The Sippers enjoy the outdoors, traveling in motorhome

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Photo special to the Opelika Observer Pam Sipper has a love for cooking at home and when she and her husband James travel in their motorhome. Having the motorhome has allowed them to enjoy trips during the COVID pandemic.

By Ann Cipperly

Whether it is in the mountains or by a lake, Pam and James Sipper enjoy traveling in their motorhome and have wonderful memories with grandchildren on exciting trips. COVID-19 has not slowed them down since they can be isolated at a campground. Pam has a love of cooking and enjoys cooking on trips and at home.

The Sippers’ first RV was a pull-behind trailer. They were still working at the time. Pam was a schoolteacher, while James worked for Georgia Power. “The biggest advantage for us was that we could take our dogs with us when we traveled,” Pam said.

At that time, the RV was used mostly for tailgating at Auburn football games and a few summer trips with the grandchildren, Logan, Kenzie and Reagan. They enjoyed trips with the grandchildren to Moccasin Creek State Park in north Georgia, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Point Mallard in Decatur, Georgia, among others.

“Camping at Styx River in south Alabama is one of our favorite memories,” Pam said. “Tubing down the river was fun for the entire family.”

When Pam and James retired, they upgraded to a 38-foot motorhome to make long trips more comfortable. Their longest venture was out west through north Texas with stops in Houston and San Antonio, then at Carlsbad, New Mexico, where they visited Sitting Bull Falls. From there, they spent several days in Williams, Arizona, on Route 66 and rode a train to the Grand Canyon.

“In the beautiful state of Utah, we visited four of their five National Parks, Pam said. “We also spent 10 days close to family in Colorado and made several day trips into Wyoming. That was a memorable seven-week excursion.

“Friends and family are even happier to see you visit when you bring your own place to stay. Another great trip was to the mountains of West Virginia.”

Now that the grandchildren are older and busy, the Sippers recently downsized to a 25-foot Class C motorhome.

“We’re getting older, and this rig will be easier to maneuver,” said Pam. “Seems I’m supposed to drive more now. We love searching out unusual eating establishments wherever we are visiting. Our only rule is that we never eat in restaurants that we can go to when we’re at home, with one exception: Waffle House. Cooking in an RV can be challenging, but sometimes nothing but a home-cooked meal will do.”

Pam will freeze spaghetti sauce and a few casseroles before leaving home and store them in the motorhome freezer for a trip. Their newer motorhome has a smaller refrigerator, so she won’t be able to take as much frozen food now.

They also cook on a small grill they take with them or use grills at the RV parks. State parks have places for campfires too.

Along with burgers, steaks, hot dogs and s’mores, they will cook a Low Country boil and soups in Crock-Pots. For Iron Bowl weekends, they usually deep-fry a turkey.

“Anyone considering getting an RV should think seriously of how they want to use them and then look at a lot of units,” Pam said. “Our first motorhome was lovely, but upholstered furniture and carpet don’t stay lovely when you take kids and dogs camping close to a river, lake, beach, waterpark, football field or mud hole.

“You can plan a spot for every child to sleep, but invariably they never want to sleep there. Get a queen or king in the master bedroom because you’ll probably have company. Once I packed a pop-up tent for some overflow cousins and I ended up sleeping in it with my youngest granddaughter. Seems some of the kids and a golden retriever had called dibs on my side of the bed.  Be sure to pack plenty of bug spray, popsicles, patience and your sense of humor.”

When they are not traveling, Pam enjoys cooking at home. She didn’t become interested in cooking until after she and James married. While her mother didn’t want anyone in the kitchen when she was cooking, Pam has good memories of meals at her grandmother’s house. She had a garden and canned vegetables.

Pam was born in east Tennessee. The family moved to North Carolina when she was in the sixth grade. She attended college in western North Carolina and then moved to Columbus, Georgia.

Pam taught first grade for 18 years and second grade for 12 years. Then she worked part-time four years for the Early Intervention Program.

James graduated from Auburn University and was an electrical engineer with Georgia Power for 34 years.

The Sippers lived in different places in Georgia and then lived in Opelika for eight years. About five years ago they moved outside Dadeville near the Tallapoosa River.

Pam still comes to Opelika for Bible study at Julia Thomas’s class at Trinity United Methodist Church. Before COVID, she enjoyed taking a special dish for brunch before the class started.

Pam has canned tomatoes and green beans like her grandmother. She also made jams and jellies.

