There's no place like America
Wednesday, July 2, 2014 1:00 AM
Howard Tucker has traveled all over the world as a Sergeant in the United States National Guard and enjoyed many types of food, but nothing as good as what can be found at home in the states.
Sgt. Tucker enjoys preparing all types of cuisine for his family, but says he mainly cooks recipes his children enjoy.
"I cook just about every evening for my smallest kids. They love my baked potato recipe that I made up. They really like my banana pudding, too. I enjoy marinating steaks in my special marinade and cooking them on the grill," he said.
As the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the human resources section for Unit 298 CSSB National Guard unit, Sergeant Tucker cherishes the time he is able to spend with his family. Being the father of five children and grandfather to nine, Sergeant Tucker said being away from his family in a combat zone for long stints of time while being deployed one year in Iraq and eleven months in Afghanistan was difficult.
"Missing so much time with my family, was terrible, but serving my country was important," said Sgt. Tucker.
As the NCOIC, Sergeant Tucker was responsible for overseeing the administrative needs of over 1,000 troops while stationed overseas. He feels it was a great honor to meet the needs of men and women sacrificing to serve and protect our country.
"We don't realize what we have here at home. They have so little in those countries and they cherish what little they have. They live in mud huts. They literally have nothing. We have everything here and most people take it for granted," added Sergeant Tucker.
"There's no place like America! You don't know what you've got until you're away from it awhile."
Serving the citizens on the coast was a rewarding experience, he recalls.
"I was able to help after Katrina on the coast. We supported the citizens by supplying ice, food and water and whatever else we could help them with from August until October. They needed help, and we were there to do what we could," said Sergeant Tucker.
Of all the places he has traveled, Germany was his favorite.
"It was so clean there and the people were so nice. They have a beautiful culture," said Sergeant Tucker.
Being able to provide for his family has been what Sergeant Tucker feels is his greatest accomplishment.
He is a member at Jerusalem Temple and plays lead guitar during church services.
Sgt. Tucker has spent the last 37 years faithfully serving this country, but says he is looking forward to hanging up his uniform in 12 months.
"I've loved serving my country and think everyone should do it at some point in their lives, but I am ready to enjoy some time off doing things I enjoy," said Sergeant Tucker.
He plans to take it easy for awhile initially after retiring. He wants to do yard work, play his guitar and spend lots of time enjoying his family.
While Sgt. Tucker counts down the days until his retirement, for the immediate future, he's looking forward to celebrating this country's independence on the Fouth of July doing what he loves most: cooking and spending time with his family.
Sgt. Tucker has shared some of his favorite recipes.
Package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups cold milk
Can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Package vanilla wafers
14 bananas, sliced
In a large mixing bowl, beat pudding mix and milk 2 minutes. Blend in condensed milk until smooth. Stir in vanilla and fold in whipped topping. Layer wafers, bananas and pudding mixture in a glass serving bowl. Chill until serving.
Sgt. Tucker's Potatoes
6-8 Russet potatoes
2 packages of Lipton onion soup mix
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter and pour in casserole dish. Spread potato slices evenly in dish. Sprinkle Lipton onion soup mix over potatoes evenly. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes until potatoes are tender.
Classic macaroni salad
4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup grated carrot (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped pimento peppers
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain. In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, pimentos and macaroni. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, but preferably overnight.
Patriotic Frozen Delight
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 cups (16 ounces) plain yogurt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
In a bowl, combine milk, lemon juice and peel. Stir in yogurt, marshmallows and pecans. Spread half into an ungreased 11-in. x 7-in. dish. Sprinkle with half of the strawberries and blueberries. Cover with the remaining yogurt mixture; top with remaining berries. Cover and freeze. Remove from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving.
Chocolate Chip Brownies
2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Cup granulated sugar
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4-teaspoon baking soda
1/2-cup chopped nuts
Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Melt one cup morsels and butter in large, heavy-duty saucepan over low heat; stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in eggs. Stir in flour, sugar, vanilla extract and baking soda. Stir in remaining morsels and nuts. Spread into prepared baking pan.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.
Red, White and Blueberry Trifle
Two 16-ounce containers strawberries
Two 6-ounce containers blueberries
One 6-ounce container blackberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 prepared angel food cake (about 12 ounces)
Trim and quarter the strawberries and set aside. Combine the blueberries, blackberries, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup water, lemon zest, juice and salt in a medium saucepot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries break down and the sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
Place the cream cheese, 1/4 cup cream, the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. In a second large bowl, whip the remaining cream until stiff peaks form.
Fold about one-quarter of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until lightened, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.
To assemble the trifle, cut the angel food cake into 2-inch pieces. Place half the cake pieces in the bottom of a 12-to-14-cup trifle dish or large bowl.
Top with about half the blueberry sauce, half the cream and half the quartered strawberries. Repeat the layers with the remaining cake, berry sauce, cream and strawberries.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill 8 hours or overnight. Before serving either dust with confectioners' sugar or heat the apple jelly in the microwave for 25 seconds to loosen, and then brush over the strawberries.