Fort Wayne – Cicelle Beemon is a busy woman. The 23-year-old is the mother of two, a 21st Century Scholars support specialist and student at IPFW.
So when a friend told her about a cooking contest at the university, she balked.
At first, I thought, I’ve too much going on,’ but then I thought if I was to do it, I knew exactly what I would enter in the contest.
Her Poor Man’s Soup recipe, which features pantry staples and turkey sausage, earned first place in the student division of the Mastodon Main Meal Makeover cooking contest during IPFW’s annual health fair last month.
She says the name for the soup came from her mother, the late Michelle Morris-Beemon. Beemon says her mother taught her how to cook at a young age, using the microwave before she was allowed to use the stove.
My mother, who was living on Bowser (Avenue) at the time, she let me have free range in the kitchen. I was looking around in the cabinets. At first I made (the soup) with vegetables and tomato soup. I’m real finicky on the taste. More and more as I got better cooking, I liked the taste, she says. I thought, How can I make it heartier?’ It’s pretty much what was in the cabinet. Everybody else calls it that soup’ cause everybody likes it. It’s good through the winter. It’s healthy but mostly ’cause everybody else likes it, and I’m going to take as many compliments as I can.
Beemon says she cooks by taste.
One of the greatest cooking utensils is the taste buds. Mother was the cook until she passed away.
Soon after her mother’s death, Beemon, who names her mother as her cooking idol, says she tried to make her mother’s stuffing recipe and ran into a snag.
I knew what to put in it, but I didn’t remember what the taste was. I was trying to make it the first time, and I knew something was missing. I opened the cabinet up and saw all this sage. I opened it up and that’s what I was missing, she says, smiling. I keep her alive in spirit by my cooking, how I raise my children and family traditions.
Beemon has two sons, Deshawn Jeramiah, 3, and KaLawn, 2, and hopes to continue family traditions even if her family expands.
My favorite cookbook is my brain. That’s my greatest fear: that I have a daughter, I have to teach her.
Q. Do you do all the cooking at home?
A. Yes, ma’am. My sister cooks sometimes, but I do the majority.
Q. Do you always take your lunch to work?
A. No. Winter is hibernation season. In the summertime, I take salads. Q. What’s your favorite vegetable?
A. Bell peppers because of the smell, and they go great with onions. Depending on the colors you use, it makes a dish really pretty. I buy in bulk. I’ll buy six bell peppers. I try to use them when I can.
Q. What’s something people wouldn’t find in your refrigerator?
A. Moldy food.
Poor Manís Soup
2 (15-ounce) cans corn, undrained
2 (15-ounce) cans peas, undrained
2 (15-ounce) cans green beans, undrained
2 (15-ounce) cans carrots, undrained
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons pepper
Sugar, to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6 potatoes, cut into about 1/2 -inch dices
2 (13-ounce) packages of turkey sausages, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 chopped bell peppers
1 chopped onion
2 (10 3/4 -ounce) cans tomato soup
2 stalks chopped celery, optional
Pour canned vegetables into a large stock pot, including the juices. Add 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, sugar, chili powder and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and celery if using, and let them cook until soft. While the potatoes boil, sauté sausages with olive oil, peppers and onions, add remaining salt. When potatoes are soft, add in the tomato soup. If soup is a little watery add tomato paste to thicken. Add sausage. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with crackers or your favorite cornbread recipe. Makes 20 servings.
Creamy Chicken Alfredo
4 chicken breasts
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley
1 (16-ounce) package of your favorite pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (15-ounce) jar Newman’s Own Roasted Garlic Alfredo Pasta Sauce
Clean and cut chicken breast into bite-size pieces. Add chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley and chicken to a pot and let it boil until chicken is cooked through. Boil a pot of water for pasta. When water is at a boil, pour in olive oil. This will keep pasta from sticking.
When meat is done, pour off some of the juice (you don’t want your sauce to be watery). Pour in Alfredo sauce. Stir until it blends in. Drain pasta; add to sauce and stir. Makes 5 servings.
Sunday Pot Roast
2 1/2 - to 3-pound pork roast
1 diced onion
1 1/2 diced bell peppers
2 cups baby carrots
1 cup of water
3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons pepper
3 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 (10 3/4 -ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup
Clean meat and place in a slow cooker. Add salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Cook on low 8 to 9 hours with vegetables and water. When meat is done, pour juices into a bowl, add soup and stir. Pour back into the slow cooker, simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with cornbread, if desired. Makes 5 servings.