Here are some things you probably already know:
There are twelve eggs in a dozen.
There are twelve months in a year.
There are twelve inches in a foot.
Now for something you may not realize:
Once these words are in print and I cut them out of the newspaper and place them with the rest of my collection, I will have completed my twelfth notebook of “Cooks’ Corner” columns. Twelve years seems like a long time, and it seems impossible that I have been composing stories and providing recipes almost every week.
Since I started writing for The Shelbyville News, I have only taken one month off – November of 2011. My purpose was to spend time sewing, but it ended up that my sewing machine went in for repairs in late October of that year and I didn’t get it back until after my “vacation” was over. I was asked to provide a recipe to be published each week that November just to keep people’s interest in “Cooks’ Corner.” Now let’s do the math. 52 (weeks in a year) times 12 (years I have been writing) equals 624. Subtract 5 November 2011 columns for an end total of 619. Somehow, that number seems incredible.
Another thing that amazes me is the number of recipes in my database – 1,349. Granted, some I have had for a long time, but the greater portion of them are ones I have tried in order to be able to have something new to share with my readers. And that number doesn’t count all the recipes that did not turn out as expected; the ones my late hubby referred to as “not column-worthy.” I would have to say that I don’t get bored with having the “same old same old” foods to eat. When I stop and think about it, the number of recipes would be much larger if Bob was still my taste tester. It just isn’t the same to cook for one person. Besides, there are so many good recipes that are well worth repeating, some of which I declared would become favorites. However, it is hard to make things again when one is constantly trying new dishes.
Many changes have taken place in my life since I began writing “Cooks’ Corner.” I have six more grandchildren, making a total of seven. I have lost my spouse, which has been extremely hard for me to accept. Although it has been over five years since Bob passed away, I still miss him terribly. I have learned to do a lot of things for myself (like mowing the grass – over two acres of it), tending my own garden, and various household repairs. I am very thankful for family and friends who step in and help me when I need them.
There was one week I had already notified the editor that I was not going to write my column. My recipes were ready; however, my husband was in the hospital with a very severe infection and other complications. She told me to do whatever I needed to do at the time. That was on a Sunday afternoon; I write on Monday mornings. Early the next day, I woke up with something on my heart. I knew what the Lord wanted me to say, so I got up and composed my weekly submission. Then I went to the hospital, knowing the decision I was facing – to turn off the life-support that was sustaining my husband’s body. That column appeared in the same newspaper as his obituary. I knew that it was an inspiration from God because many people commented about how much it touched them.
Throughout my twelve years as a columnist, as well as the rest of my life, one thing has remained constant. The love of my Heavenly Father has sustained me and kept me going. He is there in good times and in hard times. Even when I feel terribly lonely, I know that I am never alone. I am assured of His watch care and guidance; it is such a blessing to realize that He is steadfast and I can depend on Him. When I require help with a topic for my column, I lift my concern up to Him, and He has always come through for me. Sometimes it is very last-minute, but I can honestly say that I have been cranking out columns week after week for twelve years without fail.
Some reader favorite recipes from the past:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-1/4 cups soft bread crumbs
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sesame seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon pepper
LINE a large baking sheet with aluminum foil; lightly grease foil.
Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin.
Stir together oil, butter, and mustard in a small bowl until blended. Combine bread crumbs and next 5 ingredients in a shallow dish, stirring until well-blended.
Dip chicken breast halves in oil mixture; dredge in bread crumb mixture, and place coated chicken on prepared baking sheet.
Bake chicken at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until coating is golden and juices run clear when pricked with a fork. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Green Bean Bundles
3 or 4 cans whole green beans
3/4 pound bacon, strips cut in half
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
Wrap about 10 green beans with bacon and secure with toothpick to make bundles. Arrange bundles in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish in one layer. Melt butter; add brown sugar. Add garlic salt to taste. Pour over beans. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 minutes more.
Cream Cheese-Pumpkin Bread
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin (may use cooked pumpkin puree)
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
4 large eggs
Cream Cheese Filling (recipe follows)
Stir together first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk together pumpkin and next 3 ingredients; add to flour mixture, whisking just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon 2 cups of batter into each of 2 greased and floured 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Spoon Cream Cheese filling evenly over batter in each pan. Spoon remaining batter evenly over filling.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 2 (9-inch) loaves.
Cream Cheese Filling:
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 large egg
Stir together all ingredients.