an orange twist.

Courtesy of

Marmalade Whisky Sour

2 1/2 ounces bourbon

1 ounce fresh lemon juice

3/4 ounce Simple Syrup

1 teaspoon orange marmalade

1 dash of orange bitters

1 orange twist


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the orange twist and shake vigorously for 30 seconds to dissolve the marmalade. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

Courtesy of

Cider Sangria

6 cups green seedless grapes

4 kiwis, peed and thinly sliced into rounds

8 small apples, such as lady apples or crab apples, thinly sliced, stems and seeds removed

1 bottle (750 milliliters) dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

1 quart apple cider

1 cup apple brandy, such as Calvados

Freeze half of the grapes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place remaining grapes in a large pitcher with kiwis and apples. Stir in wine, cider, and brandy. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to 24 hours. Partially fill drinking glasses with frozen grapes and fill with sangria. Frozen grapes replace ice cubes, keeping the sangria cold without watering it down.

Courtesy of 

Rhubarb & Rosemary

1 1/2 ounce Gin

1/2 ounce Aperol

1 drop orange flower water

1 ounce Rhubarb Purée (recipe included)

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

1/2 ounce Simple Syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water)

1 sprig fresh rosemary


Add all ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake well and strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with two fresh raspberries and a sprig of rosemary.

Rhubarb Purée

6 rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces

3/4 cup sugar

6 strawberries, stems removed

Place the rhubarb and sugar in a small saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until rhubarb starts to fall apart. Add the strawberries and purée in a blender until smooth. Pass through a strainer and store in a closed container in the refrigerator.

Courtesy of

Cranberry-Pomegranate Lime Cocktail

1/2 cup cranberry-pomegranate juice

2 shots of Vodka

1 lime juice and zest

8 mint sprigs


Fill two small cocktail glasses with ice, then pour in 1/4 cup (or more) of cranberry-pomegranate juice. In a cocktail shaker, mix 2 shots of Vodka with ice, 6 mint springs, lime zest, and lime juice. Shake to combine. Pour the mixture over the cranberry-pomegranate juice. You can choose to stir the cranberry-pomegranate juice with the mixture, or leave the drink as separate layers. Top with extra mint leaves.

Courtesy of

An Evening on the Town

Women unite against breast cancer

By Deena C. Bouknight


Annually, the Lexington Medical Center Foundation hosts Women’s Night Out. This year, October 17 will be a night that begins at 5 p.m. with a Health & Wellness Exhibit and an opportunity to meet Lexington Medical Center physcians. Fun begins with the opening of a silent auction, then dinner at 7 p.m., and a fashion show featuring cancer survivors.

The featured speaker for this year’s event, titled “Fighting Adversity with Faith, Hope, Courage — and a Great Pair of Shoes,” is Jina Moore, Ph.D. A school administrator, Jina was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer at age 45. Reflecting confidence and a positive spirit, Jina danced her way out of the hospital – in a beautiful pair of shoes – each time she completed a radiation treatment. Currently an assistant principal at Spring Hill High School in Chapin, this USC alum will inspire others during the October 17 Women’s Night Out with her personal breast cancer journey.

This event is part of an October-long awarenesss and education initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

There are ways to become a sponsor and be involved. While tickets have already sold out for this year’s event, call (803) 791-2540 for more information.

Get Your Pink On!

Walk for Life to benefit Palmetto Health Breast Center

By Deena C. Bouknight

A parade of pink will pass through the streets of Columbia this Saturday, October 14. In fact, thousands of walkers and runners are anticipated for the 27th Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K that begins and ends at Spirit Communications Park.

The color pink first came to symbolize breast cancer survivors in the early 1990s when pink ribbons were given out in New York City during a Race for the Cure. Now people automatically think pink whenever there is a mention of a breast cancer associated event. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and even First Lady Melania Trump showed support by having the White House lit up with a pink hue the first Sunday of this month.

Online registration will be open until noon TOMORROW, Oct. 11th. After that time, paper registrations for walkers will be accepted at the Expo on Oct. 13 at Spirit Communications Park. Paper race registrations will be accepted by Strictly Running at the Expo on Oct. 13, 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at Spirit Communications Park. Race registrations will not be accepted on Oct. 14.

