February 12, 2016

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Big upcoming events mean big-time food

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Todays column is much like those potluck meals I so enjoy from information to help you prepare for the upcoming months, inquiries from readers I have received recently, to a memory of a dear Frankfort cook who became an inspiration to me.

The next six weeks are packed with cooking opportunities for both kitchen veterans and novices. The calendar is filled with dates that will be marked with celebrations and entertaining.

For those of you looking for dates for these upcoming events, weve done the work for you and are providing a calendar in todays column that hopefully will be a helpful guide for your planning.

First up is Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, where there will be enough cheese, chips, salsa, pizza and chili consumed to fill the Dome in New Orleans. Most game watchers stick with what they enjoy eating through the marathon of all things, the Super Bowl.

Here are two simple tricks to add to your menu that will allow your guests to have ready-made food when they dash to the kitchen between plays.

Mini-tacos

One package of flat soft shell tacos

Muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray

On a cutting board with a biscuit cutter, cut enough circles to fill your muffin tin

Place cut-out taco shells in the tins forming them to fit the holes

Spray again with cooking spray

Bake at 350 degrees until the shells crisp up about 10 to 13 minutes

Let cool completely and remove shells from tin

Now use the shells to fill with your favorite ingredients

You can make mini-tacos by placing a teaspoon of cooked ground taco meat, finely diced onion, salsa and top with cheese.

If you like, run them under the broiler for just a minute.

The shells can be filled with anything and can even be seasoned before you bake them with chili powder, seasoned salt or a touch of cayenne.

Think of a tablespoon of chunky homemade guacamole with a touch of salsa and sour cream.

Baked Chili Dogs

The nice thing about this recipe is that each dog comes in its own container and is already put together for your guests.

Aluminum foil

Hot dog buns

Good tasty beef or seasoned hot dogs

Chili sauce

Shredded cheese

Tear sheets of foil large enough to wrap one hot dog and its contents.

Place dog inside bun and put on the aluminum foil. Add chili and cheese. Wrap the foil into a packet around its contents.

Place the packets on a baking sheet and put in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

You can serve right off the cookie sheet or even let the dogs sit in the warm oven until your guests are ready.

Reader Inquiry

Billie Hollar, a childhood friend from Bellepoint, often corresponds with me and has even brought me a jar of her grandmother Warfields green tomato ketchup, which she cans in the summer.

She is looking for a recipe. If you can help, let me know.

I need some help with a recipe for the sauce all the Bellepoint ladies made for their bread pudding. I found one for the bread portion.

I really would like to make this and be reminded of those days growing up.

Billie, hopefully someone reading this will be able to help. My mother made a lot of things, but bread pudding was not one of her go-to recipes.

If you have questions, email me at kayharrod@fewpb.net and Ill try to help.

In Memory of Mildred

I truly appreciate the mothers of our Baby Boomer generation. The lessons they taught us inspire me the importance of family, the unifying ingredient of a meal at the kitchen table and their love of cooking.

So many of these mothers are leaving us, just as our dads all part of what Tom Brokaw calls the Greatest Generation.

Mildred Stewart was one of those mothers.

Mildred, 96, passed away last week. I did a feature on her in December 2010, because she was truly representative of those mothers whose kitchens at Christmas were a literal Candyland.

I didnt gain her culinary skills until years later. She loved to cook, talk food and share recipes with those she worked with and her family, especially her sister and nieces.

Two years ago she even wanted to share recipes with me and made sure her son Bob had her recipes available for me to see and borrow for my column.

But it is the story of her serving as a room mother when her boys were in grades one through eight at Second Street School that I will never forget.

Remember room mothers? There was normally one appointed mother of a student in a teachers classroom. This mother was charged with ensuring the classroom had treats for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentines Day and any other holiday that came during the school year.

Those were the days when schools celebrated holidays and children could have candy, cookies, cakes and cupcakes. If there were allergies they didnt know about them and diabetes was not prevalent among children.

The room mothers job was to contact other mothers and make arrangements for goodies to be delivered to the school and served to the children at the time of the party. Nothing from a mix; there were no rolls of cookie dough to be found in grocery stores. Bought candy such as those Valentine Hearts with Kiss Me were acceptable.

For as long as it took for her to get Billy, Butch and Bob through Second Street School, Mildred was a room mother for them.

Although she held an important job with the department of insurance as its chief license clerk, no job was more important than her children or her responsibilities to them.

Christmas and candy

Her story about Christmas and her candy, cookie and cake making held me in rapt attention.

Mildred and her sister spent at least one weekend around the clock in early December pouring syrup onto a large slab of cold marble and pulling hot taffy to make cream candy.

That huge marble slab was still in her kitchen behind her freezer while I was interviewing her.

I think one year we stayed up all night making candy, she told me then.

Son Bob remembers carrying it outside for her so it could chill.

But it wasnt only pulled candy; she made fudge, bourbon balls, creamy divinity and a host of other candies by the pounds to go into tins to be delivered around Frankfort on Christmas Eve.

Part of that work went into the Christmas treats for the classrooms.

She sent her husband Bill into the woods above her Ewing Street home to find cedar trees, less than five feet. He then returned home and made wooden stands to hold the trees upright.

From there Mildred took over, filling special bags she purchased from the candy counter at Frankfort Dime store.

We didnt have plastic candy bags then no Ziploc bags or any other type for that matter, she said.

Each bag was lovingly tied on the tree with a colored ribbon one for each child in the room and one for the teacher.

Every teacher wanted one of the Stewart boys to be in their room. She had a reputation at Second Street, Bob said.

Once the tree was ready, Mildred took it to the schoolroom to serve as a centerpiece for the party and for each child to have a bag of treats to take home.

Mildred represented so many of our mothers of the 50s and 60s. Most didnt work, but many like Mildred did and even doing so seemed to find as much time as their non-working counter parts to be involved in the lives of their children.

Even in poor health two years ago, Mildred was happy to see me, just as she was for all of the kids friends who came to her house years ago. She was happy to talk food, recipes and her beloved Wildcats. In fact, that day she was already positioned in her recliner to watch the Cats play basketball.

I will never look at a cedar tree or think of homemade candy at Christmas that I dont fondly remember Mildred and the lessons she taught me.