The Beef Stroganoff was her mother’s recipe, and Jan’s Fruit Tea recipe is from a friend in Atlanta. The Pizza Dip is popular with their family. It is good for tailgating.

Pam assembled her Go-To Salad with cucumbers and adapted the Winter Soup recipe to suit their taste. She enjoys reading cookbooks and collecting recipes.

Pam and James enjoy planning trips and are looking forward to getting back on the road. “Cooking a late breakfast and eating outside is my idea of the good life,” Pam sasid. “I love the smell of bacon frying in the morning!”

Ann Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com.

Jan’s Fruit Tea

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

1 qt. hot water

8 small or 4 family size tea bags

2 qt. (less 1 cup) cold water

2 cups orange juice

3/4 cup lemon juice (I use Minute Maid frozen concentrate, thawed)

Steep tea bags 5 minutes in 1 quart hot water.

Boil sugar and 2 cups water 5 minutes to make a simple syrup.

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

Family Favorite Pizza Dip

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 (8 oz.) pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1 small jar pizza sauce

Assorted toppings such as chopped onions, ham, bacon, bell peppers, sliced black olives, mushrooms, etc. (My grandchildren are especially fond of the mini pepperoni; add whatever you like or no toppings at all.)

Scoop size corn chips, wheat crackers or tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix softened cream cheese and seasoning. Spread on bottom of pie plate or 8 x 8 baking dish.

Top with 1 cup mozzarella, then spread pizza sauce over cheese.

Add toppings of choice. Top with remaining mozzarella and bake 15 to 20 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

Tomato-Basil Squares

1 pkg. (10 oz.) refrigerated pizza crust

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil

1 garlic clove, minced

4 Roma tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Press crust onto a baking sheet or rectangular pizza stone.

Sprinkle crust with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

In a small bowl, mix remaining mozzarella, Parmesan, mayonnaise, basil and garlic.

Slice tomatoes and arrange evenly over crust.

Drop cheese mixture by spoonful on tomatoes. Spread evenly.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Cut into squares.

Crab Snacks

1 stick butter or margarine, softened

1 jar cheese spread

1 1/2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

1/2 lb. crab meat

6 English muffins

Combine first 6 ingredients.

Cut muffins in half and spread with cheese mixture.

Place on sheet pan and freeze. After frozen, you can store in a freezer bag.

When ready to use, take out amount needed, cut while still frozen into 8 wedges, and broil until cheese melts and muffins are slightly brown. Watch carefully.

Hash Brown Quiche

3 cups frozen loose-pack shredded hash browns, thawed

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 cup diced fully cooked ham

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese

1/4 cup diced green pepper and/or other chopped vegetables you prefer (I always use onion and sometimes mushrooms.)

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to  450 degrees.

Press hash browns between paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Press into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie plate.

Drizzle with melted butter and bake at 425 for 25 minutes.

Combine ham, cheese and green pepper. Spoon over crust.

In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper.

Pour over all. Reduce heat to 350; bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Allow to stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Tomato Grits

2 cups water

1 1/4 cups milk

1 tsp. salt

1 cup quick cooking grits

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. butter

1/3 cup chopped green onions

4 oz. processed cheese, cubed (Velveeta)

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies (Ro-Tel)

(Be careful if you do not like a little spice. The original Ro-Tel still has a bit of a kick. You might prefer the mild.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a saucepan, bring water and milk to a boil. Add the salt, then slowly add the grits, and return to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. While stirring, add 1/2 cup butter and stir until melted. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Remove from heat and set aside.

Using a skillet, sauté the onions in remaining Tbsp. of butter for 1 minute. Add the processed cheese, garlic powder, 1 1/2 cups cheddar and onions to grits. Stir until cheese melts. Add tomatoes and mix well.

Pour the grits into a greased 8 x 11 inch casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese over the casserole for the last 5 minutes of baking time.

Note: I have assembled this the night before and baked the next morning, but you might want to let it begin to come to room temperature before baking.

Quick and Easy Winter Soup

 This is especially good with shredded cheese, chopped onions or both on top (sometimes I just lay a slice of Velveeta on top).

It’s great with corn bread!

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 can stewed tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

Dash or 2 of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, if desired

1 can chili beans

1 can whole kernel corn

Brown ground beef and onion. Drain, if needed. Add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, and hot sauce.

Simmer about 30 minutes.

Add beans and corn and heat through.

