This is going to be a long way to get to Martha Dorney’s funeral. But I’ll try to make it as brief as possible.

I have a lot of cookbooks, more than I will need in a lifetime. And every once in awhile I crack an old one open. A few days ago, I rediscovered Marcia Adams’ Heirloom Recipes. Marcia used to have a cooking show on PBS that I was devoted to and I love her Midwestern culinary point of view. So I am reading her cookbook again and I wonder whatever happened to her. So I Google her.

It turns out she died not eight days ago. And it sounds like what got left off her obituary makes for a sad story. She wrote a blog and in her last blog entry sometime in 2010 she talked about writing a novel involving a battered wife. In her books, she talked extensively about her husband, Dick. But in the obituary there is no mention of him at all. Novel? Maybe not.

Now to Martha. Martha Dorney was a beloved member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. She was a woman who quietly went about doing good works. Quick with a smile and a hug, Martha was the embodiment of a good Christian woman and that is saying quite a bit in my humble opinion. Unlike Marcia Adams (apparently, I should say), Martha was married to a devoted husband, also named Dick, who died a few years ago. Mark remarked on learning of Martha’s passing, “The happiest man in Heaven today is Dick Dorney.” Truer words were never spoken.

Yes, there is food involved here because it is an Episcopal funeral and reception, after all. Martha’s funeral is today. The silver is out and polished for the reception. I am heading to church in an hour to help set up the tables, lay out our finest tablecloths and arrange the reception food. It does not take more than five minutes for the reception train to leave the station after word of someone’s passing is received. It’s automatic, like answering a phone on the first ring.

When I was carefully considering what to make for the reception, I went back to Marcia Adams’ cookbook and found her cream cheese and walnut sandwiches. It’s an unusual recipe I’d never seen before. So I made the sandwiches. They’re delicious. I mean really, really good. Fitting to celebrate the life of two very good women.

Marcia Adams’ cream cheese and walnut sandwiches

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

½ cup ground toasted walnuts (baked at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes)

2 tablespoons finely minced parsley

1 tablespoon finely minced green pepper

1 tablespoon finely minced onion

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

24 slices thin white bread, crusts removed

Softened butter

Beat the cream cheese and the next seven ingredients until well combined. Spread each slice of bread with butter. Top one slice with cream cheese mixture and end with another slice, butter side down. Cut into triangles.


  1. julie hendrix
    julie hendrixReply
    February 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I love your blog. I really do. It is a treat for me every time you write a post. thank you.

  2. Patti, Martha's daughter
    Patti, Martha's daughterReply
    February 19, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Thank you so much for your wonderful blog and, even more, for the love and attention that you showed to the Dorney family and those who came to pay their respects today. It would have been Mom’s 80th birthday today and we, her children, know that the gift that she wanted most was to be reunited with Daddy. We have no doubt that she’s at peace and the love and joy we all felt during her service have offered immeasurable comfort to her family. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. 🙂

    • the south in my mouth
      the south in my mouthReply
      February 19, 2011 at 12:19 am

      It was my – and the women of St. Paul’s – privilege to honor Martha. She was a very important part of the St. Paul’s family and we already miss her. She loved my son, Noah, and would call every once in awhile just to check on how he was doing. That was so thoughtful and appreciated. We have missed your dad, too. My husband, Mark, was remembering today when he first met your dad and had a long conversation with him. Mark was on the vestry then and he went to Father Bob and said, “You’ve got to get this guy on the vestry!” Your dad, of course, became Mr. Vestry and was integral in negotiations with the City of Franklin over improvements to the church under the historic overlay. Mark remembered his gentle way of negotiation without confrontation. So a very special pair of parents you all had and I am rejoicing that they’re together again.

  3. Joy McLemore
    February 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Catherine, you already know that I’m a big fan of your blog. I love the things you write about food and cooking, but almost as much as that, I love reading about the women of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

    I’ll be trying Marcia Adams’ cream cheese and walnut sandwiches on my Beta Sigma Phi sorority sisters the next time it is my turn to host a meeting!

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