The Times West Virginian

My Favorite Recipe

July 20, 2011

All in the seasonings

FAIRMONT — Bobbi Kozul’s got this recipe for hot dog sauce you could call a work in progress.

She’s been working on it for the past 30 years or so, and she thinks she’s finally got it down pat.

“I always just dumped or sprinkled the ingredients. Then it would turn out different each time. ‘It doesn’t taste the same,’ people’d say. When my kids grew up and moved out, they wanted the recipe. So then I had to measure it,” she said with a grin.

“Now I have it to where everybody really likes it.”

Her first try at it was almost like a lesson in how to not make hot dog sauce.

“That first recipe was funny. It was just ground beef, but all I added was salt, pepper and ketchup. It didn’t taste very good at all.”

So next time she added some garlic powder, chili powder, tomato sauce ... and ketchup for thickener. She learned to boil the meat in water, not brown it, in just the right amount of water so that it’s not too thick and not too thin. And just skim the grease off as it rises to the top.

Here’s the important part: The sauce tastes better a day or two after you make it, she said.

“It will really taste good because your seasonings marry in the sauce and give it a really good flavor.”

You can make the sauce mild, hotter or “breathing fire” hot, she said. Just depends on the crowd.

She started tinkering with the recipe after she moved to Ohio, where hot dog sauce and pepperoni buns might as well be from Mars.

“They didn’t know anything about them. Then we moved to Connecticut, and they hadn’t heard of them either. So I just kept trying to make mine taste good.

“My fiancé, who could turn into a hot dog, is always telling me I should open my own hot dog stand! What a compliment to any cook!” she said.

She eventually returned to her native Marion County with her children, Maresa and Robert, now 28 and 26.

She also makes pretty good spaghetti sauce and lasagna, says Bill Phillips, her fiancé.

The lasagna is a multi-day process, she said.

“You make the sauce at least three to four days in advance. Then, one to two days before, you cook up your meat and onions and garlic, and put them in the sauce. Then you make your noodles and cook it. It’s all about the seasonings intermingling with your meat to get that good taste.”

The eldest of 10 siblings, she likes to see a full table.

“When we had dinner, the whole family was around the table, sharing the day’s activities,” she said. “And even though we were all busy doing our own thing, at the end of the day, everybody came together as a family. This encourages the cook because that’s how you get them all together.”

Every once in a while, inspired to do something different, she turns to her cabinet of cookbooks in search of a new recipe.

“That may go over or it may not. If it’s not good, which has happened a few times, you just dump it out and do something else.

“My mother, Joyce Schleicher, is a great cook. She learned early on how to make meals stretch. And she did a pretty good job. My grandfather always encouraged me to be in the kitchen because he loved to cook, too. But he made odd things you wouldn’t find in a restaurant, like turtle soup or rabbit stew. I like to make deer meatballs and not tell people what they are,” she said with a laugh.

Thanksgiving is held at her house every year. She’ll make the turkey and mashed potatoes, dressing and green beans for the crowd of 32, while others bring more side dishes.

Phillips grew up on a farm, and is used to as much homemade food as he can get.

“Homemade bread, potatoes and some kind of meat. Always. That’s how I grew up.

“Her food is really good,” he said, patting his tummy. “I don’t complain about it one bit. I’m not a small man, but I like to eat. And when she cooks, I overdo it all the time. It’s all good.”

For medical reasons, he can’t have his beloved fried foods anymore, so Kozul makes her food tasty and healthy, too.

Even though they’re grown and out of the house, her children will still call to see what’s for dinner.

“Their favorite question, and I just laugh, is, ‘What is it that you made?’ Maybe they’ll come for dinner and maybe not. Depends on what I fix.”

She’s carrying on the family tradition of home cooking with her niece, little Maddie Gump.

“When she comes to stay, we have to make something because she’s learning to cook, too. She loves brownies. I wanted to make them the light way, with applesauce and not oil, but, well, she was having none of that. ‘That’s not the recipe,’ she said. So we have to go exactly by the recipe for Miss Maddie. She has her little bonnet and apron, and gets things all over the table, but she does a good job.”

Her spaghetti sauce, flavored with peppers and sausage, is her favorite, and others’, too.

“I work for surgeons and when I bring it in in a Crock-Pot, one of the surgeons, even if he’s in surgery, will come up and make sure he gets some of that.”

Bill’s favorite?

“I’ve got a list,” he said, laughing. “I love her lasagna and her hot dog sauce and her stuffed shells. Everything she cooks is good. Whatever she cooks is basically my favorite.”

Although her maiden name is Schleicher, she comes by her Italian cuisine honestly.

“My grandmother was Italian,” she said. “I guess that all filtered down.”

They celebrate Christmas Eve at the home of one of her sisters.

“They cook the feast of the seven fishes. She’s an amazing cook, much better than I could be. She makes things restaurants would serve. You just don’t eat a week before you go ... or after,” she said laughing.

The contest for July is hot dog sauce. To be featured on the “My Favorite Recipe” page, contact Debbie Wilson at 304-367-2549 or dwilson@timeswv.com.

Email Debra Minor Wilson at dwilson@timeswv.com.

1
Text Only
My Favorite Recipe
  • 091912.jessi.polis.debe104_2785.jpg Sweet enough

    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.

    September 19, 2012 2 Photos

  • 091212.paula.jpg Powerful poppers

    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.

    September 12, 2012 2 Photos

  • 082912.goddard.jpg Sweet success

    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.

    August 29, 2012 2 Photos

  • 081512.kim.food.deb.jpg 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.

    August 15, 2012 2 Photos

  • 080812.judy.starn.deb.jpg 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.

    August 8, 2012 2 Photos

  • 080112.linn.deb.jpg 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”?

    August 1, 2012 2 Photos

  • 072512.jpg ‘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.

    July 25, 2012 1 Photo

  • 071812 parrish.deb.jpg 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.

    July 18, 2012 2 Photos 1 Story

  • 071112 davis.top pic.deb.jpg 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.

    July 11, 2012 3 Photos

  • 070412 picnic 1.jpg 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.

    July 4, 2012 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Lifestyles
House Ads