You can’t have a cookout without potato salad.
The trouble is, what kind?
Hot potato salad with bacon? Warm sweet potato salad? Potato salad with peas? With green beans? Green chilies? Sour cream?
Sharyn Coffman will have none of that. She likes good old-fashioned basic potato salad.
She’s been making it ever since she and Bob Coffman got married on Valentine’s Day, 1966. She got the recipe from her tried-and-true Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.
That’s where she gets most of her recipes, she said.
It’s been used so often it’s literally falling apart. Its pages, frail and yellow with age, are cracking and tearing. The jacket is held together with duct tape.
Throw it away? Never.
Replace it with a newer version? Uh ... no.
It won’t win any beauty contests, but this cookbook has nurtured and fed the Coffman family for more than 45 years.
“Yeah, some of the pages aren’t where they’re supposed to be,” Bob said with a laugh.
Like any good cook, she takes a recipe and adds to it. To this one, she reluctantly added boiled eggs.
“I won’t eat the eggs,” she said. “Bob made me put them in. I’ll take them out.”
She also added pickles.
She grew up on the East Side of Fairmont and met Bob when they were 13 and at church camp.
“Then I never saw him again until college at Fairmont State,” she said. “We started dating and got married on Valentine’s Day.”
They have three children, twins Brian and Chris, and Cindy.
Not all her recipes come from a cookbook though.
“I love cooking chili. It’s my own recipe. I’ve got it in my head, not in that book,” she said. “And hot dog sauce? It’s in my head, too.”
She makes a creamed chicken dish with shredded grilled chicken covered with chicken gravy, peas and carrots, with biscuits.
She also makes her own pizza.
“This is the only kind I make. Every April and October they sell sausage at Cross Roads. All my kids love that sausage. I always get hot sausage.
“I take a pizza mix, a jar of pizza sauce and a couple of patties of the hot sausage, onions, hot peppers and sometimes some hamburger and different kinds of cheeses. And it is good. I made one just last week.”
And whenever she makes one, she calls one of her daughters, who promptly comes hungry to visit the next day.
“I also make lasagna for Christmas Eve,” she said. “I can whip it together in no time.”
Although she likes to cook, she’s not much on baking.
“I’m not into cakes or pies. I’m not a sweets person at all. Bob’s the same way, too.”
Baking is too much like chemistry, she said. Cooking is more personal.
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You can’t have a cookout without potato salad.
- My Favorite Recipe
If you like something sweet, Jessi Polis has the cake for you.
Her orange cream cheese pound cake is light, refreshing and just sweet enough to satisfy those cravings.
This cake is her husband Sam’s favorite, she said.
Paula Ansberry makes some pretty powerful pepper poppers.
She got the recipe from a friend a couple of years ago. She was a little hesitant to try one. She’s not a spicy food kind of person.
People say they go to cookouts and picnics to get together with friends and family.
They say they like the burgers and dogs, and pasta, fruit and potato salads, and all those other side dishes you can’t have a picnic without.
Art of cooking
Kim Holbert isn’t one of those “Try it; you’ll like it” kind of cooks.
She’s more like, “You like it; I’ll make it.”
“If I know that you have a preference toward something, I aim it that way,” she said.
Just home cooking
Food doesn’t have to be fancy to be tasty.
Judy Starn learned this growing up on Sugar Lane in Catawba. She was the only girl in nine children of Woodrow and Anna Starn. One brother passed away, so she grew up among seven brothers.
“I like to cook, but I wouldn’t say I’m a good cook,” she said.
Just plain cooking
You know those pretty layered salads people put in clear glass bowls, and you have to lift all the layers out at the same time and then spread them out on a plate so everybody can see how pretty it is, and then they go “ooh” and “ahh”?
‘Just plain good’
When it’s just too darned hot to cook, or you need something cool and light in a jiffy, Josephine Vespoint has a quick-as-a-wink salad for you.
Take two cans of pears, and drain and place each pear right side up on a bed of lettuce.
All about family
All her life, Alma Hoy Parrish has been about one thing: family.
She’s put the knowledge she learned at her mother’s knee to good use during her 46-year marriage to Tom Parrish while raising their two children, Mike Parrish and Lori Hill.
Easy and versatile
There are salads that you ever-so-politely nibble on.
Not Cathy Davis’ California Tossed Salad.
It fills a large bowl to the brim. You have to grab it with tongs, lift it to your plate and, as she says it, “dive on in.”
It’s filling. It’s healthy. It’s easy to make.
Light and fluffy
Grandmas are probably the world’s best cooks.
Just ask anybody who’s been lucky enough to have eaten their scrumptious cookies, luscious pies, fluffy cakes and wholesome breads.
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