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Thousands of Recipes Waiting to be Tried

September 19, 2022

Another Way for week of September 9, 2022

Thousands of Recipes Waiting to be Tried

First of a three-part series on keeping family dinner.

About 12 years ago, I wrote about the importance of keeping family dinner in a book we called Whatever Happened to Dinner?

Family Dinner Day (September 26, 2022) is a national effort to promote family dinners as an effective way to reduce youth substance abuse and other risky behaviors, as researched by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. I contend that keeping family dinner—at a table (or kitchen island)—is still a habit that older couples (like my husband and I) benefit from.

Sharon Risser cooking up some fantastic dishes in her well-equipped kitchen.

Last year I became better acquainted with my cousin’s wife, Sharon Risser. She allowed me to share her passion for cooking—a different meal or recipe six days a week—in a Mennonite magazine which I have written for occasionally, Anabaptist World. They published it this summer and I’m sharing a shorter version of her story here for column readers.

Sharon is married to my first cousin Doug, and is a former nurse. She is part-time manager of Waterford Crossing Condo Association, at a retirement facility she helped launch in 1999 in Goshen, Indiana. Doug and Sharon live in a condo on the campus and share meals almost every evening with Sharon’s 90-year-old father, Charles Shenk, who lives across the street. The Rissers have one son, Jay, and two grandchildren, Jaxon and Teagan. The Rissers opened their home to us for a place to stay as we visited my mother when she was in her last months.

Sharon and Doug enjoying a meal with Sharon’s father.

When Sharon showed me a stack of recipes roughly three inches tall which she was planning to try from various magazines, I was almost dumbfounded. She said she normally cooks a different recipe every time she cooks, usually six times a week.

Sharon’s adventures in cooking began when her mother offered her a “job” at the age of twelve, planning and cooking each evening meal, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, plus ironing. “I’ll pay you $20 a week,” her mom proposed, and Sharon thought that sounded like a lot of money, which it was, in those days.

Sharon wanted to go to college and become a nurse. While her parents encouraged this, they said she’d need to earn some money for college. Opportunities were scarce, of course, for a twelve-year-old to earn any real money. Her mother worked “pretty much full time at her own bridal business,” according to Sharon.

A longtime bestseller, for which I got to write a special “65th Anniversary edition” history in 2015. 🙂

So, Sharon scanned her mother’s cookbooks such as Mennonite Community Cookbook, Good Housekeeping Cookbook, Betty Crocker, and others. “I liked the cookbooks with pictures in them so I could see what something looked like,” she recalls. She’d plan menus by Thursday evenings so her mother could get the needed groceries on Friday, which is how Sharon operates to this day. She’s a diehard menu maker with a kitchen full of spices and flavorings I’d never heard of.

She started out making things like meatloaf, sloppy joes, or spaghetti. She knew her brothers might complain if she made a casserole with “food all mixed together.” But Sharon has widely expanded her horizons and meals since those days!

Sharon throws away almost all the recipes she’s cooked: “If I kept everything, you’d call me a hoarder.” She estimates she has thousands of recipes she’s pulled from magazines she wants to try: “I have about 10 three-ring-binders holding the untried recipes!”

When I probed for her most favorite recipe or dish to make?

The next one,” was her final answer. Here’s one recipe her family enjoyed for a fish dish (adapted slightly from Eating Well magazine).

Middle Eastern Spiced Tilapia (not pictured here)

Mix together ½ teaspoon each of: salt, ground coriander, turmeric.
Add 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  Apply this mixture to one side of 4 (6 oz.) tilapia fillets.
Place the tilapia on a sprayed baking sheet.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter and add to it 1 tablespoon lime juice.
Drizzle the butter mixture over the tilapia.
Place in the oven under the broiler for 6 – 7 minutes until fish is flakey.
Garnish with cilantro leaves and sliced limes. Feeds two to four. One serving is 185 calories.


Do you plan menus? I’d love to hear about your practices! Comment here or share with me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Adding a chopped avocado for her yummy meal. She and her husband Doug enjoy most meals with Sharon’s father who lives nearby.
Sharon definitely likes to create appealing and beautiful food!

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Sharon is one ambitious lady. I would shy away from a stack of recipes 3-inch thick. As you know, I sometimes try new recipes and display them on my blog, but I’m not a 3-burner cook as Doug’s wife appears to be. I’m guessing you are too!

    This week I’m taking ingredients for one dish to the college freshman grandsons at the University of Florida. One lives in a dorm; the other in an apartment with 3 other guys. Both boys like to cook, so they might like the salmon casserole dish from their great-grandmother Ruth, which I blogged about.

    Do I plan menus? Sorta. Cliff and I discuss what to make and we go from there. He contributes with shopping and making at least two meals a week. This morning he fixed me a breakfast of cereal, fruit, and a “red-beet” egg. So there’s that!

    Enjoyable post, Melodie! 😀

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