Cook cares on, off the job

Kathy Amant works day and night shifts caring for seniors through an in-home care agency. Even when she's off the clock she can't turn her caring gene off, using her few hours at home to prepare meals and sweet treats for family and friends.

“I want to make sure they are eating well; a nurturing meal,” said Kathy, who lives in Lombard.

Kathy comes from a long line of good cooks; a grandfather and uncle served as shift cooks when they worked as firefighters, and her grandmother, cousins and aunts always prepared special meals that she aspired to emulate.

“I looked forward to see what they brought or they baked because they are so good at what they do,” she said.

Married for 29 years, Kathy has fed two children and three stepchildren. She recalls with a laugh how growing up with extended family who loved to cook sometimes offered her kids too many choices.

“My son Anthony, who is now 31, would call me and then call my mom to see what both were making for dinner,” she said. “We didn't know he was doing this.”

Kathy keeps her dinner guests happy by not spending much time in the kitchen but preparing dishes that incorporate flavor on the stove. One such dish is her teriyaki pork roast. After browning the boneless roast, she simmers it with onions, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce and teriyaki sauce.

In the summer, she often turns to a favorite from her mom's Italian roots, a vegetable lasagna made by layering eggplant with spaghetti gravy and cheeses.

“I would bake that in the summertime, and the kids would practically eat the whole pan,” she said.

While Kathy loves savory cooking, her baked goods have become a welcome sight at Calvary United Pentecostal Church in Addison.

“She serves a lot of her great meals and treats at our various church functions and always has a line in front of her dishes,” said Phyllis Henson, who nominated Kathy as Cook of the Week.

Kathy adds, “I have people ask me to put something aside to make sure they get to try it.”

One specialty is her cheesecake. She starts with a basic recipe that includes cream cheese, eggs and sweetened condensed milk. Then she creates various toppings, such as pumpkin or white chocolate and raspberry, so it's seldom the same twice.

Today Kathy shares one of her favorite versions, a Dutch apple cheesecake made by adding apple slices, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg halfway through baking.

Make it for the ones you care about.

Teriyaki Pork Roast

Dutch Apple Cheesecake

Garlic Mashed Potatoes