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A Letter From Kate

Dear Readers,

When my daughter, Charlotte, was born, I reluctantly searched for a day-care provider to look after her when I went back to work. I found a wonderful church day-care center, where the director and teachers were warm and friendly, and they appeared to genuinely love the children they took care of every day. The center was clean and pleasant, and the infant classrooms were very baby-friendly. I began taking Charlotte there when she was 5 weeks old.

Her first infant 'teacher,' Margaret, was wonderful. She told us in detail what Charlotte had done that day, and she often sent home pictures that she took during the day. I grew very fond of Margaret, and I was saddened to learn that she was leaving the center after caring for Charlotte for only three months.

I learned that Charlotte's new teacher would be Mary, another teacher at the center who wanted to work with infants. At first, I thought Mary seemed a bit cold and standoffish, and I worried about how she would care for my daughter. The day-care director assured me that Mary would be a wonderful teacher.

It turned out that I couldn't have asked for a better person than Mary to take care of my daughter. She was shy and a bit reserved around parents, but the more I got to know her, I realized that Mary was kind, loving, and she really enjoyed working with babies. I learned that I could trust Mary wholeheartedly, and my first impression of her had been far from the truth. Charlotte took to her immediately and continued to have a special bond with Mary the entire time she attended the day-care center, even after she had graduated to other classrooms.

It was with much sadness that we left the center and Mary a few years later. Until she left, Charlotte visited Mary every day for a hug, and it was obvious that Mary was very special to her. I, too, developed a fondness for Mary's sweet, gentle ways, and I'll always be grateful for the way she cared for my daughter.

Kate Marchbanks

Together With God

The impressions we leave on others are like the footprints of our life. Everyone has someone who has made an impression on him or her, such as a teacher, a minister or a dear friend. In many ways, those impressions influence our lives and the decisions we make.

We've all experienced the trials and tribulations of a first impression, whether it's the impression we make or the one we have of others. Sometimes they are unfavorable, and other times they are good. For example, I knew at first sight that I would love ice cream, chocolate cake, Christmas trees and the ocean as it hits against the shore.

Father, as we walk through this life, help us strive to present ourselves in Your light, making impressions on others that will influence their day to be better. Please remind us to see the best in people, even when their first impression to us is troublesome. Amen.

 - D. Susan Rutz

Banker made bad first impression

I was the only employee for a couple who owned a grocery store and café in a small town. There had been several robberies reported in small businesses in the area, so the wife asked me one morning to keep my eyes open for anyone suspicious. I assured her I would.

One day, just before the noon rush, a stranger came in, sat at one of the booths and ordered coffee. All the time he was there, he held a newspaper in front of his face. I thought, is he reading or is he here to check out the place?

I'm glad I didn't repeat any of my thoughts to anyone, because he turned out to be the bank examiner for our local bank.

Lamar, Mo.

Changed her mind about shy boy

Sam was shy and a bit awkward, but he always found a seat next to mine in Sunday school.

His manners were polite, so I permitted him to carry my books and walk me home. Sam lived in a small town near Philadelphia, where I lived. My mother offered him lunch, but Sam declined and sped off.

My mother said, 'Sam seems like a nice fellow. Will you see him again?'

'No,' I replied. 'He's just not for me.'

Upon graduation, we drifted apart. Two years later, the telephone rang, and I answered. It was Sam. He said he was in town and asked if he could stop by for a short visit.

'Yes, of course,' I said.

Opening the door, I was surprised. Sam was handsomely and stylishly dressed. He proved to be so refreshing and charming after the know-it-all, wisecracking city slickers I had been dating. My country boy had matured. He became my steady beau.

On a Sunday evening, Dec. 7, 1941, we were listening to the radio when the program was interrupted. The announcer said, 'Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor.' Our country was at war.

Sam held my hand. 'I will enlist,' he said. 'Will you wait for me?'

'No,' I exclaimed, 'but I will marry you tomorrow.'

We were married two weeks later. Our happy marriage lasted 62 years.


Teacher reconsidered first impression of student

My first impression of Mitchell was, 'What's a one-armed boy doing in my classroom?'

Nearly all students looked forward to learning to type. It was the 1940s and '50s, and few of them had ever touched a typewriter. We had only a few electric machines; most were manually operated.

I greeted the class and asked them to choose a typewriter. I explained that the first lesson would consist of putting in the paper, setting margins and learning which fingers rest on the home keys. I sneaked a peek at Mitchell and almost panicked. I just knew he would be shy and difficult to deal with.

