Thanks to the Pandemic: Bringing Families Together Through Food

Ashton and Channing making spinach cheese swirls

Libby James
Photos by Libby James and Seraina Gessler


“I suggested lasagna and they voted me down,” said Seraina Gessler.

With time on their hands and in search of something meaningful to do, Seraina and her grandchildren Channing Gessler 12, soon to be a seventh-grader at Cache La Poudre Middle School and Ashton Gessler, 15, soon to be a sophomore at Poudre High School, decided to create a gourmet meal for the kids’ parents, Dan and Ali Gessler.

While Seraina’s lasagna suggestion did not survive the kids’ vote, the final product turned out to be an eight-course affair that took long, hard hours of kitchen time. “We wanted to take a break but there was no time for that,” said Ashton. “When you read a recipe, it looks easy, but it takes more time than you think to prepare it.”

They began by a search through cookbooks ending up with several choices from the Pampered Chef It’s Good for You cookbook. Grandma Seraina volunteered to do the shopping. Dinner for six began with a couple of appetizers, spinach cheese swirls, and little sample smoothies made from frozen bananas, spinach, mangoes, and protein powder. Drinks accompanying the appetizers were mojitos, a rum, club soda, sugar, mint leaves, and lime juice combination, with the rum left out to create a version suitable for those under age. Grandpa Johannes acted as an advisor.

Seraina, Johannes, Channing and Ashton Gessler with recipe board

Curried chicken was featured as the main dish, paired up with a spring strawberry and avocado salad.

And then there was dessert. During the whole process of choosing dishes, Channing and Ashton had been careful not to make too much of any one thing. As she was explaining the dessert they chose, Channing was surprised to read that the glazed brownie recipe they used was huge. “We did make too many brownies,” she said. “That recipe made 32 brownies, but they are all gone now.”

Ashton voted to add chocolate covered pretzels to the dessert choices, wanting something that was “a little lighter,” he said.

The two Gessler families live close to each other which makes frequent visits easy and comfortable. In the past, Ashton and Channing had made dinner for their older cousins, Connor and Tyler Wilkinson, but they had never before attempted a meal with so many courses.

“It’s fun spending time with people in the kitchen,” Ashton said. Neither he nor his sister cooks on a regular basis, but their recent experience has made them decide to come up with a special meal for a Christmas gift to the family.

“It’s a good thing to spend free time discovering something new,” Ashton said.

He and his sister are active kids. Ashton fills some of his time by flying drones. Channing likes swimming in the lake near their house. “I like to kayak,” she says. I like any water sports.” She and her grandmother often knit together and have produced hats, scarves, and mittens.

During a time when the world seems strange and troubled, the ability of the Gessler crew, young and not-so-young, to enjoy and appreciate each other, is living proof of the importance of family, especially now.



Seraina, Johannes, Channing and Ashton Gessler with recipe board








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