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Fort Bend County, At Large
By Cheryl Skinner

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.

Holiday penny pinching

Even though locally the economy seems to be holding steady in comparison to elsewhere in the nation, there are still signs that we are being impacted.

So, many of you are pinching pennies and cutting down on spending this holiday season.

But don’t let the thought of a homemade Christmas present instead of the latest technological gadget get you down.

I have an idea for one gift that is sure to please adult children, who probably have everything in the world anyhow.

A few years back, one of those “light bulbs” went off as I was making my Christmas list and checking it twice.

As I prepared a list of the items I would need to do the traditional Christmas dinner and the dozen or so treats I make each year, I thought of how I wished my “Nana” was still alive to share recipes with me.

She was the cornerstone of our family and most of the traditions and menus I consider a part of Christmas came from her.

Yet, when I began to establish traditions I didn’t have a clue as to how she actually made certain things—like that special Christmas stuffing. It took me about five years to duplicate her dressing and, believe me, I rank that as an accomplishment that far exceeds any accolades or awards I have garnered.

So, I decided to make a family cookbook but I wanted to make it personal and fun.

First of all I made a list of the various recipes that were favorites throughout the year and then I reminisced about each one.

There was the “secret recipe” that my husband touted to get the kids to eat a quick chicken-a-la-king dish. He dubbed it “chicken al la poodily do” and for some reason the children would giggle in anticipation of dad’s secret recipe.

In actuality, his special recipe was one of those now obsolete boil in the bags. But what wonderful memories. So, I included the chicken al la poodily do in the book.

With each recipe, I would put a photo and throughout the book, I included funny events, special sayings or where the recipe originated.

Every day when I finished work, I would devote an hour to a recipe, finding a photo or recalling a special family event.

Just before Christmas day that year, I printed out sets of the book, put each page in a laminated page and bound the whole thing with simple staples.

The gift that was meant to be a stocking stuffer turned out to be the hit of the day. Our two daughters squealed with delight as they opened the package.

Our son, who was a teenager at the time, delighted in the stories his sisters were telling as they went through each page.

In fact, for the first time I can ever remember, when the table was laden with food I had to coerce them to put down the recipe book and come eat.

They quickly resumed the browsing after dinner and each page brought tears, howls of laughter and more than a few exclamations of shock—especially when they saw the real recipe for that chicken a la poodily do.

The rest of the family found out about how to fix a “perfect” Christmas turkey as our oldest daughter screamed with laughter over how to cook that perfect turkey.

Here’s what was said: You cook the turkey to perfection, transfer it to the serving platter, plop it on the floor, look around to make sure no one saw the horrific event, pick it up, dust it off, put it on the platter and serve.

The turkey fiasco had actually happened about two years prior and only our oldest daughter, who was helping me in the kitchen, witnessed it. We had a hard time keeping our laughter at bay that year as everyone went on and on about how great the turkey was.

When the cat came out of the bag, via the family cookbook, she and I again had waves of hysterical laughter while everyone else groaned.

I gave them the recipe book about six years ago and they say they still use it on a daily basis. Not only does it give good recipes, they say it still brings back cherished memories.

So, think of giving a gift of love that will live on for generations to come. It doesn’t need batteries or programming and the cost in dollars are minimal.

And, remember when you do go out shopping, to stay in Fort Bend and buy locally.

One more thing ... the local charitable organizations report an increasing need for services due to the economic climate. Those who once gave freely are not giving as often or as much so the ability to serve is being hampered.

Think of giving to one or more of these groups throughout the holidays.


Contact skinnerc1@tconline.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:  November 26, 2008