AUBURN – Cooking is a wonderful stress relief for Glenys Ryder.

“I just enjoy it. I get lost in my thoughts and enjoy cooking up a storm,” said Ryder, who likes to share her joy of cooking with her husband, Wes. “When we cook together, it’s a great way to communicate. We work together as a team.” In fact, she credits Wes with coming up with a lot of their favorite dishes and casseroles.

Ryder especially likes baking as a way of satisfying her sweet tooth. She has made dozens of wedding cakes for family members and friends. “I will not charge for them. I do it out of love,” she said. The hardest part about making wedding cakes, according to her, is transporting them. “It’s stressful.”

Ryder, who taught for 36 years, the last 30 at Auburn’s Fairview Elementary School, received one of her favorite recipes from a little boy she taught. “He gave me the most delicious molasses cookie and I asked him to bring me the recipe. He brought me the ingredients but no directions so I had to figure out the rest,” she said. “But I’ve been making them ever since. I made 16 dozen this past Christmas. People are always asking for them.”

The Ryders had their kitchen built with an open concept eight years ago. “I love it when working in the kitchen and I can be part of the family,” said Ryder who has two grown children and two grandsons.

Ryder prepares meals and refreshments for the Danville Junction Grange.

One of her best cooking compliments came from her husband of 46 years. “I have his mother’s recipe for biscuits; and he says they’re just as good, if not better than his mother’s,” she said.

When not in the kitchen, Ryder enjoys volunteering at Central Maine Medical Center and crocheting items for the new cancer center.

Baked apple squares

Ingredients:

1¾ cups sugar

3 eggs

2 cups sifted flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup cooking oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups peeled, chopped apples



Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat sugar and eggs until light colored. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon and then add to sugar and egg mixture. Next, add oil and vanilla. Fold in peeled, chopped apples. Bake in greased 9- by 13-inch pan at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Place pan on rack to cool; cut into squares. (These may be frozen.)

Hot dog casserole

Ingredients:

1 pound all-beef hot dogs

¼ cup pure canola oil

10 ounces New York extra sharp cheddar cheese

8 medium to large white potatoes

1¼ cups milk

Margarine or butter for greasing casserole dish and to put a few “dots” on top of finished casserole

Salt/pepper/paprika

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut hot dogs into thin slices. Brown them in a frying pan, using canola oil. Grate cheese and set aside. Peel potatoes and cut them into thin slices. (I use a food processor to grate the cheese and to slice the potatoes.)

Grease the bottom and sides of a large casserole dish with margarine or butter. (I use a large, fairly shallow casserole dish.) Pour ¼ cup milk into the casserole dish. Line sides and bottom of the dish with an overlapping layer of potatoes. Put a few extra slices on the bottom. Turn the browned hot dogs, including the oil, onto the potato slices. Add most of the grated cheese, leaving a small portion for last. Add the remaining potato slices. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Pour 1 cup of milk over the top. Dot with 4 slivers of margarine. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika. Bake 1 to 1¼ hours.

Soft molasses cookies

Ingredients:

2 eggs

½ cup sugar

1 cup oil

1 cup molasses

2 teaspoons baking soda

3 heaping cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup water

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat eggs and sugar together. Add oil and molasses. Beat. Add dry ingredients, vanilla and water. Beat well. If batter seems runny, add more flour until it is fairly stiff. Refrigerate dough for a few hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With a soup spoon, remove dough, roll it around in flour and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 (or more) minutes. Makes 24 large cookies.

NOTE: For holidays or special times, these are great with frosting and sprinkles. With whoopie pie filling between two cookies, they also make delicious molasses whoopie pies.

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