Still Cookin’ with Aunt Gerry

June 22, 2010 by  
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Minnie, Aunt Gerry’s “Big Puppy,” a 1-year old black lab, has been acting-up all week. The dog ate a loaf of bread, a box of cookies and a package of licorice. Every morning Minnie has been greeting Aunt Gerry with one of Joe’s socks and Aunt Gerry is never able to locate it’s match. It’s been hectic around the house so Aunt Gerry quickly pulled out two old standards for this week’s column:

Popular Porqupine Meatballs

When the rice cooks, it pokes out around the meatball, making it look like the back end of a porqupine. However, these “Porqupines” aren’t dangerous, they’re delicious! ~Aunt Gerry

2 lbs. ground beef
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 teaspoons celery salt
2 tablespoons onions
1 (10 1/2-oz) can tomato soup
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup dwater

Blend meat, rice pepper, celery salt, onions. Form into 24 balls. Place in baking dish; add soup, tomato sauce, and water. Cover and bake in slow oven (325 degrees) for 1 1/4 hours.

Lazy Lemon Cake

It’s called “Lazy” because the recipe calls for a box cake mix. I always keep one on hand in case I’m asked to prepare something for a funeral at church. My daughter thinks I’m morbid. The women in charge of the funeral luncheons think I’m wonderful. ~Aunt Gerry

1 small pkg. lemon jello
1 cup boiling water.
1 pkg. lemon cake mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup water

Stir together Jello and water until jello is dissolved; cool. While Jello mixture is cooling, in mixing bowl combine remaining ingredients. Mix with mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the cooled jello-water mixture. Mix until well blended. Pur batter into greased and lightly floured angel food cake pan or Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and poke holes in top of cake. Pour glaze over cake while hot.
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup lemon jice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Mix together until smooth and pour over hot cake.

Aunt GerryGerry Burns (Aunt Gerry) is an octogenarian & Ypsilantian who has resided with her husband Joe in their Augusta Township home for 43 years. After working 20 years at Eastern Michigan University, she retired in 1992. In addition to knitting and baking, Aunt Gerry enjoys the company of her husband & family which includes three grown children, three grandchildren and Minnie; a large, rambunctious, black Labrador retriever. At 80 years old, Aunt Gerry is happy that she’s “Still Cookin'” You can email Aunt Gerry at

Still Cookin’ with Aunt Gerry

June 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

Ypsilanti weather has been hot & humid the last few days, reminding us that those “Lazy Days” of Summer are just around the corner.  So Aunt Gerry went through her recipes looking only for the word “EASY.”  Here’s what she came up with:

Easy Mexican Casserole
“Hola mis amigos! Este guiso es fácil y deliciosa. Disfrute!”
(I really don’t know Spanish so I hope I wrote that correctly.)
I don’t want to start an international incident
! -Aunt Gerry

2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper
1 10 oz. can mild enchilada sauce
12 corn tortillas
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup milk
1 small can chopped green chillies
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Brown beef & onions with chili powder and salt & pepper. Add enchilada sauce. Put 6 tortillas in a 9×13 pan, pour beef mixture over, then put remaining 6 tortillas on top. Mix together soup, milk, and chillies; pour over tortillas. Cover with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Easy Corn Bread
This is just sweet enough to be the perfect accompaniment for spicy dishes.
For a sweeter treat, serve it with honey.
If you need more sweetness than that, come meet my granddaughters!
-Aunt Gerry

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8 or 9 inch pan. (Recipe can be doubled for a 9×13 inch pan.) Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or untl light golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake
The recipe says that instead of pineapple you can use apples, apricots, prunes or peaches.
In my opinion, pineapple is the original and only “Upside Down Cake.”
This one is good enough to stand you on your head
! – Aunt Gerry

1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
5 slices drained pineapple
5 cherry halves (optional)
1 cup chopped nuts
whipped cream

Combine sifted flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir with whisk until thoroughly mixed and then sift. Add softened butter and cut into the flour mixture with whisk until mixed. Combine beaten egg, milk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture until blended, then beat vigorously for one minute with whisk or electric beater. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in 8x8x2″ pan or oven-safe skillet over low flame. Add brown sugar and cook & stir until thoroughly mixed. On this, arrange drained pineapple slices with half cherry (if desired) in center of each pineapple slice. Sprinkle with chopped nuts to fill the empty spaces. Pour batter over and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pan with spatula. Turn upside down on dish so pineapple is on top. Serve with whipped cream.

