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VOL. 36 | NO. 15 | Friday, April 13, 2012

It’s easy being cheesy with these puffs

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When my dad’s mother turned 102 (no typo there), I made a trip to Colorado to pack her few belongings and move her to Arkansas, where she would be closer to me.

My father had since passed away, along with most of his other siblings. She was living in an assisted-living residence, but had started falling quite a bit. In Colorado, the law requires that if a resident falls a certain amount of times within a month – on a monthly basis – they are to be moved to a nursing home.

This broke my grandmother’s already broken heart from out-living her husband and all of her children. She begged me to move her back down South, where she had lived most of her life, and where she could be around my mother and me.

So, my mom and I packed up what little we could get by on and started on our way. The trip there was actually fun. Although it was in early October, there was not much snow – a lucky break for us, especially on the passes.

The trip back wasn’t quite as jolly or exiting. Along with granny’s few things, we had a wheelchair and an old, large (I’m talking my size) metal oxygen tank crammed in the back of the SUV. I don’t think she needed the oxygen, but she did, and you can’t convince a 102-year-old of anything differently, so we clanged and rattled the entire 1,400 miles with the monstrous tank all the way home.

Occasionally, she would ask, “What’s wrong with your car? How come it’s rattling so much?” The first few times, my mother and I went into lengthy discussions with granny trying to explain that it was not my car, but after the seventh or eighth time, we gave up. We did honestly consider dumping it alongside the road, though – more than once!

We tried having her at our house, but it is not wheelchair or walker friendly. And, to be honest, even though she only weighed about 105 pounds, she was a bit heavy for me to assist. Our only option was in a nearby assisted-living residence. By nearby, I mean literally about a half mile from my home. I could leave my house and be by her side in a five-minute walk.

Anyway, she loved – I mean loved – crunchy Cheetos. In fact, Cheetos and starlight mints were her staple foods. She was ok as long as she had some on hand.

One day, I knew she was getting low on her stash, so I dropped by the store to get more before going to see her. When I got there, with two big bags of crunchy Cheetos, she let me know right away that she didn’t like the crunchy type, but the puffs. She had always had the puffs. She claimed she had been eating the puffs for a while.

Ok, here are two pearls of wisdom for you: 1. Don’t argue with a centenarian woman. 2. Especially bad if she is your grandmother!

She lived to be the sweet-but-lonely old age of 105 before the Lord called her home, but I know she went with a belly full of cheese puffs and starlight mints. And I know she didn’t have to make that trip with that old clanging, rattling oxygen tank!

I found a recipe the other day while trying to decide on what might be of interest and came across a cheese puff recipe. Not quite in time for my grandmother, but I do have granddaughter who also seems to think cheese puffs (not Cheetos) are the greatest thing on earth.

So, this weekend, while she is here visiting, I will practice on her. Kids (and elderly alike) have no problem in telling you if something is good or not!

Cheese Puffs

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup butter

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour

2 eggs

3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup Cheese Whiz

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a heavy saucepan, combine water, butter and salt, and bring to a rolling boil. Add flour all at once, stirring constantly until mixture forms a ball and cleans the sides of the pan. (You are making a cream-puff dough.) Remove from heat. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously after each until mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in softened cream cheese and Cheez Whiz until blended.

Drop by teaspoons onto well greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately.

– From Linda Larsen, About.com Guide

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