The Stewarts Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole

My grandparent’s chicken noodle soup casserole… a new holiday tradition.

Christmas is, of course, a time filled with family, traditions, and food.  Both sides of my family was all about big gatherings and huge meals. For my mom’s side of the family, this has always included my grandma Clara Lou (Peters) Stewart’s famous Buckeye Candy.  While I’ve tweaked her recipe to be less … how do I say this … teeth decaying & sugary, her tradition is still passed down each year and everyone looks forward to candy making time at our house.

There is also another piece of the Stewarts floating around that I decided to incorporate into a Christmas Eve tradition – their Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole.  It’s really one of the simplest (and cheapest) recipes I know of, if not the most unique.  I don’t know where they found the recipe, or if they created it on their own, but it was one of my personal favorites and on the few rare occasions I went down to eat at their house by myself, this is what I requested.  We lost grandpa Stewart on December 23, 2006, and his mom, Rose May (Jones) Stewart Hochmuth, on December 29, 1999, so the holiday season is a tad bittersweet.  Today though, I felt connected to them again.  The same flavors, the same smells drifting in from the kitchen…

My New Heirloom

Clara Lou Peters and Archie Stewart on their wedding day.

My mom sent me a picture of my grandma Clara Lou Peters Stewart on her wedding day recently.  It reminded me that she showed me her wedding dress once when I was little.  I’m not sure why she had it out specifically but it was in a big yellowing box and when she pulled it out, I remember thinking how lovely it still was and how much I’d love to wear it some day.  I never did get to wear it; my first impromptu wedding dress was a bright pink dress I’d worn to homecoming and at my second wedding, I wore a black lace number.

I had been thinking for a very long time about doing something with my wedding dress.  Not only was a black Gothic wedding dress totally unique at the time fifteen years ago but I also had hand sewn my own black veil trimmed in the sweetest black crochet trim.  It took me weeks to finish.  My dress, being delicate lace, had ripped during one of our military moves and so it hung in my closet for years now staring me in the face, unable to be worn any longer but being too sentimental to toss out either. 

The Ladies with the Flowers

My rhododendron about to pop!

I’d been anxiously watching my rhododendron bush for a few weeks waiting for its bright pink buds to open and this week did not disappoint! My patience was rewarded with a towering hot pink display this week… when I say towering, I mean it. It’s reaching my second floor windows!  In conjunction with Mothers Day last week, it made me start thinking about the ladies in my life who’ve always seemed to have particular flowers growing in their gardens.

I have unfortunately NOT inherited my ladies’ gardening gene… my father has it too and grows orchids which are notoriously hard to keep but he loves them and they flourish under his care. Even my husband can get plants to grow! He’s like the Jesus of plants, able to revive them from the dead. I have a pothos that I’ve nearly killed off twice, having just ONE brown leaf left and he’d somehow, someway, bring it back to life like Lazarus from the grave. We’ve had that pothos for about 9 years now! His name is Simon and he resides in my dining room next to Robert, another variegated pothos.  Robert Plant. Get it? LOL The only thing I’ve successfully kept alive for any amount of time has been my mini bonsai tree that I’ve had for two years now.  I don’t dare touch anything else. I’m like the Grim Reaper of the floral world.

Shared Hobbies & Interests – #52stories

I was extremely happy to see Family Search #52stories writing prompt this week because I have had it on my list for some time to write about my grandma, Clara Lou Peters Stewart. My love of music and singing can likely be attributed to her. My love of big band music came from watching her bobby-socking in the kitchen at a 4th of July party one year! She was one amazing piano & organ player. I have oodles of newspaper clippings from her younger days playing in school concerts and I daresay, she likely played at the wedding of nearly half of Pickaway County during her lifetime! I have so many memories of family holiday gatherings where she would hop on the organ in the corner of the dining room after a meal and play/sing for us.