Gerry Burns (Aunt Gerry) is an octogenarian & Ypsilantian who has resided with her husband Joe in their Augusta Township home for 43 years. After working 20 years at Eastern Michigan University, she retired in 1992. In addition to knitting and baking, Aunt Gerry enjoys the company of her husband & family which includes three grown children, three grandchildren and Minnie; a large, rambunctious, black Labrador retriever. At 80 years old, Aunt Gerry is happy that she’s “Still Cookin'” You can email Aunt Gerry at

The Armchair Investor

June 15, 2010 by  
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ynarmchair-75QUESTION: Are there opportunities for investment in Ypsilanti?

While Washtenaw County is becoming a hot-bed for high-tech and green companies, I would steer you in simpler direction. There are many houses & buildings in financial distress that could be excellent investments. A person with time on their hands and some fundamental carpentry skills could purchase a home or building and convert it to a rental. Two major Universities plus WCC and many other learning operations in the Ypsilanti area bring in 50,000+ students – many of who will be looking for off-campus housing and a short commute.

Cheaper rent in Ypsilanti would definitely be a selling point.

Secondly, President Obama has instituted a tax credit called Energy Star. Under this stimulus plan Licensed Contractors replace defective windows, doors, appliances, furnaces, hot water heaters, etc. in the house that are not energy efficient. Visit for more information.

It’s a windfall for a home-owner and a great opportunity to invest in your infrastructure. You’ll be putting revenue back into the community by purchasing from local hardware stores, lumber yards, etc. and hiring local contractors. You’ll increase the value of your home, which brings up the value of your neighborhood, increasing tax revenue for schools, public transportation, roads, etc. That’s an investment in Ypsilanti! ~ The Armchair Investor

Pat Joseph is an alumnus of Eastern Michigan University and previously worked for the Internal Revenue Service. Joseph is not a professional financial counselor, accountant or stock broker. The information in “The Armchair Investor” is Pat’s opinion based on personal study, research and experience. Email The Armchair Investor at

The Perilous Danger of Microbes in the Scalp

June 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

The advertisement passed itself off as a legitimate news story.

The advertisement passed itself off as a legitimate news story.

Patent medicine makers sold their wares in Ypsilanti, as elsewhere, using fraudulent sales techniques. In the late 19th and early 20th century, no regulatory agency existed to analyze makers’ “medicines” or question their florid advertisements. One such ad for Rexall’s “93” hair tonic, on sale at the Rogers-Weinmann-Matthews drugstores at 118 Congress Street, 29 Huron, and 509-511 Cross Street, appeared in the January 29, 1909 Ypsilanti Daily Press. Written by Rexall, the ad was presented, as was common at the time, as a “straight” news story. The ad used several classic patent medicine advertising gambits.

One was to capitalize on current health issues or news. Under the headline “Microbes in the Scalp,” the article said, “Professor Unna of Hamburg, Germany, and Dr. Sabourand of Paris, France, share the honor of having discovered the hair microbe.” At the time, an interest in microbes, a term coined in 1897 by French surgeon Charles Sedillot to denote any life form too small to be seen without magnification, had seized the popular imagination. Pasteur and other scientists had made recent discoveries of microbial causes for feared, heretofore poorly-understood diseases such as rabies, malaria, and syphilis. The notion of new, invisible organisms that were ubiquitous and unpredictably lethal mesmerized the public. As a result, microbes appeared in many popular novels, poems, and plays. Mark Twain wrote a 1905 satire “3,000 Years Among the Microbes,” and Hilaire Belloc included his poem “The Microbe” in a 1897 anthology. Writers used such metaphors as “the microbe of love” or “the microbes of boredom.” There was even a drinking song about microbes, and poems such as W. C. Cooper’s 1895 verse “The Scheming Microbe.”

