Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After a Rebellion, Cooking Suppers Became Her Obligation on Sundays; Khaleelah Green Shares a Special Bond with Her Mom in the Kitchen during the Holidays; WHAT'S COOKING

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After a Rebellion, Cooking Suppers Became Her Obligation on Sundays; Khaleelah Green Shares a Special Bond with Her Mom in the Kitchen during the Holidays; WHAT'S COOKING

Article excerpt

Khaleelah Green's baptism into the mysteries of cooking coincided with her decision, at age 12, not to go to church with her family one Sunday. Her mother couldn't persuade her to abandon her no- church position.

"I'll never forget this," Green says. "She marched me to the kitchen and said, 'Well, if you're not going to church, you can prepare Sunday dinner.' She put a box of au gratin potatoes and a few cans of vegetables on the table and I thought, 'OK, I can do this.' Then she pulled out a whole chicken. She threw me for a loop."

Her mother left for church. Green had no idea how to cook that chicken. Then she had a divine inspiration. She called her granny.

"She said, 'Aw, baby, you put that chicken in a roasting pan. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.' She told me what other spices to use, then she had me add two cups of water and put it in the oven. My mom was very surprised when she got home and the meal was done."

Over the next two months, Green baked the meats, heated the vegetables and got dinner on the table on Sundays. Her mom, however, had more challenges in store for her youngest child.

"She handed me pork chops the next Sunday, and she said, 'I want these fried.' That was the first meal I totally destroyed. The following Friday, she gave me a lesson in frying. I've been her kitchen assistant ever since, especially at the holidays. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, we're tight."

The two plan holiday meals each year. Together, they cook for 17 to 20 people each year. They choose recipes from her mom's collection of newspaper and magazine clippings, plus pass-along recipes from friends and relatives.

"I don't have a cookbook collection," Green says. "I've got my mom. A co-worker shared the spinach noodle recipe with my mom when I was 14 or 15. I thought, 'Who eats those things together?' but that dish was a hit from the first year she made it."

Last Thanksgiving, Green wandered the aisles of Walgreens, picking up ingredients for the spinach noodle dish at the last minute. "We hadn't planned to make it last year. When my nephew Keith found out, he called me, and I couldn't disappoint him."

Green values the time she spends with family and friends, often over meals. She and her friends get together each month for a "Sister Saturday." They meet at a diner to stay connected, share a meal and catch up.

"I'm a diner person," she says. "I'm old enough to remember when you could get a hamburger at Woolworth's." She traces her love of diners to her dad, Alonzo, now deceased. "He introduced us to restaurants and diners, especially the Parkmoor," she says.

Green understands how shared experiences enrich people's lives. In her work with developmentally disabled adults, she not only offers clients practical help, but she also encourages them to socialize and interact with friends, family and community.

"I want each of my clients to have the most fulfilling life possible," she says. …

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