Area cooks hit big time

September 25, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

Margaret Obryon of Bel Air can't bear it when the resident woodchuck snatches pears from her tree, so she fights back the best way she can: She gathers the ripened fruit and makes a luscious sour cream pear cake.

Ruth Monath of Fallston knows the ins and outs of growing a vegetable garden, especially when it's producing prolific zucchini. She tackles the abundance the best way she can: She makes delectable chocolate zucchini cakes.

Women who like to cook what they grow is hardly a topic for Oprah. But for the two Harford County residents, it has turned into an opportunity to contribute recipes to a national food magazine, Taste of Home.

The cooking magazine has 1,000 field editors in the United States and and Canada who share their tried-and-true recipes.

"It gives us regional appeal and personality," says Ann C. Kaiser, managing editor of the bimonthly magazine owned by Wisconsin-based Reiman Publications.

Mrs. Obryon and Mrs. Monath were suggested to the magazine by friends. Their names appear in each issue with 11 other Maryland cooks.

Both are proud -- and modest -- about their involvement with the magazine.

"I don't feel like an editor," Mrs. Obryon says. "It's more like a contributor."

Their recipes are waiting in the wings for publication in the 1 1/2 -year-old magazine, which recently published a collector's issue. "We hope to be featuring them in the near future," Ms. Kaiser says.

Mrs. Obryon has submitted a recipe for "Mom's Tea Punch," made with tea bags, ginger ale and orange sherbet.

Mrs. Monath has passed on one of her favorites, a crock-pot dish with four kinds of beans.

'Chatty, down-home'

"I like good, old-fashioned American cooking," says Mrs. Monath, a 71-year-old grandmother.

That is just the kind of cook Taste of Home is seeking. "I'd describe it as a chatty, down-home, practical food publication," Ms. Kaiser says.

Mrs. Obryon has a basic philosophy in her kitchen: "If you don't have it, make it." Hence, her penchant for making granola, jelly from grapes she grows and assorted cakes.

She can't wait for her first-time harvest of a pumpkin patch, which sprouted unexpectedly from a compost pile this summer. She's particularly looking forward to making pumpkin soup.

"I love being able to give treats to people," says the mother of four grown children.

Mrs. Obryon also is a stickler for nutrition. "I don't buy anything in boxes with additives," she says.

She says she made sure her three sons and a daughter ate their vegetables when they were younger. "The children had to have their spinach before going out on a date," she laughs.

Mrs. Obryon, 51, sums up their futures based on this consumption: "They ate their spinach. They'll be happy."

Her husband tolerates her food quirks, she says. "He's picky. I bring out halibut or cod and he wants hot dogs and beans. But he gets enough junk food."

Mrs. Monath, who has been married for 48 years, says her husband is quite happy to eat her specialty, fruit pies. "I do quite a bit of cooking," she says.

Her interest in cooking started early on a farm in Tennessee.

"My mother was a good cook," Mrs. Monath says. "We all had to help out."

Her hobby is collecting cookbooks and her kitchen is filled with treasured volumes.

'Oodles' from the garden

Mrs. Monath's favorites are church cookbooks, and she has been instrumental in getting her church, Calvary Baptist in Bel Air, to put together a collection of recipes from 300 congregants. The cookbook will be available before Christmas, she says. Proceeds will benefit the church's building fund.

Mrs. Monath spent most of the summer in her kitchen surrounded by "oodles" of fruits and vegetables from her garden. She has been freezing cabbage, corn, strawberries and asparagus, and making stuffed peppers and tomato sauce, she says, rattling off the contents of her well-stocked pantry.

"Oh, yes, I make refrigerator pickles," she says. "I have a grandson that loves refrigerator pickles."

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