A microbe sat on a maiden’s lip, right an its kissiest part,
And murmered, “I’ll work that young man off in the highest style of art;
I’ll send a raging colony careering through his veins,
And they shall soak his system with a choice lot of ptomaines.

O, I’m of the choleric sort and the epidemic brand,
And you may bet the victim knows whenever I’m on hand;
For I raise a rumpus in his guts, like a slowly bursting bomb,
Which only ends, as a general thing, when he reaches kingdom come.”

Now, him that the grizzly microbe had in its measly, pizen mind
Was a niceish, youthish laddie of the hottest blooded kind;
Who loved the sweetish, youngish girl with an incandescent vim,
Which only found an offset in the way that she loved him.

Well, on the next sweet Sunday night, this niceish, youngish man
Was seated on the same chair with his darling Mary Ann;
And he hugged until he nearly busted her precious diaphragm,
And kised her sixteen hundred times with the zest of a battering ram.

The microbe had been swapped at least one thousand times, and when
The young man left the ornery beast was still with Mary Ann;
When her beau was gone, she finished up by kissing “Puggy Wee,”
And the next day that devoted pup most died of diarrhee.

Another advertising technique was to invoke “foreign experts,” whose citation combined Old World gravitas and (in those days) difficult-to-check credentials. It is likely that Professor Unna and Dr. Sabourand existed only in a copywriter’s imagination.

A common ad feature was “junk science.” The Press article said that baldness “is not caused through a few weeks’ work of these hair microbes, but is the result of conditions brought about by their presence. Baldness may not occur until years after the microbes begin work, but it is certain to come sooner or later. The microbes cut off the blood supply. They feed on the fatty matter about the root of the hair, through which the blood is absorbed. Finally the fatty matter is wholly consumed, the food supply of the hair is gone and it starves and finally dies.”

An additional gambit, seen in the Rexall ad, was the iron-clad guarantee. “If it does not grow hair on your bald head, stop your hair from falling out; cure you of dandruff; make your hair thick, silky, luxuriant; if it does not give you complete satisfaction in every particular, return the empty bottle to us, and we shall return every penny you paid for it, without question or formality.” Many nostrum ads similarly offered monetary “rewards” if a disease sufferer could be found who couldn’t be cured by the potion. But since the function of nostrums was to make money, not to cure, there was usually a caveat.

“Of course, you understand that when we say that Rexall “93” Hair Tonic will grow hair on bald heads, we do not refer to cases where the roots are entirely dead, the pores of the scalp closed, and the head has the shiny appearance of a billiard ball.” If a patron said “93” didn’t work, the makers could explain the failure as due to the maladies of “closed pores” or “dead roots.” “In cases like this, there is no hope. In all other cases of baldness Rexall “93” Hair Tonic will positively grow hair, or cost the user nothing. . . Two sizes, 50 cents and $1” [the equivalent of $12 and $24 today].

The proprietors of the Ypsi drugstore and their customers didn’t know that “93” was a useless concoction of boric acid and wood alcohol. But thanks to fraudulent advertising techniques like those in the 1909 ad, such potions were popular and profitable. From its inception the Rogers-Weinmann-Matthews store was an official Rexall franchise, one of the 2,218 licensed distributors of Rexall products in 1909, a number that would rise to 5,877 by 1915. The chain had been founded by Detroit-born patent medicine entrepreneur Louis K. Liggett. A fraction of Liggett’s eventual wealth came from Ypsilanti purchases of items like “93”.

