BETTY BUNCH: Discover the joy of cooking quiche and Bundt cakes

I used to play bridge and lunch, or tennis and lunch, with a very elegant, socially prominent group of girlfriends, all wives of local upscale men in professional businesses — doctors, lawyers, CPAs, two superintendents of the Clark County School District, two governors and two U.S. senators.

Several lived on Pinto Lane or on Rancho Circle, or similar fancy digs. There was no Summerlin, Siena, Turnberry Place or MacDonald Ranch.

We’ve all scattered now, moved away or divorced, remarried or quit, like me. We’re still friends, but our lives have changed, and our children grown up. Cheryl and Liz and I had lunch last week and caught up a little. We liked that new Brio Tuscan Grille at Tivoli Village.

That reminded me of Freezer Strawberry Jam, a big deal back in the ’70s. You can find the recipe on the Internet. I think it was Terry Cram who started that one. She was a terrific cook, and we all copied her.

Dr. Gene Kirshbaum, may he rest in peace, started Temple Ner Ta mid and the Dewey Animal Shelter. His wife, Marlyne, was one of our gang. She found a killer recipe for Green Bean Salad. Use 1 pound of skinny green beans (I use Trader Joe’s frozen), blanche 3 to 4 minutes to leave a little crisp, put in a large pot of water, drain. Actually, cook them just as you would pasta.

Add one red onion sliced in thin ringlets separated, one can of black olives drained and a cup of walnuts. My sister uses pecans so she can call it her recipe, but I think walnuts taste better here.

Make olive oil and lemon juice dressing (a half-cup of olive oil, a quarter-cup of lemon juice, a half-teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black paper to taste). Toss all, chill well.

Then there was the quiche debacle. I can’t for the life of me remember the occasion, but for a large party at Cheryl’s house, we all decided to bring a quiche but of different flavors. It’s called Quiche Loraine only if it’s bacon and cheese. A really good one is called Onion Pie in “Joy of Cooking,” my food bible.

But suddenly, we had a huge number of quiches. They are really easy to make if you buy the pie crust, so everybody made at least two. They were a big success, but we still each took at least one home. Of course, all our husbands said real men don’t eat quiche, so we just served it and giggled. It is properly served at room temperature, so it is not hard to transport. Just don’t leave it out forever.

Remember Harvey Wallbanger Cake? Irene often brought or served that one. We were all into Bundt cakes, dense, no icing necessary, so they were excellent for children to carry around and eat and were fast and easy for us to make.

My specialty was yellow Bundt with chocolate chips. It’s tricky to get the chips to stay suspended and not drop to the bottom. Pour in half the batter, add a half-cup of chips, quickly pour in the other half of the batter, add chips on top and rush to the oven. Some will float down, which is good. I use only half a package of chips.

Weren’t the ’70s wonderful? No worries about our o mega-3s or much about calories. We had toddlers to chase after.

Betty Bunch is a former dancer. Today, she works with the national Elderhostel Association. Contact her at

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