Category Archives: Cooking With Mom


Smokey The Bear prepares for lift off at the 2016 Labor Day Hot Air Balloon festival in Colorado Springs.

(Smokey The Bear prepares for lift off at the 2016 Labor Day Hot Air Balloon festival in Colorado Springs.)

(The original Smokey Bear cub, healing after being rescued from the NM fire.)

(The original Smokey Bear cub, healing after being rescued from the NM fire.)

In 1950, after crews battled a forest fire in New Mexico, they also rescued a lost bear cub clinging to a charred tree.  He had been seriously burned but was fighting to survive.  During his months of recovery, the cub—appropriately named Smokey Bear—received numerous gifts, especially honey.   During the years that followed, he also received so many letters and cards that the post office gave him his own zip code.  His image became the logo for fire prevention, and when he died in 1976, the message of Smokey the Bear lived on.

In recent years, many thousands of acres have been destroyed, numerous homes and businesses burnt to the ground, and lives lost in forest fires in Colorado, New Mexico, California, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.   Smokey’s message is “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires,” and authorities estimate that nearly 2/3 could be prevented by humans.

Smokey’s fire safety reminders also extend to home cooking.   In America, 16% of home fire deaths and 40% of serious injuries to humans and pets are a result of cooking accidents and carelessness.

Years ago, while my mother was boiling chicken to make dumplings for a church dinner, she was called out to help a neighbor.   If you have ever experienced the horrible smoke damage and blackened ceilings caused by burned chicken, then you understand why I offer this public service reminder on her behalf.

As Smokey might also say, “Only You Can Prevent Kitchen Fires.”   If you have family or friends who have memory loss or mental confusion, remember that kitchen fires are a very real danger. Take action to protect them.   only-you-can-prevent-forest-fires

(When you volunteer for the National Park Service, you meet the nicest people...and sometimes bears, too.)

(When you volunteer for the National Park Service, you meet the nicest people…and sometimes bears, too.)



Filed under Cooking With Mom, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons for great-grandchildren, special quotations


MBerry container




All pictures by Marylin Warner

All pictures by Marylin Warner


She arranges twelve plates on the table, all kinds of fruits, fresh and dried vegetables, flavored popcorn, and a plate of dark chocolate. There are six writers at the table, and they each take one bite of each food.

Then Mary gives each person a pink tablet, a single MBerry, the “Miracle Fruit Tablet,” that takes a few minutes to dissolve on the tongue. For a man’s perspective, my husband Jim has been invited to participate in this Wednesday’s writing group—or at least the food experiment—and we’re all fascinated with each step.

The tastes of the foods after the MBerry tablets dissolve are staggeringly altered. The tart limes and sour lemons are sweet; the dark chocolate is an entirely new flavor; some of the tastes are deliciously unrecognizable, and so on. Numerous adjectives are applied to each food.

food and tablets



Mary Zalmanek, one of my Wednesday writers, regular contributor to both RV and MOTOR HOME magazines, and author of THE ART OF THE SPARK, has furnished an amazing experience…and writing prompt.  She says that MBerries are more than just a fun game. They can be great diet foods, giving fresh fruits or veggies the tastes of exotic desserts, and that inspires others come up with more delicious possibilities, too.

For me, this fun experiment that has us all laughing is also a sobering reality check. It gives me a first-hand sample of what my mother, and my dad, before he died of Alzheimer’s—and other dementia and Alzheimer’s patients—struggle with at meals. They can no longer recognize formerly familiar foods; the tastes and smells confuse them, and this often diminishes their appetites. They lose another interest and another memory.

Tomorrow, July 2, is I FORGOT DAY. It’s a day of awareness: what do we want to remember; what would we like to forget? If we have a bad day on Tuesday, or any day, we can choose to either remember it or forget it.

Choose is the key word here. Those who suffer with memory loss, head injuries, dementia or Alzheimer’s, do not get to choose.

For the rest of us, tomorrow–or the day after, or any day–is a good day to do what we can to help them: listen and appreciate their efforts, share stories we know about them and their interests, or take them out for a walk or a ride in their wheelchair—crossing the threshold of their confinement—to see, hear, touch, smell the places they’ve forgotten since their last outing. It’s worth a try.

Art Linkletter was right; old age is not or sissies. And neither is Alzheimer's or dementia.

Art Linkletter was right; old age is not for sissies. And neither is Alzheimer’s or dementia.


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, experiments, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, life questions, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, recipes, writing


Not all cowboys look like Tom Selleck.

Not all cowboys look like Tom Selleck.


Some of the best Cowboys aren't "boys" at all.

Some of the best Cowboys aren’t “boys” at all!

And not all the work is done on horseback.

