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The Cocktail, the Community Table, and Wilma Brown by Chef Kelly Sears

Boulder Colorado, a rented house, and a table that seats ten. Ages nineteen to seventy three, from Wisconsin, and Chicago, New Mexico, and California, we went to celebrate my half century but as with most things, on the way to the destination, the journey took us somewhere else. 

It started with the perfect cocktail, the welcome cocktail. It wasn’t just the ingredients; it was how they all came together.  A couple people juiced lemons, some measured the mixers, a few peeled mandarin oranges, and others took care of the nibbles; before you knew it we had been introduced, reacquainted, laughed a lot, caught up, and laughed some more.  

The rest of the trip was a collage of hiking, farmer’s markets, and campus tours, shopping, drinking and eating. But the real action took place at the table, the community table for ten.  If you’ve taken one of my classes, you know I always stress the importance of who’s around the table, not just what’s on the table and never was this more applicable.  We ordered in, we ate out but no matter what the location; the dish was always the same, shared plates.  The ingredients were many: empty nests and pending graduations, engagements and new careers, dark secrets and bright futures, new houses and big moves, late nights, morning coffee, and A LOT OF SHOES!

Somewhere along the way, we ten strong women gathered together and with our twenty sturdy legs, twenty outstretched arms, and ten big hearts we built a rainbow bridge so that my grandmother who had been stubbornly holding out for 94 finally decided that 93 years, 8 months, and a few extra days was enough and with all of us for support, she could proudly cross over to the other side.

That evening at dinner we raised our glasses to birthdays, friendship, life, and Wilma Brown.  If you’ve never taken this kind of trip, do so. If you’ve already done it, don’t stop. If you’re waiting for the right time, it’s now. The one thing I know for sure, time does not go backward.

Here’s our cocktail for your next toast:

Equal parts; Mandarin orange vodka, curacao, lemon juice, cranberry juice

Half that amount of simple syrup

Add mandarin orange segments to the glass and garnish with sparkly sanding sugar

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