Rosemary Manthe of rural Colona enjoys cooking for family and friends, and said she learned the basics of cooking from her mother who was a wonderful cook. “Her cookies were always very looked forward to,” Rosemary said. “She was a wonderful cook and always liked to give me pointers.”

Rosemary Manthe of rural Colona enjoys cooking for family and friends, and said she learned the basics of cooking from her mother who was a wonderful cook. “Her cookies were always very looked forward to,” Rosemary said. “She was a wonderful cook and always liked to give me pointers.”

Rosemary laughs when she remembers her mother’s tips and pointers. “We laugh about it now because she always had little hints to give me,” she said, adding one of the pointers was, when making cookie dough, to put the egg that is included in the recipe in the measuring cup first and slide it into the mixing bowl before measuring shortening into the same cup.

“That way the shortening will slide right out and not stick to the cup,” Rosemary said. “You can do the same thing with peanut butter and it really works. She had lots of pointers to help me cook and bake — and she was always right. I learned the basic cooking skills from my mother and I like to pass them on.”

Rosemary and her husband, Harold, celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary this year. Their family includes son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Kim Manthe of Geneseo; daughter and son-in-law, Karla and Mark Humphrey of Atkinson; and grandchildren, Abby, Adam, Kalli, Nate, Trey, Keaton, and Malloree. “The grandchildren are from 2 to 22 years old,” Rosemary said. “And they are all very special to me.”

Family is very important to Rosemary. “That’s what it’s all about,” she said. “They have always been important. They are my life. I feel very blessed that my kids and grandkids all are around here and I can be with them often.”

Every year, Rosemary, her daughter and her daughter-in-law spend one whole day together making homemade cookies and candy for the holidays.

“We’ve done it for about 17 years now and we love it. We do a lot of reminiscing during cookie day, like talking about my mother’s pointers,” Rosemary said, noting when her kids were younger she always did a lot of Christmas cookie baking, but quit after they grew up and moved out.

“One year, my son asked his wife to get some of his favorite cookie recipes from me. He wanted his favorites so Kim asked if I would help her get started,” Rosemary said. “We worked together that year and decided it was something we wanted to do every year. That’s how it all started.”

Rosemary hosted Cookie Day the Sunday after Thanksgivng this year and said they started early in the day and were done about 6:30 p.m. “I clear the tables, and we bake all day,” she said. “We start with breakfast and at the end of the day we might have a supper of barbeque or maybe chili that has been in the crockpot.”

The recipes along with a list of what cookies they make, how many batches of each kind of cookies and even a grocery list of necessary supplies are right at hand on Rosemary’s computer.
“I have the supplies all ready when the girls come,” she said. “The three of us do it along with any of the grandkids that want to come and help. It’s just a fun thing we do. We use the cookies and candy for trays and as gifts to neighbors, teachers and doctors.”

According to Rosemary they always do Christmas cut out cookies, buckeyes, Corn Flake clusters, Chow Mein clusters, pecan tassies, seven layer bars , chocolate nut bars and lots of dipped pretzels.  “I think we do 10 to 15 different kinds and we double and triple some of the recipes,”

Rosemary said, adding when they come out of the oven, the cookies are put on tables on her screened porch to cool. “Then at the end of the day we divide them up.”

On Christmas Day, the Manthes will celebrate with their children and grandchildren at their home. The menu will include pork tenderloin, mashed potato casserole (that Rosemary can make ahead of time), candied carrots, broccoli casserole, cherry fluff and macaroni salad. For dessert there will be coconut pie and cherry pie. “And I have to make brownies because that’s what the grandkids like,” she said. “One of the things we have to have is raw vegetables and dip. The dip is just Miracle Whip, sugar, yellow mustard, garlic powder and a little oil, and everyone loves it. The longer it refrigerates, the better it is.”

Rosemary explained she received the recipe years ago from the owner of a tea room where she worked. “I’ve used that dip recipe ever since,” she said.

For her pork tenderloin, Rosemary puts the tenderloin in a baking pan and sprinkles it with packets of dry Italian dressing, dry ranch dressing and dry brown gravy “I add a little water to the bottom of the pan, cover it with foil and bake it at 350 degrees until it’s done, about two hours,” she said, adding the dry packets can also be used for beef roast. “It can also be done in the crock pot and it gives the meat a very good flavor.”

For their holiday dinners, Rosemary likes to make the meal special. She puts a tablecloth on the table and gets out her good dishes and silverware. “When they were young, that was always my signal to the kids that this is a special meal,” she said, adding presentation is important to her, especially during the holidays. “I like to get out my good dishes occasionally.”

Rosemary enjoys entertaining and said she hosted a dinner for 26 people recently when she served three different casseroles, salads, vegetables, and a cheese ball and pie.

“Then everyone brought something to share,” she said, adding she made a pumpkin pie using Splenda rather than sugar. “I have a sister who’s diabetic, and I made the pie substituting the sugar with Splenda and no one knew the difference. It was very good.”

