Marion Ross' eyes meet you first. They are the kind of eyes that calm you and make you feel loved. They make you smile. They are the eyes of a mother with the twinkle of stardom. And Marion was smiling as she welcomed me into her home.
"I just love living here!" she said, noticing my reaction to her gorgeous place.
But she is quick to correct you if you call her farm a ranch.
"It's just a place out here in the country where I can relax and have fun," she said.
"Out here in the country" is just a short drive from Beverly Hills and the rest of Los Angeles. Stone portals flank the entrance to the farm, and the "built-to-look-rustic" home is the center jewel. The kitchen is large and equipped for party-giving.
It is obvious that details matter. Between the design of the home and her collection of American art and furnishings, Marion has created a stunning yet relaxed country feel. Quite the setup, her Happy Days Farm.
She called it "Happy Days" not only because her days there are quite happy, but also because the series paid for most of the place. But now she is ready to party.
"I'll show you how to play a little bacci ball, then, we'll have the main fare here in the house. Doesn't that sound nice?" she asked with that Mrs. Cunningham twinkle in her smile.
After the bacci ball we sat down to the farm-style lunch. The food was a little more '90s than Cunningham cuisine, but having fried chicken with Marion felt like the most natural experience in the world. CRISPY MEDITERRANEAN FRIED CHICKEN 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, split into 6 halves
3 egg whites, slightly beaten
1/4 cup sherry
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tablespoon dried Italian herb blend
1 tablespoon salt
Cracked pepper to taste
Olive oil for frying
2 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
Cut each breast half into 3-inch- long strips. Mix together egg whites and sherry. Marinate chicken in sherry-egg white mixture for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Mix bread crumbs with herbs, salt and pepper. Heat [ 171]-inch layer of oil in heavy saute pan over medium-high heat and stir in half the garlic.
Coat chicken strips in seasoned bread crumbs and fry half of them in oil until golden brown and cooked. Drain onto paper towels and hold on tray in warm oven while repeating with other half of chicken strips, adding remaining garlic to pan and additional oil if needed before frying.
Yields 6 to 8 servings. end98 Harry Schwartz, a former Tulsan, is the host of "Chef Harry and Friends" (8 p.m. Monday, KRSC cable channel 12 and UHF channel 35). Send questions and comments to him by e-mail at copleysdcopleynews.com or to Copley News Service, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, CA 92112.