Change of plans on tonights menu. A great change of plan in my opinion; I don't know how you'll feel about it, but it was great to me. My plan to make Vegetable Stir-Fry transformed to dinner at my grandparents. So not to take the easy way out; I want to share my grandmother and my favorite recipe of hers with you.
Simms, my 3-year-old, lovingly calls her Gigi, and it has started to stick with me. Gigi is a special woman in my life, my daddy's mom, she has spoiled and cared for me tenderly through the years. I have learned how to work hard around the home and the importance of caring and loving for my husband and son by watching her example. She was a nurse for many years, and that is evident in her character. Eventually, she had her only child and decided to stay home to raise him. She is an incredible woman, giving and nurturing.
Not only was her character imprinted on me, but her cooking was as well. Not necessarily elegant, four-star cuisine, but the lesson that cooking and caring for your family can be incredibly joyous. I would watch her whistling and prancing around the kitchen in her petite frame, preparing food and cleaning with an elegant madness. She's the cutest thing, and if you met her you would want to be her friend; one of her finest qualities, and one she is so unaware of. Now she is not a gourmet chef by any stretch; my Momma taught me about the art of food, but the pure art of cooking and caring for my family I think partially was learned through Gigi.
This was such a special evening for us, as Gigi is losing a fight with cancer. They found it about two years ago in her liver. She no longer prances around the kitchen; rarely has enough energy to even walk out to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Tonight she was able to eat a few bites of dinner with us. A dinner that she used to cook so carefully.
So tonight we dined on Captain D's thanks to the culinary skills of chef Grandpa. "I slaved away all day on this folks," he yelled, his hearing aide never works so most of our conversation is screaming at each other as long as he's in the room. We all sat down at the round dining room table underneath the gawdy, crystal chandelier, and served ourselves fried fish and shrimp, french fries and creamy cole slaw on the good china, white doilies, and the white lace table cloth. I'm always kind of panicked with Simms, but it's not a true dinner, according to Gigi, if there's not a white table cloth.
Gigi, who would've normally been dolled-up from head-to-toe was in her dark-purple silk pajamas, no make-up, and hair not combed. But she still looked pretty and I told her that. Sick and swollen and all, she is still my beautiful, gentle, servant-hearted Grandma, and she always will be.
Here is one of my favorite recipes that she taught me. Nothing too special, but extremely special to me.
Gigi's Easy Chicken & Rice
1 package of chicken tenders
2 cans of cream of celery soup
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup of fresh orange juice
1 1/2 cups of rice
3 1/4 cups of chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in microwave. Add soup to melted butter and mix well. Add orange juice and salt and pepper, mix. Dip each chicken tender until coated. Place in casserole dish. Pour remaining sauce over chicken. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cook rice according to package directions in the chicken broth. Serve chicken over rice.