cooking with Nana

Since the Tucson schools returned to “in school learning” (like that’s a new thing!), Max, Alex and Ginny went thru part of June at Khalsa Montessori. Then there were little trips here and there (socially distant and masked, of course), and in a blink of an eye, school started up again and time had run out for any Camp Nana 2021.

Recently, Jeffry and Kerri had decided to remove the kids from karate for a bit until this Delta virus had calmed down. Let’s face it – a whole new world is out there now and schedules are rearranged and kids and adults alike mask up when needed. Now we drive up and hit a few buttons on the phone and Safeway brings the groceries to your car and Lowe’s cheerfully loads the planting supplies in the trunk. Amazon and FedEx and USPS and UPS trucks are a common sight several times a day and the blue recycle bin fills up much faster with broken down boxes and packing paper. And what seemed like such unusual ways of life, are really not so unusual anymore.

AUGUST 18, 2021: On Wednesdays, I pick up all three Khalsa kids for early dismissal. Since karate is on hold for now, the kids stay with me and plan and prepare dinner (with Nana supervision, of course) and we sit down at the table, properly set and enjoy some fun chatter while we compliment each chef for their contribution. I get to hear about school and friends and teachers and just the life of a school kid, in general. It is a genuine treat for me to experience the favorite part of the day stories through their eyes. They help with clean up and relax with a little tv time while I finish. It has only been a two week schedule thus far. And I am amazed how big of a smile they have left on my heart. I know they miss karate. But this Nana is grateful for the bit of extra time they spend just cooking with Nana.

Week 1: Ginny was in charge of salad and she gave me instructions on just what she needed: apples, carrots, cucumbers, oh, and lettuce! Max was in charge of the main course and and had picked scalloped potatoes and ham with croissants. I think he just likes saying “croissants” with his accent français. Not to mention, he is quite excited about getting to use a sharp knife and punctuates that feeling with a Jack Nicholson wide eyed scary look and gleefully watches Nana’s reaction. Alex chose to make sugar cookies for dessert, because as they stated with exaggerated arm gestures “who doesn’t like a sugar cookie?!?” Indeed, Alex. Indeed.

I got to work – one on one – and things were right on schedule, when at exactly 3 p.m., Max drops what he is doing and announces matter of fact – at 3p.m. daily, they all get a snack. Without me saying a word, the utensils are put down and the refrigerator door opens and small hands are everywhere scurrying around for jello snack cups with fruit, or snack cups of peach chunks, etc. They are all three comfortable here and know where the snacks are in the pantry and in the refrigerator. The noise subsides and gives way to little slurping sounds and sighs of relief after the snack has settled into their school kid sized bellies.

A very successful week 1 with leftovers going to both houses and the plate of frosted sugar cookies, ala Alex.

AUGUST 25, 2021 – Week 2: Ginny took charge of the main course of Lil Smokies wrapped and baked in crescent rolls cut into thirds. Now, Ginny is not one for a lot of manual labor. Just not her thing. I was cutting the crescent rolls into mini size triangles and handing them off to Ginny, who rolled perfect little pigs in a blanket. We had about 2 dozen to make, when, after the third one, Ginny announces that she is tired and is going to need some help. Nana is going to help you out. No worries. Apparently she had not made herself clear. “no, Nana. Someone else needs to finish these!” I giggled inside and convinced her to “take one for the team”, and she did. But what a sense of relief for her when we finished and she was cheerfully off to wash her hands and settle in with a bit of cartoons. Finally! Some relaxation for the kids!!

Next up – Alex. They had decided on a side dish of baked beans because “baked beans go perfectly with Lil Smokies in a blanket!” Alex has a habit of explaining. It tends to make the stories a little longer, but I rather enjoy that. Alex’s father was an explainer and it sort of gives me some weird pleasure watching his eyes roll back in his head well into the seventh minute of the why and how and when of the story explanation. You’ve heard the old phrase of a loving mother to her son I can’t wait until you are raising a child just like YOU. Truer words were never spoken. Back to the side dish! The beans go into the mixing bowl. Then some brown sugar. Next some cooked bacon cut into mini pieces and a dollop of ketchup. After each and every ingredient and stir, I am asked, Can I taste a little?, Yeah, sure. Why not?

Alex made good use of the half pieces not being used in the side dish. Of course, some was offered to Max and Ginny as well.

Max was on desserts and he had chosen to make a fruit tart – which I have never made prior. So, we just sort of made it up! We used pie crust, strawberries, pineapple chunks, organic peach jam and cool whip. I found 6 smallish fancy tart pans with scalloped edges and removable bottoms – perfect for our tart project.

Max was very pleased with how the final product turned out!

First, Max used a bowl just a little larger than the tart pans as a guide, and cut out 6 perfect circles of crust. After greasing the tart pans, Max placed a crust inside each pan and made decorative edges. I showed him how to poke holes in the crust before baking to prevent big bubbles; and in the oven they went. After cooling the lightly browned crusts, we mixed the peach jam with cool whip (really tasted good, if anyone is asking) and spread it on the tart as a base. The tart crusts were placed on a salad plate. Max added just the right amount of strawberries and pineapple chunks to each tart and topped that with a small dollop of the cool whip / jam mixture. They were the hit of the night and there was even one to take home to present to the parents, and of course, Nolan.

I would say, this was a most successful dinner.

More cooking adventures are scheduled for Wednesday, September 8th, Cannot wait!