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We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook: A Mom and Daughter Dish about the Food That Delights Them and the Love That Binds Them

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook: A Mom and Daughter Dish about the Food That Delights Them and the Love That Binds Them

by Becky Johnson, Rachel Randolph
We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook: A Mom and Daughter Dish about the Food That Delights Them and the Love That Binds Them

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook: A Mom and Daughter Dish about the Food That Delights Them and the Love That Binds Them

by Becky Johnson, Rachel Randolph


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Becky Johnson and her daughter Rachel Randolph come from a long line of laughter. The female side of her family tree is dotted with funny storytellers, prolific authors, hospitable home cooks, and champion chatters.

In We Love, We Laugh, We Cook, Becky—a butter and bacon loving mama—and Rachel—a vegan bean eating daughter—share stories of their crazy, wonderful, and sometimes challenging lives as Rachel becomes a mother herself.

Becky is messy; Rachel craves order. Becky forgets what month it is; Rachel is an organizational genius. (At least before baby arrives.) Sprinkled throughout are the lip-smacking, nourishing recipes they love to make and share.

From food for a family reunion of thirty, to lunch for a party of one in a high chair, to a hot meal for a sick friend, the authors demonstrate grace, acceptance, and love to others through the bonding gifts of humor, attentive listening, and cooking … whether diners prefer beef or tofu in their stew.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310330837
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 08/11/2013
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Becky Johnson is the author, co-author or collaborator of more than forty books. Her most recent titles are We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook and Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Night’s Sleep.

Rachel Randolph writes and speaks about parenting a toddler, young married life, and her and her husband’s unlikely journey to a plant-based diet with humor and honesty. She co-authored We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook (Zondervan 2013) with her mom Becky Johnson. Rachel is married to Jared, a high school football and baseball coach. They live near Dallas, Texas with their son Jackson.

Read an Excerpt

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

a mom and daughter dish about the food that delights them, and the love that binds them

By Becky Johnson, Rachel Randolph


Copyright © 2013 Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-33083-7


Mother's Intuition

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past. Laurie Colwin


We were in Phoenix on vacation. It was morning and I was asleep, dreaming. In my dream I saw my married daughter's face, glowing, and then I heard—audibly—the words "She is pregnant." I woke up with a start. It felt less like a dream than a proclamation of joy.

I emailed Rachel about my dream and then settled outside on the patio to enjoy a cup of coffee. What if she really were pregnant? How wonderful that would be! Rachel would get to experience all the joy of being a mom, just as I've enjoyed being her mother through the years. As I sipped my coffee, my mind drifted back to earlier times. I recalled when Rach was in the slow process of turning from a child into a teenager, when I first glimpsed what my daughter might be like as a woman ... and as a friend.

* * *

At thirteen my little girl walked into the bathroom in her T-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes, her hair pulled up in a ponytail. Thirty minutes later, she walked out looking like a model from a teen magazine. Her strawberry-blond hair fell around her shoulders in ringlets, and her cute dress—with the figure to match—immediately made her dad and brothers nervous. Ordinarily she was a quiet girl. In fact, we worried about her shyness. But puberty not only brought out her beauty, it also brought out newfound conversational skills and an extremely dry wit.

The thing that most surprised me about Rachel's blossoming self was how much she loved things done carefully and in order. She liked her room organized, she kept her schoolwork filed, and she arranged her clothes in the order she planned to wear them. Those who know me know that I have basically made a cottage-industry career out of flubbing up. I was what Rachel refers to as a "challenging parent," and at times my scatterbrained style would exasperate her to the point of near breakdown.

At that time, however, as I was becoming a writer and speaker who was forced to rely on her wits to get around the country, I wanted to show Rachel that her mother had learned new and impressive organizing skills. So when I was asked to speak in Nashville, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to both bond with and impress my dubious daughter. I asked her to come along.

When we landed in Nashville, I showed her the brochures of all the historic places we could visit in Music City. It took my young teen no time to decide on the outlet mall. That afternoon we must have shopped, walked, and talked for five hours ... two happy chicks. The sun began to set and the air grew nippy. Our stomachs began to growl, and our feet were begging for relief, so we headed for the rental car.

"Do you think the hotel will have a Jacuzzi?" Rachel asked as she struggled to make the last few feet to the car.

