I went to Galveston this last week with my good friend Donna Weaver to a fancy restaurant called The Gypsy Joint.

Of course, I’m kidding when I say, “fancy.” She opened the door for me, and it took a few minutes to take it all in. And that was standing on the inside.

I don’t think you could take the whole place in, in less than a week. If you want to check it out it’s on 33rd. St. I loved it!

We both had pizza. Of course, Donna had a healthy one. I don’t remember what hers was called, but mine was called “garbage,” and it was fantastic!

Let me clue you in: Unless you can eat a lot of pizza, get together and decide what both of you want and share it. I had plenty left over. So guess what has been dinner for me two times in a row. But then, I don’t eat a whole lot, but it was filling. And as you might have guessed it had everything on it, plus I added jalapeño peppers to mine.

Very interesting place. You first get the impression it’s dirty. But when I went in the ladies room the sink was shining, and so was everything else in there.

I think if I have to say this about that, I would say the place has lots of character. I’m going back. Seems I found out something about myself — I like garbage.

n n n

Now here is some memory — making cooking with Katie Leithead and her grandkids. How that’s possible? I don’t have a clue. When we first met through this column, she was fleeing a hurricane many moons ago. She told me one of the things she took with her were my recipes from my columns. Now that’s devotion! It’s no wonder I love her. And then the kids were in college, and now they have degrees and kids.

Dear Gin,

I have been very busy spending time with my five grandchildren in New Orleans. We have another on the way in early October. I feel that cooking with children is one of the best ways to work together while learning valuable lessons of life.

James and Harper came over to our small condo, overlooking Lake Pontchartrain, and we spent about 45 minutes cooking, which is long enough for a 5- and 2 1/2-year-old. I prepped ahead so to not tire them out and lose their attention. Here is what we did.

Taco Boats

Ingredients

1 package of egg roll wrappers (I found these easily in my local grocery)

1 pound warm taco-flavored ground meat (follow the directions on the taco seasoning envelope).

Prep ahead

1 8-ounce bag Kraft Shredded Mexican Four Cheese Blend with a tough of Philadelphia. I purposely do not put onions, bell pepper or Rotel in the taco meat in case the children wouldn’t like seeing “those things” in the meat. Feel free to season the meat with anything your children like.

Set up a taco bar for everyone to build their own tacos; sour cream, jalapeño, tomatoes, onions, shredded lettuce, salsa or whatever your family likes.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Cut egg rolls wrappers in quarters. We discussed division at this point. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.

Tuck each wrapper inside 12 cups in the muffin pan. Not a jumbo size, just a regular-size muffin pan.

Pre-bake wrappers for 3 minutes. These are your “boats.” Remove muffin pan from the oven, carefully for the children. Let cool slightly before beginning the next step. Discuss safety while cooking.

Fill each boat halfway with meat. Top with ample amount of cheese. Discuss what will happen to the cheese when heated. Make this a science and social studies lesson on Mexico.

Continue to make the taco boats with as many muffin pans as you have, or make more boats as one pan comes out of the oven.

Bake 15 minutes until edges are crispy and cheese is melted. Gently remove the boats after slightly cooling. You may need a spoon to scoop them out.

Present the taco boats to the group and compliment the children on a great job.

My grandson told his mother, “Look, Mom! Taco boats and I made them!” So proud!

Buzzy brings the Lake Charles newspaper to me here in New Orleans so I can read your columns. I have been here rehearsing for a musical theater production of “Pirates of Penzance.” It was fun! Loved getting back to my musical theater roots with Tulane Summer Lyric Theater.

Hope you continue to feel good! Hopefully, we will not have any hurricanes this year. Even though that is how we became good friends.

All my love,

Katie Leithead

Katie,

I am amazed by you, and all you do and what a good person you are. I am so glad to call you a good friend. I hope lots of mothers or fathers get in the kitchen with their kids or the grands and cook together.

When I would have grandkids visit we would go grocery shopping for a meal that they wanted and I would write each one of them the ingredients they needed to get and we would decide where to meet when all the goodies were gathered up. Tacos always!

Then we would head home and cook. It was fun! If they ever learned there was any other food in the grocery store, I don’t know. Tell Buzzy hi for me, and act good in the play. But more than that, keep having fun!

If you have recipes or tips to share, or a request, send to Conversations with Gin, P.O. Box 334, Clute TX 77531 or email ginscolumn@hotmail.com.

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