"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'
Kristen and two of her beautiful, sleepy boys at her brother's wedding
Kristen and I have known each other as long as I can honestly remember. Our mom's are the best of friends so many of my childhood memories include their family as an extension of my own. One silly memory that sticks out in my mind is when our families would all get together when we were kids. We would spend hours and hours together; all laughing, playing, reminiscing and having a great time. Toward the end of the day our parents would all of a sudden hurry us up. "Hurry hurry! Get on your coats, hats, scarves, boots, bags- we need to go NOW. So there we all are, all bundled up in our coats, hats, scarves, boots, etc. waiting. And waiting. And waiting. You know how your scarf gets after breathing on it for too long as a kid. Yeah, hot and gross. But yet we were still waiting. You see the parents would start laughing and talking again and forget about us. So we would finally peel off the layers and go play since they were obviously not quite ready to leave yet. An hour or so later we would hear "Hurry hurry! Get on your coats, hats, scarves, boots, we need to go NOW." So there we all are, all bundled up in our coats, hats, scarves, boots, etc. waiting. And waiting. And waiting...... this happened every single time! But you know what, now that I am an adult I can see how easy that happens with friends that you love so dear. You never run out of things to talk about.
Kristen comes from a wonderfully LARGE family. She has 7 brothers and sisters, the youngest who is a freshmen in college. Being around all of them is always such fun. Kristen and her husband Jeff have three adorable boys that I wish I saw more of. Such cuties! And she has a talent that I am so jealous of- she is a wonderful baker and decorates the coolest cookies! I need to get some tips from her, for that is one thing I have never ventured to do. At least not outside sprinkling lots of sugar or jimmies on them....
For this weeks Fridays, Feasting with Friends I would like to introduce you to my childhood friend Kristen Highland.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
to cook- love to make roasted vegetables. no matter what you do, you can't screw it up! To bake-everything! But what I LOVE the most is to decorate cookies and cakes...it's my stress reliever (?) and creative outlet.
Beautiful cookies Kristen decorated for a wedding shower
How about your least favorite thing to cook?
I hate to cook meat! In the last 7 years of our marriage I have yet to figure out how to make it right...although, on a side note I can cook any pork chop you give me into the world's best hockey puck!
What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
Jeff and I don't go out to eat very often, but when we do we try to go to places we haven't been to before. As I get older, I seem to be more willing to try different foods...which is a huge relief to Jeff!
Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
If we were to have a dinner party (which is highly unlikely because I don't do well under party pressure) sadly, the choice of music would probably be Kidz Bop or something equally attrocious so the kids have something to entertain themselves for a while, hopefully giving the adults time to talk and enjoy dinner.
What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
My mom's lasagna! As many times as I have tried to make it myself it just doesn't taste as good.
What are you currently reading?
Right now I'm reading most of Nicholas Sparks' books, although I have to say I'm disappointed in them. But I have a stack of books waiting for me at the library by Jen Lancaster, so I'm hoping they're good.
What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
I couldn't do anything in the kitchen without my little paring knife. I use it for everything!
Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Give me noodles, meat, and vegetables and I can whip a casserole in no time. I love casseroles, especially when the weather starts getting cooler...that and like roasted vegetables you really can't screw it up!
What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
I really don't venture up to Cleveland that often anymore, but the one thing I do miss is impromptu trips to the lake. I do, however, love to drive around and get lost (much to Jeff's dismay) in Medina and Wayne counties. There are so many farms and neat things to look at. (I think it's the secret dream of mine to have a farm that always draws me out there. Of course I'd have to hire someone to do the actual farming since I have two black thumbs and enough kids to clean up after let alone animals...but wouldn't it be cool though!)
Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
For some reason I remember tuna casserole the most from my childhood. Why, I have no idea. I don't make it too often because I think I'm the only one in my house that would eat it. But with each of my pregnancies it was the one food that I craved. Weird.
Top 3 Movies of all time?
My favorite movies of all time - Beauty and the Beast, Tommy Boy, and Forrest Gump. I could probably recite the lines for each one of them!
What was your happiest moment in life?
There's no way to pick just one day - so I'll pick four: my wedding day, and each of the boys births!
her three wonderful boys, Blaise, Gavan and Jace
Where do you do your grocery shopping?
I shop where ever the sales are-we have to really stretch our budget with three growing boys and one big boy (and only 1 income). I have to say my new favorite place is Aldi's. I can get a whole cart full of groceries and spend half of what I normally would at the grocery stores in town. Unfortunately the closest one is 20 minutes away - so I usually have to psych myself out for a trip because it's just so much easier to go to the stores in town.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
CHOCOLATE!!! (and peanut butter with chocolate if the situation calls for desperate measures)
Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
My family - all of them. I wouldn't be who I am today without my parents, Jeff, my boys, and all my siblings. My parents have blessed me with their love, wisdom, and guidance and I am doing my best to instill the same beliefs in my children.
Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
Same resolution as always - learn how to cook meat without turning it into a deadly projectile weapon!
One word that best describes you is:
One word huh? Well I guess the one word that sums it up is ME! :)
Kristen, her husband Jeff and their son Jace
Here is my mom's recipe for lasagna:
Mrs. Westerburg's Lasagna
1 lb ground beef (more or less depending on how meaty you like it)
1 box lasagna noodles
1 package each mozarella and ricotta cheese
1 can spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon each parsley, salt, and pepper
Brown and drain ground beef, add spaghetti sauce. Cook noodles accordingly. In separate bowl mix the cheeses, parsley, salt, pepper, and egg. Layer in dish starting with sauce, noodles, sauce, cheese. Try to end with a layer of sauce and cheese mixture. Cook at 350 for 1/2 hour.
And tell anyone who is willing to make this that I will be happy to come over to try it to see if it's as good as mom's. ;)