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Cookbook Review: Kansas Family Recipe Collection

Thelma is a syndicated newspaper food columnist writing under the pen name of Mayberry Homemaker and former field editor for Taste of Home.

Family cookbook cover

Family cookbook cover

Brown Family Favorites

Many families have their favorite recipes and often say they should publish a cookbook to save the recipes for generations to come. The Brown family of WaKeeney, Kansas, didn't just talk about it ... they did it!

Ernie and Janeen Brown come from a family that is well-known for its good cooks. They collected an amazing assortment of 537 recipes from family and friends. The professionally printed book is presented in a ring binder which allows more recipes to be added. It is a beautiful legacy cookbook for their children and grandchildren.

According to Janeen, her family members are recipe hoarders who love to try new dishes. This collection is not just about recipes they thought would be good. These are the best of the best of recipes they actually cooked and enjoyed. They are tried and true!

Sharing Some of the Brown Family Favorites

Janeen gave me a list of recipes she wanted to share with my readers, and it was a hard job to pick out only a few. They all sound delicious.

Sour Cream Raisin Bars

Let's start out with sour cream raisin bars, which is one of Janeen's own recipes.


  • 2 c. raisins
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 c. quick cooking oats
  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 T. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. Cook raisins in 1 1/2 c. water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Beat butter with brown sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add oats, flour, and soda. Mix until blended.
  4. Press half of this mixture into 9 x 13-inch pan. Set aside.
  5. In a saucepan, combine egg yolks, sour cream, sugar, and cornstarch.
  6. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Stir in raisins and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture in pan. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture. Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes.

Champagne Shrimp and Pasta

The following dish proves the Brown family knows about good cooking. From Ernie and Janeen's son, Nate Brown, comes this unique pasta dish that combines the flavors of champagne and shrimp.


  • 8oz. angel hair pasta
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 c fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp
  • 1 1/2 c. champagne
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. green onions, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 T. fresh parsley, chopped
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Clean, peel, and devein shrimp.
  2. Cook pasta and drain.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.
  4. Cook mushrooms until tender. Remove and set aside.
  5. Combine shrimp, champagne, and salt in skillet. Cook on high.
  6. When the liquid begins to boil, remove shrimp.
  7. Add green onions and tomatoes to champagne.
  8. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in 3/4 c. cream. Boil until slightly thick.
  9. Add shrimp and mushrooms to sauce. Heat through.
  10. Toss hot cooked pasta with remaining 1/4 c. cream and parsley.
  11. Spoon shrimp with sauce over pasta and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Double the sauce recipe! It is so good you will want more. Serve with salad and bread. It is an elegant meal.

San Francisco Chops

The next dish can be made with a mild taste by using the amount of cayenne pepper called for in the recipe. Or you can make it extra spicy by adding more cayenne pepper. Janeen's son likes to spice it up by doubling the cayenne.


  • 4 bone-in pork chops
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 c. dry cooking sherry
  • 1 c. soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • 1/2 c. water
  • fettuccine noodles for each person, cooked and drained


  1. Brown chops and remove them from the skillet.
  2. Saute garlic in the same skillet for about 1 minute.
  3. Add sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, and cayenne. Heat to just boiling.
  4. Return chops to skillet.
  5. Spoon sauce over meat. Cover tightly.
  6. Simmer about 30 minutes or until chops are tender. May need to add a little water so the sauce does not boil down too much.
  7. Turn the chops after 15 minutes.
  8. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 T. water. Add to liquid and cook and stir until thickened.
  9. Serve over fettuccine. Place fettuccine on a plate, top with a chop and spoon sauce over all.

Reviewer's Choice Recipe

When reviewing cookbooks, I like to select a recipe to share with you that I personally want to try. It was a hard choice but this recipe for Green Olives with Cream Cheese caught my eye. I plan to take these to my next American Legion Auxiliary meeting. I'm sure the ladies will enjoy them.

If you are a fan of olives, you will want to add this to your appetizer recipe collection.

Green Olives With Cream Cheese


  • Queen sized pimento-stuffed green olives
  • Cream cheese
  • Finely chopped pecans


  1. Drain and dry green olives.
  2. Place a tablespoon or so of cool but not totally cold cream cheese in the palm of your hand and mold it to the outside of the olive.
  3. Roll in chopped pecans.
  4. When ready to serve, slice each one in half and arrange on a pretty platter.

These can be made several days ahead but wait to slice them the day you plan to serve them.


Cookbook Author's Hometown: WaKeeney, Kansas

The joy of collecting community cookbooks is not just in the recipes, but also in where the books come from. Learning about the way people live in other communities and collecting books from all 50 states is part of the charm for many avid collectors.

Cookbook authors, Ernie and Janeen Brown live in the small, rural town of WaKeeney, Kansas. Like me, you probably wonder why the K in the town name is capitalized. Back in 1878, the town was established by Mr. Warren and Mr. Keeney. WaKeeney is a combination of their names, hence the capital K.

Located in northwestern Kansas, the population according to the 2010 census was 1,862 residents. As you can see from the map pictured here, WaKeeney is about as centrally located in the United States as you can get.

Wakeeney residents boast of strong family values, civic pride and dedication to our country. And of course those talented cooks the midwest is famous for. Such is the case with the Brown family.

Janeen and Ernie Brown (seated) surrounded by their family of good cooks.

Janeen and Ernie Brown (seated) surrounded by their family of good cooks.

© 2016 Thelma Raker Coffone