Cooking Up a Memory

DECEMBER 02, 2011
My Aunt Maureen recently passed away after a tough fight with multiple myeloma. What better way to start off my blog than by honoring my Aunt and telling you how she inspired me to cook and to enjoy life.

My Aunt was the "sticky note" in the family who reminded us to get together and enjoy family. She lived far away, but when she came to town we were all a family and there was a party. She had a positive presence and always kept her younger siblings in check with both comforting words and a strong influence.

When I was younger, I visited my Aunt and my Uncle Larry in Colorado. I remember the whole week revolved around food. At the time, I remember feeling disappointed. Coming from the flat lands, I had dreamed I would return home an Olympic skier or at least a mountain climber after my visit. Instead, we spent time in the kitchen and made soups, pies, casseroles and cookies--all from scratch. My Aunt wrote down and shared recipes with me. It made me feel special and made me appreciate family and tradition. I may not have learned any outdoor skills that week, but I did come back with recipes I now share with the people I love, both family and friends.

Death is a time that forces you to reflect and remember. In health care, we deal with death on a daily basis. Yet, when death is personal, it is different. Whether it is a loved one or just someone you passed by on the street, it is never easy to watch or hear about someone passing. But so many people have lived on through recipes and sometimes it is the delicious taste of a casserole or pie that brings a tear to your eye. Tears of joy and tears of pain.

Enjoy this dish. It was always one of my simple favorites and my tribute to my Aunt Maureen. I miss you already.



Maureen's Cheese Soup with Broccoli

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (low sodium may be used)
1 small onion, diced finely
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat flour may be used)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (skim may be used)
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, preferably sharp or extra sharp (may use low-fat)
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese (may use low-fat)
3 cups chopped, lightly steamed broccoli, crumbled

Directions:
Cook the broccoli in a glass bowl covered in plastic wrap in the microwave for 3-4 minutes while you prepare the rest of the soup. The broccoli comes out perfectly steamed.
Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft. Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes.
In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour, salt and pepper. Cook together, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes. Add warmed chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended.
Add cheeses and stir until completely melted. Stir in cooked broccoli. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Makes 4 servings.

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