Cousins, part 1

Sunday, September 21, 2014
Ruth Anne, me, Carol and Gwen
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
 - Mother Teresa

I’ve been meaning to go through my mom’s slides for a long time. It’s always been easy to look at the pictures in her albums, but she also has several thousand photos in slide format that no one ever looks at, because it’s a bit of work to get out the slide projector.

When I visited her this summer, we finally had the opportunity to sit down and spend time going through the slides. We made it through about two dozen of her well-organized carousels, most of which held 140 images. (Yes indeed, that's over 3000 slides.) In some ways, I was reliving my childhood – the pictures span about thirty years, and cover family reunions, trips, birthdays, school concerts, and graduations, to name just a few events. 

I came back with 400 slides that I wanted to put on a disk for easier access. While I promise I won’t share all of them, I can’t resist sharing a few.

They say your cousins are your first friends, and it is true for me. My sister and I were fortunate to have wonderful cousins on both sides of our family, and they were all a big part of our childhood. Today I’m going to share a few photos of the cousins on my dad’s side.

Beauties in bathing caps!
With my dad, at the campground
When we were growing up, my dad’s sister Lois (Woolner) and her family lived on a farm about 20 minutes away from us. She had three daughters, Carol (two years older than me), Ruth Anne (a year older), and Judy (eight years younger). Because we lived close to each other, by rural standards, we all went to the same schools, and Ruth Anne and I had a few classes together in high school.

And then there were five! Baby Judy is the newest cousin.
We're pictured here with our Baker grandparents.
I have many wonderful memories of time spent with the Woolner girls. When we were young, my grandparents lived on our farm, and they often hosted the holiday meals. I remember watching through our living room window with excitement, waiting to see the Woolners’ car pull in the lane so we could run and meet them. Our family had a tent trailer; sometimes we rented a spot in a local campground and took Carol and Ruth Anne out for an overnight stay full of swimming, walks, and playing in the campground.

Judy was the first baby I remember playing with. She was unbelievably darling, and all of us wanted to hold her at the same time! Ruth Anne was the first of the cousins to get married, and Carol was the first to have a baby, and they both stand out as being momentous family events. Although we live further away now, we always treasure the time we spend together.

And yes, there’s a recipe this week too. This chicken stir-fry was quick to make and a pleasure to serve. I made it one night after I got back from my mom’s place and was organizing the slides to be converted. It was delicious enough to bring my mind out of the past.

Stir-Fried Chicken with Leeks, Oyster Mushrooms, and Peanuts
(from Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark)

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp Asian sesame oil
2 tsp brown sugar
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken meat (either breast or thigh) cut crosswise into 1/2” strips
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh gingerroot
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 Tbsp canola oil or peanut oil
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, sliced 1/2” thick
1 zucchini, thinly sliced and cut into half moons
2 to 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
pinch kosher salt
3 Tbsp finely chopped peanuts, for serving
Steamed rice, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and brown sugar. In a large bowl, combine the chicken with half the marinade (reserve the other half for stir-frying) and half the chopped ginger and garlic. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours (longer than that and the chicken will get mushy).

Heat a large 12-inch or so skillet over the highest heat until the pan is very hot. Add 1 Tbsp canola or peanut oil, and tilt the skillet so the bottom is evenly coated. Lift the chicken from the marinade (shaking off any excess liquid) and add to the hot skillet. Cook stirring constantly and quickly, until the chicken is just cooked through, about 2 minutes for breasts and 3 to 4 minutes for thigh meat. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add the mushrooms and zucchini, and cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are browned and soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add leeks and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.  Stir in the reserved marinade. Push the vegetables to the border of the pan, leaving an open space in the middle. Add the remaining chopped ginger and garlic to the open space. Stir until tender and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the chicken to the pan and quickly toss it with the ginger, garlic, and vegetables. Taste and add a pinch of salt, if you like.

Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the peanuts. Mound the stir-fry over steamed rice and serve.


Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Such a wise quote from Mother Teresa! And such terrific old photos. Bill's dad has a ton of slides and we always had fun looking through them and hearing the old stories.
We're sitting at O'Hare waiting to head home....your stir fry would be a terrific meal for tomorrow night!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

Mother Teresa was so eloquent, I definitely agree! Your old stories and photos are so lovely :D
And delicious recipe, I never say no to stir fry!

Choc Chip Uru

Marcela said...

I love this quote, she was so smart! The photos are terrific! I love old photos like these.
and... your chicken looks so delicious... I love it!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Love, love that quote. I have lots of happy memories with my cousins too. We've stayed very close and some have stepped in like a sister to me and aunt to Anna Li when my only sister died.

Angie's Recipes said...

I recognized you even before I had read the subtitle. You have that amazing signature smile. Thank you for sharing all those precious photos.
The chicken stirfry look very tasty, Beth.

Barbara said...

Such wonderful memories, Beth, and it's fun to relive them with the slides. My mother had one of those 3D cameras and I have boxes of slides. I transferred most of them to my computer years ago; huge job.
We were practically raised with cousins too...every holiday, every trip, we spent with our first cousins. My kids too, spent time with their cousins.

Kathy said...

Loved reading about all your childhood memories, Beth! I also love the quote from Mother Teresa. I truly enjoyed your wonderful family photos!
And your chicken dish looks delicious! Enjoy your week!

Valerie Gamine said...

Love the photos!! The clothes...the hair!! :D How wonderful to have such close cousins (when I was little I had a crush on my much older second cousin, luckily that blew over!).

Thanks for sharing the memories & scrumptious recipe. xo

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

How wonderful that you have access to all those pictures and slides! It sounds like it's quite an undertaking, but so worth it. And what charming pictures! I grew up with only a handful of cousins, and none that were close in age or location to me. In contrast, my daughter now has 4 cousins, all withing 5 years of age of her, and all within a 15-minute drive of our home! I'm looking forward to seeing all the cousins grow up together - hoping they'll be lifetime friends!

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

Sounds like a wonderful childhood, so nice that your mom kept all the slides. I have not cooked this recipe in her cookbook, not sure why, it looks absolutely delicious, I love leeks.

Monica said...

Yes, cousins are a great thing and very helpful in the early years. : ) Great pictures to go with your nice memories. And that bonus stir-fry recipe sounds so so good!!

Anonymous said...

It is so much fun going through old photos as it brings back so many memories. You were and are such a cutie! Love those bang shots, bathing beauties and of course your delicious chicken stirfry. Have a super week.

Anonymous said...

The old photos are adorable. What great memories!

Daniela Grimburg said...

These are such cute picture.
I couldn't agree more with the wonderful Mother Teresa quote.

grace said...

i love pictures from earlier decades--they're always good for reminiscing and laughing at those styles. :)

Joanne said...

Awww love this! My cousins are my friends also and I'm sure remembering all the good times together just reinforces this!

Anonymous said...

awesome post...made us so nostalgic about our childhood was a joint family then and all our uncles,their families,our cousins used to have lots of fun together...thanks for posting....and the stir fry looks drool worthy,thanks :-)

Catherine said...

This is a beautiful post. The memories you are sharing are so precious. Thank you for sharing. Blessings, Catherine

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