"I bet they do, babe," I replied as I fumbled through my purse for my keys. "We'll have to check it out, won't we? Hey, Rach, you don't have the keys, do you?"


"I can't seem to find the car keys."

Her palm went immediately to her forehead, dramatically.

A gust of cold wind sent chills up our aching spines as we trudged back toward the mile-long train of stores. Forty-five minutes later, after retracing every step we'd taken, I found the precious keys in the corner of a dressing room, just moments before the mall closed for the night.

Exhausted and frozen, our stomachs now screaming for food, we fell into the car with twin sighs of relief.

"Mom," Rachel said, her voice trembling from fatigue and cold, "you're going to give me gray hair before I'm fourteen."

I smiled weakly and started the engine. As we drove away, I offered cheerfully, "I'll take you any place you want for dinner! I know a great little Italian bistro, or maybe you'd like to go to a fancy restaurant at Opryland?"

"Do they have any drive-through hamburger places in Nashville?" she asked.

So on our first big mom-daughter trip together, in a city filled with fancy eateries, we drove through Krystal Burgers and ordered six sliders with fries, enjoying every greasy bite. On the way to the hotel, we decided to make a quick stop at a local drugstore to pick up Crayolas and a couple of coloring books.

Once settled in our room, we took turns taking luxurious hot baths and washing our hair. We toweled up our tresses, turban style, then donned warm jammies, robes, and snuggly house slippers. I flipped on the TV, a special treat for us because we were one of those near-extinct families who did not own a television.

This particular night two Christmas specials were airing. The first was Touched by an Angel, and the other, a charming true story called A Thousand Men and a Baby. As we settled in to enjoy the programs, I spread out on the night stand between us some gourmet snacks I'd purchased at the outlet mall: sesame crackers, jalapeño jelly, and a spicy hummus dip.

Rachel and I whiled away the evening like two girls at a slumber party. We enjoyed the movies, munched happily on our goodies, and colored pictures like enthusiastic kindergarteners. I remember thinking, "These are the moments a mother lives for."

At one point I glanced up from my coloring book to see Rachel busy organizing her side of the room. Her clothes were folded and stacked in neat little squares and triangles, like party sandwiches. Her toiletries were arranged on the shelf in perfect ascending and descending order. Even her bedcovers were straight and smooth as she sat crossed-legged on them, smelling of citrus body lotion and fresh shampoo.

"Honey," I smiled, "your side of the room looks like it has been 'touched by an angel.'"

She glanced in my direction and raised an eyebrow. My bed was in crumpled disarray, and my suitcase stood open at one corner, spewing clothes across the bedspread. Cracker crumbs and bits of jalapeño jelly stuck to the front of my old nightshirt. I licked a bit of stray hummus from my finger and smiled.

"Mom," she said, "it looks like 'a thousand men and a baby' just had a party on your side of the room."

In spite of our differences, Rachel and I had a wonderful time, and our weekend drew to a close much too soon. As we stood in line at the Nashville airport to check our luggage and get our boarding passes, we recounted all the happy memories of our trip. Then a most unpleasant thing occurred. My suitcase exploded. Apparently the additional loot I'd purchased at the outlet mall had stretched the zipper beyond its abilities. It gave up the ghost with an audible rip, and the contents spilled onto the floor.

If you want to mortify a teenager, try sitting on the floor of a nice airport with your bras and underwear scattered all around you. Rach disappeared around the nearest support column as the ticket lady handed me a big roll of duct tape, which I wrapped around the suitcase, feeling like a character in one of Jeff Foxworthy's routines: "You know you're a redneck if you latch your Samsonite with duct tape!"

After my suitcase was taped and loaded onto the plane, I found Rachel several yards away, pretending not to know me. Thankfully the flight home went off without a hitch—at least until we landed at Dallas–Fort Worth airport when I realized I couldn't remember where I parked the car.

We spent the next couple of hours walking up and down endless rows of parked vehicles, hauling our luggage, including my embarrassing duct-taped suitcase. Finally, in desperation, we developed an emergency strategy. I would leave Rachel with the suitcases while I went on a search-and-rescue mission for our car. When I finally found it, I returned to find my tired daughter sitting atop the beleaguered luggage, looking like an orphan from some foreign war, soberly munching on a sugar cookie.

"Rach?" I asked, "where'd you get the cookie?"