Rosemary said she usually follows a recipe pretty closely. She likes to collect recipes and try new ones. She gets a lot of good ideas from newspapers, magazines and television shows. “Church cookbooks are my favorite place to find recipes, and I’ve got albums full of some of my favorite recipes that I’ve collected through the years,” she said. “If I try something and we like it, it’s a keeper and it goes into the cookbook album. That way I know right where the recipes are that I use the most.”

Rosemary bakes a lot of cookies to serve at her daughter’s business, Emerald Bay Salon in Geneseo. “Karla puts trays of homemade cookies out for the clients all year long,” she said, adding chocolate chip and snickerdoodles are favorites.

“I like to bake for them and I just do different kinds of cookies. Some days I bake all afternoon, and I really like to do it. I think the clients look forward to a homemade goodie, and my husband likes to sneak the cookies when I’m baking,” she laughs.

One of the holidays Rosemary likes to cook for is Halloween. “Halloween supper has always been a special time,” she said. “A few years ago I started making Halloween dinner using special names for the menu items.”

Goulash might be “monster mash” and spaghetti might be “worms.”

“I did a road kill dinner one time using orzo pasta and this year we had ‘swamp juice’ that was grape and orange pop mixed together,” Rosemary said. “Then I froze ice cubes with plastic bugs inside.”

The Halloween dinners began one year when Rosemary saw in a magazine how to make hand molds by putting Jell-O into rubber gloves. “I give all the food on the menu a name,” she said. “And I surprise them every year. I post my menu right on the cupboard and they can look at it when they come in.”

One year, Rosemary said, she made “ogre eye sliders” which were hamburgers with cheese in the middle and an olive for the eye. “It has to be something they’ll eat,” she said, adding she keeps the Halloween menu list on her computer along with the entries for Cookie Day. “It’s getting a little more difficult to find new ideas, but it’s fun. I like to do fun things with food and I try to give the grandkids something to remember grandma by.

“We have our main meal at noon and then a smaller meal in the evening,” she said. “We like casseroles, hamburgers, meatloaf, and meatballs, along with baked potatoes and we eat a lot of fresh fruit.”

Admitting that her favorite kitchen item is probably her crockpot, Rosemary said she uses that item often for preparing meat or keeping soup warm. “I like to put chicken breasts in the crockpot and just pour Western dressing over them,” she said.

“The Western dressing gives the chicken a really good flavor and with a baked potato and a vegetable that is a nice meal.”

She said she also uses her George Foreman grill and her microwave often.
Something she likes to do that saves her a lot of time eventually is to purchase 10 pound sleeves of hamburger when it is on sale. “Then I brown the meat and put it in baggies in the freezer,” she said. “If you’ve got some browned hamburger in the freezer, you have a good start on a quick meal.”

She notes she also mixes up some of the hamburger into  meatloaf and freezes it in plastic containers that are just the right size for a meal for she and her husband. “Then I just pull the meatloaf out of the freezer and put it in the oven. Another easy meal,” Rosemary said. “I try to make life as simple as I can and I also like to be as organized as possible. Once I get my meat organized it doesn’t take long to put a meal together.”

One of their favorite meals is Swiss steak that Rosemary makes by putting minute steak in the crockpot and covering it with stewed tomatoes. “That is another quick meal,” she said. “I can put it on the morning and it’s ready at noon. In the crockpot things don’t dry out.”

Since she enjoys the challenge of cooking, Rosemary likes to try new recipes occasionally and her favorite part of cooking is watching people enjoy what she’s made.

“I love to see people eat and if there’s an empty plate at the end of the meal, that’s a big compliment,” she said.

Rosemary Manthe shares some of her favorite recipes.

Vegetable dip
Rosemary Manthe
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 t. salad oil
1 t. prepared mustard
1/2 C. Miracle Whip
Blend and set overnight.

Olive spread
Rosemary Manthe
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 C. mayonnaise
1 C. chopped olives
1/2 C. chopped walnuts
1-2 T. milk
Beat cheese and mayo together with mixer. Add other ingredients. Chill.

Three-packet roast
Rosemary Manthe
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
1 packet dry brown gravy mix
1 beef roast
Place the roast in slow cooker. Sprinkle the dry mixes over roast. Pour 1 C. water into bottom.
Cover and cook on low for seven hours.

Cherry fluff
Rosemary Manthe
21 oz. cherry pie filling
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. crushed pineapple
1 C. nuts
Drain pineapple. Fold in all ingredients. Chill.

Chocolate cherry cake
Rosemary Manthe
1 chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1 t. almond flavoring
1 can cherry pie filling
3/4 C. water
1 C. sugar
1/3 C. milk
5 T. oleo
6 oz. chocolate chips
Mix all cake ingredients together and pour in a greased jelly roll pan. Bake 15-20 minutes.
Bring sugar, milk, and oleo to rolling boil for one minute. Add chips. Stir until melted.
Frost cake while warm.

Cranberry salad
Rosemary Manthe
1 bag cranberries
2 C. sugar
1 can pineapple tidbits
1 C. white grapes, halved
nuts, if desired
1 large Cool Whip
Grind cranberries. Add sugar and let stand overnight.
Next morning strain and add remaining ingredients. Chill.