Monday, December 14, 2015

Cooking with Mom, Christmas and Chronic Pain


Many of us have fond memories of our mothers and grandmothers cooking and baking in the kitchen, as well as their various recipes. Some of my fondest memories of my mom were the times we enjoyed cooking together and sharing recipes. Although, I do believe she spent more time cooking with my husband than she did with me! They enjoyed making her infamous potato soup and chili together. Although they could never quite agree on which one made the chili the right way, they did however agree on how to make the potato soup! That was “Aggies’s way!”
After mom passed there was never a recipe found for her potato soup within her recipe box, as neither were there many other recipes she loved to make that were stored in her heart. Sadly, I didn’t even know how to make her potato soup myself. (That was hubby’s thing!)  Fortunately, my husband knew precisely how mom made it! (I won’t mention anything here about their Brussels sprout failure…) and he has taught our children how to create “Grandma’s Potato Soup” her way!
Mom and I shared a lot of recipes. Our recipe boxes shared the same cabinet for over 18 years, for she lived with us. We’d create new ones and old ones. She used to laugh at me because I had a pile of recipes shoved haphazardly in that cabinet and they would fall out quite often when that door was opened! She’d ask, “What on earth are you going to do with all of those recipes!”  I told her that I was “collecting” them and planned on cooking them someday! She always had quite the chuckle about of that!
I so cherish those times, especially now, since she has been gone 10 years as of this year.  I particularly treasure her recipes that I found over the years that had inadvertently been placed into my recipe box. It is kind of like having a part of her still with me. A part nobody can ever take away!
When I was first married, I called her long distance from a phone booth, all the way from Aransas Pass, Texas to Michigan, to obtain her recipe for her dumplings and noodles so I could make chicken and dumplings and chicken and noodles! As I stood at the phone booth, she was telling me the recipe and saying, “A pinch of salt, some flour…” Most of us have heard that before!  I remember being so frustrated, for when I asked how much that was, she raised her voice in frustration as well and stated, "Oh, for Pete's sake! I don't know! I just guess!" So on my recipe card; I have until this day, some 35 plus years later, only guesses written in for the amount! To this day we still don't know who this "Pete" guy is she referred to! Nor did we ever think to ask!

Our holidays always seemed to start on her birthday, November 19, and go through to New Years! There was always a hustle and bustle of family and friends to come and see her more often that time of the year. Making her favorite recipes and desserts for her guests was her way of making others feels full and welcome. Or should I say, fully welcome?!

Among the entire traditional Thanksgiving feast, she’d make her apple crumb, apple pie and pumpkin pies for dessert. And after Thanksgiving, she would start in on her tradition to compile all she needed for ingredients for her Christmas candies. She’d then get to mixing, stirring and baking her chocolate fudge, rocky road, sea foam and peanut brittle, and then she’d lovingly place them into her vast collection of Christmas tins to store.
Image result for free images christmas tinsEvery year, between us all munching on these treasured goodies, as well as her serving them to visitors, she would have to retrieve more ingredients to remake everything because it was usually gone before Christmas!
On Christmas Eve she would gather all her cherished Christmas trays to serve her Christmas candies with delight to her much loved kids, grandkids and great grandkids. You will find photocopies of her recipe cards, with her handwriting on them, lovingly scattered throughout the recipe section of my book, Preparing for the Holidays with Chronic Pain - 3, for these Christmas candies, as well as many of her other favorite recipes.
The recipe section in the book includes not only her recipes, but many of my favorites as well. I exclusively choose the ones I did due to meeting the following criteria to be useful for those with chronic pain:
·         Extremely flavorful
·         Made with minimal ingredients
·         Low-fuss, easy to put together for those of us with chronic pain to be able to complete if having a "low" pain day.

 However, there is one recipe, her potato soup recipe with dumplings, that is provided that is not an easy recipe for one with chronic pain and requires help or use of compensatory techniques and adaptive methods provided. It was given as a sort of a gift. For this recipe was passed down to her from her mom and her mom's mom. I have a feeling that being a family recipe like it is, that it went back even further, as recipes like that often do.

As a result of our chronic pain, we endure decreased abilities, as well as difficulties with all the tasks surrounded by cooking and baking, only those of us suffering with chronic pain realize how each movement can be excruciating, fatiguing and at times intolerable! Not only does this occur as we are performing these tasks, but with the rebound pain for days after. This often leaves many sufferers giving up cooking, which is often one of their favorite hobbies. But if we incorporate the tips and suggestions from the previous post on Cooking with Chronic Pain During the Holidays with simpler recipes we can hopefully find ways to make cooking and baking more tolerable for us, as well as an activity that can be fun and enjoyable!
It is my hope that you can present yourself with a finished product that you created and are delighted with! You can feel proud that you grabbed a hold of what you tools you could to enable you to achieve something your heart desired! That is all a part of our new "normal. That is a true blessing!

I will provide a few recipes today and then in my next few blog posts I will give more! Please leave a comment as to your thoughts and feel free to share how these recipes turned out for you, as well as the techniques you incorporated to help make it easier for you!


Image result for free images dried beef dip

This is an old family favorite that I always receive rave review when I bring to parties! It never lasts very long so you might want to consider making a double or triple batch!



8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 oz. dried chipped beef, chopped fine
2 tbsp. dried onion flakes
¾ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS Mayonnaise


Mix all together with hand mixer and place into a serving bowl. Serve with your favorite crackers or crudités.

Image result for free images chili beef dip

This delicious dip is always a hit! When I see this recipe it reminds me of my brother who makes it in a crock pot and proudly presents it at family gatherings!



1 (15-ounce) can HORMEL® Chili No Beans
1 (1-pound) package processed cheese product such as Velveeta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Optional: some people like to also add a half pound of browned ground beef.


In medium microwave-safe bowl, stir together chili and cheese product; cover. Microwave on HIGH (100%); stirring once, 4½ to 5 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted. Serve with corn chips, if desired. 

Image result for free images dill dip
My ultimate favorite dip for vegetables! Love the flecks of dill in it!



1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 teaspoon dill weed
1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 teaspoon sugar


In a small bowl, combine the ingredients. Chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with vegetables or crackers. Yield: 2 cups.

This blog is for all of us with chronic pain! Do you have a favorite topic on chronic pain, documentary, book, video or even a blog to share you'd like me to cover in this blog? I'd love to hear about it! Share in the comments below.

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You might be interested in the new EBook series, Preparing for the Holidays with Chronic Pain that was written for those of us with chronic pain with the purpose of giving specific suggestions and ideas to help make the strenuous activities of the holiday season simpler and more tolerable, ultimately decreasing the stress on us and helping us to be able to reduce the chances of increased pain flares, thus hopefully allowing us to spend cherished time with family and friends.

The EBooks can be purchased here at

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