Heart of the Home

By Capper's Readers
May 2008

ZESTY QUESADILLAS: These mouthwatering Ham and Cheese Quesadillas make a great snack or zesty addition to your Mexican dinner.
Ortega
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Unexpected child becomes a Mother's Day blessing

My mother was not pleased when the doctor told her she was going to have another baby. She was at the point in her life where her two daughters were grown and ready to leave home, and her two sons were well into their teens. Another baby just wasn't in her plans.

I arrived on May 12, the day before Mother's Day. Everyone told Mom that I was her special Mother's Day present. I'm sure those words from well-meaning friends and family members weren't much of a consolation to her at the time, as she faced the task of caring for a new baby and altering her lifestyle to accommodate my schedule.

Mom accepted her situation, but she didn't have much time to spend with me while I was growing up. Times were hard, and money was scarce.

Dad was a farmer, and he spent most of his time raising chickens and growing a big garden. Selling fresh cream and eggs brought additional cash to the household when there were no crops to sell. The produce raised in the garden was picked and canned to sustain the family during the winter months. All of us were expected to pitch in and help.

Gradually, the older children left home, eager to begin life on their own. Mom began to spend more time with me. We grew close over the years - I became her shadow. She taught me to sew, embroider, quilt and bake.

Soon, I overheard her telling her friends that she didn't know what she would do without me. I felt like I could burst with happiness.

Even after I married and had a family of my own, I continued to visit Mom and Dad several times a week. By this time, they were elderly and needed help with some of the household chores.

I always set aside one day a week to clean their house and bake extra goodies for them. They always told me how much they appreciated what I did for them.

On one of my visits, when I was getting ready to leave, Mom hugged me tight and said, 'Even though I didn't think so at the time, you are the best Mother's Day present I've ever received. You have been such a blessing to me.'

Mom has been gone for several years now. I never celebrate my birthday or Mother's Day without thinking of her and the special bond we shared. It's taught me that sometimes what we see as a problem in life can become one of the greatest gifts we could have ever imagined.

Kasilof, Alaska

Son's homemade card precious gift

My most memorable Mother's Day was the year my son, Harry, gave me a homemade Mother's Day card.

Ever since he was a baby, he would sit with me when I watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. As he got older, he started to enjoy the movies, but he especially liked the commercials. He always liked the Hallmark slogan, 'When you care enough to send the very best.'

The year he was 6, he made a card for me, and when he gave it to me, he quoted that line. On the back of the card where it would normally have the word, 'Hallmark,' his had the word, 'Homemade.'

I've kept that card over the years, and every year on Mother's Day, I take it out and look at it again. Each year, I remember how proud he was when he gave it to me.

Fort Wayne, Ind.

Mother's ring remains treasure

I was married to a great man who was the father of five children - four boys and one girl. I was very proud to become their stepmother.

One day, my husband and I decided to take the two youngest children with us to Nebraska to see my parents on Mother's Day.

My mother was very surprised and glad to see us, but the real surprise was on me.

I was in the kitchen when my daughter handed me a box and wished me a 'Happy Mother's Day.' I opened the box and found a beautiful Mother's ring.

The whole family bought it for me for being their stepmother. I was so surprised, tears welled up in my eyes as I thanked them.

Now, years later, the children are married with children of their own, and I still proudly wear my ring.

I have been blessed, and these memories are forever in my heart.

Lincoln, Ill.

Being Creative

Do you enjoy creating things, such as scrapbooks, clothing, afghans, toys, furniture, paintings or drawings? What kinds of arts and crafts do you enjoy doing? How did you get started? Do you like to create these things by yourself or with others?
Do you belong to a group or club that meets once or twice a month, or do you work on your creations only in your spare time? What is your favorite creation?
Did you pass your creative trait on to your children and grandchildren? Maybe they don't enjoy the same craft you do, but instead like another craft - what is it? Have they talked you into trying your hand at their favorite craft? Did you try it, and was it something you enjoyed?
Tell us about ways you like to be creative. Send your letters by June 11 to CAPPER'S, Kate Marchbanks, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265.

Serve up a fiesta of flavors

This Cinco de Mayo, gather the whole family together and enjoy a true Mexican fiesta. These dishes not only taste great, they're also easy to make using conveniently packaged Mexican products.

Achieve authentic fiesta flavors by using crisp and crunchy taco shells made with whole kernel corn, slow-simmered taco sauce and authentic fire-roasted green chiles, and seasonings and fresh-tasting salsas. Together, these ingredients add flavor to a favorite snack, casserole, dip or soup.
For more great recipe ideas, visit www.Ortega.com.

