Vickie and Jerry Bender will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in October. Vickie says her husband is her toughest cooking critic.
Vickie and Jerry Bender will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in October. Vickie says her husband is her toughest cooking critic.
Monday, March 7, 2011

Vickie Bender, of Carroll, says her “best critic” is her husband, Jerry. Jerry loves her cooking so much, he says there’s not much need to eat out. Vickie enjoys cooking for others because she likes to please everyone. Vickie gives much of the credit to her mother-in-law for teaching her a lot about cooking. Bernice Bender lived near Perry and was a farmer’s wife who took pride in her cooking and served dessert with every meal. Bernice’s specialty was homemade chicken and noodles.

Vickie, owner of Vickie’s 4-Pawz Grooming, in Carroll, has been grooming dogs in Perry and Carroll for 40 years. She began her business in Carroll in 1980 after leaving Perry. Vickie was introduced to the grooming business by chance. Her husband, Jerry, bought her a white Standard Poodle that was badly in need of grooming. A dog groomer in Perry showed Vickie how to do it herself and Vickie began as an apprentice. Vickie enjoys her in-home business for the flexibility it provides and she enjoys her customers (owners and dogs).

Husband, Jerry, works part-time for the Carroll County Attorney’s Office as a detective. Jerry and Vickie will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this October with an open house at their church. Vickie is very proud of their 50 years of marriage. She was the youngest in her high school graduating class in Perry to be married.

Jerry and Vickie have two children. Son, Doug Bender, works for Carroll Community Schools, and daughter-in-law, Doreen, works at American Home Shield. Their son, Blake, 21, works in Carroll, and Nick, 18, is a senior at Carroll High. Both grandsons love their grandma’s cheesecake.

Daughter, Deb Bender, also works at American Home Shield. Her daughter Bianca is a freshman at Grand View University studying education.

The Benders’ “children with fur” include a black Standard Poodle named Bella and Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty was a feral cat and is blind in one eye.

Vickie likes to experiment with new recipes. She especially likes the American Profile Hometown Recipes in the newspaper each Friday. She likes to cook and bake, but says she is probably better at cooking.

When she isn’t grooming or cooking, Vickie enjoys reading and decorating for the holidays. She loves to decorate her home and yard for every holiday. In the summer months, she tends to her herbal and flower gardens. She is also very active in her church, St. John’s Lutheran. Many years ago, she came up with the idea for an Easter bake sale. It’s held each spring at Westgate Mall the Saturday before Palm Sunday.

Aunt Myrtle’s Chocolate Cake and Frosting

This scrumptious cake recipe comes from Vickie’s Aunt Myrtle, who is now in her 90s and still living on her own in rural Iowa. Besides her chocolate cake, Myrtle is known for her fried apples.

Vickie used to bake this cake for her kids’ birthdays. She has even made it into a 3-tiered cake for a special party and decorated it with strawberries around the bottom and whipped cream on top.

Along with dog grooming supplies, Vickie also sells Watkins products for cooking at her shop. She especially likes the real vanilla used in this cake.

2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 c flour
1 pinch of salt
1 c water
½ c Crisco
½ c cocoa
1 t Watkins vanilla
1 t vinegar
2 t soda

Mix sugar, Crisco and eggs. Put soda and vinegar into a measuring cup and fill with milk. Add cocoa, flour, salt, and vanilla to first ingredients with milk and water. Bake in 9 x 13 pan or two 9” rounds.

1 c sugar
¼ c milk
½ stick butter
½ c chocolate chips
Mix together sugar, milk and butter in saucepan. Bring to boil for one minute. Off heat, add chocolate chips and stir until smooth.

Grandma Hancock’s Ginger Ale Salad

Vickie recalls this salad served at Christmas dinner, but it is also good year round. The red apples and green Jell-O make it perfect for the holiday season. The recipe comes from her Aunt Mabel, who raised her after her mother passed away when she was ten. Mabel was a beautician in Perry and Vickie says in a way, she “followed” in her aunt’s footsteps as a dog groomer.

