The Inspired Cook

Column 18 of The Inspired Cook for the Van Zandt News

Teaching children to cook

Summertime is the perfect time to teach your children to cook. If you are wondering how old your child should be to start learning to cook, experts say that children first start showing signs of interest in cooking about the age of two or three. Therefore, any time after that is appropriate.

                For young children, make sure that whatever task you give them that they will be successful doing it. Give them lots of praise and encouragement. Doing so will help to build their self-confidence.


July is colorful fun at G.S. Library

Throughout July we will have a different giveaway each week for children who visit the library. Giveaways include origami bookmarks, newsletters, activity books, glow in the dark cups, and a special giveaway from the Grand Saline ISD PTO. 

During June we had a large mandala coloring poster for everyone to help us color.

For July we have a floral coloring poster for everyone to color and a library coloring sheet that people can take home to color. 

July is budget season and we need your support to let our elected officials know that funding the library is important to you. 

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Keeping eyes wide open as VZC Grand Jury Foreman

On June 21, I completed one of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences that I have ever had as I finished a six-month term serving as the foreman for the Van Zandt County Grand Jury.

When I received my jury summons soon after the Christmas holidays in early January, I did not pay a whole lot of attention to the “fine print” on the summons notice.

I knew that I had an appointed time and date to report to VZC District Judge Teresa Drum’s court for what I thought at the time was going to be a petit jury trial selection.

When I arrived in the district courtroom at the VZC Courthouse in Canton, myself and 40 other individuals who showed up that day were informed by the judge that the selection involved picking individuals to serve on the VZC Grand Jury.

Out of the 40 citizens present in the courtroom, VZC District Judge Teresa Drum announced that there would be 12 individuals and two alternates that would be chosen to serve on the VZC Grand Jury.


Use bicycles for emergency transportation

It comes down to this: In an emergency or a disaster when no internal combustion-engined vehicles are available, would you rather walk or ride a bike? I’ll take the bike!

At home I have more than a dozen bicycles. I fix up bicycles and give them to kids. That means I have good bicycles, fair bicycles, parts bicycles, and parts of bicycles. It doesn’t take mechanical genius to work on a bicycle. Probably most of you reading this article know how to fix a bicycle tire, tighten a chain, adjust a brake, etc. Bicycles are easy to fix.

It’s possible that these skills, and the bicycles, might be valuable someday. I have a friend whose driver’s license was suspended. I gave him a 10-speed bicycle, and he used it for six months. He told me what he learned.


Patriotic Treats

With the Fourth of July inching closer with each passing day, I’ve been pondering what recipes to share with you to help you celebrate our national holiday. So, I’ve chosen one newly formulated recipe and an old favorite that I’ve made for years.

                An idea that I found on Pinterest inspired my new recipe that I call salty-sweet patriotic treats.

Originally designed as a snack for watching the Super Bowl game, the salty component consists of pretzels, and the sweet comes from candy melts and M&M’S®. For football games, the M&M’S® are supposed to represent the colors of the two teams playing the game.

                To make the patriotic treats, I used red and blue M&M’S® and white candy melts. Before inserting an M&M® into each softened candy, I added more festive color by shaking on some red, white, and blue sprinkles.


Gov. Abbott's pen cut transparency like a sword

With the simple act of signing his name, Gov. Greg Abbott completed a trifecta of failure by all branches of state government to defend the people's right to know.

Abbott was proud of himself Thursday for vetoing 50 bills that he claimed were government overreach. One of those was House Bill 2783, regrettably the only government transparency measure to survive the 85th Legislature.

HB 2783, one of the more modest of the sunshine bills introduced this session, would have allowed plaintiffs who sue a government entity for withholding public information to collect attorney fees when the entity ends the suit by turning over the information. Public officials are known to slow-walk an information request to the attorney general's office when they already know good and well that it's public information, or to foot-drag until a lawsuit is filed. They sorely need a deterrent, and HB 2783 would have been one — a mild one, but better than nothing.


The damage is done Navigating the insurance battlefront

For those affected by the Van Zandt County tornadoes April 29, the recovery and rebuilding phase is now in effect. With 35 years of disaster recovery efforts under my belt, there are things that people who were affected should be made aware of.

You have heard all the stories, like “the more I pay you the more I make” to the “don’t worry I have been doing this for years and will get the money you need,” regarding insurance claims.

Months later, the community is still adjusting to the herd of solicitors and figuring out what insurance is going to pay for and how far it is going to fall short.

Sometimes submitting calls and letters work to no avail and claims remain underpaid. But, there is hope on the insurance battlefront. Those who are insured are entitled to certain rights.

Did you know that after you have received a check for a claim you can reopen the claim? You can file a supplement if your claim was underpaid or items were not paid for.


Getting too big for our britches

I have never before seen the devastation of a natural disaster up close and personal.  It truly is one of those stop-you-in-your-tracks moments.  Much of my travel takes me down FM 2909, one of the most wrecked areas.  A friend of mine USED to live behind what USED to be Sides Pea Farm.  That whole area is simply gone now.

I'm reminded of a phrase my grandma used to use..."You're getting too big for your britches."  On a much larger scale, I think the whole of humankind has gotten too big for its britches.  Just when we start to act like we're in charge, we are reminded that, indeed, we are not. 


The Inspired Cook

To all of the readers who are someone’s father, I wish you a joyous day. I hope that you are treated to a delicious meal, too.

At the age of 80, my daddy, Homer Kirkwood, passed away in March of 2004. Charles, my better half, lost his dad, Jesse Ward, in Sept. of 2008, just a few days prior to his 93rd birthday. Since then, Father’s Day hasn’t been the same for either of us.

                In honor of them, I dedicate this column. Both of these men were true Southern gentlemen with a delightful sense of humor.

Growing up during the Great Depression, Daddy ate a lot of beans since they were cheap, but he never tired of them. His grandma prepared his favorite beans, limas, just the way he liked them: soupy, in other words, with a lot of pot liquor or juice.


The Inspired Cook

This little piggy ate roast beef

                Imprisoned for several days by rainy weather, my better half, Charles, recently requested one of his favorite meals, roast beef, for dinner. Since he rarely asks for anything special, I was happy to oblige.

                Reading between the lines, I instinctively realized what he really craved was a gut-busting meal, not one of the many low-caloric, low-carbohydrate ones I’d been serving him lately. So, I cooked a classic comfort meal, chockfull of calories and carbohydrates, without a green vegetable in sight.


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