And not all the work is done on horseback.


And the mama cow still does a lot of the work.

But one thing stays the same: the mama cow still does a lot of the work.


My mom was an excellent cook, but Sundays were extra special. She made a roast surrounded by vegetables or baked chicken with all the trimmings, and she always made plenty of food and extra biscuits in case someone came home with us to share a family meal after church.  Those were delicious main meals, rich with what my parents called the best food, family and fellowship, but as much as I enjoyed those Sunday dinners, my favorite “meal” was always that evening.

Sunday night was family time for us.  Mom sliced apples and popped a huge bowl of popcorn.   That was our evening meal as we watched Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, or some similar program.   It was many years later before I realized that all the cowboy shows from that period contained lessons of THE CODE OF THE WEST.

In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, One-Word Personal Themes, and general plans for being more aware and doing better, I’m adding The Code of the West to the mix:

1) Live each day with courage.     2) Take pride in your work.     3) Always finish what you start.   4) Do what has to be done.   5) Be tough but fair.   6) When you make a promise, keep it.   7) Ride for the brand.   8) Talk less and say more.   9) Remember that some things aren’t for sale.   10) Know where to draw the line.

If you don’t have a resolution or a theme word—or even if you do—which of the ten code lessons would you choose?   Slice an apple, eat a bowl of popcorn, and give it some thought.

Whichever lesson you choose from the Code of the West, to make it work, remember YAGOTTAWANNA

Whichever lesson you choose from the Code of the West, to make it work, remember          YAGOTTAWANNA



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, making a difference, recipes, special quotations


(All pictures taken by Marylin Warner in Abilene, KS, and at Rolling Hills Zoo)

(All pictures taken by Marylin Warner in Abilene, KS, and at Rolling Hills Zoo)




The question applies to all birds, and today is WORLD EGG DAY. I suppose we could add human females to the list, based on the reproductive system, but we won’t, okay?  After all, we’re including a cooking recipe here…

Before dementia. my mom was an outstanding cook. On short notice—as long as she had eggs and basic ingredients in the refrigerator—she could whip up a tasty dish to fill a lot of hungry tummies. Here’s my favorite egg recipe she taught me:

egg recipe ingredients



This is a delicious breakfast dish, perfect for special get-togethers on hungry evenings and chilly mornings. If your cholesterol numbers are running low, Eggs A’La Goldenrod will help change that!

You will need:

6 hard boiled eggs if you’re cooking for 3 people; otherwise, hard boil 2 eggs for each person ~plus extras if they’re really hungry ~   1 T. butter and 1 heaping T. flour for every two eggs ~  1/8 t. prepared mustard for every two eggs, or more if you like a lot of mustard   ~ 2/3 c. whole milk for every two eggs (or Almond milk or lowfat milk if you’re health conscious, but what’s the point with all these other ingredients?) ~ and 2 slices of toast or  2 split biscuits for each person participating in this feast.

Salt and pepper to taste while cooking; sprinkle paprika or dill weed on top of the final product.   Mom always added a healthy pinch of garlic salt or garlic powder, too, but she added garlic or chopped onions to everything, so either is optional if you’re not crazy about garlic or onions, or planning to fix this meal for a first date or something.

Here’s what you do:

Over medium heat, melt butter in a decent-sized pan.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour.   (Note: always have wooden spoons on hand.)  Stir in the milk, adding it a little bit at a time.  Keep stirring.  Don’t let it stick or lump up. Add the chopped hard-boiled eggs and mustard.   Stir gently so you don’t mash the eggs like potatoes.

Add salt and pepper.  Add more milk, or more butter and flour, if mixture gets too thick or too thin.  Stir some more. (This is one of the extra benefits of Eggs A’la Goldenrod; you’ll have strong arms. To keep your arm muscles looking balanced, switch hands while stirring.) When everything is hot and yummy, ladle it over the toast or split biscuits. Sprinkle with paprika or dill weed and serve.

Very important reminder:

Before eating, have everyone at the table join hands, and ask someone ~ usually the dad, but moms and kids are good, too ~ to ask the blessing.  Just being around the table together, eating and laughing and talking, is a good reason to be thankful.  But don’t let the prayer drag on and on. Eggs are definitely more tasty when they’re eaten hot.


This was the first recipe I posted on my blog. It was August 2011, and my mom was thinking much more clearly then. She wasn’t sure what a blog was, but she said to invite all my blog friends over and she would help me make a big batch of Eggs A’La Goldenrod.

Consider yourselves invited. It’s World Egg Day, after all, and you’re our blog friends.

P.S.  U.K. author Angela Carter said, “A day without an argument is like an egg without salt.”   Whatever that means…

Benjamin Franklin wrote: "An egg today is better than a hen tomorrow."  (Again, interpret that as you will.)

