Date: August 26, 2015 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Norma Edwards and Chip Jones |
Amy Nelson Hannon, owner of Springdale’s Euna Mae’s, shares her secrets for creating a weekend brunch that’s easy to prepare—and sure to be devoured—along with a few heartfelt insights on hospitality
Amy Nelson Hannon loves to host a crowd—and she’s good at it. As a mother to three, a pastor’s wife, and owner of a thriving (and charming!) kitchen store, it’s no wonder. While all of these titles certainly qualify her for the role, it’s clear her driving passion for hosting and cooking stems from the store’s namesake, Euna Mae (see the quote at right for Hannon’s own words about her beloved grandmother) and the skills and character she instilled in Hannon.
“I’ve always considered myself more of a ‘host’ [than an entertainer], making food and creating a welcoming place for people to gather, sit, visit, eat, laugh, and make memories,” she says. Guided by these principles, she created a comfortable, laid-back brunch to be enjoyed by weekend guests—meaning there’s not only time to eat, but also time to catch up on life and enjoy being together. “Every fall my best friend comes to visit from Dallas. The weekend that she and her family come to Northwest Arkansas is one that I get giddy about! The one meal we know with certainty that we will be able to enjoy together is brunch before we leave for campus [for the Razorback football game],” she adds.
This year the menu includes everything from a light yogurt with granola to a veggie-filled frittata. “To be a happy host and not be scrambling in a panic with a houseful of company, I make ahead what I can; and I sneak in a few shortcuts! The zucchini crumb muffins and granola can easily be baked the day before and stored in airtight containers. And in order to get homemade buttermilk biscuits without the mess, I serve Callie’s Biscuits that are fresh-frozen from Charleston, South Carolina (available at Euna Mae’s). They’re handmade, shipped frozen, heat in 20 minutes, and they’re the best biscuits I’ve ever eaten,” Hannon says. And although the food looks tempting on its own, Hannon seizes the opportunity for a beautiful presentation by artfully dishing up each menu item in tableware from her shop.
It’s not just the brunch food that makes loved ones feel special at her home. Hannon preps for the arrival of overnight guests by leaving cookies on their bedside tables and placing special soaps and lotions in their bath for a thoughtful touch. With food and flourishes like these, who wouldn’t want to spend a weekend with Hannon as the host?
In her own words, Hannon shares the legacy of Euna Mae, her grandmother, the namesake of her Springdale store, and the inspiring mentor who led to her own love of and knack for cooking and hosting.
Euna Mae fed people. It was her love language, just as it is mine! She fed her Circle group, her Sunday school class, and her grandchildren every Wednesday when we’d come over to play while our parents all went to choir practice at the Baptist church. She’d make compassion meals for people who were hurting. She’d donate treats for area bake sales. And she hosted and fed her family’s families on snow days, any given sunny afternoon, and every Easter and Christmas for as long as I can remember. She always had cold Cokes in red cans in the refrigerator and a little bite of sweet on the counter, or in the freezer, fridge, or a candy dish on the coffee table! And her cast iron skillet made its home on the stovetop where she made my Papa Nelson a fried egg every morning of his life. She had always had an open door and something to serve us. It filled up our insides in all kinds of ways!”
Euna Mae’s, Springdale, (479) 419-9690, eunamaes.com
Follow the At Home blog for a special post with links to all of the recipes featured here—plus, instructions for two bonus dishes: an Apple Brown Betty with Salted Caramel Sauce dessert and Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies. athomearkansas.com/blog