Retired science teacher enjoys her time in the kitchen

Jerilyn VanDeWoestyne
Lorna Dauw displays a homemade pumpkin pie she prepared for an ice cream social.

Lorna Dauw of Colona enjoys cooking and hopes to have a little extra time to spend in the kitchen since her recent retirement from teaching.

Lorna retired this year after teaching junior high science in the Galva School District for 21 years. She had previously taught in the Carbon Cliff/Barstow District and taught in the former Atkinson School District for one year.

“I love science. Science is a part of our lives,” she said. “And I loved working with the students and watching them learn. They were an unfinished product.”

Since the Galva School District doesn’t offer home economics classes, Lorna said, as a teacher, she liked to bring as much nutritional information into the classroom as she could. “One project we had was for the students to choose their favorite meal from a fast food restaurant,” she said, adding the class then researched the meals and found out how many calories was included in the one meal and how much fat. “Then they picked a healthy meal, and we did the same research. I hope I implanted some healthy information in them.”

Lorna said she tries to cook as healthy as possible always including meat, potato, vegetable and salad in a meal. “I do try to think about nutrition when I’m preparing a meal,” she said.

Lorna and her husband, Dan, will celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary this year.

Their family includes a daughter and son-in-law, Danielle and Dave of Lockport, and a son and

daughter-in-law, Lance and Denise of Ellisville, Mo. Their five grandchildren, Logan, 6, Dylan, 5, Caden, 2, Lana, 3, and Luke, 6 months, are very important people in their lives.  “We love being with our children and grandchildren and I love to babysit,” she said, adding that is another thing she hopes to be able to spend more time at in her retirement. “I love to do it all with them.”

Lorna has been able to combine two of her favorite things to do — spending time with her grandchildren and cooking. “One of our traditions is that every time I go to visit my daughter, I make homemade banana bread with my grandchildren,” she said. “They love to break up and smash the bananas, measure the ingredients and break the eggs. Then I hold their hands, and we all mix the batter together. They love that, and we all enjoy the bread when it’s done.”

Lorna learned the basics of cooking from her mother. “I grew up on a farm in Iowa, and we always had men to cook for. We prepared snacks in mid-morning and in the afternoon for them, along with a big lunch at noon,” she said. “My mother also always had a large garden and did a lot of canning and freezing. I enjoyed helping her with that.”

Lorna has always had a garden also, but not to the extent her mother did, she said. “I still garden. We have tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, onions, and all the regular garden items. And I do freeze some of the produce.”

As a child, Lorna was very involved in 4-H, something she always enjoyed. “We would rotate our 4-H projects. One year we would have cooking projects and the next year we would have home and furnishing projects,” she said. “I was always in 4-H, from the time I was old enough to join.”

Admitting she is pretty much a self-taught cook, Lorna said she still does a lot of things the way her mother taught her. “One of our favorite meals is roast beef that I prepare about the same way my mother taught me years ago,” she said, adding she browns the meat first, then adds a can of French onion soup and some water and bakes it for about 1-1/2 hours before adding carrots, potatoes and onions.

“Then I let it bake until the meat is tender. That’s how my mother did it and that’s how I’ve always done it. She didn’t have French onion soup to use, but she let it cook long enough for the meat to get very tender.”

Lorna said she would probably just add a salad for a complete meal.

Dinner is the main  meal at the Dauw home. “Breakfast and lunch we’re pretty much on our own, but dinner is our main meal,” Lorna said. “When we gather for family get togethers, the meals are always potluck. Whoever has the dinner prepares the main dish and everyone else brings something.”

Lorna said she and her husband like to entertain and hope to do more of it now that she is retired. “I usually serve the meal family style. We like to keep it very relaxing,” she said, adding she likes to make people feel comfortable. She does think about presentation when serving a meal, but admits the food is the most important thing. “It’s the taste that really matters.”

When her family comes for a visit, one of the meals Lorna would probably prepare is a ham dinner, something that is very popular with family members. She always uses a bone-in ham and puts it in a large pot and covers it with water. “When it starts boiling I turn the heat down and let it cook for several hours,” she said. “That is a very popular meal around here. My son-in-law never liked ham until he tasted it here and now it is one of his favorite meals.” She said she would serve the ham with a potato, vegetable and salad.

For a simple supper, Lorna said her family likes a hamburger casserole she has made for years. She makes it by browning hamburger with onions, then adds either cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup to the meat and simmers it for a while. “Then I serve it over either cooked noodles or rice. It is all done on the stove top,” she said. “I did that a lot when the kids were small.”

Keeping her pantry well stocked is something Lorna likes to do. “And we usually have a freezer full of fish,” she laughs. “I can usually find something to make for a meal with what I have on hand.”