Benjamin Franklin wrote: “An egg today is better than a hen tomorrow.” (Again, interpret that as you will.)


Filed under Cooking With Mom, Dementia/Alzheimer's, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, October glory, recipes, special quotations


Osage wall hanging. (All photos taken by Marylin Warner)

Osage wall hanging.

Native American art wall arrangement at Mt. St. Frances. (All photos taken by Marylin Warner)

Native American art wall arrangement at Mt. St. Frances. (All photos taken by Marylin Warner)

Kirby Sattler's posters are popular art at Territory Days. The one on the right may look familiar; it inspired Johnny Depp's costume in THE LONE RANGER.

Kirby Sattler’s posters are popular art in galleries and at Territory Days. The one on the right may look familiar if you recognize Johnny Depp’s costume in THE LONE RANGER.

In the state of Kansas, twelve counties are named for Indian tribes. Depending on which route I take each month when I drive to visit my mother—the interstate and main highways, or the blue highways—I drive through at least four of these counties.

Here are a few samples of my favorite Native American Indian quotes.

~ from Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee: “…All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, the fair and the ugly… We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way, the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two.”

~ from Mourning Dove Salish (1888-1936): “…Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.”

“They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.” ~Tuscarora

“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” ~Dakota

“No words are so eloquent as a rattlesnake’s tail.” ~Navajo

“You can’t wake a person who pretends to be asleep.” ~Navajo

“There is no death, only a change of worlds.” ~Pawnee and Shawnee

And this Cherokee quote was in a Kansas Original shop: “When the white man discovered this country, Indians were running it. No taxes, no debt, women did all the work. White man was wrong to think he could improve on a system like this.”

About the time my mother and I tried frying dandelion blossoms, (Fried Dandelions post) we also tried making FRY BREAD, a popular side dish at cafes and food stands serving Indian foods. Here’s the recipe we used:

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, 1 T. baking powder, 1 t. seasoning salt or table salt, and 1 cup steaming tap water. Grease your hands with vegetable oil, shape the dough into a ball, and leave in the bowl. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place for at least 30 minutes. Setting the bowl in a sunny place works extra well.

Heat vegetable oil at least 1 inch deep in a fry pan or electric skillet (around 375 degrees). Make a ball of dough a little smaller than a golf ball and flatten in your greased hand until it’s about the size of a large cookie. Poke a small hole in the center with your finger and carefully lay the dough in the hot oil. Let dough fry to a gold brown before turning it over and frying the other side. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Fry Bread has two uses.  You can put meat, cheese, chopped tomatoes, onions and lettuce on Fry Bread for a main dish.  Or you can do what Mom and I did:  spread it with butter and sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar for a dessert.

September 25 is NATIVE AMERICAN DAY. That gives you plenty of time to make your Fry Bread, appreciate Indian art, look for interesting quotes, and maybe even read Hal Borland’s book, WHEN THE LEGENDS DIE, or Dee Brown’s BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE. Both books will make you want to wear a t-shirt that says “INDIAN LIVES MATTER”


Kansas' twelve counties named for Indian tribes.

Kansas’ twelve counties named for Indian tribes.


Filed under art, Cooking With Mom, Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, Indian Lives Matter, just doing the best we can, life questions, recipes, special quotations, Spiritual connections

Meatloaf Recipe

Cupcakes make your mouth water?

Fix this meatloaf tonight for a real treat!

(go to Favorite Recipes)

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking With Mom, great meatloaf, memories for grandchildren

Birthday Sugar

Dear Mom,

When I was with you a few weeks ago, you and I ate cupcakes I’d bought in the bakery section at the grocery store.  You savored each bite, and we laughed as we brushed away crumbs and licked our fingers.  As I wiped your mouth you smiled and asked, “Is it somebody’s birthday?”

I didn’t tell you it was almost my birthday because, actually, it didn’t matter.  I was with my mom, and we were eating cupcakes together and laughing.  When a daughter celebrates like this with her mother, on some level it is a celebration of both their births.

Several days later, two days before Jim and I left to drive back to Colorado, he and Molly planned a special birthday dinner for me at a Japanese restaurant in Salina.  We sat around a big U-shaped table, watching in amazement as our chef flipped vegetables and meats on the sizzling grill in the center.  As a grand finale, in celebration of my birthday he put a big onion (why an onion?) on the center of the grill, squirted it with something very flammable, struck a match, and poof! it flared like a Roman candle.  As everyone sang Happy Birthday, I looked at the precious wide-eyed, amazed faces of my grandchildren (your great-grandchildren, Mom!), and the wonderful, much-loved faces of my husband, our daughter and our son-in-law, and I thought, “It doesn’t get better than this.”  Everyone was together, happy and healthy and hopeful, celebrating life.

