Opening the friend and family cookbook!

This week I decided to open up the friend and family cookbook and follow some tried and true recipes. I picked out a couple recipes for the week before I went grocery shopping. Today, I am trying one of them out. Tomorrow I will try another. While I anticipated good food, and a plan for the week, what I didn’t anticipate was the flood of memories and emotions that opening this cookbook unveiled.

The Story behind the book

I was newly married when I compiled this book. This March 1st, my husband Keith and I will celebrate 41 years of wedded bliss. So, you can guess that this cookbook put in a folder is tattered and the pages are splattered. It is one of my most cherished possessions. I made this as a birthday present for my mom and shared it with those that provided recipes.

The stories of those that offer recipes have changed. I have a recipe for Artichoke Dip from my cousin Pam Clark Piaskowski, who is now Pam Bernard. She lost her husband Jerry to lung cancer, but has been married to wonderful Greg for several years. Right above her recipe is one from Keith’s cousin Karen Jessup for Taco Dip, she is now Karen Heier and works as a nursery specialist. On the next page is a Spinach Dip for Bread recipe from Ruth Harre, our late beloved Pastor’s wife. He is now married to Pauline, a friend and family member.

Beneath that is good friend Suzette Starr’s Suz’s Dip. The book is a walk through food and a walk through my own family and friend history.

Amazing Cooks

The families I was born into and married into include some amazing cooks. “Aunt Francis, could boil water and it would taste amazing,” my mom says. That is the same with Betty Reichert. Keith farmed for the Reichert family since he was 15 and I recall Betty’s cooking. She was so amazing. My friend Debbie Nemecek still recalls her Angel Food Cake that she remembers seeing on my kitchen table one day. If a cake could be a high rise building, hers would qualify. My son Jason used to run errands to her house and Betty would give him a plate of cookies to bring home. “Did you like the cookies,” Betty would ask. “What cookies?” we would say. Jason ate them, they were that prized, we never saw a one of them!

Aunt Mary Jessup’s angel food cake was the same. When Keith was home recuperating from knee surgery, he managed to request two of them!

When Carrie my daughter was little and I was traveling once, Keith said he would take them out to eat. He asked where they wanted to go. She replied to my mother-in-law Henrietta Ladage’s for “her friend chicken”. I have never tasted fried chicken so good before or since. Grandma Jessup’s noodles also rank up there along with my Grandpa Disque’s dressing.

A Few Favorite Recipes

A few of my favorite recipes include Keith’s Turtle’s (which he has down to a science!) Grandmas Dumplings that my late cousin Cheri Howlett submitted. Our family loves Aunt Nila’s Noah’s Ark Clam Chowder and Mom’s Chicken Stew.

My sister-in-law Terri shared her famous baked beans, and my dad’s are pretty darn good as well. Betty’s Chicken Tetrazzini, Debbie Nemecek’s Cavatini, and late cousin Margaret Jackson’s Pork Roast with Tangy sauce also knock your socks off.

One of the most used recipes over the years is a very simple one from my sister in law Terri, Upside Down Fruit cobbler. I use it a lot because you can always find something to make and it works for a coffee cake or dessert. This works in a pinch for unexpected company, or an event when you don’t have much. Ingredients are: 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar. 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 cup milk, 2 cups sweetened berries or other fruit. Directions: spray 9 x 9 pan or lightly grease. Mix the first five ingredients together. Pour batter in pan. Melt 1/4 to 1/2 cup butter and pour over batter. Add fruit. Bake in a 350 oven 45 to 50 minutes.

New Recipes Needed

I need to add in my sister’s Chicken Enchilada recipe and her oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. My daughter Carrie’s white chili, and daughter in law Stacy’s amazing pie recipes, and Allie’s puppy chow mix.

If you are looking for a perfect gift, this is it. Family recipes especially for a bride are amazing. This book is so perfect for so many things. I see my friends Marty, Rose, Janna, Debbie and Marla and so many family members here and gone.


The next few weeks, I will be cooking up great food and memories. Traveling not so much down the miles, but rather down the years.

If you enjoy this, read about other cookbook adventures!

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  1. Karen Fletcher

    Cindy… You’re absolutely right: recipes do bring back wonderful memories of amazing people and fantastic cooks. I still have a copy of the cookbook. Thank you for reminding me that we can experience the past through taste! I just made mom’s recipe of burnt sugar cake and burnt sugar frosting for Susan’s birthday. It was mom‘s favorite cake.

    1. Cindy

      All of Betty’s recipe’s are our favorite! Thanks so much for sending the cowboy cookie recipe and more! I will be making them and others soon. That cake recipe sounds amazing!