Registrants can pick up their t-shirts, bibs, and chips during curbside pick-up Thursday, Oct. 12, 4-6 p.m. at Spirit Communications Park, at the Expo Friday, Oct. 13, 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Spirit Communications Park, or on the day of the event, Saturday, Oct. 14, beginning at 6:15 a.m.

Registration includes a cotton T-shirt for walkers and a performance shirt for runners. However, breast cancer survivors will receive a commemorative pink bandana.

The schedule of events for October 14 looks like this:

  • Walk for Life late registration 6:30 a.m.
  • Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon start 7:15 a.m.
  • 10K race start 7:30 a.m.
  • 5K race start 7:40 a.m.
  • Walk for Life start 7:45 a.m.
  • 5K medal ceremony 9 a.m.
  • 10K medal ceremony 9:30 a.m.
  • Half marathon medal ceremony 10 a.m.

According to the U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. A man’s risk is about 1 in 1,000. Proceeds from these signature fundraising events, led by Palmetto Health Foundation, benefit Palmetto Health Breast Center in Columbia, S.C. Proceeds will stay in the community to help purchase a seventh 3D mammography unit at Palmetto Health Breast Center. The new 3D unit will be used for screening and diagnostic mammograms and will improve the early detection of breast cancer.

Visit for information on parking, the Expo, and event day.

From the Editor: October 2017

Autumnal Attractions

By Margaret Clay

I just love October. The burnt fall hues, the cooler breezes, boots, scarves, smart jackets, and yes, even the pumpkin spice craze … I eagerly anticipate it all.

It is also a big month for deer hunters as the “rut” reaches its peak. Read “Hiding in Plain Sight” on page 60 to learn all about the newest trends in hunting attire as well as the history behind the traditional sporting wardrobe. Thankfully, one faster-growing component for the hunting fashion industry is an expanding female repository. I spent many a hunt growing up with a spare pair of my father’s camo pants comically synched around my waist with a belt. It was a look made complete by three pairs of thick, wool socks so that I could increase my odds of walking in the enormous, male-sized boots at the end of my waders. According to Lucy Mahon, I was not alone.

However, having all the latest techy gear might, in reality, not make you look any less ridiculous! Read Tom Ryan’s humorous take on the Southern hunter on page 22 to see the category in which you — or your spouse — may fall.    

For those opposed to making themselves mosquito bait as the sun sets and who would rather spend their evenings sipping a cocktail, read “A Capital City Twist” on page 42 to learn about the history of the martini and spice up your own bartending skills with some local, award-winning recipes.

Our photo essay in this issue features many of the beautiful photographs Robert Clark shared with us from his statewide travels to South Carolina’s historic cemeteries. October leads up to All Saints Day, the church’s annual remembrance and celebration of the lives of those who have died in the past year, and Robert’s stunning photographs capture the sublime beauty of these memorials, starting on page 76.

While Oct. 31 is best known and celebrated today as Halloween, “All Hallows Eve” (the eve of All Saints Day) is also the anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses on the church doors at Wittenberg, and this year marks the quincentenary of that decisive moment that forever changed the course of history. Read Tom Smith’s article on page 34 to learn more about this controversial figure who was not only a theologian but also a brilliant composer and, more than 200 years later, a powerful inspiration to Bach.

We hope you enjoy these and the other articles in this issue!

Gala-vanting the Night Away

An evening of food, fashion, and fun

By Katherine Dyke

On Thursday, September 28, the Columbia Chamber hosted its 115th Annual Gala to toast the past year’s accomplishments, look ahead to new goals, and celebrate some of the Midlands’ most inspiring individuals. Columbia Metropolitan Magazine was honored to be a sponsor of the event along with Presenting Sponsor BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and other community leaders. More than 800 Midlands business leaders attended the Gala at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Two receptions opened the evening: a VIP reception upstairs included a wine tasting sponsored by Aleph Wine Corporation, and the reception on the Lower Level featured a photobooth by the University of South Carolina Athletic Department. Both were very well attended.

The gala program and seated dinner were held in the Exhibit Hall, a large, hangar-like exhibition space transformed into a rather elegant dining room. Stars lit the walls and ceiling! Wine coolers made of ice adorned the tables! Fun music and a festive feeling filled the room.

