Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Dee Bryson
Gazette Columnist 

My Favorite Recipes: Meet Ciara Ackerman


October 4, 2018

Ciara Ackerman with daughter Oakley and son Scotty.

Ciara Ackerman grew up with a camera in hand just outside of St. John on her parents' ranch. She learned to appreciate the beauty of the Palouse at a young age and loved to capture it in pictures. She was also known to occasionally sneak into her mother's stash of disposable cameras while begging her four siblings to be her models for a photo shoot.

Ciara mischievously recalls all the deals she would make with her siblings in order to get them to agree to her proposals. That was the beginning of her passion to capture beautiful moments on film, which led her to studying photography and later starting her own photography business.

Ciara specializes in natural light photography and delights in the backdrop of the Palouse. Ciara can be found on Facebook and Instagram or at [email protected] gmail.com.

In 2014, Ciara married Jake Ackerman, who grew up in Colfax, where the couple currently resides. They can't imagine calling any other place home and look forward to raising their family in the community.

Jake is currently employed by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. They are the parents of a daughter, Oakley, who is 2 years old, and they recently welcomed a boy, Scotty, who is 10 weeks old.

Jake and Ciara appreciate having family nearby and enjoy spending as much time as possible with them. They love taking walks to the nearby parks, playing at the local pool and spending time at the river. They also enjoy taking the kids out to Ciara's parents' ranch which is found between Lancaster and Winona, where the kids enjoy petting the horses, cows, dogs and running outdoors.

Ciara fondly remembers her childhood and how her mother made it a point to cook homemade meals from scratch each day. Ciara humorously recalls the beginning of her marriage and her attempt to follow in her mother's footsteps and cook for her husband. She laughed as she related the many mishaps that followed, as she either cooked way too much or burned their dinner, followed by going out to eat. Ciara is happy to report that she has drastically improved her cooking and is learning to love cooking for her family.


Easy Meat Sauce

1 large onion

1 pack mushrooms

1 lb. mild Italian sausage

1 can crushed tomato

1 can tomato paste

1 can tomato sauce

2 Tbsp. basil

salt, pepper and garlic, to taste

In olive oil, sauté onion until translucent, then add sausage and brown. Once meat is browned, add mushrooms and let them soften up a bit. Add spices and canned ingredients and let simmer for a half hour to 45 minutes. Serve over pasta.

Large chocolate chip cookies

The chocolate chip cookie recipe is from Pinch of Yum blog and is my go-to.

8 Tbsp. salted butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Microwave the butter for about 40 seconds to just barely melt it. It shouldn't be hot, but it should be almost entirely in liquid form.

Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter with the sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and egg; then beat on low speed until just incorporated – 10-15 seconds or so (if you beat the egg for too long, the cookies will be stiff.)

Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until crumbles form. Use your hands to press the crumbles together into a dough. It should form one large ball that is easy to handle (right at the stage between "wet" dough and "dry" dough.) Add the chocolate chips and incorporate with your hands.

Roll the dough into 12 large balls (or 9 for HUGELY awesome cookies) and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until the cookies look puffy, dry and just barely golden.Warning, friends: DO NOT OVERBAKE. This advice is probably written on every cookie recipe everywhere, but this is essential for keeping the cookies soft. Take them out, even if they look like they're not done yet. They'll be pale and puffy.

Let them cool on the pan for a good 30 minutes or so (I mean, okay, eat four or five, but then let the rest of them cool.) They will sink down and turn into these dense, buttery, soft cookies that are the best in all the land. These should stay soft for many days if kept in an airtight container. I also like to freeze them.


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