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Cooking With Myra: Love, weddings and frittata

By By Myra Starkey
March 4, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 3, 2014 at 9:04 p.m.

Frittata with garden vegetables and baked bacon

Frittata with Garden vegetables

• 2 cups cubed country style bread, 1- to 2-inch cubes

• 3 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

• 3 medium summer squash, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

• 1 large yellow onion, diced

• 1 each red, yellow, green and orange bell pepper, thinly sliced

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 2 serrano peppers, finely minced

• 4 Tbsp. olive oil

• 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese

• 8 large eggs

• 1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning or salt and pepper

• 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

5 drops Tabasco

Place bread cubes in 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Saute zucchini, summer squash, onion, peppers and garlic in olive oil for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft. You can do this the night before and refrigerate vegetables.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut cream cheese into small pieces and place in pan with cubes. They are sticky, so just lay them out and they will melt into the frittata. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Cajun seasoning, Tabasco and whipping cream together. Fold in all vegetables and half of the Gruyere. Pour into the pan over the cubes and cream cheese. Sprinkle remaining Gruyere over the top and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. It's a beautiful and amazing brunch dish.

Seriously baked bacon

Line a cookie sheet with foil. The pan must have sides. Arrange slices of bacon on foil and place in cold oven. Turn oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 17-20 minutes (thickness of bacon dictates the time). Remove pan and carefully pour off grease. Place bacon on paper towels to absorb the fat. Bacon is crisp and perfect. A house that smells like bacon is a place everyone wants to be.

My niece, Madeline, is getting married, and I am excited to be a part of another wedding. Her mom is Taylor's sister, Loree, so this event is a family affair.

Loree has had a busy year of matrimony, as her two sons have also gotten married within the last year. Once Madeline is hitched in April, Loree and her husband, Mike, will have successfully married off all their offspring. Having completed that task, they will be able to relax and wait for the next and perhaps best phase of life - grandchildren.

Taylor is one of five offspring in the Starkey family. They are all married and have children. There are 14 kids in that generation, ranging from age 15 to 30. All the cousins have had a great time growing up together. They don't live in the same town, but the Starkeys get together numerous times during the year for holidays and vacations, so all these kids have spent a lot of time around each other.

Once Madeline is married, the total count of family in the three generations will be 30. They can have their own family reunions without inviting anyone else.

Several years ago, Madeline went to Florence, Italy, to teach English to Italians who wanted to learn our language. I did not think she would stay for that long, but instead, she surprised all of us and was there a year. She blogged, worked and ate the most fabulous meals.

I followed her life on the computer, and I admit I was living vicariously through her as she enjoyed her time far, far away. While she was there, a friend introduced her to an Englishman named Paul, and they fell in love.

Paul grew up in England in Yorkshire and was a soccer star in high school and continued to play in college. After graduation, he settled into a career in banking, but after several years, wanted to see the world and applied for a teaching spot in a small village in Italy.

Madeline and Paul had a teacher friend in common, and when she told Paul he must meet the beautiful American girl, he got on a train and went to Florence to meet her.

Madeline is memorable. She is beautiful, funny, clever and confident. They fell in love. After traveling back and forth from Europe to the U.S. over the past several years, they decided to get married. There love was so strong that the Atlantic Ocean was not a serious barrier.

Marrying a person from a foreign country is not an easy task. Paul went through interviews and embassies and more paperwork. There were flights, canceled flights, rescheduled flights and more paperwork until finally, Paul arrived in the U.S.

We will be celebrating the union of these lovers that spanned two continents and a story that is surely worthy of a true romance novel.

Except I would need to know a lot more details to have enough material to write that. Paul is handsome, talented, easygoing and smart. I love to hear him speak with his English accent.

He actually doesn't seem to talk all that much. I think that is because he is marrying into a family who is happy to do the talking. When our clan is together, it is nonstop conversation so he might be a little overwhelmed.

Last weekend, I gave Madeline a wedding shower with Mary and Carol, two of Loree's friends. All of us have loved Madeline for a very long time, and it was such a pleasure for us to enjoy this season in her life. We got together and planned a delicious menu. Several of the ladies who attended have called to ask for the recipes, so I decided to share them with you.

I made a frittata with garden vegetables and gruyere cheese and served it with baked bacon (the best way of all to cook bacon). Carol made two kinds of muffins - sweet, lemon muffins and rosemary muffins. Mary brought berry pavlova topped with fresh whipped cream, strawberries, kiwi, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

It was so fun to see Madeline all grown up and starting her new life with Paul. As she unwrapped her gifts and told stories of Paul, I remembered how fun it was to be young and in love with your whole life ahead of you.

I recalled the excitement of having every thing new and feeling like I was playing house like I did when I was a little girl. I look back on the early days and cherish those memories of getting to know the man you just married.

It seems like just yesterday that Madeline was a little girl bossing around her brothers and the other cousins, getting them to perform in the annual Starkey Christmas play. Time has passed so quickly, and the aunts and uncles have gotten old just as the cousins grew up. Family is such a treasure.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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