Real Cooking

We were on our way home from town when my son?s voice piped up from the backseat.

?Mom, you know when Fetch licks your face??

?No, son, I don?t let the dog lick my face.?

?Well, anyway,? he continued, ?When Fetch licks my face, and that slobber dries, well, I like that feeling.?

I glanced at him from over my shoulder. From the look on his face I could tell this was not an attempt to gross out his mother, but a revelation resulting from deep contemplation. And he was willing to share it with me.

Now was not the time to give a lecture on personal hygiene. Nor to remind him that earlier in the morning I had seen Fetch dragging heaven-knows-what across the yard so he could bury it in his stash of gnawed up bones, empty dog food cans and bits of roadkill. (A farm dog?s version of Fort Knox, don?t you know.)

But I had to laugh. Not at my son, but with him.

?When the slobber dries, does it feel kind of tight on your skin?? I inquired.

?Yeah, it feels good.?

Ah, there you have it. Our beagles are unwittingly in the beauty business. Who needs expensive toners and masques made from exotic roots and herbs?

For just a scratch behind the ears or a hug around the neck, Messier Fetch will personally apply his custom-made facial free of charge. And if he?s busy, I?m sure his lovely associate Mademoiselle Biscuit would be only happy to assist.

Don?t fret. I still don?t let the dogs lick my face, and since that conversation, I?ve had opportunity to talk about what the dogs carry around in their mouths.

But, I?m still marveling at my son and his thought process. Not that my child is extraordinary. Well, actually, his father and I have been wondering lately if we are rearing the next Joel Klaassen, but that?s another story.

I marvel because the kid put a lot of thought into dog drool and the way it makes him feel. When, I wonder, was the last time I took the time to carefully examine something so taken for granted as my sense of touch? Do I have an equivalent of dog saliva drying on my face? Let me think….

The feel of clean sheets on my bare legs.

The creamy, smoothness of chocolate slowly melting in my mouth.

My husband?s hand on the back of my neck.

A towel still warm from the dryer.

The buttery feeling of fine leather.

Sinking into a hot tub after a long day.

Masseuse Carolan McFarland?s thumbs pressing into a sore spot on my back.

My daughter?s silky head pressed against my cheek.

Smooth, perfect bread dough in my hands.

The beagles? velvety ears.

When my hairdresser, LaDonna Klein, washes my hair.

Fuzzy pansy petals?oh, and pussy willow.

The slick smoothness of freshly polished teeth

My son?s tender hand in mine.

I like that feeling.

* * *

I want to alert you to the fact that Taste of Home magazine is hosting one of their cooking schools in McPherson April 13. The event is being sponsored by KBBE/KNGL radio. When I talked to them on Monday, tickets were still available.

I had the opportunity to attend the school the last time it was offered and had a great time watching the cooking demonstrations. I received a load of information and they had drawings for some terrific prizes, ranging from furniture to 10-pound sacks of potatoes. This year they are awarding a prize for the oldest cookbook brought to the show.

One hint if you go to the school. Plan on eating either before or after the show. The crowds are so large, no samples are given.

Here?s more information:

Taste of Home Cooking School featuring home economist Margaret McKutcheon, McPherson Community Building, 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. For tickets, call KBBE/KNGL radio at 1-800-324-8058. Tickets are $4 per person.

I?ve already received my ticket. Hope to see you there!

* * *

St. Patrick?s Day brings corn beef and cabbage to our table. It?s so easy and so good! Here?s what I do to achieve this traditional, hearty dish.

Erin Go Braugh Corn Beef

4 lb. corned beef brisket

Russet potatoes, peeled and halved

Carrots, peeled and halved

Cabbage, washed and quartered

Whole clove


Bay leaf

Remove corn beef brisket from wrapper, keeping the seasoning packet if one is in the package. Place meat in large pot or dutch oven. Cover with water. In the pot, or better yet in a tea ball, add the contents of the seasoning packet, one large bay leaf, 6-8 whole cloves, 6-8 peppercorns. Bring water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a slow simmer (medium heat).

Cover and let simmer for about 21/2 hours. Carefully lift meat out of pot and add potatoes and carrots. Return meat to pot, resting on vegetables. Cook for about 30 minutes or just until potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Add cabbage to pot and layer on top of meat and let it steam for about 10 minutes.

When time to serve, slice meat against the grain and serve the vegetables with plenty of melted butter. Yes, butter, the real stuff.

It?s a wee bit o? heaven.

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