"A lady walked by and said, 'Honey, you look like you could use a cookie.'" Rachel breathed a sign of exasperation as she put her head in her hands. "Mom, she thought I was homeless."

I told her the good news that I'd found the car—actually not far from her temporary post—which seemed to perk her up. We walked to the car with a renewed spring in our step, and after loading up the luggage, we climbed in. I looked over at Rachel and gave her hand a squeeze. She was on her last emotional leg, tears pooling at the corners of her eyes, so I gave her a quick little pep talk. "Rachel, I know this has been hard, but you and I—we're a team of women survivors! We're like Thelma and Louise! We're like Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan. We're like—"

"Mom," she interrupted me, brushing away a lone tear, "let's face it; we're like Dumb and Dumber."

I laughed and turned the key.

The car wouldn't start. The battery was dead.

By the time we found help, got the car started, and made it home, it was the wee hours of the morning.

A mere forty-eight hours or so later, Rachel actually began speaking to me again.

* * *

Then my mind flashed forward to Rachel's graduation from high school. Rachel looked so grown up and gorgeous, her curls piled up on her head in a Victorian upsweep. The event was held in the high school gym, and I was seated near the top of the bleachers. I'd brought along a camera to snap some pictures of the momentous occasion.

As strains of "You'll Never Walk Alone" played over the sound system, I swallowed the lump in my throat and began to walk down the bleachers to get a closer shot. I thought of all the storms my daughter and I had braved together over the years. As I stepped down, closer and closer to Rachel, I heard, "... And don't be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm is a golden sky ..."

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. CLUNK.


I had tripped and fallen down about five bleacher steps, reaching the bottom in a final and most undignified thud. My ankle was bleeding, my camera was lying on the ground, and every eye was turned in my direction. I gave a brave little wave to assure everyone I was fine; then I reached for my camera and snapped a picture of my daughter who was staring into the lens like a deer caught in the headlights.

* * *

Rachel and I are still opposites—she's neat and aware; I'm messy and forgetful. She has become a vegan; I love butter and bacon. She grasps technology immediately and knows the purpose of every button on her smart phone, while I still answer my smart phone upside down half the time. (Many of our phone conversations start with my saying, "I can't hear you very well!" Rachel patiently answers in what sounds like a tiny, far away voice, "Mom, turn your phone around!")

We are totally simpatico on at least two fronts, however. First, we love stories that make us laugh, and second, we love good home cooking.

On a recent visit, within minutes after our hugs and greetings, Rachel and I pounced on our favorite topic: "What'll we cook and eat?" I had recently perfected my own Italian Puttanesca Sauce with a kick of Texas heat. I suggested I whip up a batch to serve over whole-grain angel-hair pasta. "Perfect," Rach said, combing through my pantry to check out the rations.

"Aha!" she said. "Garbanzo beans! Can I roast them to put in the sauce?"

A vegan for a year and a half at that point, Rachel had turned into a great cook. She really knew her way around legumes and fresh produce.

"Go for it," I said. "I need some new recipes to get more veggies into our diet."

I watched with mama pride as she deftly rinsed the beans and patted them dry, tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, and poured them onto a cookie sheet. Then she popped them in the oven like a confident younger, prettier, way-more-petite Julia Child.

This cooperative lunch soon had us rolling our eyes toward heaven and high-fiving each other across the table.

"Oh, ymmmmm ...," she said.

"Uh hummm ...," I agreed.

The garbanzos were delightfully toasty with a crunchy, smoky crust that was perfectly paired with the thick, tangy Italian sauce.

"Cha-ching, Rachey." I smiled in approval, savoring another bite.

And at that moment it was as if I could hear the encouraging cheers of all the great women from all the family kitchens I've known all my life.

* * *

My grandmother Nonny resembled the kindest version of Mrs. Santa Claus you've ever seen in any children's book: silver hair piled up in a French twist, blue eyes twinkling, ever aproned and stirring at something fragrant on her old 1940s gas stove. Usually it was a pot of black-eyed peas or red beans seasoned with a salty ham hock, but sometimes (glory!) it was the vanilla custard for my favorite childhood dessert: banana pudding.

