Join me in the Kitchen

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Well dear readers, how are you faring this week? We are seeing a little more sunshine, and a bit warmer temperatures…that alone should put a smile on your face (behind your mask, that is!). I don’t know about you, but I am more than ready to move forward with the month of May. Although, I must say, April did end on a very high note for our family as my husband and I welcomed our first grandchild. Blake Rose McGraw made her debut early in the morning of April 23rd! Our son and his wife are the proud parents of a beautiful, 8 pound, and 2 ounce baby girl. All I can say is I am in love!! What a blessing she is to our lives!

I am already looking forward to watching this precious little being grow and do all of the magical things children bring to our families. I can’t wait to see her eyes light up when she sees loved ones. I can’t wait to hear her utter the words “I love you Gramma” and I really can’t wait to get her in the kitchen to bake cookies! Hopefully soon, I will be able to hold her for the first time, as staying 6 feet away is literally killing me!

Mother’s Day is this week, and I am so excited that Blake arrived in time to allow Amanda to celebrate her first Mother’s Day this year. I just wish we were able to celebrate together. Our annual Mother’s Day will undoubtedly include Facetime chats rather than tableside fun, but we are so fortunate to have technology to keep us virtually together.

When we are able to enjoy them, our family get togethers are never fancy events, but are always laughter filled and include food. Comfort food gets its name from just those times, when good food, good company and happy memories are joined. In planning our Mother’s Day meals, I like to include things that will be not just nourishing to our bodies, but our souls as well, so I turn to my favorite, old, beaten up cookbook to find a few family favorites to prepare.

For many of the things I cook, my recipes have been handed down from previous generations. If your cookbook looks anything like mine, it is dirty and dog-eared, taped together and will easily fall open to a favorite recipe that has been used over and over. Most of my cookbooks and recipes have notes written in the margins…additions or deletions that I have found I prefer, and notes about cooking temperature or times. Many of my recipes came from my Mom and Nana, and their notes were there first, with mine added in as I go. I could rewrite the recipe, but I know I would miss something…not just an ingredient or measurement, but the recognizable curve of a loved one’s handwriting as well. Handwritten recipes are like a love letter and a hug to future generations…comfort food in which you can taste the love that it was made with, and remember the hands that made it.

While this Mother’s Day will be different from most, I do hope you will be able to create new memories and look forward to the days when we can laugh and hug one another once again, and we can come together enjoy good food, great company and make wonderful memories! Happy Mother’s Day, to one and all!

Sausage and Cheese Strata

(Perfect for Mother’s Day because you can prep it the night before, and then just pop it in the oven the morning!)

1 loaf day old Italian bread, cubed

1 ½ lb. breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 C sliced mushrooms, sautéed
½ C onions, finely chopped, and sautéed
1 ½ C grated Cheddar or Swiss cheese

4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 C milk
¼ t pepper
Salt to taste

Place half of the bread cubes on a greased 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle with the sausage, mushrooms, onions and cheese and top with remaining bread cubes.

Combine milk, eggs, salt and pepper and pour over ingredients in pan.
Cover and chill overnight.

Bake at 400* for about 1hour, until golden and puffy, and knife inserted in center comes out clean.

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.