Father Bob and Susan Longo Cowperthwaite
So this past weekend, my friend, Marida, made her famous marinated cheese for an appetizers class at the Women of St. Paul’s Retreat. It is outstanding, a favorite at our bi-monthly cocktail parties and I will pass along the recipe at the end of this post. But. BUT. While we were happily making our appetizers, the Rector’s wife and our very good friend, Susan, was harboring a terrible secret. A TERRIBLE SECRET. And she even kept the secret while under the influence of alcohol.
Father Bob, husband of Susan and leader of our flock at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, is retiring after 26 years as Rector. How thoughtless of him. Only 26 years. The blink of an eye. Surely he could stay around a bit longer. Maybe I will shame him. If you shame a priest do you go to hell? Maybe I won’t. I don’t want to know the answer.
Here’s a quick story on how I became an Episcopalian. We had just moved to Tennessee and were sight-seeing in Franklin. We went into the sanctuary at St. Paul’s, which is a historic Civil War-era church. It was under renovation. Pews and carpeting all removed. And suddenly in came Father Bob. He’d heard us. It was a Saturday. Why is a priest in his office on a Saturday? Divine intervention, I believe. He invited us to services the next day and we’ve never looked back. That was about 1994.
So, you’ve got to love a man who serves wine at a women’s group cocktail party. Oh, I could show you photos of Father Bob ministering to the sick and the needy, preaching on Sunday and conducting various forms of parish business. But wouldn’t you rather see him behind the bar? It takes a man of great faith and vision to enter the terrifying atmosphere of a women’s cocktail party. I will not go into the myriad acts of kindness he has bestowed on those in crisis, both in the parish and outside of it. I will not recount how relieved I was to see Father Bob when my son was mauled by a dog (he’s fine) and when I had a bit of major surgery (nothing is more reassuring than seeing that white collar when you’re coming out of anesthesia – am I in Heaven or is that Father Bob which means I’m still here).
And, Susan. Susan is her own person. I can honestly say I rarely think of her as the Rector’s wife, although she’s been that for more years than King Daddy and I have been married. Strongly opinionated, passionately Italian and a fiercely loyal friend. She has helped me out of more jams than I can remember. Hey, I just realized she won’t be here for the English Tea. Wait a minute, girlfriend. Not so fast. I can’t do the math on how much loose tea it takes to serve 250 women. You always did that.
So, I didn’t mean to have my own private (or public) pity party here tonight. And here’s your Marinated Cheese Recipe from Marida. It’s really good and we’ll probably serve it at the elaborate farewell reception I can guarantee you the Women of St. Paul’s will throw for the Cowperthwaites. It may be our most ambitious effort ever. Because nothing will be quite the same ever again. That’s an accurate tribute to two people who changed our lives forever.
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- 1 2-ounce jar diced pimento, drained
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 3 tablespoons minced green onions
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 8-ounce block Cheddar cheese
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
- Combine the first ten ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.
- Slice the Cheddar and cream cheese in ¼-inch slices and alternate on a platter.
- Drizzle the dressing over the top of the cheese.
- Serve with crackers or ginger snaps.