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Memorial Day: Food and Family

Monday was a wonderful day for my family.  I hope it was for yours, too.   Memorial Day is a great day for us all to stop and remember those who died in the armed services for our country. Freedom isn’t free, as the saying goes.  It’s important to stop and pray, as we did, giving thanks for those who gave their all for us.

One of the pleasures of our freedom is unhindered time with family and friends. I got to experience that on Monday, as some of my husband’s family from various parts of Texas converged upon my mother-in-law Susan’s house (Susan, whom many of you have been praying for while undergoing chemo the past few months; that will continue until November.) We all brought food and drink and children and met there to talk and laugh and eat and celebrate! My husband’s nephew Ben has a one-year-old son now, Carter; he is a beautiful baby. We were so blessed to get to meet him, finally! What a beautiful baby, and so good-natured!  Another nephew, Matthew, has a two-year-old named Conner. You’ve never seen a toddler with so much personality! He entertained us all day! 🙂

Carter
Conner

We enjoyed meeting the girlfriend of another nephew, and we were thrilled to see our niece Laura, who is home for the summer after being away for her freshman year at Texas A&M.  Of course, Laura’s dad Joe brought what seemed like a ton of fresh vegetables to share with us from his garden in Conroe.  (I’ll be making pickles from now until Independence Day, that’s all I’m saying.)  He also brought fresh yellow crookneck squash which I’ll be sharing with friends, as I will never be able to use all he brought! And here is his prized tomato, which he gave to his dad as a gift, and which none of us were allowed to touch:

Joe's prized tomato

He brought plenty of other tomatoes to share with us for lunch that day, of course, and they were delicious on our grilled hamburgers. 🙂

I brought food to share with the family, too, of course. I made  batches of chewy lemon cookies, chewy ginger cookies, and chocolate-peanut butter rice krispies treats.  I also made a crock pot full of pinto beans (added chunks of leftover ham I’d kept in the freezer from Easter ham, as well as onion, jalapenos, and cumin.) My favorite thing was the cheesy potatoes that I made for the first time, and they were fabulous! Everyone loved them, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you here. Of course, I doubled the recipe for our large gathering.  (I forgot to take a picture of them before everyone dug into them! Just use your imagination…they were creamy and yummy-looking in my blue casserole dish!) 😉

Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes

  • 4 or 5  large whole boiled red potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices (after cooling; don’t get burned!)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon for sauteeing onions
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar or Cheddar-Jack blend cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 1 quart casserole dish.
  2. Add a TBS or so of butter to a medium skillet, and saute the onion until clear. (You may add a tsp of minced fresh garlic, if you like…I did. Just add it toward the end of sauteeing so it doesn’t brown)
  3. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with half of the onions.
  4. In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour half of cheese sauce over the potatoes in casserole dish.
  5. Add the rest of the potatoes to casserole dish, and top with remaining onions, and then remaining cheese sauce.
  6. Cover with foil and bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven.
  7. Let the potatoes sit, uncovered, for ten minutes before serving.  (if your family will allow it!)  🙂

I have had several requests for this recipe, as well as “orders” for more of them to be delivered to certain people’s kitchen tables.  Try these when you have time for the preparation; if you do,  I doubt you’ll ever go back to boxed au gratin potatoes!

My favorite niece Laura and me

You might also like: Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

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