Spring into March with Our Newest Kitchen Chick, Terra Mueller!
I’m so excited to announce our next Kitchen Chick, because she is near and dear to my heart. She’s my youngest sister Terra! We are far apart in miles, but not in spirit. Terra lives in Colorado with her husband Dan and 3 children, Jake, Addie, and Luke. There are lots of things I could tell you about Terra, but my favorite food memory is when she ate all the raisins out of my raisin bran! I may have overreacted just a tad, because I made her sit there and eat the rest of it before we left for school. I was a junior in high school and she was a first grader. I should’ve been a better sister. Sorry Terra 🙁 She’s always been a bright light in our family and continues to be a positive influence in my life. I love you Terra and am so excited that you are our next Kitchen Chick!
Terra, in her own words
I am a mom to 3, a wife to a man that God handpicked just for me, and sister and Auntie to the main two Kitchen Chicks. I was a Stay at Home Mom for the last 17 years but with college looming have gone back to work part time as a Communication Associate at a 55 and up community close to home. I am loving my new found friends there and the recognition and sense of accomplishment it brings. (Let’s face it, mom’s don’t get much recognition). On my day off you will find me skiing the mountains of Colorado or whipping up something in the kitchen.
Where does your love of cooking stem from?
My mother inspired me with the way she would creatively feed her family on a minimum wage budget. Nothing was wasted and she was fearless with the ingredients she had to work with (Much to our chagrin sometimes). My Dad was also essential in my passion for cooking. I learned early on the foods that he would get giddy about and loved making them for him just to see the sparkle come to his eye when he heard it was ready.
I love any recipe that has a story to go along with it.
In fact, if I find a recipe online I am much more likely to make it if it has a little blurb about where it came from and why they love it. I also really enjoy making my husband’s, mother’s recipes . They were given to her by her mother in law and are over 150 years old. For Dan’s birthday I always make his grandmother’s German meatballs and homemade noodles. I love to make food that evokes emotion from another era or someone’s heritage and brings joy to others.
Any favorite foods? Least favorite foods?
Growing up in the south I love anything with a little avocado and salsa on it. I would have to say a big Nacho Taco Salad is my go to comfort food.
My least favorite food is anything with curry. I have not met Indian cuisine that I like. Except for that naan bread. …that’s the bomb.
I should add that our mother was a great lover of Mexican food and would dress up her own nachos using Doritos, cheddar cheese and green olives. Sounds weird, I know, but they were quite tasty. She also made, what she called, “Palomino sandwiches“. Basically grilled cheese with mustard and jalapenos. 🙂 Remember those Terra?
Who taught you to cook or inspired you in the kitchen?
I have always liked to experiment in the kitchen. Our mom, (I say our because Jackie is my older sister) never inhibited us from helping in the kitchen. I remember the first time I wanted to make a cake (I was about 5 or 6) and I insisted that I did not need a box mix. Mom let me go to the pantry and add what I thought should be in a cake into the cake pan I picked out. She never said I couldn’t do it that way she let me try first and learn on my own that there must be a better way. That’s the way she taught, I strive to be that way with my kids too.
What trick have you learned that every cook should know?
Oh, hands down learn to make your own chicken stock. It is so much more flavorful than the boxed broth. To make it easy, I usually buy 2 rotisserie chickens. Peel all the meat from the bones and put in freezer bags by 2 cup portions to use for other recipes. Throw all the bones and skin into a large 3 quart pot with 3 carrots, 3 celery stalks, 1 onion, 1 bay leaf, 1T. salt. and 10 peppercorns. Cover with water and let it simmer on low until it looks nice and golden (about 2 hours). Strain it and put it in the fridge. It will last 2 weeks with the fat on the top. When you are ready to make soup, skim the fat off and heat until liquid again. Delicious!
I had never made chicken stock in the way that Terra described it, so to make her soup, I made the chicken stock “Terra style.” I have to tell you, my house smelled wonderful and the stock was to die for! I’ll make it that way from now on. Thanks Terra!
Any cooking failures you wouldn’t mind telling us about?
My daughter and I were making Lefse to sell for a mission trip. Lefse is a Norwegian Potato tortilla of sorts that takes at least 2 days to prepare and make if you do it right. We had prepared and grilled around 50 lefse before we realized the towels we had put the lefse in to cool had been treated with extra fabric softener! The delicate lefse we worked so hard to perfect, looked beautiful but tasted like soap! Not only that but we had no lefse to fill the orders we had promised. Luckily, our clients were understanding and were able to wait a couple more days while we made another batch and we were able to pay for the mission trip selling lefse despite that mishap.
What’s your basic go to cooking, down-home or gourmet?
I live for making people feel at home and comfortable. When getting together with friends in the winter, a big pot of soup with some crusty bread hits the spot and in the summer we get the grill fired up for some fish tacos. I like cooking with what I have on hand the way my momma did. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Do you have a favorite cooking memory?
I love Christmas time in the kitchen. Mom would drag out the Scandinavian cookbook and make all of the things that came from our heritage of being half Swede and half Norwegian. The smell the lard heating up to make Rosettes and homemade doughnuts can’t be replaced with the healthier Vegetable oil of today. I know that most of my Christmas’ growing up we didn’t have a lot of money but I never knew it. We ate like kings.
Does your family have a favorite dinner ala Terra?
We all get excited about…da…da…daaaaa…El Taco Noche! Taco Night for all you gringos! Taco meat, hard and soft shelled tortillas, lots of tortilla chips and of course Rotel dip. Add lettuce and all the toppings to round out the meal and you have buena comida. Olé!
You and Addie traveled to Sweden last year. Was there a food there you particularly liked?
In Sweden, I learned that everyone should take time for FIKA. FIKA is the Swedish tradition of of visiting and sharing your day over strong coffee and pastries. While in Stockholm, we visited a bakery called Bageriet Urban Deli. They sold the best cinnamon rolls, or Kanelbullar, I have ever tasted. My goal is to learn to make them.
How does the way you cook differ from cooking you grew up with? What have you learned?
My mother, being from Minnesota, made a lot of cream based casseroles. So I in turn, learned to cook that way. When I got married, I found that my husband’s family separated their vegetables on the plate and made thin gravy and used hardly any cream. You can imagine this was an adjustment for both of us. In the end I learned to cook to please my husband, however, I still get to make my cream based recipes of my childhood when my brother visits.
What makes you a Kitchen Chick?
I am a kitchen chick, firstly, because I come from the same hen house as the other two chicks and because I love to celebrate and create memories in the kitchen. I truly believe God provides food as a way to take us to another realm of emotion and connection. He could have made us to eat grass like the cows and it would have been fine but he gave us all the different foods to bring us joy and fellowship. Sharing that joy for food is what I love about being a kitchen chick!
One last final comment before I leave you with her delicious potato soup recipe. A lot of people say my daughter, Dolly (Baby Chick) looks like Terra. Well, after all these years, I am proud to say she does. Love you Terra!
For Terra’s Delicious Potato Soup, click below.