Share your family's recipes, stories or family-dinner survival strategies for this year's Ozark County Cookin'

Stella Luna’s cornbread I don’t think my mother ever had this written down, but this is how she taught me to make cornbread. It’s so much better than a mix – and not much harder. I remember it, hot and crusty, broken into a plate brimming with pinto beans, or simply crumbled into a cold glass of milk for an easy Sunday night supper. 1 cup corn meal (Stella used yellow) 1 cup flour 3 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. salt 1 egg Milk -- she never did measure it. I was to judge by looking at the batter. Over the years I’ve decided it takes a little more than one cup of milk. Mix all that together. (Don’t use a mixer. Just stir it with a fork or spoon.) Meanwhile in a 8 or 9” cast iron skillet, be heating some bacon grease. No measure on this, just be sure the bottom of the skillet is covered. (I’ve learned vegetable oil, even olive oil will work.) It should be VERY hot. Swirl it around in the skillet some to be sure the sides are coated too. Then pour it into the meal and flour mixture and stir four or five times. Pour it all into the hot skillet and bake 20 – 25 minutes at 400 degrees. When it’s done, turn it upside down on a plate and slice into wedges. Mary Ruth Luna Sparks

The 2017 edition of Ozark County Cookin’ will feature not only the recipes but also the stories of Ozark County cooks, present and past, whose kitchen talents created warm, enduring memories for generations of area families. As we do each year, we’re asking our readers to share their memories and recipes from Ozark County’s best cooks.

An example of the memories shared in Ozark County Cookin’ is Times Past columnist Mary Ruth Luna Sparks’ memory, complete with recipe, of the cornbread her mother, the late Stella Luna, stirred up for her family in their Gainesville home. The recipe is shared below.

We also like to include easy but tasty recipes and stories from the not-so-creative survival-type cooks. For instance, Times editor Sue Ann Jones claims to have “zero cooking ability,” but she did manage to keep her two children fed during their growing-up years while her husband, the late Dave Jones, traveled frequently on business. Most weeks Sue Ann followed this progression of menus, which she recommends as a simple survival routine: Monday, fry several pounds of varmint-meat burger (Dave was an avid hunter) in a deep, cast-iron Dutch oven and serve it with tacos, letting each diner add spices or salsa as needed. Tuesday, use the leftovers to make spaghetti sauce and serve over (what else?) spaghetti. Wednesday, use the leftover spaghetti sauce to make lasagna with no-boil noodles. Thursday, bake potatoes and chicken (put chicken on baking sheet lined with foil, pour lemon juice over it and bake at 350 degrees about an hour). Set the oven timer, and everything should be ready when you get home from ball practice. Friday, it’s leftovers or pork chops cooked on the grill or however you can manage to cook them. 

Send us your own or a family member of friend’s recipes, stories and family-dinner “survival plans” – or recipes from cooks gone by – to be published Nov. 15 in our glossy-cover,  magazine-style Ozark County Cookin’ magazine, which will have color on every page. We’ll draw a name from all those who submit a recipe or tribute, and that person will win $100 – just in time for Christmas shopping!

This year’s cookbook will be distributed free at the Times office, Town & Country Supermarket in Gainesville, Cash Saver Pantry in Theodosia and anywhere the Ozark County Times is sold. 

The 2017 edition of Ozark County Cookin’ is also an ideal way for area merchants and groups to advertise their Christmastime and year-round merchandise because it will be kept and used for months, even years, to come. A portion of the advertising proceeds will be donated to local charities. For more information, see the ad on page 3.

The recipe and advertising deadline is Friday, Nov. 3. To submit a recipe, tribute and photo, email them to, mail them to the Times at P.O. Box 188, Gainesville, MO 65655 (be sure to let us know if the photo needs to be returned), or bring them by our office on the south side of the Gainesville square. Call us at 679-4641 for more information.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423