Marianne Walsh learned the best of both worlds – the fundamentals of cooking from her mother and how to cook by instinct by her grandmother.
Marianne Walsh learned the best of both worlds – the fundamentals of cooking from her mother and how to cook by instinct by her grandmother.
Monday, September 20, 2010

When Marianne Walsh, of Carroll, was 8 years old, her best friend’s mother gave her a spatula for Christmas. This small gesture turned out to be her favorite gift of all time and it was also a gesture that provided inspiration to a young girl.

Marianne’s mother first taught her to cook breakfast food and soon she was making full family dinners in elementary school. Marianne also credits her love of cooking to her paternal grandmother. Her grandmother was from Kentucky and had a Southern style of cooking, which included cooking without recipes. Marianne’s mother, on the other hand, cooked by the book and was very exact about measuring. Marianne learned the best of both worlds – the fundamentals of cooking from her mother and how to cook by instinct by her grandmother.

Her grandmother also encouraged her to dream. As a young girl, Marianne often pretended she was the host of a cooking show, pretending the kitchen window was the television camera. Not surprisingly, Marianne’s favorite television star on the Food Network is Paula Deen, a Southern cook from Georgia.

Marianne went on to be a home economics teacher in Michigan and says in her next life, she wants to own a diner. She used to cater for holidays, graduations, weddings, etc. but decided a few years ago to no longer continue. One of her most popular requests was a fruit centerpiece that took several hours to construct.

For now, Marianne and husband, Lou, owner of Walsh Motors, are content traveling, boating, and spending time with family. Oldest son, Chuck, and wife, Sonia, live in Carroll with their children, Haste, a freshman at Carroll High, Zach, a sixth grader at Carroll Middle School, Samantha, a third grader at Fairview, and Emersyn, a 1st grader at Fairview. Chuck manages the family’s car dealership and is also a volunteer firefighter. Middle son, Ed, and wife, Allison, live in Prescott, Arizona, with their three daughters, Hannah, 9, Olivia, 6, and Mallory, 2. Ed is general manager of two car dealerships – General Motors and Nissan. Youngest son, Andy, and wife, Amy (Leiting) live in Waukee and are owners of Mickey’s Irish Pub, a bar and grill, in Waukee. Andy followed Marianne’s lead and fulfilled his dream of becoming a chef.

Marianne says her idea of a good days is, “A day I can cook morning ‘til night.” She will often cook meals in advance and store them in the freezer. Her list of recipes is long in length and tradition. Daughter-in-law, Sonia, surprised Marianne on her 60th birthday with a compilation of her family’s favorite recipes, complete with anecdotes in a cherished scrapbook. Marianne said it’s so much fun to read through the stories written by family members and said it’s obvious which ones are definite favorites.

Marianne is also working on putting together her own collection of family recipes taken from her mother and Lou’s mother’s recipe cards. Marianne says her style of cooking can range from gourmet to simple comfort food. Either way, she enjoys cooking food that makes people happy. She treasures the memories that her cooking creates for her family.

Little Pizzas

This appetizer is always served at Walsh family get-togethers. The family enjoys gathering at their lake home in the Ozarks, at son Ed’s home in Arizona, and for the holidays. These snacks are a staple on Christmas Eve. They are easy to make ahead of time and freeze very well. Marianne said she usually makes a triple recipe, as her sons always ask for a frozen batch to take home for later.

2 loaves party rye bread
2 lbs. sausage (1 lb. hot, 1 lb. mild)
1 T catsup
¼ tsp. garlic salt
dash of A1 steak sauce
¼ tsp. oregano
1 small can pizza sauce
1 lb. box of Velveeta cheese
grated parmesan cheese

Fry sausage and crumble—drain. Cube Velveeta and mix with sausage until melted. Add catsup, A1, garlic, oregano, and spread on party rye. Put on cookie sheet and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Freeze—then put in plastic freezer bags. Take out desired number and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.

Liver Pate’

Not only do Marianne’s three sons love this spread, but so does her granddaughter, Mallory. Mallory is only two, but Marianne says that Mallory jumps up and down in excitement when she sees what Marianne has prepared. The Walsh sons have loved this pate’ since they were boys, too. Marianne says this is especially good served on Triscuit crackers.

16 oz liverwurst (braunschweiger)
½ medium onion (roughly cut)
4 drops hot sauce
2 tsp. mustard
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
10 stuffed green olives
2 T mayonnaise
¼ tsp. garlic powder

Mix in blender or food processor until smooth and chill. If mixed by hand, finely chop onion and olives.