Empty bottles of Rexall’s “93” Hair Tonic likely litter filled-in and forgotten privy pits around Ypsilanti, vanished testimony to an unregulated era when enterprising nostrum-makers hoodwinked Ypsilantians.

Laura Bien is the author of “Tales of the Ypsilanti Archives.” You can reach her at

A Midsummer Night In Spring

June 12, 2010 by  
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NOTE: regrets being unable to post this as a current review during the LHS Drama Club’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

msnd2-1Discovering that the drama department of my alma mater, Lincoln High School, was presenting William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (“Your Ypsilanti Weekend” May 20, 2010) my first thought was “Hmmm, that’s quite ambitious…” After attending Friday night’s performance, I’m happy to report that Director Martin Jacob’s students did a fine job with one of Mr. Shakespeare’s most popular works.

Little has changed in the Lincoln High School auditorium since my day as a student actor. The same heavy, velvet curtain (now more gray than blue yet still keeping with school colors) still adorns the stage. It opened to reveal a simple, yet colorful & detailed, multi-level set designed by Christina Czaja. A dramatic full moon did indeed provide a feeling of “A Midsummer Night.” I much preferred this traditional set- design to others I’d heard about such as a 1970 production staged in a blank, white box.

Throughout history, directors have felt free to take their personal interpretation of AMSND and to represent that on the stage. In a Director’s Note in the program, a time-line explanation is offered to clear up any confusion as to why traditional roles such as “Theseus, Duke of Athens” is now “Theseus, CEO of Athens Corp.” It has been quite some time since I had read (was forced to read) AMSND and other Shakespeare works so I appreciated the FYI as well as the printed summary:

“The play revolves around the adventures of four young lovers, a group of amateur actors and their interactions with the fairies that inhabit a moonlit forest. The story takes place in midsummer and is a complex farce. Their romantic intrigues are confused and complicated still further by entering the forest where the King of the Fairies and his Queen preside. Other visitors to the enchanted forest are the amateur dramatists who want to rehearse their terrible but hilarious play.”

With the first laugh from the audience, I was reminded, “Oh yeah, this is a comedy!” I didn’t need the laughter of others to remind me again as I found myself chuckling often throughout the play. Sean Houston, as Demetrius, displayed great comedic timing, particularly with offstage cries of distress. Caleb Foote’s Bottom was delightful to watch (I know that doesn’t sound right but the character’s name is “Bottom!” ) and honked the best donkey bray I’ve ever heard. Victoria Stachlewitz was appropriately flighty, playful and light on her feet in her portrayal of the mischievous Puck as were the fairies of Tatiana’s Crew. Delivering her lines without any noticeable nervousness was Anna Reiter, an exchange student from Switzerland making her stage debut as Mustardseed.

There’s always a stand-out in high school productions and in this case it was Ryan Chruscial as Oberon, King of the Fairies. This young man delivered his lines without getting tangled up in the difficult Shakespearean form and had an awesome stage presence that left no doubt he was indeed portraying a king. If Mr. Chrusical is considering a future in the theater, I look forward to seeing him perform again.

It was good, but of course it wasn’t perfect. There were a few technincal drawbacks; In an attempt to create “Night” the stage seemed lit too dimly to adequately see the facial expressions of the actors and often the actor’s microphones were not on when they started speaking. But those are the type of things that get worked out before the next curtain. The cast was well-costumed by Aviva Neff and Laura Wynne with make up by Phillisha Smith and Paige Reynolds. Everyone involved seemed to be having a lot of fun – especially the audience, including me.

Still Cookin’ with Aunt Gerry

June 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

While at the family cabin in Paradise Township last week, Aunt Gerry was unable to submit her column because she was without an internet connection – which for Aunt Gerry, really made it paradise!  This week, Aunt Gerry’s son is visiting from Florida so she’s pulled out a couple of his favorites!

