Grandmother, granddaughter enjoy special time during summer

Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly

After Martha Hill’s husband, Hoyt, passed away in 2015, life has changed, but faith and family have remained the most important. Martha finds when the children and grandchildren visit it is even more special. This summer, her granddaughter, Sara Kate Taylor, decided to spend the summer with her grandmother in Opelika. Martha has been teaching Sara Kate how to grocery shop, and they are having fun cooking together.

Sara Kate is enjoying living in the house her mother grew up in and attending the same church, Trinity United Methodist, where she works at Children’s Day Out. Both of her parents, Sandra Hill and Walt Taylor, grew up in Opelika. Sara Kate is also spending time with her other grandmother, Sandra Knight Thomaston, in Opelika.

Sara Kate is a sophomore at the University of Alabama, majoring in public relations. Her mother graduated from Alabama, as well as her Hill grandparents.

Martha and Hoyt have three children, who all grew up in Opelika, and eight grandchildren. Sandra and Walt live in Lawrenceville, Ga., and also have two sons; Walton, who just graduated from Georgia Tech, and Will, a high school senior. Their other daughter Susan and her husband, Bob, reside in Birmingham and have three children; Anna, a senior at Mississippi College; Allison, a sophomore at Mississippi College; and Matthew, who is in high school. Son John and his wife, Jinsook, have two sons, Jaemin, 12, and Jaden, 10, live in Maricopa, Az.

“My grandchildren are one of the greatest blessings in my life,” says Martha. “Grandchildren are spoken of in the Bible as the crown of the elderly in Proverbs 17:6. When I think of them joy and pride come to mind. How special the times we’ve shared together have been! I hope that these times have created special memories for them.

“Over the years I have always tried to make sure that each of my grandchildren felt special,” adds Martha, “and that they knew how much they are loved. Faith and family was important to Hoyt and me in our lives.”

Hoyt was well known in Opelika and active in church. He was an attorney with the Walker Hill Law Firm for many years and finished his career at the Walton Law Firm.

Martha met Hoyt while they were attending the University of Alabama. She graduated in nursing with bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Her nursing school was moved to UAB, She has a special relationship with the staff and former faculty members and visits the school often. During one of her visits, she was interviewed by the local Fox News about when she attended nursing school. Martha plans to be at the dedication of the new School of Nursing building in September.

When the Hills’ children were growing up, Martha’s mother made the Chocolate Pound Cake when they visited, and then Martha began making it for her children. It is her grandchildren’s favorite dessert, and Walton asks for it on his birthday.

When her grandchildren visit, the first thing they ask is if she has any pumpkin muffins. She feels Pumpkin Bread is a nutritious snack. To assure that her two grandchildren in Arizona grow up enjoying her cooking, she often mails them Pumpkin Bread and Chocolate Pound Cake at Christmas.

Martha experiments with recipes to cut fat, sugar and sodium. On her Sweet Potato Pie she cut the sugar in half and uses fat free evaporated milk. “Sweet potatoes are a nutritious powerhouse filled with vitamins and fiber,” says Martha. She often takes this dish to people who are not feeling well, as it is soft and easy to eat.

Martha became interested in healthy foods while taking a nutrition class. Her interest was sparked by the lab, which impressed her how much healthier the mice were who were fed nutritious meals.

Martha talks to her grandchildren about having color on the plate and food safety.

Last summer Sara Kate’s brother Walton visited his grandmother often and wanted to learn how to cook. He learned how to make pumpkin and blueberry muffins, pound cake and Turkey Meatloaf.

Sara Kate has enjoyed making Quesadillas. Her Aunt Susan made them when she visited, and everyone enjoyed them. They make a quick and nutritious lunch. Chicken, cheese or vegetables are tasty fillings.

The Spaghetti Casserole is another family favorite, and all the grandchildren enjoy it. They also request the Striped Delight Pudding. Martha makes two pans and puts chocolate pudding at the bottom in one and vanilla pudding with bananas in the other. Then she layers the cream cheese mixture and tops with Cool Whip.

