By Ginna Parsons
BELDEN – Sheri Boettcher has an enormous collection of cookbooks, and she actually uses every one of them.
As she talks about a specific recipe, she’ll pull a particular book off the shelf and turn to the page where she has made additions and substitutions, crossed out ingredients or made notes to herself.
Take, for instance, her granola recipe, the original of which is barely legible. She started making it for her family when they lived in Tulsa, Okla.
“I found the recipe and it had all these options of things you could put with it,” she said. “I experimented with different ingredients and finally came up with one we liked.”
The family also ate a lot of Lebanese food in Tulsa – tabbouleh, hummus and charburgers – to name a few dishes.
“When my kids were home, I tried to make healthy foods, balanced meals, with a meat, vegetables, a starch and always fresh fruit,” said Boettcher, 66. “We eat lighter now.”
Boettcher and her husband, Frank, actually eat some vegetarian meals during the week and they try to limit the amount of red meat in their diets. Two of their three grown and married sons – Jim, Joe and Jack – are vegetarians.
“I used to cook every day and then Frank retired (from Delta International),” she said. “So I don’t cook every day now because he likes to cook. Sometimes I cook, sometimes he cooks and sometimes we cook together.”
One dish Boettcher has been making for almost 30 years is her Beef Barley Soup (sometimes she leaves the beef out). She had it in a restaurant with a girlfriend in Tulsa and said it’s just perfect for a cold winter day.
“I got home and I thought, ‘I’ve got to make this,’” she said. “I knew it had mushrooms and garlic and, of course, barley. I found a recipe for a lamb barley soup and some recipes that sounded good but didn’t have mushrooms, so I took a little from each one and came up with my own.”
One new recipe she has been making is a Tarta de Santiago or St. James Cake. Last year, the Boettchers took a spiritual pilgrimage through northern Spain. It took them 36 days to walk the 500-mile Camino de Santiago, from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago. They averaged 14 miles of walking each day and stayed in hostels along the way.
“The last region we walked through was Galicia – that’s where we had the Tarta,” she said. “The cakes over there look like they were cooked in a pizza pan – they’re thinner and wider. I came home and found a recipe and people have really liked it.”
Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.