Once everyone settled down and settled in, dinner and the program began. Up first: the presentation of the colors and the singing of the national anthem, which alone made it a worthwhile evening. Beautiful! Carl Blackstone, Columbia Chamber President and CEO, then thanked the evening’s many and generous sponsors and introduced the group of 2017 honorees. The honors included: Ambassador of the Year, Young Professional of the Year, Public Servant of the Year, Military Advocate of the Year, and Diplomat of the Year.

The 2017 Ambassador of the Year is Dawn Staley, University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Head Coach. Dawn Staley is not only an accomplished coach, leading her Gamecocks team to the 2017 NCAA National Championship title, but also a selfless Midlands citizen committed to giving back. Dawn accepted the honor via video recording, thanking the Columbia Chamber and speaking of her mother’s example of generosity in helping others. University President Harris Pastides and Athletic Director Ray Tanner represented her and the University of South Carolina while Staley was in California for a commitment as head coach of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team.

John Griggs of NBSC was honored as the 2017 Young Professional of the Year. The 2017 Public Servant of the Year is Bobby Hitt, South Carolina Secretary of Commerce. Kevin Shwedo, of the SC DMV, was named the 2017 Military Advocate of the Year. And the 2017 Diplomat of the Year is Phyllis Wood of Palmetto SolarPros. Tribute videos highlighted each recipient’s positive impact. The honorees are smart, dedicated, and deserving; how fortunate to have them working in our community!

The Columbia Chamber’s Immediate Past Chairman, John Singerling, introduced the new Chairman, David Lockwood. John Singerling, David Lockwood, and Carl Blackstone all spoke to the strength of the Chamber and its impact over the last several years. They also introduced the Chamber’s futurist initiative, “Forward, Together,” as their exercise to ensure the Chamber continues to build a stronger Midlands community for businesses and residents through 2040.

The Columbia Chamber’s 115th Annual Gala was a fun and inspiring evening all around. Congratulations to the 2017 honorees!

P.S. In case anyone is  interested, here are fashion and food details. Attire was black-tie optional. A surprising number chose the option of tuxedos and floor-length gowns, which definitely added to the celebratory atmosphere. Dinner included a green salad with peaches and prosciutto and a lemon vinaigrette; dinner rolls with five compound butters; surf and turf of sliced teres major steak (aka, bistro filet) with a crab cake, asparagus and roasted potatoes; and, tables of petit fours and coffee for dessert. Sound good? Plan to attend next year’s event!

Fall for Apples

Where to find them, and how to make them last

By Deena C. Bouknight

October may be the time to think about picking pumpkins and enjoying everything under the sun dubbed pumpkin spice, but September is ripe for apples. Peaches are pretty much past and berries are long gone, but apple trees all over the Upstate and into North Carolina are heavy laden with fruit.

Apples, in fact, are one of the largest fruit industries in America. The U.S. Apple Association (USAA) reports 240 million bushels of apples grown annually result in a $4 billion crop. Apple festivals abound this month; plus, as weather cools, the tendency of cooks and bakers everywhere is to pull out favorite apple recipes and find new ones.

A huge benefit for apple lovers, besides nutritionally, is that the fruit has a long-shelf life. Unlike peaches that must be eaten quickly, apples can last weeks and even months if handled properly. There are ways to take care of apples to keep them fresh.

Before visiting an orchard, produce stand, or even the local grocer, consider:

– for utmost longevity, choose tarter, thicker-skin varieties;

– bruising happens when apples are bumped and dropped, so choose and handle carefully – a brownish soft spot can spread and affect the whole apple; and,

– the larger the apple the faster spoilage will happen.

USAA also shares some storage tips:

1) A refrigerator crisper drawer is the best bet – stored alone, they will not take on any smells from other fruits and veggies.

2) Check daily to make sure no apples in the bunch are rotting – “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch” is a real thing.

3) There are specially designed apple racks that help preserve large quantities of apples.

While apples are not as easy to freeze as some fruit, such as berries, it can be done. Sites such as USAA’s teach how to dry-pack freeze or syrup-pack freeze. Frozen apples can be used later in cooked recipes. With a dehydrator, apples can be dried and stored in air-tight containers to eat as snacks or to reconstitute and cook later.

