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chixsoup

Welcome to 2017! January’s frosty nights had me hankering for a comforting bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup. Ordinarily I wouldn’t think twice about making a simple soup out of broth, noodles, and a few vegetables.

But now that I’m a stepmom to two fairly picky eaters, presenting a homemade meal and having it met with approval or faces that don’t look like I’m asking everyone to eat fried worms has become an achievement on par with completing a triathlon from my single days.

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Pumpkin ice cream pie

pumpkinpie

Growing up in New Hampshire far from relatives in the Midwest, we would occasionally join church friends at their home in Woodstock, Vermont, for Thanksgiving.

Safely tucked in my childhood memories is the image of their classic, white colonial house with black shutters and a thin blanket of snow covering the lawn. After crunching up the gravel driveway we entered the house through the back door that led straight into the kitchen. Inside the room was warmed by a wood burning stove and a braided rag-rug on the polished floor. A copper lantern chandelier hung over the oval kitchen table. It was a quintessential New England scene.

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choccake1

Talk of a Chicago Cubs victory party started way before the Cubs actually made it to the World Series this fall. (This is what happens when you marry a fourth-generation Chicago Cubs fan.) And at this party, it was promised that Italian beef sandwiches would be ordered from Chicago’s iconic Portillo’s restaurant.

I said I’d take care of the chocolate cake.

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Basic banana bread

bread1

A simple banana bread recipe is a quick way to make a new kitchen smell like home.

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FullSizeRender

I’m in the process of having my kitchen renovated, which means I’ve been limited to my electric tea kettle and my microwave to make something hot to eat or drink when at home.

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Chicken soup for Syria

ChickenSoup

Chicken soup from ‘Soup for Syria’ by Barbara Abdeni Massaad/Photo courtesy of Interlink Publishing

“Soup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate our Shared Humanity,” by Barbara Abdeni Massaad, is a cookbook with a humanitarian purpose: 100 percent of the profits goes to support Syrian refugees. Visit soupforsyria.com to see how you, too, can make a difference.

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hardtack and johnny cake

On April 9, 1865, the Civil War officially came to an end  in Appomattox, Va., when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War – a wrenching, bloody, costly conflict that took almost as many American lives as the total of all other US wars combined. The effects of this war still lurk in America’s psyche and social fabric.

But whether one wore a Blue or Gray uniform in the 1860s, there was a commonality that emphasized the humanity on either side of the line: Soldiers had to eat. I know this because I once lived through a battle. I still remember the chicken stew I ate that day in 1977 from a wooden salad bowl, with a wooden spoon, wearing a calico dress.

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