Martha has been making many of the following recipes with Sara Kate for her to prepare and pass on to her children. “It has been a special time this summer to have Sara Kate here,” Martha says. “I feel it has been a gift.” In addition to cooking, they also enjoy an evening walk together and watching movies.

When the grandchildren are not here, Martha stays busy with church activities. She volunteers in the church office once a week and is involved in the Congregational Care Ministry, visiting shut-ins and those who are ill. She is also involved in the Brown Bag Bible Study, Widow’s Mite, Trinity Troopers, the food committee and her Sunday school class.

Martha also has been writing her life stories for her grandchildren. “I feel that is important that we pass along family history and stories that are part of the family heritage,” she says. “God instructs us to do this. Deuteronomy 4:9 reads ‘Do not forget the things your eyes have seen all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.’ Along with these stories she has included pictures.

“Mine and Hoyt’s legacy was and is to pass on to our children our faith in God and His promises of eternal life to those who trust in Jesus as their savior,” says Martha. “Our desire is that our children and grandchildren know God and that they have a personal saving relationship with Him. We felt that nothing else in life is more important.”

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Squash Casserole
2 ½ – 3 lbs. squash
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. sour cream
1 Tbsp. margarine
½ cup shredded sharp cheese
1 egg
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
Clean, slice and cook squash until tender. Drain all water, then place in a colander and mash until smooth. This helps remove more of the liquid.
Add all the ingredients and place in a Pyrex buttered casserole dish. I use a 6 x 10 dish.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. sour cream
¼ cup milk
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place liners in muffin pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the eggs on at a time, then vanilla, sour cream and milk.
In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and beat until just mixed. Fold in blueberries with a spatula and be sure it is fully mixed.
Scoop the batter into the pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Striped Delight Pudding
See the note about making a chocolate and banana pudding.
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup melted butter or margarine
8 oz. cream cheese softened
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
2 pkgs. Jell-O Brand Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding
3 ½ cups cold milk
Combine graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup sugar and melted butter. Press firmly into bottom of 13 x 9 in pan.
Beat cream cheese with sugar and 2 Tbsp. milk until smooth. Fold in half the whipped topping. Spread over crust.
Using 3 ½ cups cold milk, prepare pudding. Pour over cream cheese layer and chill for several hours.
Spread remaining whipped topping over pudding and garnish with chocolate, nut or bananas.
Note: You can divide this recipe in half and use one chocolate pudding for one half and one vanilla pudding for the other half. If desired, add bananas to the vanilla to make it banana pudding.

Spaghetti Casserole
1 lb. ground turkey
½ lb. angel hair spaghetti or thin spaghetti
8 oz. sour cream
1 jar Ragu or Prego pasta sauce
8 oz. ricotta
8 oz. bag mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
1 lb. ground turkey
Spray a 9 x 13 glass dish with Pam.
Brown and drain the turkey.
Cook spaghetti noodles per package instructions.
While pasta cooks, add sauce, ricotta and all but ⅓ cup of the mozzarella cheese to the meat. Mix well.
Drain noodles and mix in sour cream. Spread noodle mixture in the bottom of the dish. Spread the meat mixture on top of the noodle layer. Sprinkle the remaining ⅓ cup of mozzarella cheese on top after casserole has baked 15 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Check to be sure the cheese doesn’t get too brown.

Turkey Meatloaf
1 lb. ground turkey
1 5.5 oz. can tomato juice
½ cup oatmeal
1 egg
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ tsp. salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients; mix thoroughly. Press into an 8 x 4 loaf pan. Bake for one hour.
½ cup catsup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. mustard
Mix all together. Spread on meatloaf after it has been baking for 30 minutes.

