Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love is in the Air, and so is Snow!

The difficulty this year began with has not appeared to ease in any way, but there are some pleasant distractions from our daily grind now and then. Of course, Valentines Day is always a special holiday in our home. This holiday, we also had Brittany to share this special day with.

I made "Chipped Beef" for dinner tonight. This is a simple dish made from dried beef, smothered in white gravy. I served it over mashed red potatoes and green peas. Two out of three girls loved it and Fred was so happy to have such a rich meal!

But there is significance in this meal - this is one of the first meals I made for my husband after we were married 20 years ago. Early in our marriage, I had few cooking skills, although I love to eat! Fred is a meat enthusiast, and usually planed each meal for me which consisted of grilled meat, garlic bread, baked potato or noodles from a bagged mix, and a salad.

My cooking experience began with a desire to vary our choices. I began to make different salads - Cesar, Cobb, and Cabbage. When I ran out of salad ideas, I knew it was time to do some research. Living in a small town and having limited resources (no Internet at that time!), I picked recipes out of magazines or asked friends for their recipes.

And of course, there was Mother. When I was overcome with homesickness for her wonderful food, I would call her for recipes. Memories of her standing in the kitchen as I sat there doing homework or just enjoying the pleasant atmosphere brought her gentle instruction to recollection: "this is how you fold an egg, this is called sauteing, keep stirring so the bottom of this dish does not burn." I even remember the first time I called her for the recipe for "Chipped Beef." She carefully explained how to mix the milk with flour and butter to create a thick rue, then add more milk to create a gravy.

Fred was so happy when I started cooking in full force. He still controls much of our dinner menus, but shows such appreciation for the variety my cooking has introduced to his palate. In fact, when visiting my mother after we were married a few months, he thanked her for being such a good teacher to me!

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of us on Valentines Day. But I do have some images from the historical blizzard that recently took Chicago by storm, but not surprise. We had meals planned out for a few days - knowing the streets would be terrible for driving. Fred and Sarah had one day off of work, and Sarah even made us all dinner! Below is a few snap shots from that night and the day after - look closely, you will even see some shots of Brittany!

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