My friend Carla, who often shares the performance stage with me, says she is going to make a tee shirt with these words printed on the front:
Will work for artichoke dip.
Specifically, Ashley's artichoke dip. Backstage or in the green room, if I am producing the concert, we usually have a table set up with refreshments for the performers. My daughter in law, Ashley Parker Connors, is not only a gracious person, but she's a great cook. Because she is thoughtful, and she lives close enough to the performing arts center, she will provide the backstage fare for us at the holiday concerts. Can I just say…YUM!
Two of the backstage favorites are this dip and her amazing molasses cookies. Last year we had artists, who will remain unnamed to protect their reputations, who packed her cookies into their pockets after the show. They're that good.
Not every mother gets to have a daughter in law who feels like a daughter. Actually, like a friend. My beloved daughters have become more like friends to me now, and Ash fits right in. She is a rare combination of character traits: organized and creative, dignified yet candid and approachable, bold and strong with a vulnerability that makes you feel connected in a real way. She is kind, and loving, and dependable, and devoted. And talented. And she loves her God, her family, and her friends. One of the sweetest aspects of her personality, to me, is the way she loves my son. He makes her laugh, and she understands him. And her devotion to him warms my heart.
For example, one day years back, when Sophie was still in a car seat and Parker was a baby, she and Johnny and the kids lived with us for a few months while they were remodeling their house. Ash had started the car to warm it up, then locked Sophie into her car seat. She shut the door and took Parker over to the other side to strap him in. When she tried to open the door she realized she had accidentally locked the doors, and the keys were in the ignition. She came back in the house to see if I had a spare key. We usually have a spare for all our kids' cars, since this is not the first time we've needed them. But unfortunately John had borrowed the spare sometime before, and had not returned it to us. And so there was Sophie, looking out the window at her mother, those crocodile tears streaming down her apple cheeks. And there was Ash, her hand pressed against the window, aching to embrace her little girl, trying to comfort her through the glass, also crying. After searching through the collection of keys inside the house I came out armed with wire hangers and other paraphernalia. At that point I was a little miffed with Johnny for not getting that spare back to us, and I suggested Ash call him at work. Maybe he had the key with him. She sort of shrugged me off, focusing instead on her little girl. We poked and stretched and tried all we could. Again, I suggested she call John. She gave some sort of non-compliant response. Finally, I asked why she didn't want to call John. Through her tears she answered, "Because I don't want him to feel bad."
I wanted him to feel bad. At least bad enough to give back the dang spare key.
But that's not Ash.
John is pretty lucky to have her. And she's pretty lucky to have him. She keeps him grounded, and he keeps her amused. They make a pretty good pair, those two.
And she makes a pretty good artichoke dip.
(By the way, Officer Winkelman of the Farmington Police Department eventually came and rescued Sophie. Kudos to the Farmington Police crew!)
Ashley Connors’ Artichoke Dip
2 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz)
2 c. real mayonnaise
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts (marinated or not) (approx 1 ½ c per can…cut up w/ scissors)
2 small cans green chilies
3 c. Parmesan cheese grated
Pour into ceramic casserole dish. Bake at 350 for approx 1 hr
Molasses Cookies (Ashley Connors)
1 ½ c butter
2 c brown sugar
½ c molasses
4 ½ c flour
4 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
2 t ginger
1 t cloves
½ t salt
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and molasses. Add dry ingredients. Scoop into balls. Roll balls in sugar and bake 375 10-12 minutes (slightly under cook).
5 doz cookies