Sunday, March 14, 2010

Aging and Chocolate Cake

My grandparents are up from Cedar City for the weekend, and not just for a visit. Both in their early nineties, they have to this point aged very well. They have lived in the house they built together as newlyweds for over sixty years. Grandpa has maintained a beautiful yard and garden, and my grandma has kept her house impeccably neat and tidy. They've traveled, and participated in the community. They have seen weddings and missions and birthdays and holidays of grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. And I am so fortunate to have them still in my life, to have them know my daughters, and to see that beautiful link between generations.

But things don't always stay the same. That's the beauty and the heartache of life. Grandpa had a knee replaced last spring, and just came out of a hip replacement a few weeks ago. And now it's Grandma's turn. She's the one who needs a new hip. So they've come up here to Salt Lake where there is family to support and take care of them. I'm so glad they're here, for so many reasons.

Last night I was out picking up groceries for my family when my lil' bro called and asked me to pick up a walker for Grandma to use, as she was having a hard time getting around the house. No big deal, I thought. I just ran to the nearby Walmart, chose my favorite model of walker and picked it up to carry it to the checkstand. And then I started to cry. The reality of my grandparents' age and mortality hit me like a ton of bricks. Because I tend to be a worrier, my mind started racing ahead to the days of Grandma's upcoming surgery, her recovery, and my eventual life without my grandmother, and my grandfather. I will miss them so much. And though I know I'm fortunate to have had them as part of my life for so long, it does not make it any easier to digest the fact that someday they will not be with me anymore.

My parents are currently out of town, so my siblings and I are taking care of the gparents. And I am doing what I do best: cooking and baking. Tonight we will have a family dinner together. We will have curried chicken with rice, garlic cornbread muffins, and chocolate cake (cake recipe courtesy of Meili's grandma Venna). We will eat together tonight, and laugh, and make messes and memories. And chow down and enjoy our time together.

Life will march on whether you are ready for it or not. People come and go from your life whether you are ready for them to go or not. So make the most of your time with them because it is limited. The key is not to focus on the future without them, but to savor the present with them. So take a few minutes and eat some chocolate cake with the people you love.

Bon Appetit.

Grandma Venna's Chocolate Cake
1 C Water
1/4 C cocoa
2 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 t soda
2 cubes margarine
2 C flour
1/2 C buttermilk
1/2 t salt
1/2 t vanilla

In sauce pan, heat the water, margarine, cocoa together. Stir, mix well. Combine flour, sugar, salt, soda in a separate bowl. In another, whip eggs with fork, add buttermilk and vanilla. Combine all. Pour in a 9x13 dish and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Serve with ice cream.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Simple. Perfect. Enchiladas.

It's no wonder Brittany is one of my best friends. We both made enchiladas on the same night! Hers were chicken, and mine were beef, and they were completely different recipes. But that's the beauty of this blog. You can pick and choose what dishes you like.

The following recipe comes from one of my favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman aka Ree Drummond. You can find the step-by-step instructions on her website HERE. I have also pasted them below. I used my (signed!) cookbook, which I highly recommend you acquire immediately. So many great recipes!

When I was growing up, enchiladas meant sticking frozen bean and cheese burritos in the oven, topped with red enchilada sauce. That's about it. Sorry Mom, but these tasty things put the frozen stuff to shame. Shame, I tell you!

  • 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Enchilada Or Red Sauce
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
  • _____
  • 1-½ pound Ground Beef
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 2 cans (4 Ounce) Diced Green Chilies
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • _____
  • 10 whole (to 14) Corn Tortillas
  • ½ cups Canola Oil
  • _____
  • 3 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • ½ cups Chopped Black Olives
  • 1 cup Chopped Green Onions
  • ½ cups Chopped Cilantro
Preparation Instructions

Step #1 – The Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Step #2 – The Meat
Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Step #3 – Tortillas
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Step #4 – Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour ½ cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Enchilada Trick

Hey there readers!

I just wanted to pass along an easy, and super-yummy, trick for enchiladas.

In a crock pot, place some chicken, corn, beans, tomatoes, one pkg taco seasoning, etc. You can add whatever else you want (like green or red peppers, green onions, etc). I like to load my enchiladas with veggies; it's a "mom challenge" I give myself.

Cook until the chicken is cooked, and then shred the chicken before filling your enchiladas and placing them in the pan.

Now here comes the trick: open a can of green enchilada sauce and pour it into the crock pot. Stir it around to mix it with the juices from the filling that has just cooked. Now pour that over the top of your enchiladas before baking them.

Seriously, you will never taste better home-made enchiladas.

(not my photo...)