Italian Spaghetti Sauce

Looking through my cookbooks, the best recipes are on pages that have been stained, torn and written on in faded ink.  This recipe comes from a particularly messy page in the 1965 Better Homes & Gardens “Meat Cook Book.”  Don’t forget the garlic bread!  -Aunt Gerry

1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound (or more) ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1-pound cans (4 cups) tomatoes
2 8-ounce cans (2 cups) seasoned tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 3-ounce can sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup dried parsley
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
Spaghetti, cooked
Grated Parmesan cheese.

Cook onion in hot oil till golden. Add meat and garlic; brown lightly.  Add remaining ingredients; simmer uncovered about an hour and a half or until desired consistency. Remove bay leaf. Serve sauce on hot cooked spaghetti. Pass bowl of grated Parmesan cheese.   Makes 6 servings.

Strawberry Summer Shortcake

Every summer my daughters and I would pick strawberries at the local U-Pick farms.  It’s a good thing they didn’t weigh the girls before and after they went into the field!  -Aunt Gerry

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup milk

Sift together dry ingredients; cut in butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs. Combine egg and milk; add to dry mixture in bowl. Stir only enough to moisten. Turn out on slightly floured surface. Pat dough 1/2 inch thick and cut with 2 1/2 inc floured biscuit cutter. Place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 13 to 16 minutes. Makes 8 shortcakes. Serve with sweetened strawberries and plenty of whipped cream.

The Local History of Memorial Day

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

Memorial Day was originally known as “Decoration Day,” a time to decorate the graves of soldiers. In 1871 Ypsilanti, the holiday hadn’t yet caught on. The editor of the Ypsilanti Commercial bemoaned the poor turnout to date.

“The day for decorating soldiers’ graves comes next Tuesday, May 30th,” said Commercial editor C. R. Pattison. “It seems a pity that our citizens have been so derelict in observing this day. Have we no soldiers’ graves in our cemeteries?”

The paper continued, “The men, who in their country’s peril, when treason sought to overthrow the government and blot out human liberty forsook their peaceful avocations and buckled on the armor and far away from home and friend, some on the battle field, some in dark and loathsome dungeons died that their country might live and its invaluable institutions be handed down to their children . . . “

He continued, “Though there be no public decoration in Ypsilanti, individuals including the loving mother, the fond sister, the desolate widow, and even families who have lost dear ones will doubtless wend their sad way to our cemeteries and shed the mournful tear and strew the grave with flowers, the emblem of an unfading future.”

By 1883, Decoration Day had evolved into an event that featured speakers. The May 26, 1883 Ypsilanti Commercial headlines announced, “Decoration Day! Wednesday Next, May 30th. Eloquent Speakers Provided. The day will be observed in a manner that will do worthy honor to the martyred dead.”

A follow-up article in the June 2, 1883 Commercial said, “Decoration Day is one of the best features of life in the United States. Because flowers are so fair and perishable they are the tenderest offering to both the living and the dead.”

The paper continued, “At the time when the garden is covered with sweet spring blossoms, and flowers are everywhere plentiful, it is delightful to see them distributed over the mounds to simply say, ‘You are not forgotten.’ It is to be hoped the custom of marking one day memorable with flowers will never die, but will flourish as a faithful reminder of those whose heroic deeds should be sweetly and touchingly remembered.”

By 1891, the day was memorialized in town with a program and parade. The May 28, 1891 Ypsilanti Commercial laid out the plan for the day.

“The 30th of May, dedicated to the memory of the soldier dead and the decoration of their graves with flowers, occurs this year on Saturday. Carpenter Post, G. A. R., and their Auxiliary Relief Corps, will hold their usual observance of the day, and invite all citizens without distinction to unite with them in the beautiful and appropriate ceremonies that have been instituted to perpetuate the patriotic memories of the war.”

“The Post and military will form on Congress Street at 1:30 p.m. and march to the Methodist church, where exercises will be had as follows:” A brief outline of music, prayer, and speeches followed. “Procession will then form and march to Highland Cemetery. . . At the Cemetery, services in accordance with the Ritual will be had, and Miss Carrie Hardy will read a poem.”

