Susan Muira, daughter, makes Mochiko Chicken
Mother-daughter duo solves what's-for-dinner dilemma
Don't all 12-year-olds work side-by-side with their moms in the kitchen making weeknight dinners? Or start prepping a meal when mom runs late at work?
If you're laughing out loud, I'm right there with you.
But for Kasie Miura and her mother, Susan, teamwork is just routine.
"I act as sous chef," says Kasie, clearly a child of the Food Network generation. "I help out a lot, probably three or four nights a week, and for special occasions."
Susan, a full-blooded Sicilian, developed her chops working with her parents in the kitchen, so she paid it forward, taking time to teach her daughter even when time was short.
"It was very difficult when she was little and I so wanted to do it myself," says Susan, public relations coordinator for Schaumburg Township District Library who writes a column for The Daily Herald. "It would have been faster, and I like having control, but now I'm glad I took the time. She has gotten very good."
Together the Miura women create a cultural mix of meals from Susan's Mediterranean background and those from the Japanese heritage of her husband, Gary.
That translates into variations on poultry like today's Chicken Mochiko, a soy sauce-marinated Japanese dish and Chicken Rustigo, an Italian treatment with red wine, tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
But Susan and Kasie add variety with Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Polish and good-old American meatloaf and pot roast.
"When we cook together we talk a lot about what we're doing," says Kasie. "It flows nicely."
Home cooked meals take priority for Susan, despite the family's hectic schedule.
"I didn't want my kids raised on pizza and chicken nuggets," says Susan, who also has a 17-year-old son at home. "I really enjoy coming up with good meals every night."
Baking makes the grade too.
Kasie is mastering pecan pie, German chocolate cake and a variety of cookies.
"A couple years ago I was cracking eggs," she says, "now I am handling a knife and I can roll out pastry dough."
Susan bakes for the family "more than I should, once or twice a week."
Whenever there are family gatherings, they each bring a dessert.
Pie-baking is Susan's favorite; for serving, she recommends a sturdy Pampered Chef pie spatula, serrated on both sides.
But cookies get equal time, like today's three-ingredient Sicilian Amaretti Cookies.
"They're crunchy and chewy, if you like marzipan you would like these cookies," says Susan. The recipe is at dailyherald.com/food.
Her favorite sources for recipes include cooks.com, recipeczar.com and company Web sites like Nestles' verybestbaking.com.
But her most treasured cookbook is the one she and Kasie put together, a loose-leaf binder with roughly 100 recipes and room for more.
"If it's from a family member, we include a photo," said Susan.
At 12, Kasie probably doesn't realize the full rewards of cooking with her mother, but Susan does.
"It's a way to help them gain independence - prevents them from relying on fast food and packaged stuff full of unhealthy ingredients," she says.
More than that, "it's a nice way to strengthen that parent-child bond," says Susan. "When you are working together, you are on common ground and have time to talk."