Cooking Up a Mess

During the Christmas holiday, our daughter and her husband came home to visit. We were all hustling around the kitchen on Christmas Eve, The Hubster and I assembling his famous Crab Enchiladas (a Christmas tradition), and Rachel stirring up a batch of her fabulous cookies. Our cottage kitchen is small but well-stocked, and if you add in several adults and a few cats, it gets pretty snug.

It may sound odd, but these are some of my happiest moments in life. I would love nothing more than hanging out in the kitchen with my family and our pets, cooking together forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but at least during holidays. We laugh and talk and tell crazy stories and make divine dishes to savor later. I enjoy making memories with food.

When my daughters were very small, we baked cookies together. I think our first batch was snickerdoodles, just like I did with my mom. Peanut butter soon became their favorite, followed closely by chocolate no-bake cookies. The girls would draw up chairs to the cabinet and stir the ingredients in with large wooden spoons. They learned about baking, but they also learned about food and kitchen safety, nutrition and weights and measures.

Because both The Hubster and I cook, the kitchen is the place to be in our house. Sarah and Rachel knew they could always find one or both of us in there, if they needed us. They usually got roped into helping out, as well. They learned at a tender age all aspects of cooking, including the dreaded clean up. The horrors!

When The Hubster was finishing his bachelor's degree, the girls and I would cook dinner together, pack it up and drive out to his office to eat together. On week days, this would be the only time they got to spend with their dad. I tried to make it extra special. Sarah and Rachel would show Daddy their school work and tell him about their day and Daddy would show them the latest cool thing he had on his computers.

Sometimes the food itself is a memory: Rainbo bread is what The Hubster and I fed the ducks at Island Park when we were courting, or our first anniversary candlelight dinner with the most horrifying hazelnut torte he ever ate. Ask him sometime!

Our daughters' fellas, Derek and Drew, both love to cook, too. Someday, I want to have a huge kitchen so that my whole family can gather around and we can all cook together easily. Whatever we're cooking, fois gras or sloppy joes, you can be assured we're having a great time and stirring up some good memories.

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Steve Martin’s Famous Crab Enchilada Recipe

1 small can chopped green chilies (Old El Paso)
1 large can La Victoria green enchilada sauce (available at Country Mart in Ark City) –or--3 cans Old El Paso green enchilada sauce (mild)
½ pint sour cream
3 cups shredded cheese, cheddar or Mexican blend
12 taco size flour or corn tortillas
1 pint cooked and shredded crabmeat (or imitation), approx. 2 cups
1 small bunch green onions, finely chopped, for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, mix crabmeat, 1/3 of cheese, half the green chilies, and half a can of enchilada sauce. Pour other half of enchilada sauce in 9x13 baking dish. Put 2 tablespoons of filling from mixing bowl into tortillas. Place finished tortillas in baking dish. Put the last two cans of enchilada sauce, sour cream and remaining green chilies into the empty bowl. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour over finished enchiladas. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Rachel's Chocolate Chewies
(adapted from www.lovintheoven.com)

1-3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (Hershey's Special Dark is the best)
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Rachel uses a stand mixer on low. Gradually add egg whites and mix on low. Add nuts and incorporate with a spatula. Mixture will be freakishly sticky! Use a cookie scoop to drop 12-15 cookies on baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 16-20 minutes. Cookies will be shiny and crack. Remove parchment containing cookies to a cooling rack. Do not attempt to remove cookies until they are completely cool. These cookies taste like really fudgy brownies!


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Confidential to S & D: Congrats on your Vegas nuptials! God bless! Enjoy!

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Female in Motion Exercise Update: I did three disco aerobic workouts last week and am back to the regular schedule this morning. I hope to drop those three pounds that Santa left me!

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Notable Quote:

Dirty Dishes

Thank God for dirty dishes
They have a tale to tell
While other folks go hungry,
We're eating very well.
With home and health and happiness
We should not want to fuss.
For by this stack of evidence,
God's very good to us!

--Author unknown (this poem is in the front of my first cookbook)
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