Cook It Slow For Comfort

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Every day is a New Beginning -- start with a thank you to the Creator for this new day for living, for the positive events in your life and for wisdom and guidance to the road of happiness.

In a column last summer, I told you about my brother adopting a cat from the Humane Society. Here is an update: we call him Charlie -- he reminded me of Charles Chaplin when I first saw him. He is turning out to be the most unusual cat ever. He enjoys water. When he hears the sound of water, he runs to drink from it, loves the snow and likes to sleep out in his basket, curled up while it rains (most of the time he is indoors).

He drinks water from the horses' trough and touches noses with them -- the horses seem fascinated with Charlie.

From the beginning, Charlie established his status with our two dogs, Timber (ridgeback) and Tike (Labrador mixed). Both were adopted from the Humane Society six years ago. Charlie walks around them like they were his size. He loves to cuddle, laying on his side like a child (that's why I call him a little boy) with his paws around your arm, he has to touch you while laying next to you and makes sure you are still breathing when you sleep. He also has to greet all that come to the house and stays around.

Mom is not too fond of pets, but Charlie ignores all that, goes to her lap, looks up and she can't help but begin petting him. He even sleeps with her at night and calms her so that she sleeps like a baby. We tell her it is because he knows how to share his energy.

He is very perceptive to mood changes and lends himself to lift your spirits by making you laugh with his silliness or just cuddles next to you while touching with his paw. He knew somehow that my friend Cynde was going back to Michigan, he got in bed with her and stayed there all night (she loves cats).

I just wanted all of you to know just how much more enjoyable our lives are because this amazing creature is sharing his life with us, we are forever changed for the better end looking forward to many years of his loving company.

Now let's get in the kitchen and make something delicious, slow-cooked specialties. When a full schedule keeps you away from the kitchen, put your slow cooker to work making the meal. Here are some menu suggestions: Sunday Chicken Supper and Garlic Beef Stroganoff.

Sunday Chicken Supper

4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

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Cut up a chicken and you have the base of great comfort food from your slow cooker

1 medium onion, chopped

1 celery rib, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cups fresh green beans (2-inch pieces)

5 small, red potatoes, quartered

1 broiler/fryer chicken (3 to 1-1/2 pounds), cut up

4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

1-1/2 cups hot water

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

pinch pepper

In a 5-quart slow cooker, layer the first seven ingredients in the order listed. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over the top. Do not stir. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender and chicken juice run clear. Remove chicken and vegetables. Thicken juices for gravy if desired. Yield: Four servings.

Garlic Beef Stroganoff

2 teaspoons beef bouillon

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No slow cooker? Pull out that great old-fashioned gadget called a cast iron skillet and go to town.

1 cup boiling water

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

2 jars (4-1/2 ounces each) sliced mushrooms, drained

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1-1/2 to 2 pounds boundless round steak, trimmed and cut into thin strips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed

hot, cooked noodles

In a slow cooker, dissolve bouillon in water. Add soup, mushrooms, onion, garlic and Worcestershire sauce. In a skillet, brown beef in oil. Transfer to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until meat is tender. Stir in cream cheese until smooth. Serve over noodles. Yield: 6-8 servings.

A child could starve with a full plate: without love, affection and laughter, the Spirit hungers.

Shirley

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