When I looked again, he had correctly inserted the paper. He was using his partial arm to great advantage, but without fingers, how far could he progress?

Finally, I spoke to Mitchell and told him I had heard of a textbook for one-handed typists, and I would try to get one. In all my training, never a word was said on the subject. Mitchell smiled, as if he knew something I didn't.

Days passed, and the book didn't come. I expected Mitchell to just play around, but he began to hand in the assigned lessons. I was pleased and surprised, but I thought he might be embarrassed when we began to take speed tests.

I told him I would not expect him to meet the speed standards set up for the course. But when we took the first speed tests, Mitchell scored higher and with more accuracy than several other students. I was amazed. Whatever system he devised for himself worked, and we never used the one-hand book.

My impression of Mitchell - that he would be shy and hard to work with - was also wrong. He was a favorite with the students, and he almost became a teacher's pet, though he was quite mischievous. He went on to become a teacher and principal.

First impressions can be important, but they don't always last.

Magee, Miss.

The great outdoors

Getting outside and enjoying the beauty of nature is something most of us enjoy, and camping is a great way to observe and appreciate nature.

Do you enjoy camping in the great outdoors? What do you like to do when you're camping? Where is your favorite camping spot? Tell us your outdoor camping stories.

Send your letters to Kate Marchbanks, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265.


Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with tasty corned beef dishes

Historically, St. Patrick's Day in Ireland was a time of dancing and feasting to break the Lenten prohibition against eating meat. But, the feast was typically Irish bacon and cabbage. Our beloved tradition of eating corned beef probably began in the late 19th century with Irish immigrants to Canada and America. Beef and salt were less expensive, so brined or pickled beef was more accessible.

Despite its origins, corned beef and cabbage has certainly become our celebration meal in honor of St. Patrick, along with an accompaniment of potato rolls or Irish soda bread. For dessert, serve shamrock-shaped cookies for extra good luck!

Savory beef and vegetables topped with a zesty sauce is a delicious St. Patrick's Day meal.

Corned Beef Brisket with Roasted Vegetables & Lemon-Mustard Sauce

- Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association
FESTIVE FEAST: Corned Beef Brisket with Roasted Vegetables & Lemon-Mustard Sauce is an Irish-inspired meal that will be the highlight of any St. Patrick's Day feast.

3 1/2 to 4 pounds boneless corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 cups water
1 pound carrots, cut into 2 1/2-by-1/2-inch pieces
1 pound parsnips, cut into 2 1/2-by-1/2-inch pieces
1 pound savoy OR green cabbage, cut into 4 wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Lemon-Mustard Sauce (recipe follows)

Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Heat oven to 350°F.

Place corned beef brisket in a roasting pan; sprinkle garlic, contents of seasoning packet and peppercorns around brisket. Add water; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Braise in upper third of oven for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until brisket is fork-tender.

Meanwhile place carrots, parsnips and cabbage on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and ground pepper. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast in lower third of oven, with brisket, for 55 minutes. Uncover; continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and begin to brown.

Remove brisket from roasting pan. Cover and refrigerate 1/2 of brisket (about 12 ounces), 3/4 cup each carrots and parsnips and 1/2 cup Lemon-Mustard Sauce for Corned Beef & Roasted Vegetable Salad With Lemon-Dill Dressing (see recipe).

Carve remaining brisket diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve with remaining roasted vegetables and Lemon-Mustard Sauce. Yields 4 servings.

Lemon-Mustard Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot; cook and stir for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat; cool for 1 minute. Stir in sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, fresh dill and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Cover; set aside.


A tangy dressing tops this salad featuring leftover corned beef.

Corned Beef & Roasted Vegetable Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing

Lemon-Dill Dressing:
1/2 cup reserved Lemon-Mustard Sauce
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar OR white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

12 ounces reserved cooked corned beef brisket, coarsely chopped
5 cups thinly sliced savoy OR green cabbage (about 1 lb.)
5 cups mixed salad greens (about 3 1/2 oz.)
3/4 cup reserved roasted carrots
3/4 cup reserved roasted parsnips
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine corned beef, cabbage, salad greens, carrots, parsnips and walnuts in a large bowl. Add Lemon-Dill Dressing; toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Yields 4 servings.


This delicious appetizer tastes great any time.

