They say that everything you need to know in life, you learn in kindergarten, and I believe that's true. I've learned most of what I know from my mom, Dianne... who teaches kindergarten.

One of the most important things I've learned from Mom is that common sense is just as important as what she calls "book smarts." She's taught me to be proud of myself and my accomplishments but also to be a graceful loser. She's taught me that kindness, consideration and a warm smile can take you far in this world. Stand up for yourself but treat others with the respect they deserve. She's taught me to embrace creativity and imagination. Laugh as much as possible, but crying can be helpful.

I've learned that dedication to your job is a very good thing, but it shouldn't be your whole identity. Make time to spend with family and friends. Try not to take everything so seriously — let your hair down and have fun every now and then. It's okay to try and fail. And I'm still learning to stop and appreciate the beauty around me, even if it is something as simple as the largest woodpecker you've ever seen sitting on a log outside your bedroom window.

That knowledge Mom has given me extends to the kitchen as well — make sure your oil is the right temperature before frying, always add a pinch of sugar to cornbread and (my favorite) good cooks always make a mess in the kitchen.

I've cooked with Mom for as long as I can remember, even if it was just stirring a pot of sauce. As a result, I cook just like her. We both rarely measure and come up with new recipes by adding a little of this and a little of that. I've included the recipe for one of those concoctions — Hong Kong Beef. We came up with this recipe by combining things we thought would taste good together. On the night of this food experiment, Hong Kong was returned to Chinese control, so we christened it Hong Kong Beef, and it is still one of my favorite dishes.

Celebrate your mom this Sunday, and tell her how much she means to you. Whether it is brunch or dinner, she'll appreciate you cooking for her.



Hong Kong Beef

1 lb. sirloin steak, cut into strips

1 package frozen stir-fry vegetables (any variety)

1 onion, chopped

1 can beef consumé

Worchestershire sauce, to taste

Soy sauce, to taste

Butter

Cooked egg noodles or brown rice

In a large skillet, sauté onions until translucent in butter over medium to medium high heat. Add sirloin strips and brown on all sides. Add beef consumé and bring to a simmer. Add Worchestershire sauce and soy sauce to taste and continue to simmer while steaming the stir-fry vegetables and preparing pasta or brown rice according to package directions. Once vegetables are cooked through, add to beef and sauce mixture. Simmer together slowly for approximately 10 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Serve over the egg noodles or brown rice.

From the kitchen of Dianne Wheeler and Krista Richmond



Classic Belgian Waffles

2 cups cake flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

4 large eggs, separated

2 T. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 T. unsalted butter, melted

2 cups milk

nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a second bowl, use the wooden spoon to beat together the egg yolks and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved and eggs have turned a pale yellow. Add the vanilla extract, melted butter and milk to the eggs and whisk to combine. Combine the egg-milk mixture with the flour mixture and whisk just until blended. Do not overmix. In third bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. Do not overmix. Coat the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray and pour enough batter in iron to just cover waffle grid. Close and cook as per manufacturer's instructions until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.



Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

1/4 lb. sliced smoked salmon

12 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T. butter

12 to 15 blades of fresh chives, finely chopped

Reserve two slices of salmon for garnish. Chop the remaining salmon into very small pieces. Whisk your eggs and cream together. Add 1/2 of your chopped chives and season eggs with salt and pepper. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in the pan and add eggs. Scramble eggs with a wooden spoon. Do not cook eggs until dry. When eggs have come together but remain wet, stir in chopped salmon. Remove pan from the stove and place on a trivet. Garnish the eggs with remaining salmon and chives and serve right out of the warm pan.



Green Onion Hash Brown Potatoes

2 or 3 large leftover baked potatoes

1 T. vegetable oil

2 T. butter

5 scallions, finely chopped, whites and greens

Salt and pepper or steak seasoning blend

Scoop cooked potatoes from shells and coarsely chop. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Add oil and butter to the pan. When butter melts into the oil, add green onions and cook 1 minute. Add potatoes and cook, turning occasionally, until potatoes are crusted and golden and onions begin to brown at edges.



Spring Fruit Pudding

Strawberry Coulis:

2 cups strawberries, quartered

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. lemon juice

Mango Coulis:

2 cups cubed mango

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. lemon juice

Spring Pudding:

6 cups cubed angel food cake, torn into 2-inch chunks

2 cups each cubed mango and quartered strawberries

2 cups sweetened whipped cream

5 mint sprigs, for garnish

Strawberry coulis: Combine ingredients in a small pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for 12 minutes. Purée until smooth. Mango coulis: Combine ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. In a small (2-quart) trifle dish or pretty glass bowl, layer 11/2 cups of cake pieces. Top with 1 cup of mango pieces and 1 cup of mango coulis. Layer 11/2 cups of cake pieces and top with 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of strawberry coulis. Layer 11/2 cups of cake pieces and top with remaining mango and mango coulis. Layer remaining cake pieces and top with remaining strawberries and strawberry coulis. Spread whipped cream over entire surface and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with mint.



Heath Bar Cake

1 box German chocolate cake mix

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 small jar butterscotch ice cream topping

1 container whipped topping

3 Heath Bars

Bake cake according to directions on box. Let cake cool slightly and poke holes in top of cake with the end of a wooden spoon. Pour sweetened condensed milk over cake. Spread butterscotch topping over milk. Chill for 1 hour or overnight, then spread with whipped topping. Crush Heath bars and sprinkle on top of cake. Keep refrigerated.

From the kitchen of Beverley and Caroline Selby

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