Mexican Meatballs

3 yellow corn taco shells
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon chili seasoning mix
1 egg
2 teaspoons diced green chiles
1 bottle (8 oz.) taco sauce
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cilantro, finely chopped, Optional

Break taco shells into a food processor; cover and pulse several times to create about ½ cup taco shell crumbs.

Place crumbs in a large mixing bowl; add ground beef, chili seasoning, egg and green chiles. Mix thoroughly. Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

Drop meatballs into a hot skillet and cook, turning often, until browned evenly on all sides.

Pour taco sauce into skillet, over and around meatballs. Gently stir meatballs around to coat with taco sauce. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat for about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle cheese over the top and garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve with toothpicks. Yields about 30 meatballs.

Taco Rice and Beans

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 package (1.25 oz.) taco seasoning mix
1 cup water
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained
2 cups cooked rice
¼ cup thick & chunky salsa

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook for 3 minutes. Add taco seasoning and water, stirring until mixture is combined and slightly thickened. Stir in beans, rice and salsa. Cook for 5 minutes, or until mixture is heated through. Yields 4 servings.

Ham and Cheese Quesadillas

Nonstick cooking spray
½ pound cooked ham, diced
¾ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
Zest of one lime
2 green onions, diced, using white and green parts
1 soft taco kit - includes 10 soft tortillas, 1.25-oz. package taco seasoning mix and 3-oz. jar taco sauce
1 tomato, diced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup sour cream

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine ham, cream cheese, lime zest, green onions and half of the taco seasoning packet from the soft taco kit.

Spread about 1 teaspoon of the taco sauce onto a flour tortilla, then spread about ¼ cup of the ham mixture on top. Top with a second tortilla. Place in the prepared hot skillet and heat for about 4 minutes, or until the bottom is nicely browned. Spray the top tortilla with cooking spray, then flip and continue cooking for another 4 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Repeat with remaining ingredients. Keep warm until all quesadillas are cooked. Just before serving, cut into wedges and top with diced tomato, cilantro and sour cream. Yields 5 servings.

A Letter from Kate:

I have many memories of Mother's Day - making homemade gifts and cards, going out to eat or making a special meal at home - all to honor the mother who has always been there for me.

When I was a child, Mom read and sang to me, helped me with my homework, took my sister and me shopping (even though she wasn't crazy about shopping), and consoled me when I needed a shoulder to cry on.

After I was grown, Mom called me often and also wrote letters when I was away. She gave me words of encouragement, continued parental guidance and gas money.

After she retired, Mom and I enjoyed taking walks together. It gave us a chance to talk without interruption.

One of my nephews once described Mom as being the glue that held our family together. She was the one who kept in contact with the family when we started going our separate ways and gathered us together for birthdays and holidays.

Even though she's no longer able to do a lot of things she used to do, she still enjoys phone calls and visits from family.

I moved back home after being away for a short time, and somewhere along the line, I found myself taking care of the woman who once took care of me. It seemed like such a natural transition, given our close relationship.

Since my dad passed away, Mom and I have shared even more mother-daughter moments.

One day, when she goes to join my dad in heaven, I will have many cherished memories of my mom and the good times we shared together.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Love,
Kate Marchbanks

Together with God:

Skeptics say that some holidays were created by greeting card companies to increase their sales ratios, but I believe that a need created Mother's Day. I remember as a child how exciting it was to have that special day to give something to my mother. That wonderful lady who took care of me every day would soon receive a gift to show my love for her.

For me, Mother's Day was usually filled with anxiety. How could I possibly find a gift that expressed how much I loved her? Did such a gift exist? I doubted it. I usually picked out something that was very colorful, and if it had feathers or beads, I was convinced it was worth far more than Rohr's Five and Dime would charge.

By the time I was a teenager, I was trying the breakfast-in-bed routine - a nice sentiment if you can actually cook, but a burden on mom if you can't.

Mother's Day has always been a struggle for me, trying to find the gift that would make her heart melt. I needed a special gift that would help her see how much I loved and respected her. I haven't found the proper gift yet. I've written her poetry and drawn pictures, but nothing has touched the depths of love she gave me. Like the night she sat by my side because my nose wouldn't stop bleeding. Every time I turned, she was there, her gaze filled with concern, and with a light touch, she patted me back to sleep.

Have I accomplished my task? Will she ever know how much I love and need her? I thank God every day that she remains on this Earth and is a vital part of my life.

Father, thank You for mothers. Thank You for their comforting touches and encouraging words. Help us find the words to tell our mothers how important they are and how much we love them. And, Father, it couldn't hurt if You could whisper to my mother that I love her. Amen.


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