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Paula Willard Otto’s Buffet Shrimp Curry

Paula Willard Otto’s Buffet Shrimp Curry

1/4 cup oleo, melted 1/2 cup chopped onions 1/4 cup green pepper 2 cloves of garlic, crushed 1 or 2 tbsp curry powder 3 cups cooked shrimp 1 1/4 cups milk 2 cups mayonnaise 2 tsp lemon juice 3/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp ginger

Cook first 5 ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat until tender. Blend milk and mayonnaise. Remove from heat and stir in mayonnaise mixture and remaining ingredients. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice.

All I can say is that this was a hit with my family. Super easy to make, tastes delicious. The curry gave it that savory yet sweet component, as did the ginger. The mayonnaise with milk gave that creaming, yummy sauce that had a hint of that tart lemon. Perfect! I myself do not eat white rice very often but I made some for the family. I chose to keep mine on the side but this dish was a winner.

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Artist, Actor and Chef: Pauline Willard Otto “As an artist, the late Paula Otto left her mark all over Saginaw.”

“She was a sometimes actress, playing in over 25 roles over a 40 year period at Pit and Balcony. Her most remembered portrayal was the lead in 1965’s production of ‘Auntie Mame.’ And as a visual artist she worked in a variety of media, winning awards from Studio 23 in Bay City, the Midland Center for the Arts, the Saginaw Art Museum and the Flint Institute of Arts in the Process.”​​​​​​​​​​​Janet I. Martineau, “Exhibit honors Paula Otto.’ The Saginaw New, March 19, 1983

Born in Alma in 1915, Paula Willard Otto moved to Saginaw as a child. After graduating from Saginaw High she continued her studies in art. She married Saginaw attorney Gilbert G. Otto in 1938. Drawings for the Otto home designed by Saginaw architects Frantz and Spence the year they were married are preserved in the Castle Museum’s collection. The floor plan includes a studio adjacent to the kitchen.

By 1947, her portraits were noted as being “well above average’ in the Saginaw News article. While raising a family, she did not limit her efforts to the visual arts. She was president of the Saginaw Bar Auxiliary and the first president of Lawyers Wives of Michigan – a state-wide organization. Although best-remembered for her role as Auntie Mame, she was in the cast of numerous other Pit Balcony performances. Her passion for the arts included serving on the Board of Trustees of the Saginaw Art Museum for nearly a decade and working with another Pit and Balcony supporter to address 1,000 invitations for the organizations 50th Anniversary.

Over the decades her visual artwork changed. In the 1940s, she focused on portraits and in the 1950s she explored sculpture – even taking advantage of a program offered by General Motors Central Foundry to explore casting in aluminum. By the late 1970s, she had returned to painting.

At the time of her 1983 Saginaw Art Museum retrospective, the Saginaw News reported: “Her painting style, observers report, was to start with a blank canvas and no references, developing the work as she went along and letting it grow almost organically. Her constant goal, they say, was to combine the spontaneity with discipline and a powerful sense of color.”

This description of Paula Otto’s method of work seems perfect for a woman who is remembered for capturing the free-spirted lead of ‘Auntie Mame.” And, she still found time to enter her puppy, Mi-dane Kublai Kahn, in the 1949 Macomb Dog Show. Of course, the puppy won a ribbon.


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