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Cooking for reunions

By Staff | Oct 28, 2011

June Dodd prepares a tailgate sandwich with sliced ham and colby-jack cheese.

CLEAR LAKE – It was almost 51 years ago, on Nov. 5, 1960, that Dennis and June Dodd, of Clear Lake, were married.

For a wedding present, June Dodd’s mother gave her a copy of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

Dodd looked at it and thought, “I’ll probably never use it.” June Dodd’s cooking ability was limited and it was not something she was interested in.

She said she did learn to cook “little by little.” She worked at the school lunch room at Nora Springs for 12 years and then cooking as an employee for the Marriott Corporation at the lunch room at Principal Financial, in Mason City.

She credits experience cooking at Principal Financial where she learned the fine details of food preparation.

Dodd pours Italian dressing over the sandwich prior to baking.

“They did some really fine cooking,” she said.

It was there she learned about food presentation, garnishing and they had some interesting recipes such as cream of tomato soup. “It was a really good experience,” she said.

Dodd’s mother and her mother-in-law were both good cooks, she said. When her mother made cinnamon rolls, the sweet smell filled the air around the home.

Both Dodds said the cinnamon rolls “were to die for.”

When Dodd asked her mother for the cinnamon roll recipe, she learned there was no recipe as her mother made the rolls by how they felt using her own instincts.

The finished product looks good enough to eat.

Another favorite from childhood is her Grandma Wyborny’s molasses sugar cookies. Dodd said she was not yet 6, but said she “remembers the smell of the cookies baking.”

Dennis and June Dodd are the parents of five children and grandparents of 13. Their first great-grandchild is due mid-December.

They see their children and grandchildren several times a week. “We have a family gathering fairly often and whoever can come, comes,” said June Dodd.

The next family gathering is scheduled for Nov. 20, when it will be a combination Thanksgiving-Christmas celebration that includes a white elephant gift exchange. The menu will include turkey and sweet potatoes.

Every day family favorites are grilled chicken, potato salad, pasta salad and homemade bread. June Dodd uses her bread machine three to four times a week.

Potato bacon soup and chili are favorites on family hayrides. Ice cream and dessert toppings are also tops on the family’s list.

Dennis and June Dodd said they both grew up in strong families and instilled strong family ties in their own children.

Their children are within driving distance of their home north of Clear Lake with their son being the farthest away at Janesville, north of Waterloo.

Their daughter is in Clarks Grove, Minn., with the other children residing in the Mason City-Clear Lake area.

Sheila’s sandwich

1 loaf Focaccia bread

Italian dressing, approximately 1/2 cup)

1/2 pound sliced ham or turkey

2 cups cheese (mozzarella or colby-jack)

Green stuffed olives


Cut bread in half to make it like a big bun. Brush Italian dressing on both cut sides. Layer meat, cheese, olives and spinach on bread.

Top with other half of bread. Cut in wedges. Serve hot or cold.

If reheating, wrap in foil and place in 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes until cheese is melted.

Chicken pot pie

2 cans cream of potato soup

1 15.5-ounce can VegAll

1 can chunk white chicken

1/4 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1 box Pillsbury pie crust mix found in dairy case, allowed to sit out to warm and relax.

Place one crust in bottom of 9-inch, deep dish pie plate. Use other crust for the top.

Drain canned chicken and mix with vegetables, soup, milk, salt and pepper. Pour onto bottom crust, then cover with top crust.

Dodd said she uses a package of frozen vegetables cooked until tender. Instead of the can of chicken, she cooks and cuts up 2 to 3 chicken breasts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let set 10 minutes before serving.

Molasses sugar cookies

1 1/2 cups Mazola oil

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup molasses

2 eggs

4 teaspoons baking soda

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Form into balls and roll in sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Chocolate raspberry torte

Mix 1 box chocolate cake per instructions on the box.

Divide into three-layer pans and bake.

In bowl beat 3 ounces of cream cheese until fluffy. In another bowl, mix 3/4 cup milk with 1 small package of instant vanilla pudding. Mix pudding with cream cheese.

Fold in 1 8-ounce carton of whipped topping.

Gently add 2 cups of fruit (raspberries, blueberries or blackberries)

Grape salad

2 pounds seedless grapes

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pecan pieces (optional)

2 cups brown sugar

Cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, white sugar and vanilla until smooth. Fold grapes into this mixture. Spread in a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Mix together pecans and brown sugar and sprinkle over the top. Refrigerate two hours before serving.

Alpine chicken

6 chicken breasts (boned and skinned)

6 slices Swiss cheese

Salt and pepper

1 stick margarine, melted

8 ounces dry stuffing mix

2 small cans cream of chicken soup

1 small can water

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts.

Place on 9-by-13-inch pan.

Place slice of Swiss cheese on top of each.

Pour dry stuffing mix on top.

Pour melted margarine on top.

Mix 2 cans cream of chicken soup with 1 can of water and pour on top.

Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and bake an additional 1/2 hour.

Serve over rice or noodles.

Parmesan crusted chicken

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 chicken breast halves

4 teaspoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Combine mayonnaise with cheese. Arrange chicken on baking sheet. Top with mayonnaise mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees.

Caramel French toast

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until melted together.

Pour into 9-by-13-inch pan.

6 pieces of Texas toast.

Place bread in pan.

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat together eggs, milk, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread. Cover and let soak in refrigerator overnight.

Uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until golden brown.

Can garnish with strawberry and whipped cream on top.

Contact Clayton Rye at crye@wctatel.net.

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