Idell Sego is 'One of Hardin County's Finest Cooks'

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Dash of Class

By Nora Sweat

This month’s One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks is not a stranger to most of you. Idell Sego and her husband, James, are well-known for establishing The Whistle Stop Restaurant in Glendale.

Idell’s mom was a great cook and hardly ever used a recipe, Idell said.

The summer Idell was 13, her aunt and uncle visited from St. Louis. As they all were sitting under a shade tree — there was no air conditioning then — Idell asked her mom if she could cook supper. Idell doesn’t remember what she cooked, except fried fish. She’s loved cooking ever since.

She and James have been married for 60 years. In the early days, James helped his father farm , sometimes with the help of other farmers. When it was time for the men to help James, Idell would cook lunch for all who were helping that day, she said. As a new bride, she was proud when the guys seemed to enjoy lunch, but not so proud when the time came to clean up the dishes in a small upstairs apartment kitchen, still with no air conditioning.

James and Idell have three wonderful daughters, six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and two stepgreat-grandchildren. There has been a lot of cooking at Nanny and Pop’s house on Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions.

From 1975 to 2005, they were owners, cooks and managers of The Whistle Stop Restaurant. That was the highlight of her cooking days. In 2005, they decided to retire from the restaurant because of their health and age. Some great folks inquired about purchasing the business and after much consideration, they decided that was what they should do, she said. Mike and Lynn Cummins have carried on manh of the same traditions the Segos started back in 1975.

Just a short while before leaving The Whistle Stop, Idell decided to write a cookbook, “Dining at the Whistle Stop.” It includes many of the recipes used at the restaurant.

Two that were not included are broccoli casserole and meatloaf. She often gets requests for these, so she is sharing those today.

The cookbook also includes one of her family’s favorite fall desserts, Fresh Apple Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce. It makes the kitchen smell so scrumptious and inviting, Idell said. Autographed copies of “Dining at the Whistle Stop” are available at Thru the Grapevine Shop in Glendale.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of Hardin County 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.

Broccoli Casserole

1/2 cup of uncooked minute rice

1/4 cup of onion flakes

1 pound frozen broccoli cuts

2 10-ounce cans cream of mushroom soup

1 pound Velveeta cheese

1/4 pound margarine, melted

1 teaspoon onion salt

Topping (to be put on after casserole is baked)

Enough day old bread to make approximately 2-3 cups when torn, buttered and peppered. Homemade bread is best.

Cook broccoli in boiling water until crisp and tender, reserving water after cooking. Generously butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle minute rice over bottom of dish and add chopped broccoli evenly over rice. Sprinkle onion salt over broccoli. Cut Velveeta cheese in small pieces and place on top of broccoli. Dilute cream of mushroom soup with one and a half cans of reserved water and mix well. Pour over broccoli. Then add melted butter. Bake uncovered at 350-375 degrees on bottom rack of oven until all cheese has melted and entire casserole is bubbly hot. Remove casserole from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Top with buttered and peppered homemade bread pieces. Put back in oven on top rack and bake until bread pieces are a nice golden brown.

Whistle Stop Meatloaf

2 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoons pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup dehydrated onion flakes

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 large eggs, beaten

2 1/2 cups quick oats

Mix all meatloaf ingredients by hand until well-blended. Shape into 8-ounce oval shapes and place them side by side in a greased baking pan. Pour sauce evenly over meat. Bake, uncovered at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. Serve cooked meatloaf with a heaping tablespoon of diced tomato topping.


2 cups ketchup

1/2 tablespoons dry mustard

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk together the ingredients and pour over meatloaf.

Diced Tomato Topping

1 28-ounce can diced


1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon butter

Simmer for approximately 30 minuts or until liquid is reduced. Pour over meatloaf

Fresh Apple Cake

1 cup canola oil

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 cups self-rising flour

3 cups chopped apples

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine oil, sugar and eggs in a bowl and beat well; add flour; beat thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and stir to blend. Bake in a coated, floured loaf pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


1/4 stick margarine

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for one and a half minutes. Punch small holes in the top of the cake and pour sauce over the cake.