Her secret ingredient is love

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By Sandy BondCook Big

(If you want to be our Cook of the Week or know a good candidate, please contact Katie at 845-3646 or email at sandybond@hotmail.com.)

Always following directions for a recipe to a T, at least for the first time, Cindi Miller subsequently tweaks the recipe just a little. But sometimes she changes it to the point that it changes the entire recipe.
“What you may not know about me is that, except for baking cakes, cookies, and desserts and maybe making some adjustments in them, I’m pretty much a dump cook,” Cindi said.
A newly published author, the impetus and inspiration for her first cookbook were her five children. Making nutritious and delicious meals for Rob, Rick, Chad, Bobbi Jo and Bill without breaking the bank has always been a necessity.
“When you have five children, you don’t go out to eat a lot,” she said.
Born in Andover, Cindi grew up in the Aberdeen area. She has a degree in accounting and has been employed in nearly every segment of the food service industry her entire life.  She was employed by Shorty’s One Stop in Selby, for both the Subway restaurant and later The Yellow Sub when it was owned by Tim Ricther, and Ma and Pa’s Restaurant in Ipswich. Living in Hecla, a tiny town of about 400, she is a marketing representative for U.S. Foods at their Grand Forks office. Cindi’s route encompasses at least 800 miles per week, which includes northeast South Dakota, southern and western North Dakota. How she managed to write a cookbook with a busy career is a testament to her ingenuity and the ability to multitask.
Phoning home for a coleslaw recipe, one of the boys was told, “put this much milk in the medium size bowl and a spoonful of sugar.”
“Stop, Mom; you know here in college,” he said, “I don’t have that bowl or that spoon.”
When they were all younger they always wanted store bought bread, she said; now they are older they want homemade bread.
Once when her five-year-old was baking a cake with male adult supervision and the recipe called for one-third cup oil, his comment was, “You mean 10W40?”
Sometimes her now-adult children ask their significant other, “Did you follow mom’s recipe? It sure doesn’t taste the same,” Cindi said.
“I’m thinking that could have been the wrong thing to say,” she said.
Last Christmas her grandchildren were helping their grandma cook.
One grandson said, “ I know the egg bake has two dozen eggs, but what is the rest?”
“It’s two glugs of milk and two handfuls of shredded cheese,” Cindi said.
While mashing potatoes, the granddaughter asked how much milk and butter and two good long pours of cream and a stick of butter was.
“They both stopped, looked at me and asked, “Did you write in the cookbook like that, Grandma?” she said. “I did not. I should have put into print both versions. I’m sure they were secretly meeting behind my back saying, “What if she goes to her grave with all those recipes in her head. What are we going to do?’”
That’s how the first cookbook came about, she said. She is presently working on her second. The working title is tentatively, “Now I Know How I Can Cook Like Your Mom, But What If I Don’t Have The Gift?”
She loves to visit the children and grandchildren at every opportunity.
Rob and his wife Suzanne live in Surprise, Ariz.  Son Rick lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and has two children. Chad and his wife Vicki and their two children live in Egan, Minn., Bill and his wife Jodie (Permian) and their three children live in Mitchell.  Bobbie Jo and her husband Jeremy live in Lakeville, Minn.
When the children were young, there was a can sitting by the stove marked, “Secret Ingredient.” They never opened that can; now they now the secret ingredient that made all of mom’s cooking taste so good was a generous helping of love. That is the secret ingredient they will pass on to their children as well.
Those of us who need to follow the recipes to a T, can e-mail Cindi at moms_cookbook@yahoo.com.

CINDI MILLER’S RECIPES

Witch’s Brew
1 cup owl eyes (salted peanuts)
1 cup cat eyes (peanut M & M’s)
1 cup chicken toenails (candy corn)
1 cup earthworms (gummy worms)
1 cup ants (raisins)
1 cup bat bones (stick pretzels)
1 cup snake eyes (chocolate covered peanuts)
1 cup lizard gizzards (shoestring potatoes)
1 cup cat claws (sunflower seeds)
1 cup batwings (corn chips)
1 cup cobwebs (Crispix cereal)
Mix all together. Yield: 2 ½ qts.

Knoephla Soup
8 cups potatoes (peeled and diced)
10 cups hot water
2 tsp. salt
Homemade egg noodles
1/3 cup chicken base
4 cups heavy cream
Put potatoes in large kettle. Add water and salt and cook until tender but not mushy. Add cooked homemade noodles and chicken base and cream.

Homemade Egg Noodles
3 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Mix in large bowl to form a soft dough ball. Place on lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Roll out by hand and cut into strips, or use and follow directions on noodle maker machine. Boil in salted water, drain and use in soups, etc. If you do not want to use immediately, you can dry or freeze as they freeze or dry well.

Zippy Potato Soup
3/4 lb. bacon (diced)
1/4 cup onion (chopped)
5 cups potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 cup carrots (shredded)
2 Tbsp. margarine
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
5 cups water
2 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
In a large skillet, cook bacon and onion. Drain and set aside. In a 5 qt. kettle cook potatoes and carrots in the water for 20 minutes or until tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients and the bacon and onion mixture. Cook for 20 minutes until heated through. Yield: 3 1/2 qts.

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