Today Memorial Day is a big event in town with a long parade leading to Highland Cemetery and the public honoring of war dead. It is a holiday mingling sadness with patriotism. And it all started with the long-ago custom of leaving spring flowers, soon to wilt and brown–unlike the memories of those left behind–on the graves of soldiers.

Still Cookin’ with Aunt Gerry

May 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

Aunt Gerry heads north to the family cabin in Kingsley, MI for the Memorial Day Holiday weekend.  However, you won’t find her in the kitchen and Aunt Gerry recommends you don’t spend your day there either.  Here is a menu of recipes that can be prepared early so you can enjoy the parade, your family and the day.

Tasty Pork Ribs

Recipe from “Taste of Home” magazine

“If you’re not going to stand over a hot stove all day, why stand over a hot grill?” – Aunt Gerry

8 bone-in country-style pork ribs (8 ounces each)

1 cup ketchup

1 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon molasses

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons dried minced onion

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place ribs in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Combine the remaining ingredients; pour over ribs. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until meat is tender. 8 servings.

Home Econ. Potato Salad

“This recipe is from a cookbook of recipes compiled by Home Economics teachers from across the country.

My husband gave it to me early in our marriage.   I’m not sure if it was a nice gift or a subtle hint.” -Aunt Gerry

5 cups potatoes, cooked and peeled

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ cup onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup celery, chopped

2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped

4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons vinegar

½ teaspoon prepared mustard

For the dressing, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, and mustard.  Quarter potatoes then cut into ¼ inch slices.  Add remaining ingredients.  Gently stir in dressing.  Chill for 4 or 5 hours.

Three Bean Bake

Recipe from “Traverse City Record Eagle”

“Yes, it calls for lima beans.  Before you say ‘ewww’ give ’em a try – they taste great in this dish!” -Aunt Gerry

3 slices bacon

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

2 cans (16 oz. ea.) baked beans

1 can (16 oz.) lima beans, drained

1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans, undrained

½ cup chili sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons vinegar

½ teaspoon dry mustard

¼ teaspoon pepper

Cook bacon in a medium skillet, drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet.  Crumble bacon and set aside.  Saute’ onion and green pepper in drippings until tender.  Combine onion mixture, bacon and remaining ingredients;  spoon mixture into a greased 2 ½ quart casserole.  Bake uncovered, in 350 degree oven 1 hour.

Choaptee’s Peanut Butter Cookies

“Renamed this recipe for my granddaughter Haley, who always wanted two cookies;

One for herself and one for her imaginary friend, Choaptee.” -Aunt Gerry

½ cup shortening

½ cup butter

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

2 eggs

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Mix thoroughly shortening, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and eggs.  Blend in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Cover and chill.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Place 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet.  With fork dipped in flour, flatten in crisscross pattern to 2 inches.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not hard.

Gerry Burns (Aunt Gerry) is an octogenarian & Ypsilantian who has resided with her husband Joe in their Augusta Township home for 43 years. After working 20 years at Eastern Michigan University, she retired in 1992. In addition to knitting and baking, Aunt Gerry enjoys the company of her husband & family which includes three grown children, three grandchildren and Minnie; a large, rambunctious, black Labrador retriever. At 80 years old, Aunt Gerry is happy that she’s “Still Cookin'” You can email Aunt Gerry at

Still Cookin’ with Aunt Gerry

May 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

For Aunt Gerry, the fresh breezes of spring mean hanging the wash outside on the clothesline, watching Uncle Joe putter in the back yard, and breaking out the recipes for special springtime salads.

Macaroni-Tuna Salad

I found this on a package of “Creamettes” macaroni years ago.

