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Helen Kamykowski

 

People often ask, “Where do you find your ‘Mothers of the Month’?”   If only they knew how difficult it often is!  We choose our mothers based on the seasons (a warm climate mother [such as Greek] in the summer months, a cold climate mother [such as Russian] in the winter months), or based on a holiday (a Mexican mother in May [Cinco de Mayo], an Irish mother in March [St. Patrick’s Day]).  For this month, we were struggling to find the right mother – we searched our guest book, spoke to customers, and went through our files – still we didn’t have a mother.   Then, out of the blue, I received a surprise package in the mail.  Inside was a cookbook with a note which read:  “My daughter Paulette sent me a clipping of your article from the “Living” section of U.S.A Today. . . I congratulate you on your great effort to preserve tradition and recipes in your restaurant and am sending you a complimentary copy of my cookbook which I wrote in an effort to preserve [my family] traditions, memorabilia and recipes.  I hope this cookbook will be your friend.”

She could not have known what a friend it would be!  It’s a wonderful cookbook filled with yummy southern recipes — perfect for this time of year.  I called Helen to thank her for this wonderful, extremely timely gift and asked her to be our Mother of the Month.  Needless to say, she was very excited to be chosen!

Helen was born in 1919 in Harvey, Illinois.  Ever since she was a young girl, she loved to cook, and was eager to help her mother prepare the family meals.  After marrying Edward “Chops” Kamykowski, her love for cooking took her in the direction of opening a restaurant with him. In the beginning, the “Eden House” menu was simple — soups, chili and sandwiches.  Their clientele clamored for more and they opened as a full-fledged restaurant in the late 1950’s.   Helen and her sister Isabelle managed the kitchen and delighted in preparing the meals for their clientele, many of whom were like family.  Helen retired to the South over 30 years ago, living in Louisiana and Texas.  For many years after she sold the restaurant, she dreamt of writing a cookbook, and was encouraged by her family and friends to finally do it.

She put together a 300-page cookbook called “Nana’s Collection” (which can be ordered directly from Helen), complete with beautiful watercolors and terrific recipes. At the end of the introduction to her cookbook, Helen echoes the sentiments of all of us at Mother’s Bistro & Bar: “I wish all of you good food, good fun, love and many happy memories.  Thank you for sitting at the table of life with me.”

Lunch/Dinner

Faith’s Chicken Salad

with grapes, pecans & poppy seeds, served on a bed of greens with poppy seed dressing

Dinner

Nana’s Chicken Fried Chicken

pan-fried battered chicken breast with cream gravy, garlic smashed potatoes & grilled corn on the cob

Faith’s Flank Steak & Sauce

marinated & grilled flank steak, served with steak sauce supreme, garlic smashed potatoes & grilled corn on the cob

Sheryl’s Prawn Etouffée

prawns cooked with tomatoes, garlic, onion, green peppers, celery & wine, served over rice & corn pilaf

Dessert

Sheryl’s Banana Pudding

banana pudding layered with vanilla wafers, topped with whipped cream

Special Cocktail

Lynchburg Lemonade
jack daniel’s whisky, triple sec, 7 up and lemonade, garnished with a lemon and cherry