Corned Beef Reuben Dip

6 ounces cooked corned beef brisket OR deli corned beef, finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
3/4 cup drained sauerkraut with caraway seeds
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/3 cup prepared Thousand Island dressing
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
Chopped green onions OR fresh parsley, optional
Pita chips, whole-grain crackers, rye crackers OR rye cocktail bread

Heat oven to 425°F.

Combine corned beef brisket, sauerkraut, mayonnaise, 1/3 cup cheese, dressing, horseradish and red pepper in a small bowl. Spread evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese.

Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly. Garnish with green onions, if desired. Serve with pita chips, crackers or cocktail bread. Yields 20 appetizer servings (about 2 tablespoons each).

Editor's note: Dip may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance; do not bake. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Bake, uncovered, at 425°F for 15 to 16 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly.

Beef cooking tips:

• The secret is simple: cook it long and slow, tightly covered. The steam created ensures fork-tender, moist beef.

• To determine doneness, insert a fork into the brisket; the beef is fork-tender when fork inserts without resistance and releases easily.

• Always carve brisket across the grain into thin slices.

Pears, cranberries and hazelnuts give breakfast a boost

Don't save the best 'til last - have it first, for breakfast! Why consider a knockout combo of pears, cranberries and hazelnuts just for dessert, when the same delicious trio can rev up your day with a healthy head start?

Pears, cranberries and hazelnuts provide a variety of health benefits, including fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants and protein. These recipes include all three of these nutritious ingredients and feature great taste as well. They'll give your family a breakfast boost and prepare them for the day ahead.

A luscious fruit sauce gives these waffles a gourmet taste.

Hazelnut Harvest Waffle with Cranberry Pear Sauce

Cranberry Marketing Committee, Hazelnut Council and Pear Bureau Northwest
FRUITY: Hazelnut Harvest Waffle with Cranberry Pear Sauce is a special breakfast treat.

2 cups cranberries, fresh OR frozen
1 cup orange juice
2/3 cup sugar
2 pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup low-fat whipped topping
3/4 cup canned, solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups pancake mix
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed and chopped (plus additional for garnish, if desired)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground allspice
Ground cinnamon, for garnish, optional

Bring cranberries, orange juice and sugar to a slow boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Cook for 7 minutes. Add pears and continue to slow boil for 6 to 8 minutes, or until berries burst, pears are softened and mixture is reduced to 2 cups. Remove from heat.

Stir vanilla into whipped topping until blended; cover and refrigerate.

Whisk pumpkin, milk, eggs and oil in a small bowl until blended. Stir in pancake mix, hazelnuts and allspice until blended. If mixture is too thick, add additional milk.

Spread 1 1/3 cups batter over a preheated waffle iron. Cook as directed on mix package. Place 1/4 cup cranberry-pear sauce and a dollop of whipped topping over each waffle square. Garnish with ground cinnamon and chopped hazelnuts, if desired. Serve immediately. Yields 8 waffles.


Your family is sure to love this breakfast treat.

Tangy Lemon Breakfast Fruit Strata

1 1/3 cups 1% milk
3 eggs
2/3 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 slices white bread, crust removed, torn into small pieces, divided
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 pear, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350°F.

Whisk milk, eggs, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl until smooth; set aside.

Place 3/4 of bread pieces in a greased 8-inch-square pan. Layer cranberries, remaining bread pieces and pears in pan. Pour milk mixture over pears.

Mix hazelnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle over mixture in pan.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Yields 16 (2-inch) squares.

These fruit-filled rolls are delicious for breakfast or a mid-morning coffee break.

Cranberry Glazed Cinnamon Rolls

Cranberry Marketing Committee, Hazelnut Council and Pear Bureau Northwest
YUMMY: Cranberry Glazed Cinnamon Rolls combine a sweet mixture of fruit and nuts.

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter OR margarine, softened, divided
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed and chopped, divided
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup cranberry juice cocktail
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
2 pears, peeled, cored, diced
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350°F.

Heat 1/4 cup butter or margarine in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan in oven until melted. Remove from oven.

Stir in 1 cup hazelnuts, 1 cup sugar, cranberry juice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until blended; set aside.

Mix remaining sugar and remaining cinnamon together in a small bowl; set aside.

Roll bread dough into a 12-by-10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread remaining butter over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch edge. Arrange pears and cranberries on buttered dough. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture and remaining hazelnuts over fruit.

Start at the long edge of dough and roll into a 12-inch-long cylinder; pinch dough to seal. Cut into 12 1-inch slices and place on mixture in pan. Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Immediately invert onto a heat-proof plate. Yields 12 cinnamon rolls.