By Ann Cipperly
Anita Brown and her daughter, Scarlotte Vaughn, both cherish motherhood, believing it is a gift from God. Both ladies also enjoy cooking for their family and are sharing their best recipes, along with thoughts on being a mother.
On a perfect spring afternoon, we met at Scarlotte’s and her husband Dale’s home on the north side of Opelika in a wooded setting. The Vaughns moved into the house last year to have more space for their three children. The dining room was stunningly decorated with tall candles and lovely linens from a recent dinner.
Scarlotte enjoys decorating, which she says she picked up from her mother. “I feel like I share her same style now,” she says. When Scarlotte was growing up, her parents restored the historic Samford home on 9th Street and decorated it beautifully.
Anita and her husband, Randy, both grew up in Opelika, and they met in high school. When Anita’s father was in the military, he met her mother in Germany. After the war, they were married and moved to Opelika.
“I think a lot of the cooking talent in the family has been passed down from my great-aunt,” says Anita. “She spent her life cooking. She was the cook for a famous opera singer in Germany. During the war, my aunt hid the opera singer, and my mother was close to them.”
While the Nazis knew her great aunt was hiding the opera singer, they never found her. During the bomb raids, soldiers would not allow her aunt to go to a shelter. Anita feels it was a miracle that both her aunt and the opera singer survived.
Randy’s family, who owned Southern Electronics, enjoyed southern cooking, while Anita’s mother prepared European style meals. One of the recipes from Randy’s family is an old-fashioned recipe using canned tomatoes with saltine crackers.
When Anita was growing up, she watched her mother cook, as she explained how to prepare the dishes. Anita did the same when teaching her daughters to cook.
Scarlotte is the oldest of three children. “When I had cancer at 33 years of age,” says Anita, “Scarlotte was about 10 years old, but she helped me so much. She was there to bring me things and helped with her siblings, who were 4 and 3. Scarlotte was a blessing.”
When Scarlotte was attending Opelika High School she met Dale at a swimming meet. Dale was a student in high school in Sylacauga. They became friends and started dating when they were seniors at Auburn University.
Scarlotte went to New York City for her internship. She then moved to Birmingham where Dale was living. Two and a half years later, they married and moved to Opelika in 2004.
Dale is the owner of two businesses, V3 Media Group, which does website development, and Riipl, an integrated computer software development company.
They have three children, Tripp, 11, Georgia, 10, and Thomas, 6 years old. All the children attend Trinity Christian School.
Until last year, Scarlotte worked as managing editor of East Alabama Living magazine. “Once the children were busy in swimming and dance,” she says. “I felt like I was stretching myself out too thin. I felt I could be there more for my children if I was not working. I help Dale some with his books.”
Scarlotte enjoys cooking for her family and feels her mother’s love of cooking influenced her. When she was a young child, she began cooking eggs, cookies and macaroni and cheese.
She now relies on her Instant Pot two or three times a week after activities with the children. The night before she had marinated pork tenderloin that Dale was going to cook on the grill. She decided to put it in the Instant Pot, and it was ready in five minutes.
Scarlotte has been ordering groceries online for pickup, which has been a help to her. As she thinks of items she needs at the grocery store, she will go ahead and put it in her online shopping cart. She can also add items from her iphone.
She tries to serve healthy meals. Dale hunts and goes fishing. He keeps the freezer filled with duck, wildlife and fish. They dine on a lot of elk.
Scarlotte enjoys entertaining and cooking for family on holidays.
Generally, the Vaughns spend Mother’s Day at the beach with family. This year they will attend services at First Baptist Church of Opelika and then go out for lunch.
Scarlotte and Anita meet once a week for lunch. They enjoy beach vacations and spending time together. Scarlotte is also close to Dale’s parents, and they enjoy time with them as well.
Anita and Randy’s two other children are: Lindsey and her husband, Tyler, who live in South Carolina, have two children, Gardner, 3, and Tap, 2 years old; son George and his wife, Rachel, have a son, 1 year old Chip, and live in Opelika.
Last year, the family almost lost Tap when he fell in the pool at his home. “He would have died if Lindsey had not known how to do CPR,” says Anita.
“I believe that God has gone before us many times,” she adds. “This past year Randy had a serious health condition that many don’t survive. God orchestrated everything that saved his life.”
Anita was able to get Randy in the car to take him to the emergency room at East Alabama Medical Center. Quick thinking by the medical staff saved his life. A friend prayed for them in the emergency room before the surgery.
“Every day is a blessing,” says Anita. “Sometimes we get busy and forget. Then, we stand back and realize that every breath is a miracle and a blessing.”
On Mother’s Day Anita and Scarlotte will celebrate their family, motherhood and all of the blessings in their lives.
“Being a mother is the best thing in the world,” says Scarlotte. “It is the greatest gift. The kids definitely keep me on my toes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Ann Cipperly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 lb. fresh lump crabmeat
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup mayonnaise
Juice of ½ lemon
Worcestershire, couple of dashes
1/4 tsp. Sriracha (or hot sauce of your choice)
1/4 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
2 green onions, diced
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp. salt
Pepper, to taste
Peanut oil (or vegetable oil) for sautéing, enough to cover the bottom of pan
Topping: Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)
Combine above ingredients (except the oil) and form into patties. In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté crab cakes in oil until golden brown (a few minutes on each side).
Let them drain for a few minutes on paper towels before serving.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Cajun mustard
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Dash of hot sauce
In a small bowl or cup, whisk together all ingredients, then dollop over top of each crab cake.
