I am dedicating this post to the memory of my beautiful mother-in-law. She taught me, more than anybody that food is all about family. No matter whom you are, a stranger off the street, you share dinner, and you are family. There was always enough food for everybody, and there was always enough for everybody to have seconds. She poured all her love into every glass of chocolate milk. She baked all her compassion into every birthday cake. She would give everything to you and watch you enjoy it all, smiling while you were covered in barbeque sauce.
My children always told their Grandma that she could have her own restaurant. They told her she didn’t have to buy a building, she could just open her kitchen door and in their imagination they would put a sign on her roof, for all to see. Grandma’s kitchen would be famous. Grandma was cooking, everyone would come. I told her one time that I blamed her for my weight problem. I thought I grew up eating good food. I didn’t know what good food was until she came into my life.
Mom didn’t have any recipes. She never wrote anything down. I asked her over and over again to write things down so I could make them at home. I am glad she didn’t. Her dishes were legendary, mine would never compare. We all have our favorite dishes of Mom’s. Everyone agrees the number one dish is beef stew and dumplings. My littlest favorite is her chocolate milk. We all make chocolate milk, but no one could make it the way she did. My next favorite, after the beef stew and dumplings, was her ribs. I don’t know how she did it, but they were the absolute best. Homemade noodles, Swedish meatballs, sauerkraut, boiled dinner, corned beef, spaghetti pie, seven layer salad, dump cake, cabbage rolls, chili, bean soup, baked beans, the list could go on forever.
Even though she didn’t write anything down, I was able to swindle on of her few cookbooks from her. I don’t think she ever made anything from it, but it always reminds me of her. I made my first Thanksgiving turkey out of it; well I used 80% of the recipe. I wasn’t brave enough to make the gravy, so she took over.
She has been gone one year now. Our tables aren’t filled with her wonderful dishes anymore. We can taste her flavors in our memories and we talk about them often at the dinner table. When we are outside and we smell something delicious in the air my youngest son always says, “Grandma must be making dinner for everyone in Heaven, because it sure smells good.” They don’t know how lucky they are. I miss you Mom.
Here is a recipe from the cookbook she gave me. “The Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook”
Easy Chocolate Truffles
1 ½ packages (12 ounces) semi- sweet chocolate
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla
Ground nuts, unsweetened cocoa powder, and toasted coconut, crush toffee bits
Melt the chocolate in a large microwavable bowl in 45 second intervals until the chocolate is melted, stirring after each interval. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Add melted chocolate and vanilla, mix well. Refrigerate about 1 hour. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll in nuts, cocoa, or coconut. Store in the refrigerator.
Variation: To flavor the truffles with liqueurs, omit vanilla. Divide truffle mixture into thirds. Add 1 tablespoon liqueur (almond, coffee or orange) to each third mixture; mix well.