½ cup baked chicken breast, chopped
Mozzarella cheese, shredded (as much as desired)
Flour tortillas
Black beans, corn, green pepper can also be added.
Warm the pan and put a quarter size amount of olive oil in and spread around the bottom. Then put a tortilla on the pan and let it warm. When the tortilla is warmed, add cheese, chicken or whatever toppings you would like.
Fold the tortilla in half and flip. Continue cooking until it is
slightly browned.

Spaghetti Pie
This is a favorite of all the children, and John Hill makes it for his children.
1/2 lb. cooked spaghetti, drained
2 Tbsp. olive oil or melted butter
2 large eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese (about 3/4 of a 15.oz. container)
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, toss the hot spaghetti with olive oil. In a small bowl, combine eggs and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Stir into the spaghetti. Pour the spaghetti mixture into a lightly greased 10-inch pie plate and form into a crusty.
Spread ricotta evenly over the crust, but not quite to the edge, and top with spaghetti sauce. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
Top with the shredded mozzarella. Bake for 5 minutes more, or until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Makes 6 servings.

Sweet Potato Pie
Made with reduced amount of sugar.
3 –4 large sweet potatoes (2¼ lbs.)
¼ cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ to 1/8 tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. allspice, optional
1 tall can fat free evaporated milk
2 deep-dish pie shells, unbaked
Preheat oven and cookie sheets to 375 degrees. Boil sweet potatoes in water until easily pierced with a fork. Place peeled and sliced potatoes in large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer at high speed until smooth.
Stir in butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Mix in spices, salt and evaporated milk. Pour into unbaked pie shells.
Bake on a cookie sheet for 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool on wire racks. Makes two 9-inch deep-dish pies or 3 in regular sized crusts.

Grandmother Jackson’s Chocolate Pound Cake
2 sticks butter, softened
½ cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups plain flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. cocoa
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and shortening; add sugar and eggs. Sift dry ingredients; add alternately with milk to creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla.
Bake in a greased bundt pan for about 80 minutes or until tests done. Can bake in two loaf pans. Cool and frost.
1 stick margarine
4 Tbsp. cocoa
4 to 5 Tbsp. milk
1 box powdered sugar
In a saucepan, melt margarine; add cocoa and milk. Bring to a boil. Remove from the burner. Add sugar and blend and smooth.

Pumpkin Bread or Muffins
3½ cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned pumpkin
Grease loaf pans. Blend dry ingredients in bowl until well mixed.
Combine oil, eggs, water and pumpkin; beat until well blended. Add dry ingredients slowly and beat well.
Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 60 to 65 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans and continue cooling on wire racks. Wrap in foil and store in refrigerator or freeze. Makes three 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2-inch loaves.
Bake muffins for25 to 30 minutes or until test done.

Baked Honey Dijon Salmon
¼ cup melted Herb butter (I use Kerrygold Garlic and Herb Butter)
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 ½ Tbsp. honey
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely chopped pecans
4 (6-7 oz.) fillet salmon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl stir together the butter, mustard and honey. Set aside. In another bowl mix breadcrumbs and pecans.
Brush each fillet lightly with honey mustard mixture and sprinkle the top of the fillet with the crumb mixture.
Bake salmon for 15 minutes in the preheated oven until it flakes easily with a fork.

Vegetable Soup
2 pkg. frozen soup vegetables
1 can tomato soup
1 or 2 cans diced tomatoes
3-4 cups water
2-3 chicken bouillon cubes (dissolve in a little boiling water first before adding to soup mixture)
1 lb. ground turkey, browned
1 can pinto beans, optional
Bring to boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30-45 minutes.

Potato Casserole
2 lb. bag hash browns thawed
1 can cream chicken soup
¼ cup butter
16 oz. sour cream
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
½ onion, chopped
Coat an 11 x 14 with pan nonstick spray.
In large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir. Add potato mix and bake for 45 minutes in a 350 degrees oven. Casserole is ready when the top is golden brown.
Scoop out a spoonful after 45 minutes to taste, and see if potatoes are tender.


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