The actual name is “Sea Island Salad” but I can never remember that. – Aunt Gerry

1 ½ cup dry macaroni

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup dairy sour cream

½ tsp. celery seed

½ tsp. onion salt

Two 5-oz. cans albacore tuna, drained

One 10 pkg. frozen peas, thawed

½ cup diced cheddar cheese

2 tbsp. minced green pepper

1 tbsp. diced pimiento

Cook macaroni according to general package directions.  Drain and chill.  Stir together mayonnaise, sour cream and seasonings.  Fold into chilled macaroni.  Gently stir in remaining ingredients.  Chill thoroughly.

Springtime Strawberry Salad

The recipe states a prep time of 10 minutes.

I think that’s for younger cooks.  What’s your hurry? – Aunt Gerry

1 pkg. (10 0z.) assorted salad greens or 8 cups torn lettuce

1 pkg. (6 oz.) grilled chicken breast strips

1 can (15 oz.) mandarin orange segments, drained

½ medium red onion, sliced

½ cup sliced almonds

2 cups sliced strawberries

½ cup creamy poppy seed dressing

Toss greens, chicken, oranges, strawberries and onions in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with almonds.  Serve with dressing.

Spinach Salad

I got this recipe from a co-worker in the Campus Life office at Eastern Michigan University.

I retired from EMU in 1992 but never retired this recipe! – Aunt Gerry


1 cup oil

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup vinegar

1/3 cup ketchup

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 medium onion, grated

Mix ingredients until sugar is dissolved.  Chill.


1 large pkg. fresh, salad spinach

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

4 hard boiled eggs, sliced

10 sliced bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Toss together salad ingredients.  Pour dressing over salad or serve dressing on the side.

Geraldine Burns (Aunt Gerry) is an octogenarian & Ypsilantian who has resided with her husband Joseph in their Augusta Township home for 43 years.  After working 20 years at Eastern Michigan University, she retired in 1992.  In addition to knitting and baking, Aunt Gerry enjoys the company of her husband & family which includes three grown children, three grandchildren and Minnie; a large, rambunctious, black Labrador retriever.  At 80 years old, Aunt Gerry is happy that she’s “Still Cookin'”. You can email Aunt Gerry at

Indulge Your “Inner Thespian” This Summer (Update1)

May 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

When alone in the house, you’ve proclaimed “Tomorrow is another day…” just like Vivian Leigh in “Gone With The Wind” or yelled out a Jack Nicholson inspired, “You can’t handle the truth!” from “A Few Good Men.” You might have belted out a song from the latest Broadway musical while in the shower, or perhaps have done a little “old soft shoe” step across the parking lot when nobody was looking.

You’ve done it and there’s no need for embarrassment.  This summer, local theater groups are offering several opportunities for you to take your secret performance fantasies and turn them into reality:

theatreTuesday, May 25th and Thursday, May 27th, 6:30-8:30pm, at Fletcher school at 1055 Cornell in Ypsilanti, the Ypsilanti Youth Theatre will be auditioning young folks ages 8-18 for its July 16-18 production of “No! No! A Million Times No!” (She Was Only The Farmer’s Daughter). The show is an old-time, turn-of-the-century, music-hall style production that will encourage audience participation.  Characters include a chorus of singing milkmaids, “wrasslin'” farm boys,  and a mustache-curling villain.  Those auditioning are encouraged to over-act, be extremely dramatic and create big, wild, characterizations.  Ypsilanti Youth Theatre charges a $40 participation fee per child with a discounted $25 fee for additional children in the same family.  Sponsorships are available.  It is the philosophy of YYT to give every child a role, some behind the scenes. The Ypsilanti Youth Theatre was formed to provide a quality theater experience for youth in the Ypsilanti area.  For more information, visit

PTD Productions is holding auditions for their Sept./Oct. production of “‘Night Mother.” This Pulitzer-Prize winning drama by Marsha Norman is a brutally honest dialogue between a mother and daughter on the evening daughter “Jessie” is contemplating suicide.  Director Amanda Grazioli is looking to cast Jessie as in her late 30’s with a “haunting quality.”  The part of Mama should be portrayed by a sturdy type in her late 50’s.  Auditions will be held at Riverside Arts Center, 76 North Huron Street, Ypsilanti, Sunday, June 20 & Monday, June 21 at 7:00 pm.  Callbacks will be by invitation Tuesday, June 22 at 7:00 pm.  For more information contact Amanda Grazioli (617) 470-1242 or email