My mother often reminded me of Lucille Ball. She kept her red hair (from a bottle, like Lucy's) swept up in a French twist, and she wore pretty dresses with cinched waists. She was funny and loved to laugh, providing both entertainment and an appreciative audience for us kids. She has always been beautiful and kept an eye on her girlish figure by eating regular servings of the ever-popular "diet plate" of the '70s: a lean hamburger patty, cottage cheese, and a slice of canned pineapple, usually with a side of Tab or Fresca. But every Saturday she would bake a decadent cake that we'd drool over and snack on all weekend long.

There was a four-layer Fresh Coconut Cake that had to sit for four agonizingly tempting days in the fridge so the fresh-grated-coconut-sour-cream-and-sugar frosting could sweeten and thicken into the ambrosia of angels. Sometimes she'd make a classic Italian Cream Cake, rich with toasted pecans, coconut, and cream cheese. There was a moist chocolate cake frosted with a boiled icing that tasted like homemade fudge, and a doctored-from-a mix cake made with cinnamon and sour cream and baked in a Bundt pan, called Sock-It-to-Me Cake. The Saturday cakes ceased to exist sometime in the 1980s when mom discovered that sugar was doing evil things to her body. Still, she baked deliciously, just more healthily. Though it's not coconut or chocolate cake, I love her recipe for moist and healthy Oat and Fruit Gem Muffins made with oats, dried fruit, nuts, and bananas. They allow me to indulge in sweets and feel smug about it at the same time.

If my mother was Queen of Cakes, her big sister, my Aunt Etta, was Empress of Pies. From the edges of my memory, I can see my Aunt Etta, a statuesque beauty in her fitted dress and heels, standing next to Nonny, putting the final swirls of whipped cream on her famous chocolate pie. (Her filling was smooth as silk milk chocolate, with a generous pour of fragrant vanilla.)

In addition to baking the best pies I've ever tasted, Aunt Etta was the first writer in the family. I'll never forget the pride I felt as a thirteen-year-old, watching her sign copies of her book, Help Is Only a Prayer Away, at a book party at the Sweetwater, Texas, library. Aunt Etta noted my mother's talent for writing and encouraged her efforts as well. Before long, my mom was pounding away at the typewriter, publishing articles and collaborating on books.

Over the years, my mother passed the humor-cooking-writing torch on to me and my younger sister. Cooking and serving alongside Mother gave me the skills needed to start a part-time catering business that helped pay the bills in lean times. The writing lessons and appreciation for humor she gave me would launch what would be a full decade of speaking, entertaining, and writing. My sister too, for whom my daughter is named, has written and published three books of humor and inspiration.

It is interesting to me how many of my writing friends, and great writers, also love to cook and have an appreciation for fine food. Anne Morrow Lindbergh once wrote, "When I cannot write a poem, I bake biscuits and feel just as pleased." Perhaps there's some mysterious link between the writing and cooking gene.

Now I am warmed to see my daughter pick up the legacy of laughter, love of cooking, and the ability to tell and write a good story with the best of the women in our family tree. In truth, I have known that Rachel had The Gift since she was a teenager. I just didn't know when she would be ready to see it, embrace it, and share it.

The apostle Paul told his apprentice Timothy about the importance of "fanning into flame" the gift of God within him, emphasizing that this gift was passed down from his grandmother and his mother. The word picture that leaps to my mind when I read these words is my Nonny putting her arm around my Aunt Etta and my mother, my mother putting her arms around me and my sister, and now me putting my arm around my own daughter to pass along whatever we have to give one another so that each woman may use these gifts, in her own unique way, to better enjoy and bless the world.

* * *

My cell phone rang breaking my reverie. It was Rachel.

"Mom, how did you know? I didn't even know! I just took a pregnancy test. I'm going to have a baby!"

Excerpted from We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook by Becky Johnson, Rachel Randolph. Copyright © 2013 Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prologue from Mother and Daughter 9

Recipe Notation Glossary 11

1 Mother's Intuition 13

2 I Say "Tomato"; She Says, "Did I Burn It?" 27

3 Diet for a Small Palate 45

4 Shower the People We Love with … Lots of Showers 57

5 Stocking Up, Nesting, and Losing Control 75

6 Unto Us a Baby Texan Is Born 91

7 Walmart Gourmet 107

8 Lost in Mom Space 123

9 "Whither Thou Beachest, I Will Beach" 141

10 Family Bonding in the Kitchen 161

11 Going Vegan in Cattle Country 177

12 Tangible Love in a Casserole 197

Acknowledgments 209

Notes 213

Indexes 215

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