This time of year, Saturday morning’s Soda City, the South Carolina State Farmer’s Market, and roadside stands all across the state burst with bins of apples. Popular South Carolina-grown varieties include:

– Honeycrisp, which are sweet, a little tart, and almost always crisp.

– Ginger Gold, which are a pale yellow-green in color and have a tangy crunch.

– Fuji, which are sweet and crisp and small- to medium-sized.

– Granny Smith, which are notoriously tart and great for apple pies and cakes.

– Rome, which are also used for baking because their flavor is enhanced when they are cooked.

– Golden Delicious, which are the sweet/tart apple many choose for snacks.

Plus, there are many more as well as a few other varieties grown in neighboring North Carolina’s foothills and mountains. According to Clemson Extension, there are about 30 apple producers in South Carolina, and about half of those are commercial growers. Most apples are grown in the Upstate. Some of the places in South Carolina to pick apples are:

Fisher’s Orchard in Greer

Bryson’s Apple Orchard in Mountain Rest

Chattooga  Belle Farms in Long Creek

Nivens Apple Farm in Moore

Windy Hill Orchard  in York

Many from Columbia make a day of it and visit the popular Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, North Carolina. This orchard is a sensory experience. Not only do the fragrant  ripening apples beckon, but so does warm apple cider and fresh-made apple cider doughnuts. There are at least a dozen varieties of apples on about 70 acres. A picking schedule is on Sky Top’s website.  Individual, families, and friends can grab a basket, head to the ripe orchards, and start picking. Or, the on-site store features bins of just-picked apples and opportunities to taste different varieties before selecting and/or picking. USA Today named Sky Top Orchard as a 10 Best Readers’ Choice 2017.

Among the recipes Sky Top Orchard offers customers are these two favorites:

Apple Streusel Muffins


1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1cup sour cream

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

2 cups diced unpeeled apples (preferable a tart apple)


1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons soft butter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or use foil baking cups. Put streusel topping ingredients into a medium bowl and mix with a fork until very crumbly.  Set aside.

Make muffin batter by combining dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, and melted butter and whisk until well blended. Stir in diced apples, then add dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 cup full. Top each muffin with about 2 teaspoons of the streusel topping. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until browned.  A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Remove from pans and let cool at least one hour before serving.

Makes about 18 muffins.


Apple Cheese Spread

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup grated cheddar cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons brandy or sherry

1 medium tart apple

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cream cheese, cheddar, and brandy in a bowl.  Beat until smooth. Peel, core, grate the apple, and add it to the bowl. Add the basil, oregano, thyme, and pepper, and stir until thoroughly combined. Spoon the mixture into a crock;  cover and chill for about 1 hour.  Serve on toast points or crackers.

Yield:  2 1/2 cups


Do not despair if fresh apples begin to soften or one part of an apple has a bad bruise. Chutneys, baked apples, applesauce, apple pancakes, pies, breads, muffins, and more are easy to make with apples past their prime. Plus, most apple recipes do not have to include a single variety. Mix it up!

Diana Stevenson, owner of Grace Outdoor Advertising in Columbia, is part German. Her father, Otto Wemmer, who passed away earlier this year, was a native of Germany who was a young boy still living in the country during World War II and Nazism. Diana grew up eating many different German apple dishes. Her mother, Elvira Wemmer, a native of Bogota, Colombia, who resides in Columbia, had to learn to make her husband’s favorite apple dishes – a skill she passed on to Diana. A favorite she feeds her family annually during their private at-home fall festival is Apfelkuchen (Apple Cake). Here is her family recipe:

1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick salted butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced thin
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
To make the pastry, mix flour and sugar and cut in butter until it is crumbly. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolk and vanilla and add to flour mixture; combine well. Press dough into a 9-inch springform pan and press halfway up sides. Layer apple slices on the crust. In another bowl, beat softened cream cheese with a mixer. Add sugar and then eggs, one at a time. Add the 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Pour over apples and bake for 50-60 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Let cool and then carefully unhinge the spring on the springform pan and remove. Keep the cake on the bottom of the pan. Cut and serve. Can be eaten warm or cold – for dessert with a big glass of milk, with afternoon tea or coffee as a snack, or for breakfast.