Mom’s Beef Stroganoff

3 Tbsp. flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup butter

1 lb. round steak, cut in 1 inch squares

1 medium green pepper

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 can cream of chicken soup plus 1 can water or more

1 large can pimientos

1 can chopped mushrooms

2 Tbsp. vinegar

1 small carton whipping cream

1 can cashews

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Sauté garlic and butter in skillet. Spoon out garlic.

Toss meat with flour mixture, then brown in butter. Add onions and peppers to meat, browning slowly. Add soup and water.

Cook on low heat in covered pot all day, checking and adding more water if needed.

Just before serving add pimientos, mushrooms and vinegar and heat through.

Add cream and nuts last.

Serve with rice or noodles.

Penny’s Cheesecake Squares

2 pkg. crescent rolls

Two 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

Topping:

1 stick butter or margarine

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

Gently press 1 pkg. of crescent rolls on the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan, pinching seams together.

Mix cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla and spread over rolls. Cover with second package of rolls.

Melt butter. Add cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar mixing well. Pour over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Meatloaf with Mustard and Brown Sugar Glaze

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 cup butter cracker crumbs

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 large egg, beaten

1 medium onion, chopped

1 or 2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup tomato sauce

3/4 cup ketchup

2 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup water

2 Tbsp. mustard

2 Tbsp. vinegar

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, crumbs, salt, pepper, egg, onion, garlic and tomato sauce. Mix lightly. Shape into loaf and place in a baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, water, mustard, and vinegar.

Brush the loaf with this mixture. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting occasionally with sauce.

My Go-To Salad

1 English cucumber

4 Roma tomatoes

1/2 sweet onion (or to taste)

1/4 green pepper

1 Tbsp. sugar or less

Coarse ground pepper

Bottled Italian dressing (Kraft Zesty Italian works well.)

Into a medium-size bowl, slice cucumber and tomatoes. Thinly slice onion and green pepper. Gently toss all the vegetables together. Sprinkle a tablespoon or less sugar on top. Add pepper to taste and pour in enough of your favorite Italian dressing to lightly coat the vegetables. (You can add more later if you need to.)

Gently toss again and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pork Chop Casserole

8 pork chops

Salt and pepper

Flour

Oil

4 medium potatoes, thinly sliced

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup milk

Season pork chops with salt and pepper, dust with flour and brown in a small amount of fat or oil.

In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, arrange a layer of potatoes, then a layer of onions, salt and pepper to taste, then layer the chops on top. Pour over the milk. (The milk mixes with the juices and makes a gravy.)

Cover dish with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on how if chops are thick or thin.

Tennessee Onion Soup

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

6 cups sliced onions, about 4 large onions

1/3 cup Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey

1/4 tsp. dried thyme, or more to taste

6 cups beef broth

Salt and pepper to taste

6 slices toasted French bread

1 1/2 cups shredded smoked cheddar cheese (regular cheddar, Gruyere or Swiss would also work.)

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, combine butter and oil. When hot, add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are a rich brown color, about 30 minutes. Stir in whiskey, thyme and broth.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes more.

Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls. Top with a slice of French bread and a sprinkle of cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve at once.

Tomato Aspic Ring

This recipe is from the Frances Virginia Tea Room, which was a favorite in downtown Atlanta from the 1920s until it closed in 1962.

3 envelopes plain gelatin

1/2 cup cold water

3 cups boiling tomato juice

1/2 cup catsup

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 Tbsp. grated onions

1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish

3/4 tsp. salt

Soak gelatin in cold water. Add gelatin mixture to boiling tomato juice. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well. Pour into molds. Chill.

Tea Room Notes: Small ring molds were used for this aspic. It was often served on top of chicken, shrimp, or tuna salads. It is quite colorful and tasty.

Orange Cream Dessert

1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

6 Tbsp. melted butter

Pinch of salt

1 (3 oz.) box orange Jell-O

3/4 cup boiling water

3/4 cup cold water

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

8 oz. Cool Whip, divided

Mix vanilla wafer crumbs with pinch of salt and melted butter. Press into bottom of baking dish and put into freezer for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix Jell-O with boiling water until dissolved, then stir in cold water and set aside.

In a mixer, whip cream cheese on medium for 1 minute. Add Jell-O and mix until combined. Mix in 1 cup Cool Whip. Spread on crust and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Top with remaining Cool Whip after 1 hour.

Dilly Dip

1 cup good mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 Tbsp. minced onion

1 1/2 Tbsp. dried dill

1 Tbsp. Beau Monde seasoning (Spice Island brand sold at Kroger)

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate.

Good with veggie dippers.

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