Food: Relishing a renewed friendship, shared interests

Kate Lawson
The Detroit News

Joy was the prettiest girl in my high school class. We were pals; not part of the populars who played sports or were cheerleaders, nor were we anywhere near being scholars.

She was an artist, her room filled with all sorts of projects she’d created and she had a wonderful talent for taming her naturally curly hair into a fashionable cut. I was gawky, a smart aleck but shy, loved to read and I couldn’t draw a straight line, let alone handle my curls. We’d go to Frisch’s after school and sometimes take the bus downtown and gather on the mezzanine of the department store where other kids from other schools always showed up. We drank milkshakes and cherry cokes and did what teenagers did, which wasn’t much but be loud. We went to dances on the weekends to hear our favorite bands. We had boyfriends.

We parted ways after high school and I’m not sure why except I was one of the “girls who went away,” and she lost her heart and mind to a boy was being sent away. That was 48 years ago. We never crossed paths after high school but I later learned our paths were parallel.

People can disdain Facebook all they want but Facebook is the reason that Joy and I reconnected. She had commented on something a classmate of ours had written and there she was. Her tamed curls now set free, her pretty eyes hidden behind glasses and her smile was still her smile.

We became friends again through Facebook. Then I got a letter. She regaled me with the saga of her life: married, divorced, moving around the country, working at several jobs (one of them included a stint at USA Today) writing poetry, painting, interior design, cooking and catering and finally a happy marriage. She also writes books and sent me a collection of her bittersweet poems about her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease and ultimate death and a delightful cookbook of chicken recipes that she wrote and illustrated, “Cooking Chicken with Joy.”

Joy lives in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia in a cabin with her husband, a former Hollywood assistant director, where she paints and writes and her life seems just about as perfect as a life can be. I’m really not the nostalgic sort but the older I get the more I realize that the people we meet along the way can touch our lives in the most meaningful ways. Joy touched mine as being a true lovely friend. And now when I prepared some of her recipes I can think of her.

I hope with all my heart that we will get to meet again. I think I may have to take a road trip.

Kate Lawson is a retired Detroit News food writer. You can contact her at

Ravioli with Chicken & Mushroom Pesto

Recipe from “Cooking Chicken with Joy,” by Joy Merritt Krystosek

6 large fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

2 (9-ounce) packages of 4-cheese ravioli or any ravioli of your choice

4 cups broccoli florets

1/3 cup Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, grated

To make pesto : In a food processor add basil, pine nuts, chopped mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse until just mixed. Drizzle in half the olive oil and continue to pulse until well blended. Set aside.

In a large saute pan heat remaining olive oil, saute chicken strips until done. Set aside.

In a 4-quart pot of boiling water, cook ravioli per package directions, drain.

Steam broccoli florets in steamer for approximately 6 minutes until tender.

In a large serving dish or bowl, gently toss the ravioli, chicken and broccoli with the pesto. Top with grated Parmesan. Can be served hot or cold. Serves 4.

Per serving: 829 calories; 41 g fat (12 g saturated fat; 45 percent calories from fat); 65 g carbohydrates; 6 g sugar; 151 mg cholesterol; 1,174 mg sodium; 51 g protein; 7 g fiber.