There is an old saying that “All good things must come to an end.”  Fourteen years ago, on July 13, 2006, The Shelbyville News contained my first “Cooks’ Corner” column.  Others had written it before my turn started, and it was amazing to me that the newspaper agreed to accept articles from an inexperienced author.  Until then, the only steady writing I had accomplished was putting together devotions and sending them to people by email.

I was thrilled to be able to share my love of cooking and writing; what was supposed to be a temporary assignment turned into a long history of trying new recipes and reporting on them each week.  After a few years, I began to repeat some recipes; however, the vast majority of them were those I had recently prepared.  When I look at the total number of recipes that have found their way into my columns, I am amazed: 1,464!  It is hard to believe I have made all but a very few of them.  And that total doesn’t include the failures and so-so dishes that I never included.

Over the years, my readers have seen me through a lot.  During the first six, my late husband, Bob, was my taste-tester and column-checker.  People often teased him about how “horrible” that job must be for him.  He, however, loved the task and was my biggest fan.  When he passed away in October of 2012, I wondered how I could keep writing.  But the inspiration was still there, and columns kept flowing.  I can now say that I have written more columns without his input than I did when he was living.  It’s funny, though, because when I try a recipe that doesn’t turn out so well, I can still hear him say, “This is okay, but it isn’t column-worthy!”

I had one granddaughter, Maggie, when my published writing “career” began.  Now I have two more granddaughters and four grandsons, giving me a total of seven grandchildren.  Naturally, each of them has been introduced to cooking with Grammie.  The girls all enjoy doing so, but only the two younger boys still want to join me in my kitchen.  The older two guys are good with trying our finished products, especially if cookies are involved.

One thing I am truly thankful for is that I have been allowed to share my faith in the Lord.  So many publications will edit out any references to God and Jesus.  It has been a blessing to be able to write about the most wonderful part of my life.  I can only hope that I have shown my readers the joy I find in serving Christ.  I draw so much strength from Him, and He sees me through the hard things of life as well as providing times of abundance.  I have learned that He will help me in the small frustrations of life, along with the major difficulties.

Letting go of my connection with “Cooks’ Corner” is not an easy decision to make, as it has been a way to have an “identity.”  For 36 years, I was Bob’s wife; I lost that job when he passed away.  However, during the past few months, it has become harder for me to come up with something to write about each week.  I also don’t feel the urge to cook as much.  Some of it may be due to all the isolation recently; I can’t seem to make myself work to prepare dishes that I will be eating for days on end.  During my tenure as a columnist, I have developed more and more food allergies, which doesn’t help my motivation.  I find myself drawn to other things, such as sewing and crafting.  They have been on the back burner for quite some time now.

As I close out this chapter of my life, I would like to thank those that have taken the time to be an encouragement to me.  I appreciate you letting me know that my efforts were not in vain.  I owe a lot of gratitude to The Shelbyville News for agreeing to let me write for the newspaper.  My most fervent gratitude is to the Lord, as He has seen me through all fourteen years, providing inspiration and strength to keep writing.  May God bless each and every one of my readers, and I pray that I have been a blessing to you in some way.

Some of my own recipes:

Sara’s Stromboli Sandwiches

1 pound whole hog sausage OR 1 pound turkey sausage

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 regular-sized can tomato sauce

6 un-sliced hoagie rolls

1 (8-ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown sausage in skillet; add onion after the meat begins to brown.  Remove from heat and drain any grease.  Add oregano, garlic powder, and tomato sauce to skillet.  Return to heat and simmer while preparing rolls.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare rolls by inserting a bread knife about 3/4-inch from the end of each roll.  Slice carefully to the other end of roll, making sure not to slice all the way through and stopping about 3/4-inch from the other end.  This creates a pocket.  Place equal amounts of filling into each roll, placing them on a baking sheet as they are filled.  Spread cheese evenly over the sandwiches.  Bake until cheese is melted and beginning to bubble – 8 to 12 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Yield: 6 servings.

Sara’s Broccoli Potato Soup

2 cups chicken broth

6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 tablespoons dried chives

1 tablespoon dried parsley

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons flour

2 to 3 cups chopped fresh broccoli

2 cups milk (may use unsweetened almond milk)

Place broth, potatoes, salt and pepper in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.  Add onion powder, chives, and parsley to pan.  Using a potato masher, coarsely mash potatoes (leave some lumps).

Stir flour into melted butter; add milk and whisk until smooth.  Stir milk mixture into potato mixture.  Add broccoli.  Heat over medium low heat until soup is thickened and bubbly and broccoli is tender but not mushy; stirring frequently.

Some suggested additions: shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, a dollop of sour cream.

This soup is good served in bread bowls. 

Sara’s Cherry Limeade

Crushed ice

1 (12-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed and undiluted

1 (12-ounce) can frozen apple cherry blend (100% juice) thawed and undiluted

Maraschino cherry syrup

Lemon-lime carbonated beverage, chilled

Lime slices and maraschino cherries for garnish (optional)

Fill 16-ounce glasses half-full of crushed ice.  Add to each glass:

1 tablespoon limeade concentrate

3 tablespoons apple cherry blend concentrate

2 tablespoons maraschino syrup

Fill glass to the brim with lemon-lime carbonated beverage.  Stir gently.

May garnish with lime slices and maraschino cherries, if desired.  Store remaining concentrates in refrigerator for later use.