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Welcome to Cooking with Karen Blog!

Whether you enjoy preparing and sharing your favorite foods or you just love to eat, you will discover something deliciously fun and new when you're Cooking with Karen!

Situated in beautiful Spokane Valley, just minutes away from the Washington/Idaho border, Cooking with Karen.com provides cooking classes and all kinds of epicurean delights, including a variety of ethnic dishes, baked goods, fresh farm produce, dried and frozen foods, spices, and teas. Karen Jean Matsko Hood uses these items in her bountiful collection of recipes, many of which she shares in two of her cookbook series, Cookbook Delights and Hood and Matsko Family Favorites.

We welcome you to blog with us about your favorite recipes. Karen also invites you to visit her website at www.cookingwithkaren.com and to browse her store at www.cookingwithkarenstore.com.

Karen also invites you to visit her personal sites at www.karenjeanmatskohood.com and www.karensbookstore.com. She invites you to blog with her at www.karensblog.net, and www.karensbookblog.com.

Don't forget to sign up for the free CookingWithKaren.com e-newsletter, and remember to bookmark these sites and share them with your friends.

December 5, 2013

Author: Fagles
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Christmas is a joyous time full of generous giving, goodwill toward all people, and the cheerful sights, scents, and flavors of the holiday season. What better way to experience this festive time than by creating family memories through time-honored, traditional holiday recipes made in the home with love and care? Many families have traditions of baking Christmas cookies or a special holiday sweet bread together, and it becomes a treasured part of their lives that is passed on to the next generation. In my family, we had a tradition of a large, delicious Christmas breakfast after opening presents instead of the usual Christmas dinner, and my brother and I would help our mother bake dozens of miniature loaves of her amazing egg nog bread to give to our friends and family. It’s a special memory that I have been happy to share with my own children as they grow up, and it’s something we all look forward to during the holidays.

Christmas Delights Cookbook by renowned local author Karen Jean Matsko Hood is the perfect companion for the Christmas season. Filled with over 200 delectable and creative recipes that capture the flavor of the holidays, it provides dozens of opportunities for starting, expanding, or refreshing your family’s traditions. With clear, easy-to-follow instructions, tidbits of holiday folklore, and a wide variety of delicious foods, Christmas Delights offers recipes for any occasion: large holiday parties, intimate family gatherings, fun snacks and treats for the kids, and contemporary twists on beloved traditional foods that will wow everyone. It also makes a fabulous gift for anyone who loves to cook–or simply enjoys the good food and cheer of this special time of year. But don’t wait too long to get your holiday traditions started–Christmas will be here before you know it, so purchase a copy of Christmas Delights today!

November 26, 2013


This holiday season, give a gift that will be treasured for a lifetime: a personalized poem by Karen Jean Matsko Hood. Affordable on any budget, your personalized poem can be anything you want: fun and lighthearted, romantic, friendly, or sympathetic; it can be tailored specifically to fit the Christmas season or express your feelings for the recipient in a heartfelt way. Whereas most personalized items simply add the name of your gift recipient to an already-existing poem, a Personalized Poem by Karen is always a unique creation, written specifically for you and your loved one.


Karen Jean Matsko Hood has been writing poetry for many years, and her poems have appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals both national and international. You can read a review of her first volume of poetry, Frost of Spring Green, here. Karen's experience and expertise in writing well-crafted, poignant poems makes her a natural for personalized poetry. Her deft touch and finely-woven words are guaranteed to touch the heartstrings no matter the subject or event you are looking to commemorate. Dazzle your friends and loved ones this Christmas with a real gift from the heart.


What are personal poems?

Personal poems are professionally written for you alone, to be used as a thoughtful gift for someone you love or admire.


How does the process work?

The poem is written from information you give me about the person for whom you want the gift. Using an insightful questionnaire, Ms. Hood is able to craft a poem that reflects exactly what you have in mind. Sometimes she may even use your own words in beautiful poetic form.


How will I know that the poem is exactly what I wanted to say?

You choose the mood of the poem, whether light or sentimental. If Ms. Hood’s first draft does not portray your feelings precisely, it will be rewritten so that it meets your approval.


How is the poem presented?

After Ms. Hood receives your approval, the poem is printed in script on elegant parchment paper and placed in your choice of either a special frame or display folder.


What is the cost of a personal poem?

The cost depends upon the agreed-on length of the poem and includes frame or display folder, plus one extra copy.


How do I order a personal poem?

You can email Ms. Hood at sales@poemsbykaren.com or fax her at (509) 922-9949.


  For more information, including pricing, please click here to view and/or print our Personalized Poems Brochure.

November 21, 2013

As the mother of 16 children, many of them adopted and foster children that my husband and I have gladly welcomed into our home and our hearts, National Adoption Day is very close to my heart. Over the years, the Hood family has grown not only in size but in richness and joy, and we are proud to be adoptive parents. Please take some time this Saturday to consider what you can do to help the many children who remain without families, whether it is by donating to an organization like The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, becoming an advocate in your community, or opening your home to those in need.

Thank you,

A Special Message from The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute
This Saturday, November 23rd, we will celebrate National Adoption Day and the approximately 4,500 adoptions of children in foster care that will take place in courthouses across the nation. It is a day of celebration as well as a poignant reminder of the nearly 100,000 children in foster care still awaiting their own adoption day.

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute exists because we not only believe that every child needs a family, but also that they can find that family – no matter what their age or circumstances. Toward that goal, we continue to raise awareness of the policy barriers that prevent children in the U.S. and around the word from finding their forever families. We will work daily with policymakers to address these barriers until every last one is removed.

We are pleased to announce the release of our report, What Barriers Remain: Areas of Needed Adoption and Foster Care Reform in the 113th Congress. This report highlights several areas where the U.S. Congress might work to reduce the number of children living without families in the U.S. and abroad. It is our hope that all who read this new report, from Members of Congress to adoptive parents, Members of the Administration to foster youth, will work in partnership with us until every child in need of a family finds permanency.