Fly high, Chelsey
LAKE CITY – For Andrew Lauver and Chelsey Henkenius, Dec. 26, 2014, was a night of reunions and celebrations and the unthinkable..
Just a week earlier, Lauver had returned from a 12-month stint with DuPont Pioneer in Canada, and the young couple was relishing time together. The pair had spent the evening of Dec. 26 with friends and family in Carroll. In the early morning hours of Dec. 27, their Pontiac slipped off the road just a bit and started fishtailing when Henkenius tried to steer it back on the pavement north of Glidden.
As the car spun around twice, Lauver said he saw headlights from an oncoming truck bearing down into the passenger side of the car where he was sitting.
He squeezed his eyes shut, and everything went black.
When he woke up in the hospital, his first thought was “Where’s Chelsey?”
“I hoped she was waiting outside,” said Lauver, who had planned to propose to his high school sweetheart soon. “When I found out Chelsey died instantly, my first thought was, ‘It should have been me.'”
The weeks and months since that dark December night have been a time of pain, healing and hope for Lauver, his family and the Henkenius family, as well as the local community.
“It doesn’t get any easier; you just get stronger,” said Lauver, a sales promoter/certified services agent with DuPont Pioneer for Calhoun County and Carroll County. “It starts with faith, family and friends.”
That’s why Lauver and his family hosted a Fourth of July celebration on their farm northeast of Lake City to show their appreciation for the love, support and generosity demonstrated by family, friends and neighbors. The Lauver’s barn became the hub of the activities, where hundreds of guests enjoyed potluck dishes served from tables spanning two-thirds of the length of the haymow.
Guests also received a remarkable tribute to Henkenius in the form of her hand-written recipes compiled in a simple cookbook. The recipes reflected Henkenius’ joy to begin a new life in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area, where she planned to study physical therapy at Concordia University.
Lauver would be pursuing a new career as an account manager with DuPont Pioneer in early 2015.
“Chelsey was so excited to do some home cooking,” said Lauver, who noted she had collected an array of recipes from family and friends into one of her college notebooks.
“She was such a caring person, and cooking was another way she could give back to others,” he said.
Though Henkenius was a new cook, she proved her culinary mettle early on through her job with a home health care provider.
“On one of Chelsey’s first days at work, a client asked her to make a sour cream raisin pie,” said Henkenius’ mother, Jodi Henkenius, of Lake City. “Chelsey called her Grandma Janice for advice and texted me a picture of the pie when it was done. It was perfect, and I was so proud of her.”
Chelsey Henkenius also wanted to impress Lauver with her cooking skills and thought that bringing a taste of home from Iowa would do the trick.
“The cookbook features some of her favorite recipes, including tuna noodles, burrito bowls and hot cheesy chicken sandwiches, that she was copying in her notebook before God called her home,” Jodi Henkenius said.
Sharing these recipes at the Fourth of July celebration, while spending time with family and friends, provided a tremendous source of comfort, Lauver said.
He said he also finds peace in verses of scripture and a sign he found at a Christian bookstore, which reads “Life will change without your permission, but it’s your attitude that will determine the ride.”
Lauver considers every day a gift, especially when he looks at a 2015 calendar Chelsey Henkenius made with photos of the couple and the words, “Here’s to a new chapter in our lives. Let’s see what this new year has in store for us. I love you to the moon and back.”
The cookbook of Henkenius’ hand-written recipes helps keep the Lauver and Henkenius families and their friends connected to a young woman who touched countless lives during her 22 years.
“Everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t always understand,” Lauver said. “While there’s extreme loss, Chelsey is still inspiring others, and her recipes are teaching people how to love and care for each other.”
8 ounces noodles
1 can (6.5 ounces) tuna
1 small can peas, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can milk
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter
Crushed potato chips
Mix noodles, tuna, peas, cream of mushroom soup, milk and cheese in a 2-quart casserole dish.
Mix Parmesan cheese, butter and crushed potato chips; sprinkled over tuna mixture. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
6 to 8 cups diced chicken
1/2 cup salad dressing
2/3 cup onion, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups Velveret cheese, diced
Combine all ingredients. Warm through until cheese melts.
Makes approximately 15 sandwiches.
2 cans whole-kernel corn
2 cans creamed corn
1 cup butter
16 ounces Velveret cheese, cubed
2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients and add to slow cooker. Set slow cooker to high, and cook 45 minutes. Stir.
Continue cooking and high for 30 minutes longer. Stir.
Reduce heat to low and cook for 3 to 4 hours.
One-pot burrito bowl
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1 pound hamburger
1/3 cup salsa
1 15-ounce can black beans; rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can of corn
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 4-ounce can green chilies
1 cup rice
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
Saute onions and green pepper in olive oil in large pan over medium heat.
Add hamburger and brown the meat.
Stir in salsa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, green chilies, rice, taco seasoning and chili powder.
Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Cover pan and reduce heat to low.
Cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
Our Special Angel bars
(This recipe is a long-time family favorite that comes from Jodi Henkenius’ side of the family. While the bars used to be called coon bars, they’ve been renamed Our Special Angel bars in honor of Chelsey, who often enjoyed this treat with her friends.)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
6 ounces (1 cup) chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, nuts, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
Stir flour mixture into egg mixture. Spread batter in greased 9-by-13-inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until bars test done.
Sprinkle marshmallows evenly on top, and bake 3 minutes more. Cool.
In small saucepan combine chocolate chips and peanut butter. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate melts. Stir in cereal.
Spread mixture atop cooled bars. Chill; cut into bars to serve.
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup melted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup M&Ms candies
Combine oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, baking soda and salt, and mix in melted butter.
Reserve 1 cup of this mixture. Pat remainder into 9-by-13-inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.
Combine sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter.
Pour over crust when it comes out of oven. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and M&Ms.
Top with reserved oatmeal mixture and pat down gently.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page