Brown showed she was already a pretty good cook, preparing a chili stack for this week’s shared recipe.
“It’s easy, good and a little bit different,” she said.
“Now I think you can buy a mix that’s pretty much the same, Old El Paso or whoever. But a friend of mine, our husbands were in the service together, and this was her recipe. She forgot all about it so I emailed her her own recipe.”
Brown said she thinks this is one of her better dishes, but her best is probably a sweeter dish.
“I like desserts myself,” she said. “My husband really likes this apple pie. The American Profile magazine used to be better; they used to have recipes every week. They had a crumble apple pie. I think that’s the best thing (I’ve ever made). And he really likes it.”
In fact, when it comes to requests, the apple pie is her husband’s favorite.
“My husband always wants the apple pie and my brother-in-law wants lasagna,” she said. Unfortunately, her lasagna hasn’t always turned out as planned though.
“Once I made lasagna for my family and I was eating it and thought what’s wrong with this?,” Brown said.
“I’d forgotten to put the ricotta cheese in. I thought ‘Why is this so dry?’ So my daughter finally thought of it and they still tease me about it. It’s maybe not the worst (thing I’ve made), but it was funny. It still tasted alright, it was just really dry.”
Mostly Brown said chicken is on the menu at home.
“My husband will say I make chicken, chicken, chicken and chicken,” she said. “I really like chicken. And probably something on the grill. In the summers, and even in the winter, I cook year round on the grill. We like the asparagus on the grill. That’s really good. We like that and corn on the cob on the grill and some good burgers.
“But I’m always looking for something else, something different to make. Otherwise, it’s mostly comfort foods, meatloaf and pork chops,” Brown said.
To help with that, Brown searches recipes and draws on what she learned when she was younger.
“I learned from watching my mom,” she said.
“There were nine of us kids at home when my mom remarried and there were nine of us. When I got married that helped a lot, but I knew how to cook for 11 — I didn’t know how to cook for two. That was hard, adjusting to two, That was really hard. I was used to a big quantity. ... I used her recipes. All (of my) binders hold the recipes. and lately I pull one out and I try it and I like it I keep it, if I don’t it gets tossed.”
No matter what Brown is making though, she always has a few essentials on hand though.
“We always have milk and eggs and I like to have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. In the summer it’s so easy. Cheese, the staples, like the canned tomatoes or soups, we always have those.”
If she could pass one tip on to other cooks from what she’s learned, she said the lesson would be easy.
“Just keep trying. That’s all you can do. Follow the recipe, then experiment,” Brown said.
* * *
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chili seasoning mix (or 1 packet)
2 cups water
6 flour tortillas
6 ounces grated cheese
Brown meat and onions, Drain and add chili seasoning and water. Allow to simmer 30 minutes.
Spread 1/2 cup meat sauce in bottom of round two quart casserole dish. Place a tortilla on meat sauce and cover with 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layers, ending with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let stand five minutes before serving.