Dynamic Stage Productions presents “BARE”; a pop-opera, and dramatic story of five high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school. When two of the boys find joy in each others companionship, and their affair becomes public, events spin their lives out of control.  Director Jami Krause and Music Director Paul Clark are looking to fill the following roles:

JASON: Handsome golden child of St. Cecilia’s senior class. (BARITONE)

PETER: Introspective, socially awkward. Jason’s clandestine boyfriend. (TENOR)

IVY: Pretty, popular, insecure. (SOPRANO)

NADIA: Jason’s pudgy, twin sister, describes herself as “Plain-Jane-Fat-A**”. (SOPRANO)

MATT: Studious, pious, Jason’s rival. (TENOR)

LUCAS: The school’s fun-loving “bad boy”. (BARITONE & MUST BE ABLE TO RAP)

CLAIRE: Peter’s mother. (SOPRANO)

SISTER CHANTELLE: African-American nun, wise, no-nonsense. (SOPRANO / GOSPEL)

PRIEST: St. Cecilia’s headmaster. (BARITONE)

TANYA: Lucas’ girlfriend. (BACK-UP SINGER)

KYRA: African-American student,confident & smart. (BACK-UP SINGER)

DIANE: Quiet and innocent.  Not the brightest student, very naive,

RORY: Sarcastic student.

ZACK: Jock-type student.

ALAN: Nerdy student.

The show contains drug references, swearing, and adult themes. Due to the nature of the subject matter, only those 18+ may audition.

Those auditioning should prepare two contrasting songs, a 32 bar up-tempo and 16 bar ballad either from contemporary musical theater or a pop or rock song that best shows off your voice. Accompanist will be provided.  Auditions will also consist of cold readings from the script.  Auditions for “Bare” will be held in the upstairs studio at the Riverside Arts Center located at 76 N. Huron St. Ypsilanti, Sunday, June 20th and Monday, June 21st at 7:00 PM.  Registration begins at 6:30 PM. Callbacks will be Wednesday, June 23rd at 7:30 PM.  Performances August 19-22.  For more information email Jami at

Also being held at Riverside Arts Center, auditions for Center Stage Productions’ musical, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” August 3 & 4.  Rehearsals will begin August 22nd with performance dates of October 28-31, 2010.  To be cast, you must be at least 18 years old.  Applicants are instructed to prepare a 16-measure song of their choice.  There will also be a cold reading from the script.   In addition to this adult theater opportunity, Center Stage is offering two youth summer drama camps Mondays through Fridays, 9am to 3pm.  Center Stage Drama Camp is a three-week adventure for actors in grades 9-12, runs July 12-30, and will be presenting “Bye Bye Birdie”.  Drama Camp Jr. is a two-week camp for actors in grades 3-8, runs August 2-13 and will presenting “Aladdin Jr.” There is a cost of $400 per camper ($450 after 6/1) for Drama Camp and $300 per camper ($350 after 7/1) for Drama Camp Jr.  Scholarships are available.  For more information visit

If calling the shots is more your style, PTD Productions has issued a “Call For Directors!” for their 2011 season.  The season will consist of four plays and run from January through December of 2011.  Submissions must be in by June 15, 2010.  To qualify directors must have prior directing experience with any company, or have been an assistant director for a PTD Production.  Visit for application process.

To make your summertime theater experience a family event, keep in mind that most theater organizations are always looking for behind the scenes volunteers.  Helping to build sets, sew costumes or design posters are just a few of the ways to get involved and support the Ypsilanti theater scene.

Update 1: 5/21/10 00:27 Corrected location of Ypsilanti Youth Theater. New location is Fletcher School. The incorrect information is still posted on the YYT website.

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