It was a busy day. I had to cook something really quick with the chopped chicken but I did not know what to do with it. Not chicken pork adobo again, I told myself. I am not a talented cook. I learned to cook when I got married 16 years ago. But I did it ( and still doing it) only out of my survival instincts.
Will I leaf through my cookbook or Google a recipe? On a rush of inspiration, I remembered my Mom’s small wooden box of recipes. I tiptoed hard as I reach for it on top of a book shelf. I blew off the bit of dust and opened it. I smiled at the 5 x 7 inch recipe cards, all alphabetically arranged. My Mom was always organized. I looked under the letter C and as I pulled out her recipe for Chicken Corn Casserole a wave of heaviness filled my chest.
I suddenly missed her for she died many years ago. As I studied her familiar sweeping strokes, I remembered the wonderful dishes that she cooked for our family. It was a triumph for someone who was clueless about cooking during the early years of her marriage. She lived at my Dad’s family home together with Lola Mary, my paternal grandmother. My grandmother taught her how to cook. I suppose my Mom did not have a choice. Lola Mary was known for her culinary skills but she was a stern disciplinarian in the kitchen. It must have been hard for a young bride but she was determined to learn. Many years later, Lola Mary spent her vacation in our Marikina home. My Mom whipped up an array of delectable dishes. My grandmother was very much impressed as she declared. ” The student has outdone the teacher.” My Mom beamed with joy for days.
I sighed and wished I can cook like her. My disinterest in the kitchen frustrated her no end. She would shout my name while she was cooking so she could teach me. But I preferred to bury myself in my books. I overheard her telling my Dad that my few attempts at cooking ended up disastrously. She knew I couldn’t be a whiz in the kitchen and that fact disappointed her. To make up to her, I studied hard and brought home instead consistently good grades.
My husband was to arrive in two hours so I hurriedly cooked the Chicken Corn Casserole. The hubby’s verdict? ” It wasn’t bad.” For my taciturn husband that was a low-key compliment. Maybe there is still hope for me. My Mom would have been proud.
Chicken Corn Casserole
1 kilo chicken cut ups
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cups corn ( fresh or canned)
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup green peas
1/2 cup celery
Brown the chicken pieces slightly and set aside.Saute the onions until wilted. Pour chicken stock and simmer over low fire. Mix the butter and flour and put the roux in the stock. Swirl the stock a bit then mix in the chicken pieces, green peas and celery. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until chicken is cooked. Serve hot either with rice or crusty bread.