Since her husband retired a few years ago, Lorna said at that time the deal was he would take over some of the cooking chores in their household and get the evening meal started before she came home from school. “He actually has done more cooking and, since fishing is a favorite pastime of his, he often prepares some kind of fish dish,” she said.

Lorna and Dan are very involved with the Geneseo International Thanksgiving Fellowship Program, having hosted visitors in their home from 17 countries through the years. “GITF is a wonderful program. It’s our way of traveling the world. It’s unbelievable and the visitors are always so gracious,” she said. “We have met a lot of great people through this program.”

The foreign visitors are all students studying at Chicago colleges and universities and they spend the Thanksgiving weekend each year with hosts in the area.

“During the weekend, the Fellowship hosts a potluck dinner and the guests are encouraged to cook something from their country and share it with everyone. That meal is always wonderful,”

Lorna said. “I learned, however, to allow plenty of time for preparing the dishes we take. We usually go shopping that day and get all the ingredients then start cooking. We’ve definitely learned to appreciate food from all the different countries.”

Not only are the Dauw’s hosts to foreign visitors at Thanksgiving, they’ve also hosted visitors throughout the year through the program. “And we’ve kept in contact with some of the families who have visited with us,” Lorna said.

In her retirement, Lorna is looking forward to spending some time fishing with her husband, but said she has one important suggestion to offer. “I’ve told Dan if he would just go for a little shorter time, maybe a couple of hours rather than a whole day, I might go fishing with him,” she laughs.

Lorna has gotten many of her favorite recipes from family, friends and cookbooks. “I used to check cookbooks out at the library and got good ideas from them,” she said, adding she loves to share recipes. “If someone wants a recipe for something I have made, that is the best

compliment you can be given.”

Some of her most prized possession are the recipes Lorna has from her mother, written in her mother’s own handwriting. “When my daughter got married, we asked people attending a bridal shower to bring their favorite recipes,” she said. “And I requested they be handwritten rather than typed. I think they are so much more personal when they are handwritten. And it is fun to look back through them.”

Lorna advises cooks to just get a cookbook and look through it or watch cooking shows on television. “Just get as much information as you can about cooking and learn from your mistakes,” she said.

Lorna Dauw shares some of her favorite recipes.

Banana bread

Lorna Dauw

Makes one loaf.

3 bananas

1 C. sugar

Beat together and let set while you get rest of ingredients.

2 eggs

1 stick butter or margarine

2 C. flour

1 t. baking soda dissolved in 1 T. water

Mix eggs into banana mixture. Then mix in margarine, flour and baking soda.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Pumpkin pie

Lorna Dauw (from her mother)

1-1/4 C. or 1 lb. can pumpkin

2 t. pumpkin pie spice

1 can evaporated milk (or 1-1/2 C. milk)

1 C. brown sugar

1 T. flour

2 eggs

1/2 t. salt

1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust

Blend all ingredients well. Pour into a 9 inch unbaked pie crust.

Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Then reduce the oven to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the pie comes out clean.

Banana split cake

Lorna Dauw

Crust:

1 stick butter or margarine, melted

1 pkg. crushed graham crackers

Mix crust ingredients and press into 9 x13 inch cake pan.

Filling:

2 sticks soft butter or margarine

2 eggs (pasteurized)

2 C. powdered sugar (pack cups)

Mix filling ingredients for six minutes and  spread on crust.

Topping:

3-4 sliced bananas

1-20 oz. can crushed pineapple (well drained)

1-16 oz. container Cool Whip

Put sliced bananas on top of filling, then crushed pineapple. Top with Cool Whip.

Serves 12 or 16.

You can decorate it with pecans and maraschino cherries. Chill until served. Best served well-chilled.

Strawberry dessert

Lorna Dauw

Crust:

1 stick soft margarine or butter

1-1/2 C. flour

2 T. sugar

Mix crust ingredients with a fork. Pat into a 9x13 inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Topping:

1-1/2 C. water

3/4 C. sugar

2-1/2 T. cornstarch

1-3 oz. pkg. strawberry gelatin

Mix topping ingredients and cook until thickened. Let cool.

Filling:

4 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)

1 C. powdered sugar (packed)

1-8 oz. container Cool Whip

Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until creamy. Add Cool Whip and mix very well. Pour over cooled crust.

Cover filling with sliced strawberries.

Pour topping mixture on top. Cool.

Note: “You could use fresh raspberries and raspberry gelatin or blueberries and blueberry gelatin.”

Serves 12.

Baked blueberry pie

Lorna Dauw

2 unbaked pie crusts

1 C. sugar

6 T. flour

4 C. blueberries

2 T. lemon juice

Mix sugar and flour and carefully mix with blueberries until the berries are coated.

Pour berries into the unbaked crust. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Add the top crust. Make vents for steam and bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes or until blueberries are bubbling.