It reminded me of the tradition we had for birthdays as I was growing up.  Birthday breakfasts often included something special–maybe Eggs A’la Goldenrod, cinnamon toast, or a donut from the bakery–or it was something simple and fast because it was a school day and we didn’t have time for anything too special.

It was at dinner that night when you fixed our favorite meal.  For David, I remember he liked shrimp for his birthday dinner, which was no small deal in Kansas in the 50s.  My choice was usually your meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and canned mandarin oranges and chunked pineapple, which made it seem like a really big deal.  I always loved your meat loaf, Mom, and while we ate dinner, the dessert waited over on the counter: a birthday cake, my cards and presents.  For a kid growing up in southeast Kansas, having such a birthday celebration on a school day, trimmed with cake and presents and laughter around the table, well, it just didn’t get any better than that.

You started the tradition, Mom.  Birthdays are celebrations of life, and the cake is the sweet reminder to be grateful that we’ve been blessed with another year.

The love and laughter of family and friends around the table, and the memories of others we hold in our hearts, are the icing on the cake, sugary sweet, rich with the reminder that nothing is better than a birthday.

Thanks, Mom, for then and for now.

Love, Marylin


Filed under birthday traditions, Cooking With Mom, memories for grandchildren

New Recipe: Pineapple Butter Cookies

A favorite with both kids and adults!

Posted under Favorite Recipes.  Kids love to help with these.


1 Comment

Filed under Cooking With Mom

Comfort Foods


Dear Mom,

I learned to cook by watching you cook.  On my own I tried recipes from the BETTY CROCKER JUNIOR COOKBOOK, especially the cookies and salads, but mostly I picked vegetables from our garden and then worked with you in the kitchen.  If Dad called at the last minute, saying he was bringing customers home from the dealership for lunch, my job was to reset the dining room table with the good dishes, and then help chop, slice or stir more ingredients for another salad while you whipped up a batch of biscuits.  You were the supreme impromptu chef, able to concoct delicious chicken dishes that would feed many extra mouths.  You often told me that people like to sit down to a meal together and talk and relax. You taught me by example that the most important ingredients of a meal are a welcoming smile and a warm greeting.

September 27, 2006, I made breakfast for you and Dad: “Eggs A’La Goldenrod.” (see favorite recipes)   While I heated butter, flour and milk together on the stove, you stood beside me and peeled hard boiled eggs.  Dad sat at the table watching us, smiling as the buttery mixture bubbled in the pan and bread turned brown in the toaster. He happily waited for one of his favorite special breakfasts.

It was the last meal you and Dad ate in the house you’d called home since 1952.

After breakfast, the three of us took a long ride.  Dad became agitated, saying over and over that he should be driving.  You comforted him by pointing out the changing leaves and the ducks paddling on the pond in the park.  At the end of our ride, instead of returning home, we drove out to your new assisted living apartment at Presbyterian Village.  Dad wandered around, peeking in the closets, checking out the bathroom and the laundry, sighing a lot as he got more and more upset.  He wanted to go home.

You sat down with him and read the weekly menus aloud, commenting on the many choices.  I hung pictures and arranged your favorite pieces of furniture the movers had brought from the house while we were on our ride.  We had to go out to eat dinner because I hadn’t yet learned that the apartment stove and oven had the safety switches turned off.  We stayed up long past the usual bedtime, eating popcorn and apple slices in front of the television.  You and I reminded Dad of all the people and memories in the pictures on the walls and the bookshelves.  Finally we went to bed.  It was the first night in your new apartment, and when I checked on you during the night, you were snuggled up against Dad, your arms holding him securely.  The next morning we had cereal and toast, to continue the normal pattern Dad expected at home.

August 6, 2011: Other than bacon and eggs for breakfast, it’s only by trial and error that your caregivers and I find food you really like to eat.  Today, pushing a cart through the frozen foods in the local grocery store, by accident I strike gold.  Spaghetti with meat sauce, homemade by Stouffer’s.  In the dairy section lemon yogurt parfait cups look good, so I buy two.  I come back to buy more before the day is over, smiling the entire time because you gobbled up the parfaits like a happy child.

Things are different now.  You don’t fix the food, your preferences change from meal to meal, and it’s just the two of us eating dinner in your apartment.  But we still have a good time, Mom.  When I, as the cook, give you a warm greeting–”Hey, Mom, this is going to be delicious!”–you smile and say, “That’s right darlin’,” and we sit down together, talk and relax.

I love you, Mom.




Filed under Cooking With Mom