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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Nothing Beats A Hometown Cookbook

By Sherrie Norris

Most of you know by now that I love hometown cookbooks that have a regional flair and capture the hearts of local cooks. I am not a collector of much, but I have accumulated quite an assortment of cookbooks — and I love every one of them. I receive them as gifts and I buy every single one that is produced locally and many others I discover at church rummage sales, yard sales, etc.

I’ll never forget digging through a thrift store in Spruce Pine a couple of years ago and finding a well-worn copy of my own cookbook. Yes, I bought it back for $1. My feelings were hurt initially when I thought about someone throwing out my hard work (ha!), but then I realized that it had been used time and time again, and just maybe it came from the cleaned-out kitchen of a deceased mother or grandmother, or someone who didn’t cook anymore. Since I had only one copy left on my own shelf, I was happy to find this lost treasure at a real bargain — just in case my granddaughter might want her own someday.

It is now safely stored in my bookcase, along with my other favorite cookbooks. It rests beside one that I purchased a decade ago when my buddy, Zac Jones, and his eighth-grade class gathered recipes as a fundraiser and turned them into a keepsake simply titled, “Green Valley Elementary School Cookbook, 8th Graders 2011.”

The cookbook was dedicated to the late Sgt. Pat Baker of the Watauga County Sheriffs Office, who served as the school’s D.A.R.E. officer for many years.

It’s no coincidence, perhaps, that my own son is now a deputy sheriff and his son is a kindergarten student at Green Valley, the same school his mother attended as a child. I love the feeling of driving there a day or two a week to pick him up from school. There’s just something special about that place and the people who work and attend there. Guests are greeted with a smile and/or a wave and the students are made to feel special, just like they deserve to feel.

I’m including a few of my favorite recipes from that little cookbook that I cherish and hope you enjoy them, as well.


Low Fat Fruit Salad

2 cans lite fruit cocktail, packed in its own juice

2 Tbs. nonfat sour cream

1 cup miniature marshmallows

½ cup pecans (optional)

Drain juice from fruit cocktail. Stir sour cream into fruit. Stir in marshmallows. Add pecans if desired.

Can be served on lettuce leaf.


Cheesy Fajita Nacho Salad

1 (10 oz.) bag mixed salad greens

1 large tomato, chopped

4 cups lightly crushed tortilla chips

1 (12 oz.) pkg. fully cooked beef or chicken

Fajita meat mix, prepared

2 cups (1/4 loaf) Velveeta cheese

½ cup Picante sauce

In a large bowl, layer salad greens, tomato, tortilla chips and fajita meat; set aside.

For nacho sauce, place cheese and salsa in a microwave-safe bowl, loosely cover with wax paper and microwave for 1½ minutes. Stir and microwave for 1 minute more or until sauce is smooth.

Gently toss salad and serve.

Drizzle servings with nacho sauce.


Pickled jalapeno slices

Chopped onion

Avocado slices

Black olives


Sweet and Crunchy Broccoli Salad

1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1 large head of broccoli

½ head cauliflower

1 medium red onion, chopped fine

½ cup sunflower seeds

1 cup raisins

Dressing mix

Stir together:

1 cup salad dressing or mayo

½ cup sugar

2 Tbs. vinegar

Chop broccoli and cauliflower into about ½ -inch chunks.

Add onion. Mix in raisins and sunflower seeds. Toss with dressing.


Chicken Casserole

1 pkg. Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Dressing

1 stick margarine

1 can cream of mushroom or celery soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

4 large chicken breasts

Chicken broth

Stew chicken. Melt margarine and stir in dressing. In a large (baking) dish, put in a layer of crumbs, a layer of chicken and a can of mushroom or celery coup. Use chicken broth to dilute soup, instead of water, I can full.

Layer again with crumbs, chicken and cream of chicken soup. Dilute with chicken broth.

Top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour.


Granny Betty’s Key Lime Pie

1 can sweetened condensed milk (fat free)

1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip (fat free)

Juice of 4 small limes (approx. ½ cup) or substitute with Key West lime juice

1 tsp. sugar

1 drop green food coloring

1 graham cracker crust (reduced fat)

Blend ingredients (first six) with mixer or blender. Pour into crust and chill for several hours.