This is a month of “lasts” …The last month of my 60s. Yes, that’s right. It is my birthday month and when you read my next column, I will have joined the 70s club. I seriously have no idea where the years have gone. I remember back in high school I was sitting at the kitchen table talking with my mom and I can’t even recall what we were discussing, but I do remember her saying to me, “Enjoy your life now, have fun, do things, be adventurous because before you know it, in a snap, (and at this point she actually snapped her fingers) the years will have flown by and you will wonder where did the time go? It will go by so fast and whoosh, it will be gone.” I remember that statement so vividly, like it was yesterday. So yes, this is a year of “lasts” for me. The last year our grandson will live with us. He moved in to finish college when COVID hit last March and is still living with us while taking virtual college classes. We love having him here, and not just because he is our only grandson (one of eight grandkids). He is so much fun, funny and so helpful, doing things with me around the house, especially cooking! This is also the last year our 26-year-old granddaughter will live one mile from us. She has just moved to Dallas, and soon will be off to NOLA for a new adventure. She will be getting another degree, this time in cybersecurity and she, too, will be taking virtual college classes. This was so hard, our first grandchild, so sweet. When her dad was in training in the Air Force, she and our daughter moved in with us, and later the family moved back to Kingwood and bought their first home, then second and then third home, all in Kingwood. I babysat when she was in preschool and would pick her up every day. She and I started a new family tradition, “Snowball Mondays.” Yes, we stopped on Northpark every Monday for a snowball. I taught her art classes and worked in the office at her school, CSK. When she got a bit older, I met her and her sister after school at the bus stop in front of our house every day, for several years, always having an afternoon snack ready before homework. Now, she will be an occasional visiting granddaughter. “Lasts” are hard, but new adventures are always around the corner. One of my most fun and vivid remembers of “lasts” was the last thing I made, cooked, baked in my high school senior year home economics class of 1969. I loved that class and my good friend, Connie Sue Miller (now Connie Sue Miller Beddow), and I were the only ones in the class to be a team of two; all others were teams of three and four. On our last day of class, we had an assignment to find whatever we could in our own kitchen area, no sharing with others or getting additional fridge items or staples from the class shared pantry, etc. We literally had the first “Chopped” competition, way before the Food Network started. What did we make? We made Chinese chews, a recipe available in the 1960s “Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.” Oh, and yes, we nailed it, best in the class. On a side note, after class, I took our leftover chews to my high school boyfriend … His name? Phil Boughton of course! So, before time gets away in a snap “Please Join Our Table” as I share with you a few recipes … last but not least!
I’m starting with my famous 1969 home economics dessert bar. I actually lost this recipe and thought it was gone for good, until I recently found my old cookbook in the attic. It is a recipe I hunted for years and, finally, my quest was fulfilled.
Karen and Connie’s Chinese Chews
3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dates (we had to omit this… no dates in our cupboard)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 eggs, beaten
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients. Stir in dates, walnuts and eggs. Pour into greased and floured 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" jelly roll pan; I now use parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven about 15 minutes. Cut into bars while warm. Cool; remove from pan. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar.
Speaking of lasts … By the time you read this, our own Kingwood Hunan Garden will have closed their doors in the old H-E-B center on Kingwood Drive. This family-owned restaurant has been open for 34 years. The family is currently seeking a new location to relocate in Kingwood so, yes, a “last” at the old H-E-B center, but let’s hope they stay in Kingwood and reopen in a new Kingwood location. We can then continue to support them as they have supported and fed us all these years, with donations to local fundraisers as well as feeding families and first responders through floods, hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic. By the way, while all y’all are hoping and waiting to enjoy Hunan Gardens Kingwood again, if you happen to be in the Sugarland/ Rosenburg area, be sure to stop in and enjoy a meal at their other location hunangardenrestaurant.com/rosenberg/.