Back in 1994 I self-published a collection of family recipes - some of them dreamed up by my mom and dad, some by me, some by my wife Melissa - and sold it locally at the Johnston County Fourth of July Festival and the Chickasaw Festival. Some of the recipes were silly things I came up with as a kid babysitting my younger brothers during the summer months; others were recipes that a lot of thought had been put into. I published 1,000 copies and sold all but the two that I kept for at home (one to place on the bookshelf, the other kept in the kitchen to actually use). Every now and then someone who bought one of the books will ask me if I plan to ever do a second one. I definitely could - I've got enough recipes to fill several, truth to tell - so some day maybe I will. In the meantime, I thought I'd share here several of my own personal favorites from that 1994 collection:

Dad’s Hamburgers With Tomato Soup Gravy

Mix a little salt and pepper and chopped onion into hamburger meat and form into patties. Put the patties into a skillet and cook lightly on each side.

Pour tomato soup over the patties and add one can of water for each can of soup used. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn the patties over and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Best served with buttery mashed potatoes and corn.

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Oobleck Stew


2 pounds beef stew meet (cubed)

2 26-ounce cans Spaghettios (plain variety)

2 19-ounce cans Hormel chili (no beans)

2 15-ounce cans Van Camps Pork & Beans

(don't drain; remove the little piece of pigfat, though!)

2 29-ounce cans sweet corn (drained)

Cavender's All-Purpose Greek Seasoning

1 large package finely grated Cheddar cheese

1.) Place Spaghettios, chili, beans and corn in large sauce pan. Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring well. Sprinkle lightly with Greek seasoning.

2.) While chili mixture is heating, place meat in a skillet or on grill and cook thoroughly. Sprinkle lightly with Greek seasoning.

3.) Drain grease from meat and add meat to chili mixture. Continue stirring over medium heat until well mixed. Spoon into bowls and top with grated cheese to serve.

(Note: The name “Oobleck” comes to us courtesy of the late, great Dr. Suess, who coined the term to refer to a “messy mixture.” The name seemed appropriate, all things considered, but this particular messy mixture actually makes a pretty decent kid's meal – especially on a cold winter night.)

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(Something my brothers and I liked to make when we were kids)

1 pound hamburger

1 small can tomato puree

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can pork and beans

1 small onion, finely diced

Crumble hamburger in skillet and brown. Add diced onion and salt. Drain off any grease and add puree and beans. Cook over low heat for 1/2 hour. Serve with crusty rolls or garlic bread. Serves 4-6 people.

(NOTE: Long-time fans of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip might recall that Lucy sometimes used to sell something called "Glop" to the other kids in the neighborhood back in the 1960s. The rest of the time she sat around offering psychological advice; don’t those kids believe in simple lemonade stands?)

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The Original Small Family Hamburger Pie

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef

8 servings instant potato flakes

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons minced onions

1/4 cup ketchup

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix together half of the instant potato flakes with the meat, egg, salt, pepper, onion, ketchup, and milk. Spread mixture into an ungreased 9-inch pie pan. Bake uncovered in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Prepare the remaining potatoes (four servings) as directed. Top baked meat with potatoes and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Variations to this can be prepared as follows:

Taco-Style Hamburger Pie - Substitute Taco Sauce for ketchup in the meat mixture, and add 1/8 teaspoon of chili powder to same. Substitute  more taco sauce for potatoes as topping, and substitute Monterey Jack for cheddar cheese.

Pizza-Style Hamburger Pie - Substitute Pizza Sauce for ketchup in the meat mix. Top with more pizza sauce instead of potatoes, and finish with Mozzarella cheese instead of cheddar.

German-Style Hamburger Pie (My Dad's Favorite) - Top with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese instead of potatoes and cheddar. Actually, I’ve never known anyone other than Dad to like this particular variation, but you never know…