Did you ever have a teacher that you bonded with in school? I was lucky enough to have several wonderful teachers in English that I really admired, but the one I bonded with the most was my Home Economics teacher, Mrs. O’Neill. She was one of the people in my life who always encouraged my creative outlets (writing and poetry). I know that some of the things I wrote about in high school were a bit dark (I often wrote about death and suicide). It wasn’t because I was “into” those things, but for a while suicide was quite prevalent in our small town. My grandpa had passed away when I was eleven and the horse he gave me for Christmas was killed on Christmas Eve…..so, for a young child, I had seen my share of sorrow and felt it’s grip. I coped with it through writing. As I look back at some of the poems I wrote I can now understand the concern that some of my teacher’s had. It wasn’t warranted, but I can still see their side of it.
Mrs. O’Neill encouraged me to start journaling. She also encouraged me to keep a folder or booklet of all the poems I wrote. Here is a treasure I dug out a week or two ago:
I remember writing poems and giving her a copy…..excited to hear her feedback. I learned a lot from her and Home Ec. soon became my sanctuary in a rather dull and boring high school existence (I just wasn’t a dedicated student back then). I remember making a really neat quilt in her class. I learned the basics of cooking in her class and I truly believe that my love of the kitchen started in her class. My mom and grandma were both great cooks and I remember spending a lot of time with both of them as they created various things for the family to eat. However, on my own, I think Home Ec. is where the seed was planted to truly enjoy the kitchen. As I’ve grown older, it’s become a sort of sanctuary for me.
I was thinking about Mrs. O’Neill yesterday. I decided to make Goulash for lunch……it’s the recipe that Mrs. O’Neill had us make in high school….so I decided to name it “Mrs. O’Neill’s Goulash” in honor of her. It is a really simple recipe (that I’ve enhanced a bit). I don’t even have it written down….that’s how easy it is. I’m typing it out here so each of you can try it and see what you think. This is my old standby….guess I’ve been making it for 25 years now so I consider it a classic.
Mrs. O’Neill’s Goulash
1 ½ lbs. Ground Beef
½ Onion, Diced
4 Stalks of Celery, Diced
Salt & Pepper
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
1 Large can of Tomato Soup (or 2 Small cans)
1 cup of cooked Corn
2 cups of cooked Macaroni
1 ½ cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese
While browning Ground Beef with Onion and Celery add a sprinkling of minced garlic, salt and pepper, Lawry’s, garlic salt, and oregano.
After beef is browned, add tomato soup.
Simmer together for a few minutes. Add cooked corn. Stir and simmer for a few minutes.
Add cooked Macaroni. Stir together and simmer for a few more minutes.
Taste….add a sprinkling of seasonings if needed. Top with Sharp Cheddar Cheese.
Allow to melt. Stir together and serve.
Devour….this goulash is so easy it’s hard to believe it tastes so good!
Mrs. O’Neill passed down a few of these recipes, but this one is by far the most used by me. I still exchange Christmas cards with Mrs. O’Neill. I think she would get a kick out of me blogging about her and this recipe. In fact, I think I will print it out and send it to her. My testimony may serve to remind us all that young minds are like sponges….they soak up all kinds of things. Some of those things we don’t even know about until we are much older. I’m so glad that Mrs. O’Neill was in my life. It may have taken me 20+ years to get back to writing, but because of her I had the know-how and the confidence to do it from long ago. Thank you, Mrs. O’Neill! ~Cheyenne