Recipes trace Riemer’s life travel log

Marilyn Riemer’s recipe collection reads like a travel log of her life.

Swedish meatballs from New York, frosted oatmeal cookies from Michigan, and pryznac (broccoli casserole) from Indiana are just a few of the recipes that bring back memories of friends and family in the many places where she has lived.

“We’ve lived in all parts of the country,” she said. “I picked up recipes as we have moved.”

Riemer, who now calls Hillsboro home, said she learned the basics of cooking from her mother.

“I did help at home a lot because I was the oldest of six children,” she said.

But experience was her best teacher, she said.

“I graduated from high school when I was just 17,” she said. “In those years you had to have a working permit to work. My dad was a pastor, and he knew of some older people in the congregation that needed some help.

“So my father loaned me out for a year or two to different couples in the congregation who were ill. I learned a lot just from cooking for them.”

That experience and Riemer’s knack for organization came in handy in preparing meals for her husband and three children.

“I have worked full time for many years, so it helps to be organized,” she said. “We got paid every two weeks, and I shopped once for that two weeks. I always made my menus out for the month and put them on the calendar.

“When our kids were small, in order to get them to eat breakfast, we’d schedule eggs so many mornings and cereal other mornings. The kids always bragged that they knew what they were having for breakfast on such and such a morning, or they could go to the calendar and know what they would eat in the middle of whatever month it was.”

Although her daughter and sons are now grown and living away from home, they still request the old family favorites when they return.

“They each have favorites, so when we get together, I usually make those kind of things. When I change something and try a different recipe that I’ve found, they holler about that,” she said with a laugh.

Riemer is surprised at some of the foods that have become family traditions.

“Years ago when our kids were young and pizza first started being the thing to have, my mother-in-law taught me how to make my own,” Riemer said. “Saturday-night supper was always pizza, and so even now when they come home, they ask if we’re going to have our pizza supper.”

She said the entire family usually gets together at Christmastime, and her family’s New Year’s Day tradition includes Swedish meatballs, Scandinavian salad and German potato salad.

“We like to watch the bowl games, and I set up a buffet,” she said.

In addition to cooking for her family, Riemer also enjoys cooking for friends, coworkers and large groups. She is known as a great cook at the Marion County Special Education Cooperative in Florence, where she works, and over the years she has catered many of its in-service events.

She laughs when she remembers catering an event for 150 people before she and her husband added 8 feet onto the back of their house and doubled their kitchen and dining space.

“When we moved in here, I had very little room,” she said. “We were getting ready for our fall in-service and I said, ‘Why don’t you let me cook for the group this year?’ We had 150 or so. That was before we started remodeling, and I did it in this little bitty kitchen. I don’t know how I ever did it.”

Riemer’s husband Richard was a Lutheran pastor for more than 20 years before he retired, so she also cooked for church events.

“When my husband was in the ministry, I did a lot of open houses and so I tried a lot of different cookie and candy recipes,” she said. “Now I don’t do near what I used to.”

She still makes peanut brittle and fudge for the holidays, though.

“Peanut brittle is one of my favorites-I make it every year,” she said. “I’ve had this recipe for probably 30 years. It’s basically the same recipe as everyone has, but people always say, ‘Mine doesn’t turn out like yours.'”

Riemer said she also enjoys making cutout cookies with her granddaughter during the holiday season.

“We always make sure we get that done,” she said.

For cookies, she pulls out her special cookie-baking pans.

“Several years ago, Norm Winter’s shop class made cooking sheets out of metal and then sold them,” she said. “They’re not anything fancy, but they make the best cookies.”

Riemer and her granddaughter often make sweet rolls or doughnuts together, too.

“That’s the Sunday morning treat,” she said. “My mother always made sweet rolls on Saturday or Sunday. Since there were six of us kids, they didn’t last past Sunday. Now, we eat them when they’re fresh and then I freeze them.”

Riemer also likes to bake bread.

“I bake bread every third Saturday,” she said. “I grind my own wheat and make whole wheat bread and rye bread. Those were family recipes. I always make smaller loaves, and then I share them with the neighbors.”

Riemer said she likes to do just about every type of cooking and baking.

“I like to try new things,” she said. “When we were in New York, my husband did quite a bit of hunting, and I cooked more venison and wild turkey. In fact one of our church members gave us a piece of bear meat.

“I didn’t think my kids would eat it if I told them, so I made it like Swiss steak, and they thought it was great. But for a long time after that my daughter wouldn’t eat any meat because she was afraid I would try something else!”

Family Favorites from the Riemer Kitchen

Swedish Meatballs

1 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

1/3 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup dry bread crumbs

1 teaspoon parsley

11/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

Mix ingredients together and make into balls. Brown in fat or oil. Remove meat balls and make sauce by stirring into the hot oil or fat:

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup flour

Salt & pepper

Then stir in 2 cups of boiling water with 2 bouillon cubes and 3/4 cup sour cream and add meat balls.

Scandinavian Salad

1 large can peas, drained

1 can French cut green beans

1 jar pimento, cut fine

3 stalks celery, cut small

1 large onion, cut up small


1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup vinegar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon water

Put the two together. Can remain in the refrigerator up to a week.

German (hot) Potato Salad

8-10 medium size potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced

1 medium onion, cut small and added to potatoes

Six slices of bacon, cut fine and cooked-pour over sliced potatoes and onion, including grease

In cold fry pan or skillet:

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

Stir and bring to a boil. It will thicken as it heats. Add potato mixture to the sauce and simmer until ready to serve.

Pryznac (Broccoli Casserole)

1 small carton cottage cheese

3 eggs

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons butter

4 ounces American cheese-cut in small chunks

One 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, partly cooked

Mix eggs, flour, both cheeses and butter together in a bowl. Add broccoli and pour into greased baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour uncovered. You may substitute spinach for broccoli.

Penny Salad

Two-pound bag of carrots, peeled, sliced thin and cooked until barely done. While cooking, cut up a green pepper and a medium sized onion. Add to cooled cooked carrots. In small pan, bring the following sauce to a boil: 1 can tomato soup, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 cup sugar and salt and pepper Add to the carrot, pepper and onion mixture and refrigerate. Can be refrigerated up to 10 days.

Frosted Oatmeal Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup oleo or butter

1 teaspoon vanilla


3 cups oatmeal

1 cup chopped nuts

21/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Roll into balls and bake on greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until brown.

Frost with a mixture of powdered sugar, milk and almond extract or melt small square of Hershey candy bar while hot.

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