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The Secrets We Keep

By Staff | Feb 4, 2014

We all have them… secrets we keep to ourselves or for others.

I keep mine in a wooden box on the bottom shelf (easy-access) of my first kitchen cupboard. When this box is opened it’s as though a treasure beyond all worth is exposed.

Ahh, my Recipe Box! Inside are much more than menu ideas, special suppers and secret recipes. Inside I find memories of many special people who have touched my life throughout the years.

Just as that well-known poem by the Unknown author says, “People come into your life for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime.” My Recipe Box reflects that poem and I bet yours does too.


Bread – Jeri May. A woman I only knew a few years but I knew and loved her instantly. She seemed to embody Mother Earth Herself. I learned so much from her about handling a super active brood of children and how to love it and make the most of every minute. Much of what I learned from her was with a bible in her hands, our newborns nursing at our breasts or kneading bread.

Pickles – Beth. Our friendship lasted a brief while but she helped me really learn to foster well-rounded sons. Her prowess included Refrigerator Pickles, Canned Dill Pickles, and Cucumbers & Onions.

Scones – Anna. I worked briefly in a restaurant she and her husband Neil owned. My only attempt at waitressing. I probably wasn’t much good but with four kids to feed I held three jobs and they championed me. We became friends and she introduced herbs, teas, flowers and scones to me. She loved Mother Nature and in my busy life she showed me how to look for Her all around me and to find peace in that. I miss Anna – a Christmas card each year just doesn’t seem like enough!


Chili – Sandy. A girl I knew in high school in California. We truly became friends when we were both married with two baby boys each. She helped me transform from a high school girl to a young woman. We laughed, we cooked. She wasn’t afraid to use spice – in life or in food.

Scotcheroos – Carla. A lady I met when I worked in a medical clinic. I was replacing her but she had to train me first. She conducted herself with such decorum. I admired that and learned from this experience about how I wanted to be in business.

Layered Salad – Francie. A woman I met from church. She was beautiful in a natural way that included healthy eating and exercise all while raising a family. She juggled a lot but did it with a calm balance that I truly admired.

Pork Ribs & Kraut – Mike. Manager of a Fareway Meat Market. He was friendly, knowledgeable and an amazing asset to the community. One day when I was struggling a bit in a new marriage he gave me a recipe that he said would save any marriage! It sure made us happy that night and the many people I’ve fed it to since then have always enjoyed it. (Well, except for my pregnant daughter-in-law who was repulsed by the smell and it sent her running for the great outdoors.)


Salsa – Signa Durham & Sibyl Streeper. My Grandma & Great Aunt. I can’t mention one without the other. These sisters lived together when they were older. I loved them immeasurably! They also passed down the recipe for Better Than Sex Cake, which we giggled as we renamed it Better Than Anything Cake.

Banana Nut Bread – Esther Lager. My Grandmother. A woman who was a true lady who had a depth of faithfulness that it created a yearning within myself as a young woman to experience God.

Popcorn Balls – Skip Miller. My mother-in-law for 5 years before her death. In that short time she changed my life, how I looked at myself and who I wanted to be. She shaped me and loved me so unconditionally.

Scalloped Corn – John Miller. My brother-in-law. He demonstrates to me how to live a genuine life. He takes life on his terms and is always true to himself and who he is. He traveled the world with a backpack when he wasn’t working the Alaska roads. For many years he spent more than 200 nights in a sleeping bag in rugged conditions. He’s a man’s man but treats his wife like a Queen!

Waffle Cookies – John and Babs Miller. My brother-in-law and his wife. My Friends! They found each other later in life and were quite different. They represent respect, neutral ground, arguing with passion and an amazing love. I’m so happy to have an on-going relationship with them.

Apple Pie & Crisp – Nancy Fox Stepp. My best and dearest friend gave me a Betty Crocker Cookbook when I was first married at 18. I’ve worn it out over the years and am always turning back to the page with apple pie and apple crisp recipes. Similarly when those friends for a Reason or Season move on, I always turn back to my Lifetime friend)

My beloved mother, Jean Lager Durham, has passed on so many mouth-watering recipes. Her talents include Piquant Sauce, Blueberry Torte, Russian Tea, Chocolate Spice Cake and other delectables. She’s also passed on so many life lessons that it would have to be a whole other writing!

These days my daughter, Rachel Miller, also concocts recipes for me to try such as Oreo Dessert and Baked Penne Broccoli Alfredo. Similarly to my mother, my daughter has taught me a great many lessons.

And, there are a few who deserve mention here but whom I’m not ready to divulge at this point in life.

I’ve also created a few recipes of my own like my lasagna and apple sauce.

I have been so blessed in my life through my varied experiences and the amazing people I’ve known and I feel that so many of those experiences and people live on in my Recipe Box!

I wonder, what secrets do you keep in your Recipe Box?