Made With Love

Families reconnect around the dinner table

Very few Saturdays passed without Mack Richardson coming to our neighborhood to check on his cousin, my daddy. Their fathers were first cousins, growing up looking out for each other as cousins do. This trait was passed to their sons.

Mack's brothers migrated north early; he was the one to stay close to home. Daddy only had sisters, so he and Mack grew up knowing they had to look out for each other.

When their siblings came to visit, they would come to our house and what a great time we would have. The adults told the younger ones stories of their upbringing. It instilled a closeness of kin and a care for each other.

"You have a cousin named Cecilia. She lives in New York, and she graduated from Johnson Smith (University)," Mack told me on many occasions. He always said that whenever she moved home, I must meet her and tell her Mack had tole me all about her.

Cecilia Juanita Richardson Trottie finally did move home. Mack brought her over to reconnect with the family, and she repeated part of what I was told many years of my life. I told her I had heard of her, and I jwas so pleased to meet my cousin Cecilia.

Cecilia did so much during her 92 years of living. She was not blessed with children but she was blessed with nieces, nephews, grand and great-grand nieces and nephews and many cousins and friends. She was a teacher in Columbia, Charlotte and New York. After doing some work for the federal government, she moved home. Cecilia loved God and she loved the traditions of being a member of Ladson Presbyterian Church. She was the matriarch of the Richardson family.

When her relatives gathered to say goodbye at her funeral this week, I asked one of her grand nephews, Terrence Hayes, if I knew him from Facebook. He whispered yes, and I said we would chat at the burial.

It was interesting when I received a notice that Terrence wanted to be my friend on Facebook. I only consented because I thought he was the son of a high school classmate, but this was not the case. Turns out, he's not only my friend but a relative, too.

I had once been told I had a cousin named Cecilia. When we met, we began the bonds of friendship. Terrence and I will have to do more than talk via Facebook to learn of each other.

Now I'll prepare these meals as I remember my cousin Cecilia -- what a cousin, what a lady and what a friend.

Salmon Croquettes

2 cans (15 1/2 ounces) salmon

3/4 cup onions, finely chopped

3 slices bread, crumbled

1/3 cup milk

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons oil

Mix salmon, onions, bread, milk, eggs, salt and pepper in large bowl using a fork. Shape into thick patties. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Brown patties on both sides until golden.

Chicken Gumbo with Rice

2 tablespoons margarine or butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 package (16 ounces) frozen black-eyed peas

4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1 /2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 bay leaf

2 cups cooked chicken, diced

1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn

1/2 pound okra, sliced

Hot cooked rice

Melt butter in large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion, celery and green pepper; cook and stir until onion is tender. Add peas, broth, lemon juice and seasonings; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 45 minutes.

Add chicken, corn and okra; return to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 6 minutes or until okra and corn are tender. Remove bay leaf. Serve with rice.

Caramelized Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-4 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup honey

Blanch asparagus, set aside. In a skillet, heat oil and add garlic. While stir frying, add the honey to caramelize. Coat asparagus with mixture.

Crock-Pot Meal

4-6 chicken breasts

1 onion, sliced

1 can cream of chicken soup

3 potatoes, cubed

Salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse the meat well and put in a slow cooker. Add the sliced onion, soup, potato cubes, salt and pepper. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours.