Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

"margaret lupo"



March 2010



My life in the ’60’s

Written by , Posted in "krispy kreme", "margaret lupo", "woodruff's bed and breakfast", marie nygren

When Mother bought Mary Mac’s in the early sixties, Ponce de Leon was already an eclectic and colorful mix of businesses and homes. It was an interesting area to explore- though  my exploring was limited to a block. Across the street was a laundry, nightclub and Landers Poultry. 

I was fascinated by Landers. When you walked in, the floor was covered with saw dust and chicken cages filled the left wall. The right side of the store was the counter where you could get eggs, every chicken part imaginable and butter. In the back was where they did the chicken processing. It was one of the few places left in the city where you could get fresh chickens butchered to order.

The next block was taken up by the original Krispy Kreme location in Atlanta  which is still in operation. My big treat was to get a nickel from Mom and walk across the street to get a chocolate covered doughnut topped with whipped creme and a cherry! In those days, I was allowed to go by myself at the age of 6. The ladies at the counter knew me and and would have my favorite doughnut ready for me if they saw me coming.

The most colorful neighbor though was Miss Bessy. She ran the local brothel which was located directly across the street at the corner of Ponce and Myrtle. The building still stands and is now Woodruff’s Bed and Breakfast. Several years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to go into the building. At that time, the call board for the girls was still in the downstairs office/foyer.

I do not remember Miss Bessy just Mom’s stories about Miss Bessy coming over for lunch during breaks to get a lunch for herself or the girls. And, the patrons having lunch themselves after their visits. Mom never shared names of the clientèle but it was always a who’s who of local and state officials and business men.

Mom always had a cordial relationship with Miss Bessy- no judgments. She said Miss Bessy was providing a service just as she was. Mom always had a welcoming atmosphere for all of Atlanta’s colorful characters. In her dining room, everyone had a place at her tables. It provided a great lesson for me in the years to come.



January 2010



Growing up with Mom

Written by , Posted in "margaret lupo", marie nygren

Growing up with a mom in the restaurant business taught me a lot and helped shape the kind of mother I became.

Our weekday routine consisted of Mom taking us to school in the morning, she went on to work and would pick us up at the end of the day and come back home from 3-5. Each day she brought food home from the restaurant for us to have for dinner. At 5 she would go back to work and come home again at 8. Dad went to the restaurant around dinner hour and closed up and got home around 10.

Mom would fix his dinner every night at 10 and Dad would eat on a TV tray, that was their routine every night. Can’t believe mom would do that every night after her full day at Mary Mac’s.

Dad was much more behind the scenes: he did all the produce buying, maintenance of equipment and was only there at night time. He didn’t have anything to do with running the restaurant, that was all mother.

(here is a picture of mom and dad on vacation. Would you believe I couldn’t find one picture of mom in the restaurant to share with you?)

Mother loved her restaurant, that is where she got her fulfillment. She was a trailblazer.  I believe that part of my love for cooking truly comes from my heritage. How could it not?…when mom was pregnant with me she was always in the kitchen so I always say my love began in utero.

Family dinners are one of the most important thing to me and continues to be a huge part of my family’s life even now that my girls are grown. I suppose that is my response to the way our life was when I was a young girl and my mom was always in the restaurant. Steve and I always prioritized spending time with our girls, especially in their younger years.

It really is true, how much your mother shapes your life.



December 2009



My mom’s Seafood soup

Written by , Posted in "margaret lupo", "mary mac's", Recipe Articles, seafood soup

Makes about 15 cups
Bring to a boil in heavy Dutch oven:
  • 5 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bunch (about 12 ounces) well-washed fresh leeks (all but browned leaves), chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced fine
Simmer for 30 minutes and add:
  • 3 large Idaho potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and diced

Simmer for another 30 minutes. Mash potatoes and onion mixture in the stock thoroughly with a potato masher.

  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Taste and reseason. This should be a thick, heavy, creamy soup. If too thick, thin with milk and taste for seasonings.

  • 2 cups cooked crabmeat, shrimp, or scallops**

Simmer soup for 5 minutes, and you have my favorite meal.

To steam crabs, place in pot with 2 inches of boiling water, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cover and steam on high heat for approximately 30 minutes. Cool crab under cold tap water. Pick crab and drop crabmeat into soup.

If you use shrimp or scallops, sauté them quickly in butter, then add to the soup.

**my favorite addition is crabmeat. Steam live crabs and pick the meat from them or use pasteurized or frozen crab meat as a last resort. No canned seafood, please. The soup would be better with no seafood at all than with canned seafood.
From the cookbook: Southern Cooking from Mary Mac’s Tea Room by Margaret Lupo.



September 2009



My First Published Recipe

Written by , Posted in "margaret lupo", georgia ledger-enquirer, marie nygren, pecan pie, Recipe Articles

My mother’s sister, Sarah Spano, was the Food Editor for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Georgia. Sarah was quite a character, a wonderful lady and a great story teller.
She would come to Atlanta often to visit her sisters who lived here. On one of those visits in 1976, I made a Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie for her. Aunt Sarah loved the pie so much that she wrote a story about me and my cooking. At sixteen, I had my first published recipe.

It’s become a favorite dessert at the Inn and will be on the menu at the Farmhouse this weekend. We would love to see you for dinner.
Here is the recipe:
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Combine in a heavy sauce pan:
  • one cup of dark Karo syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Bring to a rolling boil, stirring steadily, for two minutes.
Remove from heat and add;
  • 3 tbsp. butter
Beat in separate bowl:
  • 3 eggs
Pour hot syrup mixture slowly into eggs, beating with a wire whisk.
  • 1 cup toasted pecan pieces (see “food byte” on side bar)
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for 45-50 minutes, until filling is firm. Cool before cutting.



August 2009





August 2009



Margaret’s eggplant souffle

Written by , Posted in "margaret lupo", eggplant, marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Serenbe Farmhouse

I love to share with people why I am so passionate about cooking and what it brings to my life and others. Today while doing my cooking demo at the Serenbe Farmer’s market, you only had to see this small boy’s face when he tasted my mom’s eggplant souffle to understand. My demo today was “everything eggplant” and a young boy approached my table with his mom. When asked if he would like to try a sample he said no and insisted he did not like eggplant. I told him this wasn’t like regular eggplant and thought he would enjoy it. After some thought, he gave in. With hesitation in his eyes he took his first bite, chewing slowly and looking very serious. Finally he looked up at me, flashed a huge smile and proclaimed “I like it!”

Here is my mom’s eggplant souffle recipe:

Preheat oven to 350. Peel and cut into 1-inch cubes: 1 medium eggplant 
Bring to a boil in a heavy saucepan: 2 cups of water

1 teaspoon of salt
Add eggplant, simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Drain and mash. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of pulp.

Cut crusts off: 1 slice of white bread
Soak bread in: 3/4 cup of milk
2 beaten eggs
1 tablespoon of grated white onion
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper

Add eggplant, mix well, and pour into 1-quart buttered baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees on the middle rack until souffle seems “set” in the middle, 30-45 minutes.