Clam Chowder

Along with a wide array of hors d’oeuvres, this creamy soup is always served on Christmas Eve, right before the family opens gifts. Marianne has given this recipe to many fans. It has restaurant quality taste with not a lot of effort. She says it tastes like you “fussed a lot, but it’s very simple.” The secret to the perfect consistency is using canned cream of potato soup. This soup can be made a day ahead and Marianne says it’s even better the next day.

½ lb. bacon (chopped and browned)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
1 large or 2 small Idaho potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 bottle clam juice
4 cans cream of potato soup
3 cans clams with juice (drained)
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. celery salt
1 quart half and half (may use milk but soup will be thinner)
½ -1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

Brown bacon in fry pan. Remove and set aside. Add onion to bacon grease and sauté until translucent. Set aside. In large pot place bacon and onion mixture, chopped potatoes, bottled clam juice, and clams ( juice drained off clams). Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add soup, clams, seasoning, and half and half. Heat through on low heat or place in crock pot on low for 3 hours.

Beef Stroganoff

This main dish is known as the “birthday dinner” in the Walsh household. Marianne’s three sons often chose this as their celebratory meal. Mushrooms can be added, but son, Chuck, always requests, “no mushrooms, please.” Marianne says to freeze the sirloin first for an hour to an hour and a half before slicing. Slicing against the grain will ensure tender meat. Also, mixing the sour cream and flour together before adding it to the meat will prevent lumps.

1 lb. sirloin steak (sliced very thin across the grain)
1 large onion (sliced thin)
1 can drained mushrooms (optional)
2 T catsup
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. beef broth
1 c. sour cream
1 T flour

Brown sliced steak in 2 T. oil or butter. Add thinly sliced onions and sauté until onions are translucent. Add catsup, mushrooms, garlic, and beef broth, cover. Simmer for 10 minutes over very low heat. Mix sour cream and flour together and stir into meat mixture, keeping heat very low, so as not to curdle sour cream. Heat through. Serve atop egg noodles.

Wilted Lettuce

This salad is often served at fancy restaurants, but actually has very humble beginnings. It is an old recipe from the first German immigrants to settle in the United States. Marianne’s paternal grandfather was from the Amana Colonies and wilted lettuce was a dinnertime staple. Marianne said there were no salads at her grandparents’ house, but a lot of wilted lettuce. This side dish goes well with beef stroganoff.

1 large bunch leaf lettuce
¼ lb bacon, chopped and browned (reserve grease)
4 green onions, chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoon sugar
3 T cider vinegar
1 T water

Rinse lettuce and pat dry---tear into pieces. Place in large bowl with onions. Brown bacon. Mix egg, vinegar, sugar, and water. Add to bacon and grease and stir until thickened. It will be the consistency of runny mayonnaise. Pour hot dressing over lettuce. Serve immediately.

Breakfast Tacos

Although called tacos, they are more like burritos and have been popular since the Walsh boys were young. The family first discovered the recipe during a trip to Dallas to visit Lou’s brother, Marty. Marty made them for brunch and they were an instant hit. Marianne said they can be served for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. Every time at least two of the Walsh brothers are together, they make sure Marianne’s breakfast tacos are on the menu. Since the recipe makes a large amount, Marianne uses an electric skillet, but a very large frying pan would also work. The family wraps them up like tacos (open ended), but they can also be folded up like a burrito.

1 package flour tortillas
2 lbs. breakfast sausage browned and crumbled (Jimmy Dean or Oldham’s)
1 bag Ore-Ida frozen Potatoes O’Brien
1 dozen eggs—lightly beaten
1 can chopped green chilies (do not drain)

Brown sausage, add potatoes and cook until potatoes are soft but not brown. Add green chilies and eggs and cook on low until eggs are set. Serve on warmed tortillas and garnish with sour cream, chopped green onions, grated cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese, and chunky salsa. If you wish, step up the heat with jalapenos or hot sauce.

Chocolate Cherry Cake

Growing up in a family of diabetics, Marianne didn’t learn to bake a lot of sweets and this super simple recipe is as sweet as she gets. This is Marianne’s standby dessert for potlucks and church events. Grandson, Haste, begs his Grandma to bake these as cupcakes as his special treat to stash in the freezer, away from his three younger siblings. If you like it sweet, add chocolate frosting when cake is cool. Marianne’s sons prefer a light dusting of sifted powdered sugar on top.

1 chocolate cake mix
3 eggs (beaten)
1 can cherry pie filling

Mix with spoon until fairly smooth—about 40 stirs, until cake mix is no longer dry.
Pour into 9x13 greased pan. Bake 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Top cake as desired.