Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Matthew Martin | Styling: Tiffany Adams and Chip Jones |
Southern creative JoBeth McElhanon gathers a close group of friends for a treat-filled brunch to celebrate the approach of warmer days and seasonal vacations
JoBeth McElhanon is a woman of many talents. With a background as a registered dietitian, her role as a former Junior League of Little Rock president, and her current career as the Director of Prevention Services, Marketing, and Communications at The Centers for Youth & Families, she is no stranger to having a full—albeit—balanced plate. However, it is perhaps her hospitality and graciousness that shine through most brilliantly in all her endeavors—particularly when it come to entertaining friends.
We sat in on a pre-summer brunch she hosted for a few of her closet friends. “We all met and became friends through the Junior League of Little Rock. While we are now sustainers, we continue to use the skills the league taught us to serve other non-profit organizations as volunteers,” McElhanon says of the group of women she invited to her home.
For the gathering, she consulted Sherwood’s recently opened The Humble Crumb Bakery. They created a menu of delicious pastries and breads, which McElhanon complemented with mimosas and a Honey Lavender Fruit Salad.
When it came to the decor, McElhanon used her favorite color, green—which is abundant in her West Little Rock residence—as a starting point for the table setting. “The palette I chose for our house includes various shades of green, ivory, khaki, and gray—colors that reflect growth and rejuvenation in nature. There are so many green hues throughout the house, but I think they work. When you look at nature there isn’t just one shade of green. Why shouldn’t that be true for indoors?” she says. McElhanon is also an avid collector of vintage plates and serving pieces, which she used in the setting.
However, even with all of the fun she has in setting a table and preparing food for others to enjoy, McElhanon is grounded in the real meaning of community and friendship. “All of us want to have a Pinterest- or Instagram-worthy event, but none of us really have the time to agonize over every detail. One of the things that I carry with me from my Junior League days is from a national training I attended years ago when we were on the cusp of social media. The speaker said, ‘If we are going to live in a high-tech world, we must remember to be high-touch people.’ I think that’s where finding that pocket of time to connect with good friends is imperative—it restores the soul,” she says.
At each place, McElhanon layered three plates for a collected look. The top plates, which she found at Fabulous Finds Antique Mall in Little Rock, are a recent addition to her collection. Simple bamboo-handled flatware and natural woven placemats lend a more casual feel and echo the undertones of nature that run throughout the home. McElhanon and her husband found an abundance of clear quartz crystals in their backyard upon moving into the home. She used several of these as stands for the table’s place cards. Gingham napkins accented with the McElhanons’ monogram complete the setting. Lemon blueberry muffins (seen at left) made by The Humble Crumb Bakery, were just one of the tasty baked goods created for the brunch.
Tori Halvorson (left) and Betsy Peters opened Sherwood’s The Humble Crumb Bakery along with Ruth Peters, Betsy’s mother-in-law, in December 2015. While they got their start in 2011 by selling Ruth’s famous cinnamon rolls at the Sherwood Farmer’s Market, the boutique bakery now offers a huge variety of pastries and baked goods as well as smoothies and parfaits on Friday and Saturday mornings and dinner entrees on Monday nights. In addition, they also take private orders. They are open Monday, 4 – 6 p.m., Friday, 6 – 10 a.m., and Saturday, 7 – 11 a.m.
LEMON POPPY SEED BREAD WITH ORANGE GLAZE
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon melted butter
Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine all bread ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix until well blended. Grease the bread pans thoroughly. Pour the mixture evenly into the two prepared pans. Place them in the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour or until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. After removing bread from oven, place on a cooling rack. Remove from the pan once bread has cooled a bit. Combine all glaze ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Place a sheet of wax paper or foil underneath the bread’s cooling racks. Pour the glaze over the top of the bread, and allow it to set. Enjoy!
The Humble Crumb Bakery, Sherwood, (443) 995-6038, humblecrumbbakery.com