Barbara McClellan

Are you tired of planning, purchasing and preparing meals? Are your favorite carryout or delivery places No. 1 on your speed dial? Well, so am I on all the above. (Please note, I am preaching to the choir and I am the choir.) I am trying to cook and eat nutritious, inexpensive recipes, not just for myself but to share with friends and then pass on the recipes to you.

Regretfully, eating fresh or frozen foods is just as expensive or more so than some canned or prepared items. Today I am not only using recipes that are quick but are things that my husband cooked or intended to cook before he was struck down with — in my opinion the most dread of all diseases --dementia. He has been diagnosed for over five years. I am so thankful to say that he is still kind and thoughtful to me, which is not the case in many situations.

Speaking of caregiving, as I have done before, if you find yourself suddenly the one to care for a person with any of the many types of dementia, I strongly advise you to find a group for caregivers. I find great support in my groups of people who are going through the journey we are on now. If I went for no other reason one would be to see that there are always others who are worse off than we are. We all support, encourage and learn from each other.

One of the last things Joe cooked while he was still able to do so was this soup recipe.

Joe’s Navy Bean Soup


3 cans (16 ounces each) navy beans with liquid

1 can (12-14 ounces) chicken broth

1 cup chopped ham

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


In large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Simmer until onion is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with cornbread. Makes 8-10 servings.

Joe and I disagreed about very few things, but mostly about music (we are both musicians and had some intense arguments about whether a song should be in a particular key), and cooking was the other. He believed in following a recipe strictly as it was written. Well, I might tell you to follow a recipe carefully (especially the first time you prepare it), but I fear that I use some recipes strictly as jumping off places.

Another recipe that Joe made (he always wrote when he made the recipe and if we liked it, he wrote in cookbooks; I rarely do) is this gelatin salad. He used sugar-free gelatin in it.

Divinity Salad


1 large package lemon gelatin, (sugar-free)

1 cup boiling water

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

1 can crushed pineapple with juice

1 carton (8 ounces) whipped topping (like Cool Whip, sugar-free is available)


Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add cream cheese and using mixer, whip until smooth. Stir in nuts and pineapple. Cool in refrigerator until almost set. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch dish and refrigerate until firm. Makes about 8 servings.

Joe made these unusual sandwiches for us to have after we came home from teaching all day and neither wanted to cook.

Hot Bunwiches


8 hamburger buns

8 slices Swiss cheese

8 slices ham

8 slices turkey

8 slices American cheese


Lay out all buns and place slices in order given on bottom bun. Place top bun on stack. Wrap tightly in foil. Freeze. Remove from freezer two hours before serving. Heat at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist. Write her at or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.

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