Meet my little shutterbug of a grandson "Booga." He loves to hide and catch people off guard with my camera. Here he is on the second floor staircase trying to catch me coming upstairs just last night!
After nine months of hanging around the house quietly feeling sorry for myself -- for being unemployed and dealing with health issues -- I returned to the workforce.
Elated at the idea, I quickly remembered I have a family to take care of!
They had become accustomed to me being home.
I was in full June Cleaver mode for such a long time, even wearing the apron! There are pictures of that somewhere, because my grandson Booga was always sneaking around with my camera. You'd hear a giggle, the click of the camera coming on, see a flash and then hear the sound of little feet running away.
I don't like pictures taken of me. There's probably less then 20 taken of me in the last 20 years before 2014. But Booga, my little shutterbug, changed that.
I mean really. How could I be angry with such a sweet little mischievous boy like Booga. He smiles, and I have to smile with him.
So... Giggle, click, flash and I've been immortalized standing barefoot in my kitchen wearing an apron either doing the dishes or cooking dinner more times than I care to count.
The first day of working second shift meant he wouldn't catch me cooking dinner with the camera for a while.
It also meant my family wouldn't have me home to cook for them either.
Now trust me, it's not that there aren't incredible cooks in the house who take a spin in the kitchen.
My beautiful daughter loves to cook, especially chicken alfredo. My father, although it's been a while since he has cooked, can make incredible southern breakfast omelets that just the thought of them still makes my mouth water. My wonderful husband can put a tasty Texan spin on anything he cooks -- including pizza, while my brother-in-law, who is in the process of learning his way around the kitchen, makes a mean grilled cheese. They all wander into the kitchen from time to time.
But, being a mom, I enjoy cooking for the people I love.
Then I remembered Crock Pots. Being home, I hadn't really used one of the six I own very often while impersonating Mrs. Cleaver. Maybe I used one of them four times at the most. I went back to the basics; it was usually the stovetop or the oven when I cooked.
Crock Pots were going to be my solution to my not being home, and Sausage Beer Cheese Soup could be the first recipe.
At this point I have to tell you that my husband took care of dinner every night that first week, making my favorites. This is my second week, and my daughter has stepped up to fill my void.
The first opportunity I get, I'm making this for my family, because they are taking care of me and I want to return the favor by making something they enjoy.
Sausage Beer Cheese Soup
Crock Pot -- spray the insides to keep soup from sticking
32 oz chicken broth, any kind
12 oz stout beer, any brand
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup celery, sliced thin
1 cup onion diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cornstarch
2-3 bratwurst links, precooked and thinly sliced
1. Place all chicken broth except 1/4 cup to mix with cornstarch later, beer, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper into your Crock Pot. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours, Don't lift the lid if you don't have to, it lets the temperature drop and can extend cooking time.
2. About 15-20 minutes before soup is to be served prepare the sausages. You can cook the sausages the way you like, and let them sit to preserve their juices before cutting and adding to the soup. If using leftovers or precooked sausages, slice them into thin circles or half circles for the soup. I prefer the half circles because it gives the appearance of more meat in the soup, which can be very important if you have a strict food budget that makes any leftovers very important.
3. Once cooking time for your Crock Pot is up, remove lid and stir in shredded cheese and heavy cream. Stir until cheese is melted, then whisk the cornstarch into the chicken broth until there are no lumps before adding the mixture into the pot. When the soup starts to thicken, add the sausage slices. Recover the pot and let cook for 10-15 minutes longer before serving.
TIP: Our family likes a hearty soup, so I cook fresh sausages with more chopped onion, celery, carrots along with some red or green peppers for color to add into the soup at the end. You can add leftover baked potatoes (skins removed and chopped) at the end of the cooking time for even more rustic soup.
We also top it with homemade bacon bits and a sprinkle of green onions. This can be served with any type of fresh bread or biscuits you like, but warm pretzel rolls are the best.