Grilled Maple Salmon
4-6 fresh salmon filets
½ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ginger, minced
Pepper the top of the salmon filets and place them in a plastic bag. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together all other ingredients and pour over salmon. Marinate for 30 minutes.
Grill over high heat for about 4-5 minutes per side starting with meat side down (skin side up). When you flip, pour the marinade over the salmon as it continues to cook. Serve immediately.
Shrimp & Grits
6-8 slices bacon Grits for 4 servings
2 chicken bouillon cubes
Gouda cheese, grated 1 Tbsp. olive oil ½ medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper 25-30 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined Old Bay Seasoning
Cayenne pepper 2 Tbsp. white wine 1 cup heavy cream
Green onion, chopped
Cook bacon until crisp, set aside to cool and reserve a little bacon grease.
When preparing grits according to package directions, add chicken bouillon cubes to boiling water before adding grits. When cooked, stir in grated Gouda cheese; set aside and keep warm.
Add a little olive oil to the bacon grease and sauté onion and garlic until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add shrimp (season with Old Bay and cayenne) and sauté for 1 minute or until pink. Remove shrimp and onion mixture to a bowl. Deglaze pan with white wine and cook for a few minutes.
On medium-low heat, add cream and cook down for a few minutes to reduce the sauce until it becomes a little thicker. Add shrimp and onions to the cream sauce just to heat through. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately over grits and top with bacon crumbles and green onion.
Given to Scarlotte Vaughn by her mother-in-law, Jane Vaughn
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
1 (5.3 oz.) vanilla Greek yogurt
6 fresh peaches (about 2 lb.)
1 (14.4 oz.) pkg. graham crackers (about 27 crackers)
Fresh mint sprig for garnish
Beat cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form.
In a separate bowl, beat mascarpone cheese and yogurt together until smooth. Fold into whipped cream mixture and set aside.
Gently rub peaches under running water to remove fuzz. Cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (you will have about 8 cups).
Spread a thin layer of cream mixture on the bottom of a trifle dish. Cover the cream with a single layer of graham crackers, breaking some crackers to fill in the gaps. Add a layer of peach slices to completely cover the crackers. Repeat layers, ending with the cream mixture. Cover and chill for 4-12 hours. Top with remaining crushed cracker pieces and garnish with mint, if desired. Serve cold.
Summer Tomato Pie
Given to Scarlotte Vaughn by her mother, Anita Brown
9-inch pie shell
3-4 fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1 tsp. hot sauce of choice (optional – I use Sriracha)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup mozzarella or Swiss cheese, shredded
Bake pie shell at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Let it cool.
Lay sliced tomatoes out on paper towels and pat dry. Salt tomatoes and continue to let sit on paper towels for 15-20 minutes to drain.
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine mayonnaise, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Fold in shredded cheeses.
In the bottom of the pie shell layer half of the tomato slices. Salt and pepper the tomatoes, then add half of the basil and green onion followed by half of the cheese spread. Repeat layers. Bake for 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cut into slices and serve warm.
Slow-Cooked Turkey Thighs
Given to Anita Brown by her mother, Irmgard Cottingham
4-6 turkey thighs
2 cans Campbell’s beefy mushroom soup
Trader Joes 21 Seasoning Salute
Sprinkle each thigh with seasonings. Place turkey in casserole dish or slow cooker. Add the soup over top. Bake in the oven at 350 for 2 hours or in a slow cooker on high for 4 hours. Serve with egg noodles.
6-8 medium squash, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, diced
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 box French fried onion rings
Sauté the squash and onion in butter until soft. Mix in one cup of cheese. Place mixture in a greased casserole dish, then top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted. Top with fried onion rings then and place under broiler for a few minutes or until lightly browned.
Foreman Tomato Salad
Given to Anita Brown by her mother-in-law, Elna Brown
2 large cans whole tomatoes, drained until liquid is gone
2 hard boiled eggs, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup Wickles Pickle relish
2 sleeves saltine crackers, crushed
Add drained tomatoes to a bowl. Add the eggs, celery, onion, pickles and half a sleeve of crushed crackers. Top the whole salad with the remaining crushed crackers. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
10-12 Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and then cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar in a bowl; toss with your hands.
Spread out mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 25-30 minutes, until they’re tender and nicely browned. Turn once during roasting.
Remove from the oven, taste for seasonings and serve hot.
Crescent Chicken Squares
2 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese with chives, softened
6 Tbsp. butter, divided
Meat from one rotisserie chicken
4 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. diced pimento
Salt/pepper to taste
2 (8 oz.) cans crescent dinner rolls
Italian breadcrumbs (for coating)
In medium bowl, blend cream cheese and 4 Tbsp. butter until smooth. Add the next 5 ingredients and mix well.
Separate crescent roll dough into 8 rectangles (4 per can). Press perforations together to seal. Spoon ½ cup chicken mixture into center of dough. Pull the 4 corners up to the top and twist slightly to seal.
Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and brush on tops of dough. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake on cookie sheets at 350 for 25 minutes.
Hershey Bar Pie
6 (1.35 oz.) Hershey Bars with almonds
1/4 cup milk
1 (8 oz.) tub Cool Whip
1 store-bought piecrust
Cook piecrust according to package instructions.
Unwrap chocolate bars, break them up and place them in a non-stick pot over low heat. Add milk and stir until melted. Once melted, set aside to cool, then fold in the whipped topping.
Pour into cooked crust. Place in refrigerator for at 3-4 hours. Slice and serve cold.