Our fifteen-year-old grandson, Noah, spent Spring Break with me and Papa.  And I found out public schools have reinstated what us old folks called Home-Ec. Yep, they’re teaching the kiddos to cook and many other life-use-trades, calling these classes in Texas, Family Consumer Science.

Hooray! Finally, a high school grad who won’t starve when he or she leaves the nest!

Noah wanted to test his new-found skills on some hand-me-down recipes from his Mimi and great grandmother, Nana. He cooked dinner—all by himself for Papa and me. And now I’ll brag, he conquered a recipe that took me years to perfect—peppercorn gravy. Not a packaged mix—from scratch. And his oven fried chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes were lip-smackin’ luscious!


I know his Nana, Great Aunt Tommie, his mom Michelle, and Grandma Marge are looking down from Heaven shoutin’, “Glory be! Look at that boy.”  But his step-mom Lori, Uncle Michael, and me speculate this is probably the results of a collective gene pool! Someday—in the far distant future—Noah’s gonna give some lucky gal lots of help in the kitchen.

So all you grandmas and papas, dust off and drag out those family recipes, and next time your old-enough-to-cook grandchild visits give ‘em your apron and be their assistant.



Marinate fresh chicken tenders in a southwest salad dressing or dressing of your choice for several hours.

Mix two or three cups of Panko breadcrumbs with 1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Dredge tenders in Panko mix and press crumbs into meat. Place on greased baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil or spray with Pam Cooking Spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.


4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cubed

6 to 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and rough cut

1 teaspoon salt

Place chopped potatoes, garlic, and salt in large pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil till fork tender, but not falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in sieve and return potatoes and garlic to pot.

1 stick real butter

1 teaspoon salt

Coarse ground black pepper to taste (we like lots of pepper)

1/2 cup of sour cream

Whip above ingredients with electric hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. If mixture is too thick, add ¼ cup of milk. Top with a generous pat of butter. Yummy! And if there are any leftovers, potato pancakes would be on the menu at our house next meal.


1 stick real butter

1/3 cup of flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 to 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper (to taste)

A large iron skillet makes the best rue, which is what you call the cooked flour/butter mixture.  Melt butter over medium high heat and sprinkle flour over melted butter. This is a constant care preparation. No multi-tasking here. Stir with a whisk until smooth but not brown. Pour one-half cup of milk into flour mix, stirring continually. Lower the heat and add another half cup of milk, still stirring and cooking the mixture.  For a thinner gravy add additional small amounts of milk, cooking between each addition, until you achieve the consistency your family loves.

If you like onions and garlic, chop and sauté them in a separate skillet, then add as a final ingredient to your perfect peppercorn cream gravy. Serve over mashed potatoes and/or as a dipping sauce for this guilt-free oven fried chicken.


About dianegates

DiAne is an artist, writer, photographer, and GriefShare facilitator who also leads an adult edit group for North Texas Christian Writers, LifeSavers is for adults who are serious about their writing skills. DiAne's YA novel "Roped" released by Prism Book Group was named a YA finalist for the Grace Awards, and was named #5 in The Top Ten Christian Reads for Teens and Tweens 2016. Her sequel to ROPED...TWISTED was released July 14, 2017 Both are available on Be sure to check DiAne's blog, "Moving the Ancient Boundaries" at
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