Judy Sherry isn’t afraid to cause a stir, both inside and outside her Kansas City kitchen.
An advertising executive and activist, Sherry cooks up gatherings with her family — her husband, Steve, of 56 years, two children and four grandchildren — and within the community as a founder of Grandparents Against Gun Violence.
Q: It seems that part of your activist nature is that you encourage people to follow their passions.
A: One of the things I am most passionate about is the well-being of families and children. That is why, after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, I helped start the organization that is now called Grandparents Against Gun Violence in Kansas City.
To be clear, this organization is not against guns, just against gun violence. We respect the Second Amendment and believe we can all come together for sensible measures that reduce gun violence. Grandparents have a strong collective voice, and our membership has grown close to 800 people since the organization started in September of 2013. I’d like to think that everyone wants to leave the world a more peaceful place for the generations that follow us.
Q: Do you believe you can begin to broker peace by breaking bread, one Brunch Puff at a time?
A: The problems that face our families, our communities, our nation and our planet are entrenched and nuanced. If solutions to poverty, lack of education, domestic violence and hunger were easy, these scourges would be wiped clean.
But I also believe in the goodness in humanity and think as caring adults we can be the change we want to see. What may seem like an uphill climb starts with the smallest of steps. Don’t use the excuse “I’m too busy.” Everyone is busy. Time is the currency of our lives, and it’s important to spend it wisely, based on your priorities.
If given the choice, spend more time face-to-face than on Facebook. Often, part of every good gathering includes food. And these Brunch Puffs are a delicious dish that feeds many.
Q: Is that why you chose this recipe to share?
A: Yes, and because this is a great recipe for busy people. These Brunch Puffs are easy to prepare, very handy to have in the freezer and, most importantly, people love them.
The recipe came from Peedee Brown, a friend who is now deceased, so making these brings back many happy memories. When you’re making these, use real cream cheese, not low-fat or fat-free varieties. The funny part of this recipe is that I do not like cream cheese but still enjoy these puffs. I guess the cinnamon helps!
Peedee and six other women had been part of a breakfast club that has met monthly for the past 30 or so years. There are five of us left, and we enjoy the time we spend together. If you’re trying to spend more time with people you love, I feel like having breakfast or brunch together is a good way to start. Breakfast food doesn’t have to be gourmet, it can be as simple as eggs and toast. Add fruit and coffee, and you’re good to go.
Q: Is eating with your family also a priority?
A: I do love cooking for my family and enjoy hosting family celebrations at our house. I believe family should go to Grandma’s house for as long as Grandma can do it!
That being said, I am forever coordinating calendars to try and get my entire family around the dinner table as often as possible. I wish we had a set time, like Sunday dinner at Maga’s — which is what the children call me — or Friday night Shabbat, but I take any time they can give me.
I am a pretty plain cook but still make dinner almost every night at home for my husband and me. I am forever asking him, “What do you want for dinner?” and he usually responds, “Whatever you choose.” I might like to think of having an adventurous appetite, but I usually just make my standard recipes: meatloaf, potato soup, chili, salmon and so on.
Sometimes my younger grandson says he doesn’t like to eat at our house because I cook “fancy”! This is funny, because none of my menu choices are fancy, but since he is still willing to come, this shows the importance food has in uniting people and forming bonds.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Email her at email@example.com to nominate a cook.
For a schedule of events and more information on Grandparents Against Gun Violence, visit MOKSGAGV.org
Makes about 120
2 (16-ounce) loaves sandwich bread, heels removed and crusts trimmed
2 (8-ounce) packages full-fat cream cheese, softened
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted
Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Using a rolling pin, flatten each slice of bread until rolled thin. Set each aside.
In a mixing bowl, stir cream cheese, egg yolks and sugar together.
Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture on a prepared bread slice. Roll up jelly roll-style.
In a separate mixing bowl, stir brown sugar and cinnamon together until well combined. Set aside.
In an assembly line fashion, dip roll quickly into melted butter, then coat with sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Place on prepared baking sheet.
Continue process until all bread, cream cheese mixture, butter and sugar-cinnamon are used.
Place baking sheets full of rolls into freezer for at least 1 hour, or until frozen solid.
Cut each frozen roll into thirds.
Frozen rolls can be placed into resealable freezer bags and stored until ready to bake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place frozen rolls onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes.
Serve warm out of oven.
Per puff: 89 calories (32 percent from fat), 3 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 12 milligrams cholesterol, 14 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 68 milligrams sodium, 0.3 gram dietary fiber.