Dash of Class: Cook thrives on home-cooked family meals

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JoAnn Taul is One of Hardin County's Finest Cooks

By Nora Sweat

It is such a pleasure to recognize JoAnn Taul of Cecilia as this month’s One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks. We have become close friends while belonging to Cecilia Homemakers and working as hostesses and giving lessons to members. Today, she and I will present the lesson “Bones and Joints” to our fellow members at the meeting in Cecilia.

JoAnn is a native of Breckenridge County, specifically Hardinsburg, where she grew up and lived until she married. Her maternal grandparents and relatives all lived in Hardinsburg. JoAnn’s mom and Grandmother Frank were both great cooks and homemakers. Grandmother Frank’s home was a part-time boarding house and her large round dining room table served many delicious meals as family, friends and boarders gathered around to eat.

JoAnn wasn’t very interested in cooking until after she married. Her mom and mother-in-law, Pearl Taul, gave her much needed advice and help in preparing her first meals. Her cooking skills improved as she tried many recipes from the Betty Crocker cookbook she and her husband received as a wedding gift. She still uses the worn cookbook.

In 1960, after purchasing a dairy farm in Cecilia, JoAnn and her husband, Philip, moved their very young family to start dairy farming. Their children, Keith, Phylis and David grew up on the farm and helped with the dairy and farm operations. By this time, JoAnn was well into cooking. Their meals included the wonderful vegetables and fruit from canning and freezing during the summer months. They had their own beef in the freezer. She enjoyed cooking the country “home style” meals for her family.

She had been married 54 years when her husband, Philip, passed away in 2011. She still loves to cook for her family and friends.

JoAnn has 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, two of whom are 1-month-old twins. She loves to have them to her house and always fixes homemade treats for their snack.

Today, I have several of her family’s favorite recipes. The cheesecake is her son David’s choice for his birthday cake. Of course, the candles have to be blown out quickly before the dessert melts.

The Spaghetti Loaf is one of her daughter Phylis’ favorites. Phylis also commented that she loves her mom’s Banana Nut Bread, especially just after it comes out of the oven. Her favorite dessert is a toss-up between Jam Cake and Raisin Pie.

All of the recipes were prepared by JoAnn’s mom and grandmother as well.

Phylis followed in her mother’s footsteps as she had a children’s cookbook and was the one who always made chocolate chip cookies while growing up. Phylis commented that she admired her mother so much as they always had a hot meal on the table every night, unless it was summer when they had a big lunch and leftovers for supper. And JoAnn’s desserts were always wonderful. In addition to the Raisin Pie and Jam Cake, she loved Chocolate Meringue Pie.

JoAnn said Phylis is a wonderful cook, too. I will let her have part of that credit, but I want some for me, too. I had Phylis as a home economics student at West Hardin High School.

Congratulations, JoAnn. You are a very deserving honoree as One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of HardinCounty and a retired home economics/ family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Spaghetti Loaf

1 small box of Creamette Ready Cut Spaghetti

1 ½ cup milk (use half and half for a richer taste)

2 eggs, beaten

1 large jar of chopped pimientos, drained

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 small green onion, chopped

1 cup shredded cheese

Butter or margarine

Bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil, add salt and pasta. Stirring occasionally, cook for 7 minutes. Drain pasta. In a small skillet, sauté onion and green pepper in a small amount of butter. In a large mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients with the pasta. Add to a greased casserole dish. Dot the top of the mixture with pieces of the butter. If needed, add more milk or cream to have it even with top of the pasta. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned on top, approximately 1 hour.

Banana Nut Bread

½ cup, butter or margarine

1½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1½ cups all purpose flour

1teaspoon soda

4 tablespoons buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup crushed bananas

1 cup nuts (optional)

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar and then beat in the eggs and banans. Mix the flour and soda together and add to the butter/sugar mixture. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Then add the nuts.

Bake the bread at 350 degrees in a greased, wax paper-lined loaf pan for 50-60 minutes.

JoAnn said that sometimes she divides the batter into small pans, cutting the baking time. The best way to know when they are done is to test with a toothpick.

Cheese Cake

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ pint of whipping cream (can substitute 1 envelope Dream Whip mixed according to package directions)

Graham cracker crumbs

Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Separate the eggs and beat in the egg yolks and vanilla. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into mixture. Fold in whipped cream Line an oblong dish or cake pan with the graham cracker crumbs, add the cream cheese mixture on top. Cover with graham cracker crumbs over the top. Cover lightly and freeze until ready to use.

Raisin Pie

2 eggs, separated

1 cup milk (part cream)

1 cup sugar

1 cup raisins

½ teaspoon vanilla

Mix egg yokes and next four ingredients together in an iron skillet or other heavy pan. Stirring constantly, cook on medium heat until thickened. Pour into a baked pie shell. Use the egg whites for the meringue. Bake until lightly browned.