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Recipes For Happiness

I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about meal planning these days. Working from home often means more meals being prepared each day and some real thought having to be put into eating.

Before COVID, my husband and I routinely ate a larger lunch and just had a quick meal of leftovers at suppertime. I am happy sometimes just munching on something over the kitchen sink with no dishes involved. Or a bowl of Cheerios will suffice if I’m really hungry.

The state of eating during these stay-at-home days has forced me to face my small case of hoarding. No, not food or toilet paper, I’m talking about cookbooks. Over the years, I have collected a number of cookbooks, many from the days of the newspaper cookbook contests. Those well-worn newspaper cookbooks are tucked inside a school binder for safekeeping.

Some of my other favorites are the collections of recipes produced by churches, fire department auxiliaries and other organizations. Each has a particular appeal.

One such book contains my no-fail, easy banana bread recipe. Another offers some fun things to do with chicken while another has tempting desserts.

For my 40th birthday, my sister Marilyn gave me a copy of the Junior League of Wheeling’s “The Best of Wheeling” cookbook. Some of the recipes are pretty extensive and too involved for me, but I have made Nini Zadrozny’s incredible pierogie casserole recipe found in the book.

The best part about some of these cookbooks is seeing the names of all the local gals and guys who took the time to share their favorite recipes. Some of the bakers and cooks in these books have passed on, but their recipes live on as a tribute to their talents in the kitchen and the good times they provided.

Also among my collection are some of my most cherished, handwritten recipes from other family members. Each time I pull one of these cards or scraps of paper from my recipe box, I remember those days of watching my mom make her homemade noodles for her version of chicken pot pie.

Or how my mother-in-law was generous enough to show me how to make homemade taco shells with yellow cornmeal, flour, eggs, water and a pinch of salt.

I know there is an entire generation that believes the internet is the best place to find a recipe.

Maybe so, but I will stick to my batter-stained cookbooks and the memories they bring.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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