2 pkgs sugar-free lime Jell-O
1 pkg Knox gelatin
2 red Delicious apples (chopped with skins on)
1 ½ c chopped celery hearts
2 c ginger ale

Dissolve Jell-O and gelatin into 2 cups boiling water. Add to ginger ale, apples, and celery. If you want to cut it into squares, use a 9 x 13 pan, otherwise Vickie likes to use a clear glass bowl. Refrigerate until chilled and firm (a couple hours)

Homemade French Dressing

For their wedding, Aunt Myrtle gave Jerry and Vickie a recipe card box filled with recipes written on index cards. This was one of the recipes. Vickie always makes a double recipe to keep in her fridge and have on hand for salads. She says it keeps well for a long time.

1 c sugar
1 c ketchup
1 c canola oil
¼ c vinegar
2 T grated onion
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
Mix well and refrigerate.

Family Chip Dip

Vickie says once you start on this homemade chip dip, “you won’t stop.” Her husband, Jerry, loves this dip. It was forgotten for several years until Vickie looked through her recipe card box from her aunt and found it again.

1 pkg light cream cheese, softened
2/3 c French dressing (recipe above)
1/3 c cream or milk
couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
pinch of salt
Mix well and serve with potato chips or raw vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or baby carrots.

Hamburger Pie

Vickie calls this “an ancient recipe.” It came from an old Meredith Publishing cookbook. Jerry’s aunt lived in Des Moines and worked for Meredith Publishing.

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
¾ t salt
dash pepper
1 (1 lb) can cut green beans, drained, or ½ lb green beans, cooked and drained
1 can condensed tomato soup
5 medium potatoes, cooked (or instant potatoes)
½ c warm milk
1 beaten egg

Lightly brown meat; add onion, cook until just tender. Add seasonings, beans, and soup and pour into greased 1 ½ quart casserole. Mash hot potatoes; add milk and egg. Season. Drop in mounds over meat.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Serves 6.

New Orleans Jambalaya

This is a perfect dish to serve tomorrow for Mardi Gras, although Vickie and Jerry have such a busy day, Vickie will be preparing it for lunch, instead of dinner. Jerry won’t mind though since it’s his favorite dish. The Benders love this recipe because they both love tomatoes. Vickie ran across this recipe in the 1980s when Up with People toured through Carroll and regional recipes were published in the Times Herald. The recipe originally came from the chef of the Bayou Belle Restaurant in New Orleans.

1 small onion
1 medium pepper, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T butter
1 large can tomatoes (do not drain)
1 can mushrooms, drained
2 dozen cooked and peeled shrimp
1 t salt
¼ t pepper
¼ dry sherry
2 shakes ground cayenne pepper
cooked rice

Saute onion, pepper and garlic in butter in a skillet (Vickie uses an electric skillet). Stir in tomatoes, mushrooms, shrimp, salt and pepper. Stir in sherry. Heat through. Serve over cooked rice. Serves 3-4.

My Own Creamed Chicken and Biscuits

This is a “Vickie Original.” She loves to cook with onion and garlic and this is a tasty dinner that also makes a great lunch the next day. She came up with this recipe in her head many years ago.

3 chicken breasts (1 ½-2 lbs of meat)
2-3 stalks celery (cut into ½ in pieces)
2-3 carrots (peeled, cut into ½ in pieces)
1 chopped onion
2 cans chicken broth (low sodium)
1 tsp Mrs. Dash
½ t onion powder
½ t garlic powder
2 T Watkins chicken soup and gravy mix
1 tsp minced garlic

Chop vegetables and put into a large pot along with chicken, 1 can broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil and cook on low heat until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken from pot and cut up into small pieces as soon as possible. Cover chicken and put in refrigerator.

To make thickener, put 3-4 T corn starch in a bowl and add the second can of chicken broth, a little at a time, along with either milk or 1 can fat free evaporated milk. Add to cooked vegetables in pot and stir to thicken. You may have to add more milk or broth depending on desired consistency. Bring to a boil and then low heat until completely thickened. Add chicken pieces and heat over very low